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Showing posts from 2020

Musings of a Pioneer: Our Little Ones… Our Future

  I was concerned when our Morning Glorie, a preschool in South City 1 , Gurgaon, started by my daughter and wife in 2011, had to close operations in March this year due to the pandemic lockdown. We were not alone. There were many others in a similar situation. The parents of toddlers were also concerned. They did not know what the future held for their little gems. To be honest, I was sceptical when the team decided to start online interactive sessions for their toddlers in April. I could not comprehend 2-3-year olds sitting in front of their screens, even if it was only for one hour in a day. They needed someone to sit with them during the session – who would that be? Obviously, one of the parents – a mother or a father. Classroom days seemed to be a thing of the past. How would the educators design activities which would ignite little minds virtually? More importantly, were the educators themselves trained in imparting the required stimuli to the little ones through an online mode

Playschool and Daycare in India and Absence of Male Teachers

I am an avid F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan. I first watched that series as a teenager in school, and have since watched the entire series like a 100 times. Ok. Maybe I exaggerate a little. But I am sure that my mom (who is also my partner at Morning Glorie , Daycare and Play school in Gurgaon) will whole heartedly say that I obsess a tad too much with the series. So there was this one episode, in season 9 I think, where Ross and Rachel are looking for a nanny for their daughter Emma, and in comes Sandy, who was this amazing nanny, with a bunch of references, and who was really really good with the kids. But, for Ross, what ended up being more important was the fact that he was a man. Now first up, I have to say, I found it amazingly wonderful, that in the west, early childhood education as well as care could be taken care of by the same person - not taking into consideration the gender of the person. Sandy was not just a nanny, who would feed Emma, or change her diapers, he was also part of his pr

Early Learning and Problem Solving Skills - A Perspective

As adults, we come across many problems in life. To think of something basic, let's go with, say, a tube light not working in the living room. How do we solve this problem? We may take this in a sequence of simple steps. First, we may check out the mains of the house, and see if any MCB has tripped. If it has, then we will try to lift it ourselves. That should hopefully solve the problem. If it doesn't we may try to identify some major appliance on the same circuit which may be giving us a problem and shut it down. If that works, then great, and if that doesn't then we will end up calling an electrician. Alternatively, if the MCB hasn't tripped, then we will try to move the tube light to see if it works, then check for blackening edges to see if the tube is too old to be used anymore, and if that is the case, then we will either buy a new light ourselves or once again, call the electrician. Seems simple enough? At our age, it probably does, but looked at in such detail,

Oral Communication, Social Interaction and Public Speaking for Children

Public Speaking. The moment you read these two words in the context of a child, it appears to become a heavy concept. After all, why should this be important for a 2 year old, or even a 5 year old, fundamentally speaking? Agreed that in due course these are important skills to acquire, but why should that be the case at this age? Bear with me, as I put across my point of view here. When Morning Glorie's physical premises were open (I am talking about both our preschool and daycare in South City 1 , Gurgaon), we prided ourselves on being absolutely screen free for the children. No smart boards, no tv viewing, no mobile videos! Notwithstanding the fact that this could be extremely tough for us caregivers and educators at times, we felt that this was crucial for the development of children across all ages. For the toddlers, this facilitated language development , and for the older ones, it ensured that social skills and communication were the focus points. After all, when there were n

Learning From Mistakes - Our Observations In Our Online Preschool Sessions

  Thought process and learning typically has two aspects - 1. The concrete - for an early learner, these would include concepts like alphabet, number, colour and shape 2. The abstract - this involves developing a thought process. Linking the concrete with our environment, creative thought process, and the like The concrete, like the name suggests, is pretty much set in stone. A will always be A, 1 will always be one (as will the quantity associated with it), red will be red, and square will be square.  As is the case with learning at any age, the children could well falter in the initial stages. They may make a mistake in identification, call out the wrong animal in the pictures, count 7 while calling 5, and so on. We have been conducting online preschool sessions pan India since May 2020, and have observed two things  1. It is natural for kids to make mistakes in the beginning 2. As adults and parents particularly, we have a tendency to immediately check those mistakes and prompt the

A Healthy Veg Soup Recipe For Your Kids

Winter is coming! Or well, by Indian standards, it's already here in certain parts of the country. In Gurugram, where I stay, you can already see people in light jackets, and the kids can already be seen in sweaters. And you know what that means. It's soup season! 😃. And today we are here to share the Morning Glorie special! Yes, this is our tried and tested vegetable soup recipe, in use since 2011, loved by kids from 6 months to 10 years. Might I add that this was one dish we were not allowed to skip from the daycare (our daycare in South City 1 , Gurgaon) menu in any week. The soup, along with pasta/noodles was the Friday lunch special. It was one of the first meals (and wholesome to the boot) for our creche babies (when they started on solid food), and for the older lot it was just the most anticipated meal of the week. Even if the daycare centre in South City 1 was closed on a Friday for any reason, this meal had to be cooked on Thursday. Of course there could be some exce

