The ‘the lockdown’ has swung into action pushing us parents to reboot our PARENT’AIR’ING systems. The efforts our schools and teachers are making is commendable, but COVID-19 has certainly woken us up to the fact that some part of the learning-teaching journey of our children will continue to depend on us! So, while we are at it, let’s grab a BIG mug of coffee and go on a rollercoaster ride with our little ones, over rhymes, sounds, paints… peekaboo!!
I often use a collection of much-loved rhymes from The Usborne Nursery Rhymes Picture Book by Rosalinde Bonnet. It flows well with simple yet beautiful illustrations and large fonts that are easy on the eye, making learning enjoyable children. Nursery rhymes have been an integral part of activity time with my daughter, thanks to a child development workshop I attended in Delhi, which enlightened me about the importance of phonological awareness as a precursor to building good language skills! My two-year-old daughter, to whom I am still reading the rhymes, ‘loves’ to use the individual page tabs in this book to select her favourite rhymes. I believe it gives her a sense of independence – being able to make a choice! Small, yet important details matter, I guess. An early introduction to nursery rhymes has developed her ear for the sound of words as she enjoys ‘humming’ the catchy rhymes and so do we! Rhymes have become our family anthems and even taken over our audio systems. We groove and dance to nursery rhymes at house parties, sing them in the bathroom, in the kitchen, at bedtime, hum them basically anywhere, anytime! My daughter’s all-time favourite character is ‘Humpty Dumpty’, of which we now have two face masks, that play musical chairs with everyone’s faces all day long! Often, we have gazed at the sky looking for ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars’, only to finally understand that the twinkling stars will show up with their bright light only at night time!
The twist I have added to make the rhymes more enjoyable is; by playing audio of the same rhyme by different artists, so that my daughter learns to enjoy variations and feels encouraged to imagine her own visuals. Making and wearing masks and becoming different characters from these popular rhymes also engages the child in a very creative way, sowing interest for role play and theatre.
Experts believe that developing auditory working memory is an important cognitive function. So, I thought why not do some bird watching, oh wait I meant bird ‘listening’! Can you tell if it’s a mynah or a kingfisher by its sound? Most of us can’t! I could have had I taken my dad’s game plans seriously as a child, but I didn’t because they sounded so boring! So, I thought of making it more enjoyable for my daughter and bought two bird sound books. These sound books cannot replace nature but have served as a good stepping stone to hooking her to natural sounds! A simple touch creates a sound in these books, helping children understand ‘cause and effect’. You’re blessed if you have access to country life where your children can spot more creatures than just city crows, dogs and humans! But don’t worry even if your life starts and ends ‘only’ in the hullabaloo of big cities, so does mine, for most of the year! For that too Sanghamitra’s tauji (fathers elder brother) came up with an interesting game: someone from the family sits with their morning cup of coffee in the city flats balcony with my two and a half-year-old and tries to listen to the sounds made by autorickshaws, vendors, ambulance, cars, tempos, motorcycles, vans, jeeps and scooters and play ‘’WHAT IS IT?’’!! For children to be able to recognize different sounds can enhance their attentiveness to their surroundings, whether it’s a cow grazing in the nearby fields or an ‘extra-large’ dump truck creating a rumpus in the city colony.
‘Object permanence’! Sounds so hefty right?! It took me only one game of peek-a-boo with my daughter to understand it though! Ever wondered why all children love peek-a-boo and why it creates such laugh riots at home!? Something that ‘suddenly’ vanishes and ‘suddenly’ appears fascinates little babies and children creating a lot of excitement! The first time I ever played peek-a-boo with my daughter she was a little baby rolling in her cot. At first she looked away in a different direction, probably believing that her little toy will never appear again! But when she was greeted with ‘’big smiley’’ ‘’peek-a-boos’’ over and over again, she laughed and giggled and understood that just because something cannot be seen does not mean it seizes to exist- and that is ‘object permanence’ – another important cognitive function. We have rolled together in bedsheets, used colourful dupattas, curtains, newspapers and even hid behind security instruction cards in aeroplanes to play this – yet another anywhere- anytime game. When no one is playing with her, she plays with herself and uses her all-time favourite book called ‘’Eyes, Nose, Toes, Peekaboo’’ written by Dawn Sirett. It is a flip-open book which babies can easily ‘self’ use. My daughter finds it very amusing and flips open the hidden pages pointing at the dinosaur’s ‘feet’, the dolly’s ‘eyes’ and the teddy’s ‘nose’. In the end, all that matters is your child’s laughs and giggles. So, create a lot of ‘hullabaloo with peekaboo’!
Kadambari Rana is the mother of Sanghamitra Rana Baskar, student of KC High, Chennai.
Kadambari’s subject training is in B.A(Hons) Economics from the prestigious St. Stephens College of Delhi University, after which she went on to complete her MSc Economics, from Cardiff University, UK. She began her career in the social sector and then moved on to the corporate side of a manufacturing company. But since 2010 she has followed her passion and has been part of a range of educational settings, including doing research in education at Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry and classroom teaching at the Shri Ram School, Gurgaon. She has a two-year-old daughter Sanghamitra and she believes her journey as an educator and that as a parent are intertwined. Currently, she is working on enhancing her understanding of ‘early childhood’ and how it impacts the children’s adult lives. Kadambari is the author to several articles in reputed newspapers and magazines, largely focusing on educational thought and children’s early childhood experiences. She calls herself an ‘independent educationist’.