Nurturing Leadership Qualities in Young Children - A Simple Tale by Jayalakshmi

“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” – Frederick Douglas

What does it take for a school to nurture all their children to become 21st century leaders? Is that even possible? Are leaders born or are they made?
Leadership is developed when children are encouraged to try, think, experiment, fail, fall, speak, listen, take decisions, dream, take responsibilities, make mistakes, imagine and be fair.   


Rosa is three years old and lives with her parents in Bangalore.  Her father is an IT professional and travels frequently. Her mother is a bank employee and works five days a week.
Rosa has a live-in Nanny, Josie, who takes care of her needs. Her parents are very happy that they have found such a reliable caretaker, although Nanny Josie did not possess any formal qualifications in child care.

Now Rosa has turned four. Like most children, her curiosity and eagerness to explore the world grew and Nanny Josie was always with her in these little adventures and explorations.

When Rosa played in the garden, her nanny often said: “Don’t spoil your nice dress. Your mom has paid a lot of money for it.” If Rosa wanted to choose her clothes, her nanny intervened: “I will choose the best dress for you.”

At times when Rosa played in the rain, her nanny forbade her: “Don’t get wet in the rain, you will fall sick.” When Rosa wanted to run, her nanny used words of caution: “Don’t run, you’ll fall and your mom will say I did not take care of you properly.”  

If Rosa wanted to have a bath by herself or brush her teeth, her nanny jumped in: “You can’t bathe or brush like that, I will help you with it.” On days when Rosa wanted to eat by herself, her nanny, as was the custom by now, said: “No you will spoil your dress and create a mess.”

Thus, Rosa grew up for the first 10 years of her life with an incessant barrage of: ”No, you can’t do it, I will do it for you” or “Don’t do that!”

Her class teacher Nirmala had always thought of Rosa as an intelligent girl, eager to learn and curious. Strangely, these days, she found the child to be withdrawn and quiet. Rosa had low self-esteem, and her confidence was shaken.  She thought others were better than her. 
Her mother noticed that her daughter was not able to stand up for herself and had become increasingly dependent. Rosa was hesitant to do her own work and seldom took any initiative.

This led to frequent arguments in the family. Rosa’s academic scores nosedived. Finally, her parents felt that their expectations of bringing up a successful daughter were slowly and disappointingly, failing.

Her mother decided to enroll Rosa for tuitions after the next PTM. When Rosa’s mother met Nirmala at the PTM, she expressed her concerns about Rosa. Nirmala, in turn, gave the mother a quick course on PARENTING.

Since the school’s curriculum also taught life skills, the children were already involved in various activities to improve communication skills, develop leadership abilities and build a positive personality.

There was one condition, though. Both parents will have to invest time, energy and resources to bring back the curiosity in the child.

If Rosa was involved in taking simple decisions for the house, allowed to experiment in planning certain activities for their home, made responsible for her own daily activities, involved in general conversations, asked for opinions, allowed to make mistakes, allowed to learn and adjust from failures, encouraged to give opinions and permitted to have a dream for herself, she can shine and lead herself in the path of success.

Her parents decided to test their learning from Nirmala’s lesson.  They began to engage Rosa in the matters of the family and trusted her abilities. Today, Rosa is 16.  She has transformed into a confident teenager. She has won much recognition in public speaking and debates. She wants to be a journalist and she knows her parents and teachers believe in her. The leader in Rosa has raised her head!
This short story by Jayalakshmi poses an important question: Can a child become a leader if the freedom of decision-making is restricted for the first 18 years of life?
Leadership skills, read as life skills, are a very significant set of tools to deal with our ever-changing environment.

Perhaps, there isn’t anything more pertinent as it is in the case of children with evolving maturities and levels of understanding. Today’s child is raised in a fiercely competitive atmosphere. There is constant pressure to excel in academics, sports and social behavior, to name a few.

Parents need to pay extra attention to raise their children who grow up with balanced psychologies. It’s no longer just about food, clothes and medicines. Parents of this century must be aware that their children’s success will simply not be a measure of college grades but largely, will depend on their communication and leadership skills.
Your teacher loves you”, is the first sentence children hear when they are being disciplined. Childhood is only for a few years, it should be filled with beautiful memories. School is another most impressionable place in a child’s life after home. For two years now Jayalakshmi has been imparting stories and experiences of life in a fun way using many activities like case studies, team games, thinking games and debates to prepare the little ones for life and not just exams.

Genuine Tips for Parents to Battle Exam Stress

Why does exam time always spell stress for parents as well as children? Mainly, because of what is at stake. While we agree that a little bit of stress is a good thing, as it helps students to buckle down and concentrate, it is also true that when exam stress gets out of hand, it can interfere with a good performance.
Here are some practical and genuine tips from teachers at Mount Litera Zee School for all the parents and children in this crucial time of exams.

·         Mostly, stress comes out of feeling, “Will I remember everything when I’m down to actually writing the paper?” Help your child manage this stress by keeping a proper time-table during exam time. Insisting on revision is a very good mechanism for children to feel assured of recalling things during exam time.

·         Keep reminding your child that if they have followed all the proper steps during preparation for the exam, they will do well and don't have to worry about something that will not happen in all probability.

·         Let your child find out what works best for them. For example, we notice that some children are more alert in the morning than when it is time to leave for home or that some like writing everything down before they fully grasp a concept. Some even understand better when they come to us after class for a recap. Being aware of what works best will save a lot of time and stress for everyone.

·        Learn to recognize when your child is stressing out. Give them a break to chat with someone who will put things in proper perspective for them.

·         Refrain from comparing abilities with peers. Everyone approaches a topic differently and should be allowed to progress at their own pace.

·         We don’t need to remind you that proper diet plays an extremely important role in feeling overall good and energetic. Juices, fruits and proper breakfast will ensure your child feels energetic at all times.

·         While most children (and parents) do lose sleep over exams, we really advise you to get your eight hours. Don’t turn your bed into a study table. Your bed is your sanctuary.

·         Tell your child how to deal with a panic attack (if he/she has shown a tendency towards it) Taking deep breaths and counting to 5 for every breath helps slow the heart rate down. In any case, we are always there for your child. Remind them about this.

·         If your child is constantly complaining of forgetfulness, it is a sure shot sign of excessive stress. Help him/her unwind by taking frequent breaks and timely revisions to ensure he/she feels safe.

Finally, it is important to remind your child that there is life after exams. Things may seem intense right now but it won’t last forever. Also, we at MLZS are always open for any kind of queries or even suggestions that you may have. All the very best to you and your child for Exams!

Summer Time Fun with Kids

We know that everyone’s schedule during summer vacations is jam packed – every vacation minute really counts. Both children and elders like to make the most of it. After all there are grandparents to visit, a family vacation to plan or even extra classes for the new academic year or a new hobby may be on your list this time.

That’s why came up with a really interesting list of things to do this summer vacation. It has a little bit to do with learning (as we all must continue to as long as we live) to a lot of fun activities with your children. So, here goes!

·         Organize a Nature Scavenger Hunt for all the children in the family when you get together. You will need to have an open space for this, preferably a garden. Put together a list of things that only describe an object.

ü  Something smooth/round/rough/straight
ü  Two types of seeds
ü  Two pieces of man-made litter
ü  A rock
ü  Something green
ü  A chewed leaf
ü  Something you think can be treasured

Set the clock and the first one to get all the things together wins. This can also be played by adults and in groups. Use your imagination with this nature inspired game.

·         To encourage reading, start a Summer Reading Chain. This chain can essentially be made from anything that your child loves. Colorful pebbles, racing cars, bracelets, etc. For every book that your child finishes reading, add a pebble, car or a bracelet (whichever you choose) to a colorful string and hang it in your kid’s room. This way everyone will know how many books your child has read and it will encourage him/her to get more of these items on the reading chain.

·        Organize a Flameless Cooking Class for kids. Simply put together an extensive menu like the one given below and get some recipes off the net if you are unsure how to teach them:

ü  Poha soaked in coconut milk
ü  Milkmaid kheer
ü  Homemade Ice Cream
ü  No Bake Cookies
ü  Chocolate coated marshmallows
ü  Smoothies
ü  Sherbets
·         Your Child’s First Photography Class is what may make this summer vacation the most memorable of them all.
If your child has never handled a camera, maybe now is the time. Children as young as 4 year old have shown the capability of handling a ‘point and shoot’ camera and come away with stunning results. Be sure to set boundaries and limits on how to gently handle the camera and where to shoot before teaching them how to photograph. You might just come away with some of the most interesting clicks of your lifetime!

·         Children love to play outdoors, especially in the mud. Why not turn it into a productive activity by teaching your child how to plant saplings and seeds. Let’s call this one “The Little Gardener”, shall we?
Gardening is also a great way to introduce your kids to learn about responsibility (watering the pots everyday), to nurturing a sweet anticipation of their efforts bearing fruits when a sapling flowers or a seed germinates.

There are lots of activities that you can plan for your kids. The important thing to remember is that the lessons that will stay with them will be the ones where they had the most fun. So go forth and plan your summer holidays with some of our suggestions!

Happy Holidays!!!

Aruna Thappa’s Amazing Story of Transformation

Aruna Thappa’s Amazing Story of Transformation
Can one be blessed with a power of teaching? Aruna Thappa tells us an amazing story of her transformation as a Mount Litera Zee School Teacher.
“Before joining Mount Litera Zee School, I worked with many reputed schools. I won many awards. The perks were high, my seniors and students were very happy with me, but as a teacher I wanted to do something different. I was not satisfied and missed something. I wanted to explore my creativity, my innovative method of teaching. Sadly, my hands were tied. I couldn’t do anything as I had to follow the structured method of the school’s methodology.”
Ever so often, we are shackled by the chains of tradition, when it comes to our children. Since children are our most precious possession, it is only natural we don’t want anything to go wrong in the way they are brought up. And thus, we rely on traditions. A bit too much sometimes, for our own good.
But there are some creative souls out there, like our teacher Aruna Thappa, who is slowly changing the way things work in a teacher-pupil relationship. When she came to Mount Litera Zee School, she could feel the palpable difference between the attitudes of children here.

“I shifted to HSR layout and joined MLZS in 2011 and this turned out to be the best decision of my life. I hadn’t imagined a school where students were so excited to attend the classes. They had a desire to work on projects and research, plus had no issues staying back after school or on weekends. There were no discipline problems here because the students were so engaged in their studies and activities that those problems disappeared. I was very impressed with their vision- ‘To help each child to realize their true potential” and “To create 21st century leaders.”

Here Aruna had to actually unlearn a lot of traditional approaches to teaching. Her previous 10 years as a teacher amounted to zilch. She carefully started polishing her inherent creativity and started seeing the uniqueness of each child. She developed ways to cater to each one of her differently talented children in the short 40 minutes of her period.
Learning mathematics by doing activities is fun filled. Once I started infusing my classes with these frequent doses of interactivity, there was genuine joy in learning. Lots of brain storming questions, quiz, role-plays and hands on activities make our classes so alive.  I uploaded their lessons videos on you tube, so that they can access it from anywhere"
Suddenly, completion of syllabus didn’t matter as much as it used to. Her children were already racing towards that goal without her having to rush it.

“At the core of everything we do at MLZS is one simple question - What’s Right for the Child? Using this mantra we filter all our decisions and actions. WRFC helps us to keep child at the centre of everything we do.”

Learning happens best when it is connected to the real world we live in. Emerging student profile (ESP) is our goal and our promise. It has 3 main faculties: Core values, Knowledge and Life skills. Core values function as the foundation of leadership. Our student’s role models these values:
·         Integrity
·         Open Mindedness
·         Authenticity
·         Humility
·         Growth Mindset
·         Compassion

In MLZS, Knowledge goes beyond the traditional boundaries of academic learning. Our students gained knowledge in:

·         Higher order thinking skills
·         Sports
·         Art
·         Entrepreneurship
·         Finance
Life skills are critical to lead life powerfully. Our students emerged out of school with the following life skills:
·         Effective habits
·         Media literacy
·         Aesthetic sense
·         Meta-cognition
·         Risk taking
·         Self-Management
To achieve ESP we have eight dimension approaches, through our model “Litera Octave” 
·         Litera content
·         Litera teacher
·         Litera assessment
·         Litera parents
·         Litera enrichment
·         Litera life skills
·         Litera network
·         Litera Infra
Aruna underwent training in our in-house workshops which helped her hone her creativity and pass it onto the students. Today, she is no longer a tutor. She is a facilitator who ensures that she keeps the joy of learning alive in her children, thereby turning them into life-long learners.

“As a Zee school teacher, yes I am very different. We may have the same eyes but I use mine differently, to see no one is left unattended in my class. We may have the same heart but I use mine differently, because I am teaching children not machines. I’m different because I do things differently. I am not motivated by money and position, my best rewards are their unconditional love and respect. I may stand out differently because I salute my duty rather than saluting others. Yes, I am different but I love it and I love being different. 

My achievements may not appeal to some- but for me those are my strengths. It gives me an adrenaline rush- and makes me feel worthwhile. I’m a heroine to the kids I’ve taught or am teaching. The greatest thing I’ve ever done.”
-Aruna Thappa

Aruna Thapa, has been with  MLZS South since four years.  She teaches mathematics to grade V.

Aruna – in her own words – “Being confident and passionate towards teaching is the key to my life. I always believe, don’t be afraid to be you! Create your own visual style, let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.
inspire my students to follow their dreams, discover their creativity, interests and talents, and learn to their fullest potential. My purpose is not to create students of my own image, but to develop students who can create their own image.

I always follow Mr. Kalam words “If you salute your duty, you no need to salute anybody, but if you pollute your duty, you have to salute everyone.”

What every parent needs to know about Moral Values by Anitha

What every parent needs to know about Moral Values by Anitha
"There are little eyes upon you and they're watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager to do everything you do.
And a little child who's dreaming of the day he'll be like you."

                                                             -- Author unknown
As parents to children in a fast paced world, it is easy for moral values to get lost in translation. If we, as primary caregivers of our children do not believe that moral values are as important as being competitive, then we may be headed for utter chaos.
Anitha, who has been with MLZS since many years has found this trend deeply disturbing. She did some soul searching and figured out a way to instill important values in children at school. Here are her findings:

Values and beliefs are our way of life. They guide us to differentiate between good and bad even in adverse situations. Ironically, these values and beliefs are not mandatory for human survival.
There are two aspects to these core values that we should look into –
  1. Knowledge on various core values i.e., I know
  2. To follow the path of righteousness based on these values i.e., I follow
“In today’s scenario, there is a gap between ‘what I know’ about values and with what intensity do ‘I follow’ them. 
We all know the basic difference between right and wrong. But how many times are we able to follow through with right deeds, even when it is contrary to our immediate gain?
Basically every educated individual has a strong awareness on what is right. But some situations demand actions that need deviation from the core values. A simple example is the bribe given when jumping a signal or for the failure to produce a licence on the road when asked for. What matters more at that point of time is to overcome the situation than the consequences of the wrong action done.
In due period of time, values are compromised and escape routes are used whenever such situations occur in life. Hence the gap between what ‘I know’ and what ‘I follow’ widens. Self-realization occurs only when the consequences of the actions threaten the very existence of the individual. For example, all smokers know that smoking is injurious to health. But they let go off the habit only when a serious health hazard occurs in their lives. Their decision to quit the habit and stick to it then enters their core belief system. In most cases, adults learn to follow the values and adhere to their core beliefs only through unpleasant experiences. “
How schools like MLZS have evolved to accommodate the growing need for moral values
“It is believed that the course of one’s adult life depends on what they learn in the childhood. Till a decade ago, schools were largely academic oriented. It was believed that students who excelled in academics possessed and exhibited high values. Hence focus was given only to academic performance. Sadly, this belief did not hold true in many cases. Today the educationists have realised the gap between ‘I know’ and ‘I follow’ and are determined to imbibe core values in childhood stage blended with academics. “
“It has been found that childhood and adolescence are stages when the children are very idealistic. They believe that they live in an ideal world. We, as teachers and parents need to take advantage of this period to inculcate values in them. Children are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners. When academic subjects are taught, learning happens through text books, thumb rules to be followed, through logical reasoning and so on. But on the other hand, values need to be taken to children through –“
  1. Case studies – lives of leaders who achieved greatness by following values
  2. By showing motivational videos where values are exhibited by individuals
  3. Demonstration of values by teachers in the form of role plays.
  4. Strong emphasis on outcomes when values are followed.
  5. Giving them real life situations where they have to think and express their views based on the values that they know.
  6. Constantly reminding them that it is important to be a better individual first and then a better professional in life.
How can parents ensure these values take root in a young learners mind?
“Value education should be consistent and repetitive in nature since they should take the form of roots in the minds of children. Like Mahatma Gandhi has rightly said “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
And finally, how do you test if a child has inculcated these values?
“Academic excellence can be measured through scores, grades and ranks and children are motivated to perform since their external environment is highly competitive. As for values, the measuring scale is only peace of mind, in other words, internal happiness that is achieved by following the core values. As mentors, constant encouragement and motivation are very critical in imparting values to children. Our mission will be held successful only when every student realises that “If I don’t value the values, I have no value”. Our vision is to create leaders of 21stcentury who will be known for their values and not only by their educational qualification.”
Anitha Shankar is the Co-ordinator of Grade I.  She takes English for Grade
Anitha writes about herself.  “Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being.’ This defines me and I feel proud that I share this quality with Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa.  I am in this noble profession of developing future leaders for the past five years and I have been associated with Mount Litera Zee school for the last two years. 
Throughout my eventful life, one thing that has been constant is ‘change’. Hence my learning has been not to be afraid of change. I may have lost something good but I have always gained something 
better every time. “

Teaching your children about the joy of giving

Teaching your children about “the joy of giving” can empower them with important life lessons
Teachers at Mount Litera Zee School have always seen the world through the eyes of our children. Because children always take an uncomplicated view of life and truly they are our only hope for the future.
Our EVS teacher for Grade 3, Ms. Joice, shares an incident highlighting this very fact that took place a few weeks ago. We hope it opens our eyes to the most basic characteristics that we are all born with; charity and compassion.
Ms. Joice has always marveled at the fact that how every time she helped a person in need, it gave her more satisfaction and joy than when she acquired something new. The following story is narrated by her in her own words.
 I was out with my son one day and saw him giving 200 rupees to a poor man who was without legs, from his pocket money. He had been collecting it to buy a remote control car for himself. Intrigued by this action, I asked him why he did it (considering there was no prompting from my side to precipitate this action). His immediate reply was “Mum imagine if I was born like that person without legs, would you not have supported me? I kept myself in that person’s shoes. It must be so painful for him, so I thanked God for my two legs and gave him all my pocket money” I was speechless. I saw true happiness and joy in my son’s eyes. He wasn’t scared, in fact he looked happy. He just said “Mum I don’t regret giving him that money because that uncle cried and thanked me. Don’t worry its fine even if I don’t get a remote control car.”
Children are born with an innate sense of charity and compassion. This may not sound quite true when your kids are hankering after the newest toys and the sweetest candy in store, but look closely. You will see signs of compassion ever so often. Observe when a toddler offers consolation to his/her friend when they are crying. Or comfort a waling baby by offering their favorite toys.
Children naturally look for ways to contribute and help others. Only we may not be able to see it in the daily hum-drum of our lives. One sure shot way of nurturing this innate quality of your child is to allow him/her to exercise this ability to ‘give’. School environment is perfect for your children to exercise their charitable muscle so that they become really good at giving too.
Teachers like Joice, who recognize this inherent quality in children, are the ones who are truly able to provide safe opportunities to children to practice the joy of giving. Mrs. Joice spends 6 minutes of her after class time to ‘listen’ to one child every day. And by listening, we truly mean listening, without interruption. She provides a safe outlet for them to pour out their heart out to her, with only a word or two of encouragement, when needed.

She knows her kids very well. In her 3 years with Mount Litera Zee School, she has seen and experienced empathy and compassion in children. She says, "My greatest joy is being with the children. I love to recognize and bring out their innate potential through activity based learning. I have also changed my views about Teaching and Learning after I joined Zee school which gives me a lot of happiness. Of course I feel very happy when parents have the trust in us and spread the positive word of mouth."