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Loving Kindness and Respect – Teaching by Venerable Geshe Tenzin Namdakon on 3rd Nov 2017
The interdependence of child, parent and teacher

“Know your mind first, to be able to understand the minds of others”, echoed the words of Venerable Geshe Tenzin Namdak as he addressed a gathering of students, teachers and parents at Shikshantar. Sitting under the Champa tree, Geshe la appeared to be the Buddha himself. Still face, gentle demeanour, serene energies and words of wisdom continued to flow in the spaces.

Geshe La touched upon the profound nature of student, teacher and parent relationship. An institution grows through the spirit of humility, compassion and respect for each other. To enter the orbit of happiness, we must be aware of our feelings, thoughts and must be able to train our minds. Meditation is the key to this – may seem to be difficult in the beginning but can be mastered with consistent practice. Expansion of inner happiness is achieved by treating all we come across with kindness, empathy and respect. This is the basis of true and harmonious relationships.

Quoting his experiences with people from various walks of life, Geshe La was able to reach out to each and every soul through his teaching. From what we were yesterday, to what we are today, to what we can be tomorrow; we must consistently strive to evolve as individuals.

Geshe La Tenzin Namdak responded to questions from students, parents and teachers – What is the right age for a student to begin meditation? , Why do I lose focus and find it a challenge to meditate?, Why do those whom we love fail to understand us? With a smile on his face, Geshe La asked, do we understand ourselves?

A lot to sink in our souls and absorb, we will continue to do so for days to come. Geshe La you have left us with a lot to ponder on and with the quest for more.

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Refresher training session for our Drivers and Conductors bhaiya’s by Pasco Automobiles on 14th October 2017

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‘Our Colourful India’ and ‘Transport’
(Class I – August 2017)

The theme on ‘Our Colourful India’ helped children relate with cultural diversities – language, food, clothing, folk tales and songs. Interactions were organised with didis belonging to various states of India. Children curiously observed didis in their vibrant attire and happily made way for the dragon to enter their classrooms.

They shared their views on what ‘independence’ or ‘freedom’ means to them. Children said, ‘we can now read stories on our own, write our names, tie our shoe laces, kick the ball in the right direction; we feel independent’.

Visit to the Air force Museum at Palam was organised to deepen their experiences related to the theme on ‘Transport’. As part of the theme, interaction with a pilot parent was scheduled during the week. Children wanted to know about the black box, its use, lights of the plane and how a plane takes off. They joined him with excitement in an imaginary aircraft into the sky

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Second Open House Interactions (Primary School)
(Saturday, 17th of August 2017)

Second open house interactions for classes I – IV were organised on Saturday, 17th of August 2017. Themes for all sessions were decided keeping in mind the developmental milestones of children. Facilitators were involved at each and every step of the planning, from deliberation to closure; they collaborated in small groups to take forward the process.

It was heartening to observe the active participation of parents in all hands on experiences.
This included creating stories, role plays, participation in project work and intensive focus group discussions on case studies. Themes facilitated were: Strengthening our relationship with Hindi Language (Class I), Role of stories in cognitive and socio/emotional development (Class II), Principles of Project Work (Class III), Social and Emotional Metamorphosis (Class IV).

“We did not go through such experiences and it great to see the experiences through which our children learn”, “I never thought Hindi could be an experience”, “I was transformed to my childhood through these stories”, “I guess children go through bigger challenges than us”; as remarked by some of the parents.

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The season of celebrations

The month of August witnessed joy, warmth and togetherness as children of Classes I-IV came together to celebrate Independence Day, Rakhi and Janmashtami. Bright orange sun peeping from behind the clouds, first monsoon showers and the glistening droplets of water added to the zest and festivities. Floral rangolis and art displays created out of recycled material adorned the front lawns and corridors.

