Std 6 – 10 is truly the “real” school phase of a child. They have all the serious subjects, more material to comprehend and more answers to write, exams to take and they start preparing for life as we know it! This is where their habits and personalities start to show themselves and they transition – both physically and mentally – from being kids to grown ups!
The subjectwise classroom concept that starts in Kindergarten continues right up to Std. 10. in Walnut School. That means the children move to a different classroom for each period. Each room has interiors customized to teach that particular subject! So, the classroom becomes a learning aid too! Children learn science in the Science Lab, Math in the Math lab and Social studies in the Social studies room! Moving between rooms also gives our students a five minute break after each period, which keeps them alert and fresh, even at the end of the school day. All this results in better learning and a very interesting school day.
All the formal subjects are dealt with in this phase. The students have English, Math, Science, Social studies and two more languages : the local language and the national language. The planned and systematic approach of the Walnut Learning System ensures that all the concepts are taught thoroughly. Along with that, they also have to be prepared to take the boards in the 10th. We need to make sure that they get there with a good mindset because that is their first large scale public exam. They need to be confident and positive as they have to deal with many such scenarios constantly in their future lives.
English happens to be one of the most critical subjects. The students have to have a mixture of many skills in order to tackle this subject. That is why there are a multitude of activities in order to fine tune their skills. The preparation in a way starts in primary school itself and continues with the games, novel studies, creative writing, activities and text study. They have a lot of weekend and holiday assignments which expose them to material outside their books which helps them prepare even better for their exams and improves their language skills. They study a novel in the final unit of each year. This program helps them learn how to read a story or a long text, organize their thoughts and build on the characters and situations in their head. In other schools, this is done only in Std. 10. But at Walnut our students are used to it from Std. 4 itself!
Science is a core subject right upto Std. 10. Due to the early exposure that students have in Walnut, it’s one of their most relaxed subjects. The science period happens in the science lab itself. That way they get to perform the experiments along with the theory. That helps them understand things better and they are able to answer practical based questions too – which are often the tricky ones in the board exam. For the simpler experiments, students even get kits at home so they can explore the concepts a bit more. Concept wise teaching happens in the classroom. After every lesson, there is a lightning revision round which keeps the students regular in their revision. Children are given research or activity sheets which take their knowledge and understanding of the subject to a whole new depth. This is great for the children and parents who like to go beyond of the scope of the syllabus.
Mathematics is a regular subject for all CBSE schools. At Walnut we take it a few notches higher. Mathematics is a brain challenge as it involves constant problem solving. In most schools problems are just solved on the board by the teacher and students then copy it down onto their notebooks. But this activity does not let the students develop their problem solving skills. At Walnut, the teacher first gives the students time to digest a problem and solve it. Then she presents the solution so that the students get to tally it with their effort. Even if the student has gone wrong, the thinking process has happened and he/she can figure out the mistake and improve. Spoon feeding keeps the students weak and so we don’t do it at Walnut, and especially so in Mathematics. Additionally in order to keep the competitiveness in the class going strong, the students are divided into four groups and seated accordingly in rows – cheetah, horse, deer and tortoise. That way the students of a similar level are grouped together and they compete with each other for speed and accuracy. The teacher can also focus on the students who need more guidance. We also have sessions for the parents on how their approach should be to help the children deal with the pressure of mathematics on their own. Variety and difficulty of questions is considered and a sample of each kind is solved in the class. The detailed step wise solutions of all questions are given to the parents. A lot of extra questions of varying difficulty are given to the students. Students get a lot of additional practice material to try out at home as well.
- Social Studies:
Due to the early start that students in Walnut get with social studies, the level of stress that they deal with is lower than in other schools. They have questions based on understanding of the story and cause and effect relationships. Students do not have to memorize dates and long lists at all. Social studies is less stressful at Walnut School. Content is pulled down by a year. Different treatment is given to different chapters to reduce the burden of the children.
In addition to English, the students also learn the state language – Marathi, and the National language – Hindi, at Walnut School. This is something that they have to take ahead till Std. 10. So, it has to be done in a very thorough and systematic way. They are also given assignments in which they have to read interesting stories and listen to songs and watch some movies in order to get a better idea of how the language works (in a non colloquial way!)
Students have a library period in their timetable. The special thing about this period at Walnut is that it is never eaten up by other subject teachers! The ambience is relaxing. They get to browse and pick a story book of their liking and they can sit cosily and read away!
At Walnut, we believe that a strong hold over a language, especially English, is what is going to take a child places. So, to get the students very comfortable with English they are encouraged to use it in many different ways – and one such activity which we have designed is the reading theatre. The students are handed scripts and in different readings their roles get shuffled and the students try their hand at trying out various accents and voice modulations. The ultimate objective is to get them as comfortable in English as they are in their mother tongue. All this is possible only at Walnut School – as the activities and academic distribution is very well planned and executed.
At Walnut School, all students have a sports period everyday. This continues till Std. 10. Yes, even in Std. 10 our students get a balanced life. Our students learn Skating, Fitness, Yoga, Basketball, Aerobics, Volleyball, Football, Throw ball and Carrom. Sports helps them develop a good personality, its a stress buster and teaches them about teamwork. It adds a daily physical activity into their routine and this habit stays with them even in later life.
