Friday, 23 December 2011

Your Child's New Year...

If you have a child who is at least four years or older check out the following New Year ideas to give your child a unique New Year experience. As always, keep in mind that your may have to modify the given ideas to suit your child’s personality.

Goal Setting- Ask your child about how she would like the coming year to unfold- what places she would like to visit, whom she would like to meet, what she would like to achieve, what she would like to learn etc. She can even write it down in her diary or on a sheet of paper. Don’t be alarmed if your child says something like she would like to visit Pluto! Often, children say things that may not be realistic. But it is nothing to worry about or react to. The point is to make her aware of her preferences and train her to set goals that are her own. And of course, you can always follow up on the goals that are possible to attain in the present. What about those wishes that are unrealistic? Ask your child about how she would like to attain those goals, without making them sound absurd? This will set her thinking and will help her conclude on her own about why some things may not be possible in reality (such as flying in space or visiting Pluto).

New Year’s Play Date- Organise a New Year’s play date at home for your child and her close friends. Take your child’s help to decorate your home and to get some snacks and beverages ready for the party! Encourage your child to make New Year greeting cards for her pals, to be given away during the party. Let your child be the host and entertain her friends.

Special Gesture- Do something special for your child this New Year. Maybe you could gift her something she’s been longing for, take her out for ice cream, buy her a favourite chocolate or make your own card for her. It all depends on your child’s personality and her likes

Celebrating New Year as a special event will help your child learn from a young age that every New Year is a wonderful opportunity to love, learn, live life and have fun J

With this post, I take a break from blogging for a short while. Will be back with a bang soon! Here’s wishing everyone a fun filled New Year’s Eve and plenty of good times in 2012! 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Your Intelligent Child....

Do you believe musicians such as A.R.Rahman or Zakir Hussain are intelligent folks?

How about a sportsperson like Sachin Tendulkar or a superstar like Amitabh Bachhan?

An artist like M.F. Hussian, an author like R.K.Narayan or a cartoonist like R.K. Lakshman?

What about a businessman like Dhirubhai Ambani or a software professional like Narayan Murthy?

And to name some international personalities, how about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Yanni, Enid Blyton, Shakespeare and countless others?

Though all these people are from different backgrounds, can one say that any one of them is or was not intelligent? Or that any of them is or was less intelligent?

Do you think intelligence is restricted to any specific domain? Is it limited to studies and sports? Or high grades and academic distinctions?

Intelligence has neither boundaries nor narrow definitions. It is not restricted to a lucky few. It is something that exists in all, in different forms. It is more active in some folks, while it lies latent in others. It is something that can be developed by one and all, including your child.  

In fact, as per Howard Gardener’s theory, multiple intelligences exist in all human beings, with some intelligences being dominant over the others. The intelligences as classified by the theory are as follows-

  1. Math Logical Intelligence- Related to logic and numbers.
  2. Linguistic Intelligence- Related to words and their usage.
  3. Visual Spatial Intelligence- Related to sight, dimensions and all that is visual. 
  4. Musical Intelligence- Related to rhythm, songs and music of any kind. 
  5. Bodily Kinaesthetic Intelligence- Related to sports, dance, drama and movement of any kind.
  6. Interpersonal Intelligence- Related to interactions with others and team dynamics.
  7. Intrapersonal Intelligence-Related to self, understanding of self, self introspection and reflection.
  8. Naturalistic Intelligence- Related to all that is to be found in nature or connected to it. 

Food for thought- Keeping in mind the number of people who have been successful outside the conventional definition of success (read academic achievement), how can we define intelligence?

It is time to redefine intelligence.
It is time to recognise intelligence, especially in children.

When recognised at a tender age, it gets wonderful opportunities for development.

And who knows, your child just might be one of the most intelligent musicians, sports persons, authors or business tycoons of the millennium!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Explore Christmas & Have Fun with Your Child!

