Rebuilding at-risk children’s childhoods through Toybank’s Play2Learn Program

 October to December 2021 Update Report

‘It is time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness. It is time to let children be children again’ -L. R. Knost

The pandemic has and continues to deprive 188 million at-risk Indian children’s happy and safe spaces of learning and play. We are humbled, yet take immense pride in our team who have ensured that the progress we have made for our children won’t reverse.  Throughout 2021, we’ve seen noteworthy resilience in the ways our children tackled hardships and roadblocks to learn and play.

With schools in several parts of Maharashtra being ordered to shut down once again, barely a month after they reopened, amid rising Covid cases, education experts termed the decision to shut primary schools impractical and detrimental to the development of children.

Toybank, through its Play2Learn program, provides safe and happy play spaces for at-risk children to be developmentally on track in their mental and behavioral well-being. Even in the midst of the pandemic, our ethos is firm, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men and women’. The progress in socio-emotional development and mental well-being of our children has continued to be the core focus. For their continued learning, meaningful engagement, mental well-being, and resilience, we are daily delivering our Play2Learn Program as the digital Toybank Play2Learn Kit.

As the new variant threatens further isolation and may push back the long-awaited reopening of schools, through Play, Toybank is building children’s resilience to face not just the pandemic but also other such hurdles in the future. Your support has empowered us to ensure at-risk children have access to meaningful engagement and tools for continued learning. We look forward to your continued backing. 

We Played!

  • We disseminated 1009 Play2Learn activities where children from various age groups and learning levels learned holistically with our curriculum-aligned activities. Our Play2Learn activities helped children work on their anxieties due to distressing news and online learning during the pandemic, helped rebuild healthy routines and recognise emotions

Children create their schedules to learn time management
(MHB Urdu School No 4, Play2Learn Center U217)

  • Physical Play2Learn Sessions were conducted by partner-teachers while following social distancing rules. Children played board games in groups of two or three under teachers’ supervision to ensure their safety.

Children sit in groups to support each other’s creative ideas and make Pop Up Cards
(Play2Learn Center U317, SHARE community center, Mumbai).

  • 85 Digital Play2Learn Sessions were conducted by our Program Officers. These are curated with a sequential session plan by the team to encourage peer learning, boost children’s learning with the Play2Learn Kit and break the ice among classmates through group activities. These sessions gave the children the opportunity to become more curious and build on life skills.

Digital Play2Learn session underway where children and partner-teachers
engaged with the Program Officers. 

  • 28 student volunteers facilitated 22 buddy sessions as part of The Buddy program. These sessions included getting to know and building a bond with the child, discussions around aspirations and about emotions, strengths, routine and habit building. The Buddies give the children a platform to have social interactions which have been drastically hit due to the pandemic.

Children have continued to engage with play through the year ensuring they continue to learn

We invested!

We are invested in children’s Right to Play. We have been continually tracking on-ground issues that our children have been facing through fortnightly calls with partners, virtual focus group discussions, and in-person meetings and rural visits with education and block officers, headmasters and principals to ensure Play was a part of their virtual learning and back-to-school plans.

  • We visited our rural districts of Beed, Latur & Osmanabad in October to give key partner-stakeholders a refresher on our program, check the program’s progress, plan for teacher training and physical Play2Learn sessions as schools were in the process of reopening.

    “Everything related to education collapsed during the pandemic. But Toybank's continued efforts ensured children had some form of knowledge,” shared Dr. Vinayak, Toybank’s program incharge of our partner in Beed.

Meeting with Abhinav Goel, Latur Zilla Parishad CEO, and Bhagwan Phulari,

Primary School Education Officer

Meeting with Bhagwan Phulari, Primary School Education Office

  • In December, over a course of 6 days, 525 teachers were trained in Latur district of Maharashtra. The training was interactive and designed to motivate the teachers to ask questions on Play, and take them through our Play2Learn program (Physical and Digital). The teachers first hand played with the games and understood their objectives and skills they cater to.

Children can learn and make several things out of this mechanical game, their ability to understand technical aspects will also develop. Children will enjoy playing this game. The trainer has shared very valuable lessons with us.” 

Deepak Dongre, Teacher from ZPPS Samdarga, Play2Learn Center R381 

The concepts that you have shared today are very good. This is one the best-est training that I have attended in a while,”  

Navnath Bharat Mende, teacher from ZPPS Samdarga, Play2Learn Center R381.

  • 34 Virtual Focus Group Discussions with 330 teachers and decision-makers gauged the effect of lockdown on our children. They shared feedback and suggestions on our Digital Toybank Play2Learn Program helping us to strengthen and support our partners effectively.

Screenshot of the meeting with teachers from Play2Learn Centers in Latur 

Few snippets from the FGDs by our partners

Deepak Kubde, Teacher from Subhedar Ramji Ambedkar Vidyalaya Play2Learn Center in Mumbai said, As the lockdown started and Toybank asked to be added to school groups, I was delighted as online classes were dull and managing things was new to us. Activities are shared on a daily basis without any hurdles. Kids enjoyed the activities and we also learnt new things everyday. Hope we’ll have Toybank Play2Learn Program from day one of the school reopening.”

Leena Kamble, teacher from ZPPS Lokhandisawargaon, Play2Learn Center in Beed district shared what she benefited from the program, “It has helped me bond with them, overcome language difficulties, teach them despite their restlessness, inattentiveness or disinterest in studies. Children may not do something from textbooks but if I ask them to do the same thing through an activity, they readily do it.”

We’re rebuilding childhoods!

Story of Resilience: Bridging learning gaps with the game Abacus

“Sameer was in Class 2 and at the end of the academic year when schools closed down due to COVID-19. He could recognize single to two-digit numbers easily. By the time he was in Class 3 in June 2020, his school had just begun remote learning. This not only negatively impacted what he had learnt but we also failed to track how much our students were grasping. 

Sameer was in Class 4 by June 2021, with schools yet to reopen. With the introduction of three-digit and bigger numbers, he was off his learning track once again. When children could attend school physically, I noticed that Sameer struggled with number recognition. Toybank had restocked Abacus, so I decided to creatively bring him up to speed with digits. I visually associated the colorful beads with units, tens and hundreds, which made counting easy and quick for Sameer. This excited him to keep coming and learning more. With this realistic learning experience, he eventually took his notebook along and started writing down all the numbers he learned.”

- Story of Resilience shared by Shubhangi Kulkarni, teacher from ZPPS Bansorala, Play2Learn Center in Beed district of Maharashtra.   


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