Author Archives: Yograj

About Yograj

He is the founder director of Gyankriti group, leading the academics and curriculum development with the vision of 'making people happy'. He is also an IIT Bombay alumnus.

The importance of Play | बच्चों को खेलना क्यों चाहिए?

Why should children play?

Simply because play is the work of childhood. Play helps children learn better, retain learning and enjoy the process. Play teaches children to reason, use logic, plan, work with others, sometimes lead, sometimes follow, to win or lose and to shake hands and make up after a contest.

It’s important that children play with appropriate toys and have the option of indoor and outdoor play. Use of battery toys, computer games and video games should not qualify as play as they are harmful in several ways.

  1. Such toys set the agenda for a child. It’s not the child thinking or working out what to do next; it’s the toy that decides.
  2. They tend to reduce social interaction and make children anti-social.
  3. Reduced social interaction impairs the development of communication skills.
  4. Such toys/games can be very addictive.
  5. They could cause obesity, eye and other health problems.

Children have everything to gain when you give them the gift of play. Depriving children of play opportunities could have negative consequences – depression, aggression and hostility.

हिंदी अनुवाद

बच्चों को खेलना क्यों चाहिए? क्योकि खेलना बचपन का अभिन्न अंग है। खेलना बच्चों के सीखने की क्षमता को बढ़ाने, याद रखने और प्रक्रिया का आनंद लेने में मदद करता है। खेलने से बच्चे कई महत्वपूर्ण बातें सीखते हैं, जैसे कारणों को जानना, तर्क का उपयोग करना, योजना बनाना, अन्य लोगों के साथ काम करना, कभी नेतृत्व करना, कभी पालन करना, जीतना या हारना और हाथ मिलाना एवं प्रतियोगिता के बाद एक हो जाना।

यह बहुत महत्वपूर्ण है कि बच्चे उपयुक्त खिलौनों से खेलें एवं उनके पास घर के अंदर व् बाहर खेलने का विकल्प हो। बैटरी चलित खिलौनों का प्रयोग, कंप्यूटर गेम्स एवं वीडियो गेम्स खेल की श्रेणी में नहीं आना चाहिए  क्योकि वे बच्चों के लिए कई मायनों में हानिकारक हैं।

  1. ऐसे खिलौने बच्चों के लिए कार्यसूची बना देते हैं। इसमें बच्चे खुद से कुछ नहीं सोच रहे होते हैं, ना ही वे आगे की कार्यप्रणाली बनाते हैं, ये निर्णय खिलौने लेते हैं।
  2. वे सामाजिक संवाद कम करते हैं, व् बच्चों को असामाजिक बनाते हैं।
  3. सामाजिक संवाद की कमी बच्चों के संचार कौशल को बाधित करती है।
  4. ऐसे खिलौने/गेम्स बच्चों की लत बन सकते हैं।
  5. वे मोटापे, आँख व् अन्य स्वास्थ्य सम्बंधित परेशानियों का भी कारण बन सकते हैं।

जब आप बच्चों को खेलने की स्वतंत्रता देते हैं तो वे सब कुछ सीख लेते हैं। अवसाद, आक्रामकता और शत्रुता – खेलने के अवसरों से वंचित बच्चों के नकारात्मक परिणाम हो सकते हैं।

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.

 

Does your child value her toys?

“My daughter has a cupboard full of toys, but doesn’t value them at all!” laments Vidya Gour the mother of a seven-year-old. Vidya herself grew up with two or three toys, with a new one added every birthday.

Today privileged children grow up with full baskets of and it’s hard to get them to understand how precious or valuable they are for the majority of India’s 480 million children.

“I don’t care if my toy breaks. I’ll get a new one,” says six-year-old Rishabh Verma. He has no clue why his parents don’t like such statements. Like Rishabh, many middle class kids couldn’t care less if they lose or break toys, since they have so many others to replace them.

Here are some ways to help children learn to value things.

