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Ensuring Foundational Literacy and Numeracy

2023-06-22 By Aanchal Vasandani (Vice President Academic Content)

Ensuring Foundational Literacy and Numeracy - Aanchal Vasandani (Vice President Academic Content)

The G20 Education Working Group (EdWG) meeting was held from 19th to 21st June in Pune, with the theme 'Ensuring Foundation Literacy and Numeracy (FLN)', especially in the context of ‘blended learning’. India’s G20 Presidency provided an amazing opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this area.

India’s national mission, under NIPUN BHARAT1 along with the NEP-2020 guidelines for ECCE to address the problem and the challenges of foundational literacy are innovative and visionary. The vision of the NIPUN BHARAT mission is to ensure that every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy at the end of Class III.

In the backdrop of this, it is important for us to know

  • What FLN is?
  • Why it is important?
  • How can blended learning help achieve FLN goals?

Early childhood is a critical period of child development with literacy and numeracy development beginning in the first three years of life. Parents, home and school environment, social interactions of children and interactions with various materials such as books, puzzles and games are the building blocks for the development of language, reading, writing and numeracy skills.

Foundational Literacy and Numeracy is more than just the child’s ability to read basic texts and solve number operations. Young children are very eager to share their thoughts, ideas, needs, and feelings. Through language, they learn to organise their thoughts, ideas and communicate their feelings.

Foundational Literacy refers to phonics development, decoding sounds, reading fluency, reading comprehension and writing. It helps them decode meaning from the text and voice, based on their experiences of the language.

Whereas Foundational Numeracy is all about developing number sense, understanding shapes, spatial relationships, measurement, data handling etc.2 It also encompasses the ability to use mathematical skills to solve problems.

FLN skills are foundational for learning and have been scientifically correlated with better educational outcomes in later years. However, a lack of learning opportunities and appropriate exposure to proper stimuli during early years’ hampers children’s academic progress throughout life.

The Ampersand Group recognises that a multifaceted approach that focusses on multi-lingual, play-based, observational and outcome-based learning with interactive, hands-on and experiential pedagogy methods works best.

VIBGYOR Group of Schools, a part of the Ampersand Group, uses a comprehensive, researched-based personalised approach to achieve FLN through its proprietary curriculum incorporating blended learning models. In Blended Learning models, we use a mix of traditional face-to-face and online learning, combining the best of both. Teachers use online audio-visual resources like rhymes, theme-based stories, and interactive exercises, carefully blended into the offline curriculum.

We at VIBGYOR Group of Schools has developed e-learning assets in-house, with a family of animated characters as a hook, incorporating play, discovery and activity-based pedagogy, linking it to daily life situations of children.

Our carefully-crafted curriculum is based on extensive research of best practices by philosophers and theorists in the field of education and child development, to address the four important aspects of FLN:

  • Foundational Literacy
  • Foundational Numeracy
  • Fine Motor and Basic Life Skills
  • Social Values

VIBGYOR Group of Schools has specialised multi-sensory programmes, combining Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic tools for development of each of these skills.

  • For literacy:

    Our balanced literacy program focuses equally on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills through appropriate mix of phonics and the whole language programme.

  • For numeracy:

    Our activity-based models teach numbers, operations on numbers, shapes, spatial understanding, measurement and data handling.

  • Fine motor skills:

    These are crucial for foundational literacy, as they support the development of handwriting, letter formation and eye- hand coordination. Activities such as tracing letters, drawing, and using manipulatives along with audio-visual aids are used for the development of fine motor skills.

  • Basic Life Skills:

    These encompass a range of practical abilities like personal hygiene, time management, organization, problem-solving, and social-emotional skills. Engaging in group activities, music, games, arts and crafts, promotes creativity, self-expression and develops self-regulation and resilience among children.

  • Social Values:

    Inculcating social and ethical values in foundational education is important as it helps in shaping the personality and character of an individual. We encourage values such as honesty, fraternity, empathy, gratitude etc. by respecting parents, teachers and elders, saving water, showing empathy to animals and so on.

With the world moving towards digitisation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, coding skill sets in the near future, it will transform the way we live and the way we work and teach. Hence, our children need to harness the spectrum of skills like empathy, creativity, social skills, problem-solving and innovation skills from their early years itself. Our endeavour is to support the building of such skills by providing a suitable learning environment and structured age-appropriate learning interventions through an enhanced and balanced curriculum.

Implementing a Blended Learning approach to ensure Foundational Literacy and Numeracy requires careful planning and execution, taking care not to over-expose the child to excessive screen time.

Our Blended Learning models aim to strike a balance between screen time and hands-on, play-based learning experiences. Children get a maximum of 10 minutes of screen time each day, out of a 4-hour programme.

With a meticulously crafted implementation plan and continuous ongoing support, blended learning can ensure that every child receives a strong foundation in literacy and numeracy, for them to be successful and life-long learners. We, at Ampersand Group, envision an exciting future for our young learners, one in which they will make a positive contribution to society as responsible citizens while polishing their academic aptitude and by placing focus on building 21st Century Skills.

The broad objective of the G20 Education Working Group (EdWG) conference was to reflect on two important themes-teaching learning approaches and pedagogy for FLN in the context of blended Learning. We, at Ampersand Group, closely followed panel discussions and outcomes of the conference so as to incorporate best practices to address the learning gaps in FLN.

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