Raising Good Citizens

Blog - 28th Nov

Aristotle’s statement ‘Man is a political animal’ stands true because of man’s power of speech & reasoning which animals lack. And this power of speech helps us not only to distinguish good from evil but also practice it. And this distinction is the root or genesis of politics. So, when you are teaching your child the difference between good and bad deeds, you are welcoming them into the political world.

Civic responsibility is taught in school in the form of the civics subject or in case of higher studies, political science. Understanding terminologies like democracy, socialism, and other politically related ‘isms’ is one part of the story and actually practicing them is another. Home can be a starting point for raising awareness about society, responsibilities as a citizen of India and the importance of governance. But this awareness should extend beyond the homes. Cleaning one’s room should extend to not littering outside one’s home; sharing or helping siblings or elders at home should extend to helping people on the road or innocent strangers new to town; and caring for human beings should also extend to caring for animals, plants and other living creatures.

Such acts of caring and sharing may seem very redundant but these are hugely political acts. Each decision we make from buying a product to supporting a cause is politically motivated. Our economic backgrounds and social status influence many such decisions and make us who we are. And parents need to realize the role personal politics plays in the larger political context.

In school children are taught, the meaning of government, fundamental rights & duties, constitution, the functions of parliament and its members; all these are facts and serve as nothing more than just information. This information develops into a political attitude when we start to look at them outside the textbooks. Developing a political attitude is very important to make your child understand citizenship. Being apolitical is not wrong, it just doesn’t help much in today’s world that is governed by greedy political decisions and the hunger for power; so much that human beings forget what it is to be civil or rather just human.

Good citizenship today is being coloured as a patriotism which has no place for personal freedom or diverse opinions. Right from clothes people wear, the food they eat to the films they make or watch-everything is judged with an unreasonable bias many times leading to violence. Civic responsibility must exude love & respect for people and the society and not breed a mythical idea of violent patriotism. Raising your children to be good humans, is not separate from raising good citizens.

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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Kids’ Kitchen Korner: Learning from the Kitchen

 

A kitchen is a storehouse of our happiness. Not only does it contain the delights that satiate our sense of taste but also does well to bond us to our family through numerous memories of dining delights. Today we will use this happy storehouse as a creative place for our little monsters.

Sometimes all we must do is stretch our minds beyond the visible. Kitchen utensils sure can be used to teach how to cook and about cookware but can also be helpful in other ways. Below I am listing activities that will suit different age groups ranging from toddlers to 10!

MUSIC and EXPLORATION –  (1 year to 4 years)

A year in kids will begin exploring one of their favorite environments – the kitchen. Ever wondered why kids love the kitchen cabinets so much? The strongest reason is that they connect YOU – The Mother/Father to the Kitchen. They observe you cooking, spending time there, and nurturing them with the food you cook in the kitchen. Plus, if they want to be around you, they will follow you into the kitchen!

The other reasons are: Variety of utensils – different sizes, shapes, different sounds when explored + the fact that utensils are ‘hidden’ behind the cabinet doors, gives a thrilling effect to the curious minds. This makes for great sensory exploration!

You may set up two days in a week to allow kid/s to explore kitchen utensils. Either you can have them come in and explore in their own manner or you can put out a set of utensils and give it to them to play with. Each week you can pick a different set of utensils. Great music can be made with different vessels. Explore with plastic measuring spoons, steel spoons, glasses, containers, serving spoons, cabinet doors, etc. In fact, you can also teach them about loud vs. soft sounds and difference in sounds created by contact of different materials.


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 HIDE-AND-SEEK UTENSILS (2 years to 5 years)

I must admit that I owe a lot of my creative ideas to my daughter. I learnt to be very creative with games and art since her birth. Until date I haven’t felt the need to look up a Pin-interest or to google games or art for kids. One such game which popped up is ‘Hide-and-Seek’ Utensils. Choose one cabinet to work with. Pick one utensil from that cabinet, show it to your toddler or pre-schooler. Tell the child to close eyes and count to 10. Hide it in the same cabinet at a different place, ask the toddler to find it.

Alternative: hide the utensil somewhere around the area where you are seated. Make sure it is easy for your toddler to find.

 MATCHING GAME  (2 years to 3 years)

Bring out a bunch of your kitchen utensils and identical / matching plastic utensils, maybe from your child’s toy kitchen. Keep her and your utensils at a good distance of 3-6 feet. Pick one of your utensil and raise it in the air. Ask your child to find the same kind from her section as soon as possible. This game can be more fun if the child gets a chance to run around. To do so, you could place your child’s utensils in another room.

 SETTING THE DINING TABLE – (3 years to 8 years)

Kids enjoy setting the table from an early age. Once they are engaged and understand that it is a way to participate in family chores and bond more closely, they want to do it more. Give them a chance every weekend to set the table under your supervision. If you are concerned about glassware, you may inform them that you will need to hold alongside or you may let them arrange one mat with plastic ware.

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COOKING – (3 years to 10 years)

Involve children in cooking, small or big. It could be lemonade, chocolate shake, pasta, rice, or pancakes. Cooking teaches children several things:

  1. They have the power to create something that nurtures family members
  2. Promotes independence, creativity, and self-confidence
  3. Helps bond with either or both parents
  4. Develops skills in relevant areas
  5. Provides opportunity for self-exploration and fun

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Children can also be mere helpers. My daughter would peel onions and garlic for me from age 2 years 7 months. Even if she did just 3 pods, she learnt a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly! Kids can also pretend to cook in their utensils within your kitchen area while you cook. This makes a good role model for their learning.

