Imagination is more important than knowledge

Mixed race girl with space doodles surrounding head

-“Mama can two twins take birth in different years?”

-How is that possible? Twins are born on the same day and year. That’s why they are called twins.

-Possible mama, one has to be born on 31st December before midnight and the other one few minutes after that!

This is a common trick question. And still I feigned ignorance, just to see if she gets excited to tell/teach something new to her mom! And excited she was. Quite excited indeed when she could pass me some knowledge.

This little play-acting got me thinking. How did she come up with this? And how she was so excited at having shown me something that I didn’t. Probing a bit, I found that she and her friends were discussing twins when one of them came up with the question. Perhaps the child heard it somewhere earlier, or may be it was a sudden brainwave. Either way, it is always good to be thinking, asking questions and breaking assumptions.

Many times our education system encourages rote learning. Learning is relegated to what’s taught by the teacher. Rather than what intrigues the mind. And stories abound how questioning, probing are discouraged in the classroom. Not just the education system, the habit is ingrained in our psyche as well. Often, questioning the wisdom of elders is considered disrespect. So this little play-acting of mine was fun. It was clear that she did not mind asking questions, and I also failed the intelligence test.

Everyday life with your kids you will find such scenerios. Sometimes, parents are bombarded with too many questions. Sometimes questions are innocent ones like “Where does Hanuman live?”. And sometimes tricky “Where did you get my little brother from?”… Kids ask questions because they imagine and try to relate themselves to the real world. So, is imagination a bad thing for kids?

Definitely not. Kids learn through imagination. Imagination is the foundation for school readiness and life skills such as critical thinking; problem solving; and social interactions.  Preschool kids imagine and role play cooking, giving bath to their dolls, making calls through toy phones, doing grocery at the super market, or visiting a doctor’s chamber. Older kids pretend to be teachers, singers, artists, beauticians, superman etc. Imagination is within us. It’s true that knowledge is learnt through schooling and experience. Imagination motivates to acquire much more knowledge and to use it in creative ways. Like Einstein had mentioned “Imagination is more important than knowledge” The Wright Brothers had imagined voyage before they knew it was achievable. When device after device failed to see them travelling through the clouds, the two brothers predicted how they could better their airplane. Finally, one day they established the world’s first aircraft.

Here are three ways to help foster your kid’s imagination:

1.Story-telling: Kids love to listen to stories. They love to know about their favorite characters, places,  relationships etc. Stories also allow children to know about their own cultural roots. Also, its a great way to enhance the listening skills, and excite creative sparks in them.

2.Play-dates:  Play-dates with kids of a similar age support each other’s imaginative play. They learn from each other, and get better at socializing skills also.

3.Art and crafts: Kids enjoy art and crafts. Some kids color the leaves of a plant with traditional green, while others yellow, red and what not. Whatever it is, they should be provided with a lot of materials to keep busy with art and crafts. This way, creativity and imagination receive strong stimulation. And in the long run, they become well equipped  with confidence and knowledge.

Imagination is more important than knowledge…A child’s imagination is infinite. Parents can help children to nurture their imagination, and ignite the creative genuis inside them and betterment their knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

5-tips to adhere to parenting resolutions for the new year

capture

Its raining like crazy here. I was having some “me time” post dinner. Somehow, the rhyme “Rain, rain, go away” was echoing in my ears. The smell of fresh earth, and the rhyme mixed with nostalgia dragged me to my childhood. I used to sit near the window, extend my hand to collect drops of rain on my small palm… The childhood days never come back. Still I lingered on with my memories. Hopped onto a boat, and set sail to my imagination. Felt a gust of endorphins rush into my veins. And then I felt mom. Her presence all around me despite her having bid goodbye forever. Felt her counseling me on, guiding my sail. And it was then that it suddenly dawned. My boat of the year was sailing to its conclusion. The new year was awaiting me.

One more boat to hop onto…and it better be a lovelier boat than the one of 2016. And to make it lovelier, I need to have some resolutions…

-Meem, why did you get so angry with me in the evening?

My kiddo walked in. She came and hugged me. We conversed for a while. The conversation and the hug led me think about my parenting resolutions. We feel blessed to be with our kids. But sometimes long for “me times” too. Especially, when we feel too tied up because of our chores. My first resolution should be to manage my frustrations. As frustrations lead to anger. And many a times, kiddo has to take the brunt. Just wanted to check if other mums too are sailing in the same boat. I logged into an FB group of mums. Wrote a post “Mums, what are your parenting resolutions for the new year?”

Sharing few of the comments here:

-Mum 1: To give more hugs and kisses to both my daughter. Time is flying and they are growing fast so don’t want to waste time in shouting, screaming…… will give loads kisses and hugs when I get angry.

-Mum 2: Kids grow up very fast. Have to make use of every minute we spend with kids in a positive way. They are God’s blessings to us. We should respect that.

