Saturday, August 09, 2008

A lifelong experiment

teaching a child is a lifelong experiment and I have completely immersed myself into it these days. a child has certain learning huddles to cross, and crossing each one almost catapults the grasping power to the next level of difficulty.

here are a few hurdles that aaron was faced with. he wouldn't be able to figure what came after 19 or 29. This made it really difficult for us to teach him beyond 1 to 9. we realized that explaining the concept of zero always coming after 9 was what can help him overcome this hurdle. he managed to grasp it. so, soon he was able to figure what came after 39 or 49. After 4 comes 5 and after 9, it is always zero. So 50 after 49. It seems funny and rather simple, but at the age of four, with the schools moving on at an absurd pace, it can sometimes be hell for the kids.

later, he grew fond of math puzzles. we taught him little tricks to help in quick mental math, and instead of making it like a mandatory session everyday when he has to study, we made it a game. each time he missed one, I scored a point. because he takes me as a competitor in everything, this really spurred him on. he always had to score more than daddy.

we both are rather weak in math, so our obvious focus was on him to be good with the numbers first, but in this process, his English got neglected. it is still rather weak and it is always a work in progress for us. what he got stuck with were the vowel sounds. it is difficult to explain to a kid how a sounds like a: and ae or how e sounds like a. am still struggling with his phonics and trying to encourage him to read, but this, as i mentioned, is a work in progress. i used some visual aids to help him remember spellings, like the word acTiviTies became a battleship with two masts and ten letters, while consonanTs was a ship with a single mast but ten letters nonetheless. imagine the amount of doodling all this needs. am planning to read up about phonics in the next couple of days to be able to devise new methods of teaching.

the school, unfortunately, is an average school that focuses mainly on the higher classes and their mathematics. phonics and phonetics are absolutely ignored because the teachers are not capable enough to speak proper English themselves. in our obsession to make our children computer engineers, we have ignored all the other subjects. but in a country where basic civilities like not littering the streets or not jumping a traffic signal or not honking are never taught or practiced by the teachers or the parents, it is difficult to expect a child to learn to be a good human being...forget learning how to speak properly in English. I pronounced shove shov (show) or chores coarse for a long time and have still not been able to get my intonation right. These days you have these accent training institutes, so that's an idea brewing in my mind. but my English can wait. aaron's cannot.

like i said, it is a lifelong experiment and will continue for a lifetime. someday, i will also have to teach his children. i better equip myself to be a good dad first . . . :).


Mampi said...

Absolutely right about half cooked students acting as half cooked teachers in even very posh schools. At times, I also have to point out certain mistakes made by teachers at my children's school. But gradually I have evolved a policy of speaking correct english with them, and teach one thing at a time. What is important is to inculcate that love of learning, and of course the civic sense-rest will come easily.
Keep it up.

Sreya said...

an awakening revelation... i can imagine the amount of effort it takes for parents when you want to do everything right for your kids...

the provenance/inspiration for this is quite evident

Jyotsna said...

The best part of teaching children is that you learn so much yourself.I did with diti..she has difficulty writing letters and could never write B.Her teacher taught them to copy from the board and she never got the hang of it.On the spur of the moment i told her,draw a standing line and 2 bottoms :D :P and voila..she got it.
The rest of the alphabets were dealt with in a similar way.
best of luck aaron and let him enjoy his childhood learning and growing..

Drifter said...

Hmm...I still feel u should teach him self defense first... rest he will learn anyways...