The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Augustine of Hippo.
Lakshana and Shravan, a couple based in Bengaluru try to lead their lives by this quote. Parents to four-year-old Naithik, this couple has a unique way of bringing him up. In a conversation with The Better India, Lakshana shares why Naithik is being home-schooled, the learnings from going on off-beat trips each month, and how home-schooled children have more exposure than those who go to regular schools.
She begins, “Since childhood, I loved to dance, but regular school hours did not allow me to pursue it. My husband and I made a conscious decision to expose Naithik to everything possible, and to enable him to choose what he wants to pursue.”
The core of home-schooling for this couple is to allow their child to discover his passion and help him nurture it.
If his passion lies in academics, then they are happy to enrol him in a regular school, since many schools now emphasise individual growth. “We have taken this decision as we think it works best for our child. No two sets of parents are the same, and hence it is essential that parents do what they believe is best for their child,” she says.
A typical day in Naithik’s life
Each morning, Naithik spends an hour or so in the kitchen garden with Lakshana. After breakfast, he plays a sport for almost three hours.
This sport is unstructured—both parents build tasks around the sport that the child chooses. “The minute you take them for a structured class, the teacher asks them to do things in a specific way, and that is when their creativity gets stunted. The idea of letting him chose the sport and how he wants to engage with it is, enables his creativity,” she says.
Giving us an example, she says that Naithik loved football and was passionately pursuing it for three months, when suddenly, for about two months, he did not even want to touch a football. Now, he is back to playing with double the passion and love for the game. Lakshana opines—let the child fall in love with the sport and develop a passion for it, rather than make it a task for them.
Afternoons are kept aside for activities, where each day, Lakshana and Naithik each choose three activities. These include singing, dancing, doodling, colouring. “There is nothing structured, but at the same time, there is some method to what we do,” says Lakshana.
Lakshana shares that for the longest time, Naithik referred to the home-school as ‘Ale Kali School’, a name that he came up with himself. The phrase has no meaning, but the boy’s creativity thrilled his parents.
Why is travelling a great teacher?
Lakshana feels that parents should travel with their kids as it teaches them different things. “We have been travelling with Naithik since his early months, and we see how he can grasp things easily. For instance, instead of spending all that time on trigonometry, if I had pursued dance, I would have been so much better at it.”
To encourage more parents to get their kids out, Lakshana started a group called Tripster Buddies. “Every month, a group of ten mothers and their children take a trip. We explore the locale and stay together as a family, which helps the kids socialise.”
Lakshana believes that travel helps kids learn about geography, history, math, languages, culture, and even patience. One of the first trips she organised was to the Murugumalla village in Karnataka, where the people practice ‘sericulture’.
“The kids got to see the complete cycle of making a silk saree, which was an enriching experience for them.”
The next trip was to a farm close to Bengaluru where the kids could stay and work on a farm; and the third trip was to Ongole in Andhra Pradesh where they saw black galaxy granite, how the stone is excavated, blasted, and becomes a kitchen slab. They visited the quarry and even the factory.
This was followed by a trip to Yercaud in Tamil Nadu where all the kids trekked to a tribal village and learnt about the community and visited a coffee plantation. The last trip was to a home-stay near Pench National Park, where the mothers and kids enjoyed the jungle.
Each trip is priced according to the location and duration. There is no age limitation, and Lakshana welcomes children from across the globe. For more details about where this group is headed next, visit their Facebook page here.
They say that it takes a village to raise a child; in this case, with each trip that Lakshana and Naithik take, their village gets bigger and better.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)