Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Trusting the Divine Design- Taking Role-Play seriously

Chellu & Kunju are sooooooooooooooooooooooo busy these days ..they've been playing together like crazy , sometimes the whole day to the oblivion of everything else including me. What have they been unto? ROLE-PLAY. They just immerse themselves into it & sail of to another times whether they are in a diffn land, in diffn characters..they becomes moms & dads, hotelwallas, relatives, doctors, nurses, teachers ,animals, even God sometimes & what not. Every lay item becomes a something else. The grill on the window becomes a chimney, a rope hanging from a door becomes a milking cow!!!!, empty oil bottles become perfect for water-play, the sofa is often a train or an airplane , Appa's belt is a snake, Amma's dupatta is the leash of a dog ( Kunju is always the dog & Chellu always the owner taking her dog on a walk!) , blocks become chutney & sauce bottles, toys become various foods..the list is endless..unimaginable!I once caught the girls making beautiful Rangoli designs from leaves , another day they were busy scrubbing the terrace floor from their small shrubs that they had turned into a floor brush, another day making perfectly symmetrical structures from cloth-pins, tents from bed-sheets , giving perfect oil maalish to their dolls & bathing them, again the list is endless....

So many books on HSing from the western thought pool talk about how parents must include role-play in thier children's lives. They say we must have diffn types of costumes and ask our children to take on those roles. It benefits their imagination, their creativity , their vocabulary , their observation...Amen! I agree a 100% ..only that in my house ( and I'm sure in most other children too who are left to lead a child's life) this happens automatically..All I have to do is to take a step back and let it happen or participate in it as requested ..Also allow that they use anything in the house according to their wish including my masala- dabba.

This afternoon pre-lunch they collected a lot of bags ( torn bags, zipper-less bags)and were furiously packing them including dolls for children, food, clothes , toys and many sundry items. When asked they said they were going on a trip to Africa! I was like what???? They board the "bus" ( how funny is that??) and the rest of the game included all the stuff they did while on-board. Like feeding their baby, eating, collecting fallen items & rearranging their stuff, buying food on stations etc...

Yesterday we went to Aditi Garden on our way back from Chellu's camp. It was meant to be a casual stroll amongst the trees but turned out to be another fun-filled, rather serious role-play. They chose a spot amongst the trees as their house & asked me to be thier guest for dinner. I " call" them and fix a time for dinner. In the meantime Chellu chose the bark of a fallen tree as her "tava" and went about collecting all sorts of leaves and other stuff for cooking . Kunju invited me to their house , chose a large stone as the seat ( ouch my bum still hurts from all the sitting!) then meticulously searched the surroundings for plateware. A perfectly flat stone becomes a plate, a small elongated stone becomes the cup for water , another stone for orange juice , a dry eucalyptus leaf becomes the spoon. The sisters serve me " paneer pakodas"!!!! with great care and revel in my praises..all while talking in fluent, perfect Hindi. Previous to this they chose the open amphi-theater for thier picnic spot and ate apples from Chellu's snack while singing " Hum do chalne lage" ( from Jab we met) loudly , much to the curiosity of the onlookers. Then they chose the stage of the amphi-theater for dancing & singing & giving various other performances including reciting shloks. Ofcourse I am always the ever-praising, clapping audience.

In the midst of all this we observed many jumping frogs , collected coconuts, observed flowers and admired nature. When asked why the frog's skin looked just like mud Chellu said " camouflage" & when asked what that means she said " matching matching"..We talked about God's design, how He takes care of every single creature and the wonder of His creation.

To anybody else what we did yesterday would hardly seem like any learning. But for me it was HUGE. HSing to me is basically trusting God's divine design which essentially means letting children be children. I started out as a freakishly stressed out, worried mom who thought that HSing means replicating school at home. And these past two years I've moved from that to a mom who is more trusting of what God has designed my children to be at their various stages. And this means taking play very very seriously. If the girls are busy playing I will take a step back & watch. Never interfere with " come lets do studies". Its started to dawn on me & Mahesh that if we want to school them , then its better they attend school. Its ridiculous to try to be a teacher at home. Very stressful actually. And not at all organic. If children are left to themselves without TV they achieve far more than we can even imagine. But only if we are ready to trust in Divine design and value what they do. Not estimate everything from our adult point of view which basically values everything according to their future or a job or an outsider's( adult's) perception.

So many people Q me about syllabus. What's my routine? From when to when do I sit for studies? These Qs come from a lack of understanding of children in essence. What's studies to us? The 3 Rs. Anything apart from that? Do we ever try to understand SERIOUSLY this world from a 5 yr old's perspective ? From a 3 yr old's perspective & then go about learning ???I don't think so.That's the most unjust part of today's children's lives. We as adults refuse to be children but we expect the vice-versa all the time. Never let children be children. If they are playing in the park its a waste of time. Role-play is timepass. Playing in the mud is dirty work. But yes "workbooks" are a must. Can she read? can she write? Kitna counting karthi hai? Addition aathaa hai? Kaunsa classes mein jaathi hai? Our estimation of human intelligence is so pathetic , so limited. Everything has value only from an adult's perception. We fill our children's days with school and the rest with classes. Free time practically dosen't exist. And thus the ability to be children also vanishes. So if a kid gets up early and boards the school bus , attends school, then does his home-work to be followed by extra-curricular classes and has a sprinkling of play time then his day is very meaningful. Again this justification is purely from a adult's point of view . We get up , go to work, come back , see tv and sleep off. Everything else is not good enough. The same thing applies to our kids too..Basically they are mini-adults from age 2.

For me intelligence in my children is their ability to imagine the most weird things, bring it to life, plan the events of their play, turn mundane things into various objects...Can we even imagine doing something like that? How come we don't see great value in this? And whether its a slum kid or a village kid or a kid attending expensive International School all they REALLY want to do is play and if they are kids of Chellu & Kunju's age then its role-play. By allowing them to do what comes naturally to them we enable them to tap at the utmost ability what intelligence at that age is meant to be. When they are at their most imaginative & creative stage , we force them to think logically & then when its time for them to be logical at a much later stage , we ask them to come up with creativity & out of the box thinking. How is that gonna happen?

A close HSing friend of mine has a 10 yr HSed daughter who has now started attending school.And she says that child is doing wonderfully well. The child has spent her childhood very meaningfully playing a lot and doing things that interest her. No strict curricula, schedules this that. The child is actually very enthusiastic to learn, very studious. Her mother attributes to it her daughter having had her share of childhood in its entirety.

And that's what regales my heart THE MOST about my children skipping school. They are such happy kids getting their right to play and be kids without any intervention. Of course we do arts & crafts and reading & writing and drama & what not. But everything happens organically, according to their pace & interest. Many days flash by in playing non-stop, experimenting non-stop , quenching one's curiosity non-stop...and these days are the most productive according to me..cause science, language, drama, geography, happen automatically. All I have to do is shift my persepective and see value in what they do.

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