Monday, October 17, 2016

Happiness is what I need to experience - Learning will transcend!!

Dandiya is an annual event at our small school. The idea is to expose culture to our little ones and teach them a few steps so that they can enjoy the musical festival in their buildings and neighbourhoods.

Every year till date we have run this as a teaching or coaching regime and wondered why the children don't move themselves to the beat? ... Why is it so mechanical? ... Where is the soul and the heart? ...

This year the shift that we made was within us.... the change was in the attitude.... the idea was to thoroughly enjoy Dandiya in it's true essence and let the happiness reflect in it's purest and lightest form, without the hint of teaching resulting in judging the children or even ourselves....

What resulted was purely magical with every child not only dancing to the beat but experimenting... Like the children even we wished the music would not stop... what ran out was not the happiness but the energy...

That day what echoed inside me has left an impression:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. - Maya Angelou

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.- Albert Schweitzer

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Priceless Expression!!!!

A priceless expression - A teacher's gift....

It was a thorough delight to see the little faces light up with smiles at the arrival of the snail in the classroom. The children had been colouring the rainy creatures through out the month, singing rhymes and talking about the snail but to meet one in person was a complete different experience. ....

Image result for image of a small snail"Oh! it carries it's home on it's back."
"Oh! it does not have any legs."
"It slithers."
"It is so slow."
"Teacher! It can climb out of the box."

The classroom was filled with a lot of excitement when one child commented " It is so small!". That's when my curiosity piqued as I had never seen a large snail myself... and the quest began.... Our expedition to the colony of snails where we had found the baby was disappointing but we spread the word that we were looking for a large snail. Our wish was granted when the security guard handed me a packet the next day that not only took me by surprise but the entire classroom of excited children....

"Oh! It is so big!"
"How did it's shell become so big?
"Can it move?"
"It has no eyes... How can it see?"

The questions did not stop ...

Some curious eyes did not want it out of sight....

And some watched it with skepticism not sure if it was real....

But everyone in the classroom was mesmerised by the snail that seemed to have come alive from the rhymes...

The fun was yet to come as the clay activity to follow took on a different turn... it became a personal journey of each child to make a snail which they called their own....

The magic is in the connection.... a connection which embraces learning with heart and soul... and everything that follows is simply magical....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I AM NOT SMALL! I CAN DO THINGS AND DO THEM WELL – A Journey of self worth to self esteem

“Teacher, when my mom comes to pick me up please tell her that I can peel and cucumber."
"I can knead atta and roll rotis."
"She does not listen to me and says I am small."
"I am BIG!"

"Tell her I can do everything. I can help her.”

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old
peeling a cucumber 
A four year old as part of her Montessori EPL (Everyday Practical Life) routine had just finished the activity of peeling the cucumber, cutting it, eating it and sharing it with her friends. She was delighted and felt accomplished.The plea from the child captured my attention I have always wondered about self worth and the difference between self esteem. Here it was: A BIG ‘Eureka’ moment!

The dictionary meaning of self worth means sense of one's own value or worth as a person.

The dictionary meaning of self esteem means confidence in one’s own worth or abilities synonymous to faith in one self.

The child had just discovered self worth in her action of peeling and cutting a cucumber at the age of 4. The ability to handle the knife like an adult and accomplish an outcome similar to her mother had made her realise her potential, and all the valuable possibilities her hands could accomplish.

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
peeling a cucumber 
In the request to her mother, the child is looking for validation in her immediate environment of her household to be able to analyse, what she had learnt was a worthy skill or not; an invaluable connect of her worth to an empowering feeling of being of HELP, a moment of pride, a feeling of confidence, faith in her capabilities.…. SELF ESTEEM in true sense.

Self worth as experienced here by the child came to me in a new light, it was momentous, it seemed dynamic it was not a constant, it was contextual…. 

The 4 year old had discovered a new level of hand eye co-ordination and was basking in the glory of her new found skill. What the child needed now, was validation to appreciate the skill, find it worthy enough to build confidence in her ability. 

An appropriate intervention like allowing the child to cut a plate of salad for lunch or dinner would find right value for it and seal the skill with confidence and faith; encourage the child to explore more activities, get creative, discover the various possibilities, build confidence in her hands and take pride in them as part of her whole being.

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
cutting a cucumber 
On the other hand by not allowing the child to test his/her newly acquired skill in the real world makes the child disrespect the skill and the child shuns away from the work. Repetitively ignoring contextual validation for skills acquired makes the children loose faith in their body parts, their abilities, and finally in their own self.

The three main domains of learning as per Bloom's Taxonomy are:
o   Cognitive: mental skills (knowledge)
o   Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas (attitude or self)
o   Psychomotor: manual or physical skills (skills)

Peace Montessori: A 4 year old 
handling with tongs 
This endows on us that all these domains are interconnected and highly dependent on each other. The development of cognitive domain is normally preceded by the affective and the psychomotor domains, which begin development from the day of birth in form of observation, analyzing, applying gross and fine motor skills, speech and language skills, social and emotional skills. All these apply towards building self worth and self esteem. The confidence in these skills paves the path to build confident cognitive skills and self realization of their development.

The self worth and self esteem developed as part of early year learning is not an overnight achievement but a gradual progression achieved by multiple every day tasks and their validation, which help to recognise the worth of the entire being. It helps the children build confidence in their potential, abilities and makes them courageous to achieve every cognitive milestone in later years.

Focus on only cognitive milestones without investment in building self worth and self esteem as part of affective and psychomotor development in early years leaves the children dis-illusioned as they find a disconnect in their goals and their ability to achieve them with their being.

Lately there is a lot of conversation about children building inertia to do work...

According to me the answer is very simple…. we need to bridge self worth and self esteem...

Monday, June 20, 2016

It’s just my first week at school: I am already building resilience, endurance and willingness to work!

Peace Montessori: A 3 year child rolling mats and putting
them in order

In most playgroups and/or preschools the first week is filled with an atmosphere of initial settlement blues with crying and crankiness prevailing throughout. Both teachers and parents are at their nerves end to get the children settled. 

Comparatively Montessories offer a refreshing breather. 

There is no concept of settlement time. Once the children enter a Montessorie classroom after overcoming the initial separation anxiety with parents their senses are completely engrossed and tantalized by the classroom environment, which not only attracts but engages them as well. The child feels in charge without having to depend on anybody and is already in a state of responsibility for work. The environment of a Montessorie classroom with well defined activities is relatable to a child and in no time the child picks up a work and is settled.
Peace Montessori: A 3 year old mindfully doing the washing
hands activity
The ability to make a choice of work empowers the child with freedom and responsibility at the same time. The child takes the ownership and settles down to complete the task at hand and in no time the child is settled wanting to pick work after work and finish it.

Peace Montessori: A 2.5 year old mindfully doing the
sticking activity
Maria Montessori's approach is respect for the child as a worthy individual, occupied with the task of developing himself into a mature human adult. This philosophy is visible at work from the instance the child enters the classroom. She observed children's need for independence, for self-confidence as adequate people, for control over their own impulses and emotions and a natural curiosity and desire to learn

The pace of the learning is defined and driven by the child and is not mandated by authority allowing the child to feel comfortable and at ease. Within a day the excitement in the child is visible and the child is eager to work. The structure and the order of the classroom requires the child to finish the task on hand before starting a new one makes the child finish the activities with eagerness to learn new ones.  The learning by action helps the child to self validate resulting in child repeating the activities till he/she feels confident. 

It is a visual treat to see the human psychology of self development in action from day one of child's encounter with learning. The age of the child is immaterial and the child is building resilience, endurance and willingness to work already.