How can children be molded into enlightened citizens?
Childhood is the most precious phase of life. If babies receive quality prenatal and postnatal health care; and, later on, proper guidance from parents and teachers, they can be molded into enlightened citizens. If we acknowledge how important it is to mold a child right from conception and provide good sanskaras( moral values) to him/ her after birth, then we can claim to have laid a concrete foundation for the future of our nation. Let us contemplate on how we can achieve this.
Prior to birth
The latest research in biology and psychology has revealed that some of the most important learning the baby does happen in the womb; that is before he/she is born. WE might think that a newborn baby is a clean slate, unaffected by life. However, the truth is that the child has already been molded by us, and by the particular environment we live in.
From conception on wards, a fetus starts responding to the voice of its mother. It even learns to understand and speak its mother’s native language. Researchers say that by seven months of pregnancy, a fetus’s taste buds and smell receptors are fully developed and functional.
What a mother eats or drinks, the air she breathes, the environment she lives in, what she thinks and the emotions she experiences all are shared in some way with the fetus and become an integral part of its being.
This clearly shows that a fetus’s health and well being is directly linked to the physical, mental and spiritual health of its mother. Therefore, in order to promote the health and well being of the next generation, it is essential to focus on what the fetus learns during its nine months in the womb.
To address this, all world Gayatri Pariwar has initiated a nationwide program for educating the masses, especially women, through garbh sansakr. Some states have made it mandatory for expecting parents to participate in garbh sanskar. Who does not want a virtuous child? People from all walks of life are participating in this ceremony and reaping the benefits. If we can ensure such an auspicious start to childhood, then we can aspire to develop righteous youth who can make the nation strong.
The need for proper childcare
Proper child care from birth to preschool, and even at later stages, is critical and often overlooked, an aspect of a child’s development. Childcare providers, whether they are parents, family members and others such as friends, relatives, neighbors, or professional care providers, are the child’s first teacher; hence they play an integral role in promoting healthy growth and development.
All children, especially infants and toddlers, need a schedule that is suitable for their needs. They need love, care, and attention that will nurture their healthy emotional development. How such care is provided may vary from place to place, but the core principle is the same – the holistic growth of a child.
We must remember that each child is unique. Therefore, childcare should be sensitive and responsive to the individual strengths and needs of the child, rather than trying to make the child become a particular kind of person.
Some issues that need to be resolved
Prior to developing a plan to promote healthy growth of children, there are some issues that need to be resolved. Unless parents, intellectuals and policy makers understand and resolve them early, the holistic growth of children will remain unattainable. In the Indian context, let us see what these are:
1.Encouraging children to mature beyond their years: most parents inculcate ambition in their children from a very young age. Parents train and push their children to participate in reality television shows, such as Indian Idol, and attain instant fame and success. By doing this, we are encouraging children to behave like adults. This nothing but the conspiracy of social media to rob children of their childhood.
2. Overburdening children with useless knowledge:
Without understanding child psychology, some parents and teachers overburden children with information that is not useful to them in the present or future.
- Pressurizing children to take up extra courses: Everyone aspires to become an engineer, doctor or manager. In this competitive atmosphere, children are forced to join a professional coaching institute to prepare for competitive exams. This is over and above existing pressures to complete school homework on time and attend tuitions. This has led to unprecedented stress on the present generation of children. No one in school wants to learn the arts, such as painting, poetry, music, or any other creative skills.
- Promoting unhealthy food habits: While children should be given fruits and sprouts for breakfast, they are instead being given junk food, such as potato chips and other fried foods, for breakfast and lunch. Thus, children are being deprived of proper nutrition, which is harming their health.
- Living unhealthy lifestyle: Parents must limit their children’s unhealthy lifestyle habits. Harmful habits, such as watching Tv while eating, spending too many hours on the internet and smartphones, listening to loud music, not exercising, sleeping and waking up late, are depriving children of precious time and energy.
- Making school bags heavier: Too many texts and notebooks in school bags for homework make attending schools an arduous effort. If students are expected to keep studying and completing so many assignments all day, when can they play or find time for other activities? Neurosurgeons are beginning to think that carrying heavy school bags in childhood may result in chronic backaches later in life.
- Expecting proficiency in English: in public schools, the medium of instruction is English and it is also compulsory to communicate in this language. English speaking skill is used as a measure of ones’ intelligence. If students are unable to speak in English, they can expect to be punished for it. The truth is that most children find fundamental English concepts very tough to grasp; therefore they resort to rote learning. Is this the right way of educating children? Can’t native language be offered as an alternative to English in imparting education?
- Preferring technical education over values based education: The present system of education is focused on developing one’s technical knowledge in lieu of social and relationship skills. We need to adopt values based education that inspires people to adopt and live positive human values and can create an exception for imparting as well as gaining knowledge.
- Preferring boys over girls: In India, especially in rural areas and among the less or uneducated masses, a boy is considered superior to a girl. this gender bias has led to female feticide, despite being banned. even in the 21st century, this primitive bias still exists.
- Exploiting Children as laborers: it is a tragedy that the children, who should have been studying and playing, are forced to work as laborers. Working as ‘chhotus’ in the roadside ‘ DHabas’ the are being regularly exploited by their employers. The problem of child labor and physical abuse is a disgrace to the so-called modern Indian or western society. Nobel laureate Sri Kailash Satyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize (2014) for his work on child labor, has rescued more than 85,000 children. But can one person overcome this social issue? Don’t we need to create awareness among the masses?
What can be done to solve this problem:
- Educate the masses through Garbh Sanskar (womb ceremony) about the importance of good physical, mental and spiritual health of expectant mothers. This will be done by organizing awareness camps through our network of lakhs of Pragya mandals, thousands of Shaktipeeths and several Chetana Kendras around the world.
- Spiritually awaken parents: after the birth of their child by conducting various Vedic rites, e.g namkarna, annaprasan, mundane, vidyarambh, yagyapaweet, deeksha, etc. All our centers are equipped with facilities for conducting these rites. We will also involve help from Anganwadi kendras for this purpose.
- Conduct Bal sanskar salas: for school going children. At present, more than thirty thousand Bal sanskar shalas are in operation. Gayatri Pariwar has created unique programs for children These are being implemented at Shaktipeeths, pragya mandals, railway platforms and also for poor children who attend school barefooted, during academic year and holidays.
- Conduct Kishore shalas on the lines of bal sanskar shalas. Adolescence is a delicate e period of life. It is a transitional stage of physical and psychological development that generally occurs during the period from puberty to adulthood. If some organization is ready to take up voluntarily the issue of training adolescents, we are ready to provide a helping hand.
- Organize Kanya Kaushal camps to awaken and strengthen women. A working system for training young women about health and hygiene, education, security and self-reliance has been established.
- Organize one or two day conventions: for newly married couples as well as for families. Such conventions have already been organized on an experimental basis and they have been very successful in restoring loving bonds among family members and in nurturing relationships.