We, at Suchitra believe that the pre-primary stage is the most defining period of an individual’s life and hence the introduction to education must be gradual and kept as simple as possible – non-formal and learner-friendly. The children at this stage are very active, creative, and filled with curiosity; hence the learning activities are designed to create interest and hold their attention from the beginning to the end of the class.
Audio-visual aids, models, pictorial materials are used as tools that help the imagination thrive and grow. These methods not only develop the ability to listen, but also helps children understand the concepts better. Kids are encouraged to come up with different ideas and are given the freedom to explore.
QCT (Quality Circle Time) in the pre-primary gives an opportunity for brainstorming sessions. Children sit in a facilitated circle and engage in circle time games and discussion sessions. These sessions involve every child. This is a great platform for students to voice their thoughts without having to worry about right or wrong. In the Pre-primary, the day begins with a QCT session with the children being the decision makers about how they want to spend the day. This is a slight variation from the original QCT model. They decide when they want to spend time on literacy or numeracy or environmental science. We do this to encourage ownership of the time that they spend on formal subjects. This takes about twenty minutes and is done every day. In addition, teachers also conduct QCT sessions twice a week on the theme of the month and behavioral targets. These are longer sessions and every child gets an opportunity to voice his opinion.
Show and Tell sessions are held to help kids develop their self-confidence and motivate them to speak in front of a group.
Teaching through role play is a great way to make children step out of their comfort zone and develop interpersonal skills. Not only students, teachers too enact various characters to make learning fun and effective. The topics are kept simple enough to capture the children’s limited attention span.
Story reading is an integral part of our curriculum. Visually stimulating activity ensures that even complex ideas are easily put across to students. Students are also encouraged to tell a story in pictures using their imagination.
A well-done up, fun and engaging classroom environment helps stimulate students’ minds and helps them think out of the box and learn better. Such a creative and stimulating environment helps them explore and discover.
Some lessons are best learned, when they are taught outside of the classroom. Field trips that are relevant to the lessons are organized or kids are simply taken for a walk in the campus. Kids find this exciting and learn and remember things better. We are blessed to have a vast green campus where children are encouraged to explore, have fun, and learn.
Learning is fun when puzzles and games are part of education. Our activity room is well equipped with educational toys. Puzzles and games help children think creatively and face challenges.
Each month starts with a new theme and a ‘wow’ factor created through a visual and audio display of the theme. A single theme runs through the different grade levels albeit varying in content and extent of coverage. This theme remains an integral part of all the learning that happens through the month. Stage presentations are a very important part of learning in the pre-primary. Each theme ends with a ‘Theme-end’ presentation where each and every child comes on stage to showcase what he or she has learned during the month. Putting such young kids on stage is done with a methodical approach rather than a disciplined approach. Parents are invited to these Theme-end presentations.
There is no formal testing in Pre-primary classes. Children are observed and assessed continuously. Rubrics are set for each theme and based on the child’s performance and reactions in the class, the gradings are done. Term end Reports contain detailed Pen Pictures of the students giving a clear overview of his or her abilities and strengths.
Pre-Primary Mentors are chosen with a lot of care, keeping in mind their temperaments and attitudes.
Primary School ( Grades I to V)
The aim of the primary school methodology is to create the joy of learning and to foster innate curiosity in children through concrete hands-on learning experiences. At this level, a healthy balance is maintained between Academics and Activities, with the focus moving a bit more to Academics.
Grade I and II study English, Math, EVS and 2nd Language (Hindi or Telugu)
Grade III and IV study English, Math, Science, Social Science and 2nd Language (Hindi or Telugu)
Grade V study English, Math, Science, Social Science, 2nd Language (Hindi or Telugu), 3rd Language (Hindi/ Telugu/ Sanskrit/ French). Besides this Telugu is taught to all the students, ever since the State Government’s decree making it compulsory from Grade I.
The teaching strategy is basically to focus on communication- both oral as well as written. Listening, speaking, reading and writing, using both formal and informal methods, such as story-telling, appointing book warriors from higher sections who encourage students to read through character representations, creative writing, oratory and theatre programs in addition to giving access to books in the library are methods used to make the child proficient in the languages. Each class maintains its own Library too, created from the pooling in of books by the class children. Those who finish their work faster get the privilege to read these books. Children are allowed to borrow these books too.
