It is an old established principle, that when children are given the freedom of choice to learn from the world around them, their magic and wonder remains alive. Parenting today is definitely one of the most daunting tasks, especially when there is cut throat competition for every spot on earth. However, I somehow feel that we have complicated this further by thrusting our own desires and expectations on children. This style of parenting is very evident today, and more so in the 21st Century when the demands of the new age economy are pushing our buttons, as adults.
“Isn’t it time that we pressed the Pause button?” Perhaps, that is what Covid-19 is forcing us all to do globally. As parents, we perhaps need to pause and reflect what we are trying to achieve in life. Lockdowns and quarantines have been great periods of introspection and discovery. Many famous inventors and thinkers like Newton have emerged with new discoveries post lockdowns that have changed the way life operated before those days of solitude.
When one sees the race that people are running during this pandemic lockdown to cover up their curriculum sitting in front of a virtual teacher, we are undermining and underutilising the potential of parents as teachers. And why does it always have to be a structured curriculum that needs to be finished within a stipulated time? Can’t we allow some organic learning to happen here?
Parents and grandparents have always been the first teachers of a child. There is a lot that family units unknowingly teach each other while navigating through life’s daily challenges. If, only we would pause and think. Family times can assist a child’s learning in a holistic manner, I would like to highlight some subtle ways in which a child learns from the family unit at home:
- Spending one to one moments with either a parent or grandparent can greatly help a child connect with his inner self through quality time, talking and discussing at home. This over a period of time can develop a strong practice of introspection in children right from the beginning, increasing inner connectedness, building self enquiry
- Family members can greatly help to foster imagination, wonder and knowledge construction through story telling. Bedtime stories have therefore had an established relevance all through history, where a daily practice of story telling helps children develop a sense of belongingness, which can go a long way in building a positive self image.
- While interacting with family members at home, the child integrates human values and life skills, culture and diversity in opinions and perspectives at different layers. Not only does he/ she learn to take a variety of opinions, but also respect them.
- Bedtimes can be made into a ritual of gratitude where children and their parents could sit in silence for a minute or two and say a short prayer of gratitude.
I could go on and on, as the list of things that a child can learn at homes is endless. Human values, can actually help children become solid individuals who would be able to sail through any storm of life. As caregivers we have to understand that raising a child is not a linear process but a complex one. The learning process becomes further complicated because a child is never a clean slate. He has a cellular memory which is highly advanced with pre loaded imprints. Children are not commodities and we have to stay mindful while dealing with them every day, every moment of our lives.
Lockdowns are times to make memories and grow threads of love, which will help children survive through every crisis in life, and give them tools that no textbook can ever aspire to teach. Today, when I see children sitting in front of technology and trying to study lessons in the absence of the human touch of his teacher and the social consciousness of his peers, I really wonder where we are headed as a society. While technology can be a useful tool, we should stay mindful of its usage and not look at it as a cool baby sitter. What the virtual teaching will do in the absence of real world, is something that only time will tell. But, I sincerely hope it doesn’t get too late before we realise the damage. Because at the bottom line, it is human resource we are nurturing, who is soaking and processing every bit of information gathered from the world around, and is storing the responses, reactions etc he receives, in the deeper layers of his being. It is important that we raise sensitive individuals, strong on empathy and responsibility, who are capable of taking care of this planet and its inhabitants with unconditional love. May not be a bad idea to simply Pause and think!