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Let’s add “Fun” to “Learning”

“By playing games you can artificially speed up your learning curve to develop the right kind of thought processes”

-Nate Silver

With this quote by the award-winning American Statistician and Writer, we are very much through the looking glass about what is to follow.

Can Games be seen as a socially acceptable way to Learn?

For a long time, games have been seen merely as a tool for having fun and passing time. Whether it’s school or our households, parents and teachers get worried about their kids when they see them spend too much time playing games.

This perception has created a common repulsion towards games and other fun ways to learn. Games are thus not seen as a socially acceptable way to learn sophisticated disciplines.

This brings about a series of questions

Is it more important to restrict the kids to a given learning pattern or should they be allowed to explore on their own?

Is scoring marks the only important thing or having fun with learning is more important?

Can kids achieve their best without truly enjoying the process of learning?

The last question brings another famous quote by a well known greek philosopher Socrates

Education is the kindling of a flame not the filling of a vessel”

With too much burden of learning very specific things and taking away the freedom of kids to explore, don’t you think we are extinguishing that flame.

I just recalled a very interesting incident that involved my niece.

In order to become a cool uncle, I had to get a gift every time I visited my niece. As an educationist, there is a big pressure on me to bring something related to learning. But, let me tell you, kids don’t see the gifts that way. So, to stand up to the expectations of both her and her parents, I have to choose something which is both learning and fun.

This one time I dropped by, only to find out that she has her social studies test three days later. I was obviously advised to keep the gift to myself (She didn’t take that very well).So, her test preparation went like this. Everyone was in a panic and we all were trying to get her to memorize states and capitals. After a whole day of her running around and hiding and all of us chasing, we finally managed to make her memorize all the states and capitals. Happy ending, right?

No! She forgot everything the next morning.

Now, we had to start all over again. I remembered that I brought a Map puzzle for her once so I finally convinced her parents to let her play with that for a while because obviously their plan didn’t work. Now she was running again, only this time she was chasing us to do the puzzle with her. In the next two hours, she was placing every puzzle piece perfectly and she was asking me a thousand questions about each state (which honestly, I didn’t know).

I don’t need to mention how she did at the tests.

Watching a child learn with such enthusiasm and fluidity can be a very overwhelming sight for anyone who has been involved in parenting or teaching.

This fun little story made me want to dig a little deeper and find out more about what others think about Game-Based Learning.

Let’s first take a look at what experts have to say about the definition of game-based learning and it’s benefits.

What is Game-Based Learning?

According to several sources, game-based learning can be defined as An approach towards learning where a child explores the relevant aspects of a game in a defined learning context.

Some characteristics of game-based learning are:

  1. The learning process takes place through different and attractive scenarios
  2. The learning process is based on overcoming different challenges
  3. The learning experience is positive and interesting

Learning designed in this way have certain benefits which are very well put in the following points

What do researchers around the world say about Game-Based Learning?

According to Educause “7 things you should know about Game-Based Learning”

  1. Games can draw kids towards learning more actively
  2. Competition in the Games can pique motivation
  3. Games polish kids’ abilities while achieving intermediate goals which make them visualize their progress
  4. Games show that failure is not the final outcome but it’s just a part of a process.
  5. Games show how discrete steps leads to major goals teaching them the interrelationship b/w tactics and strategy
  6. Games teach how to approach the same problems in multiple ways
  7. Games help kids to develop confidence and make them independent thinkers

These points suggest why learning with games can provide a clear advantage over traditional ways. This is fair but I based on my experiences, I was more concerned about what roles can games play if children use them at home rather than a learning center.

Why should you bring the Games home for Learning?

In the above-mentioned points, we talked strictly about the general nature of games and their benefits.

We can now take a step further and take a look at games and learning from a parent’s perspective.

Games are not just

Games are a good learning source for all age groups

Even simple games for early age kids can help them to identify colors, recognize shapes, count spaces, etc.

Researchers found that playing games twice a week increased the brain speed scores of elementary students by a staggering 27 – 32%!

In the words of a known clinical psychologist Beatrice Tauber, “Strategy games are useful in helping the frontal lobes of the brain development which are responsible for executive function skills such as planning, organizing, and making good decisions”.

It doesn’t matter how old your child is or what are their interests, games can be a fun way to connect productively for all age groups.

Games can help improve your child’s language skills

Games like Scrabble & Boggle have proved far more effective than traditional methods in improving vocabulary, word recognition, spellings, pattern recognition, and reasoning.

This brings about a better way to develop a good productive conversation with your child.

Increase the attention span of your child

Engage with your kids in a lengthy game such as monopoly, chess, or checkers without any distractions or interruptions. You will observe a clear difference in their attention span and concentration after a while. Research has shown the effectiveness of games in fostering focus.

Anxiety? Give it a rest with Games

According to Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University in New York City,

Because they are structured, Games can provide an easier way to build interpersonal relationships with peers since the child knows what’s expected of them.

It can be a great medium for your kids to overcome any kind of social or learning anxiety.

Feel closer with your child over a Game

If you ever feel that your kid is frustrated or acting strange, games or playful activities can be a better reinforcement than punishing them or sending them to their room.

“I often use board games as a mechanism to work on the parent-child relationship,”

explains Regine Galanti, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and professor at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.

Screen Off Game On!

In this age of overflow of technology, your kid is surrounded by all kinds of digital devices and complications. Sometimes it gets really hard to get them away from the screen. Although digital awareness is an important skill to have in the 21st century, overexposure to these gadgets and platforms may sometimes become a thing to worry about. In such situations, Board Games can be the simple, most elegant way to get your kids away from the screen and spend some quality time with you.

To Sum Up

Games have been around for centuries as a medium for recreation and improving cognitive abilities. This holds true even in the current times. There are a number of exciting games available that can boost your kid’s learning and keep them engaged productively. If you are looking for a quality weekend with your kids, Games or Fun Learning Activities can be a refreshing experience.

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Math Anxiety: Understand and help your child Overcome it using different Methodologies

“As a student, I always thought that sweaty palms and a knot in my stomach were normal physiologic responses when beginning a new chapter in math class”

– Suryansh, a parent

Did you ever feel the same when you were studying in school? Or do you still feel this pressure whenever you encounter any Math problem?

A lot of people feel the anxiety towards Math. Be it, young children, or adults, Math has always been one daunting subject for everyone. There are few people who actually like the universal nature of Math. I am one of those but this wasn’t the case during my early childhood.

I can recall one incident when I had a lot of stress to perform well in a Math test as I couldn’t perform well in the previous one. On the day of the test, I felt sick and couldn’t attend school. My parents could sense that it was the fear of Math and the stress to perform well, which made me sick. This was when I was in 5th grade. At this early age, I started developing the fear because of which it took a lot of time for me to understand and overcome it.

What is Math anxiety?

Mathematics anxiety is defined as feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a wide variety of ordinary life and academic situations. Math anxiety can cause one to forget and lose one’s self-confidence.

According to the research study undertaken by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) 2017, students of grade 3rd, 5th, and 8th have deep-rooted phobia in their minds for Math which disrupts their cognitive processing.

