Nightlife of another kind

Nightlife of another kind

Last Wednesday, about 120 children, aged about five years, spent an entire night in their school, away from their parents. No, they were not being punished. They were participating in a Jagran. It wasn’t a religious gathering but programme specially organised by Saraswati Mandir Trust Pre-Primary School, Naupada for the students of senior kindergarten. The objective of the keeping such little children away from their parents was to instil a spirit of independence among the kids. And from this count, the programme was an absolute success – not a single parent had to be summoned by the teachers throughout the night. In fact, one little girl, even though she was running temperature, insisted that she attend the programme, which she did, and was just fine.

The evening began at around 8 pm when children were asked to gather in the school premises, after dinner. Keeping in mind their tender age, the teachers had made all arrangements and had organised various programmes for making their stay entertaining and enriching. All the teachers played an important role in organising and designing the programme’s agenda and their efforts deserved to be commended because the programme was organised in such a way that the little kids just did not feel sleepy nor did they become cranky. In fact, they enjoyed every moment of their staying awake.

The programme began with Saraswati Puja, which is traditionally performed before the start of any educational initiative. A variety of fresh flowers, brought by children, were used to create the image of Saraswati. Afterwards, the children were provided an opportunity to perform an act of their choice: singing, dancing, story telling, mimicry and so on. The highlight of the evening was TV and stage artist Eknath Shinde, who graciously accepted to perform a few items for the little children so late in the night. He also gave them a few basic lessons in music composition, which the new to the children. Another novel activity that children participated in was star-gazing, thanks to a parent of one of the children, who volunteered to share his knowledge of stars and planets with the children. Groups of around 10 students were taken to the terrace one by one where they sat through a session of gazing the stars, planets and other heavenly bodies.

The kids also learnt to feed themselves under the guidance of their teachers. They peeled potatoes, sliced tomatoes and onions, and prepared delicious bhel which everyone relished. Later, a special video screening of The Adventures of Pinocchio and Ramayan elated the children. The night was long, yet surprisingly none of the children created any fuss. Throughout the night, the children played several games with teachers and principal including a round of Antakshiri. According to one of the teachers, "Almost all the children were awake until 4.30 in the morning and 25 odd stayed awake the whole night!"

Every night, as soon the clock strikes 10, most parents nag their children to change their clothes, brush their teeth and get to bed and most children resist doing that, wanting to stay awake as long as the adults. No wonder these pre-primary children of Saraswati made the most of their opportunity to stay awake in the night.

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