At the beginning of this month, we celebrated Norah’s fourth birthday with lots of games and fun! It was a great little break from all the practising the students had been doing for the last four weeks. For the theme of the month we chose December as the month of giving. All parents contributed to give fifty blankets to older and underprivileged folks. Enjoy the pics of the pre-Christmas season.
Thanks to all the parents, who attended the Dare to Discipline seminar. As for the ones who could not make it, here is a wonderful how to article in our series ‘Teaching Children Joy.’ Happy follow up!
TEACHING THE JOY OF OBEDIENCE & DECISIONS
“Train up a child in the way he should go: & when he is old, he will not depart from it.”–Proverbs 22:6
The Child’s Perspective
Romping out of the fruit store, our four-year-old Saren, just learning to count money, discovered she had been given change for fifty cents rather than a quarter. Initial excitement: “I’ve got more money than when I came, & the fruit.” Then conscience: “I’d better give it back to the man.” Then the real joy as she came back out of the store: “Daddy, he said he wishes everyone was honest like me!” There is true joy in simple, voluntary obedience to moral law.
That story reminds me of another time, another store, another child–Saren’s father. I was eight years old & buying my first bicycle. I had $25 saved up from Grandma’s gifts & from collecting & returning coat hangers & pop bottles. In the store were two used bikes for $25, one a red Schwinn & one a silver Silverchief. I couldn’t choose. First I wanted one, then the other. My wise father took me back out to the car, found a large, white sheet of paper, & drew a line down the center. “Let’s list the reasons for the red bike in one column & the reasons for the silver bike in the other,” he said. I did. I remember the thrill of thinking in a way I had never thought before. When the list was done, the silver bike was selected. (After all, no one else had one like it.) I kept that bike for ten years, & the memory of the joy of deciding on it never dimmed.
There is tremendous joy & satisfaction in learning that things are governed by laws. Psychologists tell us that small children usually believe that their desires control circumstances & cause things to happen. The time when a three- or four-year-old realises that this is not the case, that things happen independently of his wants, can be very traumatic. Or, if he is being taught about laws in a positive, constructive way, it can be a time of real awakening joy.
Children need to be given the latitude to make their own decisions. They will make some wrong ones, but will learn, with our help, from the consequences. While they are young, the decisions & their consequences will not be weighty enough to do permanent damage. And by the time decisions become important, they will know how to make them.
Teach children to distinguish between situations governed by law & those governed by decision.
1. Make up stories that ask, “What should we do?” (Is there a law that tells him, or does he make a decision?)
2. Tell a story about a home without any rules. What happens? Is the family happy? (The story could also be about a school without rules.)
Expect & demand “cheerful obedience.” Teach children that “cheerful obedience” means to say, “Yes, Mommy” or “Yes, Daddy” & to obey immediately whenever they are told to do or not to do something. This may seem arbitrary or militaristic, but children inherently love discipline–it gives them a feeling of security that is otherwise unavailable. Always say “please” to children so that they feel your respect & love. Make “please” a trigger word by teaching them that whenever they hear it, they should say, “Yes, Mommy” & obey. When they do not respond quickly, just say the words “cheerful obedience” to remind them to say, “Yes, Mommy.”
Children should know that they have the right to ask why, but that cheerful obedience (with the “Yes, Mommy”) is expected right after the “why” answer is given.
Design frequent opportunities to make decisions. Let the children choose the bedtime story, have two kinds or colours of juice to choose from, etc.
Tell stories about wise or foolish decisions you have made & what the consequences were. Reinforce & discuss the consequences of decision. “What will happen if you do that?” “Will that make your sister happy or sad?”
Teach the principle of apologising. Children should learn that through genuine apology they can avoid punishment. Teach children the beauty of saying they are sorry to each other. We have learned in our family that when one child teases or hurts another in some way, a simple form of apology can restore good feelings much faster than punishment. We remind the guilty child, “You’d better apologise.” The process for our children consists of three things: (1) A hug for the other child; (2) a request, “Will you forgive me?” & (3) “I’ll try not to ever do that again.” (Editor: This depends on the degree of hurt, of course. Punishment would be appropriate if it was serious & intentional.)
The Family Laws Chart
One of the most memorable evenings we have ever spent together as a family was the night we agreed to the “family laws.” We had prepared a framed piece of heavy poster board & put a nail in the wall to hang it on, & then we explained to Saren (four) & Shawni (three) that this was to be a list of our family laws.
“What are some laws for our family that, if we keep them, will make us happier?”
“Don’t hit other little girls.”
“Don’t plug in plugs.”
