Teens & Time Management

Teens & Time ManagementThe high school years (Grades 9 -12) are crucial as they, whether one likes it or not, largely determine   the choices a student has in college and beyond. As such, all parents are concerned about how to help their children during this time.

My daughter Priyanka is in Grade 11 and she has  multiple goals for the next two years- staying focused on academics, taking standardized tests, creating a portfolio for music and dance, doing some writing and also applying to shortlisted colleges. Add to this the long commute to and from school, she really does have a jam packed schedule.

My first instinct, as a mother, was to see how I could directly pitch in and help her out, but my son (he is in college)’s words cautioning me about hand-holding her too much and hence not  preparing her to manage college life by herself reverberated in my ears . So, I thought about how I could contribute without necessarily “doing things” for her and decided to put my “management background” to good use.

I  suggested  to her that she create a master plan on excel which tracked her goals across all her priority areas.  More importantly, I persuaded (sometimes goaded J) her to review this every week.

In the first month, in her excitement, she went overboard and literally made an A-Z list of things to do. I desisted from pointing this out to her (with some difficulty I must admit) but only kept prodding her to check progress. End of month 1 and Priyanka reviewed the list. She used colours- red, orange and green- for indicating tasks that were at various stages of completion and was quite crestfallen at the number of reds she had. I consoled her and said that she had bitten off more than she could chew.

For the next month (October), she has been much more careful and put down a more pragmatic plan (while still keeping the bigger picture in mind). She has also thought about when she has her term break and packed more for that period, likewise she has reduced non-academic activities during her test week.  The end of the month will give a clearer picture but I am quite sure that she has made good progress both on how to make a plan as well as delivering on the plan!

This experience made me feel really good on two counts- first, on how much learning she derived from the first month’s experience- at the risk of sounding clichéd, ultimately, experience is the biggest teacher, not lectures, however well-meaning they are! Second, I had grown up in this time as well; I had resisted my tendency to jump in, and instead tried to remain in the background, allowing her to deal with the challenges of managing multiple goals.

As a parent, letting go is not easy and I am hoping that small steps such as this will equip her better to deal with life more confidently and capably in the years to come.

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.

There’s More to Life than English!

Last night I watched the Movie ‘English-Vinglish’ and it took me back to my school days, though the memories evoked strong yet mixed feelings. I come from a traditional tamil-brahmin family where we still speak a lot of Tamil- Thankfully. I went to an International school which I loved, and owe a lot to; but one thing that I wish would change in that school and many international and mainstream schools with a colonial hangover is the attitude towards The English language (specifically to people who cannot speak the English language very well). More than school managements it is an unwritten law that only children and parents who speak ‘good English’ are cool amongst some teachers and peers! God save a child who accepts that he/she speaks only their mother tongue at home! Now I am proud to say that I speak primarily in Tamil with my 2 year-old son, because he’s going to learn English anyway. Not for a moment do I debate the importance of English as an essential tool for communication, but it’s the self-deprecating, belittling attitude of many-an-Indian that we must join hands to change.

When I watched that movie, I realized that as a child growing up in cosmopolitan Bangalore even I have been guilty of laughing at, feeling a tad embarrassed and correcting my mother and grandmother when they didn’t speak this foreign language the way it was meant to be spoken (I know many of us are guilty of judging people by the way they speak English, which we should stop immediately). In fact my grandmother doesn’t speak English at all, and she was surrounded by her children and grandchildren who would only speak in English amongst themselves many-a-times. My heart goes out to the poor lady, who silently accepted her position, and probably even felt proud that her children were so fluent at the English Language (Though she would have yearned to be able to communicate better with them). As we bring up our children, whether we as parents can communicate in English or not, it is important to keep reminding them that this is a foreign language that is important to learn, but what’s more important is to see and appreciate the goodness in people (especially those who are closest to them).

