The youngest influencers

Yukti Lao

The crux of my experience as a teacher is that a teacher and a learner are two sides of the same coin. Most days, it is the teacher that teaches the students, but on some days, some moments, a reversal of role takes place as the student teaches the teacher. It adds a golden moment to the teacher’s experience. I find myself lucky to have amassed many such golden moments in my career.

On an ordinary day, I saw one of my students counting as he was climbing the stairs in school. While some of his friends were fumbling in simple counting exercises, this boy had made it a simple game. This was a point of learning for me as I decided to use this idea for a fun learning game.

The next day, I used coloured tape to make a number ladder from 0-20 on the floor of the kindergarten corridor. The idea was to enable the children to learn forward and reverse counting. So, every morning my students would enter the classroom by jumping on the number ladder in the corridor. Through this game, they were able to learn forward as well as reverse counting (by jumping backwards).

In another incident, during free play activity, students are provided with play material such as building blocks, sponge and velcro balls and beads. These equipment help the children explore and show their creativity while learning about various concepts. While the entire class was exploring the play materials, I observed that one student was doing something different. He was using the velcro balls quite creatively. He joined the balls together in such a way that they looked like a 3D clown. It was a spectacular sight. A three-year-old exhibiting such creativity was beyond anyone’s imagination. I realized that if children were given the appropriate environment and resources they could create miracles.

Through this incident, I also learnt how velcro balls which are used in the game ‘Hit the target’ can be used to build a clown, car, and many other objects. I took this learning back to my class and planned an activity to create different things using shapes. I cut out circles, rectangles, squares, triangles, ovals from coloured paper and kept them in separate baskets. I saw how children used these shapes cleaverly to make beautiful pictures.

A small observation made during free play, helped me as a teacher to learn how children create using their imagination. Their minds are not designed to stay passive and listen. They are designed to explore, play and learn. This helped me create a very engaging and meaningful lesson about shapes. Just telling the children about a particular shape is not enough, an activity or game can help them understand better. We as teachers should provide ample opportunities for the children to learn through play. It is our duty to introduce a seed of curiosity in our students. It helps them to develop a habit of understanding things through their own experiences. As Fred Donaldson (author and mentor) rightly says, ‘Children learn as they play, most importantly, in play children learn how to learn’.

In play, children explore, create, improvise and imagine. Engaging in creative play brings a sense of joy to them. It builds brain pathways for thinking creatively, imaginatively, flexibly, and empathetically. Teaching is a rewarding profession. It is a blessing to be surrounded every day by children who trust me with their hugs, sweet words, and so much more!

At the end I would like to say, “While we teach children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about”.

The author is an English Literature graduate from Delhi University. She is currently working as kindergarten teacher at Gyan Devi Salwan Public School, New Delhi. She can be reached at [email protected].

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