ART – (4 years – 8 years)

Use utensils to teach tracing. Place any utensil like bowl, spoon on a plain paper and have your child trace it. Tracing is a great skill in art and promotes co-ordination of fine and gross motor movements with the eye and brain. For older kids, you can have them do ‘object drawing’ – place an object in front of them and have them copy it on paper. You can also get craftsy e.g. tape a plastic spoon on paper and allow child to decorate it with pompoms, glitter, fuzzy sticks, stickers, etc.

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Teaching them that kitchenware can be used in ways more than one helps them broaden their minds and promotes problem-solving. I offer kitchen utensils to children to use with play-doh. Rolling pins for rolling, fork for designs, spoons and bowls for impressions, etc.

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MATH with UTENSILS

Who said we need paper and pencil for math? Use the below ingredients indoors in large containers or outdoors on the grass, for fun play + math with measurements + motor skills: measuring spoons, container filled with rice, another container filled with beans or legumes, water is optional.

Ask questions like – how many scoops of this measuring cup will fill this glass with rice? Kids must conduct the activity and give the answer. Kids can learn to measure within scoop sizes e.g. how many of ½ tsp scoops we need to fill one Tbsp.

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Although I focused this article on kitchen utensils, there are numerous other things in our kitchens that can be used as play and learning items for our children. Foils for making ball, throwing, foils for art, strainers as bats or for ball toss, plastic glasses to balance, etc. Challenge your mind to pick an item every week and use it to teach your child.

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 by Rima Desai.

Rima’s has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Mumbai, and is a certified Childcare Professional and Life Coach from USA. She has written numerous articles for parents and women in Tanzania, India, and in USA. Her work includes writing for airline magazines and editing internationally published books. She has extensive experience in training teachers and parents and working with children aged 2-7 years. Her parenting page can be accessed at Parenting Booth , and her personal blog here.

The Importance of Self Directed Play in Toddlers

Consider the following things and how important they are in your life.

  • Successfully finishing a meeting and coming closer to winning the contract.
  • Having close buddies that you can trust with your life
  • Getting the best deal out of your interior decorator/land contractor or other similar expensive deals
  • Having a great relationship with your parents and siblings

The above pointers are largely broad generalizations, but I’m sure you understand the gist of it.

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Why you shouldn’t say “Good Job” and other similar things to your child

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Your child manages to complete a particularly difficult task and you applaud her with “Good Job”!

Your toddler shares her snack with her friends and you want to positively reinforce this good behavior so you toss out a “Good Job”!

 

We read plenty of books that warn us against using punishments and spankings to model behavior so we instantly rely on a “Good Job” for positively reinforcing any example of good behavior or accomplishing a worthy task. Seems easy enough, right?

[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…]

Be Monsoon Ready With These Fantastic Games For Kids

14-6-15My 3 year old daughter watches the rains lashing down on the verandah, singing softly to herself “Rain rain go away,come again another day, little Sofia wants to play”. I realized that she was sad that she couldn’t go out and play at her usual time. But at least I knew how to arrange indoor and outdoor games so she would learn to enjoy monsoons just like we did in our times! So here’s a little something from a mumma’s list of games for a rainy day. 

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Choosing age appropriate toys for kids of all ages

Choosing age appropriate toys for kids of all ages

Before you set out to find the perfect toy for your child, you must understand that the best toy for the child is sitting right at home. That’s you! Yes, you are your child’s most interesting and nurturing toy in the whole wide world. But there are times when you can’t be with him/her full time. That’s when the other toys come in. But these should be reserved for play only when you can’t be around to play with your child.

Toys and games for newborn and babies:

You are your child’s best toy and playmate at this stage. She enjoys watching your face, movements, expressions and enjoys feeling your loving touch. Since babies at this age aren’t mobile yet, their eyes and ears are their window to the world. So make sure you talk to your baby as you move around the room. Get closer to the baby as often as possible as newborns can’t focus beyond 30 cms in the first few days of their life.

Babies at this age also love contrasting colors. So, getting colourful soft toys are a very good idea. They also love listening to sounds around them. Introduce them to music through musical mobile tunes or a baby rattle.

Once the baby learns how to reach for toys, you could get some interesting Knicks and knacks from around the house itself. Colorful paper and cloth books are a great option too!

Toys and games for preschoolers and toddlers:

Children at this age have started walking so pull-along toys are a great investment. To nurture the love of books, introduce soft cloth books with lots of images. Your child is also learning cause and effect so a wonderful game to play is peek-a-boo. Other options include a jack-in-the-box.

Provide plenty of outdoor play opportunities like a visit to the sandpit.

Your toddler will love playing with colors at this stage. Although they can’t hold a crayon yet, you could get toxin free finger paint and set them up on a play mat lined with newspapers. Sit back and watch as your toddler feels the gooey paint through her fingers and makes pretty art work on the paper.

Safe fun with water at this stage is an instant hit. If the weather is warm you could set up a paddle pool. In cold climes, stick to bath times for fun with water. Get lots of colourful squeezy toys and throw them in the bath tub with your child.

*Note: Never leave a child unattended near any water body, no matter how shallow.

Toys and games for school-age children:

Your child is completely capable of telling you which toys he/she finds interesting. You can use that as a guide while choosing toys.

Most children at this stage are keen on the latest technology toys. In today’s day and age it is not possible to completely exclude these types of games. Choose them wisely and weed out anything with violence in it. Limit screen time from early on.

Also popular at this age are construction sets, board games and art and craft toys. For outdoor play, you must invest in a safe bicycle. Other options include roller skates, skipping ropes and cricket.

Spending time playing with your children still rules the roost, even at this stage. So make sure that toys are not a substitute for quality time they could have spent with you.