As I type, I am still wondering how, as a parent I am going to teach my son that not speaking English in a perfect manner (What is perfect? There probably is no perfect anyway) needn’t be an embarrassment or a reason to rebuke. I urge every parent to happily teach their children their mother tongues and English, Sanskrit and maybe even Chinese, so we can celebrate India’s and the World’s diversity, instead of being embarrassed by our own languages. Let us take a cue from some first-world countries like Japan and Germany, which have achieved great technological advancements even without being able to communicate in the English Language. Communication transcends language barriers if we move from head to heart. Let us join hands to Make Living Fun for everyone because THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN ENGLISH!!!

About the Author:

Jayaram Rajaram is one of the Managing Partner’s of Bril, a company that works on a Mission to Make Living Fun for its customers and consumers, through its world-class school stationery, baby and children’s products. For more information about Bril please visit www.brilindia.com

Please support our Cause ‘There’s More to Life than English’ by clicking on this link http://thndr.it/YHSnxm. Just sign up using your Twitter of Facebook login details, support and then share on your wall. Thanks a Ton!!

Learn from Your Mistakes and so will Your Child

Learn from Your Mistakes and so will Your Child Everyone makes mistakes. Granted, some mistakes are more significant than others and harder to get over, but they are a part of life. How individuals deal with those mistakes is significant to their self-esteem. Children who are taught from an early age to admit to their mistakes understand that it’s not a crime to make one, and they seem to have the ability to cope much better with them. They recognize that a mistake was made and admit the error. . Most importantly, these children also develop a strategy to change the mistake and not do the same thing again.

The process of making and learning from mistakes is an extremely valuable life skill for everyone because learning involves risking. Every time children risk, they will not always succeed. But they tried something new and most likely learned from it as a result.

Children with low self-esteem deal with making a mistake quite differently. More often than not, these children use the experience to devalue themselves. Instead of looking at the error as an opportunity to learn, these children interpret the experience as a reason to quit and never try again. They view it as a devaluing and humiliating experience.

You can help your child cope with mistakes by first making sure they understand that everyone makes mistakes, even you. Own up to your own mistakes to teach them there’s no shame in making them. Make sure they understand that it’s okay to make mistakes. This presents a great opportunity to tell your child what you’ve learned to do differently the next time. Then, offer strategies to turn mistakes into learning opportunities.

In the process, you can provide your child with an opportunity to enhance their self-esteem and accept responsibility for the mistakes they make. Help your child to realize that the mistake is the problem, and not them. Then help them develop a positive plan for the next time around, and what they’ll do differently the next time to avoid making the same mistake again.

Top 10 Tips for Hong Kong Disneyland

Source: http://www.batgung.com/disneytips

1) Do try to arrive right at the opening, and go deep into the park immediately to take a couple of the rides you’re really looking forward to. This is standard advice for amusement parks, but it really paid off for us, as a couple of the Fantasyland rides we walked right onto first thing in the morning had hour-long queues just a little later.

2) Don’t waste time taking photos with the characters that greet you at the gate as the park opens (see point 1!), unless getting such photos is one of your top priorities. If so, you’re not reading the right set of tips. Okay, okay, I aim to please: if you’re committed to posing with Mickey, have at it right away, although you’ll have lots of company. You might also consider heading straight for the ‘Fantasy Gardens’ section of ‘Fantasyland’ when you arrive, where you can pose to your heart’s content.

3) Don’t bother trying to ‘stick to a plan’ for working your way through the park. It’s so small you can change your mind anytime you want, and walk right across the place in five or ten minutes. This is actually a blessing if you’ve got small children in tow, and when you’re off to get ‘fastpasses’, which we’ll discuss next.

4) Do make use of the ‘fastpass’ system. A fastpass is a pre-booking you can make on any of five popular attractions. You put your park admission ticket into a machine, and are issued another ticket with a time range on it. During that period, you can turn up at the attraction and get right on it, ahead of the normal queue. You can only hold one fastpass at a time, and it has to have expired before you can get another one.

