Let go, and behold a child bloom

Let go, and behold a child bloom

LET THEM BE

Let go, and behold  a child bloom

THINK-TIME : It is important to give children the time to think.

Every year, children grow in age, they go to a higher class, their knowledge increases. But how much does a child grow as a person? At the start of this academic year – let us as teachers (and parents) focus on not just helping the child grow but also making the child stronger from the inside, richer in wisdom, more resourceful and empowered. Isn’t that what education should primarily be about?
Here is a list of ideas to empower the child:

Time: Give children time to think. When you give them a task, when you ask questions — give them time to think. If a few answer too soon, this disrupts others’ thinking – so give everybody time to think. The other’s thoughts are important, but each child’s own thoughts are more important to him or her.

It’s easy for a child to digest other’s thoughts after the child has ruminated over his/her thoughts. Sometimes children’s thoughts are unrelated, sometimes confused, sometimes ‘wrong’, sometimes irritating. But they are their thoughts – their only source of learning. One idea to enforce this would be to give children thinking breaks. For example, when one teacher we know asks a question, she holds up a sign in her hand which says THINK. After a few minutes she puts up a sign which says TALK.

Space: Give the child space to bring in his own experiences. Children want to relate things to their own life. They want to relate each and every thing to themselves.

They like it when all learning has a context and what better context then their own journey. It would be a good idea to begin the day’s activities from what children have seen, done, heard about, etc. Tell them in advance about the next day’s activities. For example, if the next day’s activity is on shadows, ask them to play with a torch the previous night and create shadows. Ask them to observe their shadow when they walk in the sun or in a room with light.

Think: Give children opportunities to think. Confuse them, agitate them, and stimulate them. They like to think, though not necessarily in the same way as adults. They like to get lost so that they can experience the joy of finding, of discovering. Many times they like to go astray, not take the beaten path. Push their thinking off the road. Help them enjoy the folds of exploration in which learning lies.

For example: Give children yellow paper and yellow crayons to draw on. They will struggle but it will also be fun.

Confidence: Give them confidence in their own thinking. Like anybody, they have doubts. Children are unsure of many things, oft looking lost. But, they don’t necessarily need us to guide them at those times; rather, they need us to have more faith in their thoughts, in their endeavours. They may be dead wrong, but they will rather right their wrongs themselves. All they need is somebody (us) who believes in their abilities.

Analyse: Help them to learn how to analyse, to look for cause-effects in their life and analyse the simple ways of learning. Encourage them to ponder over their problems. Let’s not tell them what went wrong, rather be there as a questioner to help them probe the events — for them to understand what worked and what did not. This kind of reflective questioning will only give them the ability to be a life learner, to learn on their own.

For example: At a learning centre, children learned a lot through an ‘arrow tool’. The arrow base was red and arrow head yellow. At the red point they had to think about their actions and at the yellow point they had to think about the effect of those actions. This way there was no lecture, only children reflecting on their own.

Solve problems: Encourage them to solve their own problems. Invite them to use their creativity and resourcefulness to solve them. When they have a problem, they don't need people who can solve it, rather they need people who have faith in them.

For example: At a learning centre, children were struggling when they were not able to tie a knot to make a puppet but it was a joy when they were allowed to figure out their own way of doing it. Some did it with rubber bands, some with tape, some tied knots!

Guide: If you really need to guide, guide them to be aware. Give children the sensitivity to sink into their senses and receive the ‘now’. Give them the joy of suspending thought and just being with an experience. This is really helpful.

Ask them to see more, hear more, feel more and simply be more. Push them to close their eyes when sight is distracting. Push them to touch when tactile is vibrating. Push them to listen when they’re only hearing. When you give any material for an activity, tell children not to start the activity immediately, rather encourage them to just be with the material — feel it, observe it, almost meditate on it and once they are one with the material, start the activity.

Question: Give them the ability to be aware of and question their own beliefs. Make them realise how their beliefs can limit them. Show them that the very ability to think can make them assume, conclude erroneously, to draw faulty inferences, to reject what they could be embracing and vice versa.  Do this by pointing out events and results contrary to their beliefs.

Value: Value the child’s decisions, his evaluations, his judgments. These may be quite off our or popular opinion. But as we value their wisdom, so it grows. As they gently tend to their plant of ‘self assessment’, they develop a deep sense of self reliance, self growth.

Accept: Finally, accept them as they are. Tell them that each one of them is a unique individual. Tell them that they do not need to be ‘like’ anybody else. Tell them that the world exists because each one of us exists as we are. Tell them that the world is beautiful because each one of them is different. Tell them that we are all the same because we are all different.

 (The writers are founder of GenieKids)

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