Computers for Kids

image 3 computersGoing to kindergarten in this new age is a lot different than it was when we were children.  Modern children are more aware of the adult world, more sophisticated and certainly more aware of technology and the internet than was imaginable even a few years ago when that youngster was a newborn.  So we have to take that into consideration when we begin to prepare a child for kindergarten because there is really no level of schooling that is untouched by computers and technology.

The first step for finding out how much your child needs to know about computers and the internet day one in kindergarten is to visit the school and talk to the teacher.  It really isn’t a matter of kids being forced to learn about cyberspace.  Schools are simply using the internet for teaching because kids are showing up already knowing all about it.  As you look around any modern kindergarten class, you will see dozens of computer kiosks so the kids can connect to the internet and use the internet for anything from research to communications to learning games to exploring the galaxies.

image 2 computers

So much is made about the dangers of the internet and those are certainly real.The next step is to find out just how much your little angel already knows about computers and the internet.  If you have a computer and you allow your child to wander around the internet already, she may know more than you imagined or wished she knew.  But by having a conversation with your child or by sitting online and exploring some basic web sites together, you can gauge her level of skill and knowledge.  It will be an unusual meeting between parent and child because its very possible that at times you will be teaching her things and other times she will be the teacher and you the student learning the most modern things that young people, even very young people like your child, already know about the online world. But there are tremendous resources that the kindergarten teacher will take advantage of to take that new class to wonderful new places using safe and carefully prepared web sites that can enhance the child’s education.

 Be sure when you begin to expose your youngster to the internet that you have also made sure the internet is a safe place for her to be.  You can create specific account on your computer just for your child that is heavily restricted. You can get some excellent tools that are often called “net nannies” which will keep your sweet innocent child from accidentally going to sites they should not see.  You can even set up a set list of web sites you will allow them to be on and restrict their browser so only those sites are authorized.

 Helping your child build internet search skills will jump start her into the modern world of school wonderfully.  But there are other computer skills that being online will help her develop to make her more efficient even in this very basic level of schooling at kindergarten.  If you can open the world of email, instant messaging and chat to your child on kid safe web sites where she will be talking to other children only, your five year old will actually develop fairly well developed typing skills being motivated by the fun of online conversation with other kids.

There are other computer tools that will of tremendous value to your child that she can begin to get exposure to in the months leading up to kindergarten.  The Microsoft office suite which is so useful to adults will be an important tool set for any student even in elementary school.  Learning to use the powerful resources of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint will give your child ways to accomplish their school assignments that are fun because they are on the computer and so much more efficient than the old pencil and notebook method.image 3 computers

By thinking like a twenty first century parent, you can start even at the kindergarten level to see your child’s school experience as one that will be heavily influenced by computer skills and the internet.  And by equipping your child to be ready to use those tools from day one at kindergarten, she is jumping into school way ahead in terms of being equipped to be a big success in her academic career.

Planning Playdates and Sleepovers

Remember the time you asked your mother for permission to spend the night at a friend’s house and she exclaimed “No, of course not! You can play during the day, what is the need to spend the night there?”

Times have changed since then and today, parents are more accepting of sleepovers.

play-Dates1-300x195What about playdates? When we were young we simply played with the neighbourhood kids in the evenings after school, coming back home sweaty and tired, ready for dinner and sleep. But today, our children have ‘playdates’, where parents schedule the play activity on a particular day and invite other children to it. In fact, playdates are fast becoming yet another avenue to showcase the creativity (and wealth!) of the parents, involving as they do organised entertainment, catering and even return gifts!

But if you are one of those parents who believe in keeping it simple, with the primary objective of a playdate being to get children to have a good time in a safe way, then read on…

Play and the socialisation process

Playdates are very important to the social development of today’s child. Urban children brought up in nuclear families lack many elements of the socialization process that characterized earlier generations who lived in joint families. Busy parents, aloof neighbours, lack of space (no more gully cricket!) and time (dance class and abacus class and handwriting class and phonics class…..) …these have taken away an important element of childhood – romping around with friends and free play. Playdates give the child an opportunity to interact with her friends outside the formal environment of school, to learn sharing, collaboration and teamwork skills in a socially acceptable manner, and simply, to enjoy her free time with her friends.

