Every child needs Special Ed

“We want our children to get the best education” – Most parents. But “Most Parents” have the idea of education skewed to such an extent that they compare it with grades. I recently met one of my clients who started discussing her daughter’s grades and she compared it with her classmate. But that led me to thinking – Do our exams test everything? No. They assess only memory. What if a child’s strength is dancing, or art, or athletics? How do our schools determine these aspects of a child’s life? Each child is different, so each child should get a personalized educational plan.

Assessment should be less restrictive as well. We should not limit tests to paper-pencil test. Alternate methods of assessment can also be used. Observations, on-field activity, analytical thinking matter too. Tests should also not be standardized as the learning pace of each child is different. So how can we make every child get special education?

Teachers can use newer techniques in teaching and try to practice blending learning. Questions can be more analytical which helps the child to think creatively and practically. Most important of all, teachers should create Personalized Educational Plan (PEP) for each child.

Prepare a PEP

To start off, you first need to have a team of people who know the student, to create a PEP.

PEP Team should have

  • The students’ class teacher
  • The school resource teacher / Special Educator / Counselor / Medical specialist
  • Parents/ Guardians
  • School administration (vice-principal, headmistress)

What should the PEP Team focus on?

  • Social and academic strengths of the student
  • Social and academic needs of the student
  • Educational goals and objectives for the coming year
  • Best way or combination of different assessments requires for the student

With the help of these steps, a teacher can enhance the strengths and address the needs by creating a plan with specific goals and objectives. The progress can be monitored while teaching takes place or after various assessments. Although planning of a PEP should take place before the course starts, regular planning and follow ups with parents and professionals is important to get the over all feedback of the child, which again helps with creating or improving the PEP.

(If you have created a PEP for your students, comment how it has helped you.)

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Get Inspired by Kids!

Why do we tell our kids “don’t do this” or “stop asking so many questions” and try to limit our children from exploring their potential? It is a sad truth, that our education system is teaching kids to become followers rather than becoming leaders. We do not let them explore their surroundings, we do not let them ask us questions we just want them to do what we say. Schools follow a syllabus, and mostly teachers are trying to complete the given units at a stipulated time. I agree it is not easy. But I believe that teaching outside the syllabus is also education. An accomplished teacher incorporates the syllabus and world knowledge into the lesson. Knowledge about the world, basic politics, technology advances, space and news updates are what the next generation needs to know.

So here are some talented teachers who, although young, have tried their best to educate the world and help others.

This is one of my favorite videos where a Logan LaPlante actually talks about how homeschooling, or in this case “Hackschooling”, can be done. He also provides a list of things children need to learn when they are young and growing. Let’s not forget to mention what he wants to be when he grows up – HAPPY.

Very often we forget that our ultimate goal in life is to be happy. We can be happy doing various things like teaching others, building something, creating something new, doing what we love or giving back to society. Logan pinpoints at major disciplines which we forget to embody in our over all education.

Shubham Banerjee, aged 13, invented a Braille printer! Well that’s something you will not hear quite often. But wait, there’s more. He built the braille printer out of LEGO!

The video shows us how Shubham tried to find the answer of a simple question on Google Search. His search results led to more questions. This made him think about building something that could be used in developing countries. An efficient and affordable braille printer. An innovation that would do wonders for the blind community and hopefully it would help them to help themselves some day. Furthermore, this video answers the question of why we should let kids play and create.

 In this video, we get to watch how Thomas Suarez, a young app developer has created his own iphone apps. Learning can be easy if you want it to be. All you have to do is – Ask the question.

Thomas was passionate about learning how to code and he did so by using multiple sources. Learning does not happen by using one book (hint: the textbook). Learning happens by using multiple sources and mediums. Youtube videos, khan academy, codeacademy, leapfrog, disney are a few out of the many sources a child can learn from.

 To think or not to think – contemplations of young Varun Agarwal when he started a million dollar company without aiming for it. A motivational video for everyone with a simple message to ” follow your dreams”.

Varun also pushes us to think about how the society we are brought up in forces us to do something we do not want to do. Engineering, doctor, CA, lawyer are praised upon but what about hair dresser, chef, musician and journalist? If the child dreams to become a writer we must nurture him and guide him. The video inspires us to “Stop thinking and start doing” as time will not wait for anybody.

