If you are asked to draw a “dream kindergarten”, how would your picture look? Probably, you would go for a nice, large building, subdivided in several rooms with a good and safe equipment for all ages, a lot of toys and materials needed for a good education and a large playground space.
In one of the many online catalogues I found these offers and hints (just an extract): “…consider materials that provide for the range of abilities and interests, encourage social and co-operative interaction e.g., through dramatic play activities, allow children to explore and investigate their natural world e.g., collections of rocks, magnifying glasses to observe creatures. A long list of furniture and materials follows, including book shelves, furniture for dramatic play area: table and chairs, fridge, stove, chest of drawers, hutch, beds for dolls (optional high chairs, ironing board) and a drying unit and easels for paintings…. Ideally, the water centre consists of a water table on legs a plastic transparent water tub plus a shelf + books related to the centre: water cycle, water life, shells, and boats + measuring containers: cylinders, cups, buckets, pitchers, yogurt containers,+ empty plastic juice containers, paper, pencils and crayons + water wheel, tubing, water pumps, Soap and bubble making tools,Props e.g., boats for fish, Mop …
TODAY, there was a training for ca. 50 anganwadi teachers from the tribal and rural areas here in Tamil Nadu, South India. They were asked the same: to draw an “ideal kindergarten”.
The pictures showed mostly the same “dream kindergarten”: a classroom, a kitchen room, a storage room, a children toilet with toilet water, some windows, a good roof, a cooking place (chular) where the smoke goes outside, electricity access and WATER coming out of a tap. Then a small gardening place for a kitchen garden. A tree. Inside a blackboard, some children chairs and some teaching posters. All in all a 40 to 50 qm building and ideally a playground outside of the same size.
“It would be nice to have a furniture where we could put some books and pens” , one of the woman says. “Yes, and a teacher table and outside a merry-go-round”, adds her neighbor teacher.
It seems that the level of perceptions, dreams and visions of kindergarten teachers around the world are very different. What if all had access to the big online catalogues, to the many ideas that could help to educate the children in the right way? What if all had the possibilities to order and pay for it?
Would the dreams of the anganwadi teachers become similar to those in the developed world? What if the “modern” kindergarten teachers would see how “close to earth” an anganwadi can be and which positive sites may result out of it?
I would be keen to see an international exchange program for kindergarten teachers, to go and see how kindergarten life can look in the other part of our world – I’m sure all would benefit from it.