Give away stuff:
Draw attention to the vast majority of underprivileged children. Explain how they manage — with few clothes, less food, and often no toys at all. Get your children to make packages of food, clothes and toy which they have out grown. Their choices are likely to be different from yours, but be willing to accommodate them. Identify a suitable family to give the packages to. It could be the family of construction workers living in tents, or your house helper. However it’s important to warn children not to outwardly show pity, disgust or condescension when they in interact with people from other sections of society. Go together and present the packages to them. Learning to practice charity will help your child realise how valuable every toy and dress is for the less privileged and will help them experience the joy of giving.

Examine new things:
A flood of birthday gifts can make some presents less appealing than others. Get your child to examine each new object before using it. If it is a toy/game/stationary she already has, or does not want, she should place it in a box for reuse. Such gifts could be given away to needy children, reused as a gift, or used later. Sifting will discourage your child from taking a new toy, playing with it for a few minutes, and then forgetting all about it.

Recycle:
Old toys can be recycled simply by selling them in a locally or on a second-hand goods website. This way children will become aware that they are doing something sensible by gifting or selling stuff, instead of letting it lie unused at home. They could be allowed to use the money realised to buy what they need.

Create hype: Before gifting your child a new object, generate some interest by talking about it, or showing internet content related to it. Once her curiosity is kindled, she will value it.

Withhold toys: If you find your child handling toys carelessly, throwing them around, or shoving them under the bed, take them away. Keep it with you until you think they will use it well, or give it away. Losing a toy usually makes it a ‘wanted’ object, so keep it for a while, in case your child asks for it again.

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

हिंदी अनुवाद: http://www.gyankriti.com/blog/hindi-toys-value/

Tips for Handling the First Days of Preschool

Tip 1: Don’t rush through the morning: No one likes to race through the school morning routine — especially on the first day. So get everyone up at a reasonable hour. That way, you won’t have to hurry your child as he munches through his morning meal — or risk being late because you had to tame your frazzled tot’s tantrum.

Tip 2: Arrive fashionably early: This way, your little one can slowly settle in before the real action starts. He’ll also get more face time with the teacher, too, which will be tougher to do once all the other kids are there to vie for her attention.

Tip 3: Bring a comfort object: Let your child bring along his favorite stuffed animal (or blanket, or whatever object does the trick) so the new setting doesn’t feel so scary. And once your teddy-toting tot feels comfortable with his surroundings, he’ll let go of his lovey — or at least leave it when he plays.

Tip 4: Put on a happy face: Anxiety may be eating you up inside, but don’t let on — nerves are highly contagious. If your tone’s upbeat and you seem confident that your child will have a good time, there’s a better chance that he’ll be upbeat, too.

Tip 5: Hang around, but don’t hover: We sometimes allow parents stay in the classroom for all or part of the first few days, so if you can swing it, stick around. Knowing that you’re within clinging distance will give your kid the courage to explore his new digs. Then, as your child feels more secure, gradually melt into the background. Your goal is to let the teacher take over so you can get on with your day.

Tip 6: Keep good-byes short and sweet: When it’s your cue to make an exit, hold back your tears a little longer (smiling helps unscrunch those furrows in your worried brow), give your new preschooler a hug, and let him know when you’ll be back (“I’ll pick you up after lunch”). Then head out — don’t linger (he can’t get on with his day until you do). And no matter how tempting, never sneak out when your preschooler is looking the other way. It’ll make him feel insecure and less trusting.

Just remember, it’s normal for kids to have a meltdown when it’s time to separate (though many don’t). But even if your child is crying a lot, chances are he’ll be fine five minutes after you walk out the door. If it’s taking a while for your little one to adjust, don’t panic — our teachers (and their assistants) have seen it all and they know just what to do, so ask his teacher for help. Just don’t be surprised if your child’s too happy to say hello to you (or talk about his day) once preschool pick up rolls around!

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

Montessori Resources for Parents and Teachers

We at Gyankriti believe that parents, teachers and students are the three pillars in early childhood education. We have always promised to avail best and experienced teachers, however the results depend largely on support of the parents. In our attempt to educate parents towards Early Childhood Care and Education we are sharing some good Montessori resources that I came across in my travels along the internet highway. I hope that this information will be really helpful for parents during summer vacations.