How does a child develop Math anxiety at a young age?

There are a number of reasons due to which anxiety develops at a young age in children. I have listed down a few major ones.

  • Abstract Nature of Math: Math is one particular subject which is abstract in nature and requires a lot of hands-on and experiment-based approach.
  • Prior Negative Experiences: When a child had some prior negative experience while learning Math at school or at home
  • Inability to Visualize: Inability of children to visualize mathematical concepts may lead to serious misconceptions at an early age
  • Memorizing Math Concepts: Children have been taught to memorize mathematical concepts without actually working on the problems and understanding the reason behind it. This adds up to their increased level of Math anxiety.
  • Lack of Peer-learning: It makes the learning process very dull and boring
  • Pen-Paper based Learning Approach: This kind of approach towards Math makes it look fearsome for an early age child.

Effect on the child if you ignore it

In the short term, if we don’t address the problem then the child will start disliking the subject and it will reflect on their academic performance.

And in the long term, we will be obstructing the child to develop skills which are required to prepare them for future jobs and job success.

According to the survey by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),

“Numeracy skills are used extensively in work settings worldwide. Across participating OECD countries, 38% of workers aged 16 to 65 report using fractions at work at least once a week, 29% simple algebra or formulas, and 4% advanced math (OECD, 2013a)”

According to the research, the demand for science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) professionals is predicted to increase.

Tips for you as a parent, to help your child

Now that we know, that children experience Math anxiety, and that anxiety is associated with a lot of factors as talked about earlier, how can you as a parent help your child overcome it?

According to the research, the child’s self-esteem and mathematical confidence are related to his or her parent’s perceptions and expectations than to the student’s own achievement record.

  • Activity-Based Learning: Focus on an activity or a group of activities that can help your child explore relationships, solve problems, and see Math in a positive way
  • Little Encouragement will do Wonders: Encourage your child’s interest in Math and constantly tell them that they can also succeed
  • Keep a Check: Ask your child about their progress in the learning. Let them know that you care about them.
  • Share: If you also had any anxiety or fear about anything or any subject then share it with your child so that he/she can openly talk about it. This way you can get to know them and help them better.
  • Observe: Keenly observe your child’s behavior so that even if they are not comfortable in talking, you know about their change in behavior due to the anxiety.

Besides the points that I talked about, different pedagogical processes have also been found helpful in overcoming Math anxiety apart from the factors above

What will be the best innovative learning approach for your child?

In the words of Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned British Educationalist,

“There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure.

The first is this, that human beings are naturally different and diverse

The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity

And the third principle is that human life is inherently creative”

-Sir Ken Robinson

In order to cater to the diverse needs of learning styles and creativity, different innovative approaches came into play. I am sharing a few of them with you so that you know what’s best for your child.

1. Blended learning– In this learning method, a child learns via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching.

2. Game-based learning– It is the best way to capture a child’s interest along with meeting educational purposes and other skill development. Games provide ample opportunities to inquire, explore, and interact during problem-solving

3. Computational thinking-It develops a child’s problem-solving skills by looking at challenges as computers would and then uses technology to resolve them.

4. Experiential learning– This kind of learning method involves active experience, inquiry, and reflection. It lets the child apply the knowledge acquired, to real-world experiences.

5. Embodied learning – This method focuses on a child’s non-mental factors involved in learning, and that signals the importance of the body and feelings.

In my personal experience, it took me 5-7 years to overcome Math anxiety. So be patient with your child. Share your own experiences with them, make them feel comfortable to talk about their fears. Every child is unique and has different ways of learning. All you have to do is to cherish their individuality and provide them the right environment to flourish.

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Parenting: Different styles and their effect on your child

“Children are educated by what the grown-up is and not by his talk.”

-Carl Jung

The above line is by Carl Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. What he means by the above line is that you simply cannot tell your child what to do, you must lead by example.

A Parent is a child’s first teacher. Most of the things that your child learned was by observing and imitating you, right? You play a crucial role in the overall development and learning of your child. Learning happens in a very natural way based on the everyday moments that you share with your child. Also, it is a two-way process where both you and your child learn.

Your child learned their first word when you tried speaking to him/her. From that moment, your child learned the language and literacy skills. Your child learned to be confident when you provide ample opportunities to explore around, be it any DIY activity or a collaborative activity with your child. Your constant support in the growing age of a child creates a positive environment for them to nurture.

For this very reason, there are a lot of responsibilities on parents as they are the ones with whom a child spends most of the early years.

What is parenting?

According to the American Psychological Association, parenting practices around the world share three major goals :

  • ensuring children’s health and safety
  • preparing children for life as productive adults
  • transmitting cultural values

A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for the healthy development of a child. All these above practices comprise the process of parenting.

Every parent follows certain strategies in parenting their child which resulted in the different styles of parenting.

Different parenting styles

Diane Baumrind, a Clinical and Developmental Psychologist in the 1960s conducted a study on more than 100 pre-school-age children. After numerous observations, interviews, and research she suggested the three types of parenting styles. All these styles were different from one another with distinct characteristics. They were categorized on factors like disciplinary strategies, warmth and nurturing communication styles, and control.

Let me tell you the key features of each of these styles. Although the styles are the United States centric and its not clear how they stand cross-culturally.

They are:

1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian: In this style, parents act majorly as a disciplinarian.

  • Child is expected to obey blindly
  • Very high expectations are set for the child
  • Strict rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is mostly from parent to child
  • Parent is unresponsive

2. Authoritative: Parents are very nurturing and reasonable in this type of style.

  • Parent is supportive and values the independence of the child
  • Very high expectations are set for the child
  • Clear rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is 2 ways, from parent to child and vice versa.
  • Parent is warm and responsive

3. Permissive or Indulgent: In this style, parents let the child do whatever they want.

  • Parent is indulgent in the child’s life
  • Parent is lenient
  • Few or no rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is 2 ways, from parent to child and vice versa.
  • Parent is warm and responsive

4. Uninvolved or Neglectful: Maccoby and Martin, two psychologists in 1983 proposed a fourth style of parenting which is called uninvolved parenting. Its key features are

  • Parent is uninvolved in the child’s life
  • Parent is indifferent towards the child
  • No rules are there to follow
  • Conversation is mostly from child to parent.
  • Parent is cold and unresponsive

The outcome of these styles on your child

Research shows that genetics and the environment have roughly equal influence on human traits. The relationship between you and your child lays the foundation of your child’s personality, behavior, and choices in life. It further adds up to your child’s physical, emotional, and social health. The four styles that I talked about, all have different effects on the child’s behavior according to the research. They are:

  1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian: It results in a child’s low academic performance, low self-esteem, poor social skills, mental illness, and misconduct.
  2. Authoritative: It results in a child’s high academic performance, high self-esteem, poor social skills, mental illness, and misconduct.
  3. Permissive or Indulgent: Child becomes egocentric, poor social skills, the problem regarding relationships, and has impulsive behavior
  4. Uninvolved or Neglectful: Child shows impulsive behavior, misconduct, and drugs/alcohol addict

What can you do?

