Drop Everything And Read!

Says Namnam’s school and I couldnt be happier!

I have always believed that nothing can be more enriching and empowering than a simple act of reading. Reading can open the door to different worlds. It can make you grow, it can make you wiser. It can make you spread the wings of your imagination infinitely.

Even though, if given a choice she would prefer tearing a page out of a book and try making a lamp-shade out of it for her obvious love for craft rather than picking up her story books and read 😀 , yet the glowing look of achievement in her eyes is hard to miss on days when she pulls out a book from her shelf and manages to read sentences successfully, albeit with some help from me when she gets stuck at big words. And that achievement makes her eager to try out more which in turn makes me happily rush to the book store to buy more books for her :).

What also makes me happy as a parent is when schools stress on the very aspect of reading and the importance of making it a way of life, to the children and take measures to ensure every student develops a reading habit. Because not always do we get to see a deviation from the same old method of rote-learning in schools, do we? School that take pride in pushing the children into mugging up their lessons and scoring an A+ without even caring to know if they enjoy reading their books or if they are having fun while learning.

I am yet to figure out if CBSE’s* international curriculum which we have opted for Namnam is truly international as it claims to be or if its a case of old wine in new bottle.

Yet when I came across the concept of DEAR week while checking for updates for the week on her school’s web-portal, it made me think here was a school which truly understood the importance of inculcating good reading habits in children.

Now what is DEAR week you may wonder! It is a programme initiated to encourage children to pick up a book and read. DEAR means Drop Everything And Read! The students are to bring a book of their choice to school. A bell will be rung at any point of the day signalling the students to drop whatever it is that they are doing and pick their books and start reading. The reading is to go on till the bell is rung again after 10 minutes.

Namnam comes home and tells excitedly that she gets to finish the pages even before the bell is rung, I can sense how much she has been enjoying this activity.

“Oh I love millions and gillions of books!” says my child when she runs to her room to pick a book of her choice to take to school the following day. I wish her may this love only grow!

While I plan to voice my concerns at the school’s Open House, over her teacher’s behavior towards her, I also intend to let them know how much I, as a parent, appreciate them for this wonderfully encouraging activity.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.- Charles W. Eliot

* CBSE: Central Board of Secondary Education

Games Our Children Play

Let me ask you something. If your child comes up to you and asks if he/she can play house-house or ghar-ghar with friends, you won’t think even for a fraction of a second before saying ‘yes’, will you? I know I won’t. In fact when I see Namnam pouring ‘tea’ into her little ‘tea-cups’ and serving it to her friends or when she puts on her gloves to take out ‘freshly-baked pizza’ from her ‘oven’ or simply rolls out a dough onto her chakla to make rotis, I go on a nostalgic trip of my own drawing similarities to my own childhood.

I remember for us kids ghar-ghar meant having a kitchen stocked with the usual saucepan, kadhai, glasses, plates, spoons,etc and each of us had a role to play. One of us would be the ‘husband’ who would have a newspaper in his hand while the ‘wife’ would bring tea, make two cups and start complaining to the ‘husband’ about how their children troubled her and didnt ‘study’. And the rest of us acted as ‘children’ either doing our homework or playing marbles or ‘gotiyaan’ as the game was known or just getting reprimanded by ‘our parents for our supposed ‘misdoings’ :D. And on days one of us had our barbie doll set, were the happiest of days. Because we could try out different dresses on her, deck her up and take chances singing lullabies to her and carrying her like a baby.

So today when I hear the term play-house or ghar-ghar, that’s image that conjures up in my mind. Namnam and her friends are combing their respective barbie’s hair, dressing her up, tucking her in bed and I smile and wish to myself that they would never grow out of this innocence.

Having said that, yesterday, when one of my relatives shared a disturbing incident that occured in the school where she teaches, it got me wondering if innocence was indeed at risk and somewhere the parents had a hand in it.

It happened in one of the school buses. A 4 year old kindergartener went up to her friend and asked him to join her in the backseat on the pretext of playing ghar-ghar. To say that I was shocked at hearing what she did next would be an understatement. She took the boy to the backseat, removed her underwear and
told him to lie on top of her. Luckily the conductor caught them just in time and reported them to their parents. The perplexed parents approached the school principal who in turn summoned the girl. And as it turned out, the girl revealed that this was a game which she and a couple of her friends in the class played regularly. Upon being asked from where she learned this game, she replied,’ mere mummy-papa khelte hai'(my mummy-papa play this game).

Now, I understand that children grasp things very fast, but if a 4year old girl asks a boy to lie on top of her then it clearly means that children grasp things much faster and much more than what they are meant to.

So how do we address this issue? Who do we blame here?

  • Do we blame these little children who dont even know what making love is or to put it more bluntly, having sex is? Do they even need to know?
  • Do we blame the TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. for inflating their curiosity level?
  • Do we blame the living conditions in our country where so many families live in one-room flats giving zero privacy because of which many times children end up seeing things which they are not supposed to?
  • Or do we blame our regressive mentality where ‘SEX‘ is still a taboo subject and any inquisitive query from a child is treated with a snub or a shove?
  • Or is it time that we parents introspected? Will it help in safeguarding our little ones’ innocence if we, parents are a little more cautious and careful? Will it help if we parents are a little more encouraging towards discussing this subject more openly? So that if and when our little inquisitive-minds come up to us with any questions, we are ready and open enough with answers that are appropriate for their age?