October 30, 2018

How Children Learn?

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DD1 last went to school in first week april, 2018.
There were questions regarding socialisation, may not know people, become solo etc. etc.
We moved home in April. From a well built community to a fairly new community. From a place where there were two play areas to a place that had sand, cement and construction equipment. From a place comprising 450+ flats to a place in which we were the 4th occupant.
I had well wishers saying, right when kids need play areas you are moving to new community that doesn't have play area with very less neighbours.
But the kids, 1.5yo and 4.5 yo didn't bother much. They have always been happy playing where they are and with what they have. DD1 plays in sand, red soil, wet mud, muddy puddles, stones, leaves, shells, climbing sand/stone hills along with playing with kids around.
I recall one incident when we were waiting on the road side for medicines to arrive and I was thinking if I should take them to a park nearby when DD1 upon knowing why we were waiting and the duration we had to wait, happily replied 'OK, I'll play here by the side stepping on the stones, I can make games here'. That again reassured that it is adults who have wants beyond their needs but kids are happy with whatever is available around.
It is we who compare yesterday with today, child 1 with child 2, today with tomorrow and fear the unknown. Kids live in the HERE and NOW. Content with where they are and what they have.
Is it the child who should learn how to live life from adults or adults learn how to just BE from the child?
There have been many incidents when DD1 surprised me. This picture is a greeting card that DD1 made for our 50+ year old neighbour aunty. The idea was hers. I never initiated making a card to anyone. She got some cardboard piece, pattern paper, stapler, cut flowers from another pattern paper, stuck them on the card. Does this answer the questions like how does she interact with people, how does she talk to people outside family, how does she socialise and many more how's?
So, how did she learn to make something for someone or many other acts that she does?
Just by being her own self instead of pushing tight schedules and hearing 'do as I say' lines. She thinks about many things around. She does few things. She builds few things. She makes few things. Everything right from conception of idea comes from her. I even don't know if she plans and makes or makes and plans. But she does.
There is no necessity to consider this as an achievement of hers. I can see her grow in more than one way, little by little, all day, every day. She learns a lot by roaming around and not confined to sitting between four walls.
All the time that children get to socialise, talk free without judgement, with peers is during free play, breaks and after school hours. Not much when children are sitting in the classroom. And that is available for DD1 in plentiful.

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October 19, 2018

What is music for kids?

In case of singers during ancient days, first, there was devotion to the spiritual energy(called god) and in the process of union with the energy, originated songs which took the tune of various raagas that came to be listed to this day in the form of notes and tunes.

In the present age, children as young as 2.5 or 3 are being sent for music classes where the learning starts with instructions on raagas and then rote learning of the song with beating of cane stick on the floor in the background.(Yes, I've seen it)

Where is the devotion? Young children hardly understand the words that form the song. More than letting them enjoy the words or the song or the tune or letting them hum to their own tune, all that is being focussed by adults is whether the child has learnt a specific song in a specific tune.

Obviously, the teacher is focussed on getting more and more children to sing as she directs and the parent is focussed on how many songs her child can learn in a short duration, whether the child can sing in front of guests or whether the child could sing on the stage when as young as 3 or 4.

I wonder if anyone really cares about how the child feels in this chaos. Young children who spend time in hearing the hymn, understanding and repeating it often by themselves have numerous questions regarding what that word  means, why that word was used in that line, and many more whys that follow.

Wonder if any parent can find a true guru for a child in this fast paced comparison oriented world. Or wonder if any parent can try being the child's guru by giving ample time to ponder on the new words, hymns that child comes across,  encourage the child to question and just facilitate the child's understanding of the hymn.

Let the young be curious. If learning was only about instructions, it would have long died.

Where there is devotion, the disciple, her voice and her raaga become union with god.

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October 15, 2018

Mountains, Grass, Shiva and Brahmalokam

There are two mountains green shaded. Zig zag. Another two mountains red and violet.