The season to be merry is here again! What with decorated Christmas trees in every corner, people dressed as Santa spreading joy, festive lights, jingling bells, the aroma of plum cake and the sweet melodies of age old carols, Christmas sure brings plenty of cheer, fun and happiness for one and all. So, how about letting your child explore Christmas and learn all about this heart warming festival? Read on for some ideas-

  1. Shopping with Your Child- Buy a Christmas tree (big or small, depending on your budget). Ask your child to select some small bells, balls, candy sticks, holy leaves,gifts, stars etc to decorate the tree. You can also make your own Christmas tree at home, if your do not wish to buy one.
  2. Create a Backdrop- Give your child chart paper, colours, glitter, glue, stencils etc. Let her create a backdrop based on Christmas with these materials. Allow her to be creative and make the backdrop as she likes.
  3. Set the stage- Choose a small space in your home to celebrate Christmas. Put up your child’s backdrop on the wall. Place the tree in front of the backdrop. Get your child to decorate the tree on her own. Give her cotton wool to use as snow on the tree. You can also use pieces of thermocol or cotton wool around the base of the tree to represent snow, as shown in the images. 
  4. Fun with Cooking & Stories on Christmas Eve- If you have an oven at home, bake a plum cake together with your child on Christmas Eve. If not, you can always get one from a bakery. Sit in front of the tree and take a few minutes to learn about the significance of Christmas. Tell your child the story of Christmas, with carols playing softly in the background. Keep the story short and sweet.  Invite her contributions to the story. If your child can read, encourage her to read the Christmas story from a book or from the internet.  Sing some carols together. Eat some cake. Have fun!
  5. Christmas Gift- Buy your child a Christmas present secretly. On Christmas Eve, after your child goes to bed, place it near the Christmas tree. Once your child wakes up in the morning, tell her you have a surprise for her. Let her open her Christmas present and feel special J
 Points to Remember

The above ideas are pointers to letting children explore and enjoy Christmas. The same ideas can be executed in several different ways depending on your budget and the child’s preferences. All children would not enjoy doing activities exactly as I have described them. Hence, it is important that you tailor the ideas to suit your child’s personality.

Merry Christmas!! 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Fun Writing Ideas for Older Children!

If you have a child who is at least five years or older and she is able to write comfortably, she can have a lot more fun working on her writing skills. Here are some ideas to make writing interesting for an older child-

  1. Stories- Many children are highly imaginative and love to make up stories of their own. If your child is a story teller, take her to a stationery store and let her pick up a notebook in which she can pen down her stories. Tell her to begin each story on a new page in her book. Allow her complete freedom to weave the story as she wants to. It does not matter even if does not make sense to you! The idea here is to work on writing skills and develop a love for writing in the child. Once done, she can even read out her story to you. Encourage her to think up titles for her stories and be accepting of unique titles.
  2. Diary- If your child is the reflective kind who loves to talk about her life, her activities in school, her friends and her feelings, encourage her to maintain a diary. Tell her that she can write about anything she likes in her diary. She can also date her entries, to make reading them at a later point in life interesting!
  3. Event Planning- If you are planning a birthday party for your child or any other event with family and friends, you can take her assistance to create lists of guests and things to do. Many children feel responsible when asked to take up such initiatives and do so happilyJ.
  4. Emails- If you have friends or relatives that your child likes in other cities, encourage her to send emails to them once in a while. Though sending an email does not involve using pen and paper, it is nevertheless one way to work on writing skills. 
  5. Just Writing- Encourage the child to write on random topics that she likes. Some topic ideas are- “My Family”, “My Best Friend”, “ What I Love To Do”, “My House”, “My Favourite Food” etc. The list can go on and on. Suggest topics that you think your child would like. Let her choose from your list or work on some of her own.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 3

Flexibility is the key.
Encourage quality and not quantity.

Every child picks up writing at a different pace. Some can write lots and also write for extended lengths of time, while others write little and do not have the patience to write for long periods. Hence, it is very important to customise writing to suit the child’s capabilities. This would ensure that the child and the adult do not get frustrated.

Do not force every child to finish pages of every letter, number or sentence. How much a child writes should not be the parameter to assess his progress. It should suffice if the child knows what he is writing.
For instance, if the child is writing number 28, see if he is able to recognise the number first. Then check if he is able to write it with ease. If the child is familiar with the number and writes it with ease, would it make sense to force him to write pages of the same number? He might as well utilise his time more constructively.

Often, we adults are so paranoid about getting a set quantity of work completed by children, that we take our focus off the quality of learning.

Let the goal not be to finish five, ten or fifty pages of anything. Let the goal be to ensure that what is being written, even if just half a page, is being absorbed by the child.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 2

Restrict Writing Time- Many young children get frustrated if expected to write for long periods of time or several times a day. Therefore, it is important to restrict writing activities to suit your child’s personality. Limit it to one session per day or divide it into several short sessions through the day. It all depends on the individual child and what he prefers.

