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Starting journaling with children

Journalling for mindfulness

Why start children on journaling ? Have you had this lingering question ? Let’s delve a little into the whys and how’s of it all.

1. Before a child can speak, he sees and gestures what he wants. The mind learns to communicate before he can express in words. And often that is frustrating. Similarly, children learn to scribble, draw, perceive colours before they can fully form sentences. If you offer an opportunity and environment to express through art and creative expression, you offer an outlet for the frustration and negativity of not being able to communicate in words.

2. Creative expression is a direct route to mindfulness. Keep colours, paper, drawing material accessible at all times. Roll out paper on the walls and floors. Allow free expression for a child and see the depth of ideas that come through. And while the ideas are flowing, the mind is on a self-declutter mode, allowing space for peace and stability.

3. A child will learn to read and write, in his or her own time. But why should the focus shift to these skills while what the developmental state of a child’s mind is that of asking questions and exploring ideas? Why push a child to fit letters in lines and colours within borders when these are simply man- proposed ideas to fit all children into one box?

That’s why we journal. We set the child’s mind on a path that open doors to his mind’s creative world. We offer him the freedom to pick a sheet of paper and draw/ write / stick pictures and tell stories, ask questions and try to make logical connections. We do not restrict learning to texts and worksheets, but we allow for open ended expression through the medium of journals. Journals are and can be a powerhouse of ideas.

You can start today, with a child as young as 2 yo. Let them scribble, work their pencil grip, make circular motion. Vertical spaces for artwork will allow them to cross the midline of their body and develop hand eye coordination. They will find patterns where your eyes have been lost to the bigger picture. They will amaze you with their innate understanding of connections and structure.

Our best seller Starting Journaling with children is now available in our web store here and is based on the popular story “Goldilocks and the Three bears”

Children as young as 2 years old may start with this curriculum, with many many readings of this favourite book as a bedtime read or over a cosy afternoon. After all, children are made readers in the laps of their parents!

Linking here a few snippets of this story based curriculum for beginners and the 21st century skills we hope to introduce to children, early on

Based on the popular story Goldilocks and the Three Bears

We’ve also included a bear study module ; a mini version of it that will prompt further questions and explorations of the diversity of India. Couple this with story readings of the Jungle Book or Winnie the Pooh and discuss what the bears look like, how they behave and what they eat. Interconnected ness is the key. And often, the child will lead you to see these connections where you may have missed them.

Mathematic and language related open ended activities are added as accessories so that children can lead the way to building their own puzzles, games and stories. The curriculum also comes with A – Z nature prompt cards that you may choose to convert into a poster, bunting, flash cards or stack of cards for nature walks and explorations. The idea is to prompt discussions and lead to observing the world around you.

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Winter study Module

For kids at the age of 5 and lesser, the change of season from warm weather to the stark chill of winter may be startling. And this prompted me to build a season based module to teach the girls all about winter.

As our homeschool module is based on stories, we change up our shelves every time we work with a new module and often like to add a book or two every now and then.

This time around, our primary choice of reading has been “The tree that’s meant to be” by a Yuval Zommer

Introducing winter with the concept of hot and cold, word associations and a few activities to stimulate the multiple intelligences. We looked through various winter themed books and created a colour palette to use for all our winter based activities that we will be conducting in the days to come.

Hot and Cold : colour and word
associations
Mixed media art work
Stimulating visual intelligence and artistic sensibilities

And we then went ahead to discuss winters in different parts of the world (our winter study module has all the lesson plans and details: available for purchase on our website)

And then as a concluding activity built a winter wonderland complete with aurora lights and skiing youngsters

Click to see 5 yo Miss A’s winter wonderland
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Books to introduce to 06months- 01year olds

It’s never too early to bring to your child the wonder of books. They are windows to imagination and doors to adventure.

There are 3 kind of books that I found highly useful with my kid, for introduction at 06 months of age.

1. Monochrome Black and White books- The colour contrasts really catches their eye and keeps them engaged.

2. Touch and Feel books what’s not to like here? These books come with pages in built with textured pictures that children enjoy exploring. Pic those with bold colourful pictures and large, but limited text.

These too can be picture books like the Pet Animals book shown below or a story like Sue the Cat

3. Lift the flap and Pop up books. As the name suggests, pictures in the books have surprises that are to be discovered hidden under flaps or pop up when you turn a page. These are fun learning experiences for little ones and come in various themes such as numbers, colours, shapes and animals.

Whatever book you choose, talk a lot about it. Get involved explaining little details, pointing out colours, shapes and building stories. Children internalise everything you say !

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Think Alternate

Think Alternate is my attempt to think out of the box, question traditional teaching methods and bring together like minded parents to bring the learning of their children into the children’s hands.

I began to formally document my daughter’s development when she was about 8 months old. Of course before and alongside that,  we monitored milestones and focussed on building gross motor skills such as holding up the head (3 months of age), Rolling over (6 months of age), Sitting up (8 months of age), Creeping (9 months of age), Crawling (11 months of age) and walking (14 months of age).

At 6 months we introduced books to her- and soon enough we began to notice her turn the pages of her board books by herself, coo and caa at the bright characters and before her first birthday she was able to point out various characters when prompted. This was the turning point for us. I realised that no book is ever going to prepare me here on.

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What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff helped us monitor milestones, prepared us for starting solids, alerted us to medical emergencies but being able to point out a character in book- that came as a pleasant surprise and opened up a window of wonder; simply because it made me stop looking at averages and monthly development charts and start to focus on Miss A- the girl she was, her interests and what her mind and body were prepared to do, sometimes well ahead of what books had to say was the “right age”

Therein lay the foundation of Think Alternate. I began to read voraciously on parenting, child development and ways children learn. This area of education is absolutely new to me- and my biggest learning in this short span of reading has been that there is NO One Size Fits All. Draw inspiration from all kind of sources- but follow your child’s cues. What the child is ready for, he/she will pick up instantly, what the child is not ready for- what is the POINT of it as it is?