On the Path of New Learnings
“Oh you will fall down” was my reflux exclamation as he started experimenting with his new in line skates, I watched and watched and there he was- skating and gliding and shouting with joy “I did it”. I reflected, oh I shouldn’t have expressed my fear instantaneously and smiled- Self Learning! We need to believe kids self learn, when given opportunities, when exposed to the right kind of environment. It is only small small incidents like these, right from infancy that made us think- “Do we really want to ‘mould’ them in a factory setting without giving them an opportunity to explore and self learn?” And we both nodded no! And that's how our discoveries about learnings, getting the best out of a child, the importance of play began.
Let me share some of the things which we strongly believe make our learning experience enriching! I say ‘ours’ because while we grown ups try to mould the kids and help them in their learning journey, we as parents learn and grow as individuals too. Its the whole unlearning, learning experience for everyone involved, isn't it?
- Let Nature be the First Teacher
“Oh poor babies, you let them walk without shoes” ; “Crawling babies need knee pads, why dont you buy for your twins”, “You are letting your babies be in the lawn, they can get insect bites” and many such statements- we happily ignored, and let them explore the surroundings ‘like a baby’.
Mud play, sand play, water play not only help babies meet their sensory needs but also a way to strengthen their motor skills. Being in nature, itself is calming, brings out the creativity in children, gives them the ability to appreciate the beauty in the smallest and otherwise perceived as ‘stupidest’ things nature has to offer. Bonus- the children develop better immunity!
My husband always says “Let’s invest in experiences rather than objects” Exposure to different places, cultures, traditions, systems, languages, early on helps children to be more adaptable, to empathize better and learn many aspects of life.
We live in a nuclear set up, with no support or helpers, with husband working long hours outside of home, I started off taking my twins to nearby places when they were less than 2/2.5 years. Let me tell you these simple outing too needed some good planning! When i say outing here, it was a visit to the grocery store, temple, fire station, parks, lakes, mandai and so on! We used to spend a good 2-3 hours soaking in the environment!
As a family too, we never preferred booking those fancy, fully serviced resorts and hotels. Rather always prefer going to places like “Aarohi”, “Sadhana Forest”, simple Airbnbs where we could take the kids to beaches, mountains, forest trails, caves and so on.
- Right Tools
Consciously opting for the right tools, knowing what the child is inclined towards, really helps the child to fast forward learnings! When it came to Vibha and Viaan, we quickly understood their difference in personalities and likings. Viaan is more about motion, physical activities, breaking and fixing; Vibha loves to do things that need focus like coloring, crafts, music etc
Listing a few choices we made which I believe aided the self learning
- balance bike instead of a cycle with support wheels (Helped them learn to cycle beautifully at just 3)
- Pool noodle instead of a water tube
- Real Books instead of ipads and gadgets
- DIY way of decorations than buying ready made stuff for occasions like Diwali, birthdays etc
Involving them in day to day activities, giving them age appropriate responsibilities and treating them as ‘little humans’ than ‘incapable humans’ is what we follow. I believe entertaining children is not what a parent is supposed to do! Providing a safe loving environment, assisting them when needed, and being their support system is very important.
At 5, I involve them in many ‘interesting’ activities like:
- Kitchen help: chopping, peeling, grating etc
- Making bio enzymes: From using the peels of fruits they eat, till harvesting the bio enzymes
- OPOS cooking
- Other Softer Aspects
‘Little Humans’ have some big emotions don’t they? And not addressing them on time and labelling the child only hampers their emotional well being. We, ever since our kids were tiny, have been babywearing and believe in Dr Sears theory of Attachment Parenting.
We maintain a strict ‘no mobile screen time’ and a monitored TV time even at 5 now. And yes we do not have a cable connection! We love to resort to screens to watch some nice videos about concepts we talk about eg gravity/ bugs/ space/ eclipse etc. And as a family watch some consciously picked movies on some weekends together.
About Choosing a School
We, as I said earlier, believe in self learning and providing the kids with a conducive environment to grow. While I love the idea of homeschooling, with the kind of family set up and my work commitments, it was evident that they would need to progress in a ‘learning space’ where they can benefit from mentors than being ‘forced’ to learn what they are ‘ready’ to learn! A set up that echoes with our beliefs and way of upbringing. It was clear, we had struck off the mainstream. After a thorough research we enrolled Vibha and Viaan into Aurinko Academy.
When I ask them what do you like most about your school? and they say “We don’t have to wear shoes inside the school!”