“Don’t ruin things that are not for ruining.”
“Say the magic words (please, thank you, excuse me).”
We had to help with some that they didn’t think of:
“Stay in bed when put there.”
“Sit down in the back seat when riding in the car.”
“Always sit while holding the baby.”
“Don’t go into the road unless holding Mommy’s or Daddy’s hand.”
“Mind without backtalk.” (Saren added a clarification: “But we can ask why!”)
We really didn’t realise, at the time, what a help the list would be. Rather quickly the children grasped the idea that they were obeying the laws that they had helped decide on, laws that would make our family happier.
Some time later, we decided as a family which punishments should go with which laws. On some laws, we decided that one warning should be given before a punishment would be required. We voted on each punishment & wrote it on the “family laws board.”
In November, Sunbird’s children enjoyed a feast of interesting delights! They learned about a wonderful pet called Zaggi, who came and visited at Play on their day out. They got to touch him (he is very, very friendly) and find out what care for dogs is very important. Zaggi also showed off some tricks!
The little ones also learned about a new country, Switzerland, and what the kids there are up to. They found out, that they do many things just like them, and play funny games, like jumping “elastics” and skipping under the rope. Of course they learned about cheese and chocolate and got to taste one in the end!
Sunbird also celebrated the birthday of Mili and Arnav, who shared his goodies with the peers! Wishing both of them a great year ahead.
Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected everywhere. Education beats the beauty and the youth. – Chanakya
Dear Parents and Friends
On Saturday, 22nd of November, Sunbird is conducting a seminar, “Dare to Discipline” for parents, caregivers and interested friends. Issues of why disciplining, benefits and consistency in discipline will be addressed. Looking forward to see you! Your Sunbird Team
Venue: Sunbird Early Learning Centre
Time: 10 am to 12 noon
Snacks and Refreshments will be served
We hope that you all celebrated the big festivals the way Sunbird did. Our theme was ‘festivals’ and thanks to our sweet Punjabi Family, the students learned all about Diwali and the Baisaki festivals, which are passionately followed in that state. Whatever the celebration, it is done in style!! The children were gifted a “phulkari ” by the parents to complete dancing to the famous Bhangra style!! They brought Kada Prashad (halwa) and Black Gram(dry channe) as Punjab day snacks. The children decorated the Punjabi jutti, which is a Punjabi traditonal footwear. What fun everybody had!
Vedant’s family brought figurines used to celebrate Dussera and the students had fun removing all the books to display the ornaments and learning their names and usages. They also did Golu craft activites. Thank you for your contribution!
A trip to the Rangoli was planned for the children in anticipation of activities relating to Dussera. However, this year did not feature anything for them. Thanks to the help of the parents, the kids were having a trip on the Metro instead with fun time anyways.
Adding to the celebrations were the birthdays of three of our students, Nandana, turned two, Jaiveen turned three and Rehaan turned three. Thank you all for sharing your birthdays and cakes with all your friends!! Congratulations also to Advay, who turned three and Atse who turned six!!
Thank you for all your feedback from these ‘joys’. Looking forward to more. Here is Part 4:
PRESERVING THE JOY OF INTEREST & CURIOSITY
The Child’s Perspective
I remember sitting once, off to the side in a busy shopping mall, looking at passing people–watching to see who was watching. The adults were preoccupied with their jobs, their problems, themselves. Their eyes never met mine. Their eyes saw only what was necessary to navigate through the crowded corridor.
But the children saw everything. Each child looked straight at me for at least a moment, & for a moment at everything. Their eyes & ears were receptors, taking in all the data, seeing, hearing, questioning.
It is no wonder that we learn as much in our first five years as in the rest of our lives. We see more, feel more. We are born with a natural & joyful curiosity & interest. What happens to it? Where did those adults drop it? When would those children lose theirs?
One study showed that babies spend one-fifth of the waking hours in motionless, focused gazing, simply figuring things out with their eyes. Their minds are so malleable, so impressionable! Parents can perhaps change their children’s minds more, for better or for worse, than they can change either their bodies or their spirits.
Learn from children’s example. Participate with & encourage them. My wife & I observed our three-year-old through the back window playing alone among the flowers on a warm, early-spring day. Her delight & intense interest showed so clearly that we felt it, & I whispered, “How can we keep that in her forever?” My wife replied, “By watching her watching, & watching what she watches.”
Since then, we have come to know that that’s the secret. Children are the teachers, the experts; we are the learners, the students. Instead of pulling them away from their activity (jumping in leaves) & into yours (cleaning house), how about occasionally leaving yours to join in theirs? (Don’t worry, the leaves will brush out of your hair.)
