Thursday, 19 July 2012


Learn by doing, activity method, project method, inquiry method, play way education….call it by any name but hands on learning is required if we want education to be lifelong; otherwise it fades away or becomes rote learning.

In the preschool years, the brain is developing. In fact 98% of your brain growth happens in the first 6 years and so it is crucial that children at this age are exposed to hands on –activity based learning environments. That’s exactly what we do at Podar Jumbo Kids.

Every educationist and educational philosopher has advocated the need for hands on activity based learning, be it our own Mahatma Gandhi who devised the 3 H method- Hand, Heart and Head  education or good old Montessori who believed that learning involves 3 things, the Muscles, the Senses and the Brain.

Recent brain research has shown that-
·         The hand and the brain need each other- Neurologically, "a hand is always in search of a brain and a brain is in search of a hand," as Wilson likes to say.

·         Use of the hands to manipulate three-dimensional objects is an essential part of brain development.

·         All over the world, kids play with blocks, push around toys, throw balls; this is constantly fertilizing neural growth.

·         Einstein knew the value of play all along when he said,"... Play seems to be the essential feature in productive scientific thought—before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs 'that can be communicated to others." Play is the key to nurturing happy, intelligent children.

So what is activity based learning or hands on learning? Simply put, it should involve as many senses as possible; it should involve 3 learning styles - Looker, Listener and Mover. So let’s take a simple example: It is the rainy season, so we want to teach kids about snails. A simple way to do it would be to show them pictures of snails and tell them about the features of a snail. Or you can choose to do it in the hands on activity format, in which you hide a puppet of a snail in the classroom and plan that children find it, then start a discussion about who can identify its name, then show them a small video about a snail and then take them to a garden to actually look for snails.

Similar with reading activities, either a school can make it a drill activity and make children repeat and read words after the teacher or one can make it more interesting by playing a passing the parcel game, with words in the parcel and each child to pick up a word and read it.

Our Senior Kindergarten children are able to learn about odd and even numbers with a simple activity- Teacher gives them buttons for each number and children place the buttons in pairs; so if a button does not have a pair then that number is an odd number. So simple, but so hands on that the learning goes straight to the brain.

That’s exactly what educationists are emphasizing; that any learning that happens through the use of our senses and muscles will have better retention.

Many others argue that this is a waste of time and just play, to which Dr. Stuart Brown writes in his path breaking book- ‘Play’-

“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy! An oft heard comment but recently research shows that there is much truth in this simple saying. Dr. Stuart Brown says in his book ‘Play’ that people in jobs are not able to find solutions to problems or make new discoveries or survive a crisis efficiently all because they have lost touch with play in their lives or were brought up in a ‘play less’ environment. He says that “Those who had worked and played with their hands as they were growing up were able to “see solutions" that those who hadn't worked with their hands could not. They couldn’t' spot the key flaw in complex systems they were working on, toss the problem around, break it down, pick it apart, tease out its critical elements, and rearrange them in innovative ways that led to a solution.”

Many different styles of activity based learning can be practiced in the early childhood years. One can link a favorite story like Goldilocks and the 3 bears to many learning concepts like through the story teacher can teach about-
The number 3 
About bears
About sizes- big, medium and small
About hot and cold (the soup)
About neat and tidy (the beds of the bears)
About parts of a house

And teacher can add a value to her teaching by ending the story with a discussion on good manners- ‘What 3 words should Goldilocks have used?’ (thank-you, please and sorry)

So the idea of activity based learning is to use educational maxims like-

Known to unknown (so using a story or nursery rhyme to teach new concepts)

Concrete to abstract (using hands on objects to teach about abstract concepts)

Simple to complex (using simple every day fun, games and toys to teach complex stuff like numbers, reading etc)  

So choice is ours – have activity based play and grow or practice rote learning and rot the brain cells away! Then why not play? After all play is the work of childhood!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Make Nap Time Effective

Nap time at day cares is an important time that can help kids calm down, relax and recharge their tired body cells. It needs routine and rituals to make it enjoyable for everyone involved.
Lana Button in the Exchange kit ( , offers these tips sure to make everyone rest a little easier during nap time at your day care centre:
·         Always give the children a ‘heads up’ when naptime is approaching.  Keep your pre-nap routine consistent and your class will start mentally preparing for a rest before they even hit their cots.
·         Keep children’s cots in the same basic location each day.  Once you find a spot where a child is most likely to get a good rest, use that spot consistently.  Having to adjust to a new spot or a new ‘nap neighbor’ can make it difficult for a child to settle down.
·         Allow children a few minutes on their cots before the lights are turned out.  This allows children to transition from being very active to being very still.  Your center might provide nap books or simple manipulative toys for children to explore independently for 5 minutes. 
·         Teachers are instrumental in establishing a calm mood in the classroom at naptime.  Once the teacher dims the lights she should lower her voice and keep it at just above a whisper for the duration of naptime. 
In continuing with this slow transition to rest time, it’s a good idea to tuck each child in to give them a nurturing send-off to rest time.  Make sure each child has something from home to cuddle. 
Podar happy kids is a home away from home and so let’s ensure that every experience here is based on care, nurturing and childhood science. 

Day Care Safety

Read this Hindustan Times article and learn about day care safety.
(8th July 2012, Page 2)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Two reports in today’s Mumbai Mirror should be taken seriously so that such harm does not come to other children.

Two reports in today’s Mumbai Mirror should be taken seriously so that such harm does not come to other children. Make the parents at your centres also aware and alert about this. Spread the message via email, facebook for the safety of all children, everywhere.

One report is about a 3 year old girl in a Hyderabad daycare centre who choked on a piece of chapatti as the ayah was feeding her hurriedly. The child lost her life due to the foolish hurry of an adult. Please ensure that the following is implemented and supervised at your centres, both day care and preschool.

  1. Never ask a child to hurry up while eating. Children need at least 20 to 25 minutes to complete a full meal (lunch, dinner).
  2. For snack time they need 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. It would be ok if the child is unable to complete a meal instead of forcing the child to eat fast. Explain this to parents. This problem is especially prevalent in preschool centres where teachers are forced to make kids finish their snack box and not miss on activities. Take the parents into confidence and work out a solution that does not harm the health of the child.
  4. Train your staff to be patient and feed smaller bites to very young children.
  5.  Also ensure that the child is not talking or distracted with a television while eating, this too can cause choking.
The other report is about a young girl who was running towards her mother with a pencil in her hand, she tripped on a pillow and the pencil rammed into her eye socket right up to her brain. Due to the quick thinking of the parents, who did not remove the pencil and rushed the child to the hospital, the child was saved. Please ensure that the following is implemented and supervised at your centres- daycares and preschools.
  1. Ensure that children do not run with any sharp implement in their hands. A ball is fine but teach children to keep their pencils on the table before coming to you.
  2. Sometimes in their excitement children may rush to you with a pencil and book to show you their work, be alert and keep giving regular instructions to kids.
  3. Ensure that you take care of anything that can trip children in their natural movements around the centre. School bags lying haphazardly on the floor can cause tripping.
  4. Running is to be done in the outdoors not in the classroom, so just like we teach children about leaving their ‘loud voices’ outside the classroom, lets teach them to leave ‘running feet’ outside too. So ‘soft voices’ and ‘walking feet’ in the class.
  5. When going to the bus or toilet children tend to run, so teach them to make a butterfly with their fingers behind their back and also teach them the ‘walking feet’ song.

The above are small steps that we can all take to ensure the safety of the children in our care. All the best.