Balwadi school visit by Budding Minds school students

Students create an impact on the kids in the local community

The students of an International school visited the learners at rural pre-primary and primary schools as part of the Student Leadership Programme. Akshara A, a participant in this programme shares her experience with the trip, preparations to interact with the kids and share knowledge in a fun way.

On March 2, 2023, students of grades 8 and 10 from Budding Minds International School, Manimangalam visited three Balwadis, government-run kindergarten schools in Nallore – a village on the outskirts of Mahabalipuram.

We did a long week of rigorous preparations to ensure that we the students our best. Firstly, we divided ourselves into two major groups: the cognitive team and the physical and motor skills (sports) team. The cognitive team was divided into three sub-teams: the puppet show, read aloud and activity teams.

The sports team observed our PP1’s sports class with Jhansy Aunty to gain an insight into the different skills their activities were supposed to bring in. They prepared an age-appropriate circuit workout which involved crossing hurdles and dropping hoops over themselves. They also designed a game where the kids could throw balls and pass blocks to their friends.

Meanwhile, the read-aloud team picked out a few big books, such as The Lion and the Mouse. A few of us – I was in this team – went to see Renita Aunty’s read-aloud to PP1 students. We made a note of her friendly body language. The read-aloud team then included these observations in their own readings. The puppet show team took a few common English stories like the Hare and the Tortoise and translated them into Tamil. Then, they began practising with the hand puppets for Kindergarteners. The activities team had to analyse different hands-on activities which could engage the kids actively. We decided on a few flashcards and colouring sheets.

On March 2, we boarded the bus with full confidence. We reached the village early and hence decided to tour it, learning more about their lifestyle in the process. I had a misconception that villages are not updated with current city trends, but it turns out they are very much up-to-date, especially with financial investments.

The first school we visited had only 5 kids, so a crowd of 30 students felt a little too much. We decided to only do one read-aloud and make them do a colouring sheet of animals. Talking to them was also a bit difficult. I helped them with the colouring. Moreover, some of them got scared looking at a lot of us and started crying out even more. Being the usual me I got impatient but tried my best to control it. I promised myself to try harder in the second school.

It took around 11.45 a.m. to reach the second school. By then, we were all hungry but managed two puppet shows and the second read-aloud. The kids there were slightly older and more mature. Interacting with them was easier for us as they felt more comfortable talking to us. The puppet show, more than the read-aloud, was a massive success as the kids loved to touch and interact with the hand puppets.

The third school was definitely my favourite because I spoke to the kids there with such fluency! I learnt more about them during the sports teams’ activities. From this, I got to know that they just needed someone to listen to their stories. They had so much to tell about their life. They related the pictures on the flashcard to incidents in their lives. Strangely, it felt stress-relieving to talk to those kids. Thanks to this visit, I have become better at understanding others, and learnt a lot on the way!

Images: Budding Minds International School

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