Mixed Group Day – Unique form of teaching and learning

Mixed group is a unique form of teaching where the children are the teachers and learners themselves. Mixed group day is a day in the week when a group of children of various age group and classes come together in an environment where these children learn to help and be helped by other children and the whole process of peer learning takes place. There is a good and consistent interaction that takes place among children whose age and abilities are varied. Maria Montessori said nature and nurture work hand-in-hand where the groups should contain different ages, because it has great influence on the cultural, social and emotional development of the child.

A Grade1 student is re-telling the “Lion and Mouse” story from Nursery syllabus.

A student explaining the safety procedures of Roller Skating. The younger students are supposed to do skating in coming years.

It has been observed that within 3 -4 weeks the children get acquainted to all students and teachers in the school and develop a beautiful bonding and they keep exchanging a ‘hi-bye’ whenever they meet.

The importance of mixed group is felt more now as the upbringing of kids are now in nuclear family whereas there was a strong system of joint families in earlier days where a lot of learning would occur among brothers, sisters, cousins when they played, studied and did things together. The difference of few years creates a comfort zone for the children at both ends to help out more. The child also gets her own time and learns at her own pace which is crucial for a child’s learning. The propensity of accomplishing the task, learning how to cooperate and act sensibly in a situation doubles.

We at Gyankriti feel that mixed group is not only a medium for learning but also an opportunity to promote interaction among children of various age groups, which plays a part in enhancing their all round development.

FAQs for teachers organizing Mixed Group:

1) What are the logistics of planning a mixed group?

Organizing mixed group for the first time is bit difficult but it gets easy with time. You need to plan the classrooms settings and number of groups you will form at the school level. Then the students are evenly distributed in proportion of strength of each class. The groups may be same or different for each week.

2) How frequent should we organize mixed group activities?

Ideally it should be on daily basis but due to logistical constraints we do it once in a week. The last day of the week is left empty for regular syllabus and a significant time (1-2 hours) is spent on mixed group activities every Friday or Saturday.

3) What is role of teacher in mixed group class?

Teacher acts as a mere facilitator and tries to minimize her interference in the class. She must try to explain all the rules carefully before starting the class. One or two student leaders should be chosen to make sure all the rules are followed sincerely. However the student leaders are not supposed to scold any child, they should in fact take care of other children just like teachers.

4) What activities should be conducted?

Let the students decide what they want to share. If they don’t, you can suggest simple activities that have happened recently in any of the classes. We should never underestimate younger children, many times they are in fact better at sharing certain things.

If you are educator and wish to know more about our teaching methodology  kindly visit the following links

Free & Open Education Resources (Contact us for login details) – नि: शुल्क एवं ओपन एज्युकेशन रिसोर्सेस (लॉगिन जानकारी के लिए संपर्क करें)

Visit to Fountainhead School, Surat

The founding team of Gyankriti, Akshay Gupta and Yograj Patel, visited Fountainhead School, Surat this week. Here are the details of the visit:

Fountainhead School, Surat

About Fountainhead: Fountainhead School was founded by two IIM Ahmedabad alumni Ankita Diwekar Kabra and Vardhan Kabra in April 2005. The school started with six students and today it has more than 2000 students in its preschool and main school. The Fountainhead School dreams of revolutionizing the Indian Education System. Undoubtedly, there is an enormous gap between the kind of education that is possible & desirable; and the type of education that is currently available in India. Fountainhead aims to bring the sheer joy of learning back to the classroom with its innovative schooling system.

One can read more about Fountainhead school and it’s founders from school’s website http://www.fountainheadschools.org/ or from Page 140 of Rashmi Bansal‘s book ” Stay hungry stay foolish“.

Background and Agenda of the trip: Vardhan is also an IIT Bombay alumnus, sharing the same Alma matter and vision for education he has always been an inspiration for Akshay and Yograj. This was our second visit to Fountainhead. Last time we visited the school on 5th Feb 2012, that was before founding Gyankriti to understand the basic requirements of starting a preschool. We did include some of the best practices of Fountainhead preschool at our Gyankriti preschools. Since Gyankriti has upgraded itself to Junior Schools this year and a senior school is already planned, we again felt the need to review and learn more about our academics and classroom strategies. The visit was primarily focused on seeking information about student learning processes and classroom management strategies for teachers. It was an overwhelming experience for us and we could relate to many similarities between Gyankriti and Fountainhead curriculum, teaching methods and policies. At the same time we learnt a lot about continuous improvement required to manage the school at larger scale. We also studied their school bus management and Physical Education & Sports programs in great detail. We wish to revise many things that are possible in our context.

We would like to thank Vardhan, Ankita, Swati, Suruchi and many other team members of Fountainhead School for allowing us to visit their school and supporting us throughout the visit.

 

Visit to Education Park – truly zero energy campus

The lesson taught to us in school about renewable and non-renewable sources of energy and the importance of conserving the exhaustible energy by using alternative mode of energy has always been one of the most discussed lessons of science. The lesson however is rarely implemented in practical life, when we got to know about a “zero energy school” we immediately decided to visit the campus and learn from them. We wish to analyse and use similar ideas in the construction of Gyankriti School campus. Here are some key points from our visit:

Dr Chetan Singh Solanki, who did his engineering from SGSITS in Electrical Engineering and now is a Professor of Department of Energy Science and Engineering at IIT Bombay. With an aim to improve education in rural areas Prof. Solanki has founded an educational park for kids of Khargone.