It is not a compulsion for you to follow one specific style. You must have realized being a parent, that at some point you might have to take up combinations of different styles which is perfectly fine. There is no hard and fast rule for you to follow. You know your child better than anyone.

To know them even more and strengthen the relationship with your child, you can do these small gestures in day to day interactions.

  • Communicate more often with your child

You might feel that your child is spending the majority of the time with you, then what is the point of communicating? Communicating the feelings with your child will let them get closer to you and will create a safe space for your child to do the same. Don’t push them to share, it will come naturally if you also share.

  • Empathize with the child

“By loving them for more than their abilities we show our children that they are much more than the sum of their accomplishments.”

-Eileen Kennedy-Moore

Try to look at things from a child’s perspective for you to understand your child better. It will help create mutual understanding and respect for one another

  • Spend more time with the child

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.”

-Jesse Jackson

Nowadays children are busy playing digital games with their friends and parents are mostly busy with their work life. Put the technology away and give yourself some break from that busy routine. You can get board games or DIY activities to do with your child. This could be a great way of entertainment and bonding opportunities.

  • Set some rules and boundaries as well

You might be feeling that all these things are fine but there should be some rules in place to have some control. Well, you are right! You will need to provide some structure and guidance. Sit with your child and clearly convey what you expect of them.

I personally feel that we as parents sometimes don’t realize that we are too involved with our work life and don’t have time to spend and know our children. There could also be a time when we don’t realize that we are way too involved and protective of our children. We need to reflect upon ourselves and strike the right balance between these two spectrums.

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Are children getting bored at home? 10 ways to engage with your child during COVID-19 lockdown

March 2020 will soon be mentioned in our history books because from that time onwards the entire country came to halt. If not completely, it definitely slowed the entire country, or let’s just say the entire world. There has been a lot of uncertainty and still is. The hot topic of discussion is COVID-19 and the biggest question is when is it going to end?!

The education system in India has also taken a toll. According to an earlier report by Economic Times,

“India has emerged as one of the world’s largest consumer of education services with a target population of more than 445 million (between the age group of 5-24 years)”

With this large number of students, there is a great responsibility for the schools and teachers to carry out the classes productively. Now you must be wondering what’s your role in all this? Well, none of us were ready for this kind of situation. On introducing the digital world to the classroom, the teachers can’t provide the one-to-one interaction with the students. This is when your responsibility as a parent grows because you are closest to your kid and no one can understand your kid better than you do.

With this new role in place do you sometimes feel that you are losing the ‘being friendly to your child’ side and moving towards ‘being a teacher to your child’? Do you keep searching for alternate ways to engage with your child?

Being a parent it must be difficult for you as well. But worry no more! We’ve got your back.

We have compiled a list of 10 things that are fun and engaging. And the best part is they are absolutely FREE!!

1. YouTube Kids:

YouTube Kids was created by YouTube exclusively for children. It was created to give your children a more contained environment that makes it simpler and more fun for them to explore on their own, and easier for you to guide as they discover new and exciting interests.

During this time when children are surfing on the internet a lot, there are risks like inappropriate content and cyberbullying. On this platform, you have complete control over the content.

2. Virtual Field Trips:

Due to the outbreak, you cannot step out of the house. Online tours are a great way for you and your child to have access to the outside world. Here are some of them.

a. Indian Museums:

Google Arts & Culture has brought around 2,500 museums, galleries, and online exhibits to you in the virtual form. You can explore them with your child whenever you feel like traveling around a little bit (VIRTUALLY of course).

b. Zoos and Aquariums around the world:

A lot of zoos and aquariums have live cams installed. To get you the live feel of it, you and your child can anytime go and check out what the animals are doing at this very moment.

c. M&Ms factory tour:

Kids always love candies. Actually let’s just say everyone does. The Food Network hosts a virtual tour of the M&Ms factory to let your child see how amazing candies are made.

d. Outer Space:

This probably is a great way to let your child see outer space and embark that curiosity of Outer Space. NASA does virtual tours of the Moon and the International Space Station. Google in collaboration with NASA also does the virtual tour of Mars.

3. Disney on Stage:

Disney has showcased some of the most popular parts of Disney Theatrical’s free education programs. So if your child is really keen to do a theatre this could be a great opportunity. You can also be a part of it.

It has downloadable creative activities from The Lion King, Mary Poppins, Aladdin, Frozen, and a selection of Careers in Theatres videos and podcasts.

4. Scratch:

Scratch is one of the best platforms for your child if he/she is into coding and animations. It has an Interactive story, game, and animation design from the MIT Media Lab, designed for ages 8 to 16. Anyone can access it and create anything. Encourage your child to transform their creative work into reality.

5. Duolingo:

You can also use this opportunity to learn a new language via Duolingo. This could be a great idea to learn something new together with your child. It has simple and fun gamified language lessons that your child will enjoy.

6. National Geographic Kids Science Lab:

It has tons of experiments and videos which will definitely help in generating interest in the subject. You and your child can perform these simple and interesting experiments at home. It can be a great way to connect with your child and do some hands-on activity with them.

7. Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems:

Mo Willems is an American writer, animator, voice actor, and creator of children’s books and Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist. They have collaborated to offer a series of playful experiments that show how art and music inspire each other. You and your child can watch, listen, or even join in from home with paper and start doodling. It explores different ways of writing and making, with children of all ages.

8. NASA STEM @ Home for Students:

NASA has listed a whole library of activities and STEM articles for the children to read for every age from K-12+. If your child is intrigued by the space and astronaut then they surely will have fun with these activities.

9. Print & Play:

It will provide your child with a hands-on experience of creating a game and build their confidence. You just have to print and let your child create the DIY elements of the game and Voila! The board game is ready to be played with friends and the family. And the best part? It is based on Mathematical concepts. So you don’t have to worry even if they overplay it and lose track of time. You can also take a break and enjoy it with your child.

10. Audio Stories:

Everyone loves listening to stories right? If you didn’t get time to read stories like The Little Mermaid, The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, etc then don’t worry. It has a collection of podcasts of stories that you and your child can enjoy listening to.

You can try out these amazing activities and have fun with your child. All of these activities will provide you an opportunity to connect with your child and wonderful family time. So wait no more and get started!

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21st Century Skills: What, Why and How

As harsh as the words may seem, the truth about the upcoming age perfectly reflects in the following quote

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can’t read or write but those who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn”

-Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler is regarded as one of the world’s most outstanding futurists. According to him, the rapidly changing societies of the 21st century will have massive implications for life, work, and education. The knowledge and skill necessary for a given job will change more rapidly. This may lead to higher shifts from one job to another as certain jobs might go obsolete or may lose demand. This means that we can’t be dependent on any single skill to serve us for a lifetime. The survival and growth in this age of sudden and rapid change will be highly dependent upon the capacities to adapt, learn, unlearn, and be the designer of your own learning goals.

After stating this fundamental understanding of the position of the future, I would like to move ahead to talk more about 21st-century skills.

What are 21st Century Skills?

While I talk in detail about the 21st Century skills, I must point out that there is no official codification or categorization of these skills. These are a set of skills, knowledge, habits, and character traits that are believed to be important for success in the information age.

