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Parents who have taken the decision to home-school their children in the last decade or so find themselves in a comfortable space thanks to the exponential growth in technology. The anxiety over where these resources are available was always a factor when taking the decision. Well not anymore.

The access to the internet, applications and the growth of start-ups creating user friendly applications decoding complex mathematical or scientific principles, is not only being used in classrooms across the country but in fact becomes reliable resources for parents or tutors working with children at home. Developed by ex IIM graduates whose aim is to make subjects 'fun' for children, these applications make learning fun and effective for children.

San Diego based First in Math (FIM) or the local Byju's, on line Phonic programmes such as Jolly Phonics to on line reading and writing skill tasks (ABC) accessible as free websites makes life easy for educators and parents.

Facebook is trending with free websites related to age specific and curriculum dedicated resources and tips, and organised dash boards such as Pinterest make it easy to learn from each other.

The emergence of on line professional development courses for those educating children at home such as KA EduAssociates catering to the curriculum needs of teachers on the go or stay at home mums, makes life easy for parents who also wish to understand 'how' to teach and not simply avail resources for their children's learning needs. The intent is to customise learning for their child and therefore having the right approach is also critical.

Webinars, on line discussion groups, forums, etc. makes FAQs also easily addressed and it is incredible what digitalisation has created today in terms of resources.

Today be it Airtel or Tatasky, satellite providers host 'games' and educational resources loaded on to the sets making learning more hands on and fun.

Imagine installing a 3D printer for your child in your own home or enrolling him for his own private lego simulation - there are so many resources waiting to implement the learning offered by the book.

The point of learning is always to create an understanding and with that in time an application and a relevance, and therefore with the rich availability of these across multimedia makes the teaching learning process an easy one.

Homeschooling has now become easier. If only it could include social skills, ability to engage and learn from peers and other important life skills, home schooling may appeal to a lot more parents.

The authors are Fatima Agarkar and Gitika Kishanchandani, co-founders, KA EduAssociates.
 
In a class of students, every child has a unique personality which develops over the course of the academic years until he or she becomes an adult. More than what is taught in the classroom, children learn from interpersonal interactions with other children in the class as well as their teachers. However, among the majority there is a fraction of children who are unable to cope with their social environment and may display symptoms of anti-social behaviour. In such cases, timely detection and intervention can help in managing the child’s behavioural issues.

Most people confuse the meaning of the term ‘anti-social’ behaviour to display signs of being an introvert. In reality, however, psychologists have defined the term as violating ‘social rules’ symptoms which include repeated and persistent patterns of social isolation, defiant or aggressive behaviour. Though many children may display such signs, the ones who continue to repeat such actions without caring about the consequences are deemed as ‘anti-social’ and will need help before such behavioural symptoms acquire a permanent place in their personality.

There is no fixed cause for a child displaying signs of anti-social behaviour. Among the wide array of reasons, the behavioural signs could be caused by a stressful environment at home or even lack of attention from parents who may be working long hours. Children learn to communicate in different ways and while some of them readily open up to their parents and teachers, others may be of a more reserved nature. It is therefore important on the part of the teacher as well as the parent to keep a close watch on their behaviour in the first few years of a child’s life.

Apart from being reserved or seemingly shy, a child may also display signs of aggression along with lying. Such a child is unable to understand that rules are being violated and therefore unable to realise the consequences of his or her actions. Studies in children’s behaviour have also suggested that restlessness combined with a poor ability to sustain their attention (signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) has been found to influence anti-social behaviour in children.

The good news is that in most cases, the symptoms of anti-social behaviour can be corrected or in the least reduced if caught early. Along with a teacher, parents should keep an eye out for such symptoms. A relationship of feedback between a teacher and parents is a good way to keep tab on the child’s progress, academically as well as behaviourally.

If you notice the aforementioned symptoms, seek help from professionals especially people who work closely with your child. This can help identify the triggers which may be setting off the symptoms of anti-social behaviour like loud sounds. In order to address such behavioural markers, you will need to get an assessment from a counsellor or psychologist. Most schools have an in-house counsellor which can be a good starting point. You can plan a consolidated approach with the teacher and the school counsellor you come up with a plan on ways to address the symptoms specifically at school and at home.

Apart from therapy, there are some steps parents can take up which will help them guide their children. It is important to develop clear expectations and consequences of actions and focus on positive reinforcement. For instance, when your child does something right, reward him or her with something positive, like a chocolate or a play-date with friends. On the other hand, when the child does something anti-social, develop a set of consequences that are the same every time like take away a favourite toy or skip dessert.

It is therefore also important to use non-violent communication at all times while interacting with the child. Compassion and emotional support will help build a relationship with your child as opposed to punishment. When a child is showing signs of aggression or defiance, try to remain calm since yelling will only aggravate the matter.