Connect Writing to Reality and Make it Fun- Learning is always more interesting when we see its relevance in the world. No matter how young a child is, learning can be connected to reality and also made fun in different ways. Consider the following example. A four year old is learning to write the letter “a”. You can make it interesting for the child by preparing him for it in different ways. Some suggestions are given below-

  1. Trace the letter “a” together using sand paper letters and say the phonetic sound.
  2. Weave a story that has lots of words with the sound “a”, such as apple, ant, cat, rat etc. The “a” sound does not have to be only in the beginning of a word as in apple, ant etc. It can be anywhere in the word. Note that the “a” sound is in the middle of the word when you say “cat” or “rat”. Stress on the “a” sound whenever it appears in a word in your story. Invite contributions to the story from your child. Let him add to the story and also think up some words that have the “a” sound.
  3. Play a game wherein each of you takes turns to point out objects around you that have the “a” sound in them. You can play the game in different places such as in your home, in the garden, in the park, in the mall etc.
  4. A simple story could go like this- Once upon a time, there lived an ant. The ant had a friend. His friend was a cat. The cat had a friend. His friend was a rat. The rat was quite fat. The rat loved apples. Note the number of times the “a” sound appears in this story. It is important to stress on the sound as and when it appears in the story. Also, remember that the story does not have to make perfect sense. Let your imagination go wild!
  5. Sing songs that have lots of “a” words in them. You can look on the internet for phonics songs or even make up your own. Encourage your child to add to your song or even make up his own.
  6. Make the letter “a” on paper using paint or crayons.
  7. Make the letter using clay.
  8. Narrate stories for the formation of the letter “a”. This is purely based on your imagination. For example, while writing “a”, you can pretend that you are going from home to the park.  The point where you start writing “a” in the book is your home, the path followed by the letter is the road and the point where you finish writing the letter is the park. Many children love such imaginary stories. This approach also helps them grasp the formation of the letter quickly. If your child likes this approach, you can also encourage him to make up his own stories for the formation of different letters.
  9. Begin the actual process of writing in books only once you’ve prepared the child on similar lines as mentioned above. It will make writing a lot easier and fun for the child. When children see some meaning to what they are writing, they are more willing to do it, than when it seems like a repetitive activity that has no relevance and is boring.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 1

Have you ever heard little children express a lack of interest in writing?

Do they complain of aching hands at the end of a writing lesson?

Do they ask you in a whining tone of voice about why they need to write everyday?

Have you seen children hitting their foreheads in frustration when writing hour draws near?

Do they end up dreaming or staring into the distance in the midst of writing?

Do you ever wonder why writing seems to be a tiring job for several children?

Writing is BORING!


Imagine how you as an adult would feel if you are given three or four workbooks and are expected to write pages in each of those books every single day?

To make matters worse, you are also told to write the same thing multiple times, even if you have mastered whatever it is that you are writing.

And to top it all, you don’t even know what you are writing or why you are writing something you don’t like.

Under these circumstances, would you enjoy writing? Or would you treat it like a chore that is to be done with quickly? So once you’re done with it, you can go out and enjoy life!

This is exactly how children feel when writing becomes an activity that is repetitive and highly predictable in nature. And that is why, come writing hour, you hear all those groans and moans!

Does writing have to be such a boring task? Certainly not!

Can writing be enjoyable? Absolutely!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Joy of Reading!

Consider the following scenario-

You learn the Japanese language.
You are sent to Japan for an assignment.
You are able to read all the Japanese signboards, newspapers and magazines.

Does that sound exciting? Would you feel a sense of accomplishment on mastering a foreign language? Would you feel thrilled that you are able to read a new script on your own?

Now imagine a young child of three who was only used to his mother tongue, suddenly reading English words all by himself. Do you think he would be thrilled to do so?


Children as young as three years can learn to read. Does that sound strange? Does it feel like there is unnecessary pressure on a child who learns to read at the age of three?

Well, CERTAINLY NOT, if reading is made a joyful experience for the child!

Thanks to the emergence of phonetics as a popular approach to reading, reading can be made a pleasurable activity easily.

Phonetic sounds are the sounds made by the letters of the alphabet. When these sounds are introduced to children at an early age, they learn to put sounds together and begin reading simple words. Most children who learn to read phonetically also develop a love for reading.