The following list encompasses twelve widely accepted abilities and skills believed to be critically important:

1. Learning Skills

  • Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is essential to look at the world around in-depth. It’s the ability to analyze things and form a judgment.

  • Creative Thinking

This skill empowers children to see concepts in a different light, which leads to innovation.

In any field, innovation is key to the adaptability and overall success of anything.

  • Collaborating

Collaboration essentially means working together. Although in a deeper sense it is the ability to understand the concept of greater good and willingness to sacrifice the opinions and biases to achieve the target.

  • Communication

This encompasses the ability to effectively convey ideas among different types of people. This helps in avoiding any confusion while working together and any misinterpretation of ideas and opinions

2. Literacy Skills

  • Information Literacy

It helps children to understand facts, especially data points, that they’ll encounter online.

More importantly, it teaches them how to separate fact from fiction.

  • Media Literacy

Identifying publishing methods, outlets, and sources while distinguishing between the ones that are credible and the ones that aren’t.

  • Technology Literacy

Technology literacy gives students the basic information they need to understand what gadgets perform what tasks and why.

This understanding removes the intimidating feeling that technology tends to have. After all, if you don’t understand how the technology works, it might as well be magic.

3. Life Skills

  • Flexibility

It requires the ability to deviate from the rigid mindset and adapt quickly to the changing realities. Knowing when to change, how to change, and how to react to change is a skill that is very essential for long term success.

  • Initiative

Initiative often means working on projects outside of regular working hours. It is the willingness to get out of the comfort zone and take the first and hardest steps when required.

  • Leadership

This is the ability for setting goals, walking a team through the steps required, and achieving those goals collaboratively. It also includes the courage to take responsibility for the actions of the team.

  • Social Skills

Social skills involve the component of emotional intelligence and the ability to network with different personas. It includes the ability to carry a decent conversation, basic etiquette, and manners.

  • Productivity

This is the ability to carry out various important tasks with maximum efficiency in the period of various distractions.

Why are 21st Century skills so important?

21st-century skills may encompass a list of abilities and skills but in summation, it is the ability of every individual to adapt to the changing requirements of the society. These skills are very important for every growing child since their future will be dependent on it.

The employment titan Manpower reports that despite the recession, 31 percent of employers throughout the world struggle to find qualified workers because of “a talent mismatch between workers’ qualifications and the specific skill sets and combinations of skills employers want.

How can we foster 21st Century skills into children?

Now that we are aware of the skills that we need in the children to live and grow successfully in the 21st century, let’s take a look at some of the ways which can help us achieve this.

1. Child-Centered Learning

“Tell me and I forget

Teach me and I remember

Involve me and I Learn ”

-Benjamin Franklin

Learning takes place best in environments where children feel empowered to learn. By giving children the opportunity to construct their own learning, we will be able to create lifelong learners.

2. Game-Based Learning

By including games and play in the learning process you will be able to bring the inherited properties of games such as decision making, problem-solving, collaboration into the learning.

3. Cooperative Learning

You can create opportunities for the kids to learn together through various activities such as Drama, puppetry, games, or activities. These bring out their ability to work together and collaborate with others.

4. Blended Learning

Use the love of your children for the digital platforms to their advantage. There are so many portals you can visit with your child and share their learning experiences along with your own. This helps them develop an understanding of using media responsibly.

5. Differentiated Learning

Change it up. When guiding children use different approaches and consider the learning styles of each child. Some children need to be more active while others may prefer a calmer pace. For example, in teaching children to count, have them sing out the numbers, provide materials they can count when playing, or include counting as part of a story you read to them. This approach offers multiple options for children to absorb information.

6. Be Flexible with your Strategy

Be willing to change the plan. If the children are excited about a game they are playing, but it is time to read a story during circle time, build on what they are doing and ask them to talk about their game or find a story that connects to the game.

7. Bring Consistency to the Routine

Create routines and expectations to help children feel secure, giving them the confidence and freedom to explore the environment. Consistency also supports the development of executive function skills, such as planning and organizing and self-regulation.

8. Combining Learning Domains

Offer learning experiences to help children develop the 4Cs while developing content knowledge. This intentional approach can be done while reading a story and discussing the characters or during a science experiment through the problem-solving experience.

9. Encourage Creativity

Create opportunities for your children to come with creative solutions to certain problems. Encourage them to come up with as many ideas as they can before selecting an idea for a designed solution. Can they come up with 100 ideas in 10 minutes? What is the craziest idea they can think of? What if they had all the money in the world…?

10. Design Challenges

Create a design challenge for your kids with a number of constraints. This will provide them with the opportunity to come up with creative solutions while developing problem-solving abilities in them.

You can come up with interesting challenges such as building their Dream House with just 40 Lego Blocks.

Conclusion

Enabling children with 21st-century skills is not only important for their individual growth but also for social development. With simple steps at home, you can ensure that you are providing the future society with a great asset.

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National Education Policy 2020: What should you look forward to as a Parent

“If we teach students today, as we taught yesterday, we rob them of tomorrow.”

-John Dewey

These words by famous pragmatist and educationist John Dewey marks the importance of timely reforms in education. In our country, the tone for such reforms is set by National Education Policies.

A little about National Education Policy

A National Education Policy is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country.

A new NEP usually comes along every few decades. India has had three, to date. The first came in 1968 and the second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively; the NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P V Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister. The third is the NEP released on 29th July 2020 under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.

NEP 2020 & Future of Education

As mentioned in the original draft, the key vision of this policy is

“an education system rooted in Indian ethos that contributes directly to transforming India sustainably into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society, by providing high-quality education to all, and thereby making India a global knowledge superpower.”

The scientific approach of the new Education Policy can be seen as a long leap we required to step into the 21st century. This policy will be a big sigh of relief for every parent who wishes for a more holistic and fulfilling education for their children.

Let’s take a look at some of the key highlights of the National Education Policy and how they can be a game-changer in terms of the education of your children.

1. Restructured Pedagogical & Curricular Structure to 5+3+3+4 design

The major highlight of the new Education Policy is the new curricular structure which has been designed very scientifically. The ‘foundational’ age-group has been recognized globally as the crucial stage for the development of children during their early years. This change in the curricular structure brings CBSE on the same level as other international curricula.

Foundational(age group 3 to 6 for pre-school and age group 6 to 8 for class I & II) where the focus will be on multi-faceted, multi-level play-based learning.

Preparatory(age group 8 to 11) which will be focused on building the solid groundwork for learning across various disciplines.

Middle Stage (age group 11 to 14) will see the introduction of more specialized subjects while the emphasis will be on experiential learning.

Secondary Stage (age group 14 to 18 years) will be 4 years of multidisciplinary studies that will focus on a subject-oriented pedagogical style with the scope of deep and critical thinking.

As mentioned in the document as well, 85 % of a child’s cumulative brain development takes place till age 6. Previously, the lack of attention to the early age foundations was the cause of increasing learning anxiety and fear among children when they moved to higher standards. The new structure will lead to a more smooth and confident transition for young children from one stage of cognitive development to the next.

