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The Primary School Curriculum

Expected Learning Outcomes

Academic Accredition

Shanti Bhavan has been granted affiliation to The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination, Delhi, with effect from March 2004. The Council is a nationally and internationally recognized non-governmental, non-profit examination board for quality education in English-medium schools both in India and abroad. The Council conducts school-leaving examinations at both the tenth grade level, and twelfth grade levels.

Pre-K through First Grade

Our curriculum has been formulated for the lower grades, from Pre K through Grade Five. Our approach in the first three years is different from other schools because we tailor our curriculum to suit the initial needs of children from very poor backgrounds. Our children live with us for the greater part of the year away from their parents. Their parents visit every three months, and take them home for short vacations twice a year. Therefore, Shanti Bhavan is a home away from home.

The second important factor to be taken into account for a Shanti Bhavan child is that English is a foreign language for her or him. It takes about three years for the children to achieve age-appropriate fluency in both spoken and written English.

The third factor to be taken into account is that we take children at age four. Our children have not had any kind of exposure to pre-nursery education. They have not held a pencil or been exposed to any form of educational stimuli.

Therefore the Shanti Bhavan curriculum for the first three years is designed to minimize stress and to develop self-confidence. The staff focuses on developing a close relationship with the children to foster trust, confidence and happiness. Attention is given to forming good habits of personal hygiene and social graces. As the children acquire basic skills necessary for daily living in a clean, warm environment, English is introduced gradually. Initially, games, songs, stories and nursery rhymes are translated into their own languages.

The fourth factor is the children's unfamiliarity with a structured routine and the use of toilets, beds, tables and chairs, and the amenities of life that their privileged counterparts take for granted. Adapting to a comfortable way of living is itself stressful for our children.

Children are encouraged from Day One to develop their curiosity and to ask questions. They are not encouraged to be passive learners. This is in keeping with our goal to help our children become future leaders of society and to acquire the necessary skills to succeed in life.

We believe that work and example can achieve our goal. Staff is rigorously trained to work with children at different stages of their lives. It follows that the academic instruction ties in with the new learning experiences of the children. The two main subjects during the first three years are Language and Math. Other curriculum areas are introduced side by side with these two main subject areas. These areas are Science, Social Studies, Art & Craft, Music, Dance, Physical Education, Environmental Awareness and Value Education. Field trips, videos and computers are also part of the learning tools of the curriculum.

As with all good early years learning programs, the children have sand play, water play, clay modeling, painting, blocks, puzzles, and indoor and outdoor activities including nature walks.

Second through Fifth Grades
After the initial three years, learning becomes more formal. Curriculum areas now include the national and regional languages, emotional intelligence, nature and ecology, and human rights education in addition to the subjects already introduced in the first three years. The basic study skills of listening, thinking, speaking, reading and writing are now pursued vigorously.

English Language
Appreciation of all forms of Literature is developed through story telling, reading and drama. Language for effective communication is developed through grammar and language exercises that tie in with their learning. Writing letters to their parents is an example of functional language learning. Creative writing, reports and oral presentations including recitation, elocution and debates are the methods used to help children communicate clearly. Basal readers are used with additional library and media material.

National and Regional Languages
Formal instruction in Hindi is introduced in Grade Two, and subsequently, Tamil in Grade Three. The learning of these two languages will employ the same tools used for the learning of English. The children will be required to do a public exam in both these languages as early as the Middle Grades.

The four basic operations in Math, which are addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are learned in their applications to problem solving. Fractions, decimals, number values, time, money, graphing, measurement, geometry and estimation are taught in developmentally appropriate stages.

The pastoral setting of Shanti Bhavan provides an ideal natural laboratory for children to explore their world and the universe. Children are encouraged to observe, investigate, collect information, discuss their findings, and confirm their accuracy. They also participate in experiments, and study objects and events. They learn the order of life forms, matter and movement in the universe. Hands-on learning experiences and content are offered.

Social Studies
The children will learn about the social behavior of people in their natural settings starting with themselves, their families, friends and the Shanti Bhavan school community. They learn about people from other states in India as well as those from other parts of the world. Visiting international volunteers are the starting point of these learning experiences. Celebration of festivals, songs, dances, drama, literary traditions, mapwork and media are incorporated into the Social Studies curriculum. Elements of history and geography are part of the study units. The goal is to help children appreciate different cultures, respect others' differences and to become responsible citizens of India and the world.

Value Education, Emotional Intelligence, Human Rights and Environmental Awareness
At Shanti Bhavan we believe that our children will be successful if they develop self-esteem. Only then will they be able to respect others and develop civic sense, and a desire to serve and excel in their chosen fields. With this in mind, we have combined these four subjects in our ethics curriculum. We will actively ensure that our children are nurtured in the universal values of honesty, integrity and transparency. Personality development and social graces are also components of this program. Appropriate behavioral responses, coping techniques and most importantly, personal fulfillment will be worked at.

Special training in interpersonal skills, communication, problem-solving, decision-making and other management aspects are introduced by high school grades.

Physical Education and Creative Arts
The school pediatrician and psychologist both oversee the physical fitness and health programs for the children. Daily outdoor exercises and games including team sports are organized under the supervision of the physical education teacher. Creative and performing arts are pursued more seriously at this stage of the children's schooling. The aim is to nurture talent and channel it in the direction that will be most beneficial for the child.

