Friday, 28 September 2012

The Quiet Inner Connection

Pretend play helps a child to imagine, picture and visualize. I noticed that when my son is left alone to imagine and play, he is much more quieter. I sense that there is so much inner work happening. He narrates the story that he is imagining and this includes his own pictures and words. His imagination that is his own makes me feel like he is working very inwardly. He remains so poised, peaceful, happy and joyful. 

One day, he was gathering all his match box size toys that were scattered in many places in our home. We had some left over tapes which I had given it to him and had told that he could use it for his play. So, he chose to play an airport game. 

Most times, people say that children have short attention spans. But when they are very active in their pretend play, their imagination is so very wild and rich that they go on for long time playing and having fun.  And the depth of focus and concentration the child demonstrates is outstanding. He gained lots of insights and knowledge through this activity that no book or any other words or instructions could have given.

Many times, in the past, I used to jump in to give him ideas on how to even play. Lately, I have made myself distant and I just peacefully observe what he comes up with. What more can bring me happiness when I observe my child making life his own? And when the play is open ended, I notice that creativity just bubbles up in him. 

I do not want to assess whether the pretend play contributed to the child's creativity, intelligence, language development or any other skill. The very simple fact that he was joyously playing and being engaged made me feel happy. Though the activity externally looked very energetic and loud, I could still sense that there was some quiet inner connection happening. 

And, the tapes remained for a week on the floor and he kept playing throughout. Only the vehicles were moved to clean the floor. 
Enjoy Learning and Sharing

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Embracing Nature In An Urban Life

When I was a child, I used to visit my grand father's village. One of my favourite activities after I have my lunch is to grab my friends from the street and go out on a nature expedition. We used to enjoy the street side trees, bushes, hang out and play in the areas around a huge tank in the village. The most favourite activity was to visit a temple near by to collect the cashew nut fruits, gather mangoes and collect all kinds of leaves, stems and barks. We used to collect a lot of almond fruits and crack their shells and eat it. We used to take home loads of natural things that we collected. We also used to pick soft rounded stones, get back home and play a game using those stones that naturally developed our fine motor skills. It was all free play, nobody used to facilitate anything for us. The experiences that helped us connect with nature in the olden days were really very rich and peaceful. We had the freedom to explore, play and interact with nature with very little supervision. 

The lives of children today are very different than it used to be in the olden days. Lately, things have changed and there are very less opportunities for children to connect with nature and experience free play in areas surrounding the nature. These children have less contact with nature and earthly materials. We end up living in areas with manufactured playground equipments designed by adults. Adults think these are appropriate models for children to play. Children's lives have been structured and scheduled by adults. Most adults think that a structured and scheduled class or a sport would help children develop skills that will help them become a successful adult. 

Nowadays, we pay hefty price to have contacts with nature. During one of such trips recently, I was moved into tears when I observed the body language and behaviours of my child when he had the freedom to just 'play' and connect with natural things, mainly in his own way. He was happily running around, imitating animal behaviours, gathering stones and sticks and more. The main point is no instruction was given to him to be a certain way and he was never asked to do certain things. It all happened just naturally and I felt that nature is indeed a teacher. I was amazed by his curiosity and natural inclination to develop a connection with nature.

Though I am not able to recreate such an experience for my child more often, I always wonder how can I give him a chance to explore nature so that he could be aware of the affinity that human beings have with nature. When I look at what is available near by, I would say we are really blessed to live near a beach. Beaches are quite places to connect with nature. Yes, I really mean that, the ones near by our place are quiet ones.

Beaches are heaven and it is indeed a bliss to get our hands and legs wet. We make sure that we visit the beaches more often nowadays since it is one place where we can embrace a bit of nature while living an urban life. It is always so much happiness to watch my child discover the beauty of nature and play in unison with it.

I also feel a very healing sensation to touch and collect shells along with my child.

As the saying goes, 'Nature nurtures creativity", these beautiful shells inspired us to create something out of those. With the Ganesh festival going on, we chose to create a beautiful Ganesha using those shells. Holistic approaches to learning such as this indeed nurtures our body, mind and spirit and it does improve our creative intelligence. And we did experience that and you will agree when you take a look at our 'Shell Art Ganesha'

All we needed to create this beautiful shell art, were only shells collected in the beach and a left over thermocole sheet. The only material for which we spent some money is the small fevicol tube with which we glued the shells.

Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with same status - says Sir Ken Robinson and I am glad we were able to unleash creativity, with nature as our teacher to get ourselves soothed and to have our senses put in order. Though we are not able to experience nature in a way we would really wish to, we are happy that we are able to help ourselves with what is available and accessible for us, in an urban life that we have chosen to live. We experience what is available for us and bring a bit of it to our craft table too.

Regular contacts with nature helps children develop ecological literacy, they develop a love towards our planet. Not only that, the wisdom amassed through such experiences are far more useful for them to make wiser choices in their future to save our planet than the content knowledge gathered from books.

What opportunities are available for you to help your children connect with nature in today's urban life? 

Enjoy Learning and Sharing

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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Learning is Contagious

Conclusion of a thought being brainstormed is defined by the learner. Learners can go on constructing knowledge from the previous links and thread and may never stop, thereby making many many connections. Hence some people who are natural or self learners enjoy their method of learning since one period for them is not one hour. Enthusiastic learners keep thinking and analysing, will go on constructing new knowledge and ideas. They will come back and share all those new imaginations, facts and stories etc.. It never ends, learning is contagious.

Enjoy learning and sharing