5 ways to get kids interested in reading story books

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I was talking to a friend the other day. They recently moved to India after living in the United states for 15 years.  She used to work as a child educator there. Initially, she was very skeptical  about the schooling of her 11 year old in India. But is relieved now as her kid is having a lot of fun at school. Fun like sharing lunch box, celebrating festivals, and getting to know new friends. Despite these positives, the educator mum was feeling low because of the lack of public libraries for kids. “In USA, they say parents must read stories to kids for at least 20 minutes daily. And most parents do that. Because of this, kids get into a habit of reading. Reading is so important for overall development“, she kept on talking. Her words reminded me of days when we had to struggle to get our kiddo to regular reading habit.

Our daughter used to love to listen to stories. But she won’t read on her own. We used to buy her age appropriate story books. First few years the books used to be very colorful, had 3-D images of characters, and letters were written in big fonts. The characters used to attract her, she used to love her books. But used to expect one parent to do the reading. There was a time when her friends parents would talk about the addiction of their kids to reading. We just used to listen, and feel hopeless. And then it changed. It changed so much that she is almost addicted to story books.  She also reads the bibliography of authors, writes excerpts, and gives suggestions to friends on what to read!

As I am composing this blog, she wrote a few lines about her experience. Here it goes: 

” The idea of reading story books came about when I was 8. Well actually the idea came from my parents. But since I hated reading, I pretty much tried everything to make sure that their ideas do not work. Alas, my methods failed and my parents made sure I read. No matter how much I tried, how many obstacles I placed, they just passed. And boom! There was a sudden explosion by the time I was 10. The reading (story book) hater (myself) all of a sudden turned into a reading lover. From Enid Bliton to Nancy Drew series; to the masterpieces of Agatha Christie and Rick Riordan and today stories by J.K Rowling, I am among the most savage reader you will ever find. Don’t know how a stubborn person like myself changed. But, well, it did happen.”

So what should parents do to get kiddo to love reading? 

1. Instill a regular reading habit: For some kids, love of reading doesn’t happen automatically. It needs to be nurtured and guided till they develop the liking for books. A regular dedicated reading time helps in the same. Give kiddo the opportunity to explore different kinds of fiction, poetry, graphic novels, books of world records and kooky facts, sports heroes, or gross-out science books.

2. Dedicate time into reading: According to a survey by the reading charity BookTrust, Adults spend more than 90 minutes on computers, phones or other types of technology, as opposed to just 25 minutes reading with their children. It also found parents were skipping pages when reading with their children, finishing the story before the end or refusing to read a second story. Almost half of the parents who admitted to doing this said they did so because they were ‘too tired’. So, it is important to give kids the love and support that they need. Sometimes, you have to read the stories. You can also negotiate to read half a page for every half a page the child reads.

3. Pick age appropriate books: That helps sustain interest. You can also pick books that match or slightly exceed the reading ability. This ensures continued effort from the child. The books that just exceed the reading ability helps expand the envelope.

4. Story clubs: Parents can host story clubs. Find out your kid’s  friends who are into reading, and encourage them. If they are already into reading, then the peer groups will encourage themselves. If not, you can be the catalyst to get every friend into reading.

5. Don’t give up: Don’t give up till kiddo gets interested into reading. It can sometimes be a struggle to get kids interested in reading, but it’s so important, in ways we may not always think about. Reading and storytelling are vital to preserving cultural identity, developing healthy brains, and cultivating curiosity in youngsters. So, if your kid is not into reading be a role model. Take a few minutes, sit down and read a book yourself. You will see the difference in few days for sure.

Our kiddo has now started reading Harry Potter. And interestingly, the stories are included in her school curriculum. This has made her eager to attend the classes, and take part in group discussions. Now-a-days, she give us an update about the literature class after school. We are glad to see this change over the last few years. Now, we have enrolled her to JustBooks library. We also buy her books. We encourage her to write an excerpt after finishing a book. Our kiddo has become more creative, improved upon her vocabulary, and communication skills. The 20 minutes of reading time has become the most sacred time for her.

Albert Einstein said “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”. We are glad that we read and read to inspire her into reading!

I want to explore the fruit

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The other day we were waiting for our order of parathas at a highway dhaba. The place was quite crowded with young couples with small kids. They were mostly seated in groups. The long weekend rush was quite visible as most of the tables were full. The dhaba workers were quite busy taking down the orders, and satisfying the need of the guests. We were seated next to the table occupied by two families, two couples with two young boys. The elder kid would be around 6 years old, and the younger one must be only 4.

There was a huge neem tree providing shade to all of us. The tree bore lots of fruits. They were yellowish in color and looked yummy. Birds were fondly enjoying the fruits. Many had fallen on the ground also. I obsrved those as I had not seen such ripe neem fruits earlier. Suddenly, I heard the 6 year old asking his mom for permission to taste the fruit “I want to explore the fruit!” He had picked up a fruit from the ground around.

“I want to explore the fruit”- he asked his mom first, then dad, then the uncle, and finally showed it to the younger kid! Readers can you guess why I am writing this as a story?

-Because the kid approached 3 adults, and the adults were very in deep discussions. Not even a single adult listened to the kid. And yes, he was clear, spoke in a tone and language that was audible to me, to the person seated on the next table. The kid also approached the younger boy. He boy was also busy playing with his toy car, and didnot show any sign of active listening. In the mean time, the dhaba representative got their order. This disruppted the serious, active discussion of the adults. The mom called the kid. He went and sat next to his mon. He kept the fruit on the table near his plate. He was playing with the fruit, and at the same time grabbing his lunch.