If you consider introducing reading to your little one, please keep in mind the following points to make reading an enriching experience for your child-

  • Introduce the vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u) and a few consonant sounds first.
  • Once you have introduced a few sounds, start reading simple three letter words such as cat, mat, rat phonetically. You don’t have to wait until you are done learning all the sounds to begin reading.
  • If your child likes stories, weave stories around the words that are being learnt to make it fun.
  • Give the child simple phonics books to read.
  • Do not make reading seem like a test or expect perfection from the child. Practice will make perfect.
  • Encourage your child’s attempts to read and provide ample opportunities for the same.  

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Great Learning Environment.....

A great learning environment is a place where children are encouraged to 

  1. Explore at their own pace.
  2. Experiment.
  3. Talk and express constructively.
  4. Behave well and make good behaviour a way of life.
  5. Showcase their individual creativity in art, craft and other kinaesthetic activities.
  6. Think, think & think.
  7. Observe and learn.
  8. Pay more attention to the process than to the end result.
  9. Make mistakes and view them as stepping stones to newer heights.
  10. Have confidence in their abilities.
  11. Be independent in all that they do.
  12. Have fun and be happy.
  13. Play everyday.
  14. Recognise their strengths and build on them.
  15. Judge their progress.
  16. Learn at their own pace.
  17. Showcase their talents meaningfully.
  18. Do the BEST they can.
  19. Love themselves and their learning.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Make Time for Yourself :)

Being a parent or a teacher to young children is the most satisfying job in the world. However, it can also be one of the most challenging and demanding jobs, even if you are doing everything right and your child seems to be catching on!

Therefore, it is very important that you give yourself time and take breaks every once in a while. These breaks also help you recharge before you get back to being with children.


Make exclusive time for yourself as often as possible to do anything you love - watching TV, listening to music, reading a book, visiting the spa, meeting friends and the like.Arrange for a family member or friend to watch over your child during these breaks. If you are a stay at home parent, it may be relatively easy for you to make time for yourself when your child is in school. However, if you work, you will have to think of other ways to make some time for yourself.


Take it easy in class every once in a while. You do not have to spend every minute of every single day teaching children something. Allow children free play at times and sit down with a cup of tea in their play area. Just watch them have a good time playing and see how relaxed you feel!

<p><a href="">Image: photostock /</a></p>

Story Time!

Let me tell you the story of a preschooler named Sonia J

It was a bright sunny morning.

Sonia walked into preschool with her friends. As she walked in, she pointed out to her friends that it was a sunny day, when she was interrupted by the class helper who told her to stop talking and get to her class.

Once in class, Sonia and her friends ran to the window to observe a cloud that looked like a rabbit, when the teacher walked in and ordered them to get back to their seats.

During snack break, Sonia commented to her friends that the piece of roti in her hand resembled a square, when the principal who was passing by told her to stop talking and finish her snack.

After school, as Sonia waited to be picked up by her mother, she and her friends began drawing different shapes on the blackboard, when again the teacher shouted at them to stop drawing and get back to their seats!

And that is the end of the story.

Now that you’ve read the story, go ahead and reflect on the following questions!

  • How would you feel if you were Sonia?

  • Do you think Sonia learnt while she expressed, either in words or in pictures?

  • Do you think constant suppression of thoughts, words and actions benefits children?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Never Give Up on Your Child!

Ever feel drained after being with children? 

Feel like they just don't listen to you?

Tired of screaming and shouting?

How about making them read, write and do their homework?

And ensuring they eat healthy?

Getting their attention time and again?

Issuing threats and withdrawing privileges?

And to top it all, feeling guilty and frustrated, for not knowing how to be an effective parent or teacher?


Why ruin the time you spend with children stressing yourself out?


Change your beliefs.
Work on your communication style.
Set boundaries.
Create a routine.
Make children active participants in all decisions concerning them, including eating, dressing, cleaning up, studies, homework & playtime.
Be firm.
Be kind.
Be fun loving.
Be consistent.
Be a friend. 

And if despite all you do, you have bad days don’t worry. Everyone has their bad days- even the most seasoned teachers, parents and veterans in the field!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Is Structure a Part of your Child’s Life?

  • Does your child get so engrossed in play that he turns a deaf ear on you when you plead with him to stop and carry on home?

  • Do you find it hard to get him to sit in one place and do his homework?

