Sri Aurobindo Society has been conducting children's workshops for more than 20 years. This year, it was organized under the title ‘Rainbow Dreams 2019’, from 29 Sept 2019 to 6 Oct 2019, for children in the age group of 8–12 years. Special Parent orientation sessions were also simultaneously organised in the mornings. The workshop was coordinated by the team of Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Integral Education and Research (SAFIER).
The workshop was attended by 33 enthusiastic children. After registration, the children sat in a circle with their Tsunamika badges. They were eager to know more about the doll they just got as a badge. Later the children noted down one or two qualities that they aspired to gain from the camp and wrote it down on their badges after listening to the Tsunamika story and gathering all love that she wanted to share with them.
Sessions for the Children
The programme for children was encompassed in a manner that nurtures integral learning. They were given an exposure to diverse subjects that could imbibe their interest to make common learning more enriching. The following sessions and activities were just inceptions to profound values when inculcated in their truest sense.
Art with a Storytelling Session
Priti (SAFIER) took up folk tales and folk art with the children as a tool for creative expression. She introduced the children to the Madhubani and Bhil art styles of folk art and towards the end of the workshop, the children got inspired to creatively present the two stories that they had heard in a ‘kathakar’s way’ (the way of a storyteller) along with their beautiful paintings which sufficed as large illustrations.
The yogaasana sessions with Shweta everyday morning disciplined the physical bringing a calmer state of mind and focused energy to use for the rest of the day. It also gave the children a sense of poise and quietude.
ChantingSession The chanting sessions by Manju Arya and Smt. Rajakumari was a significant addition in the programme wherein the children chanted simple Sanskrit slokas which in a way was a means to keep them rooted and connected to the essence of our culture and heritage and to essentially introduce to them this language replete with richness and poetic fluidity. The learning will also help to ameliorate the sempiternal language which by our own dereliction is on the verge of being lost as antiquity.
Music and Dance Session
The Music and Dance session with Surabhidi had activities galore, ranging from songs of patriotism to a ‘rainbow’dance along with various folk dance forms representing different states of India. The session whilst being enjoyable also intended to cultivate in the children beautiful expressions as well as grace and rhythm in their body movements.
A session by Dilip bhai on Mathematics created the magic of making the seemingly tough subject more easy and approachable. He showed the children an alternative way of understanding mathematics by which it can become enjoyable and comprehensible to grasp and in the process discover the joy of learning.
Hemavathy di conducted simple experiments with most commonly used objects to explain some of the fundamental concepts of science. This was also to promote the perception that one can always educate oneself with things found near and around us, as long as the eagerness and urge to progress is present.
Embroidery session by Bharati di assisted by Laskshmi was done to improve the power of concentration, hand eye coordination with intricate needle work and to develop an aesthetic sense that includes colour and design and composition.
Educational indoor games helped the children to learn language, mathematics and many other faculties of observation, memory and quick skills by simple play way method. Besides these skills they were able to adapt to different challenges with a spirit of togetherness.
Outing in the garden on two full days enabled the children to be among tall tress, to admire flowers and listen to
the songs of the birds and feel the gentle breeze. In the field, they felt the peace in silent communication with Nature. On the other days the children visited a park nearby and the beach where they enjoyed the most. These visits helped the children to exercise and engage their five senses to connect with the five elements of Nature.
Session with candles
In this session with Shivakumar the children were given a candle each to perform several complex movements with it. By focusing and making a connection with the candle flame with a steady gaze that will help to overcome all the distraction which would reflect on the dancing flame of the candle. This activity also guided the children to come in touch with their own inner centre
Self Awareness session
Self Awareness session by Sumedha focussing on a child’s ability to accurately judge their own performance and behavior, as well as their ability to appropriately respond to different social situations. Self-awareness is vital both to a child’s academic success as well as their social and emotional growth. Various activities were taken up to make children understand how to develop good Self- Awareness skills and understand their personal strengths and weaknesses.
On the final day the children presented before their parents all that they gathered and practiced during the camp that comprised of the beautiful paintings with the respective stories, Shlokas in Sanskrit and the songs and dance forms. This was followed by the presentation of their own talents and skills and the camp was concluded with a very happy and cheerful gathering.
Report on parent sessions
“Understanding Our Children” by Shivakumar
On 29th Oct. 2019, Shivakumar, Director, SAFIER, welcomed the parents and interacted with them on the topic of “Understanding Our Children”. He first took up a series of questions — like for eg. What are the responsibilities of parents towards their children? What is the best gift a parent can give to their child — which brought to focus the adult way of looking at life, their demands and expectations for their children. Then he brought to focus a deeper, psychological way of looking at children as growing souls, ready to develop their physical body to its utmost capabilities, their emotions to their utmost refinement and their mind to its utmost sharpness. He also emphasised on the need to help children develop their personalities by creating a most conducive atmosphere where the growth can happen with the help and guidance from each one’s inner self, a spiritual part that lies deep within all of us.
“Generation Next” by Dr Alok pandey
Dr Alok Pandey gave a candid and interesting window to the inner being of the younger generation of today and how they are much more truthful and fearless in spirit and have an evolved potential. The parents of today’s children have to unlock and discover themselves in order to understand the generation next who have become more conscious and conscientious.
"Inculcating Indian-ness: Giving Children Roots and Wings" By Dr. Beloo Mehra
Dr. Beloo Mehra set the context for the discussion by placing three key questions before the group: 1) Why is it important to inculcate Indian-ness in our times? 2) What is India-ness? 3) How can this Indian-ness be inculcated? As the discussion proceeded from one question to the next, the participants freely shared their ideas, insights, observations, thoughts and concerns. A list of key points emerging from the discussions was compiled on the board and clarifications given so as to deepen the shared understanding. Dr. Mehra also shared several resources that parents could use to work with their children. Role of story-telling and arts education as well as inculcating an appreciation for Beauty were highlighted. The parents appreciated the highly interactive nature of the session.
“Nature as teacher” by Aravinda Maheshwari
The parents enthusiastically volunteered to go to Auro Orchard at Auroville which is maintained by Aravinda bhai and Jasmine. Amidst nature, there was a different mood where after sharing of Arvindbhai’s story and a glass of lemon jaggery water the participants were eager to explore the farm which had turned 100% organic and was initially started by the Mother to provide fruits to the people of Auroville. As everyone tread carefully through the bushes and vegetation, Arvindhbai explained the story of going organic and how it helped children to know how organic food helped them be more healthy and robust. In spite of being a sunny day, everyone braved the heat, inhaled the pure air and assimilated the whole experience of being with nature and nature enthusiasts as a learning to share with their children.
“How to choose the best food for one’s child” by Shivakumar
In his second interaction on 5th Oct. 2019, Shivakumar briefly interacted with the parents on the topic of “Food” and explored answers to questions like what determines the quality of food, how to choose the best food for oneself.
“Communicating with children” by Sumedha Bhargava
An interactive knowledge sharing session with parents, which touched upon the importance of communication with your child. Few effective ways of communicating with children using skits was demonstrated. Parents enjoyed enacting the role play skits. The interaction also helped them understand different types of parenting and their use as the situation demands. In the end there was an open discussion as regards the concerns of the parents.
“Natural food as a window to health” by Archana and Atul from Auroville
Atul and Archana shared their journey to holistic health and connecting lifestyle choices. This was more to open a window for the parents and to create a space for their exploration to experiencing homeostasis and possibly also engage with their children on the same.