Information about Dr Maria Montessori

MONTESSORI IN THE HOME

The Wonder Years – A Montessori home environment

Parenting for independence blogpost

Practical life in the home – a good list of undertakings that a child will appreciate

Summer vacation – a practical life approach

Summer reading ideas

Montessori at home: the senses

Montessori prepared environment at home

How to create a prepared environment

MONTESSORI AT HOME WEBLOGS

Montessori for everyone – Montessori home schooling

Moose Huntress – Montessori at home website

Adventures of a rainbow mama

INFANT TODDLER YEARS

The Montessori Merthod for the Infant Toddler

Baby’s Montessori room

23 month old making his own snack, montessori

WEBSITES

Montessori videos on You Tube

Montessori videos on Vimeo

Montessori for infants and toddlers

A general Montessori website

Montessori content on Blogger

Montessori images on Flickr

MONTESSORI TEACHER’s BLOGS

Montessori on the shelf

Moveable alphabet

Montessorri: Planting the seeds of learning

PS: If you have any other good resources than please share them in comments. Thanks! 🙂

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

Developing curriculum for tomorrow’s brightest kids

When we started Gyankriti, we wanted to support the overall growth of a developing kid, affecting hearts as well as minds and addressing  emotional, physical, social and cultural needs along with academic welfare. The entire curriculum was supposed to combine the best research and practice of our honourable advisers and dearest colleagues. The internet makes it easy for our teachers and principals located at all the centres in Indore. All of them with a wealth of experience and knowledge from various schools in India and abroad are working together to create a engaging and relevant pre-primary programme.

 

Our programme aims to offer a comprehensive, ‘curiosity development’ approach to teaching and learning. The entire framework is primarily based on following questions that troubled me during my research and groundwork on pre-primary education:

  1. What do we expect so small, 1.5 years to 6 years old, children to learn?
  2. What is the best way to assist their learning?
  3. How will we as parents and teachers know what they have learned?

Any academic program has a set of desired outcomes to characterize a successful student. Our curriculum is based on following objectives:

  • The student can be an ‘inquirer’ enjoying his/her love of learning, the role of teachers in this case is to nurture student’s curiosity.
  • The students must show sensitivity towards feelings and needs of others. We must also try to sow the seeds of integrity, honesty and a sense of fairness and justice as this stage.
  • They should understand the importance of physical education and personal well-being.
  • They should have confidence to deal with unfamiliar situations without anxiety.
  • They receive and express ideas and information confidently in more than one language including the language of mathematical symbols.
  • They should spend time in Gyankriti exploring themes which have global relevance and importance.

In doing so, they will acquire tremendous amount of knowledge, well at least as a preschooler. At the heart of this programme is structured curiosity building approach. Teachers focus on facilitating inquiry in the classroom and beyond.

The topics or themes of each grade level represent a set of traditional topics like alphabets, numbers, nature, society and festivals. Some specific aspects of pre-literacy and pre-math skills that can be learned through more traditional approaches. Students will also work to develop communication, social, self-management and thinking skills.

We always say that our curriculum is a ‘work in progress’ so we are open to your suggestions on our vision of Gyankriti curriculum. Very soon we will share some of our ideas and sample lesson plans here.

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

हिंदी अनुवाद: http://goo.gl/VBpy30

Early Childhood Care and Education: No child’s play

“Every dollar invested in quality early childhood care and education produces a 7-10% return in better education, health, social and economic outcomes.”

– Prof. James Heckman (Nobel Laureate in Economics)

The first six years of life are critical years since the rate of development in these years is more rapid than at any other stage of development. In the early years development is influenced not only by health, nutrition and quality of care but also by the quality of stimulation and early learning experiences provided to the child. These initial experiences of a child’s life set the pattern for years to come. The first three years of life are a crucial time for acquiring language and building vocabulary. High-quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programs that expose infants and toddlers to language-rich activities have been linked to higher academic achievement in later years.

Despite the benefits of early education, our country has lagged in making sure high-quality programs are available for tiny-tots. In India only 1.1% kids are enrolled in Preschools, whereas the enrolment rate is almost 100% in countries like France and Scotland. Moreover, the present scenario in India in the delivery of ECCE is marked by diversity of programmatic approach, content and standards. There are no standard practices followed. All of this has a direct bearing on the quality of services being provided.

