“Wouldn’t that be nice?”
I never imagined I would say this. But yes, teaching a bunch of preschoolers has quite humbled me in more ways than one. A lot, I have to say. Their mind castles are far more intricate and developed than ours. Their imagination is the key to take a peek into their world of magic and wonders. The way they imagine characters on their own, the way they correlate the stories we narrate to them, the way they throw profound questions every now and then (that ‘looking for answers’ look) is absolutely an eye opener. They don’t care much about the dancing shapes of their alphabet. Rather they feel that the alphabet need some designing too. And, when a few in my class wrote mirror images of the numbers and Alphabet (For eg: 9 as or even a 6), it took me a great deal of time explaining the concept of mirror images. However, it also dawned on me how easily they open up to various perceptions of the same concept when we as adults get obnoxiously intolerant to people who have a difference of opinion with us. Keep an open mind is the first lesson my children taught me. For instance, my four and a half year old candidly explains how M is nothing but an inverted W and, a Z is an N that has gone to sleep! Of course, he would even ask me why they have different names when they look very much the same. If you have answers, do let me know!
Preschoolers fall in the age bracket of 1-6. And, from my experience as a teacher, I have realized that they are like sponge and, their absorption capacity is infinite. If we functioned at their rate, we would actually be living in a wonderland of miracles! That said, I have realized that preschoolers are like wet clay. You can mould them the way you choose to, as their guardian. For instance, when I had explained to my class the long term benefits of practicing their classwork orally at home, they instantly took to it and quoted me to their parents word to word – “Ma’am has told us to orally practice dodging series of numbers loudly, the first thing after we get ready in the morning. Then only, we will remember the series without a mistake!” In one of the PTM’s a parent mentioned, “Maam, when my son comes home, the first thing he does is quote you word to word of whatever you have taught him in the class.” That indeed was my first achievement in the world of teaching. However, it taught me an important lesson as well– Be the role model you want your children to follow and be.
If you have had toddlers around, you would have realized how incessantly they can talk on anything under the Sun and, how frequently they can drift away in their imaginary worlds weaving stories out of what we consider in the normal world – IMPOSSIBLE. And when, their stories tumble out of their mind maze, you are forced to forget the logic. Because, children believe in magic and, not logic. My son, for instance loves to watch the movie of Krishna. (His favourite heroes are – Krishna and Hanuman) So, sample this conversation.
A: “What is this, grandma?” (examining the Gowardhan cheese pack we got from the Big Bazaar)
My mom: “Darling, that is cheese.”
A: “What is written here?”
My mom: “It is written……-gowardhan cheese.” (adjusts her glasses as she reads)
A: “Oh! It is mountain cheese, right! Remember, Krishna’s Gowardhan mountain?”
My mom: “Aaah! I remember, of course! Krishna held that mountain on his tiny finger, no?”
A: “No, grandma! He held it on his palms.” (because, A decided to change that part of the story!)
My mom: “Why? Did Krishna hold the mountain on his palms, fearing that his little finger might break?”
A: “No grandma! Nothing would have happened to Krishna’s finger! But, the mountain sure would have fell off, and would have cracked into pieces! It couldn’t have stood on that tiny finger anyways, you know!”
It is sheer music to ears when a toddler does his editing in the story and narrates various versions of the same story. So the other day, when I asked one of children in the school to narrate a Hindi song in the assembly, she sang the song in a tune of another song! And, we as teachers who would have been otherwise expected to correct her, did not! We allowed her to finish the song, until she realized her ‘creative diverson’. Nonetheless, we clapped for her. And, this is what I learnt that day – Sometimes, mistakes are not mistakes. They are creative diversions that form the bulwark for intelligence.
But then, these very children are going to grow up fast and one day, will be chasing marks as if it were their ticket to success. A few would retain their creative streak and will follow their hearts. Yet, the majority will join the race. And, our education system will further make sure that the creativity streak gets squished underneath the mounting pressures of the rat race that is waiting in future. Sad but true.
I still remember the day I was interviewed for a job in my current school. Despite the administration’s repeated pressures on wanting me as a faculty for higher secondary (owing to my qualification), I had impulsively refused not knowing why. I had rather demanded that I wanted to be a preschool teacher only. And off late, I have figured out why. I feel God’s presence quite strongly when I am with these innocent blooms. When they scurry through the class jumping and shouting the moment I leave and then instantly fall back into their places in a snap as soon as I enter, their sweet Good mornings and Thank You’s, when they run to me in the morning with the flowers they have plucked from their gardens accompanied by a dozen stories and complaints, when they religiously follow the routine of saying the Pledge exactly the way I taught them at the start of the day and when, they sing the National Anthem in their sweet voices with mumbled words after their prayers, is something I am going to cherish for a lifetime.
The innocence, the gratitude, the respect, the obedience and the love given by a preschooler makes me feel that the world is good despite so much of negativity floating around. There are angels watching over these children. Lastly, I have learnt from my children just like Alice in Wonderland – Nothing is impossible! Because, I can slay the Jabberwocky!
And, there is yet one more lesson I reserved for the end of this post. My children have taught me to listen, which by far is the most important lesson in life!
God bless my children and Cheers to all the mother-teachers and teachers! God bless 🙂