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Balagokulam Guide
Art of Story Telling

Story telling is the most important element in public speaking. Like any skill, practice is the best way to improve. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you practice.

  • Read the story and understand the message you want to convey through this story. Story telling should revolve around that theme. We need not have to tell at the end of story 'the moral of this story is ...'

  • Do not read, but tell the story. We will miss eye contact when we are looking at the book. Reading a story is useful with small group of 2-3 children at home.

  • Modulations in the voice. Vary the volume and tone with the story.

  • You should enjoy the story, so the expressions come out on your face and in your voice. Drop all the inhibitions about acting.

  • Eye contact: Move your eyes so that you can see every one.

  • Slow down the pace. During normal conversation, most of us speak fast and without much modulation. Children should be able to follow you. So, don't rush. By looking into their eyes, you can see whether they are enjoying it or not.

  • The pace should vary with the meaning of the sentence. When you say, "The lion came slow..ly", slow down the speed. When you say, "She started running fast without looking at the back", speed up your telling also.

  • Before or after you make a strong point, pause for a while. That gives some time for them to feel the story.

  • You can make it gently interactive, Ask questions in between. Questions which require them to say 'YES' or 'NO'. Don't end up in a discussion!

  • Have a smiling face.

  • Body language: Make use of your hands to bring in the expression needed at places.

  • Use examples from their day-to-day life to make it more interesting.

  • You can use some pictures to show them.
Every one of us have our own strengths. Use all your creativity and come up with a style that suits you best.

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Conducting Discussions

In a group discussion, initial presentation by the moderator should be brief, to the point and make them think on the subjects. The introduction should not have any pre-judgements and opinions. Throw the topic open for them to think.

Make sure every one participates. Many a times it would end up in 2-4 children arguing back and forth.

Do not discourage any opinion.

When the discussion is digressing from the main topic, bring it back on track without wasting much time.

Be prepared for powerful concluding comments that will have an impact.

Teaching Shlokas

The Shikshak should have 'shraddhaa' in chanting religious shlokas. If the Shikshak is very casual about it, children will not have seriousness about it.

  • The pronunciation of the Shikshak should be clear and the voice loud. Better they hear it, louder they say it. Louder they say it, quicker they get it.

  • First time, say it slow and make children repeat one word at a time.

  • Second time, say two words at a time and make them repeat twice.

  • Third time, say half line at a time and make them repeat twice.

  • Provoke the competitive spirit in the children by asking "who can say the first line now?"

  • Generally children say with low volume, because of lack of confidence and comfort level in saying. Often, prompt them to say it loud without bothering about the mistakes.

  • Appreciate when they say it loud. Make them enjoy a sense of achievement when they get it.

  • Explain the meaning of the shloka. Let 3-4 of them read the meaning from the book.

  • Every week, revise the previous 3 shlokas and practice the current Shloka.

  • 2 Shlokas can be comfortably taught in a month. More can be done depending on the interest of the children and the Shikshaks.

  • Parents should also be taught the shlokas we are practicing with the children. Parents can practice them at home.

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Teaching Songs

  • Select simple songs with simple and appealing tunes for children.

  • Once, sing the song completely and let them enjoy it.

  • Practice the tune for the first two lines (pallavi)

  • Make them repeat one word at a time for the first two lines

  • Sing one line at a time and let children repeat. Here again, prompt them to sing loud.

  • Whatever song they practice for 1 or 2 months, you can have them sing in the next utsav (we celebrate at least 6 utsavs in all the Balagokulams)

Conducting Games

  • Have an idea about the number of children in your gana.

  • Select more games than what is needed for 30 minutes.

  • Maintain enthusiasm in the gana with slogans like 'sanghatan me, shakti hai', 'hara hara - mahadeva', etc.

  • Give clear instructions for the game.

  • Demonstrate once.

  • Make sure all the rules are followed.

  • Give chance to all the children.

  • Have control over the gana.

  • For smaller children, games should be simple with simple rules.

  • Remember that the purpose of games is to develop friendship. No hard feelings about winners and losers should be cultivated.

  • Keep in mind the constraints of the place while planning the games.

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Effective Shikshak

Becoming an effective Shikshak is a process. It is a combination of the knowledge, skills, competence and capacity and some thing more than all of these. Ultimately it is our personality that makes us an effective Shikshak. Like in any 'Saadhanaa', we have to put in continuous effort at it till it becomes effortless and enjoyable.

  • Swaadhyaya (Self-Study) and mananm (contemplation) are important to enhance our knowledge and we will not run out of stock.

  • More a Shikshak thinks about the Balagokulam activities and visualizes how things will flow, easier it will be to plan. One can plan the minute details also. Confusion can be avoided. Plan for every activity -- games, shlokas, songs, stories, skits, etc.

  • Friendly personality: Make an effort at becoming more approachable and likeable person by children. By talking to new families, new children, we can enhance our social skills.

  • Becoming a good team player. Cultivate the habit of making decisions in a team in the planning baitaks. While participating in such baitaks, detach yourself from your opinions. 'My opinion is just one of the opinion'. Whatever we decide together is every one's decision.

  • Our ego should be secondary to the interest of the Balagokulam. It is hard to detect the emergence of ego in our personality. Some signs are:

    • Feeling 'ignored'. 'I was not consulted'; 'I was not told'; type of small thinking coming in to our talk.

    • Getting hurt; getting upset at small things.

    • Frequent use of "I", "My" and "Me" in our conversation.

    • My name was not printed/announced.

    • Looking at some tasks as 'small tasks', 'task below my dignity'.

  • Vision of creating new Shikshaks from the children. When a child coming to our Balagokulam become a Shikshak in next few years, that is a mark of our success.

  • Harsh on oneself; Soft on others: We should be strict about all the rules, punctuality on ourselves. When mistakes happen from others, be soft on them.

  • Positive thinking. Belong to the winner's creed. Try new experiments without any inhibition and encourage others in the team to try new things.

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