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CHILDREN, Coronavirus, learning styles, Lockdown, parenting, school, Socialdistancing

WHEN NORMAL WAS BORING

 

lockdown 2

History must be chuckling at us as it has a totally new chapter to write today.

The word ‘lockdown’ will now get a new meaning in our lexicon and who knows , how many synonyms will this term have .

The lockdown has brought so many facets of our life to the fore.

Thinking aloud , I bring one such thought to the fore – When Normal was boring.

When going to work everyday was a drudgery.

When travelling in the metro was a crowded boring experience.

When going to school everyday , as a teacher or a student , was monotonous.

When checking examination papers was tedious and appearing for exams was dreadful.

When School assemblies were thought of as repetitive and regimented .

When sitting in the classroom was an ordeal and chit chat in the staffrooms was meaningless gossip.

When getting a pedicure done was a ‘have to do chore’ and ordering stuff online was routinely boring.

When workout sessions in the gym were a drag and a jaunt to the close by Shopping Mall was insipid

When Sunday visits to extended family was a “have to go there “ affair and attending weddings was a social compulsion.

When buying fruit from the Sunday bazaar was a noisy affair and one which I just had to do !

Ah ! wouldn’t I give my left arm today for a juicy Pizza Hut treat or a Mediterranean salad ?

For a walk in the crowded Dilli Haat or a distant relative’s wedding.

For a real classroom with real children drowning me in their vivacious cacophony.

For a walk in my school and a high pitched warm “Good morning mam “.

For a push in the airport queue and a jostle in the transit shuttle.

When whims of the heart and were just a call away for awesome fruition .

Such is life !

When normal was boring and the heart craved for a break from the boring.

And now , the same heart yearns for the boring to be back !

So how many of you out there are praying for the normal to be back ?

What are you missing the most ?

Come, let’s talk about it

 

 

 

Uncategorized

LET’S MAKE RESOLUTIONS A TOPSY TURVY AFFAIR

scrabble resolutions
Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Every New Year witnesses a deluge of resolutions, steely resolves, promises and silent vows.

Then follows a flood of Whatsapp and Facebook posts , taking  snide potshot at all those burly resolutions.

And poof ! a lot of them start spiralling out of the window.

Lets turn the game around.

No resolutions.

Lets just break some rules instead.

I don’t mean to sound like a renegade or a rebel at all.

All that I am saying is that let’s make the resoultions a bit fun. Lets put them in a ‘new box’ altogether.

You have always enjoyed a late morning in bed. Break the rule . For once or twice, get up to see the sunrise and do nothing perhaps – just gaze at the sky with a cuppa coffee.

You are the diligent variety who goes to work diligently and reserves all leaves for sickness or family weddings or emergencies.

Break the rule – take a leave on a healthy day. No rhyme or reason at all. Just a ‘me’ day. Chill out the whole day with no To-Do-List. I guarantee, that you will love this outbreak.

You are a parent who wants to be the perfect role model for your child. Great. You are so mindful of the way you walk and talk. Awesome. Just reverse it for a day. Go drop your child to school in your pyjamas, pick up some candy floss on the way, ditch the car or bike, take a rickshaw perhaps . Enjoy the freedom you get when you break away from your routine.  Pick up your kid from school with a balloon wala by your side or perhaps an ice cream cart in tow. Treat the whole lot of kids to a simple ice candy. Your child will get to see the fun Mom or Dad in you . And all that happened because you broke a rule !

If you are a teacher and a disciplarian to the core (rightfully so ) , at least one day present before your class a ‘different‘ you.

Mix around the desks, ditch the black board, hang a placard on the back of each child and and ask the kids to scribble on those hanging behind the child in front. Get the desks out, spread out a few rugs and cushions and  voila the class is on the floor.

Wow ! ma’m broke a rule ! (albeit a harmless one) . Now  sit down on the floor and get the kids undivided attention!

Whoever heard of learning new stuff while breaking a rule ?

You take the elevator to your flat every day. Just for today , don’t ditch the elevator, just get down halfway. Admire the floor you got down at. Bet, you had never seen it before !. Now keep climbing up casually , soaking in each floor and neighbour, one at a time.  Look at the richness you gained by just breaking one routine.

The list is endless…….

Don’t just whatsap your family a god morning on one Wednesday. Call them instead.

