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.