Online Preschool in India - Pros and Cons

 Seven full months into the pandemic, it is time to address the elephant in the room - online preschool as a concept in India. I am talking here about "learning" modules for children in the age group of 2 to 4 years. Why do I call it elephant in the room, you ask? Fundamentally, for such small kids, there has been a lot of discussion about how these children are so small, that even if they miss out on schooling for this one year on account of the pandemic, it is ok. There is also, of course, the major concern on increased screen time. And the fact that children typically go to preschool for peer group interaction, and not heavy-handed learning. These are all, of course, very valid concerns. These and many more crossed our mind as well, before we decided to take the plunge and take Morning Glorie virtual. Our own parent body knows how strongly we have advocated the screen-free environment in the past - not just for toddlers, but for children across ages. Which is why, even our

Parenting Struggles during the Pandemic

 We are now into the 8th month since the first lockdown was announced during the Covid crisis. Naturally enough time has gone by that we have all somewhat learnt to adapt to the "new normal", well, more or less. This still isn't normal, and we are all still struggling at some level or the other.  The children are facing their own set of issues, but here, we are talking about your major struggles/points of concern with regards to your children during this period. We asked you all what your major concerns were. We came up with what we thought you could have struggled with the most. This list mostly came from our discussions with our parent body, what our own teachers were facing, and what we were witnessing among our own family and friends. This is what some of you had to say (Note - we are not revealing any personal information/names. We respect your privacy): By and large, increased screen time appeared to be a major point of concern for everyone. This is irrespective of

Sustainable Living in Early Learning - Part IV - Let's Respect Nature

 I know this sounds big, and it fundamentally is. Just like we expect to be treated with respect, nature would like it too. But again, just like it's the simple actions which denote respect in our interactions with each other - parent and child, teacher and child, friends (irrespective of age), colleagues and acquaintances - it's the simple actions that denote our respect towards nature and Mother Earth as well. For parents and educators alike - children look up to us, and emulate our behaviour. So always, always, always, only "preach" (for the lack of a better term) what you practice yourself! And if there is something you are not doing, which you would like them to do, then learn to do it together - the onus is on you, not them, not yet. For parents, educators as well as the children - how can we respect nature? GREEN EARTH EQUALS CLEAN EARTH Plant more trees Make this an activity to do with your children. Plant seeds with them, nurture those seeds. Speak with the c

Sustainable Living in Early Learning - Part III - Say No to Plastics

A couple of weeks back, we had shared a blog post with focus on reduce, reuse and recycle. There we had shown a picture of a common sight in many cities - a towering landfill, stinking because of mixing different types of waste. One portion of that waste is plastic waste, which creates major problems because of the following: 1. It is non-biodegradable . That means it cannot be broken down by living organisms 2. Put a little differently, it is poison for living things. It cannot get absorbed or digested in their bodies, and by that same logic, if consumed, it does not come out of their bodies These pictures are pretty common sights these days, and not just in India anymore, though the magnitude may be higher here. One finds animals on the streets foraging for food in waste generated by us, the food often left in plastics. These plastics often end up in the stomachs of these animals, who do not know what they are consuming. A lot of our plastic waste ends up in water bodies, and ultimat

Sustainable Living in Early Learning - Part II - Hi Kids!

 Hi kids! We normally chat with your parents, but today I thought we should chat directly. All of you who can read this yourselves go to schools, and probably hear this from your teachers as well. We need to take care of our surroundings, and help Mother Earth heal. Today, I am going to share simple things you can do at home and when you are out to help with this process. I would also like you to share things you already do to keep your surroundings clean, and also going to ask you to assume responsibility at home - makes sure your parents do the right thing too. It's time to become their teachers. Won't that be fun? :) SIMPLE TIPS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVING When you are the last one to leave a room, remember to switch off lights/fans/ACs If you see lights/fans/AC switched on in an empty room, switch them off. Remind your family members to follow this practice too. We should not waste these precious resources Water shortage is very real, we must save water in whatever way we can T

Sustainable Living in Early Learning - Part I

In the last six months or so, most of us haven't stepped out of our homes, or at the very least, minimized our outings. The children definitely have been mostly inside their homes. But go back before that time period, and one of the memories we all carry - and this is probably true of all major metros, it is definitely true of Gurgaon - is the sight of the gigantic, hill sized, and stinking landfills right in the middle of the city. In Gurgaon, this is true of a very popular area for hanging out otherwise - a prime location to visit, the experience marred by the sights and smells.  Naturally, we are ourselves to blame for this state of affairs. We have spent the last few generations living as opulent a lifestyle as our means could afford, often purchasing things which we did not need, and generally unmindful of the damage we have been inflicting on our planet. The last six months have given us all a lot of time to think things and reprioritize. We have begun to understand what is r

Toddler Milestones and Language Development

Some research says that distinguishing sounds happens as early as the fetus stage - that is why it is common practice to speak to your baby even while they are in your womb. Even when a baby is born, they react to sounds, are able to follow their favourite people's voice, and as they start growing up are able to react to WHAT you are speaking. This is part of development of receptive language abilities. This is also why it is often said that Thought is faster than speech This is because, while a child is able to comprehend what they are hearing, they begin to express themselves verbally only around 11 months of age at the earliest. And do not worry, for some kids it happens earlier, for some kids it may take some time. Language development is a process, and our experience with our toddlers in creche, in preschool, and even in online preschool classes has taught us a lot, and we would like to share some tips on that LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT - SOME TIPS * Encourage your child to speak *