Dec 28, 2016

Creating a curriculum for a migrant child

Creche children during an activity
Creche children during an activity

Over 40 years ago, when MMC started operating daycare centres for children living on construction sites, teachers found resourceful ways to use materials available on the sites to develop teaching aids. They painted sticks to teach the names of colours to the children and looked for broken pieces of marble to show the children geometric shapes. Because flowers are rare on construction sites, the teachers pieced together wood shavings with wires to create flowers for the children. This resourcefulness continues to be an integral part of the curricula designed for the unique classroom settings at the MMC centres. It reflects significant findings in contemporary education and child development research, and at the same time, it caters to the specific needs of migrant children living on construction sites.

Given that our organisation works for the migrant population, several challenges come to the forefront. The families and children we work with are transient, and hail from over 15 different states of India every year. The labourers are subject to ebbs and flows of the construction projects. This makes it difficult for us retain the children at the centre and ensure that they complete a year or more of education. More than 60% of the children who attend an MMC centre stay at the centre only for 3 months. In addition, each classroom has children from multi-grade and multilingual backgrounds, which increases the complexity of the programme. For this reason, our curriculum is designed to benefit both children who will be at our centres for only a few weeks and those who will be attending our centres for longer periods of time. The lesson plans reflect the transitory nature of construction work.

MMC teachers capitalise on the time they have with the children to provide children with concrete skills and knowledge to take away from their time at the centre. The “Prakalp,” or the monthly theme, works to further this goal. Each month, a new theme is introduced to the classrooms; many of the activities, games, and lessons revolve around the central idea for example “My family”, “Fruits and vegetables”, “Transportation” etc. The themes are relevant to the children’s context and based on developmentally appropriate activities.This not only helps children interact with the material, but also ensures that no matter how short their stay is at the centre, they will leave having gained knowledge and understanding on a specific topic.

For a child on a construction site, however, the image of a kiwi fruit may be completely unfamiliar and thus an ineffectual visual aid for number learning. For this reason, many learning aids are created with images and references which children on construction sites will understand and to which they will relate. One example may be the vocabulary they have picked up from living on construction sites, such as “rods” and “rope,” which are displayed on worksheets that incorporate the letter “R”. (This is only an example as the common language used at MMC centres is Hindi).

Thus, the learning materials and teaching aids at MMC’s crèche, preschool, and older children’s classrooms are age-appropriate and the lessons are designed to address their particular needs. Social interactions are carefully considered to ensure their healthy growth and development. For example, for crèche children, the emphasis is on creative play, social interaction, and developing physical dexterity. The first few years of a child’s life constitute a period of rapid growth and development during which a child learns about themselves, their environment, and their place in the world. Whereas children in the preschool section (3-5 years) are encouraged by the teachers on imaginative thinking and problem solving, as well as strengthening children’s pre-reading, writing and mathematical skills. For children aged 6-14 years, the aim is to help them enrol and stay in municipal school. These children spend half a day at MMC centres getting extra help with homework after school as most of them are first generation learners. Song, dance, and group play is an essential part of MMC curriculum. MMC teachers utilise art media, and the sensory experiences, which can be provided through it, as one of their most effective communication tools. Additionally, MMC emphasizes on experiential learning through educational outings and exposure visits for children.

With the support received from donations through Global Giving, we have been able to cover costs of running our education programme, following the curricula mentioned above, for migrant children attending our daycare centres on construction sites.  

Children in afterschool support section
Children in afterschool support section
Art & Craft session in preschool section
Art & Craft session in preschool section
Children's artwork displayed on the theme - Birds
Children's artwork displayed on the theme - Birds
Theme on display - Trees, Plants & Flowers
Theme on display - Trees, Plants & Flowers
Oct 2, 2016

The Torchbearers of MMC

Teacher with Creche babies
Teacher with Creche babies

I created my identity as a teacher which was a proud moment for me.” Kalpana shares with confidence. Kalpana is one among many trainees who graduated from MMC’s Balpalika-teacher Training Programme which prepares women extensively in care-giving and various aspects of working with children.