While crossing a traffic signal , wave and mouth a big thank -you to the traffic cop standing there. You didn’t really break a rule , yet you will see a jawdrop ever so pleasantly.

Each of us enjoys a mid day coffee / tea with our colleagues. Break the rule – have this mid morning coffee on one Tuesday ,with your support staff – whether at home or at work. Get to know their world too . You broke a routine but I am sure you will get admiration in plenty.

TGIF – Thank God Its Friday . Turn it to TGIM – Thank God its Monday . Because Monday means work / office / routine. And this is what gets us our bread and butter. So why not be thankful for a Monday too ? Change your attitude towards Monday. The whole week will fly by in a jiffy.

Instead of finishing all your grocery on a Saturday , do it mid week. Break the routine. Squeeze out some time mid week.  Fridays will then have extra time for some more fun stuff.

Weekends are for mall hopping and shopping. Break the rule . Do go to a mall. Go hit the Café Coffee day . Buy a coffee  and sit in a corner with a book. All by yourself perhaps. Get to know ‘yourself’, right in the middle of a hectic weekend.

And pray , why do we reserve just the morning or the evening for our prayers ? Our conversations with God can be anytime , no ? Break the rule . Give a call to God at peak noon. He just might be more free in these off- hours and you may have a better conversation too:)

So, my friends resolve to break the mould. Resolve to make your life fun and easy and only regimented and compartmentalised.  There are some rules that are to be followed in letter and some in spirit.

Likewise , there are some rules that cannot be broken in letter ….but breaking them in the right spirit ?

Well, its all up your sleeve and entirely your choice !

 

CHILDREN, learning styles, parenting, preschool, school, Uncategorized

COMPETITION

competitionWhile surfing through the net I chance upon this picture (pasted above) and that begins a debate within my mind.

It is human nature to compete. Competition is a good form for survival.  The newspapers, media, hoardings, advertisements are copiously overflowing with multiple  brands/ individuals/ products  competing against each other. And this is what our children see, read and experience everyday. Competition against each other.

But if we talk about education & schools, should the focus of all learning be centred around competition?

In schools, should the focus of all achievement be centred around competition?

Schools are the nurturing grounds for skills, values, academic expertise, friendships, community service, camaraderie, sharing and so on. The first lesson that a child learns outside the home is on the school grounds. Kindergartners experience their first singing, rhyming, dancing experience at school and if we turn each learning into a competition, how good is that for the child?

Children develop their gross motor & fine motor skills at Preschool .They learn to balance, jump, run, skip, dodge and catch. Should we turn each of their dance moves, stage moves, dabbing skills, running, colouring skills into competition? How good is that for the child?

Children are developing their language skills at Preschool and picking up new rhymes and songs and stories. Should we turn their entire learning experience into a competitive one? How good is that for the child?

What they learn at ages 0 – 6 is actually the roots of all life skills  and yet we hurry to pitch their colouring skills against each other, their writing skills against each other, their recitation skills against each other.

Firstly, no two children are alike.

Secondly, each child learns at his or her own pace.

So it follows that Every Child is Unique. So how do we set up competition benchmarks between two children that are completely unique from each other?

A certain amount of competition is healthy and natural.  It helps us develop a perspective and set a few goals. But to use this as a constant so early in a child’s life proves detrimental to our students in the long run. It is no wonder then, that we have anxiety, panic attacks and depression within our Formal classrooms.  Each learning experience need not turn into a competition. If we indulge in too many competitions at the very beginning of a child’s school life, it robs the joy, the pleasure and the thrill of attending school. It deprives the child of bonding opportunities with friends. It robs the joy out of a pure learning experience.

One of the best ways to beat this is to shift the focus.

Shift the focus from competing against others to competing against self.

Train yourself & your child to think on these lines:

  • Did I read better than yesterday?
  • Did I run faster than day before?
  • Did I share more than last week?
  • Did I take lesser time to solve my puzzle in my second attempt?
  • Did I learn a few more dance moves this week?
  • Did I laugh more than what I did yesterday.

And of course:

  • Did I feel more comfortable with Maths this week?
  • Did I score better in Science this time than my last test?
  • Did I learn a new sport this year?
  • Did I cultivate a new hobby this year?

If we focus on a pattern of self improvement rather than competition, then our children will naturally develop better habits and values.

There will be less of envy, jealousy and hatred.

Our children will strive to be better version of themselves each day.

And that’s what the true aim of education is. To create a better self and to be lifelong learners.