Context was created through age relevant circle time discussions, stories and themes. Looking for similarities, children of Class I shared ‘Janmashtami is Krishna’s birthday and Independence day is India’s Janmashtami.’ The spirit of caring and sharing was reflected as children tied rakhis to trees, MarshMellow, their didis and peers. Cultural diversities were explored through songs, art forms, clothing and food. Reflections and discussions were facilitated to understand ‘freedom’, as shared by a child, ‘Freedom means to read a book sitting under the Champa tree.”

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Display of summer experiences – Class II

The school reopened to a spectacle – that was the culmination of classroom themes taken forward by the children during their summer holidays.

After coming back, the children were enthusiastic to share their holiday experiences. To culminate their experiences, didis and children together decided to set up an exhibition in the respective groups. Children enjoyed displaying their explorations and experiences by setting up respective corners for activities such as green club, models out of reused and recycled material, travelogues and maths games. They pro actively took up their individual responsibilities of their corner and took joy and pride in explaining about them to their peers from the same groups as well as other groups. They exhibited immense confidence while interacting with peers and were whole – heartedly engaged in the process. The exhibition helped taking forward their journey of the summer break experiences in an innovative and beautiful manner.

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First Open House interaction – (Classes I – IV)

The First Open House interactions for the session 2017-18 (Classes I – IV) were scheduled on Saturday, 29th of April, 2017.

Purpose of the same was to share some of the experiences that our children go through at school and enable parents to relate to perspectives and approaches to learning at Shikshantar. This was also an opportunity for parents to interact with their child’s new group and subject facilitators. Some of the groups elected their new parent representatives.

Experiential corners in respective groups set the premise for collective sessions. Sessions were organised keeping in mind specific needs of each age level. They included ‘Three Principles of Learning’, ‘Math through Manipulatives’ and ‘Approaches to Subjects’.

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Children of Class IV explored the theme on Ruskin Bond in Trinachiketa. They discussed about the books they have read, researched about the author and expressed it in the form of posters.

Our bond with Ruskin Bond 

It is Ruskin Bond’s birthday,
We want to celebrate,
Look what we have made!

We have written about him
After reading and researching,
You also will get to know,
How’s our bond with this author,
We have written about, who is so well known.

The books of Ruskin Bond we like,
He has written many books of many types.
His books are based of nature,
Cherry tree, The island of trees, The blue umbrella,
Angry river and many more.
Which is the book you like to read?

-Falak, Luft group (Class IV)

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New beginnings, learnings, possibilities…

Academic session for the year 2017–18 unfolded on Wednesday, 29th of March 2017. With a lot of excitement and smiles on their faces, children entered their old groups where didis were waiting to welcome them. Some of them were anxious whether their didis would accompany them to the new groups while some looked forward to the new spaces and friends who would join them.

After the group movement, a diya was lit during circle time to mark a new journey of learning and experiences. During a discussion on ‘what would we like to carry with us on our new beginning’, a child shared, “I want to carry mindfulness, love, friendship, beliefs”.

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Visit to Mangar Bunni

All team members of Primary School visited Mangar Bunni on Saturday, 18th of March 2017. This visit was facilitated by Chetan Aggarwal who is an independent Forest and Environment Analyst and a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Ecology, Development and Research (CEDAR). Chetan is also a parent with Shikshantar.

The purpose of this visit was to connect with the biodiversity and ecosystems surrounding Gurgaon. The team walked through the forest and connected with the flora and fauna. It was interesting to know about the names of various trees and also the cultural beliefs associated with the same. A trek of 5 kms through rocky patches and steep slopes challenged physical capacities and opened windows to a world of learning that can be taken to the classrooms.

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Lost and Found – Indus Valley civilization

Children of Class IV explored the themes ‘Lost and Found – Indus Valley civilization’ – an ancient civilization of the Indian subcontinent. The theme helped children in making connections with India’s past and developing a better understanding of people and culture. Keeping in view the age group, the theme was taken forward through stories, video presentations, field trips and clay model creation.

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Training Session on 4th March 2017 for our support staff by Tata Motors – [Hamare Bus Ki Baat – Let's help make bus travel for children a happy experience]

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Campus Bird Count 2017

The Campus Bird Count is a sub-event of the larger Great Backyard Bird Count. It is a coordinated effort to document the birdlife in multiple campuses across India.