Sleepovers take this a step further, fostering a feeling of independence in children and allowing them to feel ‘grown-up’. Plus, they are a lot of fun!

Playdates can be organised for children of pretty much any age, even those as young as one. Of course, be prepared to accompany your child on her playdates for the first few years (until she is around five), after which time she can be dropped off alone at her friend’s place, with a parent to supervise. An added bonus of playdates – parents can also have fun, making new friends with other parents, and getting a chance to indulge in some adult conversation beyond the usual baby talk!

Sleepovers, on the other hand, are difficult to organise for very young children. Your child must be toilet-trained and used to sleeping alone before she is ready for a sleepover. Most importantly, she should have no strong anxieties – about the dark, night time noises, etc. – that will prompt her to wail for you in the middle of the night! Children aged 10 and above can generally be expected to make the most of sleepovers.

Playdate ‘fun’dae

What to do: So it’s your turn to organise the playdate. First, decide whether it’s going to be an indoor or outdoor one. If you plan on an outdoor one, be sure to enlist the help of other parents, and maybe maids, so you can monitor the children and the different activities. Also decide the timing and duration of the playdate upfront so parents know at what time they need to pick up their children. The duration of the playdate depends on the age of the children – for toddlers, anything more than an hour could be tiring, whereas for older kids even three hours will not satiate them!

What to feed them: With younger children, it’s better to serve some dry snacks which will not make too much of a mess. Older children can stay over for dinner, especially if it’s a Friday or Saturday. Do ensure that you check with parents about allergies and any strong dislikes/food preferences. Keep the food simple and easy to eat. It is better to serve all the children on similar looking or neutral tableware – you don’t want the children all clamouring for your child’s Cinderella mug or Winnie the Pooh plate!

Safety precautions and rules: Attention to safety is a very important aspect of organising playdates. Firstly, no matter what the age of the children is, it is essential to have adult supervision in the vicinity. This is not just to mediate between children in the event of disputes, but more importantly to ensure the safety of children. You can also set rules upfront for the session that all children need to follow – clearing up after each game and before beginning the next activity, no rough games inside the house, no shoes inside the house, no jumping on the furniture, no playing with scissors, etc. Children should be made to understand that these rules are for their own safety and any child not following these rules will not be allowed to continue playing with the others. Do ensure that you have the contact numbers of all the parents in case of an emergency.

Sleepover ‘fun’dae

Sleepovers are more complicated to organise than playdates – you are actually committing to taking responsibility for some highly excitable children whom you cannot admonish or punish! And that too at night – the time when most things seems to go wrong! This is why sleepovers are usually organised only for older children who are independent and have some amount of maturity and understanding – typically 10 years and above.

Whom to invite: This is a no-brainer – it is your child who will decide whom she wants to invite. Your role will be limited to controlling the number of people invited so as to keep the sleepover manageable. Decide before-hand whether you want to invite only one other child or whether you are brave enough to handle a whole menagerie of kids!

What to feed them: Generally, starting the sleepover after dinner time makes better sense since it cuts down on the effort involved in serving dinner and catering to differing needs and preferences. But don’t think that this means you don’t have to arrange for food – far from it! An essential part of sleepovers is the fun food (read junk food) that the kids will look forward to. Staying up most of the night will make them ravenously hungry, especially post-midnight when you, the parent, are just settling into bed. So arrange for all the fuel (popcorn, chips, chocolates, etc.) before-hand. And you will also need to plan for breakfast – keep this simple, but be ready with both Western (bread and cereal) and Indian (idly/dosa) options for varying palates.

