The first day of school is an important milestone for a child. Every parent documents this day – A neatly pressed uniform, unruly hair finally tamed, a backpack and a bottle of water and dreams of a fresh start. Schools provide a safe space where children can develop their talents and aspirations. Seema Rani, the youngest of three daughters of Sushil Kumar Kaushal (father) and Reja Kumari (mother), had just started attending Anganwadi Center in Gaya, Bihar when the pandemic hit. Like millions of children, she was locked inside her home, away from her friends, and the good start of education was abruptly cut short. There was no one at home to help Seema with her education. Her mother was illiterate and her father was away almost every day looking for work.
During the pandemic, home-based early childhood care and development (ECCD) has emerged as one of the best response strategies to meet the developmental needs of young children who have been unable to attend school classes. school. Parents and children participated in Save the Children’s Early Literacy and Mathematics (ELM) program as part of the ‘Back to Basics’ project. This intervention was also initiated in the village of Seema. With the support of an Academic Support Fellow (ASF), the Anganwadi teacher formed a WhatsApp group with parents and carers and shared videos and audios on the group. The intention was to facilitate some basic learning at home. Mothers like Reja were oriented on how to conduct lessons on simple shapes and figures with the tools available at home.
Slowly with the support of our ASF, Seema’s mother started teaching her at home. This gave impetus to his early childhood education. “Save the Children and Anganwadi didi motivated me to teach my daughter. It gave me the confidence to interact with other mothers in the village and share our experiences. I am so happy that my child is interested in his studies,” said Seema’s mother, Reja.
After nearly two years, when the Anganwadi centers reopened, Seema’s cheerful feet pranced all the way to kindergarten. With her friends, she spends three hours at the centre, which gives them the opportunity to learn and play. She learned to read and write Hindi alphabets; she can count up to 15 and identify shapes and colors. She is ready for school.
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