The layout of Education Park

The layout of Education Park

Solar Electricity is expensive to setup and maintain. A workable solution is to “Avoid & Minimize” use of electricity. The architecture of school is such that there is no requirement for fans or tubelights. The fact that the school has not taken an electricity connection shows the confidence in their “passive solar” design.

Micro Climatic Analysis - The key to design a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate performing an accurate site analysis.

Micro Climatic Analysis – The key to design a passive solar building is to best take advantage of the local climate performing an accurate site analysis.

Most of the walls are orientated in North-South direction to minimize direct contact with sunlight. To account for the seasonal tilt in sunlight, the roof is extended in outward direction for about 2 feet. The roof therefore acts as a shade throughout the length of wall.

edupark3You can see in picture that the windows are not parallel to the wall. Instead they are aligned to the direction of winds in a triangular fashion. This helps in controlling the inflow of winds as per the prevailing season. Check the graphic for details:

edupark4

The walls on the opposite side of room have big windows on the top side for cross-ventilation. The air enters from triangular windows and exits from the opposite end cooling the entire room. They have observed a temperature difference of upto 11 degree Celsius when compared to the temperature outside.

edupark6

In the picture you can also see glass panes between the triangular windows and the roof. Direct entry of sunlight will heat up the room so the light gets reflected from the chajja (painted white). The diffused light entering the room after reflection is comparatively cooler than direct sunlight.

edupark5The bricks on bottom side of roof act as insulator as they are porous and less conductive.

From Barren Land to Green Land
 edupark7  edupark8

About 10000 sqft of land was dug out for construction purposes. This was done purposefully at a low lying area of the land so that it can accumulate water during monsoon. Now the ditch has taken form of a pond. About 100 meters away from this pond a well is located, the water percolates from the pond very fast and recharges the well.

Prof. Solanki got some discarded solar panels from US laboratories to setup a power source for boring well motor. The boring well irrigates all the plants and shrubs in the 14 acre campus continuously through drip irrigation.

Team Gyankriti wishes Prof. Chetan Solanki and Education Park Society all the best in their endeavours. We are very much inspired by their ideas and hope to implement many of them in Gyankriti School very soon.

Image source: https://www.cse.iitb.ac.in/synerg/rutag/2012-jan-ws/slides/IITB-Presentations/Chetan-Solanki-Education-Park.pdf

Website of Education Park Society: http://edupark.org/

Steps toward stronger parent-teacher interaction

To increase the interaction between parents and teachers we have decided to introduce two new methods. First of all, home visits of all students at the beginning of session. We have already started with KG-1 students and hope to do the same for pre-nursery and nursery in the month of June. Second of all, we want to improve the way “open house Saturdays” are conducted, from next session teachers will give a small workshop of next fortnights curriculum along with the regular interaction. More details:

Home visits

Class Teachers visit each student’s home for about 15 minutes in the first one to one-and-a-half months of the academic year. The bond created by this and the understanding got by the teacher regarding the various aspects of the child’s background and the child herself is of immense value. This truly helps her to play the role of a nurturer and facilitate the overall development of the child.

These visits are coordinated with parents and it is necessary for both parents and the child to be present during the Home Visit. All other family members (e.g. grand parents) are encouraged to be a part of the discussion and give their inputs. The purpose of this visit is to learn about the home environment of the child and also know the people living with her.
The focus is on rapport-building between the family and the educator. This helps the child to get the most effective guidance from both home and the school. The home visit is the first step to unite the educator and the parents with the single-minded goal of what’s best for the child.

The questions asked during the visit cover areas like the socio-economic background of the family, likes and dislikes of the child, general health (including medicines) and habits of the child, friends in the neighbourhood and concerns of the parents regarding the child. Home Visit is an opportunity for the class teacher to discuss the philosophy of the school and help the parents understand what the school expects from them. The discussion also helps her identify the various areas requiring guidance and also the reason for any particular behavioural pattern displayed by the child. Apart from questions, she also observes and makes a mental note of various points like the neighbourhood environment, the parenting style, lifestyle, etc. Educators are expected to accept no hospitality other than water! WE politely but firmly refuse all offerings, even tea or coffee. The educators take time out after the regular school hours and make these visits.

Renewed open house Saturdays
Regular fortnightly workshops will be conducted by the class teachers for the parents to enable them to know the agenda in school for the next two weeks. The class teacher will teach the mothers & fathers what she is going to teach their children in the next two weeks.

Research shows that programs that teach mothers to improve the quality of cognitive stimulation and verbal interaction produce immediate effects on the child’s intellectual development. It is seen that the level of involvement of mothers in the initial years of rearing is high and a mother is always the first teacher to the child.

When we have a PTA (Parent-Teacher-Association) that meets once or twice in a year, it serves no real purpose. Each blames the other over a cup of tea and samosas and the meeting is over with nothing purposeful achieved. The parents and educators should meet more often and develop a bond with each other. This can be done by meeting preferably once in two weeks but at-least once in a month.

These workshops will be held during school hours on 2nd & 4th Saturdays and time for one hour (generally between 10 to 11 am). A note will be sent in the school diary/email regarding the agenda of the forthcoming Workshop.

