Coronavirus: Life Learnings For Children

Dearest Daughters

We, the humans, thought, believed and acted that life is to be lived in a certain manner. We had notions about living a life, learnt and perpetuated from seeing the world around us. Majority of us scorned and scoffed at the idea that we need a change from what we know as life. And, then came the coronavirus.

We believed that we were the masters of our planet. Our leaders were guiding us on the path to economic glory. We paid lip-service to nature and dis-regarded climate change. We called our planet Mother Earth and abused her in all way possible. There was just no stopping to us Рthe invincible humans. And, then came the coronavirus.

The coronavirus up-ended our living and brought unthinkable changes to our life (even if temporary), what we have called “life” till now. We reasoned that humans could not live in any other way than what we consider as “life” and surprise of surprises, all of us are still alive.

The Rush-hour

We believed that unless we are a part of the rush hour, we have missed out on life. If we do not see people rushing around us and if we too do not dash ourselves, we are losers. We took pride in being hustlers. We jostled and toppled, pushed and shoved, and felt uneasy when not able to do so.

The coronavirus showed us that life can exist in a slow-lane too. The world moves not because of the people moving around us and self, rather it is independent of us. Now, each one of us is at home, literally. Though, figuratively, we are hustling even now, just that it has become long-distance.

The learning for you – Life can exist without being a part of the rush hour.

The Academic Rat-race

We were taught to believe and we believed that children are an extension of us, adults. If adults are in a rat-race for money and fame, children should be in one too for marks and grades, the academic rat-race. We believed that children cannot exist without the shackles of schools and the current educational system.

Lo and behold. The coronavirus threw the children out of schools. The children are left without the exams and tests, their raison d’etre. Now, the adults are ensuring that the children remain in the academic rat-race with on-line learning. Long live the schools, just that it has become long-distance.

The learning for you – Children can exist even without schools if they live life with their parents.

The Self-sufficiency

In India, we have the tradition of maids and cooks and servants and all. Indians strive to be a developed country but cannot live without the maids and helpers around them. Even the NRIs and OCIs, who are self-sufficient in doing household chores abroad, become third-world citizens when in India, in this regard.

The coronavirus ensured that all the trappings in our lives were removed. In a very different way, coronavirus has made us a developed country. Do we appreciate this? Can we remain like this? Nah, we are itching to get back our maids. We want to be first-world but want the frills of the third world.

The learning for you – Life can be lived independently without anyone to pick behind.

The Pollution-free Environment

The nose is used to breathe polluted air. The ears are used to hear large decibel honking. The skin is used to artificial lighting throughout the day in the confines of closed rooms. The eyes are used to the rapid movement of people and vehicles. The taste-buds are used to eating multi-course meals.

Now, suddenly the coronavirus has turned everything upside down. In every other learning till now, the mankind is trying to ensure that s/he lives in the same way, as earlier, with no perceptible changes – work from home for them, on-line learning for children, somehow to get maids to turn up. But, in this particular case, coronavirus is winning hands down.

The learning for you – Life can also be lived in a pure and unadulterated environment.

A Little Bit Less Is A Whole Lot More

Coronavirus has shown that a little bit less of what we termed as life till now, results in a whole lot more of what life might be and could be. As children, life can also be about picking up stones, nature walk around the house, hearing the chirping of birds and also, being with one’s own family.

Once the coronavirus threat retreats, mankind will press forward with vengeance. We will have to make up for the lost time. Bad habits die hard. I am sure the coronavirus will also fall off the thick-skinned and self-centred humans.

The learning for you – Live Life Sustainably and Sensibly unlike the previous generations before you.

Quit the race.

Rangoli Making With Kids: Fun and Learning

Rangoli making has been an all-time favourite activity for O +ve and B +ve. They were introduced to this activity when they were about 15 months old. Even today, their fascination with it continues unabated. When I see them involved in rangoli making today and look back at how they have always been engrossed in the past, I realize how important this activity has been for them.

For both fun and learning, this colourful activity has been a regular in the everyday activities of our twin daughters.

Material

The girls were first introduced to making rangolis with a variety of flours, pulses, grains, semolina and rock salt. Since then we have explored making rangoli with a range of material including powder colours readily available in the market.

They enjoy making rangolis with mud, sand and gerua. Who doesn’t like messy muddy art, isn’t it? Their collections of petals, leaves, twigs, branches from their nature walks and park trips have been put to good use by making rangolis. The pebbles and stones from their stones collection have been arranged creatively to make interesting patterns. They have also used vegetable and fruit peels, bits of paper and pieces cut from cardboard boxes for rangoli making.

Both the girls have understood that it is their own imagination which when applied to any material that makes their rangolis. They absolutely take delight in this simple art form.

Motor skills

Rangoli making has had a significant role to play in the development of gross motor, fine motor and hand-eye coordination of the girls. One of the girls had an issue with her pincer grip. The doctor advised a number of exercises. We realized that making rangolis also offered similar opportunities to work on the same.

Takeaways

We realized that rangoli gives a live, interactive and experiential three-dimensional learning environment. It is pretty much cost effective and also a very inclusive art form.

Be it colours, shapes, sizes, alphabets, numbers, counting, comparison, proportions – most of these are amenable to learning from rangoli making. Mixing colours, colour combinations, powder colours, wet colours, characteristics of various colouring/filling materials, canvases and accessories – there is so much to a humble rangoli. We have been making efforts to introduce festivals, celebrations, region-specific attributes and related cultural aspects through rangolis.

Colourful Imagination

The girls love their colouring and painting. Along with these, they also love bringing to life their imaginations through their rangolis.

An open-ended rangoli making exercise really stretches them hard. They know what they want to make and to convert their ideas into a three-dimensional canvass is an interesting challenge for their age.

It is only the space that is a finite and regulated attribute when they begin making their rangolis. Once into it, they know no restrictions or limitations, no specific set patterns too. They have tried their hand at making everything – clouds, sun, moon, stars, plants, flowers, mountains, hills, grass, sea, beach, fruits, vegetables, body parts, vehicles, roads, house, deer, butterfly, caterpillar, eggs, even the regular muggus and kolams.

The output – the big picture is for all to see. We cannot make out much of their abstract art but they patiently take us through their works of art. It is this detailing that we love to hear from our girls. In their rangoli, a cloud is not just a cloud, it is either a black coloured cloud which is just about to burst into rain or a cloud which is very big and is hiding the sun behind it. B +ve drew a flower with four petals with some space left out which could have easily fit another petal. When asked as to why space was empty, she said with all seriousness that it is a flower which is getting dried up and one of its petals has just fallen down. O +ve made an apple, complete with worms and all.

Tidying up

This facet is also as important as all the other aspects. Rangoli making with children will invariably lead to lots and lots of mess and chaos.

The girls have understood that they also need to pick after themselves courtesy this activity. They surely do not do it all the time, given their age. However, they know that all the things that come out for their rangoli making have to also go back to their respective places.

Summing Up

To be honest, none of the above things occurred to us or were done in a planned manner with a given purpose. Just that today, when I see my daughters engaged in rangoli making, I realize how important it has been to their growing up years.

Maybe, it could have been more helpful to get the full benefits of rangoli making to our daughters if we were more structured in our approach. There are just too many benefits of rangoli making for children without any apparent downsides.

Our children are enjoying their rangoli making. Do share your views about this often overlooked and unnoticed activity and its practical application for children.