In today’s day and age, working parents have no time to give one-on-one attention to their child. A child may then feel alienated and in turn imbibe the trait into his or her own behaviour. It is therefore important for every parent to ensure that they spend quality time with their child on a daily basis. In case you’re out working for long hours, try to speak to your child over the phone. Eating dinner together is another instance which can give you the time to check in with your child and show him or her that you're interested in their life, and provides that one-on-one attention the child may crave. Adequate amount of attention from parents can make a child feel secure and confident which can reduce the chances of displaying signs of anti-social behaviour.

If required, the child can be enrolled in therapy sessions which will teach the child to learn better. With the help of therapy, the signs and triggers of aggression or isolation can be addressed and an individualistic approach will help the child to understand social norms. A child’s mind is vulnerable as well as sharp at a young age. A watchful eye and compassion from the parents will give the child a secure environment and will help them to grow into successful and confident professionals in the fields they are interested in.

The author is Fatima Agarkar, co-founder of JBCN Education Group
 
Are you a consumer of technology or a creator of technology? It is natural that there are more consumers than creators. However, every country needs a substantial number of creators to be able to progress and compete globally. For this, we need to equip our children with the habit of creating technology rather than just using technology. 

In the world of education, ‘Technology’ is an often used word today. ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) is taught in schools from as early as 1st standard. ICT is clearly meant for learning how to use computers, communication and related tools. Whenever we talk about using technology in education, we mean using projectors, simulations, animations, videos, internet, computers etc. Though it is important to use technology in education, it is also very important to make our children capable of creating technology for the future. There are two questions we need to address here: 

- Is it necessary to build such capabilities at an early stage in their education? 
- Is it possible to do so? 

Let's explore the answers to these questions now. 

User verses Creator of Technology 

When your child wants to be an expert in playing a video game, will you support him whole heartedly? A small minority of new age parents may support their children in such a pursuit. On the other hand, if your child wants to create a new video game and starts learning computer programming, parents tend to support such a goal. Why so? We inherently respect technology creators rather than users and we aspire to be parents of such creators. 

Enthusiastic users and deep thinking creators together form an ecosystem where innovation can flourish. A user or a consumer is emotionally rewarded when he buys a product of latest technology. The statement “I own a car with 6 cylinders and latest fuel injection technology” gives me social recognition, whereas buying a quad-core phone gives my daughter similar social recognition in her circle. This drives people towards tech-savviness. But, such a support system is absent in our country for technology creators. Have you ever heard statements like “my son created this logic circuit to automatically control water pump in our house” or “I created a new compiler for natural language!” No, we are not yet there, but we can start now. If we can create such a culture in our early education ecosystem, we can lay foundation for future technology creators in our country. 

To be able to groom the technology creators of future, we need to lay the right kind of foundation that involves basics of both technology and creativity. Technology is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes. Every product that we use in our daily lives involves technology. Not many of those were created here in India. Creativity cannot be learnt after earning a University degree. It has to be inculcated early in life. We shall explore how we can sow these two seeds of technology and creativity at an early stage in child’s education. 

Learning Technology: What and How? 

Technology is generally a consequence of science and engineering. Today, we use terms like biotechnology, agricultural technology, nanotechnology etc. Hence, the term ‘technology’ is used in a very broad sense here. So, what can we teach children at primary and high-school levels that could help them in most fields of technology? 

We can rely on the school science books to identify concepts for which we can easily find applications in daily life. Here is a sample list of such concepts for classes 5 to 10 and corresponding technologies:

Standard- Concepts from science books- Corresponding technology
5th- Moon- Telescopes, Rockets, Moon rovers
6th- Simplemachines- Cars, Crane
7th- Heat- Room heater, AC, Refrigerator, IC engines
8th- Electricity and Magnetism- Generator, motor, speaker, microphone
9th- Newton’s laws- Cars, Airplanes, rockets, robots
10th- Liquid properties- Hydraulic lift, hydraulic brake 

I have listed the concepts mostly from physics but it is possible to work with any part of science and identify the corresponding technologies. 

Now, how do we impart technology training to children? 

We can make use of following techniques to expose children to relevant technology:  

- Narrate the story of invention of the technology / product. Invention of a camera or a telephone are good examples of interesting stories 

- Arrange a discussion about “what if we didn’t have this technology”. Children can understand the value of technology creators like Michael Faraday when they realise how difficult it is to live without electricity if Faraday had not invented a dynamo. 

- Take children to a factory visit where they can see technology usage directly. If that is not possible, we can show them the videos of such factories. Showing children ‘pick and place’ robots assembling parts of a car in a factory can open their eyes on interesting uses of robots. 