5) Don’t bother tying up a fastpass on the Lion King stage show, though. Although those with fastpasses were indeed cordoned off into a ‘special’ waiting area when we visited, they were admitted into the show right along with us ordinary-queue proletarians in a single stampede.

6) Do take advantage of the ‘Single riders’ option at Space Mountain if you are a couple with small kids, or if you and your companions don’t mind riding alone. Using this ‘queue’, Mrs Tall and I rode twice each and waited a total of about three minutes.

7) Do use sunscreen and wear hats if it’s sunny. Sounds obvious, but although most waiting areas were at least partially shaded, on the day we visited there were still hundreds of painfully red faces and shoulders around, proving that some of us need little reminders.

8) Do buy orange juice. There are plastic bottles of fresh orange juice on sale all over the place for HKD15. That’s not bad, given the general range of prices around the park, and it’s delicious.

9) Don’t expect to ride all the way around the park on the little train if the park’s busy. The train has two stops: at the entrance, and at the opposite side of the park in Fantasyland. We found out that when the park gets crowded, you can only go from one stop to the next one, where you then have to get off.

10) Don’t go crazy trying to get a good spot to see the fireworks. We saw people staking out positions to watch them almost an hour and a half in advance. This is surely not worth it. We waited till the last minute, and still were able to squeeze into the main plaza in front of the castle where the show is centered. We had a tree branch obscuring a bit of our view, but it was still fine.

The Whys of Whining

The Whys of Whining“Moooooooooooom!”

It’s irritating, it’s frustrating and it gets on your last nerve. Though it’s obnoxious and unacceptable, it’s actually an effective for your child to get your attention. It’s whining.

But, like other bad habits, you can nip it in the bud early with a few simple strategies to teach your child there are other appropriate, effective forms of communicating with you.

First, try limiting the situations that trigger it. Avoid extra errands when the kids are hungry. Don’t let them get involved in a frustrating game or project prior to bedtime. Pay attention when your child is talking, as sometimes whining is a reaction when a child feels you aren’t giving them your full attention. Praise them for not whining and talking in a normal and understandable voice that allows you to fully understand what they are saying to you.

When the whining begins, don’t overreact. Keep your response simple, calm and neutral. Ask your child to repeat the request in a normal tone. When giving in seems inevitable, don’t delay. If you must finish the grocery shopping so you can put dinner on the table, for instance, and your child starts whining for a snack, offer something healthy right away.

Once a limit has been set, parents should follow through. It’s imperative that both parents are on board with this limit and fully follow through when the whining rule has been violated.

If you have an older child that’s developing a whining habit, suggest they come up with a solution to their perceived boredom or other voiced problem. If you suggest possible alternatives, it might just prolong the child’s whining.

Sometimes whining can be the result of trauma and trouble in their life. A family illness or problems at school may be at the root. Additional positive attention and quality one-on-one time may be just the medicine your child needs at a time like this. Your pediatrician can also suggest alternatives to curb whining should the positive attention and disciplinary actions be ineffective.

Training the Fussy Eater

Training the Fussy EaterToddlers can be fussy eaters who refuses to try a new food at least half of the time. Approximately half of all toddlers fit this description, so it is no wonder that food issues are a source of stress for parents.

Establishing healthy eating patterns is important to avoid problems such as obesity and eating disorders later in life. Various strategies can help your child accept a wider range of foods. It may be necessary to offer a food to your child as many as 10 different times before they choose to eat it. The problem is, many parents get frustrated and give up before the fourth or fifth try.

Try to make foods fun. Colorful foods like carrot sticks, raisins, apples, grapes, cheese sticks and crackers can all be fun and healthy choices for your growing toddler. Explain to them that eating good food is important so they’ll grow big and strong, and how it will help them run faster and play longer.