To practice the same will of course be a journey and not a day’s affair. But let us start thinking differently.

Let us make a beginning.

Happy parenting!

 

 

CHILDREN, learning styles, parenting, preschool, school, teacher, Uncategorized

To Each Their Own: Learning Styles

Picture1

 

I clearly remember the Chalk and Board days when my teacher used to teach my class of 40 students in a uniform style or strategy and most of us used to end up giving a chorused reply.

I am sure many of you have also grown up in similar classrooms as front-benchers and back-benchers.

The point here is not to argue about the pros and cons of teaching methodologies of the years gone by. The point is to leverage and learn from what a huge body of Research now tells us.

A significant amount of Research is now available on the Importance of Foundation Years (0 -6 years of age).

This Research has thrown a lot of light on how Teaching – Learning strategies should be customized to Student – Learning preferences.

The simple logic behind this advocacy is that we are all born with certain learning preferences.

We may grow into certain learning styles with passage of time and add on to our innate learning styles – that’s a distinct possibility as well.

But to say that all children in a particular class learn optimally through a single teaching style is clearly an outdated strategy.

Teachers today practice varied teaching strategies that are suited for varied learning styles.

 As a parent, it is equally important for you to know the same.

Here is why you should know about various Learning styles inherent in young children:

  • Your little one shows no interest in a reading session but the minute you put on the audio version of the story, your child is all ears!
  • Your child is not interested in writing pages of continuous A’s , B’s and C’s but the minute you show them a picture and ask them to trace the letters underneath the picture, your child is all eyes!
  • Your child cannot decipher calculations like 2 + 2 = 4 but the minute you draw some match stick figures and explain addition, your child gets the right numbers.
  • Your child is a shy speaker and refuses to sing a rhyme or a song at home, but the minute you put on the audio version of the rhyme, your child is happy to sing along.
  • Your child doesn’t remember the colour of fruits like orange or strawberries but the minute you let the child touch and feel a real strawberry / orange, your child remembers their colour for a long time afterwards.

 To understand the above better, let’s talk about certain Learning styles in detail.

For classroom and children related learning, we often talk about four major learning styles:

 Visual Learning style – Children with a dominant visual learning style, learn better through pictures, colour coded lines, posters, charts, graphs, videos, diagrams, detailed notes, directions on a map etc.

They love to read a story or a poem, learn faster if the text in the story has visual effects, recognize text and pictures easily in storybooks, hoardings and Bill Boards.

Auditory Learning style – Children with a dominant auditory leaning style learn better through reading aloud, self-talk, audio books, recording & listening to directions.

They love to set a rhythm to their rhymes and stories, hum along a poem, give sound effects to what they are writing and love to listen to audios repeatedly. They may also love to have an audience who is forever willing to listen to their chatter, their rhymes and their songs.

Kinaesthetic Learning style – Children with a dominant Kinaesthetic Learning style learn better through drama, role play, charades, gestures, hands on activities and enactment. In short, they learn better through doing things themselves.

They love to act out a story, watch others act it out, like to touch and feel objects & props, are more open to physical gestures of affection like shaking hands, holding hands, putting arms around each other, dancing & miming.

Reading & Writing Learning style – Children with such a dominant learning style learn better through comic strips, learn better if someone explains to them in detail on paper, write their homework assignments, learn rhymes & stories after writing them out, learn through the print word in books, newspapers etc.

They love to read all instructions before attempting a puzzle or a game, refer to dictionaries, underline words while reading, play games like Scrabble and eventually like to take notes in class, write a diary about their day to day routine, as they grow up and join Formal school.

Needless to say, our children often display an eclectic mix of several learning styles during any given task as well. Your child may like to sing, dance, mime and read story books aloud at the same time. Which is also fine! Young children are often experimenting and developing their learning styles during the Foundation years.

An introduction to varied learning styles helps a parent to provide the right environment at home, understand children better and refrain from building stereotypes around their learning graph

If a child is not happy while writing, it does not mean that he/ she is not learning at all. It could just mean that maybe you need to vary your strategy.

If a child is not happy reciting rhymes in front of a group, it does not mean that he/ she is not learning. It may just mean that your child is exercising his/ her right to remain quiet.

So parents, loosen up your seat belts and enjoy the journey.

One style does not fit all.

Happy parenting.

