April 24, 2018

New beginnings

Some of you who follow my work would have known that we moved to a new home and that I intend to bring in some lifestyle changes. Here I would share on how a day looks like in this new place and what I intend 'to do' and 'not to do'.

We wake up to the dear sunshine and begin the day with smiles and cuddles. There are no phrases like hurry up, do this, else we get late. Because, when I observe, children keep learning at every moment. In one instance, I noticed DD1 lowering her knees and raising back up repeatedly while I was waiting for her to move from the place that she was standing at. Not saying any word, I just observed. After a while, she said 'When I do up, down, the moon moves front and back'. I felt wonderful . This relative motion is usually introduced in school and then the children asked to look around them while driving, like how the trees seem to move when we are driving. Here, this observation came from the child, not the book. I also recalled a bunch of similar observations made by DD1 a while back. She says, the trees are moving while driving and that the vehicle that overtake are running and we are moving very slow while we were driving in reasonable speed (not v slow), it was only the relative speed that mattered and a couple more that are hard to observe when children are always rushed to do things, when they are not given time, when they are handed over with gadgets just so that the parent can have some calm time.

Getting back to our day. I look at what time it is only when I wake up and rest all I do not bother. I give my children ample time to do their personal chores. Next, I would check the time when we are all seated for breakfast and that is around 9-9 30 AM.

So, usually the sequence is like - We wake up, brush teeth, go outdoor to get milk(DD1 and DD2 get one packet each), I go to kitchen to cut some veggies for breakfast and lunch, boil milk, let it cool, meanwhile water the plants, sow some seeds, clean the house premises, drink milk, go for bath, wash own clothes, dress up, go to terrace, hang the clothes on the dry line, thank the sun, moon, stars, clouds, nature and everyone around us, go down, run around for a while, listen to chants/vedas, have breakfast and get back to play. Read some books, have some fruits in an hour, play around, have lunch, get back to play. have milk or fruits or snacks in the evening while I also cook dinner, go to terrace, get the clothes back to room, fold them, put in appropriate shelves (by DD1 and DD2), go out for play. Have dinner, feel sleepy and then sleep.

In the above sequence, no where there is any rush or compulsion of doing any specific task. If DD1 says, she would brush her teeth a while later, so be it. She decides for herself and in no longer time she is back ready to have milk. The kids usually wake up around 6 - 6 30 AM or 7 - 7 30 AM if their sleep was in any way disturbed during the night(considering DD2 still wakes up during her sleep).
Outdoor play happens often in a day, depending on the weather conditions too. Even in the afternoon, they may go out to play in the sand if there is shade around.

All the toys have been given away when moving to this house. Some board games(for older age) have been kept locked as of now since DD1 still prefers to have free play not instruction-based play.
The latest toy that has been opened was a gift, a shape sorting box, that was lying on the floor and kids least bothered about it. They played just couple of times.

Children are more curious to learn from real-life experiences as already detailed in this post here.

DD2 has access to story books, stationery items, colouring items, scribbling books and all the household items(glassware, cutlery, lanterns) that she prefers to use in the various kinds of play that she is involved in during the day. She handles every item with utmost care, more than how I do, I have to accept it. She puts dal in the wet grinder, she gets me rice(to be cooked) in a glass with proper measurement, she counts very fast, she weaves stories with any objects that she glances over or even out of thin air. She draws her own imaginative figures and tells stories about them.

I do not wish to always instruct her in her play or learning. I do not wish to separate play and learning. All the while that the child is playing, she is also learning. Only that, it cannot be graded because each child is unique, each learning is unique, every creative task is unique. These cannot be graded against any standard.

As I feel very content with how my children are growing naturally, I wish to share more details on how we lead life in my future posts. Thanks for reading!


Some changes that were much awaited

It's been quite a while since I updated my blog. For the past month or more, I had been busy with the proceedings of our new home and moving in to the new home. It's definitely a big task to weed out all the items that you no longer need and to organise the items that are only needed most in the home.

Yes. I have always been thinking to make some changes in the way we live (lifestyle changes) and the movement has been a good opportunity for me to make a start in that matter.

Some things that I had in mind were:

1. Get rid of plastic toys, or rather, all toys.

Because, they are absolutely not needed. Nature provides ample resources and opportunities for a child's growth.

No, we had not bought all of them, or even, most of them. But, still, toys just get spread all around the home in the form of gifts from near and dear ones. Though there were many toys lying around, children showed more interest in the things that I was doing, mainly, reading, writing, cooking, talking to people, paying bills, swiping the card, handing over cash to the retailer/seller, taking the balance money, talking to auto wallahs, e-mailing, replying to texts, taking calls, dealing with life and all the real experiences that they can be exposed to in an open environment and definitely not in a closed room with just toys or books or worksheets or multimedia so that they are glued to their places for sometime.

Most of you would already know and understand how the markets are flooded with attractive toys, so appealing that even adults would get tempted to buy for their children. Industrialization and machine manufacturing has surely succeeded to produce goods in bulk that sells for a price that is lesser than any handmade item. And, even the economy has risen that the consumer does not feel it is a burden to spend money on an attractive play item which may be hardly used by the child.

What are all the points that are quoted for marketing children's' toys and why don't we find them in nature?

  • Stacking : easily and more interestingly done with household kitchen items.
  • Shape sorting: very conveniently done with items available at home. 
  • Fine motor skill development: Beading set : instead of buying that plastic beading set, one could actually make a flower garland(or mango leaves garland), also, we are close to nature during that time, that is very pleasing to one's mind. 
  • Lacing set: play around with real shoes and laces, why buy a toy or a quiet book for it?
  • Many more, all of which have interesting substitutes that can be found in nature.
2. Let the child just be, grow up naturally, with minimal interference of artificial stuff around the home.

3. Make stuff, that can be made at home, at home

Having learnt that there are many things that could be made at home, I had my own list in mind. Things like floor cleaning liquids, liquid had wash, body soaps, dish washing liquid, ketchup, and some more.

4. Live a wise life and not like a robot

Ever since my child started school and there was rush in doing things right from the moment I open my eyes in the morning, I have been wondering, is the child's time, effort, energy and rush worth the way she spends time during the day. 

Children love it when they are left free, not bound by rules. Children learn more when they are on their own, not when they are surrounded by instructions and rules about doing things. 

Children are not robots or programmed devices to just wake up at 6, get ready by 7, board the bus at 7 30, reach school, follow instructions, do what is asked to be done, sit silently in class, return tired and frustrated by all that has happened. How can a child use his wisdom when he is continuously being programmed to work in a specific manner? Every person takes birth with a certain purpose in their life. How can the child get closer to himself? Why does it usually happen that, only after 20-21 years of school and college life, one tries to understand himself, the world around him and think about what actually interests him. May be because, that was the time that he got for himself. All the time until then went in programming him by other adults. 

Hence, why can't we give this precious gift to children - TIME? There would be another post on how I intend to do it. 

5. Be close to nature.

Have regular(everyday) sightings with the sun, moon, stars, clouds, air, soil, water. Express gratitude for nature and everything around. Grow own food. Grow a tree for my children to climb up. Make compost. Learn about growing food. Learn about soil. Learn about plants and seasons. 

6. Lessen use of plastic and machines/devices

We could stitch cloth bags and use them for the regular shopping. We could use AC or the washing machine only when it is absolutely necessary. 

7. Buy clothes only when it is necessary. 

I have stopped buying new clothes from a year now and feel very good about it. I reuse my old, rarely used sarees for any occasion. 

How I implement these changes and how a day looks like would be coming up in the next post

Thanks for reading!