The new academic year at Manana has brought many changes. We have gained many new students, almost equally distributed through the classes. Several of our senior students have completed their 10th Boards and have moved on from us. We are pleased with their hard work and results and happy to see them spread their wings.
At Manana we continue to emphasize the teaching of the basic and core aspects of the children’s curriculum. Along with revision of their schoolwork and homework we regularly return to build up their basic skills in both Maths and English. This is done with a variety of techniques, ranging from interactive quizzes, tests, worksheets and flash cards. The students are receptive to the range of techniques and often don’t realise that they are being tested. We have found that many of our students who were weak in the previous years, such as Raju take great pride in explaining exercises and concepts to younger and new students. Having them teach each other (under supervision from the teacher in charge) has been wonderful for their self confidence and pride, we often find that their teaching style mimics their teachers and not always in a flattering manner. These techniques have also made them more confident in school and they report back to us, about teachers praising their skills at school.
This academic year we have nineteen students aged 5-10. While in previous years we have been reluctant to take such young children, it has become clear that there is a real need for teaching this age group. We understand that we can give this age group not only help with schoolwork but a firm grounding in basic skills that will assist them as they progress through both school and life. At this young age it is easier to teach them alternative techniques of learning as well as broadening their minds with new experiences. However with such a large group of younger students we have a real need for another teacher.
We currently have a small group of 4-6 students who require extra help and fresh techniques to hold their attention in lessons. These students have thrived with one on one attention, and enjoy having a teacher’s full attention, even if it is for 30 minutes at a time. We employ slightly more unorthodox techniques with them, and occasionally allow them to self direct with their lessons. Manju in particular, while extremely bright is unable to hold her attention if she isn’t supervised. However on a one to one basis she is highly motivated to read out multiple story books or work on basic skills, such as 3 letter words and learning to tell time.
Sita is another of our challenging students; while bright she has moderate medical issues that affect her concentration. With Sita we have worked with her parents to emphasize appropriate behaviour, as well as following through on tasks. This discipline has helped Sita to understand what she must do in different situations, she is gaining confidence in her abilities and is capable of reading simple picture and phonics books, and her vocabulary is growing along with her confidence. Our aim is to help her grow and make sure she gets the medical attention she requires.
Raju has grown by leaps and bounds with us, in past two years he has gone from a timid student with severe learning issues, to a student willing to try everything his peers are learning. In the past Raju was happy to be learning with much younger students as he felt it was a safe place for him. In the last six months Raju will sit and work with his own peer group and attempt the same work they are doing. He takes great joy in learning Sanskrit from Mrs. Chawla and is the first student to appear at her table every Wednesday. Working with her has done wonders for his self confidence.
Along with academics, here at Manana we try to organise activities that will broaden the minds of our students in other fields. With this in mind we have organised field trips, picnics, and painting competitions in the past for the children.
Manana tries to take the children on a field trip every academic year, these trips have involved visits to museums and monuments. In the weeks before rousing discussions are had about the destination and the children are ‘prepped’ and excited about what they will see and learn on the day. It is our aim to take our students to the Zoological Park in October.
At Manana, we like to encourage the creative side of our students. Our younger students have regular art and craft days, where they learn drawing, painting and other paper-crafts, and we try to have a larger event for all students to showcase their art skills. In 2014 Manana held an art competition with the ‘Swachh Bharat’ motto for ages 11 and up, while the younger children had ‘In my Garden’ as their theme. The children’s art was judged by a local artist and prizes were handed out, both for skill and participation.
We will hold another art competition in November 2015.
Note: Students' names have been changed.