The focus is on the home-bound activities a parent can undertake to enhance learning. At times experts (e.g. psychologists or paediatricians) will conduct these workshops. The teaching methodology is explained and actually shown on the blackboard for a particular topic so that there is no conflict between the educator and parent style of guiding
the student. Thus parents and educators are working together for the child’s benefit. Any individual query regarding a particular student by a parent is strictly discouraged, as  workshop is not the forum to discuss any one-on-one issues. Curriculum based questions by parents are encouraged. Parents are encouraged to share experiences they come across while guiding their child. At times rapport-building sessions are conducted in which the class teacher introduces certain games or a questionnaire like how well you know your child or how to boost the child’s self esteem etc. Parents share actual experiences or anecdotes from their child’s life.

We hope that these steps will help bring educators and parents close. Children benefit when the adults around them share common values about child-rearing, communicate with one another, and give the children consistent support and guidance.

Eklavya School Open Days

What is Open Days @ Eklavya?

During these days, any teacher/principal from any school in india is welcome to visit Eklavya detailed 3-day exposure on practices in Eklavya from pre-school to senior school. ( http://eklavya.org/Open%20Days.html )

Why Open Days are held?

Every schools wants to innovate curriculum & teaching methodologies and build an institute of excellence. Few schools have made a lot of progress on that front and they should share their experiences and learning with more people who are either running/working with education ventures or want to open one. Organizations in education sector are not competitors of each other. The ecosystem of education in India can improve a lot this way.

“Education is an infrastrcuture at least as basic as a nation’s roads, electricity and telecom. It plays a fundamental role in determining, the prosperity and well-being of its citizens. Progressive nations are have strategically invested heavliy in education on long term basis. Teachers are central to a good education system. There is thus a need to ‘bring back the best minds to the field of education” – Eklavya Education Foundation

Open Days 2015

Open Days 2015

Thank you Eklavya Education Foundation

We wish to thank Sunil Handa Sir and Eklavya team for hosting us at the Open Days from 30th November to 2nd December. It was indeed a wonderful experience, soaking in the amazing culture you have built in the school. We were truly impressed with your perspectives, your teaching techniques, and tools and in what you have created at Eklavya.

The professional and cooperative attitudes of the members of your school were evident throughout the discussions we have had on these three days. The investment in library resources and teaching demonstrates to us your commitment to providing only the highest quality of services to your students and faculty.

It was sheer joy being in the class rooms and watch the kids, their behavior, sense of ownership, peer group interaction , collaborative and co-operative ways of doing activities and so much more. “ We do it here differently “ seemed to us as the way most things are done at Eklavya.

Even the Drivers of the School Bus came across as people with true sense of purpose and their work seem to extend beyond just transporting the kids to actually care for them.

Your teachers are amazing and it is not every day that you get to see teachers who know their students probably better than their parents. Every student is known to every teacher, that in itself is a reflection of the importance you have placed on the fine nuances of student teacher relationship. .

Though we keep hearing about Holistic Education in School, most of it has so far been only jargon, to actually see it happen on the ground was indeed a wonderful experience.

We will be delighted if could give us the permission to visit you once again over the course of the year to learn more about your unique ways of setting in culture within your people and to be a school-in-the-making always.

We, at Gyankriti, think that in a lot of ways we share a similar belief system and in our own way are trying to create learning and teaching systems that helps a child attain his full potential in life. There have been a lot of takeaways from the visit and my team and I are excited about aligning those values within our Institution. Fortunately for us, we do not have to look far for Inspiration, you are just an overnight journey and with your support we want to build on our mission to being relevant and practical in our domain and continuously innovate our learning models.

We are sure behind the serene ambiance of the school lies a lifetime’s struggle of creating the DNA of your dreams. Eklavya will remain in our heart and mind as an Educational Ecosystem nurturing young minds to think of the limitless possibilities they can achieve

You will remain an inspiration for a lot of people who look to institutionalize unconventional thinking. We also wish to start “Open Days @ Gyankriti” very soon.

Thanks & Regards
Beena Varier (Co-ordinator, Nipania Branch)
Rachana Saxena (Co-ordinator, Annapurna Branch)
Yograj Patel (Co-founder)

Guidelines for PTC – पीटीसी के लिए दिशा-निर्देश

What are parent-teacher conferences (PTC)? अभिभावक-शिक्षक सम्मेलन (PTC) क्या हैं?
Parent-teacher conferences are short (10 -15 Minutes) one to one session between parent and teacher that are formally arranged by the school twice in a year usually on Saturday. The PTCs are a valuable tool to help a parent and  child’s teacher(s) work together for child’s success. This is a great  opportunity for parents to ask questions and gather information that  will help them to encourage their children to achieve success. Common agenda points to discuss in PTCs will include going through the important achievements, goals set, issues with academics or behavior etc.

अभिभावक शिक्षक सम्मेलन आम तौर पर वर्ष में दो बार प्रायः शनिवार को आयोजित किये जाते हैं, जिसमे माता-पिता और शिक्षक के बीच १०-१५ मिनट के छोटे सत्र होते है। यह सम्मेलन बच्चे की सफलता के लिए अभिभावक व् शिक्षक को साथ में कार्य करने में एक मददगार साधन है। अभिभावकों के लिए यह एक अच्छा अवसर है जब वे अपने प्रश्न पूछ सकते हैं और जानकारी प्राप्त कर सकते हैं जिससे वे अपने बच्चे को सफलता के लिए प्रोत्साहित कर सकते हैं। सम्मेलन में चर्चा की सामान्य कार्यसूची में सम्मिलित बिंदु इस प्रकार हैं, प्रमुख उपलब्धियां, नियत लक्ष्य, अकादमिक गतिविधियों से सम्बंधित प्रश्न और व्यवहार इत्यादि।

How parent-teacher conferences are conducted? अभिभावक-शिक्षक सम्मेलन कैसे संचालित की जाती हैं?
Parents are informed at the starting of the session through a circular about the frequency of the PTCs during the year. The PTCs are generally conducted in the classroom. Different time slots have been allotted to the parents according to set time limit and number of students in the class.

