Friday, 18 September 2015

Religious Celebrations and All Round Skills

Let us use Religion and celebrations to multiply all round skills of children.
Every community and religion have their own festivals and celebrations. Each festival has its own distinct flavour and customs. India being such a vast and varied country we are infact lucky that we get to celebrate not only one or two but many festivals and of course we also get the holidays for each festival!

Now more than ever the dividing lines between people have been reduced, maybe thanks to technology or the mixed community living in cities and towns, whatever the reason, more and more people are now participating in each others festivals. This is good for our children. It will  also be good if we use festivals as a way of talking to children about our culture, our dress, our food and our customs and not only use festivals for promoting blind practises and customs.
The celebration of festivals help children in a variety of ways, let’s understand how-
  1. Intellectual development- each festival can be linked to the state that it originates from and children can learn the name of the festival, the state, the month, and the customs and this will help them cultivate memory skills, knowledge skills and learn the essential skills of connecting known to unknown. Teacher or parent can even play a game of linking the festival to its food or festival to its month or festival to the community that celebrates it.
  2. Creative skills- each festival has some unique decoration that signifies its celebration. Children can be taught to do that decoration and this will help cultivate their creative skills and learning of design, colour, shape etc
  3. Physical skills- most of the festivals have some dance form or special way of greeting associated with it. Children can be taught these and this would help their growing physical skills.
  4. Emotional skills- festivals are about happiness and joy and the more opportunities that children get of celebrating festivals, the more will be the opportunities to be happy. And let’s not forget that positive emotions enhance memory, so happy emotions will be beneficial in the long run for their overall brain development!
  5. Social skills- festivals are the right occasions for children to learn social skills like greeting, prayer, manners, eating, dressing, visiting others, welcoming others etc. Hence festivals must be used to enhance the growing social skills in children, after all children learn by imitation.
  6. Language skills- how to speak, what to speak and when to speak are all skills that children need to learn at this age and what better time than festivals to learn it from adults. Also the more children enjoy something the more they will want to talk about it, draw about it and share about it. Hence festivals are a time of enjoyment and it will impact their language development, as they will have lots of things to describe and help expand their vocabulary skills.
  7. Mathematical skills- festivals are about shapes, colour, quantity, size etc, the right time to help children develop their growing awareness of the world of numbers. Count the diyas, make a big Id card, colour the Santas, etc etc.

So let’s begin the festivities and enjoy the season of festivals with our kids!
Teachers day
The parent is the child’s first Teacher and the school is the child’s second Home and the one person who is the bridge between the First Teacher and the Second Home is the Teacher in school.

It is important that every parent has a good relationship with his/her child’s teacher, each and every one of them. Tough task indeed. As in the child’s school life a child will have atleast 13 teachers from nursery to standard tenth and then ofcourse the subject teachers!
But having a healthy relationship with each and every teacher of your child is not only essential but important. Afterall the parent and the teacher are the two most important pillars in a child’s life and if both are not in agreement with each other then definitely somewhere it will impact the child’s future.
How can parents ensure a healthy relationship with their child’s teachers? Well, since teachers day is 5th september,  just follow the 5 simple yet effective steps given below-
1.   Have a professional not personal relationship with your child’s teacher- Inviting your child’s teacher to family functions or sharing your family politics with your child’s teacher is not good as it does not help maintain the professionalism of the relationship. Don’t get involved in the teacher’s personal problems also, like trying to find her a good match etc. The teacher is your child’s guru respect that relationship. This will help you ensure that things will never go out of hand or turn sour as it can in anything relationship that has personal overtures.
2.   Share about your child with every new teacher of your child- Yes, learn from Abraham Lincoln, and write to every teacher of your child, about what you feel are your child’s talents and what are your expectations from your child. This will give each teacher an insight into your child’s background and personality and with that will come a quiet understanding about his behaviour and ways to deal with it. Think about it, a teacher spends atleast 3 months every year just understanding the new children in her class and then there is no guarantee that she gets the right viewpoint, instead if she gets a letter from every parent it would automatically help create a bond between the teacher and the parent, for the benefit of the child.
3.   Don’t try to buy success for your child with the gifts you give to his teacher- Sad but true, many parents feel that by giving expensive gifts to their child’s teacher it  will ensure that the teacher will take good care of their child. This is not good for both the profession of teaching and the future of your child.
4.   Attend open houses- Make it a point to find time to attend the parent teacher meetings etc organised by your child’s school as the teacher has definitely worked hard and put in a lot of effort to meet you and when you do not show up, it is not only disappointing for the teacher but sadly it gives her a message that you do not care for your child. also it gives you an opportunity to meet one on one with the teacher.
5.   Never talk negative about any teacher to your child- Instilling respect in your child about his school and teacher is not only essential but necessary and when you  criticise a teacher to your child or talk about her in a derogatory manner then you are somewhere damaging your child’s rapport with his ‘guru’.