Though quality matters in the delivery of ECCE services, there are no norms, guidelines or framework binding on implementers. Minimum Specifications for Preschools, is a suggestive guide published by NCERT in 1996. This document serves as a guideline for policy makers and implementers for laying down basic norms and specifications for Early Childhood Education(ECE). In its attempt at setting some standards and norms, the document covers the following aspects:

Broad Aspects Covered Specific Aspect for which Guidelines Provided
Physical structure and facilities Location; play areas; facility for drinking water; sanitary facilities; sleeping facilities; storage space
Equipment and material Outdoor equipment/material for large muscle development; Indoor equipment/material; First aid kit
Safety precautions Safety of play space; not to use self locking doors; materials that could harm children should be stored in areas inaccessible to children; no toxic colour/paint should be used for play equipment; regular maintenance of outdoor equipment; avoid sharp edges in equipment, etc.
Pre school staff Staff structure and adult child ratio; qualifications of the teacher; qualifications of the helper; salary structure
Age for admission Explains the age specific development of the child vis-à-vis appropriate age for pre-school
Admission procedure Alternative strategies suggested as a departure from the practised admission procedure
The pre-school programme Timings; Content and methodology
Record and registers Admission records; progress records; teachers’ diary; registers – attendance of staff and children, accounts, stock and staff profile

At present there is no uniformity in the curriculum followed in the ECCE Centres. Service providers have developed their curriculum on the basis of the material available. The understanding among programme implementers is not always in line with the desired. However, the National Curriculum Framework includes a section on the curricular content of pre –school education. It states the following:

“During the pre-primary stage, enormous changes take place in the children’s physical growth and mental development. From a state of dependence and helplessness the children gradually attain independence and become curious learners. As their bodies grow and respond to the social and cultural cues, their nervous systems mature and their cognitive experiences are enhanced. They quickly adapt to the world and slowly begin to imagine and discover methods for storing away the memories of the past and present events. Play fosters the overall development of the learners who may engage in functional play, i.e., simple and repetitive movements with or without an object, and constructive activity – physically manipulating objects in order to construct or create something. This period is marked by the development of language, the use of symbols and egocentric thinking, i.e., failure to distinguish between one’s own point of view and that of another individual. Children at this stage also engage in fantasy play. For the development of beliefs, habits and attitude associated with physical well-being, emotional maturity and proper social orientation, the years of pre-primary and primary education are the most impressionable and formative period of the child’s life. This fact has to be realized in all seriousness by the curriculum designers and practitioners so as to provide appropriate and adequate learning experiences to the learners.”

After a long and painful period of neglect, Government of India promises to devote attention to the issue of preparing all children for primary schooling. The National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy recently approved by the Union Cabinet aims to end the current situation that has led to the mushrooming of crèches, play schools, nursery schools and so on that adhere to no particular standard.

Objectives of the draft policy:

  1. Ensuring adaptive strategies for inclusion of all children
  2. Set out the quality,standards and curriculum framework
  3. To promote strong partnerships with communities and families in order to improve the quality of development.
  4. To promote professionalism in the field
  5. To promote, reinforce and safeguard quality services for all young children for systematic development.

We expect that very soon we will have a national council to establish guidelines for standardisation of teaching and learning aids, trained manpower, sanitation and hygiene norms in play schools and day care centres. Some of the proposed guidelines are as follows:

  1. 3-4 hours. of learning
  2. At least 35 square meters classroom for a group of 30 children
  3. At least 30 square meters of outdoor space
  4. Structurally safe building
  5. Easy approach, cleanliness and green areas
  6. Clean Water arrangements
  7. First aid/medical kit availability
  8. Learning material and teaching aids
  9. Quality check on meals and nap time
  10. Teachers student ratio is 1:20 for three to six years and 1:10 under the age of three years.

Gyankriti has initiated “preschool chale hum” campaign to create awareness for high-quality early education. We will promote it through various events in Indore.

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

हिंदी अनुवाद: http://www.gyankriti.com/blog/2/