Mind mapping

Mind mapping

Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill — Tony Buzan

 

My older son just finished his state testing and the process taught me a very important lesson. As much as I would like to believe that testing scores don’t matter much to me and that my children are way beyond the scores, I realized with slight alarm that the entire testing process does affect me on some level. It’s not so much the scores but the fact that the scores  might change the way my son saw himself and the subtle ways in which it might alter his self-confidence and self-worth,  was something I pondered over the past few weeks. He’s at an age where his friends talk about the upcoming tests and I think I saw fleeting traces of worry on his face on  couple of days leading up to the test . I also read a timely post from fellow blogger Intentergy that reminded me that testing is a pretty stressful time for teachers too! You can find her wonderful post here .

With competition hitting rooftops ,we are all stuck in a world where our children are expected to prove their academic worth and skills in less than 3 hours . Unfair , I agree , but that’s just the way it is and we all need to  fasten our seat belts and get through the ride, however bumpy it may be! As a mother , all I could offer was support and encouragement. It was pretty heartening to see my son’s self-confidence though! Whenever I suggested  to put in some time practicing, pat came his reply ,” Mom! I am so prepared, I could give the test right now!” While I tried my best to keep his self-confidence intact, I wanted to help him strike a balance between being self-confidant and not getting over-confident. My quest to help my son stay relaxed and get excited about giving tests ( after all this is just the beginning !) brought me to mind mapping . I stumbled upon some wonderful resources and books which gave me a great head start on the fascinating subject! I would like to add at the outset that I didn’t get enough time to practice this with my boys extensively due to lack of time before the tests,  but this is something I am planning to work on over the summer holidays and hopefully do a follow-up  post!

“I have so many ideas buzzing around in my head. How else could I capture all these mini inspirations,quickly, without the simplicity of Mind Mapping?” – Dominic O’’Brien, nine times World Memory Champion

 

So now ,more about mind mappingMind mapping is  a more creative way of studying and retaining information which are two of the most important skills needed in academic life. It is an extension of a couple of aspects of creativity that I had explored in previous posts, story telling and pictures in the head . Mind mapping combines these two skills to give you an edge over traditional study techniques like rote learning or cramming. In simple words Mind mapping is all about linking information using pictures and words which resembles a map and helps you recall content and facts about your topic quickly and efficiently !

Lets get down to the basics then. You can start as soon as children are old enough to hold pencils, markers or crayons . Start with describing a simple short story and ask them to draw pictures and write key words about what they are hearing. Be as descriptive as you can. Give them basic guidelines or a simple template of the main idea in the center and basic branches to key events or concepts . Remember, there are no hard and fast rules in creative learning! Their mind map doesn’t have to match your vision of the story or concept, and each person’s mind map is different. Be there to guide, but please refrain your temptation of teaching. The most important idea behind every creative approach is to enjoy the process and always remember to have  FUN! Mind maps can prove to be excellent tools to comprehend science, history ,book studies or just about anything! Your imagination is the limit! Narrating simple concepts while children draw their mind maps will be the only guidance they will need from you initially. Once they get a hang of it ,and as they move up to higher grades, they can dissect and assimilate complex topics using mind maps. A simple habit of mapping concepts as they read and study can create wonders in the way they comprehend and recall information. Here is a basic template to get you started.

And a simple mind map by me .Please excuse any errors, I am still learning this fascinating tool 🙂 .

mind-mapping1

 

 

Some of the resources that helped me learn more about mind mapping can be found here , here and here . I also went on to buy a wonderful book by Tony Buzan called Mind maps for kids . It covers all the basics in a simple yet concise manner providing lots of ideas to work on! I have just skimmed through the book for now and plan to go through it in detail over the summer. I hope mind maps change the way children view learning and helps them actually look forward to it! 🙂 As always, I would love to hear the ways mind maps helped your children , or your mind maps trials in the comments below ! What are you waiting for?Unleash your creativity and  let the fun begin !

