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Facilitating growth the right way

Facilitating growth the right way

I used to think children gave us grief only when they were infants. Not true at all! As they begin to grow and develop personalities of their own, trouble takes on whole new dimensions. Research says baby brain development starts right from the moment of conception. Then on, children make such rapid progress as to have you completely stumped.

The other day as I sat with N trying to explain the importance of exams and good grades she said:

Mama do you remember the time we went out for dinner to that restaurant Italy via Punjab?
Me (wondering how this fitted in with my exam gyan): Yes, I do.
N: And do you remember your marks in class 6?
Me: No, I don’t. Why?
N: See nobody remembers marks, we only remember the good times. Exams aren’t everything, you know!

Seriously? Now I’ll have a cheeky 11 year-old lecture me on how exams and grades weren’t important? I know that already, thank you. And could you get back to your studies, please?

Sometimes when they talk like this, like know-it-all mini adults, I wonder when they grew up. When did they start thinking up arguments and talking to me like equals?

I well remember the day they were born – tiny mites they were – H, at a mere 2.4kgs, was struggling with an underdeveloped lung while the 1.9 kg N was all eyes and ears, looking, listening, absorbing, even when the doctor brought her to me for that first hug.

I have to admit I was a pretty clueless new-mom. All my school friends had grown up children by then, while my work friends were mostly single or childless. I hardly read up and thought of pregnancy as one big holiday since I’d worked ever since I had left college. That wasn’t quite the right thing to do.

Have you heard of Feed IQ?

I recently came across the concept of Feed IQ. Have you heard of it? Quite literally it implies that a mom ‘feeds IQ’ to her baby through breastfeeding and also through infant brain exercises. There’s a whole list of exercises for each stage of your baby’s growth. You can look it up here.

Simply put, a new parent needs to expose his/her child to as many new experiences as he/she possibly can while giving the child time and leisure to process them at his own pace. Coupled with proper nutrition, this can boost the baby’s IQ.

First the food

I went purely on instinct back when H and N were infants and so obsessed was I about the food that my sister christened me Nirupa Roy. I worried constantly about their baby weight, because they were pre-term babies, plus because H needed to spend about two weeks in the NICU.

They picked up fast enough and I can say with some amount of pride that they are pretty non-fussy as compared to a lot of other children. My sister insists that because I ate so much lauki and cabbage during my pregnancy the children have developed a taste for it. There might be some truth in that, given that the foetus’ first taste of food is through what the mother eats.

And the brain exercises

As with food I went with instinct again, which wasn’t all bad, but I do wish I had been more organised. I’d do things differently now, prepare better perhaps, be more conscious of the fact that the children were attuned to my every mood and thought even when they were tiny foetuses.

The trick is of course, to start early.

I remember I talked to them all the time, even when they couldn’t understand much, mostly because I was often alone with them at home. I sang to them and told them stories. While Shape of You might be miles away from Nanhi Pari, I like to think their love for music stemmed from there.

I do take complete credit for their love of stories. I began by telling them about the epics then moved on to reading aloud to them. From Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America to the great Wars, they loved every bit of it, and still do. Now they’re writing stories of their own.

Going by the way they argue and counter argue; their brain seems to be developing fine. Some of it is genetics of course; we’re quite a family of ‘arguers.’ But as a parent we can facilitate their skills in a hundred small ways.

As the twins grow I see a lot of me in them. And that makes me happy except when they quote me at me to get their way.

When learning is a new adventure everyday

When learning is a new adventure everyday

Somedays I wish the twins were toddlers again and it’s not only because their tweens are proving to be tougher than their toddler days ever were. This feeling was brought on the other day when I was at the inauguration of a play school, Safari Kid at Koregaon park, Pune.

The thought that has gone into making the play school not just child friendly but mom friendly as well, is amazing. As I went from room to room, (I cannot call them ‘classrooms’ at all because they just aren’t that, not in the traditional sense at least) I found myself going from ‘aww’ and ‘how cute’ to being seriously impressed.

Safari Kid is a chain of play schools that has made its way all the way from Silicon Valley to Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune in India. This is its second centre in the city. There’s lots to like here and you can go to their website for more on it.

A Glocal approach to learning

What I liked best is the principle of bringing in global ideas and modifying them to suit local culture. For instance along with Hindi and English children are given an exposure to languages like Spanish and our good old Marathi. The idea is not to drown them in coursework, they’re just 2 to 5 years old, remember? However, children pick up way more in their earlier years, simply by being exposed to new experiences – and that’s the idea Safari Kid is working with.

Because each child is different

As a mom to twins I know how very different two children can be. I’ve written about it often enough. That’s why, when I was looking for a school for the twins one of the major criteria was the number of children in their class. That’s another thing I loved about Safari Kid. They have not more than 16 children in each class with the teacher-student ratio at 1:2 for the infants (under 1), 1: 6 for children under two years old and 1:8 for the 2-6yrs age group. This allows them to work with each child as an individual, tailoring the teaching to each little one’s pace and style.

Building potential leaders

A lot of play schools these days serve as mere preparatory classes for when the children move on to the ‘big’ school. At Safari Kid, that happens automatically while the focus remains on his long term personality enhancement. For instance there’s a little podium where children learn to make presentations. Standing up there and talking about something as simple as ‘my favourite colour’ or ‘my favourite toy’ helps rid them of self-consciousness and makes them comfortable with public speaking, encouraging potential leaders.

For the Creative Child

Oh and if you thought it was all about reading and languages and presentations, you must visit the Art Room. I fell in love with the tiny easels and the colourful array of paints. I can completely imagine children spending hours messing about and refusing to come out of there.

And there’s more..

There’s a delightful indoor play area where children can climb and slide when they feel like a break. Take a look.

There’s space for the very tiniest ones – a Sensory Room where they can touch and feel and play along with their mums.

I got talking to some of the moms and they seemed to trust Safari Kid implicitly with their children. That’s should be enough recommendation for any parent.


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