Each child sees the world the way his mind has been conditioned from the time of his birth. In order to authenticate this fact, I set out asking every child that I came across – over a period of time – what came to his mind when he heard the word ‘candle’. The age group of children interviewed started from 3 years onward. Here is an array of answers:
“Candle makes me think of –
‘birthday’ [in most cases, especially the younger of the group.]
‘church’ [where the family practiced Christianity]
‘my science project’ [the child had worked with the burning candle covered with a glass that puts off the fire, proving that fire needs air]
‘power cut’ [ in areas where the was frequent power shut down in the evenings]
‘candle light dinner’ [in most cases, the 9+ age group]
‘my ruptured skin’ [where a little one had handled the candle without adult supervision]
If an ordinary object could have so many ways of being looked at, then we the care-takers of the growing children could reciprocate this fact, too. Let me tell you how:
Let us choose another commonplace object, say a packet of biscuits. Depending on the child’s age, mental maturity and interest, we can do plenty of educational jugglery with a thing as simple as this.
SHARING – If the child is a toddler, hand him one biscuit after the other, guiding him to gift them to every family member or a group of friends (and he will watch them smile and say ‘Thank you!’). The child learns the joy of sharing and to appreciate politely when a goodness is received.
REVISION OF NUMBERS – If the child is 2+, you can teach him to look for the cost of the packet. You could join him in counting the number of biscuits packed in it. If the packet is not consumed in one go, you can make it a continual exercise which would bring in the memory in to play: Each time the child picks a biscuit, he needs to call out the order of consumption – and you will clap/jump as many times. What fun for the child, who is actually recalling ‘numbers’!
VALUE FOR MONEY – Is the child 3+? What started off as an innocent habit (watching the cost) could gradually be upgraded, as you tell the little one about the number of bills that you need to shell off at the store’s counter. You don’t need to burden him about mounting expenses or make him guilty about the purchase. Instead, the child himself will take special interest in wanting to know how much the other products (crayons, toys, diapers, chocolates and ice creams) cost. Gradually the concept of ‘value of money’ seeps in him. This is an automatic mechanism that will go a long way as he grows up.
AWARENESS – If the child is 4+, go ahead with the printed matter on the wrapper. Show him the details that go with the manufacturing of the yummy cookies. Watch him listen with excitement as you read out the list of ingredients. As you read the details about the nutritional value, you can even bring along those basic biology books that you had bought for him and talk about what the vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, calcium and minerals present in the biscuits could do to his growing body. At another instance, you could enlighten him about the harm that junk food could do to him.
HYGIENE – If the child is 4+, you could as well guide him to the date of manufacture and the date of expiry of the product. The next couple of times, pretend to take his help to know if the pack is safe for consumption. Encourage him to look for this detail in every product that you buy when you go shopping together.
CONSUMER RIGHTS – If your child is 6+, he could be told about the importance of getting a valid receipt for the money paid for the packet of biscuits, the meaning of MRP (maximum retail price), the manufacturer’s suggestion about the feed-back in case of complaints, the VAT (value added tax) that the consumer pays, the sales tax that the shop-keeper needs to pay, etc.
CLEANLINESS AND ORAL HYGIENE – Has the child finished enjoying the packet of biscuits? Make sure he disposes the wrapper in the bin instead of littering. Insist that he rinses his mouth after a through mouth-wash. If the child is 3+, show him the picture of the tooth and talk to him about the probable tooth decay if the little one fails to maintain the oral hygiene.
You could add your own list of information to the ones given above.
Your child is not just a genius-in-the-making, but also a well mannered and responsible adult-in-waiting.
Thanks to you.