To make the early age learning more appealing and accessible, a national repository of high-quality resources on foundational literacy and numeracy will be available on Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing(DIKSHA)

2. Curricular Integration of Essential Subject & Skills

It’s high time when the development of 21st-century skills moves from just being a topic of discussion to being part of curriculum and practice.

The new policy talks in length about various measures to ensure the holistic development of children.

In the purview of future jobs and societal needs, it has been proposed to include some important subject matter that involves important skills such as mathematical thinking, scientific temper, and innovativeness.

Experiential Learning

It will provide your child, increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study across Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Sports, and Vocational subjects. Vocational education will start in schools from the 6th grade and will include internships. This means that your child can opt for Mathematics and Fashion or Artificial Intelligence at the same time, much like the 50+ subjects offered by IB and Cambridge.

The greater focus is on experiential learning – a key element in international education and curriculum options. This means more projects, better real-life training, more interactions, and better skills.

Multilingualism

For many talented and enthusiastic children, language becomes an unfortunate barrier while exploring career opportunities. To ensure a better exposure of foreign languages, the policy has offered the introduction of several foreign languages at the secondary level.

Reduce curriculum content to enhance essential learning and critical thinking

To shift the focus from the old and boring rote learning and memorization style towards much important exploratory learning, the policy has proposed to reduce the content of the curriculum to its core essentials only. This will bring a big smile on your child’s face as we all remember the burden of the syllabus. To add to the joy of going to school and increased participation of children, the policy has proposed bagless days which will consist of enrichment activities such as art, quizzes, sports, etc.

3. Transforming Assessment for Student Development

As an educator, I have been around a number of discussions and projects to discuss how to transform assessments to make it more suitable for student’s development rather than just evaluation. There are a number of crucial additions to this section to ensure that your child gets free from the burden of exams and the assessment

A Holistic 360 degrees Multidimensional Report Card is focused on presenting a unique picture of your child rather than just focusing on their performance on a few parameters. Each child is special in their own way and to preserve this the report cards are proposed to reflect self-assessment, peer assessment, their progress in project-based, inquiry-based learning, etc.

Board Exams

There’s a major shift from summative assessment to a more competency-based regular assessment that tests analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. Instead, your child will take school examinations in grades 3, 5, and 8. To reduce the extreme burden, students will have the option to take the 10th and 12th board exams on one of the two occasions every year. In addition, your child will be able to choose from a number of subjects in which they take Board Exams.

The flexible approach towards the big finale that is board exams and a more practical approach towards assessment will provide relief to the parents who sometimes feel the compulsion to drive their kids to the coaching centers.

PARAKH (Performance Assessment Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development) will be set up which will ensure the fulfillment of the new assessment objectives.

4. Support for Gifted Students

As a step to ensure that the new curriculum captures the uniqueness of your child and brings out the best of their abilities, the policy has introduced certain measures to identify and encourage the gift of every child. Each institute will be required to have Project-Based Clubs and Circles such as Math Circles, Music and Dance Societies, Chess Circles, Poetry Circles, Drama Circles, and others.

To add on to the excitement of children, there will be Residential Summer Programmes in various subjects.

This will be a big incentive for every child to spend their time more joyfully in their schools.

5. Holistic and Multidisciplinary Higher Education

To make sure that all the good that happens during the school should not fade away in the future, a number of crucial reforms have been proposed in higher education as well.

To make sure that the learning style at the school level is aligned with higher education, the programs at university levels have also been restructured similarly.

Multidisciplinary HEI(Higher Education Institutes) will be set up across the country to ensure students become well rounded across disciplines, including artistic, creative, and analytic subjects.

This will help to preserve the learning methods and mindset of your children while moving from school to university. Multidisciplinary and option laden schooling coupled with similar options at higher levels will provide children with a number of options and they can look forward to utilizing their skills and interests in a more efficient way.

Undergraduate Programs with Multiple Exit Options

To strengthen the choice of students there will be undergraduate programs of 3-4 years where students will have multiple options to move ahead with 1 year, 2 years, or 3-year exits with appropriate certifications.

To ensure the safety of students in terms of their career options there will be an Academic Bank of Credits(ABC) which will digitally store the academic credits earned from various recognized HEIs.

6. Internationalization

Worries regarding the international level of education and sending your children to study abroad to get a better education might become a thing of the past.

Under the scheme of Internationalization, the policy suggests different measures to reduce the gap for students who are looking forward to adding the international flavor to their education.

Major HEIs are suggested to have their campuses set up in various other countries and there will be a similar provision for the best Universities around the world to set up their campuses in India.

According to the University’s network, CBSE has the least percentage of students opting to study abroad. Out of 31,454 students, only 1,492 went abroad for higher education. On the other hand, students from IB schools have the highest percentage which is 59.6%.

This can be a very good leveler for kids who drop the idea of studying abroad because of affordability or lack of awareness.

Conclusion

It has been a long wait of 34 years to finally have a policy that may be a promising step towards the betterment of Education.

It is worth noting that a National Education Policy is just a framework that provides a broad direction but it’s not mandatory to follow. Provided that Education is a concurrent subject, both the central and state government can make laws on it. It will be crucial to see how the implementation of these proposed measures take place.

The document looks, there will be a lot of challenges while implementing them considering the quantum of changes that have been proposed across the structure. There have been major challenges while implementing the previous policies due to lack of funds, changing government, etc.

As a parent, you can still be very hopeful and optimistic about a better future for your child with the direction that the National Education Policy 2020 gives to our traditional education system.

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7 Important life-skills for your child to succeed in life

You must be aware of how important life skills are for you or anyone else to succeed in life. Let us think about what will happen if we do not possess these life skills.

Being a parent requires a lot of patience and time management skills. What will happen if you don’t have these skills? Or you want to buy a house and you don’t have negotiation and good temper skills? You might not realize it but you have developed all these important skills over the years to be where you are in life.

In the current COVID-19 scenario, everyone is trapped inside their houses with minimal physical interaction with the outside world. Everyone is confined in the four walls of their homes with their family members. The same is the case with the parents who now have to make sure that their child is not just gaining academic knowledge but also developing important life skills while growing up.

So what are those important life skills for your child to succeed and what should you do to ensure that your child is equipped with those life skills?

What are life skills?

Life skills are the skills that you acquire through learning or through your personal experiences in life. These skills help you to solve problems effectively and reasonably that you encounter in life.

“When children are truly involved in the scientific process they gain understanding, knowledge, and life skills. They deepen their awareness of what’s going on around them and how others contribute to their well being.”

– Lilian Katz, Professor Emerita of Early Childhood Education

7 life skills that you should have while growing up

As the children grow they need to develop certain life skills according to their age. Some children might take more time but that is completely okay. The important thing is you should constantly be there to support your child. Let them develop these skills in the most natural way

You might be protective of your child at times but letting them do things on their own will help the children feel confident and develop life skills in the process.

“If you never allow your children to exceed what they can do, how are they ever going to manage adult life- where a lot of it is managing more than you thought you could manage?”

-Ellen Galinsky, President at Families and Work Institute

Ellen Galinsky, in her book “Mind in the Making”, describes 7 life skills necessary for success in all aspects of life. Your child can learn these skills at an early age even while staying at home.

