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In this Issue Learning at Home through Everyday Activities P26 | Deciphering Dyslexia P34 | Educational Video Games P50 Getting Children to Do Chores P53 | Careers in Design P64 | Dealing with Allergies P85


C

over Story

Teaching Children to Think Creatively

In the forested campus of The Valley School on the outskirts of Bangalore, there are only three ‘classes’ up to the eighth grade – an entry level up to six years of age, a junior level from ages seven to nine, and a middle school from ages 10 to 12. “At this age most learning is through peer interaction. Teachers are only facilitators in the teaching process and not the sole beacons of knowledge,” says Principal S. Jairam.

to

At Riverside School in Ahmedabad, sixth graders spent an afternoon in a tent rolling incense sticks to experience what children employed in hot dingy factories undergo every day. Later, they took out street marches and visited factories employing children to protest against the practice. At Vidya Mandir Estancia, a CBSE school in Chennai, teachers use games such as ‘Pallankuzhi’ (a traditional game in Tamil Nadu), chess, and treasure hunts to teach mathematics, and aero modelling to flesh out concepts in physics. “We constantly look for ways to combine conventional and new methods as part of our teaching,” says Principal Maheshwari Natarajan. At NSS Hillspring International, Mumbai, Principal Nalini Pinto and Madhavi Shilpi, a licensed ThinkBuzan instructor, led an initiative that saw thirty students and two facilitators create a massive mind map measuring over 2000 square feet to cover the material that Grade 10 students study in their business studies course. “This was a unique way to understand and recall complex information,” remarks Pinto. At Centre for Learning (CFL), a school 40 kilometres west of Bangalore, gardening, dance, music, nature walks, looking after pets, and astronomy are all part of the curriculum. In the Chemistry lab, 14-year-olds are encouraged to take 10 minutes of personal time to come up with individual discoveries. “I’ve often had students come up with unusual chemical reactions that they then try and explain to the rest of the class,” says Yasmin Jayathirtha, a science teacher and founding member of CFL. Image Courtesy: NSS Hillspring International School, Mumbai

06 | ParentEdge | September - October 2012


Cover Story

Silly exercises? Much ado about nothing? Not at all, says Sridhar Ramanathan, a Mumbai-based Strategic Innovation Coach. “Creativity is not just desirable but important, sensible and required. When things around us change, we can’t remain in a time warp. We need to be able to understand, interpret and cope with that change, and it is in this context that creative thinking helps.” Creativity is a much-needed skill in today’s rapidly evolving world. Ingenious thinking should be encouraged, both for its own sake and also because it allows children to solve problems in innovative ways. Promoting originality in thought also ensures that you engage children in their own learning process. Research shows that when children are encouraged to think creatively, they are motivated to perform well and also experience enhanced self-esteem.

Teaching Children to Think Creatively

Creative thinking enables people to connect things in new and unique ways to offer interesting solutions and opportunities. It is key to generating ideas that can potentially shift mindsets and enable change. – Kusum Thumapalli Chairperson, Club Hatch Creativity is about being resourceful – in other words, how best can you make use of things around you. It provides us with the flexibility to think differently and that today is more a necessity than a choice.

– Sreeja Iyer Co-founder and CEO, Sparkling Mindz

September - October 2012 | ParentEdge | 07


Building Blocks

Everyday Learrning

Learning at Home through Everyday Activities

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. A well-known and oft-quoted statement, especially by students who wish for an extra period of games! But what if we were able to combine both? Especially with our restless young ones who, to the despair of most parents, can’t sit still long enough to concentrate on and complete a task! What if you could teach your child all those little concepts that you feel she ought to know before school starts, but in a fun way so she will actually imbibe them without even realising it? The good news is you can! Learning starts at home, where your child is most comfortable. If you can introduce her to new concepts and knowledge through everyday routine activities, such knowledge will become second nature to her. Little children also tend to be more receptive when exposed to information in a practical, hands-on manner, rather than being spoken down to or 'taught' - but then, aren't we all?!

way to get her to think about and understand her environment. In the Building Blocks feature in Issue 6, ‘Learning through Play,’ we explored how toys and games can be used to teach the child. But there are also a number of small activities that can be done at home, using simple examples from everyday life, which will introduce and reinforce concepts in maths, science and language in a fun way.

Asking your child questions and encouraging her to observe and draw conclusions about the world around her is the most effective So how does this play out on a day-to-day basis? 26 | ParentEdge | September - October 2012


Building Blocks

Everyday Learrning

Numeracy skills The basic first step in teaching numeracy is introducing your child to shapes and teaching her to estimate size. This forms the foundation for more advanced counting and mathematical abilities later on. Here are a few simple ways in which you can introduce her to these basic concepts: • Use everyday objects, especially food items to teach her about shapes; chapattis and peas are circular, while bread can be cut into triangles, rectangles and squares. • Shapes can be seen in everything around us, from doors and windows to plates and party hats. This also helps the child associate specific shapes with certain objects; for instance, wheels are always circular.

• Teach size by asking her to compare. If you are out walking, point to the vehicles and ask your child if the car on your left or the one to your right is bigger. Encourage your child to use words like big, bigger and biggest. Once your child has grasped the basic concepts of size and shape, you can start introducing her to numbers and counting. Incorporate numbers in little games that you play, and as a part of all the daily interactions between both of you: • While handing out treats, ask your child to count them before accepting. • Ask her to count the number of ingredients that go into a dish when you are cooking together. • Play board games, especially those that use dice and game pieces to progress. Not only will this teach her to count the dots on the dice, but to also use that number to move forward the appropriate number of spaces. • Counting the number of steps taken to reach a destination, the number of flowers, the amount of change to be returned while shopping – these are some other ways to introduce numbers, and later, simple addition and subtraction. • Number rhymes are a fun way to teach children their numbers as well! You can use accompanying gestures to show counts, or even make finger puppets for the young ones.

Some Number Rhymes This Little Piggy

10 Little Monkeys

This little piggy went to market. (Gently squeeze a thumb or big toe and say “That’s one!”)

10 little monkeys jumping on the bed. (Splay ten fingers, with your palm facing your child. Bounce your hand to the rhythm of the verse.)

This little piggy stayed home. (Squeeze a second finger or toe and say, “That’s two!”) This little piggy had roast beef. (Squeeze a third finger or toe and say “That’s three!”) This little piggy had none. (Squeeze a fourth finger or toe and say “That’s four!”) This little piggy cried “Wee-wee-wee!” all the way home. (Squeeze a pinkie finger or toe and say, “That’s five!”)

Ask your child to recite the nursery rhyme along with you as you act it out. Be silly and have fun! Recite the poem, but stop as though you’ve forgotten which number comes next. You can also mix up your “piggies” so that your child can correct you.

One fell off and bumped his head. (Hold up one finger and rub your head with your other hand.) Mommy called the doctor and the doctor said, “NO MORE MONKEYS JUMPING ON THE BED!” (Hold index finger out, shaking in a chastising manner.) Nine little monkeys jumping on the bed. (Splay nine fingers, with your palm facing your child. Bounce your hand to the rhythm of the verse.) One fell off and bumped his head. (Hold up one finger and rub your head with your other hand.) Mommy called the doctor and the doctor said, “NO MORE MONKEYSJUMPING ON THE BED!” (Hold index finger out, shaking in a chastising manner.)

Continue till “One little monkey jumping on the bed”. End the poem by asking your child if there are any more monkeys on the bed. This rhyme also teaches simple subtraction concepts like taking away one.