सत्र के आरम्भ में अभिभावकों को सम्मेलन की आवृत्ति के बारे में सूचना दे दी जाती है। सम्मेलन आमतौर पर कक्षा में आयोजित किये जाते हैं। अभिभावकों को कक्षा में विद्यार्थियों की संख्या के अनुसार निर्धारित समय आवंटित कर दिया गया है।

Why the PTCs are important? अभिभावक-शिक्षक सम्मेलन क्यों आवश्यक है?

It is very important to have good relationships between parents and teacher because the goals for the child are indeed shared goals; both teacher and parent want what is best for the child/student. By conducting these sessions with parents Teacher gets opportunity to
discuss the child’s learning progress and by attending, parents can show that they are interested and prepared to participate in and support their child’s learning.

The PTC will give you feedback on your child’s performance and progress.Also it is chance for parents to find out how their child is getting along in school and what is going on inside the classroom. Since the parents are considered as primary educator, they can contribute a lot to the discussions and decisions of their child’s progress.

अभिभावक व् शिक्षक के बीच अच्छे सम्बन्ध होना अत्यंत आवश्यक है क्योकि बच्चों के लक्ष्य बंटे हुए लक्ष्य हैं। अभिभावक व् शिक्षक दोनों ही बच्चे के लिए सर्वश्रेष्ठ चाहते हैं। अभिभावकों के साथ ऐसे सत्र आयोजित करने से शिक्षकों को अवसर मिलता है कि वे बच्चे के विकास के बारे में चर्चा कर सकें, और उपस्थित होने से अभिभावक भी यह दर्शा सकते हैं कि बच्चे के विकास में वे रूचि लेते हैं।

सम्मेलन में आपको आपके बच्चे के प्रदर्शन और विकास के बारे में जानकारी दी जाएगी। साथ ही अभिभावकों के लिए यह जानने का अवसर है कि उनका बच्चा विद्यालय में कैसा प्रदर्शन कर रहा है और कक्षा के अंदर क्या चल रहा है। चूंकि अभिभावक प्राथमिक शिक्षाविद माने जाते हैं, वे बच्चों की चर्चा व् निर्णय में योगदान दे सकते हैं।

Dos and Don’ts for Parents अभिभावक सम्मेलन में क्या करें और क्या न करें

DOs:
1. Do attend the PTCs in the slots been given to you unless there is an emergency.
2. Both the parents will have to be present for the PTC.
3. In case you are late, you will not be able to get the allotted time with the teacher.
4. Please respect the privacy of the meeting.If a meeting is in progress or the teacher is busy, do not walk into the class. The teacher will call you in when she is ready to meet you.
5. Please bring the file with previous worksheets, pitara and any other documents as per the list sent to you.
6. Be prepared with questions that you want to ask at the conference to save time i.e. if you want specific feedback on maths or you wanted to discuss your child’s social skills etc.
7. Share information which you think is important for a teacher to know.
8. Be open to suggestions from the teacher.
9. If you wish to leave any comments/ give any feedback for the meeting, please fill in the Parents Feedback Form after PTC is over.

Don’ts
1. Please switch off your mobile phones before you enter in the classroom for the meeting.
2. Do not interrupt the teacher in between the meeting.
3. Do not exceed your allocated time limit.
4. Do not defend your child if teacher has mentioned any specific issue.
5. Do not lose control over emotions.Try to stay calm and focused on what will help the child the most.
6. Do not stray from the topic.
7. Do not discuss about the other child or the other teacher.

क्या करें :
1. यदि कोई आपात स्थिति न हो तो सम्मेलन में निर्धारित समय में ही उपस्थित हों।
2. माता- पिता दोनों की उपस्थिति अनिवार्य है।
3. यदि आपको विलम्ब हुआ, तो आबंटित किया हुआ १० मिनट का समय आपको प्रदान नहीं किया जा सकेगा।
4. कृपया सम्मेलन की गोपनीयता बनायें रखें। यदि सम्मेलन चल रहा है या शिक्षक व्यस्त हैं, तो कक्षा में ना जाएँ। जब भी शिक्षक आपसे मिलने के लिए तैयार होंगे वो आपको अंदर बुलाएँगे।
5. कृपया फाइल के साथ पुरानी वर्कशीट, पिटारा और सूची में लिखित अन्य दस्तावेजों को भी लाएं।
6. समय बचाने के लिए अपने प्रश्नों को तैयार करके आएं जैसे यदि आप गणित में कोई विशेष प्रतिपुष्टि चाहते हैं या बच्चे के सामाजिक कौशल के बारे में चर्चा करना हैं इत्यादि।
7. ऐसी जानकारी साझा करें जो आप चाहते हैं कि शिक्षक का जानना महत्वपूर्ण है।
8. शिक्षक के सुझावों को गलत नजरिये से ना देखें
9. यदि आप सम्मेलन के लिए किसी तरह की टिप्पणी करना चाहें या कोई सुझाव देना चाहें तो सम्मलेन के उपरान्त कृपया अभिभावक प्रतिपुष्टि फार्म को भरें।