They are:

  1. Focus & Self-Control
  2. Perspective-taking
  3. Communication
  4. Making Connections
  5. Critical Thinking
  6. Taking on Challenges
  7. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

How can your child develop the 7 life-skills according to their age?

Don’t worry about it. We have listed down the activities you can do with your child to make sure they develop the skills.

1. Focus & Self-Control

It is one of the most important skills for your child. If the child is not focused and loses self-control then it surely will be challenging to achieve the desired goals.

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a study on delayed gratification in 1972 led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University. In the study, a child was offered a choice between one small but immediate reward, or two small rewards if they waited for a period of time. The study concluded that children who were able to wait longer for the rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores.

An activity for you to do at home can be that you can decide an allowance for your child for a week. And if they are able to save a certain pre-decided amount then you can give them some reward. They can further collect these rewards and later on redeem them to get a gift. This way they can focus on the end goal and control themselves to save money. This will not just teach them to focus and self-control but also the importance of budgeting and saving.

2. Perspective-taking

You must have observed that a lot of times children get into a quarrel with their peers, parents, or anyone if they feel that others have different thoughts, feelings, or knowledge. It is really important for the child to understand the perspective of others.

Whenever you are watching a movie or reading a storybook together with your child, ask them what the different characters would do if they were facing the same situation. This will let them analyze the characters in the movie/story and think from different perspectives.

3. Communication

This is the skill which is lacking the most today as people are busy in their lives and don’t get time to communicate with each other. In such scenarios, the child is also left alone with no one to communicate with which later on in life becomes very challenging.

You can have a small session every week with the child where they are given pictures and it is their turn to create a story out of it. Children love stories so let them use their imaginations this time and come up with some interesting stories.

4. Making Connections

This skill helps your child to identify connections and patterns around you. Your child can easily solve the problem if they are able to identify the pattern and hence come up with an effective solution for it.

A very simple activity can be to let your child help you in the daily chore like sorting the clothes or decorating the room. While you are with them you can help them identify the pattern. These connections are always in our memory and we use it to do different day to day activities.

5. Critical Thinking

It is an essential skill to solve problems effectively and efficiently. It lets your child analyze and evaluate the problem. To make the child think strategically to solve a problem, you need to make them practice from an early age.

A very basic activity could be to let your child create a vacation plan or write steps to follow when anyone steps out of the house during the COVID times. This way they will analyze the situation and have some creative solution to avoid the risks. Planning ahead will also help them be organized

6. Taking on Challenges

This skill will help your child cope up with the challenges they will face in life. A lot of times they might feel that the problem is challenging and better to give up. This skill will help them cope with the challenge and become resilient.

Challenge your child to complete a task in a limited amount of time. You can take their help cooking. Ask them to make a sandwich for themselves within 30 seconds. Such small unexpected challenges will make the child think effectively.

7. Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

To make the child love learning it is important for you to provide a healthy space for them to explore and learn by themselves. This way not only will they learn to enjoy the learning process but also will be enthusiastic to learn and realize their potential.

Spare some time out of the screen and play some educational board games after dinner. It will provide autonomy to the child to strategize on how to win the game. Learning while playing will keep the child engaged and focused.

All these skills are linked to one another. Your child has to have all of them to have a successful and happy life. So why delay now? Let’s start from today itself.

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8 Useful Tips to Make Your Child Creative

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”

-Albert Einstein

What will be the use of that intelligence which doesn’t bring any joy for you? As well as it could be said, Einstein describes creativity in the best possible way through this quote. More than a tool to become successful in the future, creativity is important for your child to have a happy and fulfilled childhood. Creativity is a way for your child to express themselves freely and in a way that would make them and everyone around them happy. We all have seen children who do amazing things compared to their age which forces us to wonder where did that comes from! This creative energy of children needs to be preserved and nourished to help them develop into outstanding individuals. This is about the joy of having the creative energy around us.

Creativity and 21st Century

Now let’s take a look at how important creativity is as a future skill for your child. The World Economic Forum published a report in 2016 showing that creativity had moved from a tenth place ranking in 2015 to the third most important work-related skill for 2020. The world around us is the most dynamic right now. There are ever so evolving problems and situations for which there are no manuals or pre-designed solutions. Creativity and originality in ideas and methods will be the only way to deal with such a constantly evolving world.

Now that we have established the importance of creativity for children in terms of their present and their future, we need to find ways to enrich their creativity.

Here are some useful tips that you can incorporate in your everyday life to foster creativity in your kids:

1. Give Right Resources for Creative Expression.

Time is a very valuable resource for building up the creativity in your child. Your kids need an adequate amount of time for unstructured, child-centered, and imaginative activities in proper guidance by you.

Space is another key resource for proper expression of creativity which is constantly ignored out of overprotectiveness. You need to provide enough space and freedom to your kid to make that creative mess. The right set of tools can be key here. A corner in the house with different lego activities, a wall for them to paint, a corner in the garden to play can all be right means for your kids to spend their energy freely. Next time you go out to shop, don’t forget to add a lot of art supplies, building materials, a simple camera may be on your list. Let your child have enough things at their disposal to be creative.

2. Provide the Creative Atmosphere

Let the creative energy flow into the surrounding where your kids grow.

Bring about a series of various creative ideas and let your kids build upon those. At the same time, be patient with their ideas. If possible, control your urge to evaluate the ideas they come up with.

For example, you can brainstorm about making a list of different activities you and your kids can do during the vacation. In this context, the process is more important than the possibility and feasibility of ideas so make sure you don’t reject any suggestion from their end. You can probably help them shape up and transform the impossible things into more feasible alternatives later on. Kids love their ideas being accepted.

Let them Fail:

The fear of failure is a major obstacle in thinking something new and it curbs the creative process. Rather than holding up, let them try new things and fail.

Ignite the imagination:

Prepare the surroundings with things that scream of creativity. Let your kids get amazed and inspired by artifacts and technology that might be simple but creative. Tell them about different creative people around the world such as artists, musicians, scientists, and the wonderful things they have done.

3. Provide the Liberty to Explore

Allow your kids to explore on their own. Avoid directing too much and let them decide on their own about how they want to do things. Creativity nurtures when kids have the autonomy to make decisions and explore. Sometimes their action will look weird and wrong but don’t let that force you to intervene. Statistics show that when kids are allowed to explore on their own in their childhood become very good decision-makers as they grow up.

4. Remove Unnecessary constraints

When it looks like they are doing something wrong, let them be. Avoid yourself to teach them the exact ways to do things early on. There may be ways and methods they might come up with which others wouldn’t have thought. Providing constraints in terms of a single right way to do things may abstract any original thought or idea.

According to a study, demonstrating how to put together a model reduced the creative ways that kids accomplished this task.

5. Reduce the Screen Time, Increase the Creative Activities

Limit unnecessary screen time for your kids. Studies show that spending too much time looking at screens numbs the mind and reduces the thought process.

Develop their taste for various activities so that they can enjoy productive activities such as reading, painting, drawing, acting. These activities can get the creative juices flowing.