Teachers are building tomorrow’s world citizens, they are doing a truly humble and important job, let’s create better working environments for them, the foundation of which can start with a little more respect and reverence for all teachers this Teachers Day.

Here’s wishing all the teachers a wonderful Teachers Day.

Every one has a ‘hero’; someone that one looks up to to. This ‘hero’ changes with age. So when we are small, most of us look up to our dads as our hero, then our mom becomes our hero, then a teacher, then a film star, a sports star, a politician etc.

It is important to have a ‘hero’ in our life as that ‘hero’ is our role model, someone that we look up to, emulate, imitate and try to live up to.

Children especially need ‘heroes’. And your child’s personality, his/her likes and dislikes and his/her behaviour will all be shaped and influenced by who this ‘hero’ is.

Young children these days usually look at cartoon characters as their heroes, like the Ninja Turtles, or the Power Puff Girls or the latest ‘hero’ that every mother hates, Shin Chen from television. Sometimes this choice of ‘heroes’ teaches the child good things like the good work that Superman, Spiderman etc do. But some of them end up teaching the child violence, bad language, bad behaviour, rude attitudes etc, like the WWF characters. And now with the latest boxing show on one of our television channels there is serious danger that children will select these sportspersons as their ‘heroes’; and fights in school etc will be on the rise.

How can parents influence the choice of ‘heroes’ in their child’s life? Very simple, follow the five fun steps given below and you will be able to give your child good heroes to look up to for life:
  1. Talk (brag!) about your heroes: Parents must share with children who their hero is and share about their attributes. Talk about how you like the bravery of Shivaji and Rani of Jhansi, the commitment to truth of Mahatma Gandhi, the intelligence of Birbal and Chanakya, and the patriotism of Lokmanya Tilak. This will make your children aware of such ‘heroes’ and will draw their attention into looking for the same attributes in their ‘heroes’. And what about our defence personnel? They are the best ‘heroes’. They are brave, fearless, and dashing too! Let’s draw our children’s attention to all these unusual heroes that they can emulate, respect, imitate and imbibe from.
  2. Have a hero of the month: Ask your child to have a hero of the month and you should also have one of yours and then each one to try and talk, collect pictures, facts about their hero.
  3. I have the power of 3: Give your child a challenge to select 3 ‘heroes’ every week for himself/herself. These heroes should be within the specifications given to the child by you, so you can say select 3 heroes of which one should be a female, one should be from the past and one should be a good cartoon, etc.
  4. Muttering for change!: Sounds ridiculous, right? But it works. when your child is crazy about a negative ‘hero’ and you want him to change, instead of constantly nagging him to change (which will have the complete opposite effect) mutter every time you find your child looking at or doing activities connected to that hero. Mutter as if you are talking to yourself, but loud enough for the child to hear. Try it, it works!
  5. Discuss-Debate And Decide: Discuss with your child why you do not like his/her ‘hero’. Debate and let your child put his/her points across. Teach your child to weigh pros and cons and then take a decision jointly about that ‘hero’.
So be consciously aware of who your child’s role model or ‘hero’ is at every stage of his/her life. Remember the ‘hero’ will influence every aspect of the child, so if you want to change your child’s behaviour then change his/her ‘hero’.
(Hero as a word has been used in the above article to mean someone great, powerful and impressive. It shouldn’t be taken to mean that we only want male role models. Hero is the above sense can be both male and female.)

 every child should have a life full of colour, lots of colours, each colour of the rainbow, so that the child gets an enriched experience of happiness, joy, celebrations, health and festivities.

as the year draws to its end, there will be many colourful occasions to share togetherness and love with our children. search for these occasions, gift children every colour in all its hues, don’t let a child’s life remain black, white or grey.

