Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Clouds - White or Blue?

I drew a landscape for a child to color few days ago. There were clouds in my sky and the child started to color the clouds blue.
I asked her if the clouds were blue or the sky was blue? She said the clouds are blue! I said nope I think the sky is blue. She replied "I dont believe you!" I said okay come lets go see outside.
So we went outside and looked at the sky. I asked her do you see the white clouds now? She said nope. The clouds are blue the sky is white! And then I realised that its just perspective. The clouds were spread out in the sky and if I wasnt sure the sky is blue, I wouldnt know for sure.
Thats how the theory of the sun going around the earth was questioned in the first place! I learnt an important lesson. Teachers must have an open mind and must be able to give concrete evidence to make children believe or leave it to them! What do you think?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Favourite teacher

Today I felt really special and important. It was one of the kids birthday
and his parents had come to school to celebrate it.
They then asked someone who is Anjum and told them she's my kids favourite teacher!

I was flattered and very happy!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Privileged or Under-Privileged?

Yesterday there was a charity walk organized by my husband's office for children who are under-privileged. There were about 15 people who volunteered. It was a nature walk just to have fun with kids and play with them. It was just like an excursion of School.The kids were around 25 in number and there were many caregivers with them.So kids to adult ratio was almost 1:1. Two kids and two adults formed one team and we had to take photos at strategic locations to win a prize.We had lots of fun!
But later as I wondered about the under-privileged kids, i thought are they really the ones who are under-privileged?
When our school went on an excursion there were around 6 teachers. The kids were almost 50 and parents were very few. The ratio was around 1 adult to 4 children and these kids were of ages 2 to 6. I didnt have fun on that trip as I was always so worried about the kids I had to take care of. I was so scared to let them try anything that I didnt know about. Its possible that since we were so careful and worried all the time, the kids couldnt enjoy too! This wasnt the case with the charity walk! Yes we were worried about the kids but since there was just one to manage, it was very nice.
So are they the ones who are under-privileged?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Theory of relativity

A really amusing thing happened yesterday. After the evening snack, the kids were just playing whatever they wished. The younger ones were sitting nearby when I thought of playing with them. So i asked them if they would like to swing on my legs. Few of the kids came and one of the kid, the eldest there, was just sitting and watching. She's a tall child for her age since her parents are also very tall. So I asked her if she wanted to try too but she said no.. "I'm too big here". I just smiled and then she continued.. "When I go back home, I become small again and I swing on my mothers legs". Its funny how children analyze things. I was really impressed by the way she thought about it!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Teacher is it raining now?

Yeah so update on eclipses.. Hmm.. it was fun to do but it didnt generate the interest i thought it would. They could see the moons shadow on the earth but it kept them occupied for just 5 minutes. After that they started playing with the sun (my torch) :)

Now for some tit bits here and there.. Once some weeks ago, the weather was cloudy and I was describing the weather to the children saying its cloudy and can rain anytime.
After some time one child came up to me and asked me "Teacher is it raining now?" I said not yet. And then she came upto me every two minutes for atleast an hour asking me the same question!
I really ran out of patience in the end but yeah it was hardly anything harmful so i still answered her politely. I decided, next time I'll just talk about the present and not tell her any predictions!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Teaching using songs and videos

I've been thinking of updating this blog for a long time but just couldnt find the right
topic or title.
Then I thought would just write down whatever came to my mind.
Hmm.. let me see, whats a typical day like for me?
I reach my school at around 8:30 and I start preparing the material I am going to use on that day.
9 hours in school is a very long time and I am constantly thinking of how to keep children occupied. The less occupied they are the more trouble they make.
So for the past few weeks, on one day of the week, I show the kids some videos. 5-6 minute videos.
Started with a video of a jelly fish in water as I wanted a follow-up for a news paper article I read to them. They were very excited to see the jelly fish and asked for watching it again and again.
Then I knew this is surely a nice way of capturing their interest. The theme for our school curriculum this month is solar system and since its a very abstract concept, I feel videos are a good way to show them what happens in our universe.
One of the topics I needed to teach them was phases of the moon. Now thats surely a complex topic for 5-6 year olds. Then I found a video on youtube which was a song with lyrics and pictures of the phases of the moon. Its really amazing, coz it was easier for me also to memorize the phases when it was in a song form. For those of you interested do check out songsofhigherlearning.com.
The next week I need to teach them about eclipses and I decided to do an experiment with a torch and earth and moon models to show it. Will update you on how it went!