  • Does he refuse to switch off the television even after repeated reminders that it is time to go to bed?

Do you find yourself getting stressed over repeating yourself several times through the day? And yet get no response from your child day after day? Finally, you are forced to literally remove the chid from the situation he is in;

  • Carry him forcefully and run home from the park.

  • Drag him to to the study table, hold his hands and make him finish his homework.

  • Switch off the television, disconnect the cable and carry him to bed while he struggles to free himself from your grip.

And lots of similar instances.

Do you also have to face tantrums and bad behaviour whenever you force your child out of something he is engrossed in?

Then all you need to do to make life smoother is set up a structure- a timetable that clearly spells out the child’s activities for every single day of the week.

Get creative and name your slots in the structure. Some examples are-

  1. Lunch Time
  2. Play Time
  3. TV Time
  4. Fun Time
  5. Dinner Time
  6. Art Time
  7. Homework Time


Choose names that work for your child. Make a chart that has this structure on it and put it up in the child’s room. If the child likes art, get him to decorate the chart. If he can write, let him do the writing on the chart himself.

When you have a structure in place, the child knows exactly what to expect at different times during the day. This makes his transition from one activity to the next a lot smoother. And you are more relaxed as well! Make sure you follow the structure consistently. Keep in mind that there will be days when you will need to be flexible for varied reasons. On such days, make sure you explain to the child beforehand about any changes you intend to make.

For a young child, you will have to create the structure yourself. But if you have a child who is older, get him to participate in creating the structure and give him the freedom to do so, while ensuring that all relevant activities are included in the same. This way the child also feels responsible for his structure and knows what needs to be done at different times of the day.

Most children respond well to structures. So, go ahead, have a structure in place and make life easy for you and your little one!

<p><a href="">Image: photostock /</a>

Monday, 28 November 2011

Fun Activities for Rainy Days!

It's raining, it's pouring!

Is your child bored of staying indoors on a rainy day? Read on to get some ideas on what you can do at home on a rainy day.

  1. Give your child paper, crayons and paint. Tell her to draw and colour a picture of a rainy day as per her perception of the same. Allow her to the freedom to draw and colour on her own. Even if you are tempted to step in to make corrections, try and stop yourself! Remember, it is not about getting a lovely picture of a rainy day.  It is about letting her imagine, think and execute her thoughts using colour.
  2. Indulge in some pretend play with an umbrella and a raincoat. Pretend that it is raining when you are out somewhere, do all that you would do if you were actually out in the rain and have fun!
  3. Put on music and do rain dances of different kinds.Get innovative, put logic aside and try out different things with your child! Imagine you are a peacock and dance like a peacock would in the rain. Imagine how it would feel if YOU were a rain shower and dance like you are the rain.Many children would have a blast doing this!
 These are suggestions. Not every child would enjoy drawing or dancing! Hence, you can innovate on the same or modify them as per your child’s requirements.

<p><a href="">Image:</a></p>

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What Do You Believe?

Do you believe that a child, any child, is lazy, adamant or mean?


Do you believe that the same child can be smart, talented and well behaved? 

What you believe about a child is what you will get!

Children have the distinct ability to sense our beliefs about them and present themselves to us accordingly.

Think about it.

Would you care for someone who believes you are a loser and labels you accordingly?

How about someone who believed in your abilities and saw a winner in you?
Would you care? Would you strive to live up to that "someone's" beliefs?

How would it be if that "someone" could be the people the child interacts with every single day - parents at home and teachers at school?

Monday, 21 November 2011

How About Some Exploration?

Imagine you are a nature lover who is on holiday. You are accompanied by a tour guide.

One bright sunny morning, your guide takes you to a thick green wood and tells you to explore it. You are thrilled beyond words.

You stop to look at every tree. You smell the flowers. You taste some berries. You dip your toes in a stream and enjoy the feeling of cool water on your feet. You use your binoculars to catch a glimpse of exotic birds high up in trees. You spot unique insects and admire the colourful butterflies that are all over.

You enjoy yourself thoroughly and think you have so much more to explore in the woods. You catch sight of a woodpecker and are observing it keenly, when your guide interrupts you to inform you that it is time to get back and see something else. How would you feel?

You reason with your guide that you are here to explore the woods and would not like to leave right away. However, your guide insists that you've explored the woods quite a bit and there are nicer things to do now. How would you feel?