Can you make a gaming arcade out of cardboard boxes? Well Caine Monroy definitely can. He may be a shy speaker, but he has a bold imagination.

Caine invented some games out of the toys he had, made the rules, decorated the boxes and also came up with prizes for the winners. He shows us how a young child can learn to become a business man and run a business. Caine did not need an MBA, he just did some trial and error. Through experience he improvised and marketed his arcade and voilà he had a queue outside the arcade.

After a loss of a close relative, Jack Andraka decided he wanted to develop a test for pancreatic cancer. Along the way, he met a lot of challenges and overcame them with one thing in his will – persistency.

Life is like a mathematical problem. We first need to learn and understand the concept of how it works, try to find the answer, face some challenges, overcome them and then get it right. Similarly, research is very important for education. Unless we search for the answer ourselves, no real learning is done. Research gives us millions of options which we have to comb though and get the perfect result we are looking for. Jack researched. Found what he was looking for and got the opportunity to work on his idea. We must teach our children to look for answers. If they get spoon fed, they get lazy, they will not try, they will expect life to be easy which will lead to stress and then emotional and mental issues arise. Let the curiosity be alive in our children.

Maya Penn is a bunch of cool things – cartoonist, animator, entrepreneur as well as a social activist. She dreams of having a better world in her own imaginative way. She works hard towards sharing her message across the world and giving to the world for a better tomorrow.

Maya shares a strong message in her video – GIVE BACK. Give back to the environment, to the society, to the community, to your family and to your world. Giving never makes anyone poor, it makes one rich with pride and joy.

Educational travel in India for children and teenagers

Childhood has always been a blithe memory, for most of my vacations were spent travelling with my parents around the country. They took my brother and me to historical monuments, traditional temples, geographical wonders, planned cities and cultural villages. India’s diversity has been an attraction for tourists from all over the world, but the beautiful stories every place had inspired me as an Indian.

India has a ton of educational places where students can learn about its heterogeneity. Very few schools take their students for these study trips, but that is what should be addressed. Planning and organizing edu-visits are not as easy as they may seem, but it is cheaper for schools to collect funds and plan an edu-visit rather than parents, who may not have the proper resources to do so. Although, there are some parents who take time out from their busy schedules and take their kids for such visits.

Learning happens best when it is experienced.

What is a field trip/ an educational visit ?

A planned and organized tour of places to visit, food, cultural and traditional exchange between locals of the particular place and the students, as well as activities related to that specific area of study or place.

What is the difference between a field trip and educational visit?

Field trips are short in duration, usually close to the city or not more than 3-4 hours of travel. Educational visits tend to be of a longer duration.

What are the different types of field trips?

Visiting a farm, a zoo, a factory, hiking, camping, heritage walk, photo walk, museum visits can be named under field trips.

What are the different types of educational visits?

Since educational visits are longer in duration, staying at that site, learning about the place and interacting with locals is what makes it experiential. For example, staying in Auroville (planned city) to learn about the foundation and infrastructure of the city or visiting the Gir National Park to learn about the wildlife in Gujarat.

Here is a list of places where students can explore, learn and muse over what they see.

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Hampi – The ruins of Vijayanagara Kingdom with the backdrop of boulders gave me the unique picture of ancient history.

Borra Caves – An exploration of stalagmites and stalactites with deep and high ceilings was amazing to the urban eye.

Konark Temple – An amalgamation of architecture, history, spirituality and art, one word, mesmerizing.

Dubare Elephant Farm – A day with the elephants will tempt you to stay there or visit them again.

Udaipur – A planned, historical and beautiful mixture of urban and rural India.

National Science Centre – Got mind-blown by the science and technology.

If you wish to suggest a few more places, share your personal experiences or just say “hi”, please comment in the comment section below.

Drug Education in Indian Schools

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In countries like USA , drug-education experts agree that targeted, age-appropriate elementary school drug education is essential to safeguard students against the hazards of drug use and addiction. Access to the web and technology have made communication easier that can be misused for a variety of purposes. Drugs and alcohol are one of the primary reasons for failure in children or young adults, which lead to addiction, depression and suicide. So, should Indian schools introduce drug education, along with sex  and alcohol education?

