The Diverse Harvest Festivals in India – a closer look

 

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The Diverse Harvest Festivals in India – a closer look

With the harvest festivals like Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Lohri and Pongal right around the corner, we are all excited to see what this harvest season has in store for us. We were taught that these harvest festivals are one of the most fun-filled but equally important festivals for the farmers across India.

Therefore, it is our duty to educate our kids about these harvest festivals and their significance in India. This will be a fun-filled opportunity for them to see how these festivals are celebrated and why they are important.

Here are some ways that people celebrate these harvest festivals across India:

Pongal O Pongal!

Pongal is one of the most celebrated festivals in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is a 4 day long festival during the season when rice, turmeric, sugar-cane and other cereals are harvested. Typically, the celebrations consists of boiling rice in an earthen pot and making a sweet dish out of it, in the process allowing the rice to boil out of the pot while the people shout ‘Pongal O Pongal’.

The word Pongal means ‘to boil’ in Tamil. The first day is celebrated as Bhogi where useless house articles are thrown in the pyre and burnt.

The second day is when the rice is boiled in a pot outside of the house accompanied by sugarcane and other sweets for consumption. [Read more…]

4 Activities Children Can Do Until School Re-opens

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Summer holidays are drawing to a close. All good things in life must come to an end and so must this. Come June and it is time to go back to school.

Hope you enjoyed every moment of your holidays. What is left of your summer holidays can be put to good use by taking a moment to reflect on the highlights of the summer holidays and also by planning for the year ahead.

Moment for reflection: Were you able to do all the activities you had planned during the vacation? What was the best moment of your holidays and what was the not so good moment? You have been probably lazing about quite a bit in the summer holidays, which is perfectly fine because you have earned it by working hard all year.

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Importance of spending quality time with your children

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Time and tide wait for no one, they say. Time flies and often makes us wonder whether an hour these days is really made up of as many minutes as it was when we were young. In those days life was a more leisurely affair, and everybody seemed to have time for everyone else.

Alas, that is no longer the case. Our lifestyles and habits have changed beyond recognition, trying to keep pace with life in the fast lane in the modern times.

Five to six days of work a week, and spending Sunday trying to recover from the bruises sustained during the week leaves us with very little time or inclination for social interaction.

We still have exactly the same number of hours made up of exactly the same number of minutes as you had when we were, well, young. But strangely, everyone is pressed for time.

However, when it is time for our children to move out, many of us wonder why we never noticed it. Empty nest syndrome is a fact of life, but dreaded by every parent. Parents are suddenly filled with remorse for not spending enough time with their children.

Why it is important to spend quality time with your children?

Bonding between child and the parents: It is absolutely necessary to provide enough time and attention to this vital aspect of parenting. The bonds that are formed during the formative years remain strong even without physical presence.
Family as support system: Children learn through observation and the importance given by parents to family life will play a major role when it is time for your children to start a family of their own. A healthy society is just an extension of healthy family life.
Reading vital signs in time: Spending quality time with your child will help you notice abrupt behavioral changes that may be early warning signs of some serious condition.
Taking stock: Spending regular time with your kids will help you take stock of your child’s activities, and may be, make a course correction at the right time.
Leaning on each other: A great way to solve a problem is to depend and lean on each other. Knowing that someone is always there for them will make your children take on life boldly and with supreme confidence.

Finally, family life is all about being there for each other, and caring for each other. Spending quality time is a term popular with child psychologists, and social anthropologists, that emphasises the importance of quality over quantity.

The trick therefore is to, not spend a lot of time but enough time that can really make a difference – to the child and to us, the parents.

As they say, it’s not the hours of work that you put in that matter, but it’s really all about the work that you put in those hours.

All work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

Without time off from work, a person becomes bored and boring is what the proverb seeks to convey. It is supplemented by a second line sometimes,

“All work and No Play Makes Jack a Mere Toy.”

 

21stfebHumans do possess the capacity to shut themselves out from everything and concentrate on a single activity such as work.

Single-minded devotion is the word often used to describe the condition where factors other than those that help in achieving one’s goal are ignored.

But human mind is designed to work at its optimum best for certain periods after which the productivity diminishes. Brain needs rest.

