Mon, 6 Dec 2021

Understanding children

Posted on Monday, October 6, 2008

Purnima Goswami Sharma chats up with Swati Popat Vats, President, Podar Education Network, on the eve of release of her new book 'Are you unknowingly harming your child'?

Been in the field of education for 25 years, Swati Popat Vats has worked as a teacher, curriculum developer and school designer. Swati is the director of Preschool chain of Podar jumbo kids, which has 36 centres in India, and also the director of Podar Institute of Education. She recently released her new book (third one) that was launched by MP Priya Dutt in Mumbai.
Excerpts from the interview…
Q. What prompted you to write the book 'Are you unknowingly harming your child?
For the past 10 years, I have been conducting parenting workshops on various topics ranging from food habits, dealing with child tantrums, stress and success, brain research and its implications on early childhood. When Podar group released a 10 point ad on 'Are you unknowingly harming your child', we were flooded with emails from parents. I realised that as educationists we have in-depth knowledge of child developmental and can understand children, but parents have only one tool – patience, and they stand a chance more often of running out of it. So I decided to write a kind of ready reckoner for parents to deal with issues that are not covered in parenting books.
Q. How did you research on the subject covered?
Having a hand on experience child development and having implemented it in all the preschools and daycares that I have set up in last 25 years, it wasn’t difficult. Being a member of N.A.E.Y.C (National Association of Education of Young Children - Washington) was a great help as their research material; journals, etc, are a great help to understand correct practices.
Q. What is the basic advice you wish to give to parents?

Understand your child by understanding the age-specific parenting requirements. Discipline is not about children keeping quiet, parents need to learn behaviour management. 0-7 are the make it or break it years, it lays the foundation of a child's socio-emotional development and personality, parents have a 100% role to play in it. The brain connections are made only upto 6 years of age that means the food, diet, sleep habits will affect your child’s memory and intelligence. Parents are not aware of these facts.
Q. Are you working on any other book, what are your future plans?
Yes, my fourth book will also focus children. Yipes, why does Zelda need stripes, this is a simple story about a zebra and her stripes, inspired by a preschool song- 'Zelda the zebra'. The story aims to draw attention of children to the issue of animal conservation and the importance of each body part to an animal. I am also working on Te whariki - teaching with the 9 jewels, a book for teachers based on the Te-whariki principles of the curriculum of the government of news Zealand.
I plan to write more books, to create awareness about importance of play in children's lives. My dream project is to tie up with orphanages and run a preschool in each one of them.
Q. Tell us something about your institutes?

I head Podar education network. The network is part of the 80-year-old Podar Education Group that runs high schools of various boards both national and international. It is involved in educational activities ranging from preschools, daycare, teacher training institutes and now children's products. We franchise our preschool Podar Jumbo Kids and our daycare Podar Happy kids. Our teacher training institute, Podar Institute of Education runs two courses, a one year diploma on early childhood education and a certificate course on learning difficulties and disabilities. I lead all the programmes as the director. We also offer consultancy and management formats to preschools and high schools that would like to adopt our curriculum or our training. We have now ventured into publishing books for parents, teachers and children.  
Q. What are the innovative methods of teaching used at your institute?
In our preschools we follow Reggio Emilia's observation and documentation and portfolios instead of report cards. Rudolf Steiner's eurhythmics, reverence and mind, body and soul techniques in the curriculum, glenndoman for our sight reading, Maria Montessori's sensorial learning techniques and understanding of how children learn. Gijubhai Badeka's approach of teaching with stories. In our daycare centres, we follow an adaptation of the Te whariki curriculum of the government of New Zealand.


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