September - October 2012 | ParentEdge | 27


Pursuits and Passions

Children and the Environment

Children the Environment Severn Cullis-Suzuki was only nine years old when she founded the Environmental Children’s Organisation (ECO) in 1988; ECO comprised a group of children who studied environmental issues and taught other children as well. At the age of 12, Suzuki, alongwith other members of ECO, raised money to attend the Earth Summit which was being held in Rio de Janeiro. There, she made a speech to the delegates on environmental issues, which has since become popular on YouTube as the video of “The Girl who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”. The following year, in 1993, Suzuki was honoured in the UNEP’s (United Nations Environment Programme) Global 500 Roll of Honour and her book “Tell the World” was published. Suzuki’s story demonstrates that children can be very effective weapons in the fight against environmental degradation. With Environmental Education being taught as a subject in schools, they are being made aware of the state of their world. Youngsters are campaigning for cleaner roads and surroundings. They are looking

58 | ParentEdge | September - October 2012

after animals abandoned on the roads. They are organising protests to reclaim beaches and save trees from being chopped down. In fact, many NGOs today actively use the help of youngsters to spread their messages. And as a parent, if you are more concerned with what your child will get out of working with and in the environment, the answer is simple. Environmentally-inclined children are responsible citizens who understand the value of their surroundings and are more likely to be sensitive even as adults. If you teach your child early on about the importance of caring about issues bigger than herself, you are preparing her to be a thoughtful and concerned member of her community as an adult. She will develop the qualities of patience, understanding and perseverance. And finally, environmentally-inclined children learn how to appreciate diversity, and find beauty and uniqueness in everything around them.


Pursuits and Passions

Kimberly Griffiths, Senior Vice President at Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate firm, is passionate about, and deeply involved in, environmental activities. She has this to say on how a child who is ecologically aware is at an advantage when compared to others—“Children need to learn to preserve nature so they can enjoy its benefits and beauty, and learn that it is a gift they can share with others and eventually pass along to their children. Kids who play and enjoy the outdoors are generally healthier and more fit, while appreciation of nature can bring about tranquility, creativity and curiosity, which expand the mind and intellect. Working with the environment creates a sense of compassion for taking care of nature, compassion which then applies also to other people.” You can start early with children, teaching even a child as young as three or four to care for her surroundings, and be aware of the importance of ecological issues. Griffiths mentions a few things that parents can do to inculcate a love for the environment in children:

Children and the Environment

• Enjoy time with your kids in nature • Take picnics and create family memories that are – hiking, camping, and visiting lakes geared around enjoying nature together • Have them watch educational • Ask them to picture how barren the world programmes on nature, such as would be without trees and flowers and National Geographic specials animals to keep us company • Allow them to have and take care of small pets “I find that taking children • Encourage them to identify birds, plants, animals and insects that are outdoors even when they are local to the neighbourhood very young and introducing • Explain to children that their food and them to nature helps them love water comes from the earth and that nature. Having a few potted plants for them to stay healthy, the plants to attract birds and butterflies and animals and water sources need to allows the child to observe them. be healthy and protected Making leaf prints, bark rubbings, • Have kids pick up trash or participate keeping a log book on birds and in volunteer activities geared toward conservation plants observed daily in their • Take them on nature trips, such as to own surroundings – all this will safaris or zoos encourage their interest in nature. • Have kids play and read outdoors to Reading books on nature and learn how to enjoy being outdoors watching films about animals and instead of staying inside watching TV birds will also help.” or playing video games • Let them run out in the rain, watch – Usha Ramaiah, storm clouds come in and just learn to Coordinator, Kids for Tigers, Bangalore appreciate nature in all of its different permutations

September - October 2012 | ParentEdge | 59


In the Next Issue

COMING UP!!

Cover Story Better Time Management for the Whole Family Different Strokes Dysgraphia Tips,Tricks and To-Do Lists Helping Your Child Learn a New Language

Pursuits and Passions Children and Art Crossroads Maths and Statisticsbased Careers Xchange English vs Mother Tongue

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