Answer & ask. While you are in those leaves, your teacher (your child) may ask, “Did a caterpillar make this hole in this leaf?” You might consider these responses: Thanking him for teaching you to have an interest in that hole; answering him by saying, “Yes, a caterpillar probably did”; & opening a chance for more teaching by asking, “And where do you suppose that caterpillar is right now?”
How precious a question is! An alert mind that asks is the first step to answers, discoveries, solutions. Never ignore or criticise a question.
With a questioning child, one or two similar mistakes usually occurs: (1) Ignoring, brushing off, not noticing the beauty & potential of that moment, & (2) answering instead of reasoning together, helping, or asking questions of the child that will help him answer his own. When we take the time to discuss a question, we help the child to understand the wonderful concepts of reasoning, conceptualising, researching.
Stimulation. As soon as babies can see, they need visual stimulation: Mobiles, bright colours, moving objects to observe. Parents should show them things, talk to them, give their new eyes & ears & bodies chances to see & hear & feel widely different things.
The question game. At dinner or some other convenient time, explain that being able to ask good questions is sometimes more important than giving right answers. Tell the children that you will give them a category & see how good a question they can think of to ask. Then name a category (anything from “clouds” or “cars” to “daddy’s office”). As you play this game several times, you may want to explain to the children that there are “what,” “when,” “where,” “who” & “how” questions.
The Family Interest Book
Children who are made to feel proud of their interest & curiosity quickly want to share what they have noticed. If they have a way to share the discoveries or fruits of their curiosity & interest, that becomes an additional motivation to continue to be curious & interested.
In our family, we have an “interest book,” not for finances or money, but for interest. It is nothing more than a simple, hardbound book of blank paper in which any family member can make a note of something interesting that he has observed or discovered. Preschoolers, of course, dictate their observations for a grown-up to write. Reading back through the interest book is a continual joy.
“A blue & black bird is building a nest in the tree by the corner of the house.” (Saren, age four.)
“Barney (our dog) can get over to his friend’s house because there is a hole in the fence where it goes behind the shed.” (Shawni, age three.)
Our interest book hangs on a hook in the family room. We are aware of it, so we like to share in it. Every month or so we read all the entries that have been made. Like certain other types of interest books, ours grows in value with the passage of time.
Would you write your name among the stars
Then write it large upon the hearts of children
They will remember!
Have you visions of a nobler, happier world?
Tell the children!
They will build it for you. Andrew Gillies
Dear parents, friends and sweet Sunbird students, Sunbird wishes all a very Happy Dussera. May you enjoy the festival season with plenty of joyful moments in the circle of your family!
Sunbird Early Learning Centre will remain closed from 1/10/2014 – 13/10/2014. Thank you for your continued patronage.
Your Sunbird Team
For the past three months, Sunbird is conducting regular music classes. These are besides the songs and dances the children are learning in their curriculum. In music class the students got introduced into classical music through the prodigy W.A. Mozart. In the beginning, the sounds were new and they did not pick up. Small famous pieces of him were introduced, and played regularly. The children learned what instruments were playing, i.e. the violin, the viola, the cello, etc. They learned that often a piece of music was written for a particular instrument, for example the french horn or the clarinet. Today they can differentiate these instruments.
We learned together how to keep a rhythm, either with small percussion instruments or simply clap. This has improved a lot as well. Quite a few children can follow a rhythm and a changing pace.
Learning the notes of an octave (in C) is presented with picture cards. To help them understand that, they learned the song ‘do a deer’ from the musical ‘Sound of Music’, which they now can sing well.
We hope you have been able to implement these suggestions with your little ones. Here is Part 3:
TEACHING JOY OF THE EARTH
There is such a beauty in the Earth. Joy comes through sensing it–with all five senses. I remember a poet I knew who wrote mostly of the Earth, who saw so much in the World that I didn’t see. He had a sign on his wall that said, “Five Sense Sagacity.” I asked him about it. He said that serendipity, which means happy accidents, pleasant surprises, comes about through sagacity, which means acute awareness, appreciation, sensitivity, which in turn comes about through applied, thorough use of all five senses. Think about that for a moment; it is quite a message: Happiness comes through awareness.
The Child’s Perspective
Our son Josh was fifteen months old & it was April. The Summer before, he had been too small to be outside much, so, on this first warm day of the year, he was seeing the backyard for the first time. I watched him in silence from the window. He started with the grass, first feeling it, then sitting down in it, moving his legs back & forth, so delighted that he laughed aloud. Then he lay down, mouth open with an expression of anticipation, as he felt the grass with the back of his head & neck. From that position he noticed the sky & the clouds. He lifted both arms, pointed both forefingers, formed a round O with his little mouth, & said, with a tone of reverence & amazement, “Oooh!”
