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 🙂 .

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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

 

 

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The ancient art of story telling

The ancient art of story telling

Telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.

— Rachel Naomi Remen
Since the beginning of time humans have indulged in the art of story telling. As a way of understanding the world around them.Wide eyed and huddled close to the storyteller, generations of children and adults have been mesmerized and touched deeply by the stories they hear.More than mere entertainment ,it is the single most powerful tool used for influencing, and instilling deep-rooted values and ideas into young minds ,not to forget stimulating their imagination and creativity.
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Most families have a grandmother or mother who leads little children into the magical world of stories introducing them to ancient legends ,morals and tradition.Some of the first and earliest lessons about life are imparted through stories.I’ve always felt, however different people may look on the outside and whatever country or culture or religion they may belong to,once you peel the layers, humans are all the same on the inside.They are all driven by the same emotions, mainly Fear and Love and stories capture those emotions in the most powerful way.So whichever part of the world you may belong to one thing that binds people together are the stories they share.
Personally I have used story telling in every aspect of raising my boys.The first being,capturing their attention !If I need their attention for anything big or small, a sure way to grab it is by starting a story!” Once upon a time,in a small hamlet far away, there lived two brothers who owned a magical casket that gave them ideas on how to cooperate with each other no matter how impossible it may seem to them….” It has also been a vital part of problem solving and understanding.Sometimes its easier for children to relate to a story and use them as reference points to understand their world.So if something is taking us too long to finish, we pretend to be like the tortoise from the ‘Hare and the Tortoise’ and persevere until we accomplish what we started . Stories are also an important part of our daily bedtime routine,in fact we enjoy a good story anytime of the day!I have realized that the best way to bond and build a relationship with my children is through the stories we share everyday.Sometimes we share the same stories over and over again!
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Some simple ways we turn our joy of story telling into games that spark our creativity and imagination are,
Continue the story : One person starts writing a story and each person continues the story without looking at what the other person has written and in the end the last person to finish the story reads it out and we share a good laugh!
The story box : We write several topics or one liners on strips of paper and put it in a box.Then each of us picks a paper without looking and makes up a story on the topic and shares their story for 2 mins. 
Making books and comics : I fold few leaves of papers into half and staple them to make little booklets which the boys use to draw and write their own stories or comics.
Puppets: We make simple puppets by drawing our favorite characters ,gluing them onto cardboard and cutting them out and gluing a popsicle stick behind!and Lo !we have endless hours of fun!
But by far our favorite is always the bedtime story we share huddled together in each others warmth!
So what is your story? Do share your memorable stories in the comments below!
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Digital Monster

Digital Monster

 

With the dawn of the digital age, life has sure become easier, convenient and packed with information.

Communication has taken an entirely new Avatar and information is sneaked into unsuspecting minds day and night through various means.

Information, that is sometimes not necessary and more times not needed by our children. A lot of studies and research have been done and lots of papers published about the harms that The digital age can have on young minds but unfortunately it has become a necessary evil that we just have to learn to live with. With laptops and computers occupying a significant place in school classrooms and other places of education, it is impossible to entirely shield children from The digital wave and so the least we can do is strike a healthy balance. As a mother of two boisterous boys,I am constantly in search of means and methods to bring back the childhood we enjoyed not so long ago. The slow ,dreamy, creative kind. This blog is an attempt to share my journey of finding creativity amidst the digital chaos that surrounds our kids today .A daily attempt to pull them into a lazy summer afternoon, where all they need to do is dream, blow bubbles and wonder at nature’s beauty before the digital monster creeps up from behind and swallows them!

Stay tuned for creative ideas, tips ,tricks and all kinds of hacks to bring back a little bit of creativity into our kids lives so life can be a celebration and not a video game.