What to do: Generally children of this age can be trusted to organise their own entertainment. But here are a few suggestions for fun things to do at a sleepover:

• Board games

• Lateral thinking games

• Singing songs and Karaoke

• Telling scary stories after midnight with lights out

• Playing Hide and Seek in the dark

• Video games

• Makeovers and playing at dressing up

• Watching good, wholesome movies – TV is a bad idea since you will not be able to control what they are watching; it is advisable for you to rent an appropriate movie to watch

Ideas for outdoor playdates

• Paddle pool / swimming pool

• Gardening

• Beach

• At a hobby centre – art and craft

• Play areas in malls / game arcades for older kids

• Parks (do keep in mind that if you go to a park with swings and slides, the children may prefer to play independently on these equipment than with one another)

• In open spaces, where you can organise team sports or games like cricket, football, etc.

Ideas for indoor playdates

If your playdate is at home, your list of probable activities can be much longer – have the children play a variety of games, tell stories, read books, sing songs, catch bubbles, draw and colour… you can also play popular indoor games like Blind Man’s Bluff (after moving the furniture to the side), Hide and Seek, Dumb Charades, Antakshari, etc. Allow some time for unstructured play as well, to encourage children to play independently and decide for themselves what they want to do– this will give free rein to their imagination. Even playing with Barbie dolls, kitchen sets and cars can be beneficial, allowing them to indulge in story-telling and role play.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

Keeping children motivated

Initial enthusiasm in after school activities tends to wane after the first excitement is over. This is but natural. The trick is to keep up the hard work even after this. How do you keep your child motivated? This is of particular importance when the child goes in for educational after school programs.

Elementary school pupils running outside

Make the career-academics connection early on

 Let your child understand how important studies are. Let him know that an excellent career is wholly dependent on wholesome learning. To develop his interest in studies, plan family activities that are connected with his studies. Emphasize the real-world connection to academics whenever possible.

Set goals:

Let your child know, through example, that hard work will be rewarded. If your child believes that achievement is a natural by-product of effort, he is more likely to put in hard work. Such children are also less likely to drop out of programs and college at a later stage.

Reward success:

When a child achieves something, it is necessary to praise his hard work. Positive reinforcements enhance confidence and increase self-esteem. Conversely, beware of criticism. It can ruin the frail ego of children and play havoc with their minds.

Now he sits down, now he runs, now he is here, now he is not !

Cope-Hyperactive-child

I’ve often heard parents talking about how difficult it is to get their child(ren) to sit down for a project or to do homework. Back then, with just a toddler on my hands, and my only experience of homework being the one I did 25 years back, I simply couldn’t understand. Now, as my son juggles with “Integrated Primary Science” and “Communicative English” in school, I’m surprised at how much he learns everyday. One day, he came back from school saying he had to take 3 objects for demonstration on the concepts of “transparent, translucent and opaque”. Another day, he needed 5 fun facts on any planet ( he chose Saturn). While I truly enjoy doing these quick 5-minute projects with him, I wonder how he will react when these projects become bigger and take longer. You see – my son ( as most kids this age ) has severe problems sitting down to doing anything which needs him to think constantly on one topic for more than 300 seconds. We have spent endless days of school holidays – zipping from one game to another – Scrabble for 5 minutes, Monopoly for 10, book cricket for 3, UNO for 2, Colouring for 5 (you get the gist) – and still feeling bored :) Then, finally, I decided to take matters into my hands and “prepare” him to learn to concentrate on any one topic for 15 minutes at a stretch. Our project was the “Atlas” ! We took a big world map which he has and I asked him to draw each continent, write down the names of the countries with their capitals along with places of interest. While I painstakingly drew each minute country in Africa, he took up “South America”. To his credit, he drew each country neatly, coloured them, labelled them and proudly added it to his “map” collection. But all this was done in exactly 7 minutes and he refused to sit down to another. There went my experiment down the drain. But, I’m a staunch follower of King Bruce and I plan to be at it till I succeed ! Do you think I will ?? Do you think my son will finally learn to sit in one place and work ?

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

The power of family meals

This blog has been contributed by Meera Srinivasan, our resident expert on health and nutrition.

asparagus-soupBeing a nutritionist I have always paid attention to what my family eats. But until recently, I was not aware that how they eat is equally important. Research has shown that eating together as a family is key to inculcating healthy eating habits in children.