Would you feel that even if there are nicer things to do, you are more interested in exploring the woods at the moment? Maybe you want to spend some moments watching the woodpecker or discovering wild mushrooms! Maybe you want to look for a particular plant or hear the sounds made by the scores of beetles there. Would you feel that you would like more time to explore?

If you do, you are not alone! There are lots of little children who feel the same way everyday!

Young ones on an exploratory journey are often whisked away or interrupted by well meaning adults, who have no clue about how much the exploration means to young inquisitive minds.

Do you think an uninterrupted journey through the woods would have enriched your learning about nature and increased your love for it? Yes?

Do you also think that uninterrupted exploration time for little children could enrich their learning experience and increase their love for learning as well? 

<p><a href="">Image: think4photop /</a></p>

<p><a href="">Image: prozac1 /</a></p>

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Where Would the Child in You Like to Learn???

Imagine you are a six year old child. You are all set to learn about healthy food in school today. In which of the following scenarios would you like to learn?

Scenario 1:

  • Your teacher talks in detail about the different kinds of healthy food and why they are good for you.
  • Next, she talks about the different kinds of junk food and tells you about why they are bad for you.
  • She then tells you what to eat in order to stay healthy.
  • She then asks you questions related to her explanation.
  • You are then asked to prepare for a test on healthy and junk food the following day.

Scenario 2:

  • Your teacher gives you a brief introduction to the topic “Healthy Food”.
  • She then tells you to draw and colour a picture that represents you as a strong and healthy person.
  • After the drawing activity, she asks you to express your views on healthy food and junk food.
  • She then narrates a story with an underlying message on healthy food and its benefits.
  • You are then given another activity to do.The teacher has an assortment of foods, such as, apples, rotis, rice, milk, cheese, chips, cookies, colas etc. She asks you to stack all the healthy foods in a pile and the junk foods in another pile. 
  • You end the lesson with some music and movement! You sing an action song related to healthy food.
  • The teacher then tells you to come prepared to enact a skit on “Healthy Food” the following day. Each child is assigned the role of a particular food. You along with your friends enact your part the following day and have fun!

So, to ask you again… In which scenario would you prefer to learn? 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Joyful Jigsaw Moments!

Have you ever done a jigsaw puzzle with your child? Do you like doing it? Does your child enjoy the activity?
Do you want to have more fun doing the puzzle with your child? Then read on....

A simple jigsaw puzzle activity can be an enriching experience for your child. It can go well beyond fitting all the pieces in their correct places!

For instance, let's assume we are working on a train puzzle. Go beyond making the train and completing the puzzle. Ask questions about that particular train and also any other train experience your child might have had. Allow him to express freely. This allows the child to connect his learning to reality.

Together observe all the different colours in the puzzle. If the child wishes to say something about the colours, listen to him. Don't be in a hurry to teach or correct the names of those colours that the child does not know. The child will learn eventually. A more important thing is to observe the different colours in the puzzle and enjoy the activity.

Ask the child if he observes anything else in the puzzle. If so,allow him to talk about it and listen to him. This talk and expression helps in the development of language as well.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Do You Have a Difficult Child as a Student?

Is there a difficult child in your class?  Do you feel like nothing works with him? Does he just not listen to you? Does he not read, write or follow any of your instructions? Does he lack motivation? Do you feel like yelling at him? Do you actually yell at him? Have you tried everything possible but feel like it’s just not working?

Sounds familiar?

Finally, you decide that it is high time you let his parents know. You call the parents for a meeting and vent out all your frustrations to them. You truly hope that they will reprimand the child or take responsibility for him.

But….. Bang! There comes a response that feels like a slap on your face. The parents refuse to accept that there is anything wrong with their child. Instead, they point a finger at you- directly or indirectly. You are shocked and begin justifying your actions. You and the parents are now trapped in a loop of blame that is difficult to escape!

Sounds familiar again?

Well, what do you do in such a hopeless situation?

Avoid getting trapped. It’s as simple as that!

Assess your priorities.

Do you wish to make a difference in the child’s life? Do you respect the child? Do you wish to guide the child towards excellence?

