Dear children ,

A very happy Children’s Day to all of you . You may ask what kind of a Children’s Day am I talking about, when there is no celebration today ?When we have school ,I know your teachers put up a special program for you and make you feel special. For teenagers and young adults ,the day falls into a routine ,  making it no different from other days except for the special morning assembly. When I was a kid , Children’s Day meant a small celebration . We were  given a ladoo each and every alternate year ,we were taken to  a film in a theatre not so close by . Neither the film nor the ladoo excited us but the long walk to the theatre “strictly  in two’s “excited us no end . The walk would begin at 11 am for a noon show and then the walk back would take us almost 45 mins. The traffic would come to a complete halt and we felt royal. It made us feel special.At home , it meant dinner out.

So, what makes Children’s Day special for you ? Doing what you love doing ,being in the company of your near and dear should make your day . Today I was watching the finals of the  U-12 Cricket tournament between our school and Sri Ma, .It has been a long tournament ,15 matches ,  a long ,hot day ,yet the children were highly excited with bountiful energy even at the felicitation function . This is the best way to celebrate Children’s Day . It didn’t matter who lost ,the disappointment was neither seen nor felt.That is because they did what they loved doing -play.

All children are very creative . Over the years ,the creativity is somewhat suppressed  due to”academic pressures to perform for marks ” and later in life due” to pressures of life – personal and professional”.One must consciously build on creativity and imagination  so that they become better thinkers leading to innovations.Opportunities galore for developing entrepreneurial skills . The country needs innovative entrepreneurs. You can make a difference with your creativity.

To be that ,spend some time with yourself ,without distractions of any kind – mobiles , games, friends , FB You will be able unearth your potential only with self -introspection . Be honest with yourself . What are your strengths? How can you capitalize on that ? How can you use that to support the weaknesses that you think you have. What are the opportunities that you see  to learn something new ?Where do you see the handicaps – lack of time , money , lazy, distance (too far away),no company… ? If the problems are genuine , search for alternative  sources of learning.You can use the social media as a learning tool so that it makes the learning more relevant.

Why is  this true to oneself  self-assessment so essential? to take you place . To be able to compare , contrast evaluate,synthesize ,apply instructions or orders from outside. You will be to analyse a problem -real or unreal with maturity and clarity.Do not wait for things to be placed before you . There is a greater thrill in being a self-made man.We ,as at school and at home will always  provide  a conducive environment  and support to able to help you understand yourself better.

We dream your dreams with you , we will build in you the skills to help you build your future. We can not build your future for you , you will have to do that yourself . And you will … if and only if you do some serious thinking about  your future,When you stand tall ,the world will be at your feet but remember that’s the first milestone , there are many more to achieve . Stay rooted.

God bless.

Yours always,


At the outset, here’s wishing you and your loved ones, a very Happy Deepavali. This is a time of the year best spent with family and friends, loved ones who are a source of joy, of strength and of hope. The best Deepavalis are filled with lots of sweets, diyas, decoration and above all laughter. I hope this festive season has been as wonderful for you as it has been for me. May the coming year bring with it good health, happiness and prosperity to us all.