Art and Craft
Art and craft is also taken very seriously at Walnut. The students are exposed to a variety of art forms. They learn about patterns, perspectives and forms to create art. They also try out seasonal and traditional artwork to take home.
Walnut students learn a lot about computers and computational thinking through the CSPathshala program of ACM and Google. They learn problem solving, algorithms, pattern recognition, programming, analysis and logical thinking. Std. 6 onwards, students learn programming in Scratch, learn more about how Math and computers are closely related, and also get an introduction to Python – a very popular programming language. By the time our students reach Std. 8, they are well-versed with all the components of computational thinking, and are strong logical thinkers – something which is going to be a requirement for dealing with opportunities in the future.
Performing Arts and Events
A lot of performing art training happens in Walnut as there are so many events lined up in their school year. They learn acting, dancing, singing, speeches and dramatized readings. There is something or the other every few weeks for the students to look forward to. There are two big events each year – the Carnival and the Gathering. There are medium sized events like the Sports Day, Science Fair, Entrepreneur Fair and the Independence Day celebration. There are tons of other competitions and the art day as well. The exposure they get is invaluable and they build a lot of confidence in the process. All children participate in every event – no child is left behind. They enjoy being a part of all school activities. There is no extra charge for participation / training / drapery in any event! Parents are allowed to take as many photos and videos as they wish. We share photos and videos of the events at no cost.
Competitive Exam Prep
Training for the competitive exams starts from standard 3 itself with MCQ format along with descriptive exams. Also training for standard 5 and 8 Scholarship is done in the school routine. Due to introduction of many subjects well in advance like Marathi in standard 3 it gets easier for the children to face these competitive exams. We have our own application Walmiki which helps familiarize the students with the MCQ pattern.
Formal homework starts from Std. 6 at Walnut School. Homework for each period is planned at the beginning of the year. The planned homework makes sure that only “sensible” assignments are given and that the workload for the child is always reasonable and age appropriate. We have innovative homework on holidays where the children have to review movies, books, articles or songs. They have to conduct interviews, surveys and do research. All these help to develop other skills along with strengthening the core academics. These are assignments that the children have to do themselves – as they cannot be done from an adult perspective. So homework is useful, interesting and not at all burdening for the parents!
Board Exam Prep
Right from Std 1, our students start preparing for dealing with exams. We have three practice tests before each exam – that ensures that the students get familiar with the format, time management, content handling and the actual exam scenario. It gives them time to recover from ‘silly mistakes’ and give their best performance where it counts. Also, by the time they finish with the practice tests, they are so comfortable with the idea of writing the test that there is no stress at all. Thus Walnut has happy and high achievers. And this system gives them learning habits for a lifetime! From Std 6 to 9, they have 4 unit tests and 2 term tests a year and 3 practice tests before each unit test and term test. In Std. 10 they have all these plus three weekly tests and 5 rounds of prelims. All this helps them deal with the board exam very well and even helps them with exams after the 10th standard!
Students get “Explore On” sheets which are research based activities. There are also “Challenge” questions on the sheets which work on higher order thinking skills. All this ensures that the smart kids have enough to work their brain muscle too!
In the middle of the school day, the students have a snack break. They do not have to eat their food in the classroom or sitting on the ground. They have a cafeteria where they have tables to sit at. They form groups with their friends and have a nice chat and laugh as they take a midday break. There are also presentations with news, GK and other information playing in the background, which they can catch after their break before going to class. That’s fun and interesting too!
A balanced schedule, good timetable and subject wise classrooms keeps the day interesting for Walnut students. Once their schedule is done, it is time to go home. They line up as per their buses, board them and head home, with smiling faces – as they have thoroughly enjoyed their school day. Safety and security is very important and ID cards are matched when they head back and are handed over to their parents or caretakers. If the process is not followed, the child is brought back to the school! That is how careful we are at Walnut about the well being of our children.
Sometimes, some children don’t quite pick up a concept properly in the classroom. If the weakness is ignored, it becomes bigger and bigger and then the child just loses interest in studies altogether. English and Mathematics are two subjects where this becomes very dangerous because they really need to know earlier concepts when they learn new ones. So we take special efforts for these two subjects in the school. The teacher checks the progress, understanding and performance of each child every day. The children who are falling behind that week are then asked to come to school on Saturday with their parents. The concepts are taught again. Since this is not their regular classroom, we also use the local language to help them understand the idea better. The children are divided into small groups, there are more teachers around them and the parents are also taught how to help the children during the week at home. This helps them slowly overcome their weaknesses and stay with the rest of the class.
Parents in the Loop
Walnut parents are properly kept in loop. They get weekly updates about their child’s classroom and hands on activities using the Wal-Sh app. 12 times a year, the parents get to meet the teachers one on one. That way all problems can be handled properly in the best interest of the child. Individual feedback helps parents understand the child’s progress better. How do we manage to do so much in a school day and over the year, year after year? Well, detailed planning is at the heart of every activity that goes on at Walnut. Under the guidance of our mentor, Arpita Karkare, we have a huge R and D team with experts from different fields who are making sure that the children get the best possible schooling experience. This dedicated team creates the content, trains the teachers, keeps doing quality checks and makes sure that all our Walnut students remain Tough Outside and Smart Inside! And that’s our school in a nutshell!