The team of HXLS (Heritage Xperiential Learning School), a coveted experiential school, has recently launched its first preschool – Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre (HXLC) in Gurgaon with a stated philosophy of offering children an ‘unhurried’ environment for them to be ‘learning ready’. This article aims to understand the motivation and aspiration behind this early year educational philosophy and initiative.
Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Parents start this journey with varying expectations. For a few, the autonomy their child gets to do things of interest is the most important. For others, the social skills and basic habits the child picks up may be the vital reason. For others still, the primary gauge of success in preschool years is the child’s basic skills in alphabet and counting.
These days, preschool is almost a rite of passage but as per research studies, preschools focussed on academics offer children no long-term advantages academically. In particular, children from academically focussed early years may be less advanced in reading and mathematics and be less socially and emotionally able. So what is the solution?
While most good preschools would strive to encompass aspects from all of the above expectations, the real differentiator is in the focus of their approaches, according to Nilam Sharma, Director, Early Child Care and Education of Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre. “For instance, our focus at HXLC is to align our pedagogy to the physical, emotional and social development demands of early childhood. We deliberately avoid content overload but weave learning as part of the activities that are essential to the development stage each child is at. We have designed our environment to be unhurried so that children truly enjoy childhood as they discover, play and (most importantly) learn to ‘be and belong’ in this world as better human beings,” she says.
The Art & Science of It at HXLC
The mind and the body go through transitions during the early years of childhood. Physical development of the body is a key development stage especially in children just starting out with preschool. Speech development is another key stage around this time. Preschools typically have ‘academic activities’ based inside a classroom and some indoor or outdoor ‘play time’ based on the space available to the preschool. However, child development experts say there is a cause and effect relationship between physical and speech development during the initial years with patterns of movement affecting the speech. These activities should be used in concurrence for therapeutic benefit.
HXLC shared an excellent example of how they blend this in practice through literary science of a weak caterpillar transforming into a strong butterfly story. The children enjoy the storytelling (attention to language) and role play the movements (imagination) of a caterpillar by twisting, turning and curling up their bodies on their mats (helping development of their spine). As the journey continues the children (emotionally) experience the transformation of the caterpillar into a butterfly and imitate the fluttering of the butterfly in sounds (speech) and motion (physical development).
The Facts of the Matter at Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre (HXLC)
- Programs available for children 18 months to 5.5 years
- Maximum of 22 students in each class with two teachers and one helper
- Children with age difference of up to 18 months in each grade level to allow for peer learning
Quest for the Best at HXLC
In line with the ethos of its parent venture HXLS, every teacher at Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre (HXLC) undergoes over 800 hours of training and seminars to truly align themselves to experiential philosophy. They undertake the program experiences themselves to be able to effectively conduct these experiences for the students. The fundamental idea is to use research, evidences and best practices from around the world to give a solid start to preschoolers for their easy and confident transition into a variety of formal schools at the end of the program.
Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre 'X Factor' – Inseparable Dose of Consciousness!
There are two key things that clearly stand out about the program at HXLC – First, their emphasis on ‘consciousness’ as a way to be, and let be and second, the way they are trying to blend physical body moment, learning and consciousness into everything that they do.
From being aware about the needs of their peer group to being mindful towards the environment and showing respect for resources – the intent is to constantly learn to be thoughtful and think beyond the seen.
Their regular Nature Walks as part of the HXLC program is a good example of the blend - Observation of different objects and colours, appreciation & wonder of life, physical body movement to operate tongs to pick things up and finally the thought of ‘let’s leave some for the ants’ when collecting items of interest.
Everything Is Worth the Wait at HXLC
Another very interesting thing that strikes about HXLC is their unhurried work routines which is in stark contrast to the way of life is for most of us. In fact, they purposefully incorporate delays as part of their learning in the “unpreparedness” plan.
Their logic is simple! Children need to learn and be conditioned to waiting ‘patiently’ – for their turn, for unexpected delays, to assist in preparation and for gratification in general.
So instead of jumping from one activity to the other on cue where everything is pre-set and ready for use, Heritage Xperiential Learning Centre strives to create a ‘no rush environment’ for children to enjoy childhood the way it should be. At HXLC, they truly believe that ‘what goes slow, grows well’.