Dr Arun Prakash
Learning is inherent in our journey from toddlerhood to adulthood, shaping our experiences at every stage, time, and place. The absence of learning indicates barriers – artificial phenomena impeding this natural process. Understanding and dismantling these barriers to cultivate an environment conducive to learning should be the shared objective of educators and institutions.
In my early teaching years, I was convinced that children scoring near zero marks were destined for failure. However, reflecting on these seemingly “duffer” children today reveals that many have excelled in various aspects of life, challenging the notion that early academic performance dictates future success.
As the founding principal of DPS Dhaligaon, we designed rigorous nursery admission tests, evaluating cognitive, social, and emotional development. Despite our thorough process, the subsequent life performances of these selected children did not align with our merit list, highlighting the unpredictability of a child’s future.
Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that predicting a child’s future, especially in the early stages of life, is nearly impossible. Children’s growth and development are influenced by numerous factors, many beyond our control.
The analogy of teachers as potters moulding raw clay and children as the clay itself is outdated. Children are not just clay; they are diverse, with their own life, constantly evolving and responding to external stimuli based on short-term and long-term impacts of influencing factors.
George Bernard Shaw aptly states, “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Dr. Benjamin Hardy, in his renowned book “Your Personality Is Not Permanent,” emphasizes the transformative power of constant effort and defined goals in reshaping one’s personality and future. He underscores that educators, parents, and caregivers must understand that children’s personalities and futures can evolve through persistent efforts.
Contrary to the belief that shaming and humiliation prompt positive change, such practices can be harmful. Scolding a child and labelling them as hopeless may inadvertently reinforce the belief that change is impossible. Instead, fostering an environment where children understand that change is achievable at any stage empowers them to take control of their lives.
Dr. Hardy offers compelling examples, such as Andre Norman’s transition from 14 years in prison to Harvard acclaimed professor. Norman’s story illustrates the transformative power of setting meaningful goals and actively working towards personal growth. Identifying goals through exposure, desire, and confidence is key to steering one’s life journey.
Creating a safe and nurturing environment in both schools and homes is essential for the wonderful growth and development of children. Here are some strategies that can be applied in both settings:
Real-life anecdotes of individuals experiencing total transformation are abundant. The common factor, I believe, is a nurturing and supportive environment. Children with at least one person believing in them, encouraging them, and providing unwavering support can achieve wonders.
- Positive School Culture:
- Foster a culture of respect, kindness, and inclusivity.
- Implement programs that celebrate diversity and encourage acceptance.
- Effective Communication:
- Establish clear communication channels between teachers, students, and parents.
- Conduct regular meetings to discuss the progress and well-being of each child.
- Emotional Support:
- Provide counselling services and a system for students to express their emotions.
- Train teachers to recognize signs of emotional distress and respond appropriately.
- Anti-Bullying Initiatives:
- Implement comprehensive anti-bullying programs.
- Encourage students to report incidents of bullying and ensure prompt and effective intervention.
- Professional Development:
- Provide ongoing training for teachers on positive discipline, child development, and creating a nurturing classroom environment.
- Foster a collaborative and supportive teacher community.
- Inclusive Practices:
- Implement inclusive education practices that accommodate diverse learning needs.
- Create awareness about the importance of inclusivity among students and staff.
- Physical Safety:
- Regularly assess and address potential safety hazards.
- Conduct emergency drills and ensure that all staff and students are familiar with emergency procedures.
- Holistic Education:
- Support a well-rounded education that includes not only academics but also physical education, arts, and extracurricular activities.
- Recognize and celebrate achievements in various areas.
- Establish Routine and Structure:
- Create a consistent daily routine that provides structure and predictability.
- Set age-appropriate expectations for behaviour and chores.
- Open Communication:
- Encourage open communication between parents and children.
- Actively listen to children’s concerns and feelings without judgment.
- Quality Time:
- Spend quality time with children through activities they enjoy.
- Prioritize family time and create positive memories together.
- Create a Safe Physical Environment:
- Childproof the home to ensure a physically safe environment.
- Establish boundaries and rules for safety within the home.
- Positive Reinforcement:
- Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.
- Focus on praising effort and progress rather than just outcomes.
- Healthy Lifestyle:
- Encourage a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.
- Model and promote a healthy lifestyle for the entire family.
- Limit Screen Time:
- Set reasonable limits on screen time and monitor content.
- Encourage alternative activities such as reading, outdoor play, and creative pursuits.
- Parental Involvement in Education:
- Stay informed about children’s school activities and progress.
- Foster a positive attitude towards learning and provide a conducive environment for homework and study.
- Teach Problem-Solving Skills:
- Encourage children to solve problems independently and with guidance.
- Help them learn from mistakes and develop resilience.
- Cultivate a Loving Environment:
- Show affection and express love regularly.
- Create a home environment where children feel safe to be themselves.
Collaboration Between Schools and Homes:
- Regular Communication:
- Foster regular communication between teachers and parents to share insights into a child’s development.
- Collaborate on strategies to address any challenges a child may be facing.
- Parental Involvement in School Activities:
- Encourage parents to participate in school events and activities.
- Create a sense of community between the school and families.
- Shared Values and Expectations:
- Establish shared values and expectations between schools and homes.
- Ensure consistency in rules and behavioural expectations.
- Joint Problem-Solving:
- Work together to address any academic or behavioural challenges a child may be facing.
- Share insights and strategies for the child’s overall development.
Creating a nurturing and supportive environment is vital for the growth and development of children. These strategies, when applied in both schools and homes, contribute to an environment where every child feels valued, supported, and eager to learn. It is the collective responsibility of educators, parents, and caregivers to foster such an ecosystem, as highlighted by educationist Snigdha Dash. This care is the key to making a significant difference in the lives of our future generations.