A team from Shikshantar participated in the Campus bird count event this year, an initiative taken by the Science Committee of the Student Council. The procedure is to identify and count all species detected in every 15 minutes of the walk in a particular location. The checklists of the entire duration of the walk is uploaded for every 15 minutes on ‘eBird’ which is an online checklist program, launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. eBird provides information on bird abundance and distribution.

Birding enthusiasts from Classes IX and XI gathered at the school on Saturday, 18th February 2017, at 7am in the morning to count the various bird species frequenting the mini habitats. The team comprised 12 students and 5 facilitators. The walk was led by Mridul Anand, an avid birder and a student of Class XI. The walk started from the primary wing. The team was full of excitement to see these creatures in their natural habitat but had to remain very calm as silence is the main key to observe the beautiful ones in their natural niche. Children were equipped with cameras and binoculars as they didn’t want to miss a single glimpse of these birds. From the Primary block the team moved to the Senior block and then the team covered the Pre-primary block. By 9 am the team had been able to spot 27 species of birds in the school campus.

Two spotted owlets peeking through metal pipes in a very adorable manner were the highlights of the day. Some of the other species spotted were Red-wattled Lapwing, Eurasian Hoopoe, Rufous Treepie, White Wagtail, Purple Sunbird, Oriental White eye, Shikra, Brahminy Starling, Common Tailorbird and Asian Koel.

The observations led the team to conclude that our campus is suitable as an avian habitat. The checklists can be accessed through the following links:

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34447831

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34447890

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34447983

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34448017

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34448035

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34448054

http://ebird.org/ebird/india/view/checklist/S34448525

Ashy-Prinia    Asian-Koel    Jungle-babbler    Purple-Sunbird-(F)    Purple-Sunbird-(M)    Red-wattled-Lapwing    Spotted-Owlet    White-Wagtail

Training Session on Fire Extinguisher for our support staff – [Safety and Security are always on high priority] – 25th February 2017

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Sports Day Classes I-II

Development of ‘physical being’ is fundamental to the holistic development of each and every child. From connecting with the ‘oorja’ within, our curriculum provides opportunities for channelizing physical energies on the sports field. Sports goals for each age level are planned keeping in mind children’s developmental needs and physical capacities.

Sports Day for children is visualised as a culmination and celebration of their outdoor experiences. Participation in a variety of outdoor activities encourages coordination, balance, rhythm and develops team spirit.

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Sports Day Classes III-IV (17th February, 2017)

With a lot of enthusiasm and energy, children of Classes III–IV participated in the sports day experiences. A reflection of their coordination, stamina and willingness to explore physical capacities, sports day is a celebration of their outdoor experiences. Whether it be rotating hooplas around their bodies, stretching themselves to attempt callisthenic exercises or balancing to create various pyramid formations, team spirit was clearly visible. A pleasant sunny day and energies of parents added to the vibrant atmosphere.

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Meeting an Author

Talon the Falcon is a peregrine falcon
A dangerous bird trapped in a cage
Friends save him and free he flies
(verse by Arvaan -Breeze)

Nature and stories are an integral part of our curriculum. Children explore various experiences through nature walks and themes such as Birds’, ‘Our Feather Friends’, ‘A Marvel called Aravalli’. They read stories on animals and birds to strengthen their understanding. In context of these themes and experiences we had invited Mr. Deepak Dalal – author of the book series ‘Feathered Tales’ for interaction with children of Classes III and IV. He shared about his interest in writing stories on nature with children. He also discussed about the release of his two new books titled ‘Talon the Falcon’ and ‘A Flamingo in my Garden’.

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Start of the new session for Students moving from Kindergarten to Class I

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Holi Celebration

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Sports Day for Classes I to III

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Saraswati Puja

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Republic Day

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Lohri

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Class IV & V – Hamara Manch

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