Taking learning forward in the early years

Play, songs, and stories give us great scope to make our environments rich with language.



We have all heard of self-awareness techniques, feedback, observation, etc to help children learn better and to overcome their challenges. What ways do we follow for kindergarten children? How do we take their learning forward?

Language being the most powerful tool of learning, it is imperative to have an environment in which children are surrounded by talking, singing, reading, and having many opportunities throughout their day to listen.

Social-emotional and cognitive development is largely facilitated when children are in language-rich environments. Nonexposure or less exposure to vocabulary, back-and-forth conversations, and other such activities creates a “word gap” in children.

“Word gap” can be bridged by enriching the language environment of all young children in our care, including children who do not speak yet, children with disabilities or delays, and children who are learning more than one language.


Exploration of Conversation – Engaging children

  • Use everyday opportunities such as snack time, circle time, storytime, or outdoor play. to engage children in conversation.
  • Listen to what the child says. If the child does not speak yet, tune into what they are doing or pointing to and use these moments to talk with them. For children who are not yet talking, listen to their nonverbal communication. See their facial and body expressions to make sure they are engaged.
  • Build conversation around what the child is doing. Add words to develop their vocabulary and thus make conversation and communication easy.
  • Children can be asked questions about their everyday experiences or what they do/ did in their free time.
  • Give the child enough time to respond. For children who do not have language yet, this may be a nonverbal response, like a gesture or a look.

Taking the conversation to the next level

  • Encourage back-and-forth exchanges.
  • Ask children what they are doing, what they did before, and what they plan to do next. Encourage children to make comparisons and consider alternate possibilities.
  • Introduce new concepts or ideas.
  • Ask open-ended questions, “why’ questions, and prediction questions.. what do you think will happen next?
  • Introduce new words. Create opportunities for children to use the new words. Choose stories and songs that contain those words.

Interactive Dialogic Reading—Interactive way of reading where children are engaged in dialogues

  • Comment and wait
  • Ask questions and wait
  • Respond by adding a little more and wait.

Age-Appropriate Pedagogies—Learning through Play and Stories

  • Blended approach.
  • Direct teaching/instruction.
  • Event-based approach.
  • Explicit instruction.
  • Inquiry learning.
  • Play-based learning.
  • Project approach.

Whichever approach we use—play is central to all. Dr. Swati Popat Vats, President Early Childhood Association, has guided ECA Team to prepare a Play Policy. This comprehensive document speaks of different kinds of play and different activities based on the play that a child must be exposed to throughout the day!

Gijubhai Badeka, the great educational thinker who shunned the rote-and-learn method believed in the Montessori Method, the power of games, play, and storytelling. Stories lead to imagination, role-play, and creativity.

Play, songs, and stories give us great scope to make our environments rich with language!

Learning from nature

Nature Play is the best form of play for young children. Children should be encouraged to delve into child-led activities. Adults should observe them and intervene only when needed. Nature play significantly improves all aspects of child development – physical, cognitive, social, and emotional. Playing outdoors grows resilience, self-confidence, initiative, creativity, and more. It encourages the joy of movement; it nurtures wild imaginations, experimentation, friendships, social connections, and behavior.


Patho Bhawan, an experimental school founded by Sri Rabindra Nath Tagore at Shantiniketan aimed to be a school where nature walks and excursions were a part of the curriculum, special attention was paid to natural phenomena, and students were encouraged to follow the life cycles of insects, birds, and plants.

As educators let us look back to such schools and create opportunities for children for outdoor play that is self-directed, self-chosen, and self-motivated.

Balancing Screen Time with Green Time

Sedentary recreational behavior in this digital generation has grown rapidly. This is now almost an epidemic. While technology is important as a tool for learning, it is important to balance this with nature play every day.



Schools should emphasize on values of tolerance, cooperation, responsibility, respect, perseverance, honesty, kindness, leadership, and creativity. These can be embedded into the curriculum and school life.

Parental Involvement

School – Families partnerships are most effective for the development of skills and enhancement of learning in children. Together parents and teachers can collaborate to strengthen and support children’s holistic development. Schools need to keep parents involved in their children’s progress. Involving parents in the bridging activities will help to take learning forward. Parents can be the school’s best partners to foster learning. In our schools every month we have parent-child activities where our children and parents do playful learning collaboratively. Not only is it great fun but parents are also helped to understand what and how their children learn in school!

Fire up the curiosity and enthusiasm in young children and see how they grasp their environment and grow into lifelong learners!

Author – Suman Sood, Director & Principal, B.D.Memorial Jr. School, Kolkata



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