After Two Years Of Pandemic, Home-Based Learning Makes Little Seema School-Ready

The first day of school is an important milestone for a child. Every parent documents this day – Neatly pressed uniform, unruly hair finally tamed, a backpack and a water bottle and a new beginning of dreams. Schools provide a safe space for children to nurture their talents and aspirations. Seema Rani, the youngest of three daughters, Sushil Kumar Kaushal (father) and Reja Kumari (mother), had just started going to the Anganwadi Center in Gaya, Bihar, when the pandemic struck. Like many children, she was locked inside her home, away from her friends and the right start to education abruptly halted. There was no one home to help Seema with her education. Her mother was not literate, and her father was out for most days searching for work.

During the pandemic, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) emerged at home as one of the best response strategies for young children with developmental needs. The ‘Back to Basics’ project under Early Literacy and Maths (ELM) on Save the Children’s Program on Parents and Children participated. This intervention was initiated in Seema’s village as well. With the support of an Academic Support Fellow (ASF), the Anganwadi teacher formed a WhatsApp group with parents and caregivers and shared videos and audios. The intention was to facilitate some basic learning at home. Mothers like Reja were oriented on how to conduct lessons at home with simple shapes and figures.

Slowly with support from our ASF, Seema’s mother started teaching at her home. It gave impetus to her early childhood education. “Save the Children and Anganwadi didi motivate me to teach my daughter. It has given me confidence in other mothers in the village and share our experiences. I feel so happy that my child is taking an interest in her studies,” she said. Seema’s mother, Reja.

After almost two years, when the Anganwadi Centers reopened, Seema’s happy feet pranced to the playschool. Along with her friends, she spends three hours at the center, which gives them an opportunity to learn and play. She has learned to read and write Hindi alphabets; she can count to 15 and identify shapes and colors. She’s ready for school.

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