Kindergarten at B.D. Somani

At the beginning of their Junior Kindergarten year, students at B.D. Somani are prepared to use their communication abilities to interact in an atmosphere that emphasises inquiry, asking questions and being curious. A half-day program, Junior Kindergarten is where children build their essential motor, social, emotional, and linguistic foundations.
On the other hand, Kindergarten is the first time the children learn to be at school for the full day. Here they work on becoming independent, responsible and critical thinkers for their next years at school. In Junior K and K, emphasis is placed on group work, collaboration, problem-solving and communication skills. The main aim is to help children develop into caring members of the school community.
Mornings for these children at school are packed with familiar routines that include unpacking their bags, reading and discussing their agenda, gathering for circle time, and counting the number of students present and the number of days they have been in school, amongst other things. During Circle Time, children and the teacher often sing, tell stories, solve math problems and discuss their weekends and experiences. The attempt here is to simultaneously build social, emotional, literacy, numeracy and analytical skills in a group.

Following this, the students then involve themselves in Block Building time or Work Time. Junior K students work with wooden blocks to build imaginative structures. By Kindergarten, the children move on to familiar structures, such as shops, police stations, cinemas and schools. This is how they recognise and explore their everyday lives full of objects, signs, structures and people. The several walking field trips organised by the school help hone their curiosities. Thus begins their journey into first-hand research – being curious, asking questions, gathering data, analysing and synthesising the data and reaching a conclusion.

Food is naturally an exciting moment for both students and teachers as everyone enjoys unpacking their lunchboxes. Sharing a meal during the Snack-Time is a very important part of their learning process as they learn to socialise, interact, communicate, and exchange. Very often, stories are also read to children during this hour.

During Work Time, children learn to choose from various learning centres such as – writing, exploration, math, art, reading, and fine motor and other skill practices. They then are invited to shift to other spaces after a while. Teachers often help them attend as many centres as possible. One of the unique centres the school has is the exploration centre. It consists of items from the real world that can be examined and explored and activities encouraging scientific and mathematical observations. Children are encouraged to verbalise what they notice.

Students in both grades learn to express their thoughts and feelings through writing. They write recipes, stories, information books, and reflections on their learning. Their journey of self-expression that began in Reception continues in Junior Kindergarten with marks and drawings accompanied by some symbols that may represent words. Teachers help them in forming the correct words that they want to convey. By the end of Kindergarten, students become capable of using their own words using the script and often even write coherent phrases, which may include topics such as the food they ate for breakfast or something interesting they spotted. Often, children write a story in parts, adding pages or chapters to create a book.

Handwriting, the technical aspect often misunderstood as writing, stems from mastering a coordinated motor process along with self-expression. It is starkly different from the writing process which is about structure, composition and rules. In Junior K, we let children practice the basic strokes required for writing – horizontal, vertical and circular movements in the air, in sand, on paper and boards. In Kindergarten, the school consciously follows the Handwriting Without Tears program to make the process fun for children. 

Reading, on the other hand, is about feeling the stories. Pictures help them form images in their minds. As teachers read to them, the children are encouraged to ask questions about the story. The Primary School librarian Ms Divya does a weekly story hour with the kids. Alternative story endings and predictions attract a lot of attention from the students. Repetition and memorisation help them identify frequently used words. At the end of Kindergarten, almost all the children can decode and read several words. 

Junior Kindergarten teachers sing with their students to introduce rhyming sounds, rhythms and new language. Students use instruments such as shakers, clappers and kazoos to make music. It is in Kindergarten that children begin their weekly music session along with Theatre, Physical Education, Marathi and Yoga.

One of the most requested and favoured activities is cooking in both Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten. The process of cooking requires teamwork, collaboration, coordination, application of scientific and mathematical concepts, practice, following instructions and knowledge about nutrition. Basic dishes like salads and sandwiches teach them how to peel, chop, grate, mix and cook. They also start recognising processes like boiling, baking and steaming. Visits to the school kitchen are always fun for them.

Cooking, a much requested and favoured activity, happens often in both Junior K and K. Cooking involves concepts in science and math and practice in following and writing instructions and, of course, the end result is appreciated by all! It allows for discussions about health and nutrition. Students begin with simple items like salads and sandwiches, for which they learn to peel, chop and grate and they move on to recipes that involve mixing and cooking. They are introduced to different cooking techniques like boiling, steaming, baking. A visit to the school kitchen helps them to observe these processes on a large scale.

Disagreement and conflicts are part of working together. We equip our children to deal with them by recognising their feelings. If there is a verbal or physical clash, students are accompanied by teachers to understand their emotions, as they help them find the solution. An environment of safety and comfort is maintained so that children can freely share without fear of judgement. Positive affirmations are used to maintain respect amongst teachers and students; for example, instead of using phrases like ‘Don’t run, we say ‘use your walking legs’. In this environment, students learn to label words and actions like caring, bullying, dishonesty and kindness.

In Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten, students learn communication, expression, observation, discovery, respect, and problem-solving abilities. At B.D. Somani, we encourage students to practise and continuously develop all of these talents. And most importantly, the children are aware of their feelings and are free to voice them, as they are heard and respected at all times. This gives them confidence and self-assurance. 

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