क्या ना करें
1. सम्मेलन के लिए कक्षा में प्रवेश करने से पहले कृपया अपना मोबाइल फ़ोन बंद कर लें।
2. सम्मेलन के बीच में शिक्षक को हस्तक्षेप ना करें।
3. निर्धारित समय में ही बैठक समाप्त करने की कोशिश करें।
4. यदि शिक्षक कोई समस्या का उल्लेख करती हैं तो अपने बच्चे का बचाव ना करें।
5. भावुक होकर अपना संयम ना खोएं। शांत रहें व् जो बच्चे के भले के लिए है उसी पर केंद्रित रहें।
6. विषय से भटके नहीं।
7. किसी अन्य बच्चे या शिक्षक के बारे में बात ना करें।

Postponement of PTC Slot सम्मेलन के समय का पुनर्निर्धारण:

Rationale: At times there are requests from parents to change the slot because of:

– Engaged in some other work which is unavoidable.
– Out of town for some work etc.

The motto of the school is to address genuine  requests made by parents for the change in PTC slots other than slots fixed from school side.

औचित्य: कभी कभी निन्मलिखित कारणों से अभिभावक समय बदलने के लिए निवेदन करते हैं :

-किसी ऐसे कार्य में व्यस्त हो जाना जिसे टाला ना जा सके।
-किसी कार्यवश शहर से बाहर होना इत्यादि.

विद्यालय का सिद्धांत है कि नियत किये गए समय के अलावा कोई और समय के यथार्थ निवेदनों पर ध्यान देना।

Guidelines for Postponement of PTC Slot सम्मेलन के समय के पुनर्निर्धारण के लिए मार्गदर्शन ::

-If there is any genuine case or emergency then only a parent can ask for a change in PTC slot.
-For any change in date (not in time slot), parent  need to send the request by email or through letter, addressed to the Gyankriti Head Office ( support@gyankriti.com )  at least 7 days in advance, unless it’s an emergency.
-The reasons for the postponement must be mentioned in the notification to check whether the reason is genuine or not.
-If the reason is found genuine, HO will approve the same and send it to the teacher for further processing.
-The teacher then will find a mutually convenient slot before or after the regular PTC date and will inform the parent about the confirmed date and time for the meeting through diary note.
-यदि कोई यथार्थ समस्या या आपात स्थिति हो तभी अभिभावक समय बदलने के लिए कह सकते हैं।
-आपात स्थिति में तारीख में बदलाव के लिए अभिभावक को ई-मेल ( support@gyankriti.com ) या पत्र के माध्यम से कम से कम ७ दिन पहले मुख्यालय में निवेदन करना होगा।
-पुनर्निर्धारण के कारण का उल्लेख सूचना में अवश्य करें ताकि हम देख सकें कि कारण यथार्थ है या नहीं।
-यदि कारण यथार्थ है तो मुख्यालय उसे स्वीकृति देगा और आगे की प्रक्रिया के लिए उसे शिक्षक को भेजा जायेगा।
-शिक्षक सम्मेलन की तारीख के पहले या बाद का कोई उपुक्त समय निकाल कर अभिभावक को सूचित करेंगी
-यदि कारण यथार्थ है तो मुख्यालय उसे स्वीकृति देगा और आगे की प्रक्रिया के लिए उसे शिक्षक को भेजा जायेगा।
-शिक्षक सम्मेलन की तारीख के पहले या बाद का कोई उपुक्त समय निकाल कर अभिभावक को सूचित करेंगी।

Modern Nationalism: Mopping the floor

Recently I came across a viral Facebook post, it narrated the scene at a coffee shop:

So I am sitting at Starbucks yesterday and this group of three executives comes in.
They grab a table which a customer had just vacated.
It was slightly messy with a plate and a cup on it.
These three scream for the staff to clean it and complain loudly about the falling standards of cleanliness. (“Saala Starbucks Bhi KFC ban gaya hai. Itni gandh!”)
They leave about forty minutes later.
Leaving an even bigger mess on the table with plastic cups and bits of pastry.
A young lady takes the table.
She looks like a student and I think she is from Japan because her cap has the Rising Sun on it.
She picks up the plastic cups and throws them into a dustbin.
She then goes over to the counter, takes some tissues and starts cleaning the table.
Some of the staff notice
And run over to her and say that she should not bother. They will clean the table.
She answers:
“No, it is all right. It is my table, no?”

A massive lesson there.

The topmost comment on the post was even better. Why are we Indians like that?

A lesson should be learnt for sure, but the problem is in how we grew up looking at the system. Starting from we being a kid, every time we mad a mess, there was somebody to clean in be it mom or a house maid. I guess not everybody has been taught to even fix our bed after we get up. We need to start from there.

At Gyankriti we believe that teaching Practical Life Skills and Survival Skills along with regular academics is the most important responsibility of any school. Our preschool toddlers are trained to do basic age appropriate skills on their own, it may be buttoning, lacing, dusting or cleaning the floor after eating.

Yeah!! Cleaning and mopping the floor, for toddlers. Isn’t that bit extreme? No, it is not. In fact the children enjoy these activities and repeat on their own at home. There begins the problem because of our conditioned mindset. Some parents don’t like the fact that children are doing these activities at the school. This isn’t something “people like us” are supposed to do, it is the “maid’s job” after all. I am really disheartened when I get these kind of feedbacks from the “young, educated, middle class” audience we serve. School children in Japan clean the school toilets on their own. We don’t even know the name of aaya who cleaned the toilets of our school/office.