Saturday, April 18, 2009

I like you!

Its been a long time since I wrote about my experiences. Its been so long as I've just started realizing why its so difficult and challenging to be a teacher :)
When I was new to some children, I noticed they never cared about what I said. They either thought i was one of the children there or someone else but wouldn't accept me as a teacher.
Slowly I became familiar to some of them and they left their inhibitions. Even I had inhibitions and I still have as I don't really have any experience of dealing with children before this.
One particular girl who was among the eldest in the class and specially was acting very different.
The other teachers told me that she was a very obedient and good child all the while but has now started acting differently. It puzzled me as to what I was doing wrong. There were some new children who joined the class who were super active but I still felt a rebel in her against me more than being influenced by other children.
I tried my best to be as nice as possible and make them feel that I cared for them.
Then one day something happened that embarrassed the girl greatly. She was very quiet for a long time and I kept asking her what was wrong. She even started to cry. Probably she expected me to scold her or tell her why she did something like that and so refused to tell me till I found out myself. When I did, I just helped her with it and calmed her down telling her there was nothing wrong in what she did. After that day, she was nice to me. She no longer shows any rebellious nature towards me and sometimes pays me compliments too! I was flattered the other day when she said "I like you" and came and sat next to me in a lesson.
These are the times when I feel that maybe I am good at this and just require some patience and time to sort each child's individual nature and act accordingly.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Ego in Children

Yesterday I witnessed, what we normally call ego.
One of the kids (my favorite : I know we shouldnt have favorites but what to do? I like her so much just like that!) was sitting on my lap while we were playing rhymes using the CD player. She slowly took the remote from my hand and started holding it. (She probably felt like being the one in control) I let her be as it is while all of us were enjoying the rhymes. Then one of the other kids saw the remote in her hand and came forwards and started pulling it from her hand. So I stopped her and took the remote from both of them and said since you are fighting for it, I wont give it to either of you. Then the kid on my lap pushed the other kid with her hand in anger.
I immediately told her no and asked her to say sorry. She just stared hard at that girl. Then I told the other girl to say sorry as she was the one to start the fight. She said sorry immediately. I turned back to this kid and told her she has told you sorry and now its your turn because you pushed too. She just kept staring angrily but refused to say sorry.
I kept persuading her saying it was okay to say sorry etc etc but she simply refused.
Then I told her, I wont take you down if you arent going to say sorry. I started collecting the children's bags and asked the other children to come with me in the other room to go down. I tried once again asking her to say sorry but she was just fuming. Then we just went out the room when she started howling! I went back to her and consoled her and took her down. I just didnt know how to make her let go of the anger. She clung on and cried for 5 minutes. When the sobbing stopped, I tried once again (yes I just cant let go of such things.. somehow they are very important to me). She finally relented and said sorry. I took her to the other girl and asked her to say sorry to her. She said it again using the name. After that she was fine. A bit grumpy but otherwise okay.
I'm not sure if I did the right thing by insisting so many times and making her cry. What is your opinion?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Judgements

We as teachers have a habit of judging children. "Oh this kid is too naughty!" ,
"He just wants to trouble others!" etc. We pass judgements too soon too and then these take form of prejudices and effect children later.
Children are what they are only because of their surroundings. Social behaviour cant be innated and so its up to us to develop it correctly. Passing judgements hinders this development.

Its very important for us to have an open mind, to analyze a childs behaviour and to understand why the child misbehaves. Once we have the cause, the solution to correct it comes automatically. Ofcourse, its not always straight-forward. An example could be that a child sees such behaviour at home and its not in our control to avoid that. But we can surely bring it to the concerned parents notice so they can help us too.