- Identify models of products that can be built by children and make them build things using their hands. Models of moon rover, electric crane, cars, trains, airplanes, robots, rockets etc., are very interesting for children to build with their hands. 

- Encourage children to cultivate hobbies in new age technologies like aero-modelling, electronics, programming, robotics etc., 

Kindling Creativity 

All children are born creative; we rob them of creativity through education. If we are careful and be aware of things that curb the creative instincts, we can at least make some children retain and develop creativity when they reach adulthood. Some practical ideas to retain and foster creativity are: 

- Encourage children to explore things without the fear of failure. Creativity is always accompanied by lots of failures. Thomas Edison failed 6000 times before succeeding in his light bulb invention. Do not punish children for failures. 

- Curiosity is the mother of invention. Children are naturally curious. We should avoid curbing their curiosity. Always encourage them even when they ask apparently silly questions. They look silly to us because we already have a certain boundary in our thinking and hence we cannot think differently. 

- Kids are always such a sport; they do not allow their ideas to be hijacked by negative thinking. Do not start with the statement “your idea doesn’t work because . . .” 

- Children are action oriented. Allow them to work using their hands. Give them models to build or simple products to repair. 

- Sometimes a child sits simply without doing anything. Her mind is consolidating, connecting things that she has grasped and thinking about what to do next.

- Do not disturb her. 

Conclusion 

We have mechanisms in our daily life that can motivate us to consume technology. We need technology creators to take the civilisation forward but we do not have natural motivators for technology creators in our daily life. Schools have to take up this responsibility. If we lay the right kind of foundation in basics of technology and create an atmosphere that fosters creativity we can hope for next generation technology creators emerging in our own country. 

The author is Guruprasad R. Athani, chief learning officer, TinkerMaster.
 
 
Gone are the days when parents enforced their plans about their children's future on them. Gone are the times when a child would follow a career path set solely by his parents. Today a totally different combination of parent-child relationship is seen. Today an effort to walk hand in hand with the child, is seen from the parents' side. A realisation that it is necessary to understand a child’s interest and help him construct his career path, has dawned on parents. It is very essential to establish a relation, which encompasses the comfort of sharing things with each other. But differences in thoughts cannot be denied. So how can a Parent-Child duo who may differ by thoughts about career selection come to a conclusion with mutual consent?

Fatima Agarkar, an educationist, says, "Children today have access to detailed information, a lot of researched data is available pertaining to their personal choices on the internet and honestly, children are more aware, reflective of their skills, which makes them feel they are capable of taking the right decisions in their life. This may result in difference of opinion especially when parents, protective of their children, like to dictate decisions. Children at times need to exercise their rights and work with their dreams provided they have a logic, a rationale and a well thought of plan. Parents can allow them this freedom and be there as support, even if it means allowing them to explore a path that is not in alignment with their wish list. Children should always know they have their parents’ blessings and support! In case their choices do not materialise as envisioned."

Parental confidence is therefore also the difference between success and failure for the children. Be there for your children u. When we talk about being there for your child all the time, taking part in career counselling of your child is also equally important. It is the counsellor who advices your child about his career but he would always need his parents to hold his hand and walk with him. Youth, they say, sometimes work with calculated risks, and parent's experience and support in the process, is the voice of reasoning and questioning that enables children to 'think through'. Also participating in the process, the parents motivate, encourage and get to know their child’s true abilities and desires and perhaps impose their personal decisions less.

Children at every stage need to have a sounding board and parents have the ability to only think of the best for their child. Having said that, it is also sometimes seen that parents’ kind of overstretch the counselling process for their child. On this, Mrs. Agarkar says, "I know of parents in school who have started the goal setting of Harvard as soon as the child turned 4! There is that need stemming from the fact that every parent believes a head start counts, every parent cherishes the planning and careful guidance but perhaps it isn’t required as children are growing up independently and can take decisions objectively as well."

Then what exactly is the way in which parents are supposed to get involved in career counselling of their child? Well, quite honestly, as parents one has the deepest and most realistic understanding of a child's abilities and skills. If parents can remain objective, and guide the child aware of the child's innate and talents and also of limitations, they become an important cog in the discussion process. Giving counsellors a perspective who tend to base it on evaluation of an aptitude test and past results. When asked how the mapping of a child’s future should be done, Mrs Agarkar said, "I attended a conference recently and the writing was on the wall for parents and educators. We are grooming children today with no idea of the kinds of jobs that are going to be in existence decades later. How can we therefore map their future?

We can teach them skills of being adaptable and transferable and therefore when the children get to the threshold age of making the decision. They should be allowed the freedom too."

Hence, when a parent-child duo decides to choose upon a career with mutual consent, a child needs to have faith and patience on his own and parents should adapt to the changing world as well as the thought process of their child.