Not enough people know that nestled in the back of the National Centre for Educational Resource Development in Kingston, Georgetown was a nursery school teacher's paradise. We were so impressed with what we saw that we could not resist paying a visit and sharing what we discovered with everyone.
The resource area had been developed by Mrs Florence Sukhdeo, National Curriculum and Materials Advisor who worked for BEAMS. Mrs Sukhdeo had a wealth of experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, university lecturer and advisor. The room was full of resources which were within the capabilities of any teacher to make and which, she was proud to say, she had either made herself or had commissioned from one of her many students all over the world that she had taught over her impressive years of service.
"I make and display the resources so that when a teacher sees them, she will immediately know what they are for and be able to make them herself." But, they were not classic home made resources that look home made. They were produced from all kinds of materials that were readily available in teachers' homes and which were often thrown away. With an emphasis on colour, shape, size and potential for the teaching of spatial awareness, Mrs Sukhdeo selected her odds and ends and turned them into practical learning resources which would serve well in the classroom for many generations of children. One of her successes were the big books she produced which highlighted cultural practices in Guyana whilst at the same time teaching children the basics of reading. Some of these were printed by Guyana Book Foundation with support from two Canadian based organisations CODE and CIDA as well as others from the BEAMS Programme (Basic Education Access and Management Support).
She had an eye for detail and was keen that teachers would replicate what they saw in their own classrooms. We wanted to show her talents to a greater audience through http://www.ncerdleaders.com/. Mrs Sukhdeo was passionate about nursery children and was keen to ensure that all had a standard of education equal to the best. She didn't want to see nursery classrooms cluttered with display and resources just to decorate the room but felt that they should be true learning aids appropriate to the age, development and maturity of the children. Displays needed to be changed regularly and link with what is being taught at a particular time.
In Guyana, nursery education consists of the following:
Year One - Age 3.9 - 4.9 years
Year Two - Age 4.9 - 5.9 years
Children then graduate to primary school where they are "infants" in Grades One and Two.
Of course, all of the materials displayed, suitably adapted, are appropriate also for the older age range. A positive and rich learning environment is essential at all levels from nursery to secondary. A science classroom in a secondary school needs to look like science is fun and enjoyable just as much as a primary classroom needs to motivate the children teaching them that learning is not only fun but a critical life skill.
Mrs Sukhdeo, who sadly has passed away now, we applaud you for your tenacity and your ability to share your wealth of experience, passing on your valuable knowledge to a new generation of teachers.
You can view all of the resources in Mrs Sukhdeo's room by clicking on the picture below. When you have the pictures in front of you, you can make them larger by using the slide bar at the top.
"From bottle tops to big books and bunnies to benabs,
Mrs Sukhdeo had it all!"
If you would like to find out more about classroom display in a previous article,