Children are joyful, fearless, and live every moment, freely expressing the rainbow of their emotions. Mohammad Zaid was different. A class I student at Government Higher Primary School, Ramalingeswar Nagar, he was reserved and uncommunicative, refusing even to make eye contact when spoken to. The simplest classroom activity did not pique his interest.
Zaid’s only friend was his older brother who was in class III but studied in the same classroom as Zaid. He clung onto him, as his only source of comfort and security in what Zaid felt to be a hostile environment. To understand his peculiar behaviour, the EarlySpark instructor enquired with his parents. The mother revealed that Zaid had mistakenly drunk a bottle of a chemical addictive substance when he was little. This caused him to suffer a series of mild to moderate health issues, both physical and psychological. He was prone to mood swings and could not concentrate in class, limiting his academic learning.
To reach Zaid, the ES instructor decided to take his brother into confidence and made him the ‘Hygiene Champion.’ Health, hygiene, and safety are integrated into the intervention. Children are taught about nutritious food choices, everyday hygiene habits, body autonomy (to prevent abuse) cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and first aid.
When Zaid saw his brother taking up a leadership position, something in Zaid stirred. He motivated to emulate him. Pleased with his as-desired response, the ES instructor now made Zaid the leader of a group learning activity, gently prodding him to speak up. The class, then, for the first time, heard his voice, soft yet clear, controlled yet confident. Slowly, the fear on his face and in his heart faded away. Now, the learning began. He discovered the thrill of correctly answering his academic worksheets and was elated with his writing, each letter drawn to perfection.
What worked for Zaid was the ‘whole child approach’ advocated by EarlySpark. The instructor focused on creating a congenial learning environment where children are inspired at multiple levels to be receptive. She also demonstrated how innovative methods like creating a role model can work wonders, because children naturally imitate people they like.
Zaid’s parents were filled with gratitude for the program. That their child, studying in a remote rural public school could unravel his love for learning, develop leadership qualities, while enjoying every moment of the process, was a game-changer. It was his gateway to a new future.