Then a bird chirped in the nearby tree. Josh cocked his head, a little startled, not sure where the sound had come from. The bird chirped again. This time Josh saw where it was. He stood up & toddled toward the tree. The bird swooped down, floated twenty yards or so, & landed on the lawn. Josh followed the flight with a look of delight & utter amazement. As he watched, motionless, the bird began his staccato pecking at the grass & an instant later pulled up a squirming, wiggling worm. Josh shook his head, as if in disbelief, & started shuffling toward the bird. The bird fluttered back up into the tree, chirping all the way.
Josh repeated his earlier cloud gesture, pointing up at the bird with both hands & saying, “Oooh!”
Teach the Earth’s terminology.
1. Look together at large picture books of animals, trees & flowers. Point to a picture & have the children say the name, or you say the name & have them point.
2. Point at things in nature wherever you go–point & say the names.
3. Involve the children in picnics, nature walks, exposure to the out-of-doors. At zoos or botanical gardens, or at home in the backyard, notice nature. Talk about it; ask the children to tell about it.
Teach deep appreciation for the Earth.
1. Take nature walks. You don’t have to be in the woods or mountains; a vacant field or park will do. Point out things, but without too much explanation let the children explore. If you find an ant hill, stop to watch. Ask what the ants are doing. Ask lots of questions to help the children figure things out. Take nature walks to the same place in all four seasons, & ask, “How have things changed?”
2. Teach children to distinguish nature from nonnature. On nature walks, ask them to find things that are not nature’s–cans, paper, litter. Point out that Man’s things are not as beautiful as those in nature; show that each little thing in nature is unique, while Man’s things are often mass-produced.
3. Paste up a collage from each season. Look through magazines together for pictures.
4. Watch & feed birds.
5. Have pets. Learn about them & how to take care of them.
Teach the joys of the use of nature.
1. Milk a cow, drink the milk & make butter. Gather eggs & cook them.
2. Have a nature meal, with honey, eggs, milk & home-baked bread.
3. While the question of “where things come from” is still on the children’s minds, place some of the following objects in a box. Set or hold it high enough that the children cannot see inside. Give each child a turn to reach in & take out one object & then try to tell where it comes from. Give what explanations are necessary. (Item examples: Carrot, banana, apple, bread, can of tuna, honey, milk, raisins, cereal, hot dog, cotton, woolen mittens, wood, glass, paper.)
4. Play a “riddle game” with the children. Say, “I’m thinking of something that is part of our wonderful World. I’ll tell you some things about it & then see if you can guess what it is that I’m thinking about. If you think you know, raise your hand, but don’t say anything until I say, `What is it?'”
* “I’m thinking of something that is green. It grows. Sometimes it is small. Sometimes it grows very tall. It has leaves. Sometimes fruit grows on it. What is it?” (A tree.)
* “I’m thinking of something that is up in the sky. It is white. We see it mostly at night. It is round. It shines & gives us light. What is it?” (The moon.)
Breathe! That is an important part of Sunbird’s daily gym time. Correct posture and breathing the right way is taught every other day in the form of baby yoga, where the little ones are learning to master their movements. As with all other exercises, the sessions are kept short and lively and always stop before the children want to stop. Enjoy some pics in Gym Time!
Hello everybody, Sunbird is happy to announce that the Drama class is picking up. Parents are giving us feed back, of how the children are using mimics in their conversations and starting to “act” out certain activities. Joseph has been coming regularly now for almost a month. Each Wednesday, he is bringing new tools to make the class lively and exciting. Enjoy the pictures of a duck (sculpted balloon) and a lion (puppet) story.
Most of us end up with no more than
five or six people that remember us.
Teachers have thousands of people
who remember them for the rest of their lives. Andrew A. Rooney
H A P P Y T E A C H E R’S D A Y
There is a long list to describe what teachers are, but here are two favorites for our teachers!
Teachers are great resource centers. They are constantly involved in the learning process. Hence they are accumulating learning from two perspectives–from their own discoveries, and from the experiences of their pupils.
Successful teachers share certain traits that have contributed greatly to their success. For one thing, they prize creativity. For another thing, they know how and when to maintain discipline. They can also judge and evaluate people accurately. They have a sense of humour. And they have open minds–they are alert to new ideas and new developments in teaching.
H A P P Y T E A C H E R ‘S D A Y