Grade 2 is a year of exciting transformations at B.D. Somani. Our Grade 2 students come in from Grade 1 as young kids but make way to Grade 3 with increased maturity and responsibility. We see them developing a sense of accountability and responsibility- managing themselves, helping others and becoming part of the larger community within the school.
The effect of the two pandemic years has been felt in classrooms all across the globe. At B.D. Somani, we worked hard to maintain a sense of community and belonging even during online classes and are now working on the learning that still needs to be accomplished in the physical classes. Our focus as we returned to in-person learning was and is to help students build social skills and enhance their literacy and numeric skills in a classroom setting with peer-to-peer interaction and direct learning from teachers.
At our school, the learning process is centered on students. We uncover what they know about the world around them and use that information as the starting point to expand their knowledge and skills. In Grade 2, students learn about the transportation system in Mumbai. Each class decides which sub-topics and concepts they want to focus on. One class might want to learn about water transport in detail, another might go for trains or buses. Through open-ended questions and reflective strategies, we guide them to discover new information, including collecting information from their local bus stops or talking to members of their local community. In this way, they continue building on their research skills developed in the previous grades that will ultimately help them a great deal when they go on to study in major universities all around the globe.
Many schools rely solely on textbooks to teach their students. The textbooks determine what children learn, and oftentimes, any questions they might have beyond the given material are actively discouraged. But at B.D. Somani, students are encouraged to ask “I wonder” questions about different topics which propel the entire class’s learning journey. For us, the students are a resource, alongside teachers, the community and the environment. Broad outlines are in place to guide what will be explored and inquired into in Grade 2, but the learning process is entirely guided by the children’s curiosities and questions.
For example, Plant Kingdom is one of the overarching units set for Grade 2, but one class may go from germination to afforestation, based on their interests, while another may start from deforestation and eventually learn about germination at a later stage. We take care to supplement classroom learning with experiments and activities whenever possible. Gardening is one of the main activities at B.D. Somani. Students take great pleasure in planting seeds and taking care of saplings. This way, they also get to witness the entire process of germination and plant life cycle. Gardening also instills in them a sense of responsibility towards other living things.
At B.D. Somani, we want students to retain what they have learnt over the years. Recently, we conducted a survey to find out if students were maintaining the green habits they had been taught in different grades, such as separating waste, not using plastics etc. This is our way of ensuring that their learning is a continuous and dynamic process.
Through Block Building, children translate components of their immediate and external community into representative structures. These structures they build with blocks are realistic and form a community within the classroom space.
We also encourage inter-grade collaborative learning to facilitate exchange of knowledge between different age groups. Students of Grade 5 were learning about soil pollution, and presented what they learnt to Grade 2, who were learning about plants and their growth. In this way, we show our students how they can engage with each other to learn new things.
In our post-pandemic times, we are realising more and more the importance of making our children aware of the larger world, of equipping them with skills, knowledge and habits of mind that they will need to navigate its many complexities and challenges as they go on to become global citizens. At B.D. Somani, we believe in starting this process of empowerment right from primary school, and the experience they have in Grade 2 is testament to our continuous efforts to that end.
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