Saturday, August 30, 2008

India for Afterschool!

India and loads of it - a great resource on India is Kamat's Potpourri. It is about 'history, mystery and diversity' of India - and it has about 18000 pictures - yes, 18000! There is so much on this site that you can browse and browse... Let me share one way I 'used' it - I hope to include art appreciation in my afterschool programme. I found a great deal about Indian painting on the site - from the cave paintings of Madhya Pradesh to Madhubani paintings to Moghul miniature painting...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Trained for Afterschool?

Where can you take training from to be an afterschool educator? I wish I knew!

But here is something that can help. The Indian Montessori Centre based at Bangalore offers courses in Montessori education. Of interest may be a 9 month online course. It is designed for parents,administrators of Montessori Houses of Children, people interested in learning about the Montessori method, and individuals who wish to pursue a career in Montessori education. The course is relevant for working with children under 6 years of age.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Experience Science Afterschool!

"Children experience science everyday from dawn to dusk. But, how much of this science do they truly analyze, appreciate, apply or even understand?" This question is from the Anubhava Science Centre's website. I think it expresses the core concern which led to its creation.

Anubhava Science Centre is a facility in Bangalore that lets children learn science by doing. It caters to children in the age group 5-10 years. Children spend time choosing and doing science experiments for an hour every week. (I like the choosing part the best - it is so tough for an adult to actually let a child choose!)

We need so many of such facilities - one in every residential locality!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Alternative Education Afterschool

Here is a must visit resource on alternative education in India. It focuses on homeschooling and alternative schooling. There are a wealth of resources you can access through this site - home school groups, alternative schools, books, online resources, articles, inspiration...

Sending your child to an alternative school or deciding to home school is a big decision. Not everyone can consider taking it. I see afterschooling as an opportunity here. A parent can actively engage with the child's learning afterschool. If you believe in learning through exploration and action - partner with your child and learn together - every evening, every weekend, indeed all the time when you are together... Also, consider afterschool learning resource centres (like this one) - where the focus is on cooperative, active, project-based learning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Theatre Appreciation Afterschool

There suddenly is a lot of theatre appreciation going on! The Actor’s Studio, a part of Samhaara is conducting theatre appreciation workshops for educational institutions in Hyderabad. The free workshops are being conducted in five phases. The first phase began on June 30 and will end on September 12.

Theatre has much to offer - creative expression, confidence, self-esteem, group interaction...

Seeing good theatre is of great educational value - especially when it helps you reconnect with your roots. The Surabhi theatre group is one such valuable resource. It's sheer magic for children to see their all-time favourite play - Maya Bazar. And then to attempt recreating the same magic themselves - that is one big afterschool science and art project!

Monday, August 25, 2008

School with Afterschool

Schools in India have started offering afterschool programmes. Wonder what took them so long! A lot of teachers, of course, offered tutions at their home. A great majority of children attended these tutions. In fact, goign to an afterschool tution is considered the norm for many. At about 6 or 7 in the evening, it is common to see children lugging their school bags home from the tution class.

A well-respected school in Hyderabad recently put out an ad in the newspaper for an afterschool programme. I should say it is a pioneering facility - considering the comprehensiveness and scale of what is being offered.

Schools have a ready advantage when it comes to offering afterschool services - they have everything at their disposal - qualified teachers, infrastructure and a 'captive' customer base. But for the children...

the good stuff -
  • you get to go to another good school - you benefit from teachers, infrastructure that your school may not offer
  • you get a place to go to afterschool - that is more secure than just staying at home all by yourself (if both parents are working, and there are no grandparents at home)
  • you get a range of activities to choose from (academic and non-academic) - a better alternative than watching TV

the bad stuff -
  • another school! come on!!
  • you need time to be a kid - in an environment that is as close to home as possible - you wouldn't want to sit in classrooms again!
  • will school teachers be different afterschool? afterschool programmes don't need teachers - they need mentors

This list needs adding to but I guess it is good for starters.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vidya Online Afterschool

A great resource this time: Vidya Online. The site describes itself as "online forum which will enable introspection, discussion and examination of issues in primary education".

It has 4 sections: Classroom support, Media resources, Bookshelf and E-courses. Together they offer ideas for activities, books, photographs and opportunity for attending an on-line course. The site has much to offer - the best way to get to know more is to visit it yourself!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Worksheets for Afterschool!

I know there are many free worksheets sites out there. But for some weird reason I scout around for worksheets made by Indian educators to feature on this blog. Here is one I recently found: Online Home Tutors. The site offers math (and English) worksheets. Math worksheets are available for grades 3 to 8 and include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc. One minor irritant is that they aren't in .pdf format.

And if you're looking for worksheets for the K-2 age group, my site offers free illustrated worksheets.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Resources for Afterschool Science and Math

Getting into the IIT is a cherished dream for both teenagers and their parents. A good foundation - with strong conceptual understanding and problem solving skills - is what afterschool programs for teenagers can help to build.