At the same time I would like to appreciate a vast majority of our parent community who love these kind of activities and encourage their children. Nationalism in modern time is not about wars or movements. It makes more sense to put efforts in bringing up our children in a way that they make our country proud in the way, the Japanese girl did. PM Narendra Modi started a fantastic Swacch Bharat mission after last year’s Independence Day speech, its success solely depends on our responsible behaviour. Let’s stop saying “यह मेरा काम नहीं है” or “यह काम मेरे level का नहीं है” for a better India.

Happy Independence Day.

जय हिन्द!

Note: The author is Founder-Director of Gyankriti. The views expressed here are personal.

Reproduced from original post on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/modern-nationalism-mopping-floor-yograj-patel

Homework in preschool?

Did you know that homework can be, and often is, sent home for preschoolers? Do you think this is reasonable, or are you wondering whether this is even a good idea? You’re not alone, in either case, even I am getting various suggestions from parents and teachers regarding homework. As a policy we have never given homework to children but we are definitely ready to debate and discuss this issue raised by parent-teacher community.

photoI knew our child would eventually bring homework home, but I never expected it to happen at the preschool level. However, our parents and teachers report that homework in preschool is definitely happening. Is this completely crazy, or does it set a child up with a solid foundation as she goes through the rest of her school years?

Setting a foundation

Many parents we talked to felt that, within reason, homework at the preschool age helps set an important foundation. The type of homework sent home at this age varies from school to school, but most don’t make it overwhelming for the child and her parents. Often the tasks are simple, such as tracing a letter or practice writing their name. “I think it’s totally reasonable,” shares one of the parent. “It starts the homework habit early and gets the parents involved. Also, it helps the parents to know what they are learning during the day so they can reinforce it at home.”

“Nuha gets little homework assignments and I think it’s fun and involves us at home in her projects at school,” explains one of our teacher. “Usually it involves her cutting pictures out of a magazine for their colour books or bringing in something, like leaves. I think it sets them up to know that someone from home can help them with their work.”

Different types of homework

Some moms feel that regular, daily “busy work” homework is unnecessary for this age — but little projects every now and then are not only a good idea, but they can be lots of fun, too. “Simran’s KG class had ‘homework’ once,” says one of our parent. “They were told to learn the name and qualities of vegetables cooked at home everyday and share it the class next day. That kind of stuff gets parents involved, which I like. If she was sent home with pages of actual work I’d be a little upset — it’s not necessary.”

Another parent, thought the idea was, as she put it, stupid. “I think that’s unfair to the parents and disrespectful of everything else that is going on in people’s lives,” she says. Being involved in your child’s education starts from the day they are born, and it doesn’t stop when they go to school. Parent involvement is critical when it comes to your child’s success, and although preschool can seem like glorified day care, it really isn’t. Your kiddo is learning important social skills, classroom structure and how to be a good student — in addition to beginner academics. Having — and continuing to have — an interest in her schooling is a good habit for parents to get into. This also helps you be prepared to support your child throughout her education.

That being said, the parents we spoke to were about half and half on the necessity of homework for children this small. Being involved doesn’t have to mean helping your child with homework every day, especially for a 2 or 3-year-old who just wants to come home and play with blocks.

How do you feel? There’s a long-running debate on the benefits of homework. The purpose of homework is to bridge the gap between children’s learning at school and at home, but just how relevant is it to the modern generation? Let us know in the comments.

In my honest opinion, as shared in our previous blog, homework should be set at such a level that children can do with little or no help of the parents/elders at home. Is it possible at this age, probably not. Then what should we do? I have an answer for that too but I would like to read your suggestions first.

Note: The author is Founder-Director of Gyankriti. The views expressed here are personal.

Home-work or Parent’s work?

One evening my 9 yrs old nephew came to me asking to help him out in his homework. When I saw his assignment I was surprised, it was four pages long story and his task was to shorten it. Wow! I didn’t get this kind of task even in high school. Then I thought educators might have taught him in class. When I asked him to read out story and explain, I was shocked he was able to read it with some wrong pronunciations but unable to explain even a single line. I tried to explain him each line but finally gave up because I realized that, firstly that assignment was not meant for his standard, and secondly school is not preparing him to learn and explore, he is being prepared only for exams. Assignments given by teachers are actually not for students but it is a task of parents. And parents always want their kids’ assignment to be best in the class so they also get involved in it. After all they have to compete with “Sharma ji’s son”.

20150708_212040

Assignment is just not writing work. Assignment is learning.

I still remember when I was in school, for me assignment was just to note down classwork in another notebook, what we called ‘Fair Copy’. It didn’t really help in learning or exploring something new but at least this way whatever was taught in class was being revised at home and secondly parents didn’t bother to be a part of it. In my opinion for senior students assignment should be of their level, which they can complete by themselves, without getting any help from parents or tutors.

For preschoolers assignment should not be given from school side. Instead of that preschools can provide some sort of information handout every month (like we do in the form of Gyankriti Pitara), so that parents can revise those topics at home. On the other hand parents also have to understand that toddlers have limited attention span, so instead of forcing kids to revise at a particular time, they can make learning a part of their routine. E.g. When they want to revise fruits, they can actually take their kids’ to mall and ask them names of fruits. Or can be revised at home also.

