Children can only grow up happy if they have other people around who are keenly interested in their development. For example, a child nobody talks to will never learn to speak. This makes people who are around children, such as relatives or teachers, very important persons.
The overall well-being of a child also affects how he thinks and feels. For example, a child who is always hungry will feel unhappy and have no desire to learn much. On the other hand, a child who is very sad because of the loss of his mother may also refuse to eat and then internalise a lot of negativity.
There are many things children cannot do for themselves and they need help from grown-ups. If a child cannot trust that the grown-ups around him will help, love and encourage him, he will not develop normally and may show adjustment problems later. Children of the same age who live in the same environment, will often be very different in the way they behave. For example, some children cry more than others, get upset more easily, are more active or need more attention than others. Such difference can even be seen in very young children. Children learn in this way that they can have many different feelings; be sad, angry or afraid and know that the adults around them will still love and care for them.
What can teachers do?
. Make parents and relative aware of the important facts about child development. It is worth noting that neglected, malnourished children or children without
caring parents may find it almost impossible to catch up with other children in what they learn. It helps parents know the important facts about pre-school
. Choosing a suitable time for such teaching is important – may be you can do this together with a health worker while mothers come to a PTA meeting.
Mothers should be encouraged to feel that the task of bringing up children is important, and that they have the skill and ability to carry out this task well. The teacher should try and build up their confidence by praising the positive things that the parents are doing well. If a traditional practice seems harmful, she should suggest some other way of dealing with the problem, rather than talking against the traditional practice. Be aware of local resources for children which promote healthy development within the neighbourhood and the larger community
. Helping parents to help themselves is effective. In some areas, with a little help from a health worker or a teacher, groups of mothers can set up groups for pre
school children, groups for extra tuition of slow learning children, or parents’ group to assist teachers. You should encourage parents to form such groups and
help them in their functioning.
. Give meaning and passion to your teaching methods. A teacher’s interest in what a child is doing and learning — helping the child learn can improve the child’s
confidence and academic skills. More interaction with the children will help them get along well with other children. Also, doing these tasks should be made
rewarding for the child. For example, if children are discouraged by their parents to read books at home, you could take some time out in class to help them
read, add some technical skills to what has been taught. Have a chat with the parent at a PTA and try to convince him or her about the necessity of developing
a love for reading. Have them read out loud to the parents. Slowly, this will convince the parents of the need for reading.
The aims of early childhood education have been well outlined by Jean Piaget. “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things… men who are creative, inventive and (are) discoverers. The second goal of education is to form minds which can be critical, can verify, and not accept everything that is offered. The legitimate aim of early childhood education is to produce self-motivated learners and critical thinkers. With educational reforms now being unleashed, this aspect of human development needs utmost care and in-depth appraisal.
The author is a senior consultant psychiatrist with Moolchand Medcity and Vimhans, New Delhi. Send him an email at hthorizons@h industantimes.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’