-Mum 3: Practice the art of patience with my kid

-Mum 4: To make more beautiful memories then previous year

-Mum 5: To Be a gentle parent…

-Mum 6: To live by example!

-Mum 7: Stop using the mobile and spend more time with the kid…

-Mum 8: Go for martial arts, swimming or music with my son…

-Mum 9: To make kiddo independent…

From the above comments, its very clear that parents want to give their best to kids. They want to be good with kids, spend quality time, and connect with them in a positive way. This is important as spending just 10 minutes per day of uninterrupted, one-on-one time with kids builds emotional connections, reduces negative behaviors, and makes them more cooperative throughout the day. kids learn how to behave, act, and deal with life situations by watching their parents. If mom screams, or treats people with no respect, her kids eventually will follow the same. If dad sits on the couch all day, and doesn’t help with housework, chances are that the kids will grow up believing this is how people are supposed to act. Kids watch the work ethics, health awareness, and all details of handling day to day activities of parents with a magnifying glass. So it is important for parents to become role models, and lead kids by their examples.

Here are my 5-tips how one can adhere to the resolutions:

1. Write it Down: Seeing resolution clearly articulated in ink, on paper can have a tremendous effect on feeling of commitment to it. The other ways of reminders are typing it out on laptop, or with sticky notes, or saving in mobile with google keep.  This will work as automatic reminder daily when device is turned on. Alternatively, the resolutions can be pasted on the wall, or fridge door.

2. Share with a friend: Its said that a workout buddy can help motivate you to hit the gym. The same concept can extend here too. A friend or family can help one adhere to resolutions by reminding! Reminding about progress. Teasing about non-progress to hurt ego.

3. Take smaller steps at a time: Set a goal. Break the goal into smaller steps. For example, to become  a gentle parent one need to identify the pointers. These are active listening, involving kids in decision making, to take time outs with kid, and to learn to judge a kid’s behavior not the kid. One can start with active listening first, and then slowly climb up the ladder.

4. Make it a team effort: Success requires a team effort. So its better to discuss about resolutions with one’s partner, and involve in supportive coparenting. Kids do better in coparenting environments. And, the team involvement ensures adherence to goals.

5. Take care of self: Much like the “Oxygen Mask Rule” on an airplane, a parent who takes care of self is a better parent. Say No to one more extra job requirements,  hit the gym, treat yourself to a pedicure, plan “me times” to pursue hobbies, and take time off the routine chores.

Kids watch the work ethics, health awareness, and all details of handling day to day activities of parents with a magnifying glass. So it is important for parents to become role models, and lead kids by their examples!

A gift to play secret Santa!

santa-copy

Mamma, can you buy me a male doll so that pinkey can get a baby?” and the mother, my colleague, was shocked by the demand of her five year old.  How did her baby start talking like that? The mother was aghast! We happened to discuss and I managed to assuage her concerns. It’s just a simple natural question of a five year old of what she sees around her. She is just a very observant kid. She sees that families have mom and dad, and kids. She wanted the same for her doll family!

Kids are innocent. As a society, we tell them small little stories. The stories talk about fairies, dragons, ghosts, superheroes, and our own mythological characters like Krishna and Hanuman. With their presence, young kids live in a half-real, half imaginary world. I remember my kid used to eagerly wait for Santa in the month of December. Once she had kept herself awake till midnight to get a glimpse of Santa and his Reindeers.  Once she wrote a letter to Santa at school and posted that. The school forwarded the letters to parents. We were happy to learn that she wanted a barbie doll. The doll was kept next to her bed on christmmas eve. Our doll woke up with the gift and thanked Santa with surprise in her eyes.

But where does this big man dressed in red and white, or the tooth fairy, or Hanuman come from? Why lie to kids like this, when we teach them to be honest? At what age should we tell them the truth? My experience is that we can keep the magic going for as long as the child believes in it. My child is 12 years old now. For the last 3-4 years, she didn’t ask for a gift from Santa. But we got her chocolates to keep up with the tradition of buying her small gifts for Christmas.

-Mom can you get me “A gift to play secret Santa“?

-A secret Santa, where?

-In my school bus…we friends have decided to have some fun

-But Santa doesn’t exist you know?

-What mommy? I am not a baby anymore. I know Santa is not real. But it’s fun to play secret Santa!

And with age, our kid understood that Santa is an imaginary character. She had asked us once. We took the opportunity to understand her point of view first. “One person can’t visit all the houses’…she said. And we took the opportunity to break the ice. “So you parents were my Santa, thank you”…she mentioned. Psychologists opine that Imagination is a normal part of development, and helps develop creative minds. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Imagination builds social-emotional development by allowing kids to contemplate different resolutions.  Great opportunities for learning are possible when children participate in pretend play with dolls, vehicles, blocks, rocks, cardboard, boxes, or manipulate play dough, create recipes by mixing dirt and water, work with art materials, splash in puddles, or pretend to fly…

A gift to play secret Santa mamma?

-Yes, we will.

