How many of you actually spend time teaching things to your kids? Teaching is one of the most difficult and time-consuming tasks I’ve ever had to encounter in my life, requiring immense patience and dedication.
When it came to teaching anything to Jellybean, I noticed that she plays the role of an observer. If anything piques her interest, she will quietly observe the activity and then try it on her own. However, the keyword here is “interest”.
If Jellybean isn’t interested, none can make her do anything – something she inherited from her father. She absolutely enjoys playing and inventing stuff, doing all sorts of naughty things. One night I found her sitting at her toy dressing table, applying eye shadow. She had taken one of my discarded old eye shadows and used one of her paintbrushes to put it on. Then she proceeded to apply some to her cheeks in two straight lines, and then took out one of my old chapsticks (I believe she ransacked one of my purses when I wasn’t looking!), and applied it to her lips. Then she fetched a pink plastic Barbie bag, where she had hidden her other “cosmetics” - a small plastic comb, an old blush brush, and an assortment of bits and bobs. She returned the makeup to the bag and paused to admire herself in the mirror. That’s when she noticed me standing in the doorway, looking at her. She gave an embarrassed yelp and ran into my arms.
I figured the only way she could have picked up all that was from observing me when I would get ready. She knew exactly where eyeshadow went on her face, that one had to apply lipstick (or leepteep as she calls it) on the face and that one had to look left and right while checking oneself out.
Sometimes I find her scolding her toys and telling them that, “Bhaat na khele strong hobe na!”, which is something I keep telling her to make her eat during meal times.
When she was younger she used to see my mother-in-law pray and would sit next to her, following her motions. She would cover her head with a scarf, cup her hands together and whisper gibberish, pretending to make “duas”. It was adorable and once she did it to my father-in-law and he had to get up from prayers because he couldn’t stop laughing.
But the most difficult time we faced was when she started school, and was made to learn numbers and the English alphabet. Her favourite numbers were 1 and 0, only because she would try to join the 1s and 0s and turn them into balloons. I found out later that her father had showed her this unique style.
She showed some interest at first, but then it got really difficult to get her to sit down and actually do the writing. I found that Jellybean is highly competitive and whenever I need her to do something, I turn it into a game. Like the other day, I made her paste printouts of random letters on our bedroom door and quizzed her on which was what. Half the time she responded correctly, which showed that she knew her stuff, she just refused to implement any of her learning into the written form.
What I absolutely detest is this undue pressure that is put on these kids from schools. At that age it’s almost impossible to get a child to sit down and “study”. They simply don’t understand that concept at all, and are more attracted to learning through play. I can’t help but lament at how “tough” it is even in Playgroup. Kids are expected to perform at such a young age, and I guess this makes them reluctant to study further.
I know not all schools are the same, but I hear similar complaints from parents about how their 3-4 year olds have homework and tests, and it makes me wonder, what are our kids learning?
I grew up having received very high quality education in my years abroad, and so I try my best to instil a similar, if not exactly same, type of learning for my daughter. We learnt through games and other creative ways. It wasn’t always about homework and tests and heavy textbooks.
The Husband and I greatly believe in practical and out-of-the-box learning, and in our own different ways, we try to teach Jellybean ourselves. The Husband has his own approach – he’s very much into science and facts and figures; whereas I tend to swerve towards the creative arts. I encourage Jellybean to explore colours and painting, music and dancing, while The Husband tries to build and invent things (so that the both of them can eventually destroy them!).
Sometimes Jellybean likes to do her own thing, like play with her kitchen set, and she wants to do it with her father, and he plays along despite his great reluctance at having to sip pretend “soup” every few minutes. Whenever he gets annoyed I tell him that this age will pass and there will be a time when she won’t even want our attention anymore, so he should hang in there and enjoy the moments.
Sometimes, our little Jellybean chirps up something we least expect, like the other day, when she had eaten half her afternoon snack of noodles and couldn’t finish the rest. So she told me to keep the rest in her school lunch box, and promptly told me, “Eita ami kalke school-e khabo, tahole purata shesh hobe.”
The fact that she didn’t want to waste the food and wanted to eat it the next day at school, goes to show that somehow, somewhere, we got it right!