7 ways of gifting some colours and colourful experiences to  children-
  1. the sparkling blue of a fresh new sky early in the morning with fluffy ‘detergent washed’ white clouds – see the joy on your child’s face.
  2. the vibrant colours of the red, yellow, orange and blue of a sky with the setting sun, so many colours to find and enjoy.
  3. the pink of health, so gift him a healthy diet, clean drinking water and safe hygiene habits.
  4. the green of freshly watered grass and leaves, take your child to a garden with a set of crayons (the one that has 200 and more shades) and then ask your child to match each shade of green crayon to the shades in the garden
  5. the rainbow of colours at a florist shop, the purples, the magenta, the whites and reds.
  6. the healthy orange and green of a soothingly refreshing orange juice and palak soup.
  7. the red flush on a child’s cheek after he has been tickled vigorously or when he comes home after running , skipping and playing with his friends.

seven  colours that we should never  give children-
  1. ‘colourful’ words!
  2. the red on a child’s cheeks after he has been scolded or slapped, never . ever, have this colour on a child’s body.
  3. the red marks on his worksheet or book.
  4. the brown frown on a child’s face when you ignore him/her.
  5. the grey of boredom when doing boring drill work.
  6. the black mood that stems from jealousy, sibling rivalry, unfulfilled expectations and being rejected and ridiculed by adults.
  7. the white lack lustre mood  of a child addicted to video games and television.

colours are not only in clothes and furniture, they are in our lives in every aspect of it and the more natural colours that we will bring in our child’s life the more vibrant and colourful will we make his/her future. so begin colouring your child’s life today.

 ‘Maths is a bore’, ‘maths is difficult’, ‘maths is confusing’, are common phrases that we hear many children use often in school. Some children enjoy maths but most detest it!
Maths and the understanding of numbers is termed by many as confusing, difficult and complex and yet the world of numbers is the most simplest and easiest. What causes maths to become a monster? Simple, lack of a good grounding in mumber activities and understanding of basic concepts like addition, substraction and multiplication, when these basics are not strong then all future maths learning is affected.
The early years in the child’s life should be about marvelling about the world of numbers, the child should be made aware of numbers around him, how he does counting, addition and substraction in his everyday life, when he becomes conscious about these everyday maths activities maths will become less of a monster.
So then which are the basic foundations that are required for children to be ‘master in maths’? They are-
  1. Classification – the process of grouping or sorting objects into classes or categories according to a systematic characteristic, criteria or principle.
  2. Patterning – the process of creating repetitions of symbols or objects.
  3. One-to-one correspondence – the process of pairing or matching items or objects, for example, one napkin for each person.
  4. Ordering and sequencing – the process of ordering relationships, for example, smallest to largest or lightest to heaviest or least to most.
  5. Numeration – the ability to recognize numerals and place a correct numeral with a given number of objects.  Three is a number, 3 is a numeral.
  6. Measurement – the comparison of items by a standard unit.
  7. Addition – the joining of sets.
  8. Subtraction – the separation of sets.
  9. Graphing – the process of classifying data.
  10. Fractions – a method of dividing items fairly.

A good school would ensure that the child can do all of the above in the sequence given so that the foundation of maths is strong in every child.

