This is the first guest article on my blog as per requests on the mailing lists. It is by Aravinda from Mumbai. I agree & disagree with many things. But that is an article for another day … 🙂 So here it is –
What makes India such a wonderful place for children to learn?
Part 1 – by Aravinda, Mumbai
In India, most homes are open and people are in and out throughout the day. This makes life interesting and young kids get plenty of attention.
In rural and some urban areas, kids are also free to roam out of the house from young ages. And when they are old enough, public transportation is a good option in most cities. On the negative, the streets are not very bike friendly – though plenty of bicycles still ply and I know several families who encourage their children to go around by bicycle. (I am not yet brave enough to do so in Mumbai).
Natural hygiene, also known as diaper free care, is still the norm in the vast majority of families. Of course the diaper industry is working overtime to change this, but while the freedom lasts, for children this makes a world of difference for learning, sense of self, and communication.
Just as families learn to listen to babies’ ways of communicating hunger, sleepiness and boredom, families learn to read signals that babies need to relieve themselves. In turn, babies learn to communicate about this basic need, from an early age, knowing that people care and are listening.
We have the chance to shop from vendors who come door to door or who run stalls in outdoor markets – rich biodiversity of fruits, vegetables, household items, often made locally from local materials like grass, bamboo, etc.
And in Mumbai, we have the organic farmer’s market too!
So much more work is done by hand and kids get get involved from the time they are walking in such things as washing and drying clothes, washing grains and veggies, separating rocks from grains. And what fun to roll chapatis, flip dosas or fill up idli plates? Entertains them, satisfies their urge to be involved, and develops various motor and mental skills.
Kids grow up eating real food, mostly cooked fresh daily at home.
Homemade rotis, idli, dosa, dahi and of course rice, dal and veggies are very normal and routine. People who work outside the home may hire someone to cook at home if needed and if they can afford to do so, but have not (yet) converted to eating out of boxes (which anyway costs more, tastes worse, and is less nutritious).
An extension of the high value people still place on cooking – neighbours come to exchange dishes, especially when they have made something special. It just happens casually and spontaneously.
All the learning opportunities are not so rosy … some stem from the seamier side of life.
More in Part 2 (awaited from Aravinda)
Looking for other contributions too.