Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Why academics is not everything? - Lawrence High School

We have all heard of the proverb- All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It cannot be truer in times like these when academic pressure pushes the student to the brink. In the face of cut-throat competition where scoring in exams is crucial to one’s career, one must stop and pause to think of what kind of generation are we nurturing where he/she is judged only by the performance in mainstream path.

It is also interesting to note the contradiction in the scenario where there is a lot of talent emerging in fields other than academics and the plethora of opportunities that are available today in various vocations- a thing that was absent a decade ago.  Why then does a Gen Y child feel desolate and depressed when faced with failure in examinations?

The reason could perhaps lie in the fact that while we are transitioning from an academic oriented society to a wider arena where careers in lesser known fields are coming out in the open, the change in the mindset of people is yet to be complete.  A failure in one’s exam is still seen as a blot on one’s life and career- something, that cannot be redeemed.

Educational institutions need to not only integrate co-curricular activities within the syllabus but also to educate students about the possibilities of a career in lesser known fields.  It would also help to facilitate an environment where stress on other vocations is equal, opening up opportunities to bring out other talents in students in areas like sports, music, arts and other creative fields.
 An alternate career-path 
As parents and as a society too, we need to accept that being an engineer, doctor or a chartered accountant is not everything. There are successful people in other fields too. The key lies in discovering your passion at an early stage.  Failure in a particular test does not mean that the person is a failure. Not everybody excels in academics. Each person has a unique talent that needs to be identified and nurtured. And, what better institution than the school could be more equipped to carry out this task?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fun-activities to do with your child during school holidays - Lawrence High School

Come holidays and you can hear many parents groan at the thought of having the kids all day at home, having to deal with increased squabbles between siblings, unending hours spent in front of the idiot-box or games on the electronic gadgets and being at sea to keep the kids fruitfully occupied.

Holidays give the children the much needed respite from their crazy schedule of school work, after-school work and the very much in-vogue other activity classes. Unstructured time-out is actually beneficial and promotes the child’s growth in many ways.

Holidays need not be burdensome for the child with all the assorted holiday-homework and activity class-hopping. And, to help parents keep up their sanity levels and to ensure that the kids do not fall into the trap of indiscipline and over-indulgence, here are some fun activities to keep boredom away:

Vegetable stamp and colouring: Cut the favourite vegetable into a fun-shape, dip it into a bowl of coloured liquid and stamp your way to making creative designs on paper or even cloth. Learn more about it here.

Board games: The old monopoly or trade games are long forgotten in this age of technology and virtual games. Board games are a good way to teach the child a thing or two in patience and even learning to be a good loser at times.
Chores at home: Children can be involved in household chores as appropriate for their age. Children get a sense of achievement in doing things that adults do. This way they can also be taught an important lesson of being a self-reliant and responsible member in the household.

Taking out an impromptu picnic to the near-by park: Mall outings are a common but the old charm of carrying a picnic basket to the near-by park is a different and enriching experience in its own way. Children are capable of finding happiness in small pleasures of life and being amidst nature is one of them. It would burn a lot more of their energy and far less holes in the wallet!

So, go ahead and enjoy the holidays with your child.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Early reading habit keeps your child in good stead in later life - Lawrence High School

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all."

— Jacqueline Kennedy

This article in the TOI only states the obvious. Children who develop friendship with books early on have a significant advantage over their peers in terms of vocabulary, general knowledge and even oratory skills.

It is not rare to hear complaints about how a child seems disinterested in books.  While some part of the disinterest can be attributed to the child’s inherent nature, for most part the love of books can be cultivated in the infancy stage that can be fueled further as the child grows up.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."

— Emilie Buchwald

Experts opine that it is never too early to start reading out to the child. One can start as early as 6 months. There is a wide variety of books available in the market that caters to various age-groups. One can start with board books with bright and bold pictures to get the child interested and later on graduate to higher level books depending on the child’s interest.
A book definitely serves as a better distraction than the television in getting the child to eat his food. You can devote a “book-reading” time when the child can pick his favourite book to read. It doesn’t matter if the child wants to read the same book day after day. A bedtime story is also a good way to inculcate good behavior via stories.

You can make a book-reading session more interesting by making appropriate animated sounds, pausing at strategic places to give the child a chance to complete the sentence out of memory or creative thinking or even by enacting out a certain story with your child and his friends, if the child is older.

Books need not be expensive at all. It just needs to be age-appropriate with impeccable language quality. We have some lovely books by Indian authors under publications like Pratham, Tulika and Karadi Tales. The Sesame Street series, Barney series and Pepper series are also favourites with children and adults alike.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Learning and educating the Zen way - Lawrence High School

“In the Zen way we focus upon each breath, each day, each moment and experience it totally. One complete breath brings the next”- Brenda Shoshanna
Sometimes we have to unlearn what we have learnt so far to create openness and space within us to accept fresh ideas, to look at life in a different way. Our traditional forms of education have sadly bridled our minds with preconceived ideas and notions and we have formed a nasty habit of rejecting all that does not fit into the accepted mould of beliefs. This article here is a lovely exercise that we need to practice on a daily basis to perhaps get rid of the cobwebs accumulated in our thoughts. Interestingly, these are the very practices that are taught in yoga camps and forms of meditation.

This other one here again reinforces the belief in the Montessori way of teaching. Keeping the child as the focus, rather than the syllabus is the way to go ahead. A subject can be presented in various forms-audio, visual, through stories, art, craft- to enable the child grasp the concept in the manner the child is naturally inclined to learn rather than forcing the child to learn the method in which the concept is presented. Creative learning needs to find place in our education system. Challenging the traditional way of looking at and presenting ideas need to be done away with.

Yes, as the article says, all this comes with the challenge of having trained teachers at all levels and until this happens, at least a resource room needs to be encouraged in all schools. 

There is a serious need for change in our education system. Hope that, these methods will be a part of teaching methods soon and there is never a time in our children's lives where they need to unlearn what has been learnt and that learning becomes a seamless and continuous process that does not pose a challenge in finding solutions in practical life.