The PALNA Shishu Kendras are DCCW's most recent initiative. Started in August 2014, these centres are aimed at preparing young underprivileged children in the age group 2 to 6 years, to attend mainstream schools. Starting with two centres in 2014 - at Qudsia Bagh and Janakpuri - we are currently running seven centres across various slum and resettlement areas of Delhi including Dakshinpuri, Madipur, Pandav Nagar and Trilokpuri. Over 450 children are enrolled in this programme, with about 40-50 children in each unit. There is a nominal charge of Rs 250/- per child per month, where the parents are able to give it. Where the children hail from impoverished families, they are provided with basics like woollen clothes and shoes by the kendra.

We at DCCW have changed our method of teaching from systematic rote learning to concept based learning which initiates children to explore the environment and learn for themselves, facilitated by the teacher. They learn to question and are facilitated towards appropriate answers. Children are taught the concepts of colour, shapes, alphabets, numbers, animals and, birds, and are also made aware of their surroundings - their home, city, the route by which they come to the kendra, etc. They are also taught basic hygiene and its importance. posture and manners. This basic grounding instils discipline, manners, health and confidence in the child, along with the learning. Monthly Medical Check-up is done by our visiting medical officers.

For many of the children this is the first experience of anything resembling a classroom, and many have never held a pencil or crayon before. Children also participate in games and occasions like birthdays, Christmas, Diwali, New Year etc. are celebrated at the kendras, and the significance of the days is explained to the children. The atmosphere is cheerful and caring. The children look forward to coming to the Kendra.

The kendras also advise and help parents on how to go about the school admission process, telling them about the necessary documents as well as preparing them to answer questions that will be asked of them.

That the program is a successful one is borne out by the fact that over 85% of children eligible for getting into regular schools have been successful in gaining admission into mainstream schools.