Researchers at Rutgers University have looked at 68 studies that have examined relationship between family meals, eating habits and children’s health. Amazingly all studies pointed to a similar trend – families who had “meals together” during the growing years had children and teens who ate more fruits and vegetables, other nutrient rich foods and less of soft drinks. The research also indicated that they had a lower BMI (body mass index) than kids whose families did not eat together! Of course, this is not a magic bullet but with so many studies confirming this trend it will be good to pay attention to these findings.

So you may wonder about relevance in India – well the situation in urban households is no longer different, with both parents working long hours and juggling work and children’s schedules. Sitting down together for dinner in most homes is becoming increasingly rare and eating together has become a weekend activity and invariably not at home …

Along with healthier eating habits and lower instances of obesity, there are other significant benefits of family meals:

  • Dinner together serves as an anchor for the family, nurtures the sense of belonging. It is a time for everyone to share and reflect about their day
  • Conversations around meal time help increase children’s vocabulary making them better readers.
  • Children actually do better in school/academics!
  • Children become aware of current events and have better social skills. They learn to make conversations and also become good listeners!
  • Teens who eat dinners at home regularly are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs!
  • As mentioned in the January 2013 issue of ParentEdge children learn by observing and experiencing and not by being instructed. If parents have healthy eating habits children tend to have similar eating habits!

How do we make it work?

  • Meal time has to be a priority for everyone – make your family understand and once they start doing it, the benefits will ensure that there is no turning back!
  • If dinner is not possible, explore breakfast and to start, target a minimum of three meals during the week.
  • Make the meals interesting, get the family involved in menu planning and if possible even cooking. Many children these days are showing an interest in cooking and we can be thankful to the Master Chef programmes!
  • Turn off mobiles, television during meals, so children understand you are making meal times a priority.
  • Conversation starters can be as simple as “what was the best part of your day”, “what went well for you today and what did not?” – and before you realize children are talking and telling you things which may be difficult to get out from them otherwise!

At our home we have dinner together and I find this the most gratifying time of the day!

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

Keeping your kids safe online

Keeping your kids safe online

Recently, my son’s school had to deal with an episode of cyber-bullying.  A list of photos was being circulated via Instagram, asking readers to vote for the ‘school’s ugliest among the list.’  Luckily, it reached the school authorities, who took swift action, not only contacting the police and Instagram to get details about the perpetrators, but also launching into a series of school-wide initiatives to talking to students about the consequences of cyber-bullying, and setting up ways in which a student could report any such activity. The school also had a meeting with parents, where we learnt how to recognize the signs of a child being bullied, and how to encourage our children to report to authorities if either they or their friends were being bullied.

Our kids are definitely deeply into technology, as compared to our generation.  In fact, I would even say they most of their socializing is online than face-to-face!  In my son’s school, homework is given and handed back electronically, teachers assign projects via their webpage, and all announcements, right down to bad-weather days off, are announced on the school’s FaceBook page. And since we as parents are not, on the whole, as socially connected as our teenagers are, we should be alive to the dangers that lurk online, especially for our children.

So here is a list of Dos and Dont’s for parents of young children and teenagers, that I got off one of the school’s handouts:

  • Tell your children never to give out their address, telephone number, password, school name or any other personal information.
  • Make sure your children know to never agree to meet face-to-face with someone they’ve met online without discussing it with you. Only if you decide that it’s okay to meet their “cyber-friend” should they arrange to meet this person, and then the meeting should be in a familiar public place in the presence of a trusted adult.
  • Tell your children never to respond to messages that have bad words, are scary, or just seem weird.
  • Tell your children that if an ‘online’  friend asks them to keep the relationship a secret from you, they should inform you at once, or it could lead to something very dangerous.
  • Tell your children never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
  • Tell children never send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
  • Make sure that access to the Internet at your children’s school is monitored by adults.
  • Remember that all that ‘said’ on the internet is permanent.
  • Educate yourself about the sites that your children use.
  • Get your own Facebook account and become ‘friends’ with your child. Ensure that your child’s Facebook account is visible only to friends and not to the public.

