Emotional Settlement and Growth are of paramount importance to Bhavya’s Programme. We have observed that wholesome growth takes place only when children are emotionally settled, and when they feel emotionally capable, and inspired to explore new challenges.
From the very start, we are careful not to rush new children into adjusting to their new environment. Children are provided adequate space to ease themselves into the new setting. We take care that no adult who is a stranger to any new child overwhelms him with unwanted attention. Hence, children of three to four years of age come to Bhavya with their mothers and are left to explore the entire environment, material and human, in the security of their mothers’ presence. A child’s connection to the outside world is his mother, and therefore, her presence is critical to ensure a smooth transition from the womb to this outside world. He needs the presence of his mother in the very first years of his existence to provide him the security and safety that he has known from the very start of his life in the womb. This need when adequately and naturally met reduces in intensity in the course of the first seven years of his life. As children become gradually more comfortable and ready to trust the other adults in the environment, they approach these adults on their own with trust and confidence. This lays the foundation for further emotional growth.
At Bhavya we have chosen the way of cooperation, not competition. Contrary to the commonly accepted belief that competition is necessary to “bring out the best,” we have found it to be quite limiting, even destructive, in its effects. We have found that competition has a demoralizing effect on all but a few of the competitors. Our work with children has shown that human beings, by nature, strive for competence in everything they do. This natural drive for competence seeks fulfillment all the time and it spurs learning at every stage. Learners set and pursue their own goals driven by their natural interests. When the results are not satisfactory to them, they identify the problem area and begin to work to correct it. They do not feel reduced or destroyed by their mistakes. They merely learn from them. No one “fails” in the conventional sense, in such a system of growing. The children in this environment learn to work together and to help one another along.
We perceive no distinction between ‘play’ and ‘work’ in childhood, and possibly, throughout life. At Bhavya, when we refer to ‘play’ we mean the kind of self-determined, self-directed exploration of material objects and relationships, which is often seen by the adult mind as “messing around” or “wasting time”. During this process, learners explore, investigate and live out their fantasies. This is a prerequisite to real understanding and, therefore, to learning. Hence, unstructured time in the day is an essential requirement at Bhavya. This is the time when children pursue their interests, and explore their environment alone or in interaction with one another. In the process of taking charge of their lives, the children become more self-confident and responsible.
Bhavya is a place, where children, no matter what their difficulties, or 'problems', or ‘moods’, are accepted - not for how well they please the adults around them, or for what they can do or achieve, but simply for being themselves.
Children in Bhavya, are given all the time they need to grow, by the adults around them, without judgment. They grow in an environment of total acceptance. They are encouraged to express their feelings freely and spontaneously whenever they feel the need to do so. The calming and catharsis this produces in the children is immense. The sense of release the children experience frees them from the need to hurt others. As they grow in this manner, they are, in time, able to reach out to others in pain, with empathy and acceptance.
A concern often expressed by adults is that children who are left to their own devices will 'fight' and get into ‘mischief’. As in any other life-situation, conflicts between children do arise during the course of their interactions at Bhavya, too. When they do, we work with them to resolve the conflicts. Adults are always available to them, to hear each one of them with empathy and help them find their own solutions to problems. Because the situation is personal, the children involved internalize the experience well and in the course of time they develop effective problem-solving skills.