Library material including books, videos, compact discs, periodicals and encyclopaedia are used by staff and students to research and enrich their study programs. Computers are an integral learning tool., and television programs specially those highlighting current events and concerns are compulsory for children and staff to keep them informed and updated on world issues.

The curriculum will be reviewed and updated according to the needs of the children and the need of the day from time to time. It is a dynamic process in keeping with our changing world. Our children are being prepared to be good achievers and global citizens and we recognize that our curriculum must work towards this goal.

Shanti Bhavan Middle Grades Curriculum

Shanti Bhavan has adopted the guidelines of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations curriculum for the Middle School as well as guidelines and ideas from curriculums of a few top-rated schools in the U.S. The detailed summary will be provided separately.

The curriculum for the middle grades – grades six, seven and eight, follows the Shanti Bhavan model that stresses the development of self-esteem and exposure to global learning. There are necessary variations in approach and content to suit the learning levels of middle school learners, and to prepare them for a more rigorous high school curriculum later. Our middle school curriculum also includes guidelines from the syllabus of the board of accreditation i.e. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations for sixth through eighth grade.

The role of the staff in implementing the middle school curriculum is two-fold – responsibility for their classes or subjects, and cooperatively planned lessons. Teaching staff is invited to share their findings on new trends, approaches or methods. This enriches the curriculum and ensures its dynamism.

Students of grades six, seven and eight have acquired the basic skills of learning in the primary classes, and are now introduced to more formal and demanding work in all subject areas. This is reflected in longer hours of evening study to complete home tasks such as working out mathematical problems, drawing diagrams, writing essays, studying texts or reference materials, or reading supplementary selections from literature. Hours of preparation for middle school students will range from 2 hours for sixth graders to 3 hours for eighth graders. Students are also required to research material for projects, learn definitions, memorize facts or pieces of elocution, or practice for dramatic, music, choral, dance, and other presentations.

The core subjects are English - language and literature; Mathematics – arithmetic, algebra and geometry; Science – physics, chemistry and biology; and Social Studies – history, geography and civics; and two Indian languages. Children also study prescribed courses and texts in Tamil and Hindi. Tamil is the second language offered by the school and Hindi is the third language. Parents and children are given their choice for second and third languages.

Sports and games continue six days a week. Dance classes will be held weekly. Singing, choir and piano are weekly classes. Art classes are conducted weekly. Special classes on wildlife and environment continue twice a month. Current Indian and world events are presented to the children six days a week at assembly.

Emotional Intelligence classes termed Self-Science are held one evening each week to help children develop their personalities and character, and to address health education issues such as hygiene and sex education. Ethical issues that stem from the children’s home environment, such as child labor, underage sex, substance abuse, gender bias and domestic violence are also introduced. Children learn interpersonal skills and acquire knowledge from their interaction with their peers, staff, and volunteers from different parts of the world.

Community service projects include housekeeping tasks or chores on weekends, in addition to daily housekeeping responsibilities in campus residential areas such as the dormitories and dining hall. Weekend chores are cleaning of toilets, footwear, combs, brushes and airing of bedding, tidying of cupboards, lockers and classrooms. Nails are trimmed, hair checked for cleanliness and bedding changed. Looking after the younger children on walks and at playtime under adult supervision, and cleanliness of the campus are also part of the students’ responsibilities.

Technology such as computers, television, DVDs and calculators are part of the curriculum and used by the students for a wide variety of applications. Internet facilities will be introduced shortly. Equipment in the Science laboratories is employed in the learning of Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Each student maintains a record of lab work. The library is used for reference, study and recreational reading. These media aids also help children acquire skills of critical thinking. Project work includes inter-disciplinary areas in order for children to learn the value of related knowledge and skills. Projects may be individual or cooperative learning exercises. Exploration of the natural environment on the 30-acre campus is part of usual class activities, and field trips are included when possible.

Children who have difficulty keeping up with their grade are given individual help in the evenings, five days a week. Within six months to a year, if these children do not demonstrate progress in their learning, they will be referred to the school clinical psychologists. The psychologists evaluate whether the child has a specific learning disability, or emotional or behavioral problems, and will recommend intervention strategies. Parents are informed at each step of the process. If individual help fails to improve the child after a reasonable period of time, a team comprised of the child’s teacher, residential staff, clinical psychologists, pediatrician and Principal, will make the decision to recommend transfer to a more suitable learning environment for the child. This implies discontinuation of the child at Shanti Bhavan, and placement at a different school.

The consultant clinical psychologists conduct twice-yearly tests to assess academic performance, growth and development. Records from residential and academic staff inputs are taken into account. Parents are also consulted for feedback. These records are maintained, and they provide feedback on how our children are responding to the program.

Evaluation are not based on machine-scored tests alone. Children have to write answers to questions in the traditional format and they are given experience in objective-type tests. The students’ skills in completing and presenting homework and project assignments are also evaluated.

Three main evaluation records are maintained as follows:

  1. Progress reports that will be shown to the children and their parents three times a year – at the end of September, the end of January, and the middle of May.
  2. Periodic child assessment sheets filled in twice yearly as prescribed in the Shanti Bhavan Policy and Procedures Manual for internal assessment.
  3. Numerically scored sheets that address the main subject areas - language and math, psychological and physical health, qualities of leadership and social graces.

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