Are there any tips I have missed? Do write in and let me know!

And in honour of  Safe Internet Day, let us try to keep the internet a safe place for our kids.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

Come to the Library? Tell me why.

This post has been contributed by Vibha Kamat. Vibha runs the MCubed Library (http://mcubedlibrary.com/home.php) in Mumbai, along with her partners Vaishali Shinde and Sonal Bimal.

 libraryNandita came regularly to our library. Such a delight to see someone come and hang out there. I saw her lost in a book many times. She came to the movies we screened and participated in the discussions. So one day I asked if she wanted to be a member at our library. She looked surprised and answered with a question : “What does your library offer me that fancy bookstores don’t?” As I started to blurt out “…but – “ she clarified further : “They are even air-conditioned”.

I was speechless. I muttered something, I think, about the library not trying to compete with a bookstore, apples and oranges ; it sounded ineffective, even to my own ears.But that “but” stayed with me. And as I sit down to write, it makes me think. My friends and I run a library in Bandra. Why?

I think of all the children who come to the library to flop down on our cushions and flip through whatever they have picked off the shelves. And the parents who diligently bring these kids , happy that there is, at last, a library in the vicinity. Some of these parents don’t read themselves, but are keen that their children do. Other parents, readers themselves, take the chaise-longue (comfy, blue, inviting) – and never move!

Then anyone who’s 13 and above makes a beeline for the grown-ups’ section. There’s the teenage-new age version of the Magic Faraway Tree, – remember Enid Blyton’s Moonface, Silky, the Slippery-slip, the Lands that appeared in its highest branches? …Only here, indoors, there’s a sturdy little ladder that takes you to the most fascinating of lands – through the books you have picked on your way up to the loft. Books on various subjects, that catch your fancy….look around, take your pick. (cushions, lights, fans supplied).

And what about those members who regularly come and tell us which books they are longing to read? We make haste and buy them – then call and tell the aforementioned member, who is on our doorstep even before we hang up. Okay, almost.

But I still felt I had not found an answer to her question.

A library, I wanted to start a library. And she had just asked me why.

As my mind walked through the roomy room, I knew. I knew what a library offers you that a bookstore doesn’t.

It’s like your sister’s baby : you get to play with, kiss and make much of the fat dumpling, you take her out to the park, you listen to her stories and laugh and cry with her, you are her travelling buddy in her imaginary world and at the end of the day, you hand her back to her mother. Lovely…

A library offers you books that you like, lets you take them home and when you bring them back, it takes care of them for you.

A library keeps the dust off the pages, covers your books and gets new ones for you when the old copy is worn or torn. The entire collection is yours to read – and share. When you bring back a book, all fired up with what you’ve read, you may just run into another member of the library, who could not stand it. “Whattt?? You couldn’t…” Time for discussion, passionate disagreement, happy endorsement, new suggestions, leading you down the road not taken.

Sometimes, in this busy, noisy, ever-connected life, you need a place to escape. An island of peace. Home? Not really – the fruitwalla has rung the doorbell, is telling you it is his “boni ka time”. The loo? Not anymore.Your mobile is precariously poised on the flush tank. Then? Shangri-la? – you ask, disbelieving.

It’s the library – no mobiles here, the books need quiet. Calm. And so do you.

And lastly – remember we spoke about that baby? Well, the analogy still holds : when you fall in love with the baby, sorry book, and you can’t bear to give her back to her mother, oops, to the library, – ah, that’s when you need to get one of your own.

Then you go to that bookstore Nandita was talking about.

For everything else, come to the library.

Posted in 24×7 Parent and tagged books, hobbies, reading.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

Life beyond the idiot box

life beyond the idiot box

What do your kids do in their leisure time? Settle on the couch and switch on the TV. Right? TV has become an integral part of our existence. But try switching off the TV for a day and see the huge amount of time you have on your hands. “But what would the kids do then?” Here are some options for spending a TV free day.