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay

 

 

It’s all in your hands

It’s all in your hands

Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands. -Clint Eastwood
 

 

I know the blogosphere has been flooded with Mother’s day posts and rightly so. Whatever we do or say about our mothers  and our roles as mothers is never enough. I have been a little tied up the last few days and so couldn’t get my post out in time but any day is a good day to honor mothers ! 🙂 So even though the focus of my blog is creativity, today I decided to wrap my post around the spirit of motherhood and the lady who started it all in my life, Yes my very own Mother. No mother has ever gone to a school to learn how to raise her children and every mother has her own creative ways of dealing with her own little angels ( or devils 🙂 ) . My mother is quite exceptionally creative ,be it her hobbies or her persona. A rule breaker and a trend setter.

We all can agree that creativity is stifled in an environment of ‘Right ,Wrong, Yes, No , Should ,Should Not ‘ and numerous other similar rules that aspires to make a clone out of us. Of course ,code of conducts are  important guidance systems to ensure a sense of security and trust but when it comes to creativity, the best gift we can give our children is Freedom. Freedom to make mistakes , freedom to be messy , freedom to be different and freedom to explore the heights of their true self.

Isn’t Creativity essentially more about the process than the end result? The minute  a slight hint of anxiety over the end result creeps in, it instantly destroys the joy of creation. As mothers ,we all tend to expect the best out of our children, and unknowingly we pass on a vibe of expectation that our kids promptly pick up. The pressure of living up to their parents dreams can crush quite a many budding creators. So this Mother’s day , I remind myself of one of the most important lesson my mother modeled during my growing up years, the freedom to be completely me.

I was free to explore ,get hurt and learn my own lessons yet she was always there to guide me when I needed it. As much as I try to give the gift of freedom to my boys, I am yet to match up to the level of total faith and confidence that my mother had in me. All I know is that I am not a perfectionist and I can bear the fact that my house is nowhere close to looking like a museum. I don’t expect my boys to color within the lines or follow the instructions on the manual. I can most certainly live with the mess after my boys help me out with dinner or the mountain of books, after they are suddenly in a mood to explore every book on the book shelf. It’s totally okay to be loud, make unearthly animal sounds and act silly in our house.

Today I would like to touch upon just one binding, that might do us well if given up, to spike up the creativity in our children or even us! And that is to explore the non dominant hand. We all have a dominant hand that we use to write, draw, eat, open doors etc.. And the non dominant hand or opposite hand playing a supporting role. It doesn’t matter if you are right-handed or left-handed, the non dominant hand can get you in touch with your creative side. It has been proven that when you use your dominant hand, one hemisphere of the brain is activated ,whereas the non dominant hand activates both the hemispheres! Leading to surprisingly creative ideas or out of the box thinking. The dominant hand is linked to the logical, analytical part of the brain while the non dominant hand is connected to the creative and intuitive part. So writing or drawing with the non dominant hand will activate and strengthen those parts of the brain that are not used on a daily basis.

 

A man paints with his brains and not with his hands . – Michelangelo

 

Giving kids the freedom to use either or their non dominant hand  while they draw , do a fun art project or write a story  might be a great way to start. Neatness or perfection is not the key.The process is. It sure may take some time getting used to using the opposite hand and the first few attempts might produce totally undecipherable masterpieces!! 🙂 but with patience and practice it will definitely get better. So  just break the rules and try this easy technique to activate a few extra brain neurons when stumped for ideas or to generally boost up  creative thinking skills. Whatever it is, don’t forget to have fun!!

Few ideas to get started .

  1. Start with teaching your opposite hand to write your name.
  2. Draw basic shapes or stick figures.
  3. Have a spontaneous dialog between both hands in writing. Don’t think too much! Go with whatever comes to your mind first.
  4. Try doing other normal routine activities with your opposite hand like pouring water, opening doors etc…
  5. finger paint using your non dominant hand.

You can find more information about the non dominant hand here  and  here  .I hope your non dominant hands open up wonderful creative thinking avenues  and ,my love to all the amazing moms out there ,who tirelessly lend a helping hand to put a smile on their little miracle’s face and finally, thank you mom for your wonderful hands that are always a blessing above my head.

 

Featured image courtesy: pixabay