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The Primary School Curriculum
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
National and Regional Languages
Value Education, Emotional Intelligence, Human Rights and Environmental
Physical Education and Creative Arts
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 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 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.
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.
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: