Our children interact with two institutions – the parents, and the school. We will briefly describe what we think is a school’s role in educating children.
First and foremost, the school should give the child training in academics. Concepts and ideas should be presented to a child in a way that the child can understand them for what they are and where they can be applied. The school should give the child physical training as well. Since there is a large number of children of each age group in a school, the school is in a better position to provide the sense of competition to the children than any sports training facility. Not only sports, but the school is a unique setting which cannot be duplicated, in terms of group interaction and group tasks. The school should make sure that children learn to work in groups, and adjust to others. The school should also train the child in creative arts and crafts. All this can be done in the Millennium Way, only because of …
This is our secret sauce planning. We love to plan. We plan everything, and that includes education. With planned education, we know exactly how much time will be utilized by academics, sports, or any other academic activity. This, in turn, helps us plan the other non academic activities like the science fairs, fun fairs, gathering, diwali carnival etc.
A school day, is not a regular five hour day that most people are used to. A school day is of 8 hours from third standard onwards. There are two ways in which this question can be asked.
One is why a day boarding school instead of a residential one? And the other is why a day boarding school instead of a regular 5 hour school like the other regular schools?
Let us explain our philosophy so both the questions are answered.
Millenniums take on Day boarding Vs a Residential School
Residential schools are a tradition of ancient India the Gurukul system has been around since documented history where the students and teacher become an extended family. The students resided with the guru for the entire period of education completely away from their own families. However, we believe that in the changing times, students need to develop a close bond with their parents. They need to pick up values and develop emotional ties with their own families as well. They should be well versed with their own customs, traditions and beliefs. For all this, it is essential that the child lives at home. Parents and relatives should interact with the child. The child should hang around them, observe their habits, understand family relations and personalities, learn about their own customs and traditions.
Bottom line – We firmly believe that a child learns a lot from the family as well and should spend enough time with family in the formative years, hence a day-boarding school
Millenniums take on Day boarding Vs a 5-hour day school
In a traditional teaching environment, the teacher reads out the lesson in class, explains the difficult words, may repeat the lesson once more and marks the answers or dictates them in class. That is the end of that lesson and they move on to the next lesson. There is no planning done from a class or a school level, from the academics and activities perspective.
The Millennium Way seeks to expose children to concepts in a systematic way. There is a discussion, an activity, a thinking and debating session, sessions where they are shown different media on the topic and then writing and concluding. For all this, it takes a little longer than the traditional approach. With the advent of e-Learning, the focus has shifted to having multimedia lectures, more as replacement to teaching, rather than an aid. This is where we differ. We firmly believe that the focus should be on learning, more than on the E. We believe that e-Learning should be used only for testing and repetitive teaching, not mainstream teaching in urban areas like ours. We have developed our own e-Learning product, myEshala, which is used extensively in our computer labs to test and analyze children’s academic progress, and also used for repetitive teaching, where students are allowed to view multimedia lectures time and again.
And academics are not the only thing we want to develop in the children. We have designed a program where children need to be physically active for about an hour and half everyday. So that extends the day a little more. When this happens, they need more meals and we believe in providing them with square meals and wholesome snacks. So that adds in a little more time too. The co-curricular activities like drawing, craft, music are intense. And to add to that we have a well structured program of labs, computers, drama and other things, which are a necessity in today’s world. We believe that with these things, a student learns to deal with constraints, and learns to control emotions, which are essential life skills.
All these activities make the Millennium Way school day longer than usual. But, the time spent is well utilized and the child is at a much greater advantage than any regular school.
Programmed learning solves this problem to a great extent. The children are given first exposure to a concept with the help of multimedia rich presentations. The content of the presentations is designed in such a way that there are lots of comparisons to known situations, ideas slowly build up on one another and there are lots of recaps in between. Due to this, the introduction to a concept is slow and the children find it interesting and enlightening. As the lecture proceeds, children get their difficulties answered in the class, the teacher asks them pointed, thought provoking questions and helps them assimilate the knowledge they have gathered.
After that, on a different day, the children get to watch the lecture individually in our computer labs. We have 240 computers dedicated for children, so no child has to share a computer. Each child logs in, puts on headphones and listens to the lecture carefully. This time, its not a continuous lecture like it was in class. After each concept in the lecture, we pause and ask questions. The child has to answer them. The session proceeds for each child at a different pace. Once the whole lecture is completed in this way, we can safely say that most of the children have attained basic proficiency in that topic. We also have infinite problem generating widgets, which help children get enough practice for mathematics.
The children have classroom sessions as well. Questions where kids have to give their opinion or find their own solution to a problem are asked here. There are arguments, discussions, debates in these sessions. The classic standard questions are answered in class too. The advantages of having a group are utilized to the fullest. How can we forget the part that is so uniquely Indian? Writing! We then ask the students to write on our printed worksheets, which is a breeze for them, as they have now understood concepts very well!
Children are also given access to the electronic lectures and quizzes at home. Parents can set tasks for their children on weekends, just like we do in school. Children are also given projects and research assignments that are related to the topics. Some assignments involve actually performing a certain experiment, another may involve reading a book, interviewing a person, reading an article, commenting on a situation after doing research etc.
Therefore, in the Millennium Way, the system that is in place automatically takes care of everything your child needs at an academic level. The child gets revision, repetition, instant evaluation and parents and teachers get detailed reports on all these activities. That helps the child understand, prepare for the examination and if the results do not match a childs potential, repetition and more practice can be done.
As parents and guardians, we know that having sharp academic skills is really important to succeed in the real world. But, all those skills are useless if one does not know how to handle himself, present himself and deal with peers. In the real world, we do not function as solo individuals; we are usually part of a team. We follow sometimes, lead at others and work with a group for a certain end goal the rest of the times. The task could be as involving as putting a man on the moon or as simple as getting a presentation ready we still work as a team. So, we need to teach our children how to be a part of a team.
When you want to make a child understand teamwork, leadership, strategy, the ideas of winning and losing, what better way to do it than do it through sports? The sports ground becomes the classroom for all these real life skills. Children are taught the basic skills in a sport. Then they are told the rules. They know what is allowed and what is not. Then, they get to play a game. They have to use the skills they have learnt, co-ordinate with their team, communicate quickly, understand body language, control their emotions and try to win. If they do not win, they have to learn to accept defeat, figure out what went wrong and sharpen their skills. Then, they try to win the next time.
Isnt that exactly what we do in real life? With sports teaching children so much and building character, it is really hard to imagine an academic program without sports in it. Every school must teach children sports. By sports we mean proper sports, not just a PT class or allowing children to run around randomly.
So, learning sports helps our children build character. This is the real personality development. You cannot develop a childs personality by attending a 21 day crash course by some fancy socialite. This is the grooming that the child receives to make him or her ready for the real world.
And that is not all. The child actually learns to play so many different games from class 1 to 10. Even after the child leaves school, as a young adult, he or she can continue playing the game as a hobby. This maintains good health and is a great way to relive stress, make friends and have a good time. It keeps the child busy and away from bad influences. It is a known fact that people who are into sports as a serious hobby are less likely to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other bad habits in later life.
The next big advantage is that as all these sports are compulsory, each and every child has to play. Normally, the parent has to take initiative to take the child for a sports class. What are the criteria that help you choose a class? You may ask questions like is it close by? What is the timing? Are there kids my childs age in the class? Is it affordable? If most of these questions have favourable answers, you go ahead and join.
Your own inclination also has a major role in choosing the activity for the child. So, if you were the table tennis champion in college, your child joins a table tennis class. Well, there is nothing wrong with that. But those are not the right reasons to join a sports class either. And in an environment like this, many children end up not learning anything at all.
If the school integrates sports in its program, no child is left out. When the children of a class learn together, the competition is excellent they are all roughly the same age and evenly matched. They understand each other better and get to see each other in a whole new atmosphere. Kids discover new talents within themselves too. A child who is not doing so well in the class may receive great praise from a sports coach. This gives a child a good feeling and the urge to try better in other areas too. When all children getting instruction are the same age, the program can be properly designed too. They all start at the same time so the lessons are structured properly, they build on top of each other and children get fairly evaluated from time to time.
This simply cannot happen in a setting other than a school. In an outside sports class, different children join at different times, their ages are different and they are all at different levels too. Training just cannot be as effective. Sometimes the space and equipment are not adequate either. This problem wont occur in a school.
Over the years we have seen that children who are really good in one sport are also good at many others. We could find this out because we give children exposure to so many different kinds of sports. If the child had joined a hobby class outside of school, parents would not have experimented with so many different activities. Imagine how much the child would have missed out!
Many people may now pose a question because we want to give the children exposure to so many activities, the child is not getting enough training in one sport to be competitive. Not true! Remember we are two bodies grooming the child : home and school. At school the child learns about new things. If the school finds a certain child exceptionally gifted at basketball, the school talks to the parents. We then advise you on how the child can continue training, what level we think the child can reach, what outside competitions we think the child should participate in etc.
And in whatever way we can, we also try to accommodate the child for special training. So you can take the child for coaching after school to hone those skills. The best part is you know exactly what to do and how to do it now. There is no vague effort that wastes the time and energy of both parents and children. For the other children who are not state and national level sports material, there is no loss either. The children attain a reasonable proficiency in many different activities that enables them to enjoy many games later on. You know that you enjoy watching a tennis match more if you have actually played tennis. So our children are better spectators too!
In the last few years, the Human Rights Division and the education department have suddenly realised that students are carrying heavy bags to and from school. They have realized that this causes physical stress to students and have demanded the load to be reduced. Well, we are way ahead of them. Even when the idea of Millennium was being formed, Dr. Phatak had decided that it would be a school which provides a plethora of activities to the children and there would be no bags to be carried.
How do we do this? With creative thinking! We found out what the students usually have to carry and eliminated the need to carry those things through careful planning. Students have their own set of textbooks for themselves at home. The textbooks that are needed in school are kept in school itself. So no textbooks need to be carried between home and school.
The other things that children carry in their bags are notebooks, workbooks, supplementary books etc. We provide the students with worksheets both printed sheets and plain sheets. Each periods activity is planned at the beginning of the year. The sheets needed for the activity are printed and handed out to each class at the beginning of the period. There are sheets for revision, learning and exercises and activities too. Because of intensive planning, all activities happen in a systematic manner. There is uniformity in teaching and the system goes on improving each year.
Being bagless does not mean parents are in the dark about what the child is learning in school. The children take home the sheets that they write in school everyday. They even take home the printed sheets that are given to them in class. At the beginning of the year children are given files for each subject. They are expected to file these sheets when they go home everyday. So, at the end of the year, these children have written and studied a lot more material than a student of any traditional school. The whole education system is documented and improved upon each year. So, in a way, being bagless gives us a much better academic quality than any other school.
What else do children carry in their bags? They carry lunch. We provide them lunch here. This not only eliminates the burden of carrying lunch, but gives the children a healthy and tasty lunch in the school. Children cannot possibly carry dal and curd in a tiffin and would otherwise have to miss out on these items. Moreover, they develop healthy eating habits and learn table manners too!
We provide all the sports equipment they need in school too. We give them the swimming costume and towel, launder it and keep it ready for them the next day. Rackets, shuttles, balls, roller skates (along with helmets, knee guards etc.) are all given to the children in school. So, they do not have to carry anything at all. And they get so much from the school in the bargain.
Now when we see all the upheaval of the government on finding ways to reduce the burden of students schoolbags, we wonder why they just cant follow our system, which has already been successfully implemented for a decade. Infact, IBN Lokmat, the news channel, had already featured us as a unique bagless school. You can view the program by going here.
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