Top two mountains tell zigzag to take away bottom two mountains somewhere. So, the grass goes on to search for them. Grass goes to shiva to ask where the mountains are. Then the mountains take the form of venkateswara swamy and go to brahmalokam. Everyone meet at brahmalokam and go back to their places.

This is how the imagination of a 4 year old unfolds. I feel happy for her that her time is being utilised for creative things rather than calling repeatedly to finish off the homework. Seriously.

And this she did, just when it was time for us to sleep. She said she would just do some drawing / colouring and get back.  Then she told this story.

Give them time and let their creativity be churned out. Not in tight schedules of class work, home work, tuitions, drawing classes, extra classes.

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October 07, 2018

The sad reality of learning journey

An infant when physically, mentally, emotionally ready, rolls over her body, crawls on fours, stands, walks, babbles, talks all by herself. She didn't need motivation to do it. She didn't need sticky stars to do it.

A toddler learns to zip, unzip the bag after repeated failures, climb up a hill after repeatedly rolling down a few times, uncaps her water bottle, walks over edges, carries glass of water across the room, undresses herself, and many more without having the need to give sticky stars, without having to compare with peers.

More so, the child actually does not even bother if the parent has been noticing her achievement. She had been busy exploring, trying, failing, trying again and achieving. She neither needed any 'yes, you can do it' in the background nor did she need 'yay, you've done it'.

She knows what she is aiming for, she is clear about her attempts, failures and the new path that needs to be taken. She achieves.

Suddenly, the child's learning journey is moved towards learning alphabets, numbers, singing rhymes, memorising facts. Her learning and her attempts at learning are being noticed, scrutinised and judged by a set of adults. The child cannot figure out what happened to her natural learning path. The adults cannot figure out what the child needs. In this chaos, adults start to trade the child's learning(read as homework/classwork), writing, counting, activity sheets, reading with sticky stars, treats, chocolates, play time and phrases like 'who completes first will get sticky star', 'whoever completes can go for outdoor play' etc.

What is this leading to? Where is it going to? A confused child who is in the battle between wanting to explore the world to achieve little things and doing what is asked to please the adults.

Children are already aware of their purpose of life. They are close to their consciousness. Let us keep them so without interfering with our authority that we think we have over our children.

After all the rigid childhood that they have gone through, it takes years and many years of their adulthood to actually look back at their self, realise their self worth, know their goals and achieve them

Let the child be.



October 06, 2018

Open Learning - Typical Day

DD1 has been in this journey of learning without school since some time(read months) now. There have been related posts about the same.

Today, I thought I could brief of how a day looks like in this journey of open learning (or learning without school). Though, there are quite some things that need be in place and is taking time, the journey so far has been good.

In the morning, we watered the plants when DD1 tells me the names of each plant. Then bath. DD1 and DD2 get into some pretend play in the bathroom, scrubbing the bathroom floor, the walls and the glass. When they are done, they would call me and I am in no hurry.

(You can refer to my earlier posts that talks about learning that actually happened even when kids were in the bathroom!)

Time for breakfast, cooking, free play that involves pretend play as shopkeeper. They take turns in the play. Next was story time, where DD1 picks a book and we read (She tries). Sometimes, DD2 also picks up a book for herself, then, it follows by a small fight/cry over which story we should read first. After some talk and negotiations, we start reading one.

Then lunch time. DD2 sleeps for an hour after lunch. And when she is asleep, DD1 brings out her MONOPOLY game. She saves her things so that DD2 doesn't mishandle 😃

DD1 just loves playing this game. She can move her pointer fast, she knows what number she wants in order to land in a favourable position on the path, she knows how fast she has to travel in order to collect the money placed on a particular square, she knows some subtractions/additions during the bank transactions that happen in the game, she even pretends to drive the car while moving her pointer.

DD2 woke up and we hurriedly packed this game up. DD1 got a board of CROSSWORD which had just two letter tokens N and T. DD1 asked me how the game is played. I pointed across some squares on the board saying, I would place C, A, T(I didn't have these tokens) here and I score the total number of points from the letters C, A and T. For which she took the only tokens present there N, T and said she would make NET with it. She placed the tokens N and T with a gap in between and counted her score.

