Monday, July 27, 2009

Nourishing minds !

Education is not the answer to the question. Education is the means to the answer to all questions."
-- William Allin

"An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life."
-- Source Unknown

Recently, while randomly browsing through Barnes and Noble, I chanced upon a book with a very interesting title.
It was called 'The Well trained mind'. The few pages that I rifled through intrigued me and I couldnt wait until I got my hands on the book.
Its another matter that I did have to wait quite a bit before I could access the book (but since thats a testament to my laziness more than
anything else, I will not elaborate on that.! ) The book is written by two women, a mother and a daughter team. It is a kind of a reference book for parents who want to take a more active and involved approach to their childrens' education. A comprehensive guide to the list of topics that should be introduced to children at each development level, this book covers grades K-12.
Wait, you might say, shouldnt books of this kind be read by teachers and educators ? After all, kids go to school for that very reason.
We as parents expend some effort in finding the best schools for our children and we would be within our rights to expect that the teachers at these schools be on top of everything under the sky and be the best resources themselves when it comes to the education of their students.

While all that is valid, I strongly feel that we shouldnt forget that education always begins and continues at home. We as parents should always know what our children are learning at school. That is especially true for parents who havent attended schools in the US and have absolutely no idea about the curriculum followed here. All my dicussions with other parents in the know has made me realize that the
education system here is completely different than the one that I grew up with.
In such a situation, wouldnt it be advisable to be aware of as much as possible ? To be able to help them in their school work ?
Wouldnt it be gratifying to know whether your child's capacity is more than what they are learning in schools and then be able do introduce them to more interesting topics ?
Wouldnt your heart soar when you see your children make the best of their abilities and be able to use their intelligence to the maximum ?
Wouldnt you want them to explore not only academic interests but also fuel their imagination and curiosity ?

On the other hand, it is a rather large investment of your time and energy. Not everybody might be able to sit down with their children everyday to make them study. The kids might not have the inclination to do so either.. But then the challenge is about incorporating education in day to day activities where you do spend time with your kids in any case.

For toddlers, parents could teach shapes and colours and numbers and alphabets very easily in the course of a car ride, or while setting the table for dinner or while watering your plants. You could let the kids have a small container with a few flowers and let them water it and see the plant flourish. The point of this interaction would be more practical rather than academic.

For older children, you could invest in a good telescope and learn about the planetary system together. Enterprising parents could attempt to build a rudimentary solar system with lightweight balls and then cover it with paper. Let the kids paint it, either from a picture or from imagination and then hang it up from the ceiling in their rooms !

For kids in the 7th - 10th grades , a magnifying glass could open up loads of possibilities..Take every opportunity to use a dictionary with your children if they are of reading age.
Thats an amazing way to increase your vocabulary.

These are just possibilities ...I am a newbie at this myself, so its exciting to think about opportunities to learn with your kid,
because you will be learning quite a lot with your child and about your child too !

I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my mother, revising spellings and doing homework. Thinking back, I am touched that she took enough interest in my education, even though she herself wasnt able to complete higher education. With the vast resources available to us now, we do not have any excuses for not becoming co-educators for our children.

There are a few online links that are pretty interesting :

A search on homeschooling will also provide lots of links that we can explore.

What strategies do you employ to make the environment around your family funfilled and enriching at the same time ?
I would love to know about your techniques !