Here is a good resource for IIT aspirants and their teachers: Make your way to the IITs. This site offers ebooks, tests, videos and several links. While the site is useful for high school (standards 9 to 12), I would highly recommend it for educators at the elementary levels (standards 6 to 8) too. Access to good reference material will make the teacher's treatment of science more contextual, in-depth and meaningful.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Get the Flag Code Right Afterschool!

The Flag Code of India, 2002 says "where the Flag is displayed in open, it should, as far as possible, be flown from sunrise to sunset, irrespective of weather conditions". While afterschool programs may not be able to hoist the flag, they can help children learn about the proper way to do it in school -

According to the Flag Code of India, 2002:

"The National Flag may be hoisted in educational institutions (schools, colleges, sports camps, scout camps, etc.) to inspire respect for the Flag. A model set of instructions for guidance is given below -
(i) The School will assemble in open square formation with pupils forming the three sides and the Flag-staff at the centre of the fourth side. The Headmaster, the pupil leader and the person unfurling the Flag (if other than the Headmaster) will stand three paces behind the Flag-staff.
(ii) The pupils will fall according to classes and in squads of ten (or other number according to strength). These squads will be arranged one behind the other. The pupil leader of the class will stand to the right of the first row of his class and the form master will stand three paces behind the last row of his class, towards the middle. The classes will be arranged along the square in the order of seniority with the senior most class at the right end.
(iii) The distance between each row should be at least one pace (30 inches); and the space between Form and Form should be the same.
(iv) When each Form or Class is ready, the Class leader will step forward and salute the selected school pupil leader. As soon as all the Forms are ready, the school pupil leader will step up to the Headmaster and salute him. The Headmaster will return the salute. Then, the Flag will be unfurled. The School pupil leader may assist.
(v) The School pupil leader in charge of the parade (or assembly) will call the parade to attention, just before the unfurling, and he will call them to the salute when the Flag flies out. The parade will keep at the salute for a brief interval, and then on the command “order”, the parade will come to the attention position.
(vi) The Flag Salutation will be followed by the National Anthem. The parade will be kept at the attention during this part of the function.
(vii) On all occasions when the pledge is taken, the pledge will follow the National Anthem. When taking the pledge the Assembly will stand to attention and the Headmaster will administer the pledge ceremoniously and the Assembly will repeat it after him.
(viii) In pledging allegiance to the National Flag, the practice to be adopted in Schools is as follows:-
Standing with folded hands, all repeat together the following pledge:
“I pledge allegiance to the National Flag and to the Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic for which it stands.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Time to Teach Afterschool?

The Times of India's Teach India campaign has generated some interest in volunteering. Teach India is a social initiative of the Times of India group. It brings together volunteers and about 60 NGOs in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The volunteers give time to teach children associated with the NGOs (two hours a week, for 3 months).

I participated in a seminar on urban development a couple of years ago - one of the speakers was a mayor from Germany. She remarked that one of the most striking difference between her city and mine was (no, not the usual - pollution, unruly traffic, poverty..) the lack of volunteering! In her city, she said, nearly everyone gives time - volunteering in a school, at a day care facility, a library, anywhere to work for their city! I would have felt better if she had pointed out the pollution instead!

How can afterschool time help to build a 'culture' of volunteering in children? One way is to get children to teach - less well off kids in the neighbourhood, younger kids in the same program, ... Teaching has this wonderful property - by teaching you learn like never before. So in a sense it is a great methodology that will help children learn better. You teach and therefore you learn (and vice versa).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Theater Workshops Afterschool

Theater for children is catching up in India with professional theater artists opening up programmes for theater appreciation.

A pioneer in this field (started in 2000), in Hyderabad is Vaishali Bisht. Her children's workshops reach kids in the age group of 6-12, and focus on using drama for the personality development. Physical expression, projection of voice, dialogue delivery, use of physical objects, role playing, and using theatre as a forum are some of topics explored over the 24 session weekend workshop.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Move it! Afterschool

Sports education used to be something most Indian parents thought about only when an Indian won an Olympic gold!

Thank fully, things have started changing...

Jelly Beans is a first-of-its-kind activity centre in Bangalore focusing on movement education for preschool and kindergarten children. It has 4 different programs tailored to age-groups from toddlers upwards. With a 1:7 trainer:child ratio, international standards, and a curriculum filled with non-competitive yet challenging activities, Jelly Beans is a useful service for children with no access to open play spaces and playmates.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Math Stories Afterschool

Hey Math! is an Indian company offering e-lessons on mathematics (to students in over 50 countries). The India edition for standards 6 - 10 is available at Rs. 1200 per class. Virtual manipulatives and animations bring alive math to the child. But wait, there is more...

This site has an interesting Math Stories section. Two stories are featured currently - I do hope more will follow.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Olympiads Afterschool?

