Skills that Build by Gayatri Kalra Sehgal (published by Rupa Publications) comprises of a series of three books. There is a subtle difference between learning something and between honing practical skill sets. Skills that Build sets out to do the latter. While a traditional education system and curriculum focusses on learning facts and reproducing them, real life calls for skills that are absolutely different.
This is the gap that Kalra’s books seek to fill. As an accomplished artist on one hand, and a person involved in Early Childhood education on the other, she somehow has a foot set in each of these distinct worlds. And these books bridge the gap.
The series is rightly called “Skills That Build”. The focus here is on building skills that involves thinking and creative expression.
Readers are plentiful…..Thinkers are rare! In the humdrum of school and education, very often, we realise that while children learn to read and write, they often miss essential thinking skills. The activities presented in this book targets different aspects of thinking- memory, assoication, synthesizing, reformulating, analysing, inferring, problem solving and so on.
My favourite thing about this book is that it involves a lot of talking and discussion with the child. For most of the sub-skills to be targeted, there are proposed situations. The author then provides leading questions which help the parents, teachers or adults to talk to the child. This leads to an open conversation, where the child actually articulates his or her thinking.
Besides actually working on thinking skills, which these activities most certainly do, I also see these activities as a great bonding exercise.
Children are born creative. If nurtured, creativity may well continue into adulthood. This book is filled with ideas and suggestions on how parents and teachers can nurture and hone creativity within children (and probably rekindle it within themselves as well!).
The detailed introduction provides a glimpse into the nature of the creative process, which will help the adults reading the book understand the context and background to creative thinking and the creative process.
The activities are divided into different categories: curiosity, attention, observation, association, perception and skill development. All these are established qualities that further creative thinking and development. Hence, the activities specifically target these qualities.
Have you ever thought about open ended mathematical conversations with your child? Fear not…math can be a fun part of life! The activities in this book are based on one crucial belief, and for me, that’s really the crux of being a good mathematician- the premise here is that math encompasses much more than mere numbers. It is related to our day to day life and various other academic areas as well.
The activities given in this book cater to different learning styles. All the activities work on specific math concepts. However, they are more like games which makes it fun. There are activities that involve the child physically (measuring things, drawing, making parts and so on). Some encompass an auditory learning mode (using verbal instructions, musical games and so on). Then there is the verbal learning style involving another set of games and activities. Finally, there is the solitary learning style.
There are plenty of variations for all the activities and further suggestions for parents.
Why are these books useful?
They target skills that are not taught in schools, but will be vital to the future.
- Books are written in extremely simple language
2. Books are ready-reckoners for parents
3. They consider Indian scenarios and experiences specific to those living here.
4. Each activity has been presented as a recipe of sorts, in point format…just choose and pick and implement!
5. An excellent way for building a bond with your child….think of it as a resource to dip into at all times!
Skills that Build, the life-skill series by Gayatri Kalra Sehgal is a treasure-trove of activities that parents and children can do together. Building life-skills in different areas is the wonderful side-effect of these timeless editions!