The Nallurhalli school is a short drive away from our office. It was a bright, sunny day on 23rd December, and we decided to visit the school and spend time with some of our young learners. As soon as we reached the school premises we were greeted by a bunch of excited children who had all assembled for prayer and PT. After the usual recitals, followed by the National Anthem the children happily gathered around for a healthy serving of fruit and bread. Refills followed suit and once they had their fill, they went to their respective classrooms.
Johnny, the teacher from Chippersage, got the kids to their feet and started the day with an action song to pump them up. Once recharged, the kids were more than happy to open their books. The class was split into two levels – level 2 and level 3. Johnny wrote a few sight words on the blackboard and read them aloud. The children then repeated after him. Once they got a hang of it, he asked children from level 2 to practice words for dictation and children from level 3 had to find the same words from their reader and copy sentences in their notebooks.
While the children were at it, I went around asking them meanings of words and if they understood what they were writing. They were all most comfortable with speaking in Hindi. Most children from level 3 could easily tell me the meaning of words like nest, flower, family, month etc. Most children from level 2 could read out words without much trouble. They also scored good numbers in the dictation. The serious study activity was followed with another action song, and it was time for a break.
A bunch of Montessori kids gathered around for a fun game of hula hoop, and I happily joined them and realised how hopeless I was at it, and what level of expertise they carried. I quietly retired and joined Johnny for a class with level 0.
The action song was more of a ritual, and again worked very well to get the children involved in the classroom. Johnny then chatted up with the children for a few minutes and started the session by bringing out the Smart Tile kit. He showed them letters and asked them to say it out loud. Some of them refused to answer, but there was a lively bunch of 4-5 who got most of the letters right. He then worked with both small and big letters, and most of them could identify those as well. Soon after the activity, they insisted on a break which meant another action song, of course.
After the action song, it was time for me to head back to the office, and it was indeed overwhelming to realise that most children out there have received enough help from us to be able to clear their entrance exams and join mainstream schools in the coming months. Another important fact is that no matter where they move in the country, their knowledge of the English language will help them continue their education as the medium of instruction across is primarily English.