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[1. Reading without Being Taught]
[2. Reading - Your Child Progresses]
[3. Teaching Babies to Read]
[4. Teaching the Five Senses]
[5. Reading to Your Child]
[6. The Beauty of Words]
[7. Integrate Learning]
[8. Physical Education]
[9. Poetry and Your Child]
[10. Emotional Growth]
[11. Teaching Science to your child]
[12. Evaluation without Exams]

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9. Poetry and your child

by Aruna Raghavan

We are all Pygmalions. We like to make, remake, put our heads to a side, shake it  and re remake our children. The perfect child is always the neighbour’s until it lives with us for a week! If our child loves the rain, then we like dry weather; if our child loves to feel the squelch of freshly watered garden then we like the clean cemented drive way; if we like to drink from the cup he likes to watch the bubble disappear as he slurps from the saucer. In short, our children are a trial to us. Luckily, nobody asks a kid who his trial is.  No wonder too. Because, even if not willingly, out of obedience he walks on the cement, but neither for fun nor for love do we ever walk on squelchy mud.

 

In class, recently, we had the chance of doing a very ‘different’ poem.

I meant to do my work today

But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,

And a butterfly flitted across the field,

And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,

Tossing the grasses to and fro,

And a rainbow held out its shining hand-

So, what could I do but laugh and go?

 

The poem is by Richard LeGallienne.

 

We did an ‘appreciation’ of the poem. We did simple questions like : what time of day was it? What time of year did they think it was? Could the poet see the apple tree? how did they know? Then to trigger their own imagination they were asked to close their eyes and describe the room in which the poet sat at work.. Amazing how much open, airy and bright the room looked. They could describe the shape of the table [not too big, quite cluttered with paper and manuscripts], the curtains with large bright flowers ... There was an argument whether it would be a typewriter or a computer on the poet’s table. To have them analyse, they were asked what kind of scene came before their eyes? Was it the country side or a city or a suburb? There followed a long discussion with so many points to substantiate their theory.

 

Then to more personal questions : Did the poet feel any guilt in putting aside his work? Has he done it before? How do they know? Have they ever felt nature call out to them? “Of course,” was the emphatic reply. What had been their response? That’s when emotions got out of hand. How come, cried the rebel – there are always these rebels –when LeGallienne goes off work it is poetry; while if we do, we are ‘bad’? What LaGallienne did was to write it and publish it (and make a little money too), I said. May be if they were to also convert their fun into a creative piece?

 

Next came the question from them. Did adults really set aside work or is LaGallienne an exception? The reply was a question. “What kind of people will take time off to say hello to nature?”

“Children,” they said. “And those who are like children.”

“Anybody who has the heart of a child,” said another.

The question then was:  what is the heart of a child? We wrote the answers on the board:-

It is always looking for something to do.

It is always wanting to think of new things and invent new things.

It is always wanting to have fun.

It knows when someone is sad. 

It loves everything that a friend loves because a friend is so nice.

The heart of a child is always thinking up how to trouble the big people around with its questions.

It is very noisy, though sometimes really quiet.

What it enjoys it can work on for long hours.

It does not like to be disturbed when it is working seriously; older people do not believe that; even when they are with their ‘lego’ toys – they are learning.

 

We ended the class with an assignment : When nature moves me. After the children had left, I stood looking at the board. It’s been a long time, I felt, since I had been a child.


Aruna Raghavan can be contacted at:  arusr@rediffmail.com


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