Be a bookworm

Undoubtedly reading is the most fruitful pastime. Unfortunately kids are not encouraged any more to do that. Fiction, poetry, current affairs, and biographies – the list is endless. Pick out books of their liking and stock them for reading. They can go to libraries or swap them with their friends. Many book shops have cozy cafes built in for avid browsers. This can turn in to a family activity where you can suggest books to each other. Discuss the mutually read books to swap ideas. Nothing enlivens a dining table more than a heated discussion on the pros and cons of a book.

By reading books the kids gets an idea of far off places and their people. The mind gets broadened as they pick up other people’s point of view and experiences. Not to say the enhancement of grammar power. You can always guide the youngsters towards broader horizons and new reading experiences.

The fine arts

If a child is lucky enough to be gifted with an artistic flair, it is time to pick it up. Often art techniques, learnt with such dedication, are discarded in the busy schedule. Pass on any skills you know to your children. Remember the fine brush strokes you had mastered; or the rhythm of the Hawaiian guitar that was so close to your heart; or perhaps the rise and fall of those notes of Carnatic music that flowed in your veins. If not, there are numerous classes to take lessons from.Painting, singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, dress designing – whatever tickles their fancy.

Puzzles and brain teasers

Studies say that brain cells tend to disintegrate if they are not used regularly. Just as a stiff exercise regimen is important for a healthy body, similarly the brain requires regular workout too. Pick up some puzzles and brain teasers and give your child’s mental facilities a deep workout. Initially it may seem tough as so start with easier problems. As their brain learns to grapple with the problems, graduate to a higher level. You can try puzzles, anagrams, Sudoku, crosswords, word problems, numerical problems, jigsaw puzzles etc. Puzzles also help in building concentration and perseverance. Competing against each other will bring a healthy spirit of battle amongst the family. You can maintain scores and declare weekly winners.

Play time

Do you remember those card playing sessions reserved for summer holidays? What fun they were! The choices are immense as there are numerous card games to choose from – court-peace, bridge, sweep, rummy, bluff, memory etc. Not only it improves the memory but the kids also learn the strategic planning techniques in a much pleasanter way. Some games help in vocabulary enhancement. Now there are many other board games to choose from. Business to get the grip of financial management, Scotland Yard for sheer planning and memory, Pictionary for expression, What’s the Good Word ,Scrabble or Countdown for word power. The list is endless.

Giving back

Hindu philosophy says that we all are indebted for all things that we receive instantaneously when we are born. We have a debt to the inventors for the inventions, our parents for bringing us up and the farmers for the grain they produce. To show gratitude, we must give back to the society from which we have received so much. We see that this important lesson is missing from the children’s curriculum. The easiest way to teach children to contribute is giving away your spare things for the more needy. There are many NGOs that collect usable clothes and shoes for victims of natural calamities etc. Make this a regular trip. One thing our society needs badly is a keep clean drive, be it the roads, the parks or the rivers. They can extend a helping hand and pay back the debt. By extending a helping hand the kids are also proving themselves to be a role model for others.

Communicate

In this fast paced world, we are fast loosing contact with our family, friends and foes equally. And messages on Facebook do not count! Try channeling the kid’s TV free time to restore these fragile bonds. Let them rediscover the musical sound of pen on paper. Encourage them to write long letters to people you care for. Invest in quality letter paper and pens of their choice.

Be a tourist

We have been living in the city for ages but the tourist hot spots are still unknown to us. There are umpteen monuments, gardens, temples and other religious places around the city where thousands of tourists hang around. Herd up the family in the car and drive down to the nearest fort. Soak up the history of the place, actually listen to the guide and pass on some facts and tales to the younger generation.

Culture vulture

In the fast paced era the other art forms are slowly losing out. What can match the aura of a theatre play, a dance performance or a music recital? It is one thing to see these things on the TV but experiencing it upfront can be real uplifting. Book tickets for one of these events and let the kids see culture come alive first hand. Take them to visit some of the art galleries and admire the nuances of brush and strokes.