 

A playdate with mom in the kitchen

roti

I lost my mom to cancer. After she was diagnosed with the disease, she made sure to sat me down with her to list her recipes in a notebook. She knew we will miss her food once she is gone. And that seemed to be her only worry. This was something so unlike her. She never encouraged me to spend time in the kitchen. She used to say cooking is a skill that can be learnt when the situation arises…and I learnt cooking during my hostel life. It was a necessity as the mess never gave us breakfast. But for traditional preparations, I learnt the skills from my mom during her last phase of life!

A play date with mom in the kitchen? – My mom was a great cook. Preparing meals for 50-100 people seemed like a cakewalk for her. But she had not learnt kitchen chores from my granny, and so never felt the need to equip me with the skill when I grew up. But I have fond memories of kitchen times with mom as a child. She used to give me chapati dough…I used to make various shapes out of those, make dolls also.  Mom used to make chapati’s and feed me! Used to feel extra satisfaction when my own small deformed ones were roasted for me…those seemed to be extra tasty :)  When I look back, I feel lucky to have those play-dates with mom in the kitchen. Those dates were fun! Such fond memories of love and care. And I am sure, most of us have such memories of spending quality time in the kitchen.

Recently, Stanford has started cooking classes for the students.  The reason mentioned is that now-a-days, kids concentrate more on academics. And when they reach the hostels or dorms most of them do not know basics of cooking. And they depend solely on outsourced meals. The problem is that it hampers ones recognition of healthier foods – and the desire to eat them. This is why involvement in the process of cooking helps children and adults alike. Helps one to appreciate the process and derive satisfaction. Like I said, “Mom used to make chapatis and feed me! I used to feel extra satisfaction when my own small misshapen ones were roasted for me“… this extra satisfaction helps develop the desire to eat.

Cooking is an important life skill for smaller kids too. Children, especially very young children, rely on their senses to explore the world. Cooking offers kids opportunities to use the senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Working with food lets a kid focus on his senses. Cooking teaches a kid how to use his eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue to observe the things. In addition, kids can improve their fine motor skills while helping out in the kitchen. Also, it helps build self confidence, perseverance, bonding, nutrition and taking care of self. Cooking is a source of pride for the children who can take care of themselves in this way.

Back to my mom. That day we prepared crepes with stuffed coconut filling…a dessert called “Paatisapta” in Bengal, India. That was my last playdate with mom…

Were you worried about fear of failure?

fear-of-failure

And I tried to skip to my own personal space. Her words were echoing “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” I was the first child to my parents. Often my parents would be told, “But you have daughters…”

“Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” – This was such an unexpected question from my 12 year old. She has always been an inquisitive child right from her baby days, and a chatter box too! Her vocabulary is full of Why/How/Where/When/Who/What? She keeps asking questions till she gets totally convinced about clearing her doubts. But, this…. this seemed like an entry point to a little serious discussion.

“Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” Why are you asking? Are you worried? “Not exactly mamma…but some of my friends are. They keep saying what if they score bad marks?” This reminded me of a story shared by my colleague. His daughter goes to Montessori. The kids mom wanted her to color a flower. She colored a few petals and lost interest. Her mom mentioned to the kid that she will fail in school if she gives up a task like that. “Dad will admit me to a different school”…the kid had responded! Both parents were spellbound by the thought process of their kid :)

– “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” 

– What about you?

– No mamma, I am not worried about failure…may be I am like dad. He once mentioned that he didn’t worry about failure.  Why do some people worry so much?

– May be they are not like their dads. When do your friends talk about fear of failure?

-Whenever there is some exam or some performance. I really don’t know why they worry!

-They don’t know that FAIL means First Attempt In Learning! Enough of discussions…if you are clear of your doubts now, please concentrate on studies. You have an exam tomorrow…

And I tried to skip to my own personal space. Her words were echoing “Were you worried about fear of failure mamma?” – I was the first child to my parents. We had a big extended family with lots of cousins. My cousin brothers were all good in studies. The family had high hopes of their successful careers. When it came to the daughters of the family, no one really asked them to study well, or have a career of their own. Growing up, the distinction was clear to me. Often my parents would be told, “But you have daughters…”. Given this setup, I somehow wanted to do well myself…and make my parents proud of having daughters. And I used to fear failure. Because I wanted to prove that daughters can achieve everything like sons.

I went up to my daughter. Sat her down and shared this. She was taken aback. Took some time to absorb it.

-But how did you overcome this fear?

-I used to do a lot of positive self talks whenever I felt down! Once I started to do well, I kept thinking about the successes. And that helped me prepare well without worrying about failure. Often, one single incidence of success can help kids break out of the shell of fear of failure. In my case, may be it was that…

Kids must learn to overcome fear of failure. As parents, we need to listen to their worries, and discuss to assuage the fears. We should share our own childhood stories with kids. It would make them see that they are not the only ones to experience fear of failure. And through personal examples show that most of the times the fears are unfounded. Or they can be overcome with a bit of diligence and hard work.