7 May 2012

Connecting with a child

I got into class as usual, with an urgent objective in mind, to train and prepare my primary kids for Start's upcoming concert in July.

Often as teachers (and even parents) we get over busy ensuring that homework is done, objectives met, duties and activities carried out as planned, schedules, schedules and datelines.

At StART, though I know, building the self esteem of the underprivileged child is the most important goal, I sometimes forget. Well, today I didn't, because the children didn't let me.

After a brief warm up and review of materials learnt in past weeks, I told the children, "Today, you're all going to sing for me one by one, coz I need to know if you've learnt your lyrics and song well."

They panicked! The children started walking around the room, singing on top of their voices, peeking at the lyrics occasionally and then closing their eyes again to memorize. Finally I called them back and said "Never mind, if you don't get it all right today, I just want to know where you are. Now, all line up in front of me, I need to see you face to face."

The brave children went first, belting out the songs, creating their own words when they forgot the original ones. Some sang in tune, some out of tune, some without tune and rhythm, some perfectly. But as each child sang, I kept my mouth close, except to smile and look in their eyes. I felt today, that I needed to connect with these children, and they wanted to connect with me.

Then came the shyest child, the one who always hides at the back and hardly talks to me. She sang, barely audibly. I  listened to her own version of the learnt song, and found myself smiling genuinely because I wanted to encourage her. And because she needed to get lyric cues from me, she was forced to look at me.

As she looked at me mouthing the lyrics with a heartfelt smile, she automatically reacted from within. So she started smiling as she sang. That was contagious, coz I felt myself reacting with a bigger smile as something warmed my heart! :) And that was contagious to her  too, coz before we knew it, she had the biggest smile plastered on her face and we both ended up giggling.

Never mind, that she and some still haven't yet nailed the song. What's important is that today, we established connection, we connected with each other.  I didn't start out planning for this to happen, but it happened, and it taught me an important lesson. How each child yearns to be connected with a trusted, loving adult, and how a simple short exercise together can help establish that much needed bond/connection.

~~Now if you're a busy teacher, or a parent, why don't you try what what I learnt today with your child.

-Stand  or sit so you're the same height as your child.
-Hold her arms, and sing a love/silly song to her. Then ask her to sing a love/silly song back to you.
-As your child sings, listen not to the song, but to that sweet quality of her voice.
-Look not at her eyes, but beyond them to see her precious little being.
-Feel that love from within and smile.
-I'm pretty sure, your child will smile back in return, and before you know it, you'll be giggling, and perhaps, even tearing a little if you've not connected for a while.
Remember to let your child know she's important to you. :)

In our hectic schedule, it helps to set bonding time, where conversation goes beyond "have you done your homework?". Put aside expectation, goals, and routine, assure your child that you're there, that she matters, that she's loved, that she's precious.


gail said...

An excellent lesson to learn.

gail said...

Oh, I have tagged you on my site...

Divoo said...

a lovely post. a great lesson! i've tried half of this exercise with San. i'm gonna complete it now with her. thanks for reminding us of this great thing to do with our kids! :)

marie said...

Well said, I love all of your tips. I am constantly trying to work on my patience.

Carolyn (Lil' Dahling) said...

what a great lesson. thank you!

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