As an educationist, I cannot help but think of this time as a wonderful opportunity to teach our children the core value that underpins a festival like Deepavali – the triumph of good over evil. It’s important that we never lose sight of that message, since more than any curricular input, it is well-imbibed values such as these that will serve a child well throughout her life.
In today’s internet age,  these values are becoming increasingly important. The internet provides unfettered access to information, so arguably our children could learn about, say, the role of Chlorophyll in Photosynthesis, even without the guidance of a teacher. A strong moral character, however, cannot be simply downloaded; it continues to be moulded through perseverance and foresight in our homes and classrooms.
It is this moral backbone, that will ensure that our children do not slander, defame or in any way hurt others, no matter how convenient it is do so. It is far too easy to do so now, especially with the blanket of anonymity and deniability that comes with messages created and forwarded over our phones. The impact of this ‘trolling’ can be devastating, whether it is directed at a person known or unknown. Yet, I am not sure that we necessarily think of ourselves as casting stones at others, when we forward such a message, knowing that it is probably baseless.
Our children must grow up to be better than this. I would like them to take personal responsibility very seriously, and understand the impact of their actions on others. I would like them to know, that the world will  always judge them not by what they say and do in the light, but in the dark anonymity of web/ mobile ecosystem.
While whats app , FB ,Twitter and others keeps us connected,if not used intelligently, it may make people to commit or comment without thought . In an attempt to tweet or message instantaneously ,we tend to react rather than act even when not required..Malicious rumors not only spread negativity by keep the mind engaged in unproductive thoughts but also ruins the joy in the run up to the most joyous festival of the year. I have discussed this many a times with parents and students in my address to the extent  of being boringly repetitive because of my genuine concern for young parents.
I fully understand and appreciate the concern that every parent has for his/her child’s safety while giving them a mobile to be “in touch”. If that is the purpose , then it must serve only that purpose. Why the Samsung Edge or the I phones ? IT is also time that we introspect .When we complain of no time with family , can we introspect to see the time that we spend on electronic gadgets all in the name of connectivity.Much of what we come across as something that is unsettling or troubling in our lives is an indication that we concentrate on something more positive -learning a new skill,listening to music , play a game of soccer or badminton, catch up with friends face to face , spend time with kids ….the list is endless.
May this festival of lights remove the darkness around us and help us bring out the light within us ,We must  ensure that we explore all opportunities for the best possible preparation we can get for the journey called Life.
Wishing you a very happy Deepavali once again.

Something has caught my attention  and that is lack of attention in children (and adults alike). Instructions have to be repeated. One needs to call out to the child and inquire if  they had heard it. Everyday happenings at home -“Don’t forget to pick the keys from Lara aunty’s house. I won’t be home when you come home from school”.No response . “”Did you hear ,what I said?”,the mother asks again .The door is shut as the child rushes out to catch the school bus.” In the evening , the mother finds her child in a grumpy,irritable  mood – all hungry and thirsty.” You never told me that you will be away”,the child complains.An example from school -” The worksheets are only practice worksheets ,not for submission,”There is a humdrum of activity early morning. Students are busy rushing through the completion of worksheet. The teachers sighs in exasperation. One may feel anger , anxious, stressful , embarrassed and even resentful It seems as if nothing has affected them.

At the same time ,it is interesting to note that children multi- task brilliantly.They listen to heavy metal while studying , talk or text at the same time .And we wonder if they can do all this ,then why not what they ought to be doing ?Poor reading habits, bad hand writing , lesser speed in writing and comprehending  makes a parent more anxious.When our anxiety shoots up , we go overboard doing things for  the children. We feel more responsible for the completion of projects , ensuring a thorough run -through in  academics ,  “fixing  things “- completing incomplete notes through What’sapp, delivering craft items, costumes, sports equipment that was left behind .In the process , we are not allowing them one very important experience – to be able to fight one’s own battle , experience disappointments, face the music. While they become dependent learners , they also take things for granted .

I have an experiment done in our elementary  school  to prove that children will take on responsibilities of owning their learning only when they realize that they are accountable for their scores. Having had the bench-marking scores for all subjects ,I asked many teachers to set appraisal papers for each subject.Parents , teachers and children were not informed of the dates of appraisals .Everyday for a month teachers were asked to recapitulate the  concepts.This was to reinforce short term memory and help to link it to long term memory . On the day of the appraisal , one paper was picked and children attempted the appraisal, without fear of the outcomes..The result spoke about the success of the experiment . the children performed better than the bench-marked scores.Some of the parents who had expressed apprehensions earlier admitted that the atmosphere at home was up-beat and children were happy that they did “all by themselves”. This feeling of achievement will help in building self-esteem and confidence.

Similarly,by setting boundaries the child respects his parents more.Parents and teachers must exercise the power to say -NO. Children must know clearly what it means to cross the limits .Ten year old Naru, wanted to have a night over with friends.”All my friends are allowed an over-night stay ,only you are not permitting” . This is quite common.Where does one feel the gap? If it is a decision taken by the father , the mother  must agree with the decision wholeheartedly . Sometimes inadvertently one may express empathy for the child saying ,”I feel so bad for Naru .This is the age to enjoy. But  my husband ……” The child  reads through. Older children  can use the much cliched  words -” I need my personal space” ,The expression leaves a feeling of disappointment. Personal space is what we create for ourselves.Instead of losing one’s temper , one could communicate even more clearly making it sound you mean what you said . Never be apologetic  , not even if the host parent makes the call.