Grow a green thumb

Nothing matches the pleasure of sowing plants and observing them grow. If you don’t have a patch of land, get some pots. Let the kids plant their favorite flowers and herbs and enjoy them. An exciting idea is to have a pizza garden. Kids really love it! Grow all the things required to make a fabulous pizza like tomatoes, onions and herbs. When they are ready, make a fantastic pizza out of the home grown produce.

DIY projects

Nothing is greater fun than making something along with your family. Take up a project that involves the kids and see the exciting results. It could be making a cupboard, repainting a room, crafting a quilt, setting up furniture, rigging up a computer even. Be ambitious and creative and see the great times roll.

Be one with nature

In the hustle bustle of the concrete jungle we live in, we are losing touch with the beauties of nature. Take the kids on a long drive along a tree lined road and let them breathe in the fresh air. A hike in the woods would be equally invigorating. Admire a flower garden and smell the heady fragrance. Visit a flower show and see the umpteen species blooming there.

Are these ideas new? Of course not! That is what people did for entertainment BT. What’s BT? Before Television.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

A parent’s role in enhancing kids’ self-esteem

self-esteem-childrenParents” the word itself is so emotional and expressive. For a mother, God has given us the boon to feel a child all from inside and of course, after birth, with all our emotions and sentiments……it is our primary and wholesome duty to thank God by helping these masses of energy, our children grow up and be responsible citizens of the country. I am into a profession that actually deals with expressions, well I’m a scriptwriter, and my profession has made me get acquainted with many people, from different walks of life…… A lot of talking and sharing made me realize that parents of today feel that children are more smarter to take up hard work as they have to compete, and in turn from a very tender age they start over burdening the kids with not studies….which normally they can cope up with but the various co-curricular activities.

When we were small we knew this was one field which grew out of love of it but at present the concept has been given an absolute different definition… which is hardly helping the tender growing mind. They are not getting the space to grow….Besides a script writer I at times groom the little ones in the summer camps and I have seen the potential they have in them. Freedom has always helped them give out the best.

Motivation and encouragement has always made children grow free and not by pushing them to the crucial world of competition but by making them aware and gradually love the extra which we want them to learn. We are encircled with numerous diamonds and stars, all in its own natural form the only vital responsibility of the manufacturers are to carefully work on it! Polish them such that they are no less than the precious Kohinoor and be the sun’s powerful light source; so that we see a galaxy of reflecting stars, twinkle. The more burden the more anxiety which in turn demoralize these kids resulting in a very poor self esteem. Healthy self-esteem is a child’s armor against the challenges of the world. Kids who feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic. In contrast, kids with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of major anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If given to self-critical thoughts such as “I’m no good” or “I can’t do anything right,” they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response is “I can’t.”
Here’s how you can play important role in promoting healthy self-esteem in your child.

What Is Self-Esteem?
Self-esteem can be defined as feelings of capability combined with feelings of being loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also end up with low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when the right balance is reached.

How can a parent help to foster healthy self-esteem in a child? These tips can make a big difference:

  • Watch what you say. Kids are very sensitive to parents’ words. Remember to praise your child not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your child doesn’t make the school sports team, avoid saying something like, “Well, next time you’ll work harder and make it.” Instead, try “Well, you didn’t make the team, but I’m really proud of the effort you put into it.” Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.
  • Be a positive role model. If you’re excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your child may eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem, and your child will have a great role model.
  • Identify and redirect your child’s inaccurate beliefs. It’s important for parents to identify kids’ irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they’re about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Helping kids set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept. Inaccurate perceptions of self can take root and become reality to kids. For example, a child who does very well in school but struggles with math may say, “I can’t do math. I’m a bad student.” Not only is this a false generalization, it’s also a belief that will set the child up for failure. Encourage kids to see a situation in its true light. A helpful response might be: “You are a good student. You do great in school. Math is just a subject that you need to spend more time on. We’ll work on it together.”
  • Be spontaneous and affectionate. Your love will go a long way to boost your child’s self-esteem. Give hugs and tell kids you’re proud of them. Pop a note in your child’s lunchbox that reads, “I think you’re terrific!” Give praise frequently and honestly, without overdoing it. Kids can tell whether something comes from the heart.
  • Give positive, accurate feedback. Comments like “You can do it and you have the potential!” will make kids feel like they have no control over their outbursts. A better statement is, “You were really mad at your brother. But I appreciate that you didn’t yell at him or hit him.” This acknowledges a child’s feelings, rewards the choice made, and encourages the child to make the right choice again next time.
  • Create a safe, loving home environment. Kids who don’t feel safe or are abused at home will suffer immensely from low self-esteem. A child who is exposed to parents who fight and argue repeatedly may become depressed and withdrawn. Also watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers, and other factors that may affect kids’ self-esteem. Deal with these issues sensitively but swiftly. And always remember to respect your kids.
    Help kids become involved in constructive experiences. Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older child helps a younger one learn to read can do wonders for both kids.
  • It is important that you encourage your child. Just give a try it works.