Next is, some time for hugs and cuddles. The most important of all.

Then, DD1 and DD2 set out to play another pretend play. Both of them collected some of their clothes - shirts, pants, undies, took a bucket each, went upstairs to get some cloth pegs, placed a stool at a certain place which they called a washing machine. Put their clothes in the machine. Make some sounds as if the machine started to run, after a while, make sound indicating that machine has stopped, take out the clothes, hang them on the rods secured with cloth pegs. After some time, the clothes are dried up, go back into buckets and then washing machine from there and the game REPEATS. DD2 was trying to balance herself by holding a shirt on the rod, bend over to take a peg, she couldn't reach, so she left the hand with which she held the shirt to reach the peg, then the shirt fell down. Next, she placed the shirt evenly across the rod, it didn't fall and then she bent down to reach a peg. So much of thinking goes into what kids do !!! The action might not be important for an adult's eye, but, it is the thinking, the thought process involved that makes a world of difference to the child.

After good amount of play, we move on to snacks/fruits/milk.

Very soon after that, they again took to pretend play where one was making juice with an apple and another was making soup with alphabets. After another good amount of play, DD1 gets reminded of gulab jamun which we have been procrastinating since many days. Every time she reminds, it was not a convenient time to make, and, hence, got delayed. Today, she said, we had to make. She reached the gulab jamun packet. Added sugar to water while counting the number of spoons she was adding. I put it on stove.

She started to mix the dough. After some time, I took over to make the dough mix and then both of us rolled balls out of it. DD2 joined as well.

Next, I had to deep fry the dough balls in oil. Now, DD1 and DD2 are safely and conveniently seated on the kitchen platform. They eye a small manual grinder that is used for making pickles. This leads to another play where each one takes turns to grind and the other adds matchsticks, salt, urad dal, drops of oil, bits of dough and tell me that they are also preparing an item while I prepare the gulab jamun. They called the item 'noodles'.

Gulab Jamun is now complete and is soaking in the sugar syrup. Few walks here and there and they got their jamuns to eat.

Then they went out to play. Some time on the road, some time in the car, pretend driving.

Then it is dinner time. Some time for free play. Next, sleep time.

That is how a wonderful day ends. Yes, there were cries/tantrums today, there were arguments,fights between the sisters too. Mostly because one does not understand or communicate in the same way as the other does. There is learning in these too.

Children learn from anything and everything.



Muddy Play - Fun Play

DD1 and DD2 spend lot of time in play. They play under sun. They play in rain. They play with sand, grass, red soil, twigs, leaves, shells and whatever they get their hands upon.

They come back home and have a clean shower. They know what is edible and what is not edible. They understand that when sliding sand with fingers from a height, there is a probability that it gets into our eyes due to the breeze.

Their pretend play consists of all the above things.

They even climb up sand mountain, stones hill (those kept at construction site). 19 mo DD2 has an achievement-feel when she climbs up the stones/sand mountain with few slips on the way.

And recently, DD1 also did this.

After her play in the muddy pool of water, when we were walking back home, people asked us if she had mistakenly fell down into muddy puddle for which the reply was 'She didn't fall in it, she just played in it'.

I have had many weird looks at me when my children play in sand. Like 'You just left them there?', 'You always leave them free?', 'It may cause some harm' and many such.

I would simply say 'Let them play'. For me, I feel this is the most natural way to play. She senses the sand running between her fingers. She feels the different texture of the muddy water against her skin. She analyses stuff regarding matter. She mixes things of different colours and observes the new colour that is formed. There is a whole lot of thinking that is going on in her play and I would not want to stop it. She notices that wet things stick to our skin and dry ones don't. She reasons out that she would herself wash her hair with shampoo if need be and yes, she does, all by herself.

Free play is the most imaginative play. Let children play. There's is a whole world of learning going on in their mind in play.