The growing number of teens and young adults in India who consume drugs has been on the rise. Majority of the Indian population being under 35, implies that their peer group and kids would directly or indirectly be influenced by drugs.

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“Awareness is necessary” – But how do we break the shell that we have so generously built around our children?

Talking about it is what could be a positive step to avoid, or let’s say, reduce the chances of children taking drugs. Children, whose parents talk early and often about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and drug use, are 50 percent less likely to succumb to alcohol, abuse and drugs. If schools were to adopt similar measures, the percentage of children who are less likely to use drugs, tobacco or alcohol may increase.

Drug education in schools can be structured, informative, and educational. There are several methods where elementary and high-school teachers can create awareness about these issues. Creating project-based or art-based activities for elementary school children can be employed. Graphics, information, group counseling and social work for high-school children acts as a theoretical and experiential knowledge for them. Information, videos and images that show the causes and effects of drugs and alcohol can raise awareness and help children to make better life choices. Indian schools ought to impart information about the repercussions of drug use or drug dealing, types of drugs, and their effect on health and laws that revolve around drug use and drug dealing. Schools can also involve parents in the awareness activities and give them guidelines for talking about alcohol and drug use.

talk about drugs

Drug consumption in India has become more of a social symbol. Popular media has played a significant role in glorifying the use of various narcotics. It is now “cool” to abuse prohibited substances. Teens pick up on these trends without considering the harsh consequences. Schools in India must envisage the threat that lingers at their school gates. Turning a blind eye towards this issue may cripple the future of India’s kids and eventually, the future of India.

Kids with Gadgets

 

 

children-ipod-technology-iphone-internet-2926901With the constant growth in technology and proliferating demand for it by the younger generation, I ask you to stop, rethink, and ask yourself – Is technology making my kids smarter?

I wouldn’t discredit the use of technology for study or research, especially for older kids. But, these days, children at the age of 1.5, know how to start the tablet, go to “games” and start playing. It is very convenient for parents to give their children a tablet or let them watch television so that the child does not bother them while they work. But let’s face it, little children will not develop their motor skills when they swipe along the plastic surface of their gadgets. They need to feel different textures like wood, clay, stones, sand and shapes. They need to hold big things and small things with their palms and tiny fingers. Toys like building blocks, Russian dolls and the shape box, will help them to analyze different shapes, sizes and colors from a very young age.

Russian dolls

Russian dolls

When children get habituated to these tablets and phones they may become antisocial or may not be good communicators. This may be because their interpersonal skills have not been developed properly. They also try to isolate themselves from other kids and slowly become introverted. Studies show that kids who use the tablets, phones or laptops for more than 5 hours face lack of sleep and lack of concentration.

Fast internet, frequent upgrades, quick downloads, lead to a habit of expecting quick results in activities. Children today, are unable to accept the fact that not every result is quick and perfect. This results in stress. Furthermore, the aftermath of constant exposure to violent video games has developed aggression and anger in children.

Now let’s ask ourselves another question?

How do we make our kids smarter without gadgets?

Here are a few tips on what we can do:

1. Monitor: You cannot completely cut your children off from gadgets but you can definitely monitor the amount of time they spend on the gadgets. Make sure you do not give them a personal computer/ laptop/ tablet/ phone until the age of 12.

2. Curricular activities: I’m sure there must be different classes or activities for children that happen in your city. Make your child learn an instrument, or make them play a sport or outdoor game, or learn to dance or sing or write. These activities will benefit their health, mind and keep them away from gadgets.

3. Read: Read to your kids from a very early age. This will make d365038d-9e00-4e88-a18c-1da1732188b2-w500-h500them imagine, improve their comprehension and grammar and it may implant a reading habit.

4. Arts and crafts: Arts and crafts play a very important role in your child’s life. It is the best way for your children to explore their creativity. They learn to build, anticipate, learn from errors, experiment and understand how things work and how things come to be.

5. Talk: Talk to your kids. You may seem their stories as very insignificant, compared to your day, but to them, that story is a very big deal. Ask them about their day, what they felt when a certain someone did or said something, ask for their opinions, let them make certain decisions.

6. Rules: Make rules like – No gadgets during meals, homework and social gatherings.

If we monitor our kids and include certain rules in their life, we can try to avoid an imminent addiction.