This blog post is by guest blogger Lim Yu Ting, who is currently interning with the SRF Foundation.
How it all began
“Would you like to join us for our 3EP preview workshop this Friday?” Joysina Ma’am chirped enthusiastically one day as we were going about our usual routine.
As interns from Singapore Management University (SMU), Claire and I have been placed within the 3EP team, helping them with the marketing aspects of the programme.
(In case you were wondering, 3EP stands for Enhancing Early Education and is a 6 month nursery teacher training programme initiated by the SRF Foundation in collaboration with The Shri Ram Schools.)
“Sure, of course!” My eyes lit up at the thought of gaining a first-hand exposure to what we have been promoting all this while. After all, we have to believe in the programme before we can market it effectively, right?
That’s me, posing with a handprinted duck – just one of the many art techniques learnt by 3EP trainees
This is Claire, apparently excited about the new found piece of art work
Friday came and we headed to The Shri Ram School, Aravali campus where all the action was to take place. The workshop was slated to last from 3pm to 4.30pm.
As we walked into the classroom, we saw five potential trainees seated. At that moment, a sense of pride swelled in my heart. People were hearing about the programme and had taken time off to come for our workshop!
We greeted those present with a smile and joined the row of participants, all eager to find out what exactly the 3EP has to offer.
Anita Ma’am addressing us
“Hello! How is everyone today?” greeted Anita Ma’am.
Being the 3EP programme coordinator, she had come to interact with the participants. Her sincerity was obvious as she made genuine efforts to know each participant better.
Could this be what differentiates 3EP from the rest? The unique attention instructors give to each individual?
My thoughts were disrupted by fast-paced classical music, which filled my ears. The workshop had started and a photostory showcasing the journey of the 3EP since it started in 2007 was playing. I was rather amazed to learn that despite being such a young programme, graduates of 3EP have already secured teaching positions in many leading schools in Delhi and Gurgaon.
After the video, Joysina Ma’am took out a box of colour pencils and told us to pick a pencil each. We were then told to use the colour of the pencil as a basis to introduce ourselves. I picked a green pencil.
As we went round the circle, many interesting ideas came up. A lady who picked blue said it was her favourite colour – which did not come as a surprise given that she was dressed from head to toe in blue. She went on to explain how blue reminded her of the sky and she believes the sky is her limit.
Being so used to giving boring introductions, my creative juices were not flowing as fast as I would have liked them to. When my turn came, I stammered and said something lame about how green is my favourite colour and that it is a constant reminder to be environmentally friendly.
In a (failed) attempt to be more creative, I also said I like to stare at greenery because it is supposedly good for the eyes. Despite my meek attempt to introduce myself, everyone was very supportive and encouraging.
This activity served as an icebreaker and an effective one at that, because we were forced to think out-the-box and share ideas openly.
Briefing about 3EP
Dipannita Ma’am then went on to give a talk about the programme. 3EP had started as an initiative to train more committed and caring teachers. Tapping on The Shri Ram methodology, 3EP focuses on training nursery teachers to adopt a child-centric approach. She also talked about the syllabus, which comprises of theory sessions along with real time observations and two internships at different preschools. Besides this, trainees will have the opportunity to showcase their talents (or discover their hidden talents) when they prepare and submit an art file at the end of the course.
No worries if you do not have a flair for art because art techniques will be taught during the course!
Everyone is listening intently to what Dipannita Ma’am is saying
More games, fun and laughter
After Dipannita Ma’am’s brief introduction, it was back to more games, to demonstrate the types of child-teaching techniques taught in the 3EP. There was a game where we had to sit in a circle and pass ‘magical powers’ from one end of the circle to the other through the tapping of hands, in a variety of speeds and patterns. This activity is supposed to encourage children to exercise their imagination and hone their reflexes.
I was transported way back to when I was a child again as we tried to pass the ‘magical powers’ around the circle in the shortest time possible. Next we played a game where each of us had to say a word starting with “pl”, a randomly decided phoneme. The objective of this activity is to encourage children to let their brain juices flow and speak up.
In addition, the process of voicing out words in a circle allows them to be exposed to new words, thus improving their vocabulary. Further more, Joysina Ma’am added that the purpose of group activities conducted in a circle is so that no child would be left out and everyone would get an equal opportunity to participate.
Ideas were thrown out as we proceeded around the circle. “Plant… Plate… Planet… Place… silence…” Yes, it was my turn and I was suffering from yet another mental block. I could feel myself turning as pink as my shirt as everyone waited for my answer.
“Er… plop?” I said rather weakly after a long pause, and everyone laughed.
That’s me looking sheepish
Right now in the comfort of the office, I can easily think of many words starting with ‘pl’. I guess this activity also trains a child to think fast and act on his/her feet, a valuable skill to master indeed.
A heartfelt sharing
The workshop was highly interactive and the atmosphere was relaxed. Judging from their smiles, laughter and sharing, everyone was having a good time. At the same time, mutual learning was taking place.
A lady shared an inspiring story about how she was motivated to take up this course after she realized the importance parents play in the development of their children. She herself has a child with learning disabilities. Initially she blamed everyone around her and subsequently fell into deep depression. After much support from her friends, she realized that instead of sitting around crying all day, she should make an effort to teach her child herself to make up for the lost time.
She started putting in efforts to coach her child. It was not an easy process, she confided, but right now she is proud to say that her son is on par with the rest of the children, despite his disability.
The 3EP instructors decided it would be splendid if the participants could bring home something from the workshop and therefore, organized a mini art activity. We were taught the stained glass art technique where black strips of paper are to be pasted anywhere on a white piece of paper, with the only condition that all ends of the black paper must be connected.
After which, colours will then be added to fill the white spaces, thus creating a nice piece of art work resembling stained glass.
Everyone putting in their best efforts to create a masterpiece
I was enjoying myself so much that I did not realize how time had flown by. I had learnt so much in just 1.5 hours; just imagine how much more can be learnt in 6 months! Like me, most participants were convinced of 3EP’s merits and expressed interest in enrolling for the course. With a well thought-out syllabus, and patient, experienced and caring instructors, who wouldn’t be convinced?
Those who have actually attended the course were unanimously in praise of it. It had changed their lives!
After attending the workshop, the only advice I can give to anyone reading this is: if you love children and the thought of being a pre-school educator excites you, hesitate no further – join the course.
The time, effort and money spent would be all worth it!