Indian moms often hear this piece of advice when they are expecting- stay healthy, mentally and physically. We hear grandmothers persuading us to hear soft music to calm us down and say prayers by our bedside. Most of us welcome and even savour the special attention, but few of us realise that that piece of advice is grounded in Science. Science researcher and Author Annie Murphy, in her book, “Origins” explains how the nine months in the womb of the mother has already shaped us to a very large extent.
This week, we have a mother who uses music as a very potent learning tool for her child, having learnt music from a very young age herself. Kuhoo Gupta is an award-winning singer, an engineer, a composer, a poetess, an early childhood educator and in her latest role, a mother!
Kuhoo Gupta’s latest mission is to revive the Montessori philosophy of education and infuse it into every area of the child’s life.
Not many parents & caregivers know that the Montessori theory and philosophy is not confined just to the classroom, but it also applies to the surroundings & environment of the child at home too. Eventually, the philosophy finds expression in the very way the child thinks and sees everything.
She shares on her blog how she implements Montessori philosophy at home & says every parent can do it! And now her brand new FREE “Tour of Montessori House Of Children” video series educates people what exactly a pure Montessori setup consists of so that they can apply the principles & procure the materials at home if they wish to.
Read on to know more!
Hello Kuhoo. It’s lovely to be able to talk to you.
Hi Shobha. It is great to connect with you online & share space here on your website. It is always lovely to connect with like-minded parents like you who advocate gentle parenting.
You are a singer, composer, engineer and an early childhood educator with an emphasis on themontessori education philosophy. Tell us a little bit about your background.
I started singing when I was 3. And luckily I was good at studies too, at least that is what my school results implied. Like many other engineers, music took a backseat when I was in 10th standard. I eventually went on to IIT Bombay to do my masters in Computer Science Engineering & side by side nurtured my passion for music. While I was working in the corporate for nearly 8 years, I managed to collaborate (online) with various musicians around the globe and created over 30 original compositions. I also wrote lyrics for few of my songs. I also wrote a Hindi poetry compilation titled “Zindagi Ke Martbaan Se” which is on major online stores now. I have contributed a story to this wonderful book “Chicken Soup For IITian Soul” from the Chicken Soup series. When we were trying to conceive & when I got pregnant & after our son was born, we attended workshops & courses on garbh-sanskaar, child rearing, psychology & early childhood education. And from there, my journey began and today I feel so empowered by what I learnt from these workshops. I blog and vlog at The K Junction, to share my knowledge & experiences.
What do you wish other parents knew that early educators know?
That early childhood education is not about learning ABC or 123 early. It is much more and deeper than that. Academics is just a small part of early childhood education. Most important is to let you child be & pick up cues from his or her daily routine & build upon activities to hone a particular skill rather than looking up Pinterest or blogs and trying to incorporate everything there for your child.
You are coming up with a new series on Montessori philosophy of education for children. Tell us more about it.
I have been following Montessori theory and philosophy for my son since he was 6 months old. And we, as a family have seen so many benefits of the implementation, not just in terms of his skill set but also in terms of his soft skills. I want more and more parents to know about Montessori philosophy summary and its benefits in the early age. Montessori is a buzz word these days & there are so many preschools claiming to be Montessori but sadly they are not pure Montessori. I have tied up with Benmont Montessori in Pune & this FREE video series will take you through a virtual guided tour of a pure Montessori house of children (2 – 6 years).
There will be one video each for each learning area in Montessori – practical life, sensorial, math, language and culture. This is one of a kind series & I have not seen something like this till now on the web! So if you are a parent, homeschooler, early childhood educator, Montessorian, preschool owner or teacher or an aspiring one, you do not want to miss this #TourOfMontessori video series.
You will get to see and know more about tons of Montessori materials that are used for learning for kids of age 2 to 6 years. The series starts from 21 July & new video will be out every Friday. You can sign up for this FREE video series HERE (it will not be free forever). You can find more details of this HERE.
Your work talks a lot about how music can play a big part in a child’s life. Does basic Montessori philosophy also incorporate learning with music?
Music is unconsciously an integral part of our home, me being a musician. This is how I have incorporated music into my child’s life –
- I listened to a lot of good music & mantras during my pregnancy & my son responded to it in my tummy!
- I play Indian classical music CDs (vocals & instrumentals) at home so something is always going inside our heads
- I have lots of musical instruments at home & I exposed my son to his first instrument before he turned 6 months. The instruments can be as simple as a drum or a wooden flute or a piano or maracas. The key is to give them real (child sized) instrument rather plastic ones and to let them explore it. Initially, it will be noise, that is how they learn the sounds but internally in their brains, there is so much going on. In this video, you can see how my son came up with a beat pattern on his own during free play.
- I sing to him often, well – everyone can & should sing to the child, however besura you might feel you are, because a parent’s voice is always beautiful for the child.
- We dance madly on music.
- Of course, there are kids rhymes too.
You won the “Best Genre – Light Music” award in 2010 & “Best Song” award in 2013 in the awards for independent music in India by Hungama.com. Do you still find time to practise your singing now that you are a mom?
I will not lie here, it is practically not possible for me these days. No, I do not practice regularly. But for that matter, I have never been a singer who would do the riyaaz every day sitting with an instrument. I have always been an on-the-go-riyaaz singer, which means my riyaaz is when I sing along with the cd player while coding on the laptop or working at home. So it is not much of a change after motherhood.
What does your typical day look like?
2 glasses of water after getting up, a big cup of herbal tea & then a quick dose of yoga on the days I am lucky & my toddler allows me to do so 😉 Morning chores, some reading aloud & play time with my son & then he is away to play with his daycare friends till noon. That is when I work on my blog & other freelancing assignments. Then lunch and my son’s afternoon nap. In the evening, me & my son prepare snacks together. I involve him in the kitchen & my Montessori inspired practical life activities are in action! We again read & do some activities or puzzles according to his interest. Then we go to our society garden for cycling & playing on the swing, slide & other rides. More or less, my son is always into free play. Structured activity is only for some time during the day, that too according to his interest, skill set & cues. We read a LOT!
What is the one habit you have you are very proud of?
Being able to read aloud to my son. Being proactive, being informed and equipped with the knowledge and materials that my son would need in the future. I am also proud of eating healthy & following some or the other spiritual practice for myself on a daily basis, that keeps me sane!
What message would you like to give fellow-moms?
- Be informed
- Find a support system where you have fellow parents of similar age kids
- Follow some spiritual practice, you need it for you very much! Bonus, it will help you become a better, sane & calmer parent too
- Do not judge others or compare yourself with others. Every parent/family/child is unique
- Be gentle on yourself, you are doing a great job as a parent! Parenting is a real hard thing and it takes a lot out of you
- Read read read to your child
- Most importantly, follow your child!