Rewards and punishments shouldnt be given to children. They misunderstand it. Their behaviour in front of you might be different but without you, it would be the same because the reward or punishment is only given by you. Positive behaviour can be encouraged without rewards. Acknowledging good behaviour is one such form of reinforcement of such behaviour and ignoring bad behaviour will help to keep it in check. When I say ignore, it means to the child it should seem that you didnt notice it. But ofcourse the behaviour shouldnt trouble another child and if it does, we should physically stop it.

PS: The poem is written by my hubby for me to let children know about leaves! How do you like it?


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random Events

Children notice even the smallest change in you. I found that out last week when I went to school after a hair-cut.
Around 3 kids asked me "why are your hair like that teacher?" I said "because I had a hair-cut." The answer didnt convince them. They asked me again after a while and I replied the same thing. Another older child told me I looked nice! I was so happy. Because I knew that children always tell the truth. ;)
It seems children rarely see the big picture. They always notice the finer details. In a garden with a breath-taking view of the sun set, they only notice the beauty of one flower! And we say children cannot focus :D.

On another day a boy bit a girl because he was angry. I told you about one biting incident earlier. This was a similar one with the roles exactly reversed. I am not sure why any child should bite another. Is it an instinct of us human beings? Some kind of way in which we remove our frustrations? Children sometimes are tensed about something and after causing some harm, they tend to relax. They even feel guilty but their tension is gone.

The montessori way to deal with children like this is to physically prevent the child and if unable to do so as they silently do such things, we need to walk up to them, look them in the eye and tell them that we are sad because they hurt a friend. We also need to ask them why they did that. Sometimes it might be that the other child did something to instigate this child and just because this kind of pain was physical, we didnt find out what the other child really did.

All this sounds so easy in words really, but it is tough to do it practically.


video

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Play Clay

Today was quiet a dull day because the kids were in no mood for school after 5 days of holidays.
Few of the calm children were on leave making the others even more stormy than what they are usually.
In the morning they had fun making hand prints with paint and I introduced them to a few new songs today.
In the afternoon, I gave them some clay to work with and they tried to make flat circles and balls with it. Since their fine and gross motor skills are not yet developed, this exercise would help I thought.
They were very excited just trying to make the trunk of an elephant!!
Sometimes children can get onto your nerves also when they repeat mistakes which hurt themselves. But when they finally hurt themselves, I think the next time they take care. Till then its a bit tough to just warn them coz they hardly understand the consequence.
The best way to deal with this is to make sure theres nothing so dangerous within bounds of children. The maximum is they fall when they run and that shouldnt hurt so much if the floor is made of wood.
Today this happened to a child. Inspite of me telling him n ( n <5) times he would get hurt he ran fast and fell down. I even told him I wouldnt console him if he cried. I tried my best not to but then thats also tough. I think if I would have held on to my word, it would have been better but I went to him anyways!
After that ofcourse till end of the day he didnt run at his full speed in the class.

So thats that!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dod-Dod

Yesterday, after the kids woke up from sleep, they were very restless.
Kept asking to be carried and were running and shouting all the time.

One kid kept repeating Dod-Dod. After every 5 minutes he would remember and say
Dod-Dod and start crying. We tried our best to understand what he wanted.
Finally one teacher asked him if he wanted to go downstairs and he nodded his head.
But then we couldnt go as they would not let the other kids work or play downstairs and his sister was downstairs and he would just want her to keep him.

So I managed to keep him for one more hour and then I thought I better go now as the other kids also kept going to the door and trying to open it.
When we went down, this kid ran to his sister and found his dod-dod (A dog soft toy!!!!)
I was so amused.. :)
If we give a child a toy, we shouldnt expect him not to want it. Its okay to give something harmless to a child.
If we dont want the child only playing pretend games all the time, we should give them real things to work with. To understand real life and to work with real things.
The things can be made small in size, but shouldnt be different in their function.

For example : Theres this plate of fruits which are made of wood. Two halfs of an apple stuck with welcrow. Then theres a plastic knife.
Now the child is supposed to learn cutting fruits using this equipment.
The child from then on assumes that a fruit needs to be joined and then cut.
It also assumes that theres no danger in cutting fruits with a knife. Wouldnt that be dangerous?
Instead if we let the child to be a bit older and explain the danger of a knife while he can understand and then let him use it, wouldn't that be more safe?

