Bala Vihar is a weekly gathering of children (Preschool to Grade 12) under the supervision of trained teachers. The aim of Bala Vihar is to help children bloom, grow, and inculcate values through fun-filled activities. Bala Vihar enhances the overall development of the personality of a child at all levels – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.
Children are a major focus at Richmond Chapter. The goal of Bala Vihar is to “wake up the sleeping giant” in our children and inspire them to reach their maximum potential by imparting a value-based education through a specially designed age appropriate curriculum.
The Bala Vihar program offers weekly spiritual classes for children in their formative school years (Pre K to 12). The classes are organized by age groups, start and end with Sanskrit prayers, and include chanting, bhajans, stories of devotion and morals, interactive discussions, and creative games.
The sessions are of approximately 90 minutes duration including the common assembly time, and are based on specially designed curriculum.
The idea is to provide an environment where the personality of the child blossoms in a spontaneous way. Good conduct, emotional refinement, intellectual finesse, social responsibility and spiritual awareness are developed by the teachers through story-telling from the Puranas and other scriptures, singing of bhajans, chanting of stotrams, games, arts and crafts, plays and other fun-filled activities. The children are encouraged to be responsible, alert and sensitive members of society.
Swami Chinmayananda believed that just as the strength of a wall depended on the quality of each brick, so too, the health of a society depended on the individuals. If the individuals are healthy, the society is healthy. His strategy for building a new society was to “Catch ’em young,” and that is what we are trying to accomplish at Richmond Chapter.
The annual session runs from August to May, parallel to the regular school calendar.
The senior Balavihar classes provide a forum for youth where they are provided an opportunity to discuss, debate and understand the logic of our religion and its tenets and to become aware of their potential. After having gained this awareness, their potential is directed into creative channels. The high school students are encouraged to volunteer in community and social service activities. Additionally, different career choices are discussed along with what it takes to be a professional in those disciplines. The aim of these classes is to prepare today’s youth to be responsible and successful adults of tomorrow.
From the youngest Satyam class to the Chinmayam class for high school youngsters, all Bala Vihar children participate in a variety of activities. The grade in which the child is enrolled in his/her school, is the basis for placement in the appropriate Bala Vihar class.
COORDINATOR: MINA BHATT
Pre-K, KG and Grade 1
Bala Ramayana: Through a specially written version of the Ramayana, children learn to appreciate courage, enthusiasm and wisdom.
Grades 2, 3 & 4
Bala Bhagavatam: Stories from Bhagavatam are taught to children to reinforce Hindu values and philosophy. Children also learn about the nine types of Bhakti (devotion) and the significance behind the various shapes and forms of Hindu gods and rituals.
Grades 9 thru 12
Self-Unfoldment by Swami Chinmayananda: This introductory text on the fundamentals of Vedanta is written by Gurudev to be clear and logical so as to be appealing to the modern, scientific-minded generation. It is an excellent book for teenagers as well as adults. It inspires the sincere student to pursue deeper study of other Vedantic scriptural texts and understanding of the subtle truths within.
|Satyam||Sunday||10:30 am – 11:30 am|
|Shivam||Sunday||10:30 am – 11:30 am|
|Sundaram||Sunday||11:30 am – 12:30 pm|
|Chinmayam||Sunday||Meet once in a month|
Important Notes For Parents!
With the grace of Bhagavan and Sri Gurudev, Bala Vihar instills in children an appreciation of the play of the Divine in our lives. Trained volunteer parent-teachers provide children a Vedanta-based education that emphasizes spirituality and values so that they grow up prepared to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Children also learn about the rich cultural heritage of India through the medium of stories, drama, arts and crafts, and discussion.
Both parents (if not, at least one parent) must attend the Vedanta Class while the Bala Vihar classes for children are in session. An attendance will be taken during the Vedanta class. Parents who do not comply with this requirements will be required to meet with Acharyas once notified.
To facilitate effective learning, parents are NOT permitted in class unless pre-arranged with the Teacher and the Bala Vihar Coordinator/Director.
The Bala Vihar Coordinator/Director may routinely attend Bala Vihar classes to evaluate the curriculum and for teacher training.
Once or twice a year Bala Vihar teachers will hold a parent/teacher conference. The teachers will update parents on class progress and the topics covered. The purpose of the parent/teacher conference is to facilitate ongoing parental involvement with the child’s learning.
Please bring your children to Bala Vihar classes regularly and on time. To maximize learning and to respect the significant effort teachers put in to prepare for class, please ensure that children attend class regularly and that absences are few and far between, and only due to unavoidable reasons such as illness or other emergencies.
Please notify the teacher(s) before class if your child is going to be absent. In the event of sudden illness or emergency, please notify the teacher(s) as soon as possible. The telephone numbers and email addresses of teachers provided may be used for this purpose.
All children should be well rested and have a nourishing meal before attending Bala Vihar. This fosters better learning.
Please ensure that children come to class prepared with their Bala Vihar notebook, My Prayers book, and other books in their syllabus, pencil, and crayons (for younger children) or colored pens.
During Mission programs other than Bala Vihar (monthly Bhajan nights, etc.), parents are responsible for their children’s behavior. Please teach children to respect the sanctity of the facility by maintaining silence during these programs, not running in the building, dropping trash in trash cans, putting books and games away, etc.
At home, please help children practice and memorize assembly prayers they are learning in class.
Feel free to discuss your child’s progress or needs, or any concerns or questions you may have, with the Bala Vihar teacher(s) or Coordinator. We encourage and value parental involvement and input.
Each classroom needs at least two parent volunteers to help organize occasional field trips, socials, and other special activities. Please contact the classroom teacher if you would like to volunteer.
The dress code for Bala Vihar is provided on the preceding page. Parents are encouraged to follow the dress code and set an example for children. In winter, children are urged to wear sweaters and socks to class.
Chinmaya Mission will use e-mail to convey information about schedule changes, other programs, or snow dates. Please inform us if your e-mail address changes.
We expect all children to follow these rules of conduct!
The Bala Vihar classes start promptly at the scheduled time. Children are requested to be punctual; they should be seated and ready for Hanuman Chalisa followed by Arati at least ten minutes before the start time.
Respect for self is respect for others. Children should be attentive and respectful in class, and raise their hands and wait their turn before speaking.
Children are expected to exhibit good manners and maintain discipline at all times. Running in the building, or disturbing any of the books or materials in the classroom is not permitted.
Children should come to class prepared, and with their Bala Vihar notebook, textbooks, pencil and box of crayons or colored pens (for younger children).
Chewing gum, drinks, or food should not be consumed in in the classrooms.
Dress code for Bala Vihar Children:
Boys – Kurta Pajama or full pants with kurta. No hats, jeans, or shorts.
Girls – Salwar Kameez or long skirt with blouse. Wear a bindi.
Children or Youth who are attending some other activity after Bala Vihar may bring a change of clothes with them.
Use of smart devices (mobile phones, tablets etc.) is not permitted during any classes. If the child(ren) are found using any of those devices, the teacher will take the smart device from the child(ren) and parents will have to collect it from the teacher.