We never know the love of our parents for us till we have become parents….Whatever gesture we choose to express our thanks, the important thing is that they know how much we love them…and Parents taught their kids, or shall I say Motivate kids to Move there lives in a certain direction.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.

 

To push or not to push.

Parenting is all about pushing; it begins with labour, and after that, there’s really no getting away from it.
Initially, it’s all about the little things – push in one more spoonful of food, make the child sleep, potty-train, that sort of thing.
And of course, you tell yourself that you’re so not going to be a pushy parent; that once the child can understand reason, you will make him/her come around to your way of thinking without resorting to parental pressure and authority. All because you don’t want to be a pushy parent; all because there isn’t a word with more negative connotations than ‘pushy parent’, is there?
Ever since Amy Chua’s ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’ created a stir, we’ve debated on the concept of parents making the kids perform – be it in the arts, sports or academics. And in India, this debate, in many ways is pretty one-sided. Not because all Indian parents are pushy – far from it, but because most parents value super-achieving kids. Even if it is at the cost of childhood.
I do not exaggerate; I see all around me kids as young as 4 or 5 going from one class to another – the weekday given over to more than three activities, so that the child gets ‘exposed’ to the arts, sports and academics at a young age. But which child of 4 or 5 enjoys it? Naturally, the child baulks at the idea of no-free-time and a string of extra-curricular activities. The parent, however, has water-tight explanations.
‘No, no, at that age they’re too young to decide’; ‘only if he/she tries it for a year, they will know if they like it or not’. And so on.
But the same parents, however, find that the going gets harder as the child gets older, mostly because the child learns to resist.
Mind maths? But why?
Tennis class? Oh god, why?
Dance class? Why can’t I skip and watch TV?
Everything becomes a row; some escalate into wars; things turn ugly. Punitive measures are imposed; parental authority is exercised but often disregarded. And then the introspection starts – should we have done something differently? Are we ‘forcing’ the child to do something he/she is really averse to? But isn’t it for their own good? Won’t they be thankful we made them do this when they’re older?
There are, of course, no easy answers. What works for one parent-child, won’t work for another.
In our household, for instance, things have always been very laissez-faire; so easy going that the daughter herself begged for extra-curricular lessons. At 12. And she enjoys her lessons (ballet and debate) and thrives in them. (That actually made me wonder if I shouldn’t have started her off earlier. But nevermind.)
But I also know of kids who took to sports at a very early age; found that they were passionate about singing/ dancing only because their parents wouldn’t let them stop music/ dance lessons even when they refused to go for them as 7-year-olds. I also know of cases when the child rebelled – and rebelled quite vigorously – that the parent-child relationship was messed up because they forced the activities on the child.
And when it comes to academics, the line gets even more hazy.
Are marks everything? But then, don’t they count towards college admissions? Except, 4th standard marks never do. So why are parents cracking the whip on a 9-year-old? To get them into the habit of hard-work? Isn’t it sufficient if they put their nose to the proverbial grind-stone in the years that count?
I really don’t have the answers. And I don’t know which bunch of parents are right – the ones who decide their child should be a super-achiever/ perform to the best of their ability; or the ones who will sit back and watch the child learn by him/herself.
I wish I had the answer. Do you?

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.