6. Encourage Divergent Thinking

Multiple ways to solve problems can be a great way to develop original ideas and improve the ways we do things. Let your kids disagree with thoughts and opinions. Encourage them to come up with their own solutions to the problems or come up with their own ideas about any topic. Let them solve a problem again and again with a new solution every time.

7. Avoid Unhealthy Reinforcements

Studies show that unnecessary incentives interfere with the creative process. Avoid giving them rewards or punishments when they succeed or fail while trying to do something new. Let them have the pleasure of getting involved in the process. It is important to choose their own trade or ways to be creative rather than using incentives to direct them towards any trade that doesn’t interest them.

For example, let them draw if they find it more appealing rather than rewarding them to play soccer. Doing what kids enjoy brings the best out of them.

8. Focus on Long Term Skills rather than Short Term Achievements

Try to avoid focusing too much on your kid’s short term achievements. The skills and abilities that kids will develop while doing various things with complete involvement will help them lifelong. Achievements that don’t matter them much may bring very short term happiness at best, more to you than them.

Studies show that developing creativity through any means or set of activities helps kids make remarkable improvements in other, completely unrelated fields. Let them choose the medium to express and develop their creativity, the achievements will come sooner or later.

As we conclude the article, it is important to note that creativity is a rather intangible trait. Developing creativity in children is a very process-oriented thing. It requires patience and holding off judgments. These tips can be very useful if you remember the golden rule that the results will come over a period of time and not overnight.

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Role of games in Gender Sensitization

Why is it that boys have to like the blue color and girls have to like the pink color? Does it have any significance? Who decides it? Is it you who decides it or is it the kids?

Why is there a different section for girls and boys in the toy shop? Furthermore, the boys’ section is filled with mostly toy guns and cars and on the other hand, the girls’ section is filled with barbies, kitchen sets, doctor sets, etc, why is there a distinction between the two?

This type of gender discrimination is instilled in the mind of a child from the very beginning and further impacts the growth of the child and their choices in the future. If the child is provided with a gender-neutral environment to nurture they will be confident about their choices and expressions. Gender-neutral parenting plays an important part in this whole process. Some of the urban parents are practicing this type of parenting. Parents are not restricting their child to do a certain type of chores at home. They are being taught that there are no gender-specific roles. They are educating their child about the various tales of heroic women and non-violent men in history as well as in the modern-day.

There is a lot that you can do at home to implement gender-neutral parenting for your child. We will talk about it.

Role of games in gender-neutral parenting

According to research, a child starts to develop its gender identity at the age of 2 and 3. Children tend to choose their likes and dislike based on their surroundings and their observations at home. The kind of toys they are introduced to makes a lot of difference in their future choice. By doing this we as a parent are stereotyping their mindset. We are making our kids believe that one gender is lesser than the other. It is important for you as a parent to provide them the right environment to make them open-minded individuals.

Some ancient gender-oriented games

According to an article by Princeton University,

“Pre-1950 games that are about voyagers and adventures typically feature male characters. Games designed for girls can be identified by their titles, issuing bodies (girls’ magazines), and the way female figures are portrayed as being engaged in domestic and indoor activities.”

Shin ’ an Gendai Fujin Sugoroku, an ancient Japanese game, follows the life of a girl from birth to adulthood, starting from when she is a newborn being breastfed to when she becomes a shy bride at around age 20. The player who first reaches the final panel, that is, who first gets married, wins the game.

Ancient games were made in such a way that the girl toddler was made to play such games and boy toddlers were made to play games on conquering and adventures. The post-war games saw some change in the type of games. They were designed in a way that the boys and girls were made to take trips around the world, together. Eventually, the games evolved and are still evolving to make them gender-neutral. In recent years global retail chains have changed their girl-boy sections of toys into gender-neutral sections.

One example of such a game is Awkward Moment in which players compare the best way to respond to various cringe-inducing scenarios. Some of the scenarios include sexism, like “While shopping at the mall, you notice a store is selling t-shirts for girls that say, ‘Math is hard’. Players then have to decide how best to respond to it. Responding to such scenarios lets the players think differently. According to a report,

“After playing Awkward Moment, people were asked to match pictures of men and women with possible job roles. Those who had played just one round of the game matched a woman with the “scientist” job title 58% of the time – 33% more than a control group who did not play any game at all, and 40% more than a group who played a neutral game that did not include any reference to gender bias.”

What can you do to make sure your child is gender sensitized?

1. Introduce gender-neutral toys

The games that are introduced in early childhood play a great role in establishing the right mindset of the child. You as a parent have to take care of it. Instead of getting dolls for girls and cars for boys, introduce gender-neutral games like board games, outdoor games, memory games, puzzles, etc. Tinway presents Nembo which has a variety of educational board games for children aged 10-12years. The games cover varied Math concepts which let the child clear the concepts along with acquiring 21st-century skills

2. Encourage your child to mingle more with the opposite gender

A lot of parents do not prefer sending their children to co-ed schools. If the child won’t get an environment to mingle around with the opposite gender then in the future they won’t feel comfortable or confident in interacting with them. At the same time, the child will become more sensitive towards the opposite gender and understand their perspective as well. As a parent, it becomes your responsibility to provide them with such opportunities.

3. Talking about gender issues age appropriately

Parents tend to shield the child from gender issues and violence that exists in our society. They get to know about these issues from their friends or other mediums which makes the child feel uncomfortable while talking about it. The more you talk to your child about gender issues, the more they will be respectful and gender-aware

4. Provide them space to express themselves

Parents at times tend to impose their choices on their children which restricts them from speaking out and think independently. At times, the color of the clothes, the type of clothes, the games to play, etc are all decided by the parents. Let the child make these choices for themselves and not by the norms set by society. Embrace their individuality.

There are several other basic things that you do to make your child gender sensitized. You will have to change your mindset to bring about these changes for your child. Start today by taking one tiny step at a time for your child’s better future.

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11 Ways to Productively Engage Your Kids After School and Boost Their Academic Growth

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he or she learned in school. It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. ”

– Albert Einstein

The above-mentioned quote defines the limitations of the school system in the current society and emphasizes the requirement of learning beyond schools. The school is definitely important to provide certain fundamental skills and discipline to kids, it just doesn’t seem enough especially in the present and future scenario. A good afterschool program can turn the aimless hours after school into productive learning time. That’s a big benefit, especially for kids who learn and think differently.

Why After School Activities?

Research by “This is Afterschool” reveals that 50 % of students in various afterschool programs were able to improve their math and learning skills, 68 % of kids improved their homework completion and classroom participation. More than 70 % of kids who were enrolled in STEM and game-based programs showed an increase in their interest in knowing about careers in science and they also showed remarkable improvement in their critical thinking and problem-solving.

As many experts suggest, kids realize how fascinating it is to become a scientist or a mathematician when they get the opportunity to have hands-on or inquiry-based learning.. In addition to the obvious benefits, they are able to have fun with the learning since it is not a compulsive and formal setting like schools. It helps kids to learn freely and feel belongingness with the learning process.

Although there are many after school programs around these days, there are many ways through which you can engage with your kids at home. This will be an excellent exercise to utilize the extra energy of your kids left after school and improve your bonding with them.

