After the long October break, November was mostly a month of resettling especially for the little ones. And what better ways to resettle than to have fun activities that also make children ponder? There were several puppet shows in the month of November. RaRa Rooster and friends talked to children about Environment and Personal Hygiene. As the puppet shows are interactive, the storyline takes shape with the participation of children.
One particular show about not cutting trees got the little ones thinking about the homes of their animal friends:
Where will RaRa Rooster and his birdie friends go for Circle Time? Where will Gina Giraffe get juicy green leaves that she has for a healthy breakfast? Where will Squeaky Squirrel get her favorite nuts? Where will Leo Leopard play hide and seek? Where will the little puppy, Spot chase butterflies? All relevant questions…don’t you think?
Inspired by the same show, our older ones, i.e. the primary children wrote an Appeal to fellow human beings urging them to remember all the reasons why we should not cut trees. Some of the reasons that they shared with the puppets and later noted in the Appeal are the following: i) trees give us oxygen, ii) they provide shade, iii) they keep the balance in our eco-system, iv) they make our earth look beautiful and green, v) they give us fruits and vi) they are a home to our animal friends. We were not surprised at all that some of this wisdom was coming from a lesson they recently had in Botany!
Another popular message that most children have registered is the importance of washing hands. They call it the RaRa promise! We have puppet shows on Wednesdays. It will be nice if parents can remember on Wednesdays to ask children about these shows. It will help in recall and reinforcement of the message and you will get to know what the puppets talked about that day! I will also be happy to have your feedback and pass it on to RaRa and friends ☺
Having a blast on Children’s Day.
We celebrated Children’s Day on November 14-15, 2014. November 14 was a day full of surprises for children. We started the day with a funny song sung especially for them by the teachers. This was followed by a skit based on an old Jataka tale ‘Monkey and the Cap-seller’. It was a real surprise for them to see their teachers perform a skit. A bigger surprise perhaps was to see them act like monkeys!
Children were in for yet another surprise when they were served popcorn & cotton candy for snacks and pizza for lunch! As we are always talking to them about healthy food habits, this was totally unexpected. Most were thrilled but some were also confused and asked teachers. We used this as an opportunity to talk to them about how too much of anything is bad but once in a while it is okay. Teachers enjoy it too! We just have to take care that once in a while is really once in a while. We also invited an Uncle who got his machines to show them how cotton candy and popcorn are prepared.
All in all it was a memorable day at ILM.
Munira Apa’s talk- A Montessori lesson for parents.
On November 15, we organized an interaction for the parents with our advisor, Ms. Munira Akhtar who is very well respected in Montessori groups in Bangalore. She was the principal of Little Feat Montessori for fifteen years. She talked to parents about how the Montessori approach prepares children for the road ahead. To those parents who missed the talk, all I can say is that you really missed something! It was a very informative and engaging talk followed by a vibrant discussion. It went beyond the expected time by an hour or so and we didn’t even realize it.
I was requested by some parents who could not attend that day to share a summary of key points from the interaction. It is never easy to sum up a spontaneous discussion. However I will share a few important thoughts that Munira Apa (as I fondly call her) raised as an experienced Montessorian. These points also rang a bell for me from a child-centeredness and counseling perspective.
She started off by emphatically pointing out that any parents admitting their child to a Montessori must know and work on understanding that it is not a fast food outlet where you get instant food (results in this case) without really bothering about the quality of content or the process followed for preparing the food. Parents have to be patient for the child to learn at her/his own pace.
She informed the parents that Montessori approach does not encourage rote learning. The child has to do each activity to understand the concept. Using the example of cylinder blocks she said that the approach itself allows for or shall we say has room for self-correction. She also explained how Montessori method allows children to make choices and more importantly to express those choices! She acknowledged how this can sometimes lead to a conflict between the child and the adult and also shared tips with us on how to work around those.
Munira Apa emphasized that the biggest service that parents can do their child is to provide them a chance to learn in a Montessori environment and having done that, they should not have second thoughts or feel the social pressure to teach the child what they think s/he should be learning at a certain age, in a certain way. Montessori approach follows the child, not the other way round. If the parents start imposing their own thoughts, ideas and approaches of learning, this can lead to a conflict in the child’s mind and make her/him unhappy.
She urged parents not to think of a Montessori as just another Play school or Nursery. Instead, they should learn about the Montessori approach so as to support the child in an appropriate manner. She shared with us that Maria Montessori thought of learning as a joy. But for learning to be a happy occasion for the child, adults need to be on the same page. If there is a lack of understanding among adults, i.e. parent and teacher, it creates confusion in the child’s mind and learning is no longer a joyful experience.
At ILM we believe in creating an environment where a child’s self esteem can grow. We also believe that if a child has good self esteem, eventually s/he will do something worthwhile in life. Most importantly, the child will turn out to be a good human being. The Montessori approach prepares a child to be happy, confident and independent.