I must express an observation in this context . I am sure you too experience this When you enter a lift you often find people fidgeting with the handset . As the lift halts in every floor, people enter and start using mobiles -pictures , messages what ever. It takes 5 seconds to come down.And I always wonder why the restlessness. We are not in peace with ourselves even for 5 seconds. Where are we heading?Children must practice being by themselves , doing nothing , yet keeping themselves engaged without mobiles or the FB .

Commercialization of products using  children is fast becoming a good marketing strategy,From violent video games to online orders for food items. The modelling and acting.bug has caught on too.Marketing strategists  have studied the shopping behavior of children and  have  capitalized on the nag factor – i.e the number of times parents buy their children what they asked for thanks to the  pestering .With online shopping being the order of the day , is it wise to give teenagers credit cards ?with parents giving consent for children to be on the social network , the children have become easy targets for marketing strategists who extract personal information from the “”wanting to be visible kids””.

Are we seeing more easy to eat ready made stuff in our homes,or more clothes,shoes or sandals than required ? Are there more and more deos and perfumes or cosmetics ?Are online purchases for the family taking a chunk of the time?Are you feeling more stressed out with your child’s assignments , work not being done or forgetfulness of your child ? it is time to put a full stop to your indulgences.How does one do that ? Where does one begin? It must begin from birth but better late than never.

Place the rules on the table and follow them as a family.(Clarity on principles and purpose )

Do not address moody children .”Unless you speak nicely I won’t listen because I do not understand”

Acknowledge, listen ,then state why they won’t get it right away. ( mutual respect and consequences)

Have relaxation time ,keeping all e-gadgets at bay (helps to keep oneself at peace).

Take a matured informed call and  say -NO when you must .but it is important to use it responsibly.

NO is  a very powerful tool to  help us develop matured ,responsible, sensitive and balanced children..


An air of festivity filled the school . While the world was welcoming autumn , our little ones are on the lap of greenery ,all setting to harvest the paddy grown by them in our little plots. For all my little ones who have never had never seen one harvest season ,would now be experiencing it .To add color , the middle school children put up their beautiful and colorful chandeliers made of paper glasses and  tiny tots wanting to add their bit actually created their own potted plants with their names . They are 1000 of miniature plants and cared for by these little ones , the plants actually responded.Not one dried up or got off-rooted. The power of children !  And the older ones debated, painted and played different sport at the Nationals, winning awards and recognition ,adding festivity to the already blooming environment.

This is the culture , I have always believed in and practised . A culture that stimulates high level of thinking, of creation of a ripple-effect of positivity . There could be examinations , academics .events  and may be, challenges at home  but children  continue to be add color to their own canvas.We just have to give them a large canvas.I write this from my own personal experiences from my school life. This dawned on me very early in my childhood. My dad would pick me up everyday from school. My school would be over by 4pm . He would pick me up between 530 and 6 om , The environment was safe being a Naval Base . Leaving my bags with the security , I would keep myself busy with homework , revision for tests , climbing the mango and the badam tree and talking to all and sundry whom I met .The scientist that he was , my dad would forget at times that I was waiting . It was at such times that I engaged myself with a lot of creative work  like joining hands  the gardeners,the masons , the carpenters, the security ….Not once did I imagine that these skills would come in handy one day.If I can co-design with my carpenters today ,it is from a page from my childhood.

To me , school always has to be fun. A place where I learn something each day .”” Some thing and everything”” – so that when my kids grow up they must say”,”This is not new to me , We experienced this during school days at Singhania”. The Traffic park , the aquarium , the foreign languages program , the gross motor skill centre , the flight Simulation program , the hands-on reach out programs ,the green thumb effect , the spice garden , the botanical garden , The Movie Club -Sulonia Films Division , the Music Club, the indoor sports arena  …….. all of it provides life’s experiences for our kids apart from the routines of academics , sports ,culture ,labs and libraries.