A parent looking for a tutor to train her 8 year old for the science and Cyber Olympiads made me look up this website.

"The National Science Olympiad is an academic and scholastic aptitude competition encouraging learning in Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science." Students from the 3rd standard upwards can take the test.

The Cyber Olympiad is "a national level exam based on mental ability, logical & analytical reasoning and general questions on computers and information technology". It is open for students of standards 3 to 12.

This website offers resources (sample papers, reference books, periodicals, etc.) to help prepare for the Olympiads.

The sofworld website claims that over 2.5 lakh children took part in the eighth Science Olympiad (2005). Any test that 'measures up' a child against 'future competition' attracts parents. I personally would recommend testing services such as ASSET and Mind Spark offered by Education Initiatives. As the Mind Spark website says - when understanding happens, can marks be far behind?

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Comics for Afterschool!

What better way to teach children about money and banking than comics?

The Reserve Bank of India has undertaken a project - Project Financial Literacy. The objective is to disseminate information regarding the central bank and general banking concepts to school and college going children and others. Through this project, the RBI has come out with a set of four comics - they are available for download at the link mentioned. Browse around the site to find films and posters highlighting security features of Indian currency notes.

Use them as resources for an afterschool economics module.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Spy Afterschool!

I did have a post or two earlier about nature education. Nature is one teaching-learning resource that is increasingly getting hard to come by in cities - or is it? Part of the problem may be that we aren't looking for it!

My afterschool centre is blessed with a small garden. And what a fantastic resource that is! It is not a prim and proper garden - just the right mix of orderliness and wilderness to give children enough to explore. Yesterday we had a treasure hunt. They had to hunt for a mushroom and 5 snail shells. What excitement! - rushing off, begging for clues and more clues, the thrill of discovery - and the learning (it doesn't look like the mushrooms at Reliance Fresh!). Today's hunt is even more special - they have to hunt around (very, very carefully) the leaves of just one bush to spot a wonderfully camouflaged caterpillar.

What if an afterschool centre has no garden? There is so much that can be done from the balcony! Bird watching, bird feeder, cloud watching, sun dials, rain gauges, potted plants,...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Afterschool or Afterschool?

I saw a banner fluttering on a neighborhood apartment yesterday. It had name with the subtitle - day care and after school. Am I having competition even before my own afterschool program fully takes off?

The banner got me thinking (again!) -

The general understanding seems to be that 'day care' is for children under 5 years of age (snacks, play) and afterschool is for older children (snacks, homework, music, dance, art, puzzles, etc.). The latter usually does not offer a structured learning experience - it is loose collection of hobby classes, play time, etc., that the child opts in and out of. Both these are intended to care for the child - every day - till the parent picks her up after work.

The other kind of afterschool programs are not focussed on providing alternative child care. They are primarily learning centres giving the child what she/he would not get in school - a new way of learning (independent, exploration), a new level of learning (going beyond the curriculum), and new resources to learn from (not just prescribed textbooks). These try to squeeze themselves into the child's packed schedule - homework, tution, etc. - and are generally limited to once or twice a week. Abacus classes, Robotics clubs, etc. fit in better here.

Should both these different programs be then referred to as afterschool?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Online Learning

How can Indian children get an international educational experience at costs that don't fleece their parents? The answer is online learning. There are many websites offering math practice online. One of them (that I haven't mentioned about in my earlier posts) is: Mathletics .

It offers unlimited math practice sessions at $ 99 per student for a 12 month period. Packages for schools are also available at $ 30 per student.

I wonder if sites such as this can offer special rates for afterschool centres. Must ask...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Science Club Afterschool

Any good afterschool programme must have a science component. It helps if your science club is part of a larger network. Vigyan Prasar supports science clubs though its programme VIPNET . While there are quite a number of science clubs across India and Andhra Pradesh - the programme does not seem to be very popular. Anantapur and Kurnool have a decent number of science clubs affiliated to VIPNET while Hyderabad has just a handful.

Being part of a network is a mutually enriching experience - for the network as well as for the members. In the current Indian scenario where there is no afterschool network - being part of science, math, art and literature networks can help afteschool centres to exchange experiences and agree on quality standards.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Catch the Eclipse Afterschool!

It is the day of the partial solar eclipse (in India) today - and it times itself so well for an afterschool program - starting at about 4.30 pm and ending at about 6 pm. The skies have a lot of cloud cover - so while I'm not sure what we can actually get to see from Hyderabad, there is a lot to do in any case: keeping a safe solar viewer ready at hand, digging out reference books for entries on eclipses, setting up a small demonstration on the eclipse and logging on to NASA TV for a live telecast!

The next solar eclipse (this one will be total) is due on 22 July 2009. So be sure to stock up your afterschool program with a astronomy kit from Vigyan Prasar. The kit has amongst other things a safe solar viewer, information cards and a small demo kit.