Children learn behaviors from their parents. If you restrict yourself to a narrow range of foods, your child will take notice and mimic your caution. Don’t limit your child’s food variety to only those foods you prefer. It may be that your child’s tastes are different to yours, and perhaps you are simply serving them foods they don’t happen to like. Try to set a good example and try a variety of foods in front of your child. It could motivate them to do the same.

If your child seems healthy and energetic, then they are eating enough. If you are still concerned, keep an eye on how much food they actually eat over the day. Children tend to graze constantly, rather than restrict their eating to three meals per day like adults. You may be surprised how those little handfuls and snacks add up. For further reassurance, check your child’s growth and weight charts, or check with your child’s pediatrician.

Try not to worry, and remember, that unless a child is ill, they will eat. Children are very good at judging their hunger and fullness signals. Try to stay relaxed about mealtime and offer your child a wide variety of foods, and most importantly, remember to set a good example by trying a wide variety of foods yourself. You may discover you and your toddler share a new found favorite food!

Winter Vacations: Why Your Family Should Take One

Winter Vacations: Why Your Family Should Take OneEach year, a large number of families make the decision to take a winter vacation. Despite the fact that a large number of individuals do vacation during the summer months, there are even more families that do not. Which type of family are you?

There are a number of reasons why a particular family may be unable to take a family vacation. One of the most common reasons involves the cost. Unfortunately, many individuals mistakenly believe that a vacation has to be an extravagant adventure. It doesn’t matter whether you travel to the closest amusement park, camp overnight at a state park, or travel around the world, each can be considered a winter vacation.

In addition to the cost of a vacation, a large number of families are unable to take a family vacation due to their busy schedules. Winter vacations are popular because they are often the only time that a family can take a break from their daily activities. If you are able to set aside time, whether it be three days or three weeks, you are encouraged to schedule a winter vacation with your family. Doing so has an unlimited number of benefits.

Perhaps, the greatest benefit of scheduling a winter vacation with your family is the amount of time that you will be able to spend together. In this day in age, many families are rarely able to spend time together. Long work hours, homework, and busy sports schedules often prevent a family from enjoying dinner or other fun activities together. In some cases, a winter vacation is the only way that a family can spend uninterrupted time together.

The relaxation that a winter vacation will provide your family with is another benefit of scheduling one. Today, children must operate and function differently than they had to in the past. School age children are often bombarded with large amounts of homework, on a daily basis. This homework, along with active sport schedules and pressure to be the best, can be difficult for children to handle. A winter vacation may provide them with the rest and relaxation that they need and deserve.

In addition to your children receiving relaxation, it is quite possible that you and your spouse could as well. It is true that children have a lot of pressure placed on them, but so do parents. Scheduling a winter vacation with your family will give you the opportunity to forget about work related issues and home cleaning. These are some of the problems and issues that only a winter vacation could cure.

If you are interested in scheduling a winter vacation, you and your family are encouraged to pick a destination together. Selecting a winter vacation destination as a family will enable everyone to have access to fun filled activities. In addition to selecting the perfect family vacation, your children may experience a feeling of importance. This feeling of importance if often generated from having an input on a large decision, such as your next winter vacation destination.

As previously mentioned, a large number of activities can be considered a winter vacation. If you are interesting in taking a vacation this winter, you and your family should take the time to find the perfect winter vacation destination. Why would you want to continue to spend your winters around the house, especially when everyone could be enjoying themselves away from home?

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Make Quality Time with your Child Count

Make Quality Time with your Child CountIn today’s busy world, work, household chores and social activities all put a strain on your time with your child. But as you well know, it’s imperative that you spend quality time together. It helps strengthen the bond between parent and child, and lets your child know you can be trusted and counted on. Children who spend quality time with their parents often do better in school, and excel in extracurricular activities, hobbies or sports. And though it can be ‘scheduled’ to a degree, it’s something that happens when you least expect it. Therefore it’s important that you do spend as much time as possible with your child in a relaxed atmosphere and do things together that you both enjoy.