It is a proud  gratifying and humbling experience for me and every Sulonian that the school has been ranked thrice making it a hat -trick of achievements. In its 2015 Day Schools ranking, the Education World has  ranked the school in the  no 1  place  , no 1 in Maharashtra , no 1 in Mumbai  with All India ranking 1 in Leadership and management , academics (based on the Board results and the school averages),faculty competence and value for money.The Hindustan Times ranked the school no.1 in Mumbai , Navi Mumbai and Thane among all schools including International schools. The Times of India too has placed the school in the numero uno position . All bouquets  and accolades to all my teachers , students and parents for supporting us in all our endeavors and help us weave our dreams together.We have, in the past 5 years, moved from No. 8 to no .6 and no . 4 last year to no.1.

In August ,  I received the call from Bangalore. The voice sounded  sounded excited . “”You are no.1 in the country .

“”Good”” I said matter of factly. The voice then said  ” This is DIlip Thakore.How does it feel, Ms.. Srinivasan “.

“Thank you ,Sir. Nice to hear”, I said taking the good news in my stride.

“You are first Principal who did not scream in excitement. You are so calm . Unbelievable!”,he quickly added

” Of course I am happy for my  children and my school . But,I look beyond ….. the path we tread offers us opportunities aplenty to design newer and more exciting learning experiences that will keep all of us engaged and passionate about what we do. everyone must work on the process of our realizing the passion , the rest will follow”

“”This  is interesting . Can you spare me an hour more so that we can talk .?””

We ended up talking and discussing issues in education …for more than an hour. He ended up saying ,”No wonder….Would love to meet you”.And we did … on the Awards Nite in New Delhi.

This is perhaps the first time that I have shared a very personal experience of achievement . I mentioned this conversation not to harp over it.but to convey to my readers that  we must  enjoy what we do and do it only because we love doing it ,not because someone is watching or the world has to applaud you or to claim loudly every now and then about one’s personal contributions made by oneself.If School has to be fun and our kids must get the very best now and always , we must work selflessly with rejuvenated passion , zeal and enthusiasm. That’s the promise that every teacher in the field of education must make .The institution has always to be revered first and is larger than self .

I am proud to be a Sulonian . Am sure you share my pride with me.


My 10 year olds walked out of the Municipal Commissioner’s office with a broad  smile and bouquets in their hands  -Mission accomplished ?” Yes and more than that “they screamed in unison . I said , ” I can see that . Your chests are full of pride and you seem to have grown taller in an hour’s time “. They smiled sheepishly . These fifth graders were interviewing and having discussions with the Municipal Commissioner and the town planners on the future plans for the development of Thane .

When the children of Grade V met a few days back telling me about their project on Thane city., I briefed them about doing references through books and digital media  , inviting guest lecturers to talk to them about  Thane to widen their knowledge .I wanted to to go through the TMC website  to know about their functioning. I advised them to design ways  to contribute to the development of the city.What followed was a huge file of researched work and action plan .They were accorded such a warm welcome with inputs from district authorities which added  first – hand experiences to their reservoir of knowledge already gained.

This blog is in continuation of the previous one on where  and how  to begin…..to make learning better.The above example is a case of true learning . Practically , one can not do this exercise each time . But these experiences makes them more inquisitive  ,more thoughtful and makes them own up their learning . A few more examples – Shops and vendors are spaces to learn budgeting and planning.

Let children own their learning . Preparing a schedule, working on it and setting goals . Goals are not percentages. It is about understanding concepts. In the visit to the TMC , they may have learnt a  lot of Civics. While making their presentations to the class they will acquire clarity of concepts. Every day experiences provide fun in learning When kids are packed off to tuition class with the hope that they learn more , the  opposite happens . They learn by rote. Retention does not happen since the  intake is hardly 20 % . Kids want to just complete the task .The reluctance of children to go through an ordeal is quite evident from the fact that look unenthusiastic.They will give excuses as how the teacher was too strict in her corrections or the questions were out of syllabus or that just careless mistakes. Carelessness comes from lack of concentration. Lack of concentration is sign of disinterest and disinterest is due to monotony. Yes ! Monotony is due to absence of wonder and joy in the learning.This explains why students perform below average even when they are tutored privately .

