Recently, NCERT launched its first-ever preschool curriculum, and it said that no children from the age of three to six years should not be subjected to tests of any kind, but should be made to learn through play. The curriculum also said that the children aged between the said group should begin their educational learning in their own mother tongues.
Teaching in a child’s mother tongue is internationally recognised as the most appropriate language for initial learning. The recent curriculum indicates that NCERT had acknowledged the international trend and has also recognised the challenge that language diversity poses in India.
Moreover, several studies show that the language instructions in home languages in early grade years education benefit the learners the most. Moreover, as learning begins not at school but at home and in a majority of the cases done in the mother tongue. Later on, when the child is at school, instructions in home language helps children to understand the curriculum in a better and improved way.
“In case there are more than one language as mother tongue, teachers may allow as many languages as are in the classroom to be used for expression with gradually exposing the child to school language…Children need a bilingual or multilingual environment for smooth transition,” says NCERT.
The circular also means that all schools teaching children between three to six age group must avoid early formal instruction. It added that “Rote-based, teacher-directed learning, which is devoid of meaningful context with undue pressure on the child to perform is harmful.”
It also says that every child should be assessed on an individual basis through informal and systematic observations of their play and activities.
The curriculum also says, “On no account, should children be made to take any form of test or examination either oral or written. The purpose of evaluation at the pre – school stage is not to label a child as ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. ”
According to NCERT, the assessment instead should work in the direction of making children learn new skills. Overall, it should focus on a child’s strength rather than weaknesses the curriculum said.