Chinese New Year

One week has passed and time flew and today I am exhausted.
Now I know why teachers are always tired no matter how good their kids are.

Today was Chinese New year celebration in my pre-school and the kids were very excited
as they wore new clothes and no uniforms. Most of them were dressed in chinese traditional dresses and looked really sweet.
Theres a twin pair in the children a girl and a boy. They pulled open their shirts and then refused to wear a new chinese dress after that. They wore an old T-shirt instead.
Sometimes kids are so weird!

So since we were supposed to only enjoy today, the kids routine was fully spoilt. They ate at a different time than everyday and slept at a different time. By the afternoon, they were so cranky that it was so tough managing them.

I had written in my last post that these kids dont hit each other "yet". I finally saw an 18 month old bite a 2.5 year old because she didnt have place to go somewhere!!
I tried explaining to her that what she did was wrong and she must say sorry. She said sorry but then she is simply too young to understand the meaning of the word sorry.
She probably knew she did something she shouldnt do in front of others.
But she did this twice and second time, I think she understood the graveness of the situation when the boy she bit wailed so loudly that the entire colony could hear!
This boy told by the other teachers is known to be the naughty of the lot. But though he is very active (running and shouting most of the time), I dont find him causing harm purposely to anyone.
Anyways, I'll slowly learn each of their behaviour and will create their profiles myself. There is no record as such about each kid. I'll start recording now.

Another thing I notice about children are they love hiding places. Like cockroaches they go and sit in a shelf or under a table or any corner in which they fit with difficulty.
My younger sister I remember was like that and my mom called her jhingur (which is cockroach in hindi :D )

I'll post some photos next week probably as I didnt take the camera on any day this week.
Theres one video in my phone and lets see how I can upload it here. video

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Second Day!

I got this idea about blogging my experiences in my pre-school only today and hence the second day is my first post.
For some background, I'll let you know few things.
I started working in a montessori Pre-School and yesterday was my first day as a full-fledged teacher. I was asked to work with the < 2 year olds and their teacher is about to leave. So till then, I need to get the knowledge transfer (yes here too there needs to be a knowledge transfer only that its different from the IT world).

So what was the day like? It started with some breakfast for the kids and then playtime in the playground. There is a slide and two see-saws in the garden and the younger ones love playing on everything. The first lesson I learnt was to hold a child only by his arm, never by his hand else the hand else the arm might get dislocated.

So after we played in the garden, the teacher plays a CD and sings along the rhymes playing. The children never get tired of the songs and keep saying "once more".

Then we read them small stories which explain simple concepts like who is your grandpa etc.
Now is the most crucial time of the day. Activity time. The children chose the montessori material in the room they want to work with and we guide them with the usage of them.
Most of the times, the children dont like being helped and love working independently.

But at the age of around 2, they cant yet hold their concentration for long and tend to get bored easily. Then if one of them is bored, she becomes cranky. If she starts being cranky, the other children slowly follow suit.
This is the biggest challenge I face. But I think more challenging and attractive material for the children might solve this problem.

The children are a pleasure to be with. They never hit each other as yet and I only pray they dont see anyone doing that ever.
One child has a beautiful smile and no matter what keeps smiling all day. This is something we ought to learn from them.
Another child is very active and can never sit in a single place for more than a minute. But I was amazed when he was punished by a teacher and asked to stand in a corner till she said its okay. He stood there quietly for 5 minutes and I even forgot about the incident but he was still standing there. My heart went out to him just then.
Children never cease to amaze us I guess!

I lost track of the routine I was talking about. Yes then they have lunch and both the days, I didnt see a single child making a fuss about not wanting to eat.
After lunch, we give them a bath and then put them to sleep. This is the most relaxing part of the day for us :). Its takes a while making them sleep and caring for each one of their habits of sleeping.

When they wake up, they have snacks and then we read out stories again and sing songs and ryhmes till end of the day.
When children start leaving one by one, noone cries. They are all used to the routine and dont get upset of not seeing their friends.
They wave the teachers goodbye cheerfully too.

This new life though hectic, am loving it! slurrrrppp...