Parent involvement is helpful but we should always keep in mind that trained and experienced tutors have different style of teaching which can’t be imitated by parents. Similarly we discourage parents to send their children to tuition classes (Yes! Some parents send preschoolers to tuition). We at Gyankriti believe that parents play an important role in the learning process of their children. Not allowing tuitions ensures that parents take interest and participate in the academics of children. Continuous parental support goes a long way in enhancing academic and co-curricular performance.

Note: The author is administrative head of Gyankriti, Sudarshan Nagar branch. The views expressed here are personal.


एक शाम मेरा ९ वर्षीय भांजा मेरे पास आया और उसने मुझे उसके गृहकार्य में मदद के लिए कहा। जब मैंने उसका कार्यभार देखा तो आश्चयचकित हो गयी, वह एक ४ पन्नों की लम्बी कहानी थी जिसे उसे छोटी बनाना था। वाह! इस तरह का गृहकार्य मुझे कभी उच्च विद्यालय में भी नहीं मिला था। फिर मुझे लगा कि सम्भवतः उसे शिक्षकों ने कक्षा में सिखाया होगा। जब मैंने उसे वो कहानी पढ़ने और समझाने के लिए कहा, मैं चकित हो गई वह उस कहानी को कुछ टूटे फूटे उच्चारण के साथ पढ़ तो रहा था पर उसकी एक भी पंक्ति समझ नहीं पा रहा था। मैंने उसे हर पंक्ति का मतलब समझने की कोशिश की पर हार गई क्योकि मुझे अहसास हुआ कि, पहली बात वो कार्यभार उसकी उम्र के लिए बहुत कठिन था, और दूसरी बात कि विद्यालय उसे सीखने और खोजने के लिए नहीं अपितु केवल परीक्षा के लिए तैयार कर रहा है। शिक्षकों द्वारा दिया गया गृहकार्य असल में विद्यार्थियों के लिए नहीं अपितु अभिभावकों के लिए होता है। और अभिभावक हमेशा चाहते हैं कि उनके बच्चे का कार्य सबसे अच्छा हो इसलिए वो भी उसका हिस्सा बन जाते हैं। अंत में उन्हें “शर्मा जी के बेटे” के साथ बराबरी जो करना है।

मुझे अभी भी याद है जब मैं विद्यार्थी थी, मेरे लिए कार्यभार होता था कक्षा में कराये गए कार्य को दूसरी कॉपी, जिसे हम ‘फेयर कॉपी’ कहते थे, में लिखना। असल में ऐसा करने से कुछ नया सीखने या खोजने में कोई मदद नहीं होती थी, पर कम से कम कक्षा में जो पढ़ाया गया है उसकी पुनरावृत्ति हो जाती थी, और इसके हम अभिभावकों को इसका हिस्सा भी नहीं बनाते थे।

मेरा मत है कि विद्यार्थियों को गृहकार्य उनके स्तर का देना चाहिए, जो वे बिना अभिभावक या ट्यूटर की मदद के स्वयं कर सकें। प्रीस्कूल विद्यार्थियों को विद्यालय की ओर से गृहकार्य नहीं देना चाहिए। इसके स्थान पर प्रीस्कूल हर माह स्कूल में होने वाली गतिविधियों की जानकारी दे सकते हैं (जैसे हम ज्ञानकृति पिटारा देते हैं), ताकि अभिभावक उन विषयों की पुनरावृत्ति घर पर करवा सके।

दूसरी ओर अभिभावक को यह भी समझना होगा कि बच्चों में एकाग्रता बहुत सिमित होती है, इसलिए उन्हें किसी नियत समय पर बलपूर्वक पढ़ाने के बजाये, पढ़ाई उनकी दिनचर्या का हिस्सा बना दें। उदहारण के लिए यदि वे ‘फल’ की पुनरावृत्ति करना चाहते हैं तो बच्चों को मॉल ले जाकर फलों के नाम पूछ सकते हैं, या घर पर भी इसी प्रकार सिखा सकते हैं।

अभिभावकों की सहभागिता मददगार है, किन्तु हमे यह भी ध्यान रखना चाहिए कि प्रशिक्षित और अनुभवी शिक्षकों का पढ़ाने का तरीका अलग होता है, जिसका अनुकरण अभिभावक नहीं कर सकते। इसी तरह हम उन अभिभावकों से भी असमर्थ हैं जो अपने बच्चों को कोचिंग क्लासेस भेजते हैं (हाँ! कुछ अभिभावक प्रीस्कूल के बच्चों को भी ट्यूशन भेजते हैं)। ज्ञानकृति का मत है कि बच्चों की पढ़ाई में माता पिता का योगदान महत्वपूर्ण है। ट्यूशन नहीं भेजना यह दर्शाता है कि बच्चों की पढ़ाई में माता पिता रूचि लेते हैं और उसका हिस्सा बनते हैं। अभिभावकों की लगातार सहायता बच्चों की अकादमिक और गैर-अकादमिक प्रदर्शन को बढ़ावा देता है।

नोट: लेखक ज्ञानकृति सुदर्शन नगर शाखा की प्रशासनिक प्रमुख हैं| यहाँ व्यक्त किये गए विचार व्यक्तिगत हैं।

Handling a fussy eater | खाने की आदतो के बारे मे कुछ सुझाव

picky-eater

Many parents have complained/informed about eating habits of their children. Here are some suggestion:

Handling a fussy eater
A fussy eater is no freak. Fussy eating is perfectly normal, especially for children. As children experiment with food, they develop preferences just like adults. The solution is to offer a wider variety of foods so that they are more likely to choose favourites across food groups. Variety also provides different vitamins and minerals. Don’t stress out if your child refuses to eat bananas. Just look for other foods which contain similar nutrients.

