Anxious parents are often running a flashlight to locate the answer to their question. I became that answer to my neighbours whose daughter I was asked to ‘speed-coach’ shortly before her exams. She is a smart, caring, responsible ‘older-sister’. I know this because it shows up in her social interaction patterns – the way she babysits her younger sister or in the way she helps her grandparents in their gardening projects. She was having some trouble with the subject we all love to hate -Math.
I gave her an English sum (yeah that is possible!) where she has to solve or rather guess the right word based on clues given by the quizzer. The easiest way to guess the right word is through the process of elimination and having deep understanding of English language. Sounds complicated, well it was! But it was FUN too.When one’s mind is engaged in making connections eliminating impossible letters and using deductive reasoning to substitute alphabets one can arrive at the right word!
The idea behind the test was to gauge the child’s ‘meta-cognitive skills’- to understand if the problem lies in the comprehension of sums, the basic knowledge of formulae or cognitive dissonance(in terms of incongruent thought patterns or irrational thinking). As suspectedthe problem lay in none of the above! She really is a bright one. Her problem was the application of the formulae in the right sum and situation. Further tests showed that she was scared to go beyond what she understood of the concepts. Given different, new conditions, her confidence fizzled out. I introduced new conditions by deeper questioning of the concepts she used to solve a problem – the how-s and the why-s. The same sum packaged in a different wrapping and she was unable to even hazard a guess that the same question was being asked. She seemed to fear risking trying out a hand-made process to a slightly different question.
This incident raises the question if children are afraid to tweak their method to suit the purposes of the new changed scenario. Studies show that there are age-related, cultural and gender based differences in risk taking behaviour. In fact, the level of risk taken in different situations by the same individual is different. The same child who is so hesitant to seek out new ways to solve an algebraic problem will not be scared to try out a new cuisine or even a drastic haircut!
The ‘risk’ aspect depends on how the people around us will interpret the outcome. People are more forgiving of a bad haircut or a questionable fashion tastes than faring poorly in the final exams, or trying out a new move in the last football match that leads to defeat. We gauge the possible future reactions to our actions through our prior experiences and knowledge. The all important question then becomes that — are we as a society pushing our children to take normative decisions only and discouraging them from digressing into the unknown?
One way to overcome this lop-sided, safely mapped pedagogy is to encourage children to study all subjects as different aspect of the same concepts for a better and deeper understanding. It is also very important that they generate creative ideas to find new solutions to the same problem through different methods and to inculcate real life scenarios in education to breathe life into textbook questions.
As a teacher, I am learning too. This incident has been an eye-opener for me. It teaches me that not all my students are at the same level of risk-taking and idea-generating despite being on the same platform of knowing a formula. And that can go a long way in their final performance!
Clay is moldable and can be shaped in any which way we like, just like our children whose learning and practice is moldable by us. We have to clean and polish our clay object as well as we can before making them into final products. If there has been a crack or breakage – not to worry – it can be fixed. Our children are more adaptable than us – adults. Any damage or a childhood setback is fixable. New experiences and skill-sets can be molded, helping children overcome their environmental difficulties.
One more thing that we must bear in mind is the design! We must have the design in mind so we know exactly what we are making. That will help us decide the amount of clay, kind of clay-tools and the size of the kiln needed to make the object. We should ponder over and set in exactly the kind of values and skills we want our children to learn, to shape them into better human beings.
Once baked, the clay article remains forever – no more changes or damage can be done. One can fix minor problems and stick broken clay pieces together, but there is a certain finality to baking of clay. Similarly as adults we become more set in our ways and habits become more permanent. A lot of critical thinking and reinforcements later can we change our set behavioral patterns – just like a fired clay object. Childhood is our learning license to adapt and evolve, while adulthood is the actual act of driving. That is why personality disorders are assessed in adulthood and not childhood!
An artifact is not created individually; one needs help in terms of ideas, execution, shaping and even firing the final product. It takes a lot of hands to give an idea its final physical form! Similarly shaping the personality of a young one requires many beautiful minds, careful hands, caring words and intelligent environmental situations to make a holistic individual. These go into our life-experiences’ kitty bag!
Lastly, working with clay is absolutely fun, so is interacting with children! Like clay- which makes us get a little dirty, a little sweaty and even anxious when things don’t shape up – children bring out all our weaknesses and make us question our strengths. The fun part is in figuring it out; maturing along with the transformation of clay into a solid, impressionable piece. The fun is in answering the queries of our children about the world, holding their hands through their difficult days, falling down with them and picking ourselves up, figuring out along with them innate mysteries of life and scaffolding them in enhancing their life skills.
Children, though they get mingled with other kids who are of their age groups, they at one stage try to isolate themselves from them or try to ignore them for some reasons. But it is the parent’s duty to identify their children’s problem and help them get good friends is very important.
To help you, here are some best ideas that you can try:
1. Try to understand your child’s difficulty in moving with other kids
2. Try to get them engaged by making them play group games with them
3. Make them feel happy when they are with other kids
4. Help them get engaged to play interesting games with other kids
5. Try to take them out for picnic with the other kids
Schools often conduct interesting programs to especially encourage the kids to take part in it. Getting involved in such programs will help them to develop with good personality and talents as they grew up.
However, the awareness among them to voluntarily take part is less, which parents must take the responsibility.
To help you, here is the best 5 ideas you can follow:
1. Enquire often with the school about any programs to be conducted
2.Try to know the types of events
3. Try to identify the event which suit your kid
4. Try to identify which event would interest your kid
5. Get your child become aware of the importance of taking part in such programs