Based on the innovative work carried out by the author in various schools and non-governmental organizations for the last fifteen years, the book gives the reader an insight into the world of children and how to look at the world through their eyes. The book is divided into eight chapters excluding conclusion; covering a wide range of issues with various aspects of child’s development stages, focuses on the issues related to children at the pre-school and primary education level and offers various methods of managing children in the early stages of school education.
The first chapter illustrates the socio, emotional and cognitive needs of the young child. For children the social world is a necessity as it reassures them that they are not alone. It is further related to how food and eating habits are interrelated with the social and personal choice of a child. The onus of acquiring the habit of eating balanced food lies on the parent’s method of making food interesting in taste and the way it is presented.
It is also important that children are assigned some tasks independently to develop self confidence along with their own individuality in performing a particular task. Siblings and grandparents form an integral part in the child’s personal space. It is vital for parents to teach the importance of each and every person in a child’s life. Another crucial aspect is to respond to the queries raised by the child taking it seriously as it is imperative for the child’s normal development.
Nurturing the emotional life of children by parents, the language adults use, teaching right and wrong, discipline, transparency in actions and thought, harmony and comforting the child with the presence of the one s/he loves is the focus of the second chapter. Parents can provide a positive atmosphere to the child at home where s/he has a sense of belonging. The language used at home should be positive as children pick up what they are shown at home. It also helps the child to distinguish between right and wrong but it is imperative that parents follow the instructions themselves that they want their child to follow. The chapter suggests that the parents are over-ambitious with their children and burden them with lot of instructions and mannerisms to follow. Children should be given a chance to develop their individuality. Parents should not create fear in the child’s mind by dictating certain punishments for them if they do not obey them. The punishments are not to be physical but in subtle forms of showing that it is not the correct way of getting things done.
It is fundamental for parents to accept that all children are different and their individuality must be respected. The author discusses understanding the aggressive child, how to increase the attention span of children, dealing with an introvert child, their tantrums, to overcome their fears and dealing with a dyslexic child. Parents can deal with such issues by being receptive to the child’s needs. For example, early detection of difficulty in reading and writing can prevent major problems by providing special help to the child at an early stage. If the child is aggressive or short tempered the parents may find avenues of channelizing the child’s energy into constructive area of music or drawing.
There is a need to build creative spaces for children for overcoming their problem of aggression which is dealt with at length. The introduction of different art forms and proximity to nature opens a new world for exploration. The child finds spaces to demonstrate her/his creativity in unique and distinct ways that are personal to her/him. It also helps in developing the inquiry mode in children rather than following the stereotype approach towards life. Teachers and parents often stop children from experimenting which restricts the ways in which the child thinks or demonstrates her/his feelings through drawing or the use of a different color from the prescribed one.
Similarly the story telling method is also very effective in overcoming most of the issues faced by children. The stories narrated by parents have a lifelong impression on the child’s mind. The story-books read together with parents are an enriching experience for the child as it gives them a secure feeling that strengthens their emotional bond with parents. It also inculcates the reading habit in the child. Painting and music activities also nourish the child’s creativity by exposing them to a new world. Proximity to nature also develops creativity, speculation and inquisitiveness in children which is the foundation for making a confident child.
Learning is not confined to school alone but takes place in the child’s immediate surroundings and environment. The early stages of learning takes place at various stages of child development when s/he starts speaking and listening. It is crucial for parents to make reading and writing fun for children by putting emphasis on the meaning of the words. Similarly, mathematics and science can be initiated through the everyday life that surrounds the child and help them in getting familiar to it as subjects when they grow older. But it is important that these concepts are introduced to them at an appropriate age of cognitive learning.
A child learns when s/he is in a secure atmosphere. Children are vulnerable when faced with the harsh realities of the social world. In order to provide a secure and healthy life to children parents must be vigilant about the change in the child’s behaviour. Correspondingly the parents need to give confidence to the child that allows her/him to share their innermost feelings with ease in front of parents. Such communication also helps the child in understanding the demise or separation of the near and dear ones from their lives.
Parents hold the key to rearing the child in the best ambience. For providing it they need to devote ample time to the child but very often it may not be possible as most of the parents are going out to work. Yet that is not an excuse for not giving quality time to the child. Parents need to follow the precepts themselves that they want their child to learn.
The last chapter discusses the issues that every parent faces sending their child to the school for the first time. The resistance of the child in going to school reflects that the child was not adequately prepared for accepting the transition from home to school. Or it may be a reflection that the child is not ready to go to the formal setting of learning. If they are pushed forcibly in the new environment of formal schooling they may develop certain habit disorders or fear of going to school at a very early age. The child can learn at home also if provided with positive feedback from parents and continuous encouragement. The child should not be forced to sit for long hours at a stretch with one activity or book as it curbs her/his inquisitiveness to probe further in that direction.
The book concludes with a note that parenthood is a unique gift of nature that needs to be nurtured at every stage of development of the child. The book is appealing as most of the chapters refer to the issues that are commonly faced by all parents and teachers. The role of teachers is central in creating an atmosphere of trust and independence into the classrooms by providing an opportunity for children to be creative. Parents are required to provide a similar atmosphere to the child at home. The author has provided concrete examples as well as solutions to the situations that are faced by parents as well as teachers dealing with children.
Mona Sedwal is Assistant Professor in the Department of Training and Capacity Building in Education, National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi.