Our children are concrete thinkers. Maybe, all of us understand that to some extent. We have been cautioned at some point of time, that a particular concept is abstract for them. But how much and what to what extent should we get into specifics is something that I am slowly realizing. It started with Dr. Yamini in one of the story narration sessions for Ramam. I had a book with no text and just illustration and to my mind; it was the perfect book for Ramam to narrate. One look at it and Dr.Yamini (NIMHANS) said it made no visual sense. The story line is something like this. A boy has to get his kite stuck on a tree -top down. In the illustration, the tree top and a boy sitting on a buffalo were at the same height. To Ramam’s mind he has to just stretch his hands to get the kite down. How is he to visualize the tree top is is at a much higher height and the boy is at a much lower level. This illustration was very misguiding. Does he understand what does tree top means? Today, when I read a story, I take pains to see the book is right, he understands the underlying concept. For example, as broad as a banyan tree, and as tall as a coconut tree? Unless he can visualize these trees, can he imagine a man of such proportions? In this story this man’s job is to set the time in the clock in the palace tower. This time I took pains to explain what does “setting the time” on a clock mean? I showed it to him. It is not the same as looking at time.
Later as Sharbani (She is the director of my son’s school, for those who have not read my earlier posts) explained in one of her sessions with her kids, she asked them where the food goes. They had no answer. So she opened their snack boxes and took a piece. So they, answered the food goes to your mouth. After little persuasion they said the throat. But for them to understand it can go to their stomach through the food pipe is very hard. Thankfully, there are so many videos on You tube that they may come in handy to teach our kids. In another instance, in one of the text books, there was a story of a straw, bubble and a stick (I think) trying to cross the river. She said she decided to skip the story. How much do they actually understand is something that we have to find out? The one question that Yamini has always for me is “How do you know that he knows?”
Somewhere during one of her sessions with the kids Sharbani had told the kids, they can visit the terrace of the school building. They agreed to visit the terrace the following Tuesday. The teacher was not aware of it. Sharbani had forgotten about it. So on Tuesday the kids walked up to her and reminded her of her promise. I was there when this happened. Naturally, I was very pleasantly surprised. Setting a day and time for the terrace visit was something concrete and they looked forward to it.
So then that also explains why structure and visual schedules work beautifully for them. So long farewell , wishing all readers a Happy Dusshera.