Chetan Balwadi - A Laboratory Nursery School
The Chetan Balwadi is a Laboratory Nursery School of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Faculty of Family and Community Sciences, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. Established in 1949, it has served as a premier institution in the field of early child development. The Balwadi offers a quality early child development program for children, training of professional and paraprofessional personnel in the field of early education and also serves as a research context.
Curriculum and Pedagogical Approaches
The early childhood program has its roots in the progressive philosophy of John Dewey. The medium of instruction for all teaching-learning processes is Gujarati, the state language. A child-centred approach based on children’s interests and need felt by the teachers makes the program activity-based, encourages active exploration of the environment, has plenty of hands-on experiences in a meaningful and thematic context. The process of learning is emphasized more than just the product or outcomes.
The National Education Policy 2020 has created a renewed emphasis on the foundational structure of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programs for children’s holistic development. The Chetan Balwadi curriculum was embellished in line with NEP recommendations by integrating ECCE principles from indigenous schools of thought and practices rooted in the Indian culture. Special emphasis on scientific inquiry as well as Indian cultural values, arts, aesthetics, music and stories is well integrated across curricular sessions.
Classroom Environment and Arrangement
The classrooms catering to 3 to 6 year old children have been designed based on the five developmental dimensions of child development with ample scope for flexibility towards children’s emerging needs. All resources and equipment are child-friendly.
Outdoor Space for Children
The outdoor space of Chetan Balwadi has age appropriate play equipments to enhance physical-motor development of young children. A recent collaboration with the Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, MSU has further enhanced the space with medicinal, herbal and air purifying plantations. The overall landscaping and functional beautification is also being carried out through this collaboration.
Developmental assessment in the lab school is pressure free, developmentally appropriate, ongoing and inbuilt into the program. Daily observations by teachers, anecdotal records, portfolios, developmental checklist, cumulative records, qualitative information of the children’s behavior, actual work samples, developmental status of children and a comprehensive profile of each child are a part of the continuous assessment throughout the year. The comprehensive assessment is shared with parents through individual meetings twice in a year.
Parent involvement is an integral part of Chetan Balwadi program. Parent programs focus on capacity building, strengthening knowledge base about child development and creating a compassionate understanding of children’s behavior.
Parents are involved through individual and group meetings, workshops and panel discussions with various experts. Parents are encouraged to participate in celebration of festivals and special events like Yoga day, Sports day etc.
As the Laboratory Nursery School of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, numerous researches have been carried out in the Balwadi. Some themes include Moral Development, Forgiveness, Mother-Tongue Based Multi Lingual Education Program, Project Approach, Standardization of Developmental Assessment and others.
Department Fieldwork Program
Undergraduate and post graduate students of the Department are trained in Chetan Balwadi as part of their regular curriculum. Thus, the laboratory nursery school serves as a training ground for ECCE professionals.
Chetan Balwadi celebrated 70 years of establishment in 2019. The celebration was supported enthusiastically by alumni, past and current superintendents, teachers, students and support staff.
A step towards digitalization was initiated by the Chetan Balwadi alumni - Sumedh Kapadia and Aaditya Kapadia who created the official Chetan Balwadi-MSU app on Google play store to help young children learn various basic concepts, stories, songs etc. The app is first of its kind in Gujarati language.