“Gone are the days when children could become extensive readers simply by being exposed to great books as they grew up,” says Jagruti Gala, Creative Director and one of the founders of Stones2Milestones. “The present generation is more vulnerable. The children and teachers face numerous and great challenges when it comes to language learning, a foundational part of which is reading.”
Reading is an essential life-skill that children need to learn, not only to achieve academic success but also to develop an analytical mind and become more empathetic human beings. So far, we have been teaching language is schools and taking it for granted that the child will learn how to read ‘automatically’. On the contrary, reading needs to be taught in a systematic manner in school much like grammar is taught.
This is precisely what Wings of Words program offers. It is a reading program that systematically teaches skills essential for a child to be able to read. WOW’s many unique teacher and child-friendly features, stories, poems and games make it a reading program India is ripe and ready for. It has been developed by a passionate team of educators with great love and care.
Stories, Poems and Scripts
One of its salient features is that all the stories, poems and scripts are specially created for WOW. Not only are they age-appropriate but also carry content that is ethnic and contextual. The stories are warm, sweet and touching, with the right amount of vocabulary and comprehension challenges so that children not only develop a certain skill but also experience an emotional connect and enjoyment. They also promote positive values like kindness, empathy, loyalty, gender equality and equal opportunity.
All program focussed literature has varied voices and distinct styles. This is because the writers and educators who craft the content come from different walks of life. Our contributors belong to all ages, all genders and all physical abilities.
The activities through all the levels of the program have been specially designed with the teacher’s ease and child’s needs at the core. They are engaging, enriching and entertaining. Children look forward to each and every activity in the program and enjoy them thoroughly. Children learn through hands on activities such as group work, art and craft, role plays, written work etc. (sangam photo)
The program builds the will and skill to read by introducing the components of reading in an aesthetic whole for the children to connect with and enjoy. This includes concepts of phonics, vocabulary, comprehension and writing, which are taught in small chunks called ‘miles’. Each ‘mile’ or a session can be completed in a single 45-minute period of the class. At the end of Milestones 1, 2 and 3, there is a section called the ‘Readers’ Theatre’. This is a culminating activity, where children apply all the reading strategies they have learnt through the year to enact an original script. Readers’ Theatre includes original scripts that are age-appropriate in language and content. In this activity, not only are the children practising their fluency but learning how to decode new words, comprehend the story and learn new vocabulary through the strategies that they have to learn through the year.
Beautiful and inclusive that accompany the stories and poems make WOW irresistible to children. “Designing a book for children is a fun challenge,” says Ami Gandhi, our Lead Design Expert and Supervisor. “A designer thinks like an adult and a child while conceptualising the layouts. Each element used in the book takes hours of questioning, deliberation, and tryouts. The final verdict lies in the smile of a child – the bigger the better!” The illustrations have been created keeping the Indian context and environment in mind. They show characters in unconventional gender roles, different age groups and socio-cultural backgrounds. “In our world of illustrations, grandfathers cook, women are beautiful in bindis and short hair, boys wear pink and even the littlest girl can save the world,” says Anastasia Damani, our illustrator. “Art is such a powerful tool – a simple brush stroke and shade of colour can break stereotypes, eliminate prejudice and make a character more identifiable.”
It is evident that much thought and care has gone into the development of the programs. We are on a mission to create 10 million readers by 2022, and WOW is only the beginning. We truly have miles to go before we sleep.