Imagine you have to conduct a class, which has about twenty kids, all under the age of ten years, for about an hour. You don’t have to teach them math (which would probably have been easy). Rather, you are expected to talk to them about things like Republic Day, Holi etc. or organize games. How easy do you think it is? I will be frank- this happened to me once and the experience was nothing less than a nightmare!
I found myself grappling alone with the kids on last 29th. I was in Prayas, an NGO (based out of Sec-16 in Noida) I am involved with, that day. For some reasons Anvita, my co-volunteer, was on holiday and the complete onus to conduct the class lay on me. I wasn’t exactly prepared for such a day and when I saw all the kids sitting expectantly in front of me, I became a little frightened! I began talking to them about the Republic day celebrations that had concluded three days earlier and after a while I began talking to them about Republic day in general- when I did this, they were bored well within five minutes! The situation was only salvaged later by Raj, another Prayas volunteer who was visiting Prayas simply because he had nothing better to do at home: he read to them a short story (an idea which didn’t strike me as I had not seen people doing such a thing earlier) from a book and somehow kept them engaged for the remaining time.
That day I realized how short the attention span of small kids is. And if these tiny human beings are not interested in what you are speaking, there is no limit to the havoc they are capable of causing! They’ll start shouting, talking to and hitting each other, complaining to you about every small issue and then, when you ask them to keep quiet, four or five of them would start ordering the others to shut up, thereby creating even more noise!
Such occasions come by once in a while and I am not yet sure what I’ll do the next time this happens! The first step that I’ve taken is that I’ve begun learning every kid’s name because I think the kids respond more to someone who knows them at least a little. Apart from that, I have a lot to learn from other co-volunteers at Prayas.