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Rato Bangala Early Childhood Centre was initiated keeping in mind that the early years are the most important stage in a child’s life where rapid brain development takes place. It is conceptualized as a training model with a laboratory school that demonstrates best practices in early childhood education. Thus, while catering to a small number of students that attend the Centre, the larger goal is to develop professional early childhood practitioners who work with the most marginalized children in the community schools. Rato Bangala School’s sister organization, the Rato Bangala Foundation, is a UNESCO-awarded non-profit that works on teacher training, taking the best practices crafted at the school to the larger community.
To create a safe and nurturing learning environment that promotes social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development and empowers children to become thinkers and risk-takers who enjoy learning and can articulate their ideas.
Recent research in the field of neuroscience highlights how the brain develops rapidly during the first six years of life. We now know that the early childhood years are a time of great opportunity for learning followed by a lifetime of neuroplasticity. Through facilitated play-based learning, active engagement with the world and articulation and practice of routines and responsibilities, the Rato Bangala Early Childhood Centre provides children with the social, emotional, and cognitive skills they need to become happy, contributing members of the community. The Centre also equips the children to enter grade school with the skills and attitude they need to become successful students and lifelong learners.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT
Children between the ages of 3 to 5 are developing new skills at an exciting rate and exhibit a growing interest in the world beyond their families. The younger the child, the more they tend to think concretely in the here and now and often operate from a perspective of egocentricity. They need ample opportunity to have first-hand experiences that include touch, smell, manipulation of objects, and the ability to participate in the routines and traditions of everyday living. Through active engagement with teachers, peers, and other adults in their lives, children begin to think about and understand the world beyond their families and become aware of their roles and responsibilities. This maturation is seen in increasingly complex language development, social interaction, physical movement, problem-solving, and their ability to empathize and respect other points of view. Their peer interactions become vital and powerful. Children need to learn how to negotiate differences, take turns, and collaborate. Their rapidly growing language skills allow them to succeed in various tasks.
ROLE OF THE TEACHER
The teacher sets up a rich child-centered environment with learning opportunities. Teachers make choices informed by their knowledge of early childhood development, their understanding of the children in their care, and their support of children’s independent use and care of materials.
With materials exploration and artwork at the heart of the curriculum, the walls eventually reflect the original work of children.
Traditional schools have the teacher at the locus of all learning. But, the progressive model has the teacher orchestrate the learning process. It evolves from interactions between children and adults, children and the materials, the community they live in, and among the children themselves.
Teachers will structure the curriculum, make observations, ask questions, offer support, and adjust to any of the above for deeper learning.
All teachers model respectful dialogue and support positive relationships between all community members, and develop strong relationships with the child’s family.
Children have the opportunity to dig deep into learning through thorough and emergent studies. They learn about the world in which they live through Social Studies. Teachers will consider and reflect with children on their prior experiences, fully realizing that learning becomes more meaningful when experiences are built upon each other. Outdoor explorations ensure children get to experience science through nature and develop a sense of belonging to the natural world.
Many of our materials are open-ended, which means that there are different ways a child can enter the work and develop mastery. All of these materials will help develop their concepts of numeracy and print. Blocks, paint, manipulatives, books, writing, drawing, dramatic play props, water, mud, and sand are core curriculum materials. Practical life skills and chores of daily living are embedded into the program, and the children are responsible for setting up snacks, cleaning up, dressing independently, and putting things away after use. They are responsible for feeding their small pets and observing them regularly.
In addition to the rich experiences offered within the classroom, children also work with music, movement, and Physical Education.
Literacy learning is an ongoing process that begins early in life and continues well into adulthood. Every aspect of early childhood classrooms weaves into literacy learning. Reading is a language-based skill. Oral language is the critical foundation built on reading and writing.
Throughout the day, children use oral-language skills in every area of the room.The unfolding linguistic abilities of each child are nurtured in a fully bilingual setting. Nepali and English are emphasized equally and supported through the spoken word and a library that enhance language development and an appreciation of culture. RBS's bilingual curriculum sets standards for the country where the vernacular is often not given enough respect, particularly in the early years.
We now know that the most significant engagement during this development is rooted in child-led play. During this stage, children begin to understand the symbolic play. A child can use one thing to represent another, for example, pretending that a block is a bottle or a tree stump is a car. This symbolic thinking will later serve them as they learn to recognize the sounds represented by letters and the quantities represented by numbers.
Dramatic play allows children to become what they want - a mother, father, baby, doctor, or superhero. The child interprets the role that reflects their deepest wishes and fears. Children learn about the world through play.
With guidance from an adult, young children express themselves through language and action, which encourages them to listen to the ideas and perspectives of others. They gain conflict management skills that arise from human interaction and derive pleasure from becoming a part of a community.
At the Rato Bangala Early Childhood Centre, we believe that play is the work of early childhood and that children learn about the world through play. “
ROLE OF THE PARENTS
We believe that a successful early childhood program requires a productive partnership between parents and teachers. Parent engagement is a crucial aspect of the Centre that forges strong relationships. When children between the ages of 3 and 5 come to school, they are still mastering the challenges of separation from their trusted parents or caregivers. The home-school partnership is similar due to a shared vision, open communication, and ample opportunity to share multiple perspectives. Observations made by parents and teachers serve as vital information to help nurture the child, as each brings unique perspectives to the table. In the service of such partnership, during the early weeks of school, the Rato Bangala Early Childhood Centre asks that a parent or caregiver initially accompany the child to school so that we can best support the exciting transition from home to school.
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE SCHOOL AND PARENTS
Rato Bangala aims to work closely with parents for the overall growth and development of the children. The School has developed Guidelines for Parents to strengthen their communication. The home-school link book, Parent-Teacher Conferences, Curriculum meetings class events, and assemblies are regular features where parents get first-hand experience with their child’s work in school.
Parents are encouraged to make appointments to meet their child's teachers whenever they find it necessary.
We look forward to parents attending all school events. We hold a Curriculum Meeting at the beginning of the year.
Culmination of studies and Assemblies are regular features where parents get first hand experience about their child’s work and are able to chart their growth and development.
The classrooms are designed to encourage exploration, foster problem-solving, and offer a wide range of opportunities for learning at one’s own pace.The range of workspaces includes cubbies for personal belongings, a meeting or dramatic play area, floor space to work with building materials, a block area, tables for working with small motor materials (writing, drawing, art, puzzles, clay work, and playdough), access to a well-planned outdoor environment, complete with large motor play equipment and a garden. Outdoor activities will ensure that children experience and develop a love of nature and a sense of belonging to the natural world. According to the forest school concept, a cowshed, an expanse of open fields, a vegetable garden, and lush greenery help the children engage in the outdoors. Children get first-hand experience while growing their produce and enjoying them, which leads to a life-long commitment to the environment and healthy eating habits.
The Rato Bangala Early Childhood Centre engages continuously in reflection and modeling best practices to enable it to go beyond its premises into the community schools to make an impactful change in early childhood practices.