But you’re asking yourself, “Where am I going to find the time? My schedule’s crazy enough as it is!” Well, for something as important as your child, you need to start digging around in that crazy schedule and find the time. Prioritizing is the key.

Here’s some helpful suggestions on how to make the most of your time and find quality time where you least expect it.

Look at your household chore list and decide which ones can be left undone or be done imperfectly in order to make more family time. You might also want to consider leaving certain things until after your child has gone to bed to make the most of your time together.

Turn some of your everyday routines together count. Sing some favorite silly songs on the way to daycare, or make that drive to and from school a great opportunity to discuss what’s happening in your child’s life.

If you have more than one child, realize that each of them needs your individual attention. You may really have to juggle things around to make this happen, but try to be flexible and creative when spending time with each of your kids. . And no matter what, don’t skip those individual times with each child. By doing so you show them they’re lower down on the priority list than the dry cleaning or the grocery shopping.

Children thrive on stability and routines, so plan your quality times so that they can take place regularly. Maybe you can walk the dog together on weekend morning, take a shopping excursion together, have a scheduled night each week for a sit-down dinner together, or make a trip to the park.

Encouraging Play Encourages a Child’s Development

Encouraging Play Encourages a Child’s Development

We’ve all heard the term, “Oh, that’s child’s play.” It implies something is easy, frivolous and unimportant in the overall scheme of things. But to a child, child’s play is essential to their mental, social, emotional, and physical development.

We all know that children like to play. But what we may not know is the importance of play in a child’s life. Play is essential to every area of a child’s growth and development.

Play provides a means for energy to be put to use. It strengthens and refines small and large motor skills, and it builds stamina and strength. Sensory learning develops mostly through play.

Play is significant to physical development in that without it the body could not grow and develop normally.

Children possess a natural curiosity. They, explore, learn and make sense out of their environment by playing. Parents and educators alike can support this learning activity by ensuring age-appropriate toys, materials and environments are available to the child.
Play enables children to know things about the world and to discover information essential to learning. Through play children learn basic concepts such as colors, counting, how to build things, and how to solve problems. Thinking and reasoning skills are at work every time a child engages in some type of play.

Children learn to relate to one another, negotiate roles, share, and obey rules through play. They also learn how to belong to a group and how to be part of a team. A child obtains and retains friends through play.

Play fulfills many needs including a sense of accomplishment, successfully giving and receiving attention, and the need for self-esteem. It helps them develop a strong sense of self, and is emotionally satisfying to them. They learn about fairness, and through pretending learn appropriate ways of expressing emotion such as anger, fear, frustration, stress and discover ways of dealing with these feelings.

So encourage your child’s play. Color pictures, make finger paintings, build buildings and imaginary cities with blocks, and built a tent in the middle of the living room and go camping! And as we all know, childhood is fleeting, so let them enjoy being a kid while they are one!

Photo credits: FreeDigitalPhotos

Bril® Designer Geometry Boxes

Bril Designer Geometry Boxes

Bril® has launched India’s first designer geometry boxes- Geomate Smart+ and Geomate DX. Boys and Girls can now feel proud of owning these pieces of art inspired by geometrical shapes and the kaleidoscope effect that brings out geometrical shapes in vibrant hues and colours!

At Bril® we realized that most geometry boxes in India either looked drab and boring or bright but boring. We saw the same old reds, yellows, blues and greens with the typical images of the protractor, compass and ruler again and again. We were sure that students would be bored of this, and as always, Bril being the trend setter, set out to Make Learning Fun™ and thereby Make Living Fun™ for young school going boys and girls. The result- Bril’s Designer Geometry Boxes range!

Without doubt we have used the highest quality of plastic, metal and other parts in these designer geometry boxes. All this so, students can enjoy the highest levels of accuracy for stress-free peak performance in class!

Now students can show off their colourful designer Bril® Geometry Boxes on their school desks.

Bril Designer Geometry Boxes

For more information, visit www.brilindia.com