At home every parent can also help make children aware of the numbers in every day activities.
1. Take one biscuit
2. Bring me half a glass of water
3. Let’s divide this bar of chocolate into 6 equal parts for all 6 of you
4. Lay the table and see that each plate has a spoon and a glass
5. Fold these handkerchiefs into half
6. Put all the small glasses here and the big glasses there
7. Sort your teddy bears into groups – small one, brown ones, big ones
8. Bring me the second book from the shelf
9. Count all the spoons
10. Give daddy a big bowl, give me a medium bowl and you use a small bowl
11. Lets put all the long strings here and put the short strings in the box
12. Get me three things in the house that have any numbers on them
13. While you are reading a magazine or newspaper, give your child an old one and ask him/her to circle all the numbers that he can find or circle only number 9 etc
14. While travelling in a car, let them look out of the window and shout when they see a car with a 9 in its number plate or last number is 9 or first number is 9 etc
15. While taking your older kids out for a treat, tell them that my budget for each of you is 150 now look in the menu and choose what you want to eat , but add the cost of each and it should be within 150

also when children hate maths, make them aware of how no day of theirs is complete without using maths, this is fun as numbers start appearing in the smallest everyday task and soon childen realise that we cannot live without numbers. so lets start making numbers enjoyable, start counting the hours of fun with your child!

time –
its December and one of the most important gifts that all parents should ask santa for,  is the gift of  ‘more time’! yes, we are always running short of time, no time to relax, no time to have fun and then our kids hear us always groan- ‘not now sweetheart, I don’t have time.’. well this issue may not be able to show you how to have more time for your kids, but will definitely help you spend time with your kid as you enjoy the activities in this issue and yes, it will definitely give you and your children- the time of your life!


as we run around in frenzy completing our day to day tasks, we almost end up running against time and many mothers wish that children would do more things on time, waste less time etc. for children to understand the concept of time, being on time and wasting time etc it is important that they understand the concept of – time.

what is time? how do we see it? where do we see it? how do we know that time is up? are all concepts that we take for granted, but can be confusing to a preschooler.

the concept of time first begins in simple everyday rituals, because till children cannot count, it goes without saying that they will be unable to understand small hand, big hand, 2 o’clock etc. so the understanding of time starts with simple everyday rituals and routines. we will brush our teeth, then we will have milk and then we will sit for a story. children as young as 18 months can understand when you tell them a routine and infact kids love routine as it adds that much needed structure to their day and gives them things to look forward to.

singing songs to children about time, clocks etc also helps, so when its time to put toys away it helps to sing-
its time to put your toys away, toys away, toys away
its time to put your toys away. its time to end our game.
similar songs can be sung for eating, brushing teeth etc

songs and rhymes like hickory, dickory dock, help children understand about the existence of clocks and make them observe them in their environment.

then you can make a picture clock for your child which is in the shape of a clock but instead of the numbers has pictures of his daily activities in the same sequence, where number 12 usually is on the clock, paste the child’s photoand as the time comes to do that activity, mummy can put the small hand on that activity picture and the big hand on the child’s photo. so this will help your child understand the concept of looking at a clock.
the concept of time is not only about teaching how to ‘see’ time, but is also about teaching the importance of being of time, using time well and understanding that there is a special time for everything.
1. concept of being on time- extremely essential, and child will learn but looking at you and your habits, so be punctual!
2. using time well- here using visible items like a sand timer helps so that children can see time passing and know that little time is left to complete the activity etc
3. special time for everything- just like schools have a timetable it is important that mothers make a timetable for home and help the child display it in the room, this helps children understand routine, structure and time management!

it’s time to try out these activities with your child, we guarantee that you will have the time of your life!

What do fruits give us? Most mothers are not able to answer this basic question in their minds and so either don’t eat fruits themselves or don’t insist that their kids do so too.
Fruits are extremely essential in our diet and each fruit has something to contribute to our health. And there is a reason why some fruits only come in a particular season. So don’t go for marketing gimmicks and end up eating mangoes in December etc as definitely some chemicals must have been involved to give you mangoes off season!
For those mothers whose kids say yuck, the minute you mention the name of a fruit, I would suggest give funky names to the fruit before serving it to the child and always cut the fruit differently, and then see your child eat the same fruit for 5 days but with a different shape and name!
Children love songs and when a puppet sings them, its all the more fun, so make your fruit a puppet by making him sing and dance and then see your kids want to reach out and munch the fruit! 

