Thursday, March 24, 2011

Divine Impressions, A slithering snake and A dog-eating horse- 23/03/2011

After all the rest I had yesterday I felt refreshed and very energetic today. The first thing on my mind was to sit for morning prathna. That was really my only " to-do" w.r.t HSing for today. We have been missing out on prath-prathna a lot in the recent past. Before the vacation the three of us had a bout of sickness and prathna obviously was the first thing to get stopped. So I was really looking forward to it today.

The sisters jumped in immediately. The pre-prathna rituals are their responsibilty.They will replace the wick, pour oil in the lamp, wash the silverware, dust off any remains of the previous days' agarbatti, pull out fresh agarbatti sticks and clean the mandir. We then proceeded to chant the prath-prathna and they did so beautifully. Followed by Sarawati Vandana and a few other shloks on Ganpati, Aditya and the Deep. I try to introduce a new shlok every now and then and generally they learn it easily. Proficiency in Sanskrit is a very high priority for us and shloks keep the girls in touch with the language. I want my girls to know Sanskrit so well that they can read the Gita like reading a story book. Thats how easy it should be for them. It is extremely sad that Indian education looks upon Sanskrit as a dead language and stresses no importance on it. How will our children unlock the treasures of the wonderful Vedic world if they don't know Sanskrit? How will they tap the gem that Gita is if they have to always resort to some twisted English translation? How will they know their roots and thus their ownselves if they can't understand the langauage that their ansectors spoke?
Anywayz...after the shloks we did our auto-suggestion followed by some fun slogans we have created ourselves. The auto-suggestion is an interesting idea I picked up from a Nashik school run by our very own Swadhyay bhais. We try doing the entire thing before starting HSing but sometimes if they have lost interest by now I let it go. But in today's case they showed so much enthu in every single thing. Maybe because its been a real while since we have done this or because they are re-energized from the trip.

As soon as we finished the prathna, Chellu picked a chalk and started drawing on the black board. Kunju followed her and soon they were busying drawing . Chellu drew a man and a lotus and said that the man was Dadaji! :)) Kunju drew a stone, a chappati and a “ monkey” ! Chellu then said she wanted to draw Goddess Saraswati and asked me if she could copy the picture of the Goddess from the photo in the mandir. I agreed to it and then with great attention to detail she spent a good 30 mins to copy the picture! Meanwhile kunju said she wanted to draw Ram bagvaan and proceeded to do so. But soon lost interest and asked me to draw with her. On her requests we drew Foo, an apple and also wrote “apple”.
While drawing Chellu kept asking me several Qs on the picture- what is the veena, what is the Goddess holding in her hands etc…She drew each and every object with great detail..the sari, the crown, the lotus, the mala , the bindi etc…The result was simply too good!!! At the end she chose to write down “SARASWATI” and “ DADA” with some help from me. Next she photographed the pictures in the mandir and other random stuff in the kitchen and the dinning room.

It is such sponteinity that I love about HSing.Something must have clicked in Chellu's brain while doing the prathna and she immediately wanted to sketch the Goddess and Dadaji. A rigid curriculum or schedule would ruin such a burst of creativity. When the child leads the way in learning she is constantly connecting the experiences, constantly experimenting, constantly creating. Everything is but a flow.....

After the serious drawing the girls were now ready to move on. We then followed with a game from “ Helping Children Learn ( HCL)” a really neat, simple book on activities for preschoolers that I picked up from an exhibition for Balwadi & Anganwadi teachers. Before doing any activity I generally ask her if she wants to..The answer could depend on her interest. On most days she will compile but many a days she will request for something else. This time around she promptly said a yes for this one. That was indeed rare since Chellu has always resisted HCL..I think it is the simple, non-appealing form of the book . Or probably that she finds many of the games very easy or boring. Sometimes it has also happened that some of the games I chose turned out to be too hard for her!

Initially when we started with this book I used to get so irritated with her lack of interest in playing the games.. We have had many frustrating moments !! I felt the exercises or games were so simple and nice and she felt so bored with them! Of course over time I have come to accept with peace that my opinions about any learning material dosen’t matter at all. This is a well accepted thing in the HSing circuit that no matter how “ famous” any learning material might be it holds only so much value as the child is ready to give it!! I also owe a lot to my unschooling friends like Hema who have gently reminded me to keep the child’s interest as the top priority. This is the hardest lesson to be learned …It requires us to numb our ego of "I am the parent and I know the best" and to slowly keep reminding ourselves that the child will learn what he /she seeks at that point in time. Many a times I have also felt that if Chellu has had a bad experience with something she will remember that and hold it for the future too..Maybe HCL reminds her of the frustrating moments she has had with me & thus always resists it…So at one point of time when it got really clear that she is not showing any interest in this book I completely dropped it! This is another accepted faith amongst HSers.. “Drop it if it gets frustrating and pick it up again after a few months. If the child is ready then she will respond or let you know otherwise!” I can attest to this from my own experience. Things I have tried and given up will be shown great interest a few months later….
The human intelligence has to be trusted to do its own job. During moments of frustration Shankar always reminds me of the divinity of the child..Just like we trusted that our child will walk, talk, eat, poo , pee, sleep etc..without having to be taught , their intelligence will also grow at its own pace.

So after having picked the HCL we proceeded to play a Language Card game that Chellu chose. It has 36 pictures which need to be first made into cards. On most days we play with the paper form itself. But today the girls showed interest in making the pictures cards . So with the utmost co-operation , that I have never seen before , they pasted the pictures on a cardboard and helped each other with cutting it. Kunju holding the cardboard and Chellu cutting it.

When the cards were ready we played the game and the girls enjoyed it very much. Kunju participated too very well. I guess she is starting to get interested in these kind of things…Previously she would happily do the hopping, running, singing etc..but now I can see her show interest in verbal , thinking games too.. After the first round I asked the girls to be the parent & Q me. Chellu attempted in English and I could sense a great improvement . Her Qs were worded very well ..there were only grammatical mistakes. Her vocabulary has indeed improved immensely.
The third part of the game requires that the child pick any 3 cards and make a story out of it. When one of the cards she got was a snake she said” The snake slithered” as part of the story!! Wow, I was really taken back! Where did “ slithered” come from?? This is where language learning from books comes in. I’ve had so many people tell me that my child will not learn languages until she attends school. I think that’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard! Here was my child using a complex word in a language she rarely gets to speak. Today I could really sens her growing fluency..the stories as well as the delivery was very interesting ! For a dog, horse and a bird card she said “ A dog came in the house, the bird on the tree got scared and the horse came and ate the dog!!” if she were in school the teacher would have corrected her but I can’t really care whether a horse eats a dog or not. She had to tell a story and in her story the horse does eat the dog! I love hearing such stuff! ;)))

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