The pandemic due to COVID-19 has created an unprecedented global challenge. West Bengal, along with other states in the country is fighting the pandemic with all its might. A parenting programme to offer Home-based Learning was undertaken to ensure that children are engaged at home in meaningful and developmentally appropriate activities which they could enjoy with their parents and other family members. It was targeted to reach approximately 27 lakh children enrolled in the 1,19,481 Anganwadi centres in the state across all its 23 districts. Research shows that non-attendance / dropout of children from schools are inevitable in a post pandemic situation, especially for children from vulnerable communities. The home learning package was an effort by the government to address this issue by maintaining continuity of learning and remain connected with children and their families.
The home learning package is aimed at establishing a routine for both parents and children, proved to be therapeutic for parents / grandparents, elder siblings, as it kept them occupied purposefully and helped them cope with the prevailing uncertainties and gloom.
The programme module is disseminated through the ICDS officers and frontline workers. The parents receive a package each week through the Anganwadi workers who have created “WhatsApp groups” with parents of children who come to their centres to easily transfer this package. In the absence of smartphones or internet with parents, relatives or neighbours are sent the package to share with parents of 3-6 year olds. The package is not only in Bengali but also in Hindi for the benefit of parents who do not speak Bengali.
Thematic activities have been incorporated in each week to align the package with the state early childhood education curriculum while making sure that they do not put any kind of pressure on parents to prepare theme aligned materials. Consequently, themes have been lightly touched upon through songs and stories and a couple of simple activities. The package emphasizes upon adaptability, a key tool in a situation like we face today.