To be educated about life means to understand self, relationships and their co-relationship in the community. Schools sadly are only providing intellectual growth, which also is being imparted selectively and ineffectively. For social and emotional growth of children, we have to rely on reading and writing. Introducing and making see children the beauty of human stories is a conscious effort that parents need to make. Reading can begin anywhere with comics, fantasy, magazines, shampoo bottles but gradually open the world of books that are deeply rooted in emotions.
As a creative writing facilitator, there is a very sad exercise I have observed teachers and some parents follow. After the child finishes the book, they sit down to ask questions about who, what and why of the story. Some more ambitious ones may also ask the child to review it in the copy. They themselves have shared with me how children feel bored and eventually lose interest. Well, what else do you expect? You are making reading into another intellectual process. Thereby, killing the joy of reading!
Do get an attractive diary for your child. Tell her/him it is to express your thoughts and feelings as you read the story. Assure no one is going to peep into it. The reflections are yours. No one is going to check or judge. This simple exercise will aid your child in reflecting upon her/himself, others and how one behaves in situations. Once the child experiences the benefit of the process (without her/him being aware the catharsis is happening), it will become a lifetime tool to decipher the mysteries within, complications in relationships and the interdependency of the society. These are small steps in making of an emotionally balanced individual.
Do ask questions about characters, situations in the story but don’t do it with an agenda to increase the comprehension. It backfires. Sharing is the way to plant pauses of reflection and provide reference points for learning. Share with your child how you have done something similar the character does. Share your dilemmas and desires that have stemmed from the particular book. This will make your child open up and reflect. Don’t be in a rush for quick responses. Remember it is a process and a process that will need consistent investment without expecting immediate returns.
You have guessed it right, you will have to read the books first or maybe along with your child in order to facilitate the process. Trust me, it is worth it. It is an opportunity to get the education you may have missed in childhood. As you raise your child’s conscious levels, you will find yourself rising above the barriers you have created. The pieces missing in the jigsaw puzzle of life may begin to fit in as you read and understand a child’s mind. Not to forget, the child in you and your child will have a secret companionship. How beautiful is that!
Sharing ten gems I have come across in my journey as a mother of two children. I am sure there are many more. We would love to hear from you. Along with the name of each book I have summarised in one-liners my take away. There is, of course, more learning but that’s for you to discover when you read.
- Wonder by R J Palacio: Discovering inner beauty, of self and others
- Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate: Imaginary friend brings comfort and hope
- Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt : I am good, so are others
- The Growing Tree by Sheil Silverstein: The beauty of giving
- Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick: Connecting dots of life
- Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: Everyone needs love, young and old, poor and rich
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White: Making every moment count and worthwhile
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon: Finding family is finding yourself
- The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak: We all are connected, by pain and love
- The Boy in Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne: Humanity knows no caste or colour