In case you answered “yes” to all the questions, all you need to do is just relax! Relax in the true sense of the word. Heavens will not come down if the child does not progress in the coming days or months. Progress is not something that happens by magic. Give it time. Focus on the child’s strengths (Even the most so called “difficult” children have something good in them). See if you can contribute by working around his strengths. Maybe all he needs is a slightly different approach. Maybe all he needs is a little motivation, a little positive reinforcement or a little love. Try everything possible with a positive attitude and develop confidence in the child. When your confidence in him shines through, you will automatically motivate him to progress.

Often, parents are not open to receiving negative feedback about their “difficult” child and end up being defensive. When this happens, you lose a precious opportunity to make a difference in the child’s life. Remember, parents are not your enemies! Treat them as your allies. Team up with them and work together for the child. When parents realise that you accept their child and genuinely wish to work towards his development, they will be much more open to your suggestions and hold you in high regard as well. They will be more than willing to partner with you. Imagine what would happen if parents as well as teachers worked as a joint positive force in every child’s life.

Be the light that inspires change…Today..

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Good Morning!

How do you greet a child when she walks into your class in the morning? Do you wish her “Good Morning”?  Are you happy to see her? Do you smile? Do you acknowledge her presence?

If you do, keep it up! A greeting from the heart is a great way to begin the day with children.

And if you don’t, it’s never too late to start!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Do you set boundaries for your child?

Children need boundaries in their day to day life. What are these boundaries? In simple terms, boundaries are limits that make children aware of what is acceptable and what is not. Not only do boundaries help children, they also help the adults in their life- the child understands that there are limits that cannot be crossed and the adult gets clear on what to expect. This eliminates a lot of stress for both.

Often, children behave badly because they do not know what is expected of them. This is made worse when the adults in their life are unsure of what good behaviour is and are poor role models. For instance, take a child who shouts frequently and disturbs an entire class of children. A simple issue like this can be addressed by setting a boundary- a rule that does not permit children to speak loudly or disturb others. It is up to the adult to set this boundary and enforce the rule subtly. If it is enforced aggressively, children are likely to resist it. It must be enforced in a manner that is firm yet kind.

What if the adult in charge also speaks loudly in class? In that case, setting a boundary would be a lot more challenging. It certainly helps when we model the behaviour we want children to learn. Therefore, if you want the child to speak softly in class, speak softly yourself. If you want the child to speak respectfully, speak respectfully to the child and everyone around. If you want the child to learn to say “Sorry” and “Thank you”, say it yourself whenever the occasion arises.

Children are keen observers of the world around them. So, do you think they observe the people they most interact with- their parents and teachers? Absolutely! So, get set to be a learner yourself and have fun with your child! Be the best role model your child could ever hope to have….

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Unleash the Creative Potential in your Child

Imagine you are on top of a mountain and you watch a beautiful sunset. You admire it and find a deep meaning in it. Your friend is also witness to the same sunset. However, she assigns a different meaning to it. You feel that the sunset would make a lovely painting and decide that you would like to paint it at home that night. Once home, you are all excited about painting the sunset you just observed. You get all your materials ready and sit down to paint. You splash some crimson on your chart and play around with the colour, when your friend peeps in and says you ought to have used a different shade of orange. She also tells you where you need to place your sun in order to give the painting a great look. Read the questions that follow and take a moment to think about how your friend’s words would make you feel.

Question 1: Would you feel that she is right and that you ought to change some aspects of your painting?


Question 2: Would you feel that the sunset holds a certain meaning for you and you know exactly how you want your painting to look?  

If you answered “yes” to question 1, by all means go ahead and make the changes you want to in your painting. However, if you answered “yes” to question 2, then pause to reflect on the consequences of suppressing creativity.

This suppression of creativity is a common occurrence with children. In the quest for perfection or beauty (which is most often demanded by an adult), the child misses out on utilising his creative potential.

How would it be if we could accept unique ideas from children? How would it be if we could focus more on the thinking behind the child’s work? How would it be if we could pay more attention to the process and less to the product? You would have a child that is capable of thinking and not just following instructions. You would have a child that is confident of his judgement and ability. In other words, a champion would emerge…..

<p><a href="">Image: Vlado /</a></p>

Is Shouting an Effective Strategy? Part 2

Shouting is not an effective strategy for guiding children towards good behaviour.  Why is that so?

Shouting tells the child that the adult is not in control of himself and his emotions. Children soon learn to tune out the yelling and continue to behave as always. They also learn that certain buttons can be pushed in order to get the adult to lose control!

