The Mindsprings Enrichment Programme is a unique high-quality thinking programme for exceptionally bright children. Children, who do enrichment for a significant length of time, grow up to be independent and confident thinkers.
As they grow older, children often develop a range of imbalanced attitudes in their interactions because of their intellectual precocity. These needs have to be addressed when they are young and impressionable.
The Mindsprings Enrichment Programme is committed to bringing to children between the ages of 6 and 14, the benefits of thinking activities and stimulation.
It allows children to spend two hours, once a week, after school, working at their own pace involved in a range of stimulating learning experiences. This is meant to challenge their intellect and imagination, deepen understanding and foster development of independent learning and communication skills.
The sessions have three segments: Discussion, Advanced Learning and Doing.
Q: What is the Mindsprings Enrichment Programme
A: Mindsprings Enrichment Programme is a thinking skills programme based on the gifted education model, where children need to be challenged to think, reflect, make links and connections and create original pieces of work. The thinking skills programme is an undiluted, enjoyable and stimulating set of child-centred and teacher facilitated ideas and tasks that do the work of a brain gym.
Q: Who is it meant for?
A: The programme is invaluable for a certain group of children. This set of children genuinely needs the extension and the out of the box thinking activities in the programme. It primarily exists to cater to their needs. We do not wish to label or pre-empt their identification. IMPORTANT: Children take away benefits from the programme, according to their needs and perform according to their abilities. The presence of variation in ability does not take away from any child the right or time to give his best. Exclusivity does not give the programme any special advantage as it is not watered down or ability adjusted. Class sizes continue to be constant at 15 or less, so teacher to student ratio is not sacrificed.
Q: How does the programme work?
A: The programme allows children to discuss, think, reflect, argue rationally, justify stands, make links, connections and take risks. Children learn a variety of skills, make presentations of original work of varied products, and judge and evaluate critically. We aim at a range and mix of discipline areas, skills and activities at all levels.
Q: How are your methods different?
A: We do not teach. We facilitate using the dynamics of the group as our flexibility factor. The child is invited to discover all there is to learn by open-ended questions or activities that foster thinking, analysis and problem-solving.
Q: Are teachers of Mindsprings trained to teach?
A: To be a teacher at Mindsprings a person needs to be a gifted thinker, a seeker, a stimulated enquirer, intelligent, flexible, reflective and self-assessing. Wide reading, a love of children, compassion, passion for learning, and excitement at discovering new ideas are some of the traits we seek in our teachers. A mainstream teacher or a degree in teaching may or may not guarantee all these traits. The success of a class depends on the amount of engagement the children exhibit with the materials, and with their continued enjoyment of the teacher’s guidance. A Mindsprings teacher is totally accountable and can be observed in action by parents, as inviting feedback as continuous improvement is a credo we believe in. We expect our teachers to aspire to be ego-free in their transactions with children and model life-long learner status to their wards
Q: What benefits do the children get?
A: –An Informed Mind: Exposure to essential information which forms the pegs for an educated mind to think.
– An Active Mind: Skills of scanning perspectives, linking and making associations, independent thinking and evaluation strategies in all that is observed.
– A Balanced Mind: Psychological attitudes of confidence, responsibility and social awareness.
– A Free Mind. Freedom to think and express an opinion without fear of mistakes and the right attitude to learn from them.
Q: How will I know that this is happening with my child?
A: To use an analogy, just as one does not see immediate results when one goes to a health club, the mind too needs exposure and practice and often “detoxification” from earlier blocks, before it begins to readily assimilate the benefits. The difference is that one can see neither the malnutrition nor the health of the mind in perceptible concrete terms. Secondly, children learn in spurts. Learning is not a stepladder process; rather it is unequal and erratic. Real learning happens when there is interest and excitement and focus. We provide these. Thirdly, children are unique. Each different in ability, interest and learning style. Each manifests and applies learning differently. Fourthly, children express real learning very irregularly. They are not machines to have inputs and outputs in a constant ratio. Therefore, their learning may be expressed the next day in the form of direct, mild or severe interest in one topic and not in the other. Finally, not all changes are perceptible and cognitive in nature. What you will see in some children is an attitudinal change in enjoyment, enthusiasm and responsiveness; or connecting things, seeing both sides of the coin or simply listening better.
Q: Should we test children to find out if they have learnt it all?
A: Testing often kills the magic and enthusiasm of learning for fun, for pleasure, for curiosity without pressures and agendas. You can, of course, reinforce the ideas with the home sheets that are sent out to you which act as a springboard to launch on your own discussions. True results are seen in confidence, articulation, reflections and links the child makes. Patience, in allowing the child to find these levels, is recommended.
Q: What more can I do for my child?
A: If your child is not responsive to your questions on the home sheet it does not mean he has had a bad time in enrichment or that he has not taken away anything.The child should also be encouraged to keep a file of the work he does and to take the sessions seriously. The expectations a parent sets for any endeavour the child undertakes is instrumental in the amount of effort he/she will put into it. If this is treated as just another after-school hobby class the benefits too will be marginalized to that extent.
Q: Why can't this be done in school?
A: It should, to whatever extent possible. However, schools have responsibilities that are basic and fundamental like the three R’s that cannot be sacrificed. Schools have varying abilities that need to be catered to at all levels. Schools are bound by rules and requirements of the larger education system which cannot be compromised.
Q: Why i can't do this at home?
A: Why don’t you? If you have the time and patience and the energy you can. Even if you have all of these, will your child sit with you and do all that we do? Even if he does, will he have a peer group to expose him to a large number of original ideas?