How do you feel when you interact with young kids? It feels good, doesn’t it? Their enthusiasm, energy, and eagerness surely bring smiles to our faces. But when it comes to academics most of them shy away, uninterested, no matter how hard you try; therein lies the challenge for us as volunteers!
Children are like wet clay. Just like clay takes its shape as per the person who moulds it, a child develops his insights based on what he is taught. And as with clay, the right amount of pressure is needed to make an impact on their minds.
Taking this comparison a step further; just as clay loses its flexibility when the water inside dries up, the child loses the willingness to learn when his interest dries up.
This was also the case with Suneel, a hard-working and dedicated student of our Ekklavya Centre in Pune. He was the first child I got attached to in the class. He is an average student, neither brilliant nor very smart. After the first few ice-breaker sessions and classes, I could see that he still didn’t seem to be interested in learning numbers in English (though he was willing to do so in Marathi). The other three students in Level 1 were taking an interest to learn, but not Suneel.
I could see that he was talented, but I needed to craft the right approach to capture his attention. In order to make things interesting for him, I resorted to teaching with plenty of actions and sounds. Each number was given a different action or sound. This was a start – I managed to get his attention. Once we saw that he was willing to learn, we introduced a game which we named ‘Spot the number’. The kids had to paint their palms in different colours and place their hands on the number to be spotted on the chart.
We used clay in the next class. This was mainly to help them create numbers and understand how to write them. The clay activity was a huge hit! The kids in the Level 1 class loved it!
As for Suneel, I saw how proud he felt that he had created his own clay numbers. It was overwhelming to see him trying to pronounce the numbers on his own, when I was not around.
I noticed a sudden change in him in the following class. He made efforts to understand ascending and descending order in numbers from 1 to 20. He could soon do it without my help. He could also match the preceding and following numbers successfully
I think you guys must have got it by now! There is a simple solution to teaching kids who show a lack of interest: you need not try harder to teach them, you just need to try differently.
Making learning fun is one of the most important aspects of teaching young kids. And we at Bhumi do exactly that. It is here that learning becomes fun. We always strive to use innovative and creative techniques that would lead to an overall improvement in the skills of our young minds which is our ultimate goal.
- Bhushan Kanathe