Okay, you say, “Isn’t this an anomaly? We’ve always been taught that hard work is essential to achieving our goals in life.”

Yes, but it is equally true that our mind also needs distraction from time to time. Recreation is a useful distraction that can provide the fuel needed to power a person’s creativity.

The pace of modern life is such that people tend to become oblivious to their surroundings.

For example, busy people do not know or care what food they are eating. They tend to finish their meal in a jiffy or take inordinately long time to complete the activity. Often the food goes untouched.

A mother can recognise the early signs. She will try and get her child, the ever-busy professional, to slow down.

When that happens, pay attention.

It means, the ever-observant mother is beginning to get concerned that you are showing classic symptoms of overwork – failing to observe social norms like acknowledging the presence of other people around you.

At this stage, you are as bored of others as they are of you.

Take a break. Go on a vacation.

Pick up a hobby like gardening or join a citizens group.

Break the monotony.

The pressure to perform is not just the preserve of working professionals alone. Our Jacks (and Jills) are also under considerable strain to outperform their peers.

It is not uncommon to see young children cooped up with books all the time because parents worry that their kids are not putting enough effort to make the cut at certain prestigious educational institutions.

However, let us remember that good grades do not necessarily ensure blossoming of creativity in your child. Balancing study/work, fun, recreation, and social interaction is more important for your child to be successful and be a well-rounded personality.

Finally, the single most significant reason for achieving a balance between work and play is that the personality of your child is being moulded during this time.

Fits, Faints and Funny Turns in Children

On several occasions in paediatric practice we come across unusual mannerisms, perceptions, and behavior in infants, children, and teenagers, causing considerable concern. Many are dramatic, uncharacteristic, or repeated and finding an explanation can be difficult. Young children take to head banging, head rolling, body rocking, bed wetting nightmares, or grinding their teeth. Adolescence brings on obsessions, compulsions, and self-injurious or self-stimulating behavior. Medical evaluation hopes to make or refute a proposed diagnosis of seizures (or fits) and to provide treatment or reassurance as necessary.

Fits have several subtle and confounding atypical manifestations and many conditions mimic a fit. This is one area wherein pediatricians wait before putting a label on the child and are used to not having all the answers. Some events cannot be classified and we wait after a full assessment is performed and follow up the child till the benign nature of the events is apparent. And then we agree on channels for parents to seek reassessment if the situation changes. During this time, the parents are asked to keep a careful record of the circumstances of their attacks and eye-witness descriptions.

One common condition causing alarm is fainting (technically called the syncope).This is caused by a sudden reduction in blood flow to the brain, or from a drop in its oxygen content (or a combination of the two). Specific immediate triggers for fainting are a minor injury, procedures like immunisation or blood tests (or even seeing blood), standing still or standing from sitting after a long time, sudden surprises/shocks, exercise, etc. Premonitory symptoms include light-headedness, feeling hot and sweaty, nausea and not uncommonly, visual disturbance. When loss of consciousness occurs, there may be associated loss of muscle tone often with a relatively gradual rather than an abrupt onset (‘swoon’) but many will have anoxic fits with stiffening and jerking of the body. This does not qualify as a seizure disorder and is usually not treated. However a tongue bite, passing of urine or stools in unawareness or a prolonged confusion after recovery is suggestive of a fit and will require more investigations.

What is important is to remember that fainting can be a symptom of abnormal heart function (disturbances in rhythm or musculature) which could cause sudden death if not treated. Therefore all children with recurrent or unexplained fainting should have a standard cardiac evaluation (especially if  there are reports of sudden deaths in young adults in the family).

Some other conditions that you may come across:

  • Sleep disorders are unusual behavioural and/or physiological events that limit sleep, interfere with certain stages of sleep or disrupt the sleep-wake transition , and may resemble fits. Narcolepsy is a condition where the affected child is likely to become drowsy or to fall asleep, often at inappropriate times and places. Daytime sleep attacks may occur with or without warning and may be irresistible.
  • Pseudo seizure is the term given to illness behaviour presenting as a fit and indicates significant psychological disturbance and is a challenge to treat. Goal-directed behaviours, expressions of anger or violence, or uncoordinated flailing movements of the extremities are likely signs of pseudo seizures and injuries rarely occur in the episodes.
  • Children who daydream are sometimes referred to the doctor because of concern that they may have childhood absence epilepsy. This is a condition in which the child has fits occurring as staring spells during which he or she is not aware or responsive. An EEG test is often needed to make a diagnosis.
  • It is not unusual for children to present with migraine headaches associated with dizziness, nausea, abnormal sensations and visual disturbance. They can be treated with medication.
  • Children can experience what is called vertigo or giddiness, which is described as a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height. This is caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the stimulating nerve and can be treated.

