Meenu Kaushal is a young, cheerful nursery teacher of Apeejay School, Noida, often surrounded by her students. A postgraduate in Guidance and Counselling and a graduate in BA Psychology, she is a lovable teacher. Ankita interviewed her, for the special feature on Teachers’ Day, exclusively in Different Truths.
It is always said, “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased.” This quote came true when I met Meenu Kaushal, a young, cheerful nursery teacher of Apeejay School, Noida, often surrounded by her students. For her, these kids are not just a batch of students but have become a reason to smile and spend her life with joy. Meenu, who is also a dancer, has been in the profession since last 15 years. She is a postgraduate in Guidance and Counselling and a graduate in BA Psychology. Also, a proud mother of a daughter. Here is an interview of the charming teacher’s professional journey.
Meenu: I always had an inclination towards kids. I find them honest and full of positive energy. So after completing my higher education, I decided to do something which can connect me with children. When my daughter went to a play school, the love and bonding I saw among teachers and kids for each other helped me to decide that this is the right time when I can fulfill my dreams. I completed my training process soon and joined a play school. After 2 years I got an opportunity to be a part of Apeejay School, Noida since then I have not looked back. Actually, kids make you introspect through their innocence.
Ankita: Now as times have changed, kids are now more aggressive. Tell us the ways to deal if we see a child being bullied or teased?
Meenu: Aggression would not be the right word as they are children. But yes acts like bullying, teasing, etc. should not be encouraged at any point. One should intervene immediately and calm the person who is being bullied and then talk to the other child who has been bullying. I believe there is always a reason behind such type of aggression. Counselling is the best way to help children. At times, kids bully the other children to prove they are stronger. This should not be encouraged or defended at any point in time. In fact, talking to the parents is necessary to find out what’s wrong or what fear or pressure child is going through due to which he/she bullies the other child to satisfy himself. The school and parents through love, care and counselling can heal both the kids (the one bullied and the one bullying).
Ankita: What is the life recipe for a happy life?
Meenu: The life recipe for me is to be positive in every situation. To see every challenge as an opportunity. As people say and I too believe after every night comes a day. After every challenge, there’s a victory. The determination to be positive and calm and face challenges with a smile.
Meenu: Toddlers come from a very protective, safe environment, where there are their mother, father and dear ones. For them coming to school is a challenge as the place, people, the environment is totally different. They leave their safe and comfortable zone, to a place with no parents, no dear ones, only new faces, so this is a time they need same love and compassion. At times kids cry but they can’t explain the reason. They just cry and want to go home. So I begin talking to them, make funny faces, tell stories, because stories, especially of animals, attract and divert children and they slowly and gradually forget their worries and willingly indulge in the activities, stories, etc. In Apeejay, we give them the same love and compassion. My main motive is to make kids school friendly, where they love to come and enjoy studies through various fun learning ways.
Meenu: Nowadays kids are very tech savvy or should I say it’s a tech savvy generation. Kids operating mobile is a common phenomenon. It’s very important how you introduce it. In Apeejay we show them PPT’s on smart board. Give them a free hand on paint and brush in a computer class. But technology comes with a warning, especially after blue whale challenge case. We parents should always keep a check on what kids are doing or watching in a mobile or computer or that matter TV. I believe technology should be introduced in a rationalised way. A time needs to be assigned and this discipline should be maintained for how long a child can get a free hand on tab or computer or TV. Always keep a track of what they are doing or watching or what game they are playing. Toddlers cannot surf much but still, a watch is required. Technology helps a lot, for example, lion roars or a deer running these sound and visual presentation enhance the child’s knowledge and help them understand things faster. Yes, it helps if introduced in an interactive and interesting way.
Ankita: Can you please share common mistakes that you find in parenting and your piece of advice as a teacher?
Meenu: Recently, there was a video of a girl in all over media, where a mother is teaching her child and the aggression of the child, this is not the way to teach a child. A strict no. A child is like clay, it depends on you how you want to mould them. Nowadays, there is a lot of competition to be among the 99% to 100% group which is killing the child. Along with this pressure, comes a pressure from parents to prove their child is better than the other kids. One needs to understand, every child has his/her potential. Every child is unique in his/her way. My school and I believe to enhance the potential of a child. For this, we introduce various events throughout the year to understand and learn what the strength of each child is and then work on it. Parents comparing their kid to other not only kills his/ her passion but also demoralises the child. (Taare Zameen Par movie is an example).
Nowadays, parents’ over possessiveness, pampering, and pressures make a child undisciplined, resulting in poor performance. Where a parent needs to appreciate, they compare and where they should not encourage them, they pamper their child this indiscipline confuse the child. Be strict but don’t burden them with your dreams and aspirations. In our days, if parents said no to anything, it was a no. But, now a no to a child is a challenge because parents either surrender to their demands or become stubborn like them to prove their point, which in anyway harms a child’s mental development. So I advise parents to appreciate their child whenever they participate in any event or competition irrespective of what is the result, this will help to raise a child’s confidence and trust in parents and will develop their interest in studies and they will pass with flying colours. Appreciation, acknowledgment, and discipline help to grow a healthy happy and progressive child.
Meenu: To be frank it’s not any different. My day begins as a mother preparing and planning for my child. Then I plan and get prepared for those adorable 40 kids. Every day poses a new challenge, so I need to be well prepared for it. My kid and my 40 toddlers are equally lovable to me. My daughter is my strength and those 40 kids in my class are my life. I feel really blessed to have these kids in my life and proud when they achieve their dreams. These kids are a mirror to me. They teach me where I am wrong. We need to think like them. They adore you and in return, your love and compassion, concern need to be double.
Meenu: Generally, I don’t get much free time but I surf a lot of good educational websites to see what’s going on in the field of education and teaching. I have a passion for dance so try out some moves as it refreshes and keeps me fit as well. I go out with my daughter to rejuvenate myself. Checking out new gadgets, new fashion in the market and recharge my energy 100% to come back to school on Monday with new enthusiasm and freshness.
Photo and video clip by the author.
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Ankita Sharma, a Journalism graduate from Makhanlal Chaturvedi Journalism University. Was a part of two esteemed news channels, CNN – News18 & NDTV. A mother to a toddler son. Ankita began her career with Smile Foundation. From March 2015, she is a freelance journalist. A passionate dancer and an entrepreneur. Her Mantra for life is live life to its fullest and keep smiling always.