Blooming Buds Pre-school: An out-of-the box, play-based, experiential learning approach for toddlers

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Hima Bindu, President of Air Force Families Welfare Association – AFFWA ( Local) with children at Blooming Buds Play School in Coimbatore
| Photo Credit: M. Periasamy

The classrooms at Blooming Buds Pre-school is a streak of colours. Balloons float in the air, dolls and cars are lined up on a table, colourful paintings of animals beckon from the walls. When teachers turn on the computer, a colourful visual is projected on the floor where the children toddle around, hop, and jump and learn colours, shapes, and names of animals and plants.

“This interactive system of education also entertains children. So, they play as well as learn numbers and alphabets. There are as many as 150 different concepts,” explains Hima Bindu, President of Air Force Families Welfare Association, AFFWA (Local).

AFFWA (L) was set up in 1970 in Delhi and is today an active organisation of every Air Force Station in the country. Primarily, it works toward the well-being of the families of the Air Force Personnel and the organisation at the Air Force Administrative College in Coimbatore has initiated many welfare programs. But pre-school education is one of its flagship contributions. Blooming Buds, the play school, was an outcome of this. What started with a handful of 15 to 18 children in 2005 in its present location, has now grown to accommodate over 100 students and seven classrooms.

Hima Bindu, President of Air Force Families Welfare Association - AFFWA (Local) with children

Hima Bindu, President of Air Force Families Welfare Association – AFFWA (Local) with children
| Photo Credit:
M. Periasamy

The school is a non-profit organisation that also accommodates children of civilians. It’s a combination of play-based, experiential learning and out-of-the box approach that engages children. “The interactive methods also enhance psycho-motor skills, and cognitive domain in children. If children have difficulties in learning, we catch them early, reach out to parents, and recommend an intervention early on,” explains Hima.

She shares that the school encourages a lot of outdoor activities in its spacious sandpit, a park, and even a traffic park where children learn about road etiquette. The school motivates children to care for Nature. The campus is already bristling with fruit trees. There are coconut, mango, jackfruit, and drumstick trees and the children plant more during Van Mahotsav celebrations. Though very young to understand concepts like global warming, they do learn to nurture trees, and how trees give shade, bear flowers, fruits, and support many life forms as well as the need to save water and earth.

To improve their motor skills, children have activities like cutting, pasting and crushing papers, buttoning and unbuttoning shirts, tying their shoelaces, folding handkerchiefs, and tidying up their room. “We teach them basic etiquette, table manners, and cleanliness to bring in a sense of discipline during which they also learn values,” explains Hima. As children come from varied backgrounds, they learn different languages, culture, and lifestyles, which in turn helps them adapt, share and be accepting of others. Bindu believes this makes the children confident and enhances their emotional quotient.

“Activities like story telling, rhymes recitation and fancy dress competition helps children overcome stage fear. Blooming Buds Play School is a success story of AFFWA (L). We want to provide a nurturing, safe and and supportive environment for the children to express themselves better. We have already added child-friendly chairs that come with rounded edges. There are plans to add miniature installations of structures like a hospital, or a railway station and also animals and birds.”

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