Teaching is a noble profession. This person has been adding more grandeur to this calling. Meet Padma, a passionate entrepreneur from Chennai who has her own space for teaching ‘phonics’ to children between the age group of 3 and 12. Phonics is a novel way of teaching children how to read through speech sounds. The 45 year old woman, whose age does not do any justice to her energy and appearance is currently very busy with her ongoing summer camp. She has been having these phonics classes since 2009.
One level of her house is exclusively dedicated to these classes. We can see children excitedly arriving right on time for their lessons. There is no whining or complaining but only a big smile on their faces. One kid even calls it the ‘jolly ma’m class’. Moving away from hackneyed idea that children don’t like to go to tuition classes this academy proves to be different.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
How did you come to know about this concept?
My knowledge about phonics dates back to when I was in school. I studied in Holy Cross Anglo Indian Higher Secondary school, Tuticorin, A convent run by sisters. I faintly but strongly remember the alphabetical sounds which the teachers used to emphasise upon during my very young age. This etched in my mind distinctively.
What inspired you to start this program?
Many small children come to me for regular tuitions asking for help in academics. I found kids who were in the second and third grade unable to read simple sentences. A special case was a child who was in the second grade. As a result of being unable to read, the child was sent to a remedial program in her school. Consequently, the child lost confidence and fell victim to frustration and got lost in the academic world. The child was totally cornered only because she was unable to read. This gave me a strong inspiration to frame a preparatory reading program.
Can you tell us about the teaching learning process?
The pattern of teaching will vary from child to child. There are three kinds of learners namely, audio, video and kinaesthetic learner. By applying the correct methodology of teaching based on the student’s nature, efficient learning is achieved. Though this is an educative course, the learning is accomplished through a set of fun activities. This keeps the child engaged throughout.
How effective has this program been?
Children usually start reading within a period of 1 month. As the course progresses, the children begin to show more interest towards reading. They even attempt to read the words on sign boards and posters. As days pass by, you can see the child developing a new way of speaking by incorporating the speech sounds into their language.
What is your long term goal?
I have always wanted to inculcate the phonics methodology into the minds of very small kids and make them read at a really young age, right from when they start to speak. I am intrigued at the sight of 2 and 3 year old kids and am tempted to teach them to read. As a teacher I find myself the most responsible for student learning as it is the duty of a teacher to identify a child and give appropriate training for the child.
What is the future of Phonics?
Many Parents who come to me have started understanding the importance of phonics in their child’s life. A knowledge of phonics is a lifelong gift which the parent gives to the child. It is a very effective way of learning. Just by integrating and correlating the sounds with the alphabets, the child will be able to read in a very short period of time. Having good reading skills will improve the child’s confidence and also helps them increase their creativity as a result of which they will be ready to face life.
What other programs do you do apart from phonics?
I have a program wherein I help children to read tamil by integrating knowledge and activities. I also have Personality development classes. I have a program which emphasises on improving Handwriting as well . In addition to that, I offer coaching for children who compete in spell bee competitions where I also teach the international phonetic symbols to them. Having majored in Zoology from St. Mary’s College, Tuticorin, I have also worked as a biology teacher in various reputed schools in Chennai.
Throughout the interview, like her happy children, Padma answered all the questions with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm. She kept reiterating the point that she is the happiest when she is with the children. On top of it all, she is also a research scholar, still pursuing her studies proving that a teacher never stops learning. Let’s wish her good luck in all her future endeavours.