This is one of the primary reasons why educators and parents feel there are some children who can never be corrected. They assume shouting at them will yield the desired results, while in effect, the reverse is true. Shouting sends out wrong signals to the child. It is very important that the adult stays calm, no matter how unacceptable the child’s behaviour may seem. Staying calm gives one a better chance to model as well as teach good behaviour.

The next logical question would then be; “How do we deal with a misbehaving or an adamant child?”

Well, there is no quick fix for a single event of misbehaviour. Good behaviour is something that is learnt over time, with the support of an adult who can set clear boundaries for the child (and his behaviour) and who can be unconditional in his acceptance of the child. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Montessori System of Education

A quote by Dr Maria Montessori- If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man's future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual's total development lags behind?”

The Montessori system of education was founded by Dr Maria Montessori, who was the first female physician of Italy. Dr Montessori played an important role in redefining education all over the world. Her system has converted a teacher centric learning environment to one that is child centric. Her mission was to let the child lead the way on his path of learning.

Dr Montessori has designed loads of learning materials for children. The materials are mainly divided into four categories-

  1. Exercises of practical Life
  2. Sensorial Exercises
  3. Language
  4. Arithmetic

It is a wonderful system wherein children work with materials of their choice on individual mats. They are allowed to explore the materials and learn at their own pace. In contrast to the traditional classroom wherein the teacher is most active, it is the child who is most active in a Montessori environment. The role of the teacher is that of a facilitator. She does not force learning upon the child. She merely facilitates the child’s learning.

The beauty of the Montessori philosophy lies in the fact that it respects every child’s abilities and allows the child to be an explorer. In an authentic Montessori environment, children emerge as independent and confident young learners.

For more information on the Montessori system, check out the following books by Dr Maria Montessori-

  1. The Secret of Childhood
  2. The Absorbent Mind

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Is Shouting an Effective Strategy? Part 1

Walk into various schools (or homes) and we hear a lot of shouting happening in the name of disciplining children.

A very important question to ask ourselves is, "Does shouting work?"

Shouting works temporarily. Period.

It gets us our desired response instantaneously. It puts a stop to misbehaviour at that moment, only for it to resurface after a while! So, the adult shouts on a regular basis and the child's undesirable behaviour sees a rise and a drop, like a never ending wave. Have you ever wondered why that is so? Have you ever heard parents or teachers expressing that despite being shouted at, some children don't change? That some children are adamant, haughty, cannot be corrected etc and nothing works with them.  Why is that so?

Could it be that the fault lies completely with the child?

Or could there be just a possibility that the adults are not getting something right?

While it is true that it can be challenging for adults to understand or work with certain children, it is not difficult once we change our approach and beliefs.And shouting is certainly not the ideal approach while dealing with any child :)

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Check your Priorities

Every child is unique. Every child has her own set of strengths. Every child learns differently. So, does it make sense that we push all children to learn at the same pace and in the same manner? Or judge children’s abilities based on how fast they seem to learn? 

How would it be if one could respect the child’s abilities and allow him the freedom to learn at his own pace? Would the child learn better? Would the child enjoy his learning experience? Would the child develop confidence in his abilities? Would the child learn to accept himself for what he is and strive to improve in his own eyes? The answer to all of these questions is a positive “YES”!

It would help if we could check our priorities before embracing a new plan of action. Is the idea that the child should compete with the outside world or is it that he should strive to do his best? If the main goal is competition with the world, we don't have much to change. But if the priority is to guide the child towards doing his best, then we most certainly ought to change our stance. Aim for excellence and guide the child towards excellence.

<p><a href="">Image: digitalart /</a></p>

Friday, 4 November 2011

The Importance of Free Play

Young children love to play. Free play plays a crucial role in child development. Children are keen observers of the world around them. Free play is a means for them to express themselves and experience the world around them. Apart from experiencing the world around them, free play also leads to the development of social and language skills.   Children learn to interact with peers. Interaction with peers is one of the many ways that leads to language development. As children play and chat together, they end up working on their language skills indirectly.

Finally, free play is a means for the child to unwind and just have a good time. Just as adults unwind by reading books, listening to music, visiting the spa or club, watching movies, playing sports etc, the child unwinds and enjoys life through free play. Hence, it is very important for adults (teachers and parents alike) to provide children with structured play time every single day. It is also worth keeping in mind that adult interference during free play ought to be minimal. We need to let the children be. We are required to step in only in the event of any destructive behaviour.