Warm Regards,

Manjit Legha

Director, Academics & Training

 

CHILDREN, parenting, preschool, school, Uncategorized

TEACHING CONSENT TO PRESCHOOLERS

photograph of happy children

Some of you might wonder as to how the topic of this article holds valid for Preschoolers.

Fair enough. Allow me to explain how the very thought of discussing ‘consent for Kindergartners ‘ cropped up.

Many a times, young parents walk up to me and ask, “My child is asking me questions about the # Me Too movement . They see it on television / newspapers and want to know what ‘Me Too’ is all about . Aren’t they too young to be talking about this? What do we answer them?”

It is such questions that led me to discuss the matter at length.

To nurture the 21st century learners, one thing which doesn’t work at all, is to brush things under the carpet. So let’s discuss this clearly and openly. Adult guardians need to discuss this with each other and when needed, with their children too.

Is it too early to talk about ‘consent’ to Preschoolers?

Firstly, we need to disengage the word ‘consent’ from ‘sexual consent’.

With early childhood learners, we need to deal with consent as a vital life skill.

So once we deal with ‘consent’ as a life skill, then the answer is – “No, it is not too early to discuss this with your child”.

Just as we teach them about tying their shoelaces , buttoning their shirts , cleaning themselves , courtesy and good manners , so also we must teach them to learn to read body language and nonverbal clues. (Their own as well as those of their peers/ family etc).

Such as, a frown means – I may be confused.  A smile means – I am feeling happy. A high five means – I agree with you.

How Can you Teach children to recognize  Non Verbal clues?

The best way is by talking to them.  While reading a story about Grizzly Bear, you may casually remark, “Ah, look at Ishaan. I don’t think he would like to be in the forest “.

If grandmother is sitting reading her prayer book, you may say, “I don’t think she would prefer to be disturbed at this time”

If your pet is taking a nap, you could say, “This is definitely not the time to play with Zorro”.

If the elder sibling is doing some Project work, you may say, “Didi needs to work by herself. Let’s check with her an hour later if she is ready to play with you “.

Remember, children need to be taught how to read body language and how to respond to that as well.

“See, Grandma is thankful that you let her complete her prayers “.

“Didi is thrilled because she completed a wonderful project. She looks so excited “.

“Zorro is ready to play now. You can see him wagging his tail and that’s a happy signal “.

Do not confuse ‘privacy and space’ with lack of empathy or feeling of togetherness. Treat it as an expression of their sexuality. Each child has his / her own unique sexuality and we need to teach our children to respect their own sexuality and those of others as well .

I remember my childhood days when a particular look on my father’s face would make me disappear from his line of vision for hours ! Teach your children to read your body signals and clues . They are as important as the spoken word.

Why do the stage and the mirror form an important part of our Preschool set up?

Well, it is to teach children to see what emotions look like. To learn to read a happy/ sad / confused face. It is as important for children to learn to read their emotions as well as those of others. (There are umpteen researches which reveal that children with relationship issues in adulthood were never taught to recognise and read emotions during childhood. They never learnt how to express emotions either)

Do children know when to say Yes / No?

The honest answer is that children at this age are on their way to a number of discoveries! Just as they are beginning to realise whether they have a sweet tooth or not, whether they prefer an orange candy or vanilla Ice cream, similarly they are beginning to discover some body urges / moods and preferences. This is the building up of their sexuality -the way they like to eat, walk, talk, sit, dress etc. So they need help in defining what a no or yes mean.

There is nothing wrong in setting up a home rule which says that “Dad likes to rest for half an hour after lunch, so no noise!”.

“Mom likes to read a book in silence on a Sunday afternoon, so no noise “.

Rahul loves the colour pink , so yes – he can have a pink bag .

Validate their body signals

Allow your children to shape up their preferences and express them too. Most children need help in recognising body signals. When your young one is rolling on the floor in an interesting display of tantrum, you may say, “I can see that you are upset. But rolling won’t get you anywhere. Talking to mummy could help”.

Some teachers use a good welcome practice. While ushering the children into the class, they give them multiple choices as to how would they like to be welcomed – with a hug, a high five, a jig or a verbal welcome. When this exercise is repeated a couple of times, children gradually learn to recognise what they like. They learn to recognize their body signals. Encourage them and respect the same .

Encourage children to read emotions – If a child is visibly uncomfortable at being hugged, tell the child that its okay with you.

If a child is not comfortable holding hands, tell the child that this is okay too. Let them be for a while.