Create inquisitiveness , more research and understanding that leads to fun in the process of learning.We must know how how to ride roughshod over shirkers.There can not be any complacency from the teacher or the taught.The mind cannot be idle with dull thoughts.better learning happens with open minds, willing to experiment and be flexible. An environment that is stimulating ,where all kids – introverts and extroverts , slow and quick learns find space to grow. Working with kids bit by bit, just creating a difference in their outlook towards learning will see a need based value addition to the learning .

A question often raised is ,”Why do some kids perform better than the others considering similar preparation, levels of capability ,interests and environment?” While all external factors may appear similar , one must ascertain the child’s personal style of learning, the interactions with peers and adults, the activities in school and at home.You will realise that simple everyday interactions have helped your child realise her/his fullest potential I am fortunate to have the luxury of observing thousands of kids everyday of my life for the past 28 years and learning each day of my life about them ,for them and from them . I will take you with me on this beautiful journey of understanding and being understood.

What a child  learns in his early days has an indelible mark on his ability to  learn. During middle school and high-school it impacts his academic scores, his performance  in sports ,his ability to socialise, his interests in co-curricular activities and his personality as a whole.A couple of  examples from our own lives prove this point. Our tastes in food is developed during our early years. Our  life-style may have undergone a huge change with all the world-wide travel  but at 60 , the dhall -baath that may have  been the  favourite in our school days remains on the top despite newer likes. A grand parent at 70 is eager to learn to use a smart phone smartly. They try and pick up every lesson on technology from their grand -kids or from anyone who is willing to share.They observe, understand  question and clarify till they have mastered it.Their quest fro learning , their oral, aural abilities developed in their early childhood  comes in handy.

In a similar manner,all experiences of early years will help parents and teachers (if shared with them ) provide such learning experiences that will contribute  to maximising his ability to perform.I was watching a Kids’Show where a kid recited some rhymes and the ” R” pronounced as  “L” for e.g” Roll was LOLL”Rock was LOCK” The audience was was laughing and perhaps enjoying the cuteness. The kid was terribly embarrassed because his peers were also laughing at him. In the third attempt ,the host made the child pronounce correctly. I was surprised that the parents had chosen to ignore the correction till so late (5 years) ,whereas the host in the show  managed it in 5 minutes.The approach was different.Interactions  with the child must  help to build skills in language , communication ,social skills and conceptual skills.

So , how do we go about it ?Observe the baby in its infancy when no external influence played a role. When music is on , the baby would made movements with hands and legs , with gurgling sounds to express joy. A cartoon is on for the elder sibling and this infant turns towards the TV and “watches” in rapt attention. Try reading to  your infant .You may be holding on to the infant’s attention for a long spell. The infant can’t read but shows interest. These examples can lead  parents to understand the innate learning style of your child. When he enters school , he has other influences.  The play-way , the audio, the visual -treats, the reading , the phonics, the incidental learning, peer experiences….all of them become a part of the teacher’s lesson -plan.When the parent shares the inborn learning style of their child with the teacher ,they will  help the child perceive newer ways of learning.Ideally , children must have the right balance of all learning styles.

The general observation is that today’s children are digital natives and are inclined to be only visual learners.Parents share their concern about their children.Here are a few – “I told him this was important” “.Where does he listen?” The minute I speak ,he shuts the door I know he is not at all listening ,”…he does not communicate at all ” Do not  blame them for that .I have seen parents giving their I pads and I Phones to play to silence the child , to feed him , to cajole him ,is used  as a lollipop for homework completion, even at times when parents need  to have a peaceful conversation each other !!!  So we are consciously driving them to a virtual visual world of learning.As the child grows older , one realises the need to sharpen our abilities which have been relegated to the background . Is it possible to reinforce newer skills when the child is already inclined to a particular style from his infancy?Yes.. ..if we very  consciously and gradually sharpen their abilities in other styles by introducing newer  multi-sensory approaches. The going may be slow initially but will make the child a happy ,willing and well-adjusting person.Thus strengthening the overall personality.