Try to improve your child’s appetite by increasing her physical activity. A hungry child is less likely to be fussy about food. Health drinks and vitamin supplements are not the only solution for fussy eaters. Try to meet your child’s nutritional needs as you would meet your own.

My son refuses to drink milk
“My son refuses to drink milk. It seems to me that all children readily accept milk- based beverages. But my 5-year-old son absolutely refuses to have milk with or without a nutritional supplement. I’m worried that he will lose out on vital nutrients.” – A concerned father

A balanced diet has the most ‘vital nutrients’. So if your child is getting a healthy mix of foods, with portions of staples, proteins and vegetables, you need not worry about his milk aversion. Dairy products are an important source of calcium and minerals, but can be found in milk products as well. Introduce him to curd, flavoured yoghurt, paneer, cheese and ice-cream which will provide him calcium. Other foods rich in calcium include leafy greens, almonds and dry fruits. Health drinks are good but not indispensable. Just focus on healthy eating habits, and don’t worry about the milk. You could reintroduce it after a few months. Alternatively, try flavoured milk. If your child develops a taste for it, you can slowly shift to flavoured health drinks. Try getting a friend, teacher or relative to convince your child to drink milk every day. Sometimes, children are more open to suggestions from people other than their parents.

कई अभिभावकों ने अपने बच्चों की खाने की आदतों के बारे में शिकायत/सूचना दी है।  यहाँ कुछ सुझाव हैं :

खाना खाने में नखरे करना एकदम सामान्य है, खासकर बच्चों के लिए।  क्योकि बच्चे भोजन के साथ प्रयोग करते हैं, वे अपनी पसंद बनाने लगते हैं  बिलकुल बड़ों की तरह। समाधान यह है कि भोजन की व्यापक विविधता पेश की जाए ताकि उन्हें चयन करने के लिए अधिक संभावनाएं प्राप्त हो।  विविधता से उन्हें भिन्न भिन्न प्रकार के विटामिन व खनिज भी मिलते हैं।यदि आपका बच्चा केला खाने से मना करता है तो चिंता मत कीजिये।  उसे कुछ और दीजिये जिसमे सामान प्रकार के पौष्टिक तत्व हों।

बच्चे की भूख बढ़ाने के लिए उसकी शारीरिक गतिविधियों को बढ़ाएं।  अगर बच्चा भूखा होगा तो वह भोजन के लिए कम नखरे करेगा। कृत्रिम पेय पदार्थ और विटामिन के पूरक ही एकमात्र समाधान नहीं है।  अपने बच्चे के पोषण सम्बंधित जरूरतों को ऐसे ही पूरा कीजिये जैसे आप अपनी करते हैं।

मेरा बच्चा दूध पीने से मना करता है
“मेरा बेटा दूध पीने से मना करता है।  ऐसा लगता है कि सभी बच्चे दूध के उत्पादों को ख़ुशी से स्वीकारते हैं।  किन्तु मेरा ५ वर्षीय बेटा दूध बिलकुल नहीं पीता। वह सादा दूध या पौष्टिक पूरक मिला कर दोनों के लिए ही मना करता है।” – एक चिंतित पिता

एक संतुलित आहार में महत्वपूर्ण ‘पौष्टिक तत्व’ होते हैं।  तो यदि आपका बच्चा पौष्टिक भोजन, प्रोटीन और सब्जियां खा रहा है तो आपको दूध के बारे में चिंता करने की जरुरत नहीं है। डेयरी उत्पादों में महत्वपूर्ण केल्शियम और खनिज होते हैं, किन्तु वे दूध के उत्पादों में भी पाये जाते हैं।  उसे दही, फ्लेवर वाला मट्ठा, पनीर और आइस-क्रीम दीजिये, इनसे भी उसे कैल्शियम प्राप्त होगा।  अन्य कैल्शियम युक्त खाद्य पदार्थों में हरी पत्ते वाली सब्जियां, बादाम और सूखे मेवे सम्मिलित हैं।  हेल्थ पदार्थ अच्छे हैं किन्तु अनिवार्य नहीं हैं।  बस स्वस्थ खाने की आदतों पर ध्यान दीजिये, दूध की चिंता मत कीजिये।  आप उसे कुछ महीनों बाद वापस देने की कोशिश कर सकते हैं। एक विकल्प यह है कि फ्लेवर वाला दूध देने की कोशिश कीजिये।  यदि आपके बच्चे को वह  स्वाद अच्छा लग जाता है तो धीरे से फ्लेवर वाले हेल्थ ड्रिंक देना शुरू कर सकते हैं। उसे प्रतिदिन दूध पीने के लिए समझाने के लिए किसी दोस्त, शिक्षक या रिश्तेदार की मदद भी ले सकते हैं। कभी कभी बच्चे उनके माता-पिता से ज्यादा किसी और के सुझावों को सही मानते है|

रचना सक्सेना द्वारा हिंदी में अनुवाद किया गया|

नोट: लेखक ज्ञानकृति के संस्थापक एवं निदेशक है| यहाँ व्यक्त किये गए विचार व्यक्तिगत हैं।

Note: The author is Founder-Director of Gyankriti. The views expressed here are personal.