Some Do’s to make fruits fun for kids-
  1. Give the fruit a funky name- so instead of apple say ‘abby dabby doo doo’.
  2. Give it a funky look- cut with a jagged edge knife or cut slices instead of dicing etc
  3. Mix two fruits together for colour effect
  4. Don’t give fruits after a meal as kids would be too full. Nutritive value of fruits is best absorbed by the body when eaten atleast an hour before a meal.
  5. Eat the fruit with your kids, kids learn by imitation so the more they see you enjoy, the more they will enjoy and want it too.

Some Don’t’s about fruit fun for kids-
  1. Don’t make fruits a forced feeding for kids- ‘have your fruits or I will not give you your toy’ – avoid doing this.
  2. Never add salt, or sugar or any salty or sweet additives to make fruits more acceptable for kids, this will only add more salt and sugar content in their diet and will take away the nutritive value of fruits, not to mention the deadly effect on their teeth!
  3. Fruit juice and cut fruits are different, see that your child gets both.
  4. Packaged fruit or fruit juice is not nutritive at all, don’t go for any tall claims made by the company selling them
  5. Never give your child cold fruits to eat , let the fruit be room temperature.

Know more about your common fruit-
  1. Papaya- has papain that helps digest proteins
  2. Banana has calcium, good for the bones
  3. Apple- latest research shows that apple is good for the brain! regularly munching on apples can boost our brainpower and even fight off age related brain damage. It is thought that the antioxidants in the fruit help to keep key neurons alive and the juice seems to prevent a decline in brain functioning by maintaining acetylcholine, a vital neurochemical.
  4. Orange- has vitamin c keeps you away from colds
  5. Pear- it is an antioxidant and prevents constipation
  6. Grapes- help good blood flow and keeps blood vessels relaxed
  7. Mango- excellent for toning up heart muscles and improves skin 
  1. Strawberry- it is good for immune system
  2. Guava- it prevents cancer and heart diseases
  3. Watermelon- it helps control blood pressure.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Teachers deserve the best..everyday


Every one needs a teacher- to learn, to be inspired, to be guided, to be mentored to walk the straight and narrow path of honesty, truth, integrity and hard work that always…always leads to success.

It is  Teacher’s day on the 5th of September and each one of you deserve to be made to feel important on this day. Feel proud to have chosen a profession in which so many children and parents look up to you as a role model. Be true to that expectation.

Be proud that you are a teacher in the early years, because after their parents it you that the child looks to for guidance, learning, nurturing and life skills. Being a teacher comes with a huge responsibility as you are not only touching the lives of children you are actually changing the lives of families, as you motivate parents and grandparents and help them understand the true meaning of learning and nurturing the child. You impact the community with the values, morals and social skills that you teach your students to imbibe.

Countries should be proud of their teachers, especially the early childhood teachers, as you are the ones that mold the next generation of voters. The babies, toddlers and children that you teach may not be making big decisions right now for the country or paying tax but with your nurturing and careful teaching they will grow up to become contributors to our economy and social structure.

You may be teaching in your class today, a child who can grow up to be the next Prime Minister or President not only of India but of any country in the world. It is a global world after all, so do your very best.

This child you teach right now may not remember you during his/her graduation or marriage or when he/she becomes a future successful contributor to society but it should still make you feel proud that it was an early childhood teacher who taught all the Presidents, Prime Ministers, Sportspeople, Movie Stars, Leaders and Visionaries to read, write, count, shake hands, have empathy and become the success that they are today.

I wish you all a Happy Teachers Day and today I give you a new inspiration for your role as a T.E.A.C.H.E.R
·         T- TALK to children to encourage language and personal, social, emotional development
·         E- ENCOURAGE children and motivate them always.
·         A- APPRECIATE them for their success every time.
·         C- CHEER them on to new achievements.
·         H- HEAR them when they talk, share their thought or complain to you.
·         E- EMPATHIZE with them and teach about empathy.
·         R- READ to them daily and you should read more about early childhood research everyday.

Swati Popat Vats
President- Podar Education Network