Here are 11 super fun ways to engage your kids in their afterschool time to help them relax and enhance their cognitive growth.

1. Lego Hunt:

For this fun activity, you’ll need a pack of lego blocks and 4 pieces of paper matching the color of lego blocks. Keep the count of different color lego blocks and note it down somewhere. Place the 4 color papers in a row and then hide the lego blocks around the room while your kid has their eyes closed. Your kid now has to go around the room to find the lego blocks and place them on the matching color papers. The hunt goes on until all the lego blocks have been found and matched. Find out the time taken and provide the score accordingly. Next time ask your kids to beat their previous scores.

Lego Hunt is a great energy-burning activity for kids from preschool to elementary. It will also help your kids to become more alert and aware without putting too much pressure on their cognition.

2. Scavenger Hunt

No matter what age group, scavenger hunts are always fun. If you have young kids, we can make the hunt relatively simple. Just pick any 10 things at random in your house and make a list of those objects. Hide them in different corners in your house. Provide some hint about the location of the objects in front of them on the list. While doing it for the first time you can give them free time for as long as you are busy, your kids can stay engaged being James Bond. As you do it multiple times, set a time limit to make it a little more challenging and fast. For kids who are slightly older, you can make it a little more interesting and themes by creating a map to hunt the hidden gems or certain other valuable looking objects.

This is a great activity for all age groups to improve their ability to read symbols and signs while it obviously helps them improve their metacognition. You will just need to be careful with adjusting the difficulty according to the age group and initial attention span of your kids.

3. Obstacle Course

We have seen this activity so many times on television in the form of shows like American Ninja and other similar programs. This again is a perfect engagement for all age groups. You can create your own obstacle course anywhere in your house depending on how old your kid is. To begin with, you can use simple objects such as pillows, chairs, etc. to create them in any corner of one of your rooms. To take it one notch higher, you can use more complicated objects such as ladders, ropes, etc. to give it a more authentic feel. It would be great if you have a backyard with trees and grass but it would work just fine without it as well.

This activity is super engaging and particularly helpful for early ages since it develops the physical and motor skills as well as the focus of your kids. It is also a great way to build your kids’ confidence, and it’s tough to say no!

4. Lemon Volcanoes

If you are in a mood to tickle the scientist in your kid, this is a perfect way to do that. All you need is a little citric acid and some baking soda. Help your kid to make a small and simple model of a volcano with clay or dough and let them just mix the ingredients together. It is super fun for kids to watch the froth being generated while they mix the two chemicals together. It is full of froth and fun.

It is perfectly safe as these are quite commonly found chemicals in every household. It helps them see a glimpse of chemistry in action and develops their scientific curiosity and interest in science. It smells good too!

5. Toothpick Tower Earthquake

Do you want to see the engineer in your kid? Help them make a structure with toothpicks in this fun and engaging engineering session. Take a flat, preferably lightweight so that toothpicks can hold their weight. Take a pack of toothpicks and some clay dough and spread them on a table or floor or any other flat surface. Your kid has to use a minimum amount of clay and toothpicks to create any structure of their liking that can support the object without collapsing. You can make it a little challenging by giving more than one object to balance.

This activity is great for kids in primary or middle grades as it might be frustrating for preschoolers or elementary kids who have very little attention span and focus. This activity is a great way to develop problem-solving skills and increase their focus and patience. There are multiple ways they can do this activity which breaks the monotony of tasks and homework exercise.

6. Story in a Jar

If your kids love talking and you are willing to utilize it to improve their communication and narration skills, you can try this super creative activity. All you need is a glass jar with a wide mouth and a few chits of paper. Depending on the age and proficiency of your kid, place 10 chits with different words written on them. Ask your kid to pick any 5 chit randomly and make a story by combining the words written on them.

This activity is great for kids in primary and middle school. It can do wonders for improving their communication skills and their imagination. If you are willing to take it up one level higher, increase the audience size gradually to work on their confidence as well.

7. Make your own Movie

Are you worried about your kid spending too much time on screen? Well, why not utilize it instead of worrying. There are a number of easy to use software available online to edit movies. You can encourage them to make a movie using all the random pictures clicked over a week or you can give them a simple theme and they can go around and make a small movie.

It is a very appropriate activity for middle schoolers or even for primary grade kids. It will help them enhance their creativity. Instead of wasting their time watching videos online, they can make their own movie. Who knows, they might bring the oscar tomorrow!

8. 3 marker Challenge

Are you in a mood to have a colorful time with your kids? You can try a 3 marker challenge to bring out the artist in your kids. All you need is a set of different color markers. Ask your kids to pick any 3 markers randomly. Set a time frame and ask them to color one complete sheet with those 3 colors. You do the same and see who is the better artist.

This is a very fun and engaging activity for kids in preschool to higher age groups. Since there is no definite task, it is very easy to go-to an activity. Apart from enhancing their creative self, this activity is very helpful in reducing any kind of stress or low mood in kids as well as adults. It is a colorful wonder.

9. Homework Tickets

If you are finding it difficult to get your kids to complete their homework on time, this might be your solution. All you need is a few chits of papers with some design work from your end. Make some stickers as different reward points. Depending on how fast or how much homework your kids complete, they can get various reward stickers which may include screen time, gifts, playtime, visit their favorite places, etc.

This a great reinforcement trick that works best with elementary and primary grade kids. The constant simple rewards provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. The encouraging environment to finish their tasks on time helps them stay stress-free. A win-win for both of you!

10. Create on Your Own with Bunchems

In a mood to help your kid lift up their mood and get the creative juices flowing? You will just have to go online and get them some bunchems. Bunchems are colorful little balls that magically bunch together and they can help your kid to create pretty much anything they might dream of. For very young kids it is particularly engaging while they keep sticking and unsticking them together. For elementary kids, it is a great way to make various things they like without too much hassle.

Just hand them a bunch of bunchem and leave them with their creativity. It is great for elementary kids as it allows them to create so many different things without testing their patience. For these activities, they don’t need your help so you can finish off with any work you have while they make their little dreams come true with bunchems!

11. Game-Based Learning:

Board games and activities can be a wonderful way to engage your child creatively and can help you to bond with them better. Board games require communication, it provides the opportunity to use multiple approaches to reach goals. Well developed board games have a number of smaller and larger goals which provides several chances to win or get ahead. All these traits help in developing a number of important skills such as communication, problem-solving, and creativity.

There are a number of educational and fun board games that can be very beneficial for developing creativity in your children. One of them is NEMBO which is a pack of 16 different games based on different math concepts for 10 to 12 years old kids. They can be particularly helpful in strengthening their math skills in addition to the obvious skills that board games help in developing.

Conclusion:

These activities may appear as merely play and fun but they are a lot more than that. In order to have a better understanding of things that are taught in the school, kids must parallelly develop cognitive abilities and agility. These activities develop motor skills, focus, attention, problem-solving, creativity, communication. These are essential 21st-century skills which also help them grasp whatever is taught in school easily and in turn, it obviously boosts their academic performance. If you are worried about the test scores, don’t be. Use this super fun and engaging activities to boost up your kid’s overall growth and remove anxiety if any related to their studies.