Kalpana’s life was very different from what she has today. Her journey from being a daily wage worker in sugarcane field to a teacher at MMC’s day care centre is full of struggle.

Due to her family’s poor financial condition, she could not continue her education after 11th grade. After marriage also she and her husband used to work in the sugarcane fields for bare minimum wages. Since managing the household from that income was becoming very difficult, they decided to move to the Mumbai and Kalpana’s husband got a job on a construction site. Fortunately, on the same site, there was a day care centre for children of construction workers, run by Mumbai Mobile Creches.  Soon she came to know about the one-year teacher training course of MMC.

The training programme not only helped her to get the job in Mumbai Mobile Creches, it helped her to overcome her fear, to regain self-esteem. It helped her to groom her personality. Kalpana remembers “Initially I had to struggle for everything, like with the language, with travelling alone in the new city, etc. But soon I felt a positive shift within me.” She is currently pursuing her graduation.

Kalpana is now a very active teacher at one of centre on construction site helping children to get education, giving them wings to fly and achieve their dreams. After creating her own identity, she is helping these children to create their own.

Like Kalpana, over 30 percent of our teachers come from the community of construction workers which MMC serves. The teachers at Mumbai Mobile Creches’ centres are unquestionably our most valuable asset on the construction sites. They do much more than just teach and implement the curricula in the classrooms, although that alone constitutes an enormous feat. In the classroom, our teachers adopt the role of both teacher and caregiver, undertaking tasks ranging from monitoring a child’s health to conducting writing lessons to miraculously soothing crying crèche babies. In the community, they lead our outreach initiatives, whether by facilitating meetings with parents or conducting home visits. Their integrity in maintaining databases of children and centre activities is remarkable. Despite the enormous responsibility and arduous working environment, our teachers (some of whom have worked with us for over two decades) remain devoted to their work and to our children.

Funds received from GlobalGiving helped us fund salaries of teachers, like Kalpana, who are the torchbearers of our programmes. Your contributions helped us to run the programme in effective and sustainable manner.  

Children learning numbers
Children learning numbers
Centre decorations by teacher
Centre decorations by teacher
Teacher giving medicine to children
Teacher giving medicine to children
Jul 7, 2016

The Joy of Summer

Children enjoying festival of play!
Children enjoying festival of play!

For most children, summer vacation is one of the most anticipated times of the year, of less work and more play! To celebrate, we organise ‘Khel Mahotsav’, a festival of play, along with ‘Shramadaan’ – voluntary services for the community, at all our centres in May. For children, it acts a respite from books and studying for a month. And at the same time, it enables development of multiple skills among children like sportsmanship, team work, societal awareness and civic responsibility. 

This year’s Khel Mahotsav began with preparing mascots for the festival, and the games quickly followed. Several indoor and outdoor games were organised by children and teachers, of which many became popular favourites at the centres! Team spirit quickly grew amongst the children—the competition was high, but so was the solidarity amongst them.

The onlooking parents soon had their own fun, as MMC organised icebreakers and games for all community members! They were grateful to share in the joy of play with their children. 

‘Shramadaan’ – voluntary services for the community, was celebrated, which brought children together in a different way—not to compete, but to change the world in their own ways. The environment was a key focus this year. Children learned about civic responsibility, conservation, and waste segregation. The importance of the latter they explained confidently to their parents at chai pani meetings (community meetings), creating wet and dry garbage bins and encouraging their use! Teachers and children also created banners and posters to rally their community.

Under this year’s theme of “Save Water,” children were also able to experiment with buoyancy, solubility, and filtration. Their curiosity and engagement never fails to impress us here at MMC, and it is for the excitement and joy we see in them that we do what we do.

Through Khel Mahotsav and Shramadaan, we ensure this sense of true childhood, fulfilling every child’s right to play and learn. 

Children having fun during a game.
Children having fun during a game.
Bird's nest created by children
Bird's nest created by children
"Save Water"- Model by children
"Save Water"- Model by children
 
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