Mathematics is taught in such a way that children are trained to think logically and get rid of the Math phobia that most grow up with over the years. It is, therefore, imperative that children are given a lot of hands-on activities to understand concepts of Math in a real situation. Examples taken are chosen with a lot of care in order to make them realistic. Jodo Gyan Kits make the learning more concrete than abstract and much more fun too.
The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see’ is the paradigm on which we base our environmental studies programme. Creative tools like experimentation, audio-visual aids, infusion of real-world experiences into instructions, brainstorming and nature walks are part and parcel of EVS studies.
QCT as mentioned earlier is conducted on a specific day of the week. It has proved successful in promoting better relationships and positive behavior management among the students.
Middle and Senior School
Language curriculum caters to all the skills required for the holistic development of the language ability of a child. The classes are well designed to train children in listening, speaking, reading and writing. The regular well designed Spell Bees help children to develop a good hold on the spellings of both common and not so common words which further gives them a whole range of vocabulary to use. A well-structured intra and inter school competition are held every year lasting a week with the objective of celebrating the possibilities of the language in various dimensions.
Some of the outcomes of various literary activities of our children are –
Book Warriors-To encourage students to read and to start them young, we have undertaken a CHILDREN-TO-CHILDREN initiative by engaging older children to tempt children from Grades I-III to read. They dress up as characters from books, recite poems that they have written/ mouth dialogues from books and ask the audience to guess who it is. They are received with great enthusiasm by the younger children who fall all over themselves to answer!
The Orators– Teachers are always looking for ingenious ways to make students speak. Panel discussions, role-play, debates, recitation, extempore are the different methods used in the language classes as well as the oratory and theatre classes.. Every child is given the opportunity to speak/perform in front of the whole class/school in various settings.
Theatre – They say a teacher is 25% content and 75% theatre. Here we bring theatre to all the students as a compulsory activity. The benefits are tremendous. Creativity, lateral thinking, confidence, poise, voice modulation are some of the skills that are a natural by products of theatre activity in school.
The Mathematics curriculum is constructed to support understanding of abstract concepts more through real-life situations and materials. Lots of hands-on activities are used to develop the concepts. The materials are chosen from Jodo Gyan (a not-for-profit, non-funded organization, working to improve quality of education).
Keeping the Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) as the foundation, each concept is introduced through realistic context so that the learners can become problem solvers, can develop effective mathematical tools and can re-invent strategies to solve multi-dimensional problems.
Math program also takes care of the Mental Math component in order to help children with strategies to solve long and difficult problems in fractions of seconds. There is a dedicated period and a well-designed plan to make it an effective practice in the school.
As learners move to Senior school, Mathematics becomes more abstract in nature and practice of previously learned concepts and management of time become more crucial.
Some of the Jodo Gyan kits in use in the classrooms
Science helps in developing the skill of inquiry to better understand the role of Science in our day-to-day lives. The science classroom in Suchitra gives a lot of liberty to children to develop these skills. To do so, the ‘Sciencing Cycle’ is followed by most of the teachers when a concept is taken up.
In Senior school, laboratories become much more a part of a student’s life, wherein designing experiments and drawing conclusions are important aspects of Science teaching and learning.
In order to respond well to the world around, children must grow in awareness as well as in sensitivity to their world: to the politics and culture that distinguish countries from each other, the invasions that happened in earlier times that determine the architecture, the climate which influences the cuisine, clothes, and building materials used in a place. The objective of the Social Science curriculum is to ensure all of these. A Social Science classroom motivates the learners to put forth their perspective on any issue and also helps the learners to become tolerant toward another’s viewpoint. Classes are majorly student-driven, but carefully designed by the teachers. Lots of activities: video clippings, narratives, role plays are used to facilitate the students’ learning. Peer teaching is one of the key features of the Social Science classroom. For example when ‘The Physical Features of India’ is taught, the class is divided into groups wherein each group of students handles one physical feature—one group speaks about mountains—another about the coastal plains. They do it using video clippings, Power Point presentations; and end it with a quiz to ensure complete learning. Sometimes, a debate is conducted, for example in Economics – ‘Personal goals should match the goals of the country for overall development’ is debated in the classroom.