Fits, faints and funny turns remain memorable accounts in a physician’s drama and many episodes lead to insightful learning!

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. This blog was written byDr. Krishna Mahathi

Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.

Montessori Method of Teaching and Why Should Choose It For Your Child

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In the 1900’s when Maria Montessori began teaching children with special needs, she noticed something spectacular. Her specially curated methods of teaching were showing extraordinary results in these children with special needs. So much was the difference that her children outperformed other children educated in schools for regular children!

After this she was convinced that if regular children were allowed play independently and choose the activities that they were interested in, they fared much better.
Much has been written about the Montessori method of teaching and its benefits. But today we bring you an account by a former Montessori teacher and a new mother to a 4 year old girl, Shalaka Mahadik.
I have learnt a lot from my Montessori teaching days. I do believe that I am a better mother to my daughter than I would have been otherwise. I was able to recognize when my daughter was going through a developmental phase and needed my support. When she started crawling, her best game was to climb up on things. Whatever came in her way was like an obstacle that had to be conquered! I remember my friends telling me what a little adventurer she was, but I needed to protect her from falling as well. So here was a typical dilemma that many mothers face.
The child has not yet acquired a sense of danger and obviously needed to be protected against a potential fall without hindering her explorations. She was also learning a new skill at that time and quashing her attempts at any perilous climbs was going to hinder her development if stopped repeatedly.
We were living in a apartment where there weren’t any stairs so I made a makeshift climbing base for her with cushions on each side for a soft landing. Well my daughter went up and down through the day for an entire week!
Not surprisingly, Shalaka enrolled her daughter in a Montessori Playschool. She also emphasizes the importance of mixed peers groups in a balanced development of a child.
The mixed age group creates an environment where I have seen children become more patient, helpful and able to interact freely. Not only do they learn a lot from each other but it also allows them to have a sense of community inside the class. The world is not full of people who are the same age, so why should children be kept in a learning environment that doesn’t expose them to a varied age group?
Is there a downside to Montessori? We asked Shalaka.
Well apart from the fact that it is harder for teachers to teach a varied age group instead of one, I personally haven’t seen any downside to Montessori Method of teaching!
It is always great to know what you think! Please share your stories with us below.

True Confessions Of A Stay At Home Mother

Every stay at home mother has a few confessions that she would rather keep to herself. But bring in anonymity and there are some surprising (and funny) revelations! We spoke to some to stay at home mothers to children of varying ages and came up with some gems that will have you smiling, if not rolling with laughter.

So, here goes!

[Read more…]

How to manage a working pregnancy

How to manage a working pregnancy

Ever heard stories about women who worked till the last day of their pregnancy? Then highly likely you have heard of women who couldn’t even manage to get out of bed most days, leave alone, get ready and work through the day.

Most women, who do not suffer from sickness and nausea can and do work through their pregnancy. If you plan on working through your pregnancy, we have a list that will help you along the way! [Read more…]

Parent Teacher Meetings and How to Get the Most Out Of It


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Many of us look at Parent Teacher Meetings (PTM) as a window into our child’s academic life. There is your chance to understand your child’s strong areas and developmental areas, from the teachers. But if you want, with a little bit of planning, it could be much more rewarding for you and your child.

We put together a checklist for you that will make PTMs more fruitful for you and your child.

[Read more…]

Safeguarding your children against dangers on the playground

In our bid to get our children more outdoor play, we must also safeguard them against seemingly harmless outdoors. This article is does not intend to prevent you from sending your child outdoors to play, but to ensure that when you do so, proper safety precautions are undertaken to everybody has a good time.

[Read more…]