Children

These organisations in Visakhapatnam are making learning interactive for children

Learning should be more intuitive and spontaneous say several educators who are bringing the fun back into the classrooms

Hunched over a big table are four teenagers picking through batteries, circuits, copper wires and bulbs. They are trying to construct a complete circuit. There is a brisk discussion about connecting the positive and negative terminals and removing the plastic insulation from copper wires. This is a common sight in Amala Reddy’s classes. A point to note: You will not find notebooks and pens in this classroom. Amala heads the Visakhapatnam chapter of Science Utsav, a Bengaluru-based organisation that conducts interactive learning workshops. She teaches scientific concepts and mathematical formulae using props and experiments.

These organisations in Visakhapatnam are making learning interactive for children

Like Science Utsav, several other institutions in the city are encouraging interactive learning. They are ditching the conventional blackboards and notebooks and making learning something fun and spontaneous. “It is important that the children learn how to apply the theoretical things that they learn in school; otherwise they would just remember the definitions and not understand the practical application,” says Amala. She started city’s Science Ustav chapter over three years ago with just four students. Today, the clamour for these classes is so high that she has to keep adding batches to her camps to accommodate all the interested participants. “The workshops that I host are practical applications of concepts that are a part of the school curriculum,” says Amala. Topics like wind, motion, first aid, electricity are taught to children using games and experiments. “We provide the students with materials and encourage them to experiment at home to discover new things,” she adds.

These organisations in Visakhapatnam are making learning interactive for children

Apart from hosting regular weekend classes at BookMagic Library, Amala also conducts camps during the holidays. “When I started off, my motto was to help the children learn these concepts in a fun way. But they learn so much more than just that. These collective activities promoteteamwork and also help children with their communication skills. They keep the children away from the screens,” she says.

Learning through discussions

Pin drop silence is not what Sonal Sarda, facilitator at Vocaboom, encourages. It is essential that the kids who attend her classes talk, discuss and debate. She started Vocaboom seven years ago to help children master the English language. “The only way to learn a language better is to speak it,” she says. The classes that are conducted twice a week are peppered with drama, poetry recitation and elocution. The facilitators constantly introduce new words into conversations. “The idea is not just teaching children grammatically correct English but also to improve their quality of language,” she says.

Sonal too dislikes books and pens. She says that interactive learning ensures children remember theories for a long time. “We have seen our parents drive a car for years. We are aware of how the car works and what the rules are. However, one does not learn driving just by observing; it is only when they do it themselves, do they master the skill. It is exactly the same when it comes to scientific or mathematical concepts,” says Sonal who is also the co-founder of Vizag Junior Literary Fest.

A space to grow
  • Some spaces in the city like libraries and food courts are doubling up to accommodate these workshops.BookMagic Library is one such hub. Owner Hari Madala, believes that it is necessary for more spaces like libraries to evolve . “With the arrival of ebooks and e-commerce, libraries are losing their sheen. They can no longer be just about books. Hence we decided to go beyond the conventional and make our place interactive . Apart from science and maths workshops we also conduct yoga classes for children,” he says.

When Mahalaxmi Bikkina started the Kumon learning Centre in Seethammadhara in August this year, her focus was on strengthening mathematical skills and reading habits in children. The centre follows a Japanese model where the students are taught using worksheets. They host after-school classes for children in the age group of three to 18 years. “The worksheets are in sync with a child’s school curriculum. They are taught concepts according to their grade through examples and scenarios that are written in the worksheets,” says Mahalaxmi. This is to make kids independent and help them develop self-learning skills.

Beyond the pages of academics

The focus at these classes is not just on cementing academic concepts but also encouraging children to pursue extracurricular activities. Little Minds located near Port Stadium fills up with laughter every evening as children of ages four years to 11 years come to learn dance, art and craft. “I come from a teaching background and children needed much more than academic excellence to build a complete personality. They also need extracurricular activities,” says Neeraja , founder of Little Minds. Neeraja also conducts awareness classes where the students are encouraged to ask questions. “We explain a concept to them and then encourage them to ask questions. In this way they learn off each other’s doubts,” she says.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 6:14:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/these-organisations-in-visakhapatnam-are-making-learning-interactive-for-children/article29852953.ece

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