Archive for the 'life skills for children' Category

When your child says, “I don’t like Math”…

When your child says, “I don’t like Math” what he/she is really saying is –

  1. I don’t understand/like the way the teacher is teaching OR,
  2. I’m struggling and unable to feel successful or be good at it

You may say, this is one of the most common things that children say about what they learn. You can literally replace it with art, music, science, badminton, new language…anything they attempt to learn and struggle with. True! And that is what makes the statement so dangerous. Here’s why?

  1. Isn’t math and all basic things children learn in school just tools that children need to use in their lives later on? It is like saying I don’t like the hammer, so I will not use the hammer to solve the problem that only hammers can solve. So, in a way, the dislike, really leaves the child weak and vulnerable in reality, unable to use the necessary tools when required in life to make decisions, communication, analyze or create an idea.
  2. Liking and disliking a subject is how children decide on careers and just like that, a disinterested/incompetent teacher in early years would have driven a perfectly capable child away from a career in science or art or sports.
  3. Both of these issues are inherently addressable if only there was awareness of what was driving the dislike.
  4. It is the loss of an opportunity to push oneself, to understand what makes you like/dislike something and figure out if it is important, how do you learn it? Wouldn’t you, if you knew it was important for your survival?

People like to share stories of how a child dropped physics and math in 10th grade because she didn’t like it, how another child picked arts because he was never good at science anyway, how a child picked up commerce because ultimately she wanted to become a designer and how all of this is a great sign of progress. Maybe it is better than struggling and feeling like a failure. I agree.

One thing I know for sure is if our children learned how to be successful at basic things like basic math, language and sciences in early years, whether they initially liked it/not, they would have figured out a lot more about life and success than anything else put together.

Let’s teach our children to figure out the hard stuff and then let them decide what they would love to do in life, rather than teaching them to run away from the hard stuff.They would hopefully be running towards something in their careers with both arms open rather than running away from something their whole life because they couldn’t figure it out!

 

 

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How emotions affect learning?

Schools are generally meant to be a place where children learn the content taught to them, take the exams, be civil with each other, respect elders, obey the rules and go home. There is no place for emotions there, is it?

The BIG problem here is that emotions are an integral part of who we are and no matter how much we ignore it, emotions lurk in nooks and crannies of children’s minds and affects how they learn.

Let me show you a few examples to clarify:

  1. A child experiences a fight or discord at home, doesn’t know what to do with his anger or sadness, brings it to class and is mood off that day. He doesn’t pay attention to what is happening around him and his ability to comprehend information has been compromised. He loses out on learning (note taking) that day and comes home and gets further scoldings for his notes being incomplete. He is at a loss to explain what or why?
  2. Another child misses her best friend who is either sick/has moved out of town and the uncertainty of the friend’s condition/the loss of friendship taunts the child and she is unable to calmly do her work in school. She has no way of knowing why she is upset and even if she knows, no place to express it and learn to work with the emotion knowing that it is only normal to feel this way. She tells her mom, who tells her that she will make more friends and it’s okay to move on. It confuses her further, she doesn’t know what to do. It goes on for weeks.
  3. A teacher scolds one of the children and another child is frightened for life to ask any more questions or to speak up in class. Parents are wondering what happened to my bright and chirpy child from a year ago?
  4. A child who scores very well in the exams and tops her class suddenly finds new subjects boring. She keeps telling herself that she needs to focus otherwise she will not get good marks but a small voice inside her says, “Boring, boring, boring”and she is not able to make peace with it. She doesn’t know how to negotiate or give it any more reasons/answers because she doesn’t know any except that, “it is important for exams and I need to score good marks so I’ll get a good job”

I could go on and on but I think we can agree that emotions are important and can affect children’s learning. It can affect it positively and negatively but when a part of you is not managed it is generally more trouble than good.

As a parent you could start the journey of developing emotional skills in children

  1. Use emotions in conversations on a daily basis to express not only how you feel about what your child did but also about how you felt at work or home when they were not around. Your child gets an opportunity to understand you better as parents and as professionals.
  2. Share your struggles and not just your happy moments and achievements. When children see a range of emotions they realize that they can also have a range of emotions and how to build the capability to express it.
  3. Acknowledge their emotions not the tantrums. Many a times when children throw a tantrum they are actually feeling an emotion and instead of expressing it, they are acting it out. Acknowledging the emotion empowers the child to express the emotion and even develop a sense of how you handle those emotions rather than throw a tantrum.

When children truly learn to manage their emotions you begin to see their learning improve by leaps and bounds. It’s an amazing experience to have as a parent, as a teacher and as a student – welcome to a world where learning is re-imagined the way it should be!

We, at Sparkling Mindz, as part of the school, preschool and our afterschool program work with children on their emotions. It begins with awareness, moves on to managing and generating choices, expressing & sharing with others, taking perspective, learning to respond to situations and developing empathy.

Raising a self-aware generation

I had an off-beat resume land in my inbox recently. Nia (name changed) is an out and out commerce student who scored a whopping 97% in her commerce PUC and is set to go on to do her BCom and CA when she seems to have made an about-turn in her life and joined a teacher training course followed by a specialization in special needs education. Intrigued by her story, I call her. She clears few rounds with us and reaches the interview round with me.

I ask her the question point blank. “Why did you opt out of a commerce career for a teaching job? Is it because it was convenient?” She replied, “I was not well in 11th grade for a long time and in 12th I scored the marks because I had just spent hours practicing the sums and pushing myself, I had not understood the fundamentals, nor did I like it that much. When the marks came I forgot all that and went ahead and joined B.Com honours with coaching for CA. Few months down the line I realized that it was not meant to be. I always wanted to be a teacher and empower children. I was abused as a child for several years and I don’t want children to go through that in life, ever.”

I’ve not found this level of clarity between marks and skill level and humility in a fresher level candidate so far. I wondered, what made her different? Why is that such a rare skill to find? Maybe it was the life-changing event of ill-health, maybe it was the abuse. But, if takes a life-changing event like abuse or some other equivalent trauma to make our children naturally reflective should we wait for that to happen for each and every child on this planet before we teach them to think for themselves, reflect, understand and navigate the language of emotions and social interactions?

Also, by that corollary, should we then wait for our children to have something to talk to us before we teach them language? Shouldn’t we wait for them to figure out economics before we teach them numbers? Shouldn’t we wait for them to discover new facts and figures or new civilizations and cultures before we teach them science or history or geography?

When we teach a lot of these skills in just in case (they need it later on) why wait to teach them the more important skills of thinking, reflecting, communicating, problem-solving and managing emotional in life? Why wait for them to learn it in due course? Nia learnt it the hard way you don’t have to wait for your child to learn it that way too. You have a choice of enrolling your child at Sparkling Mindz today and starting work on all of these skills at an early age.

Nia learnt it the hard way you don’t have to wait for your child to learn it that way too. You have a choice of enrolling your child at Sparkling Mindz today and starting work on all of these skills at an early age. We can’t guarantee that children will not struggle, that is part of their normal life and growth trajectory, I believe with the essential thinking, emotional and social toolkit they will be better equipped to deal with the life’s ups and downs, when they come knocking.

 

 


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