Give due attention and regard to their body signals.

If a child wants to use the washroom in the middle of an Activity/ Homework, do not shush them down. Help them believe that they are beginning to read their body urges well. Yes, there will be some false signals and alarms out here, but most children will gradually wean off from giving false alarms.

If you shush them at this point of time, they lose faith in their ability to read their body signals & urges. From bladder control to building of anger / excitement to natural sexual curiosity – children need to be able to read them.

If the teacher /parent disregards or disclaims their urges and brushes them away often, children stop trusting their natural instincts. Such children are not likely to talk to their adult guardians years later when they undergo hormonal changes, menstrual discomfort and matters of sexual exploration

Because they have no faith in their own body urges, they apply the same principle to their peers, friends and companions. They are unable to recognise a nonverbal clue or physical discomfort of people around them.

They are unable to take a ‘no ‘ for a no.

So teaching consent and respecting consent needs to be brought in from an early age.

And again, the trick is to keep things natural, conversational and as free flowing as possible.

CHILDREN, little millennium, marathon, Olympics, school, Surat, Uncategorized

THEY RARELY MAKE HEROES LIKE HER ANY MORE !

img-20190120-wa0224It would definitely not be a hyperbole to state that the Indian Track & Athletic  Queen, PT Usha, belongs to the limited edition series !

A wonderful opportunity enabled me to interact with the Payyoli Express at the Little Millennium Kids Marathon at Surat. She was the Chief Guest at the event , aimed at motivating parents to nurture physically agile and alert children (along with cognitively alert) . The city was excited at the news of her arrival, the parents of young kids even more so !

Tall and athletic , she carries herself with the grace of a seasoned athlete.  Her face bears attractive lines of a well experienced International athlete . She is a much travelled lady and she understands  people and cultures rather well. She wears her celebrated feats  with such a charming ease that it comes as a pleasant surprise to all who meet her. You would expect a winner of 103  International and 800+  National medals, the winner of Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri ,  to carry such weight heavily on her shoulders . But not PT Usha. She carries her accolades , her achievements, her talent , her perseverance with an angelic simplicity and charm.

She carries her own bags. She travels without a fancy entourage.  She moves around unfettered without a posse of sychophants.  She happily stops and poses for selfies. She shakes hands with people who way lay her at the airport , the shopping mall or the kerbside. And always with a smile . There are many who walk up to her with a questioning brow (while raking their Olympic memory) and ask, “What is your name ?”. She smiles and says, ” PT Usha”.

She doesn’t stand in a special queue at the airport check-in and nor does she expect any preferential treatment. You may keep throwing endless questions at her and in the middle of it, if you chirp in,”Are you getting late ma’m ?” . All she says is “No Problem. Please carry on”.

And she is like the girl next door when she quietly quips in nonchalantly , “Can we manage to go shopping  ?”.  Hallejullah , she’s a true blue female like us 🙂

She talks about her first International exposure  as a 16 year old to the 1980 Olympics , when many of us saw her on our ‘black and white ‘ television. She travelled without her coach , saw a synthetic track for the first time and was in awe of the burly athletes competing with her. Yet , she made her mark.

She talks of travelling to Pakistan for a tournament  on an unreserved seat in a train and how it was absolutely normal for athletes in those times. They did not concentrate on the frills , they concentrated on the performance !

If I could do it then………..your children can do it ten times over , now “, was her address to the parents .

Parents thronged her to seek her blessings (and selfies). Some made their children touch her feet to draw upon her magnetic strength, someone brought their 3 year old straight from the hospital and still on a drip , while another brought a 2 month old baby – just to seek her ‘touch’.

Long hours of travel , delayed flights , hours of waiting make most people restless and short -fused. But not our lady. She  has a short power nap, stretches a bit and smiles and turns around and asks, “What’s next ?”

One of the biggest lessons that this International athlete taught to many of us was ” Good things do come in simple and honest  packages as well !”

To the children at the marathon , she was a perfect Real Hero . A real hero to emulate. To learn from & follow.

Cinderella and Red Riding Hood have been a part of their bed time stories.
PT Usha is their ‘hero at dawn”. If she could do it , so can they .

For the world, she is the “Golden Girl of Indian Athletics”

For us , she is the “Girl with a Golden heart and purposeful stride

PT Usha, you left behind a trail of fans at the Little Millennium Surat Kids Marathon …..