Where do i begin …..? My next blog tells you that.


“We Share”

Independence Day celebrations bring nostalgic moments for me. Having attended more than 13 Independence Day celebrations in Red Fort during my student days, I still look forward to this day with the enthusiasm of 10 year old. The parades, the display, the dances, the grandeur and the National Anthem, all of them bring a great sense of belongingness and pride for our nation. Braving the rains, the humid weather during Independence Day and the wintery mornings on Republic Day added the element of excitement. If ever I said, “It is so hot “, my father would say,” You can’t bear this for 3-4 hours. Imagine how the leaders sacrificed their comfort for you. “A full stop….. Never did my friends or I dare to comment after that. That evening, we had to write an essay on that.

I had a very similar experience this morning. The students had all gathered at the flag hoisting area. There were classical and folk dances, light and instrumental music, quizzes on India my country, patriotic songs and speeches. The sky was blue and clear and we were happy to be outdoors. Children in their finery and scouts and Guides in their uniform added to the grandeur. All of these bring in a great sense of pride for our culture and its diversity. And then the Rain God decided to bless us abundantly. Braving it all, my students, staff, parents and I hoisted the flag with same excitement and joy that I had once experienced as a child. There was silence in the air when grades 3 & 4 and the Guides presented multi-lingual patriotic songs with gusto spreading a patriotic fervor across. Onlookers on the roads stopped and watched.

We wanted to add more meaning to our celebrations. Every year, we take a community project for the school. This year, each class pledged their support and contribution to a particular theme project that will be their initiative towards building a caring society. This social initiative is called “WE SHARE”. The purpose is have age – appropriate sensitization programs that will build a positive physical and social  environment.

  • The Kindergarteners will take up “Plant a Sapling”a month which means 12,000 trees would be in our immediate environment.
  • I chose to work on the Project – “Reuse and recycling from Waste”, so that they will understand the value of materials around them.
  • II has been particularly fond of animals therefore; they wished to take the project on “Care for Animals” – Adopt a Tiger programme.
  • 3 will re-initiate the “Car Pool” project which will bring awareness on the purpose and the outcomes of Carpooling. This will bring in more awareness about the need to carpool, use school buses and public transport for commuting.
  • 4 students will work on the Energy Audit project that highlights saving of water and electricity. This will entail a conscious drive towards Energy Audit and bringing awareness among people.
  • 5 works on “Zero garbage and no plastic bags” which will be a community project.
  • 6 takes to Organic Farming, Compost Pit and Vermiculture so that they focus their attention on agriculture and horticulture.The project has already been initiated in the school.
  • 7 moves towards educating adults and children on the need to develop and practice better road and traffic sense with special emphasis on Road Safety.
  • 8 – Swachata Abhiyan, a drive initiated in June 2014, will be taken on a larger scale to bring in awareness on cleanliness . Swachchata is about cleansing the mind, body and environment.  Drive to better health (Physical and Mental), hygiene and environment will be the highlight.
  • 9 to 12 have undertaken to educate the less –privileged so that they contribute to life –skill development of the children in orphanages, less –privileged children with their programs – “Adopt a School” and “Teach a Child “and bring in the joy of learning. This will ensure that India has no kid out of school.A drive from within to go to school is more effective external forces. This is in continuation of our existing program of teaching a child.Besides numeracy and linguistic skills, we can design curriculum that are need –based and interest- based be it in art ,craft , music and/ sport.

It is important to educate the society so that we ensure that a real learning community is forged in which each one further contributes to builder a stronger India.In the educational space, we must encourage independence of thoughts and actions with collaborations that will further promote innovation. The success of the actions will depend on the range of applications and materials, their leadership skills and above all their attitude. With our social initiative –WE SHARE – we hope to take small steps towards a world class learning outcome. These outcomes are not traditional by the way of academics but are designed to make people extensive independent thinkers.

Jai Hind !!!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 900 other followers