-They say “One can tell a child something a million times, but the one time they actually listen is the only time that really matters!” The questions that bothered me for sometime:

1. What if the kid had consumed the fruit? Well, neem fruits are not toxins. But any substance when taken in excess is a toxin. What if the kid had consumed lots of those fruits. He was really in to it. Luckily, his attention was diverted by the arrival of their order.

2. What if the kid learns not to take permissions? What if he feels that parents anyway do not actively listen? Well, it may be an isolated incidence. May be the parents meet their friends after a long time, and were really concentrating on the discussions. May be they didn’t think that their kid will grab something random from the ground. And would love to explore that!

3. Why am I writing this? Is this not a small thing? Everyone makes mistakes in life, but that doesn’t mean they have to pay for them the rest of their life.   It doesn’t mean they are bad. It means they are human. And humans need reminders. In this case, its a reminder to be more responsible as parents. As such a small thing can lead to a huge parenting mistake. Kids trust adults, so its the responsibility of parents to help them adhere to the trust by “Responding appropriately”. We often think children don’t understand, but they do. A lot more than we imagine. When we listen, we show them we care and empathize with them.

As the kid was happily eating his food, I bid him good-bye. I left the place with an important reminder. The reminder that I too have a teen! Whether someone else has observed me?

 

 

Brush, Book, Bed: The 3 B’s of sleep hygiene for kids

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Sleep is very important for the overall health and well-being of kids. In fact, good sleep habits start from birth. And it’s sort of a custom for friends and family to suggest sleep tips to new parents. However, getting young children to sleep, and to stay asleep is often one of the most daunting tasks of parenthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) mentions that adequate sleep duration for age on a regular basis leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm.

No one knows for sure why we sleep, but here are 2 basic theories:

1. Sleep has a restorative function.

2. Sleep has an adaptive function.

The restoration theory suggests that sleep helps the body recover from all the work it did when awake. The adaptation theory suggests that sleep may have developed because of the need of animals to protect themselves. For example, humans search for food and water during the day because it is easier to see when the sun is out. When it is dark, it is best to save energy, avoid getting eaten, and avoid falling off a cliff.  Whatever are the theories, it is an well accepted fact that sleep is vital for any life form.

There is an Irish proverb that says “The beginning of health is sleep”… And recent studies identified a lot of sleep related healh hazards in kids in this digital era.  Between 20 and 30 percent of kids experience sleep problems. Because of this increased risk, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has come up with the Brush, Book, and Bed program – The 3 B’s of sleep hygiene for kids! This 3-B program has a simple and clear message for parents:

1.Each night, help your children to brush their teeth.

2.Read a favorite book (or two)!

3.Get to bed at a regular time each night.

The program advocates a total of 11-14 hours of sleep every 24 hours for kids aged 1-2 years; 10-13 hours, for 3-5 years; and 9-12 hours, for kids aged 6-12 years.

As sleep hygiene is advocated as part of the 3-B’s, parents can play a major role by  instilling the 3-B’s as a routine skill in kids. The correct brushing techniques routinely can help prevent cavities, and provide a good oral health. Reading bed-time stories  can benefit kids socially and educationally. For toddlers, parents can read stories. As kids grow up, hopefully they will form their own reading habits. Finally, regular bed time each night  is important as kids thrive on consistency and routine.

 

 

The morning madness called “Social jet lag”

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The alarm goes off and the morning battle begins:

-“2 more minutes mama. I am so sleepy, please let me sleep.”

After the so called 2 minutes:

-“School is bad. You adults have office late. How are kids supposed to wake up so early?”

With anger and frustration in her face, she approaches the toilet. Slams the door, almost ignores my request to switch on the geyser. The next half an hour is like a bullet train ride to the most deserted place in town!

This is a common scenario in many houses with kids. Another mom mentioned about the morning madness:

As the minutes tick by and he still hasn’t gotten out of bed, you resort to screaming and yelling in his face, and then tear the blankets off the bed. In desperation, you pull him out of bed by his feet. Though you know you won’t be able to do that for many more years. A screaming match ensues, and now your child has missed the bus, so you have to take him to school. You’ll be late for work again, and you feel your blood pressure rising with every traffic light. Finally, your child slams the door of your car. You head to work, agitated and upset, sure that your boss will make a comment again today about your lateness.

So what are the ways to handle this morning madness?

Responsibility to the kid: Sit down with the kid and have a discussion about getting up in the morning. Make it very clear that he/she is responsible for the actions.

Early to bed: Discuss about the value of sleep. That their brain functions during sleep. And processes all the information.  They require around 9 to 12 hours of sleep. So during bed time, all distractions in the form of TV and gadgets, loud noise, bright light etc. should be avoided.

Wake up at the same time every day: Sometimes, inability to wake up can be due to the biological clock of the body. This happens when we allow kids to sleep for extra hours over the weekend. A regular sleep-wake up routine is very important for proper functioning of our hormones and chemicals.

Parents need to ensure that the morning madness does not accompany a “Social jet lag“.  Unlike a jet lag that one normally gets while on travel at different time zones, a social jet lag is the chronic clash between what body needs (sleep) and what life demands (work or activity). According to researchers, over the past few decades, people have been experiencing the problem of social jet lag. This is because of the constant work pressure, going off to bed late at night, and yet waking up at the normal time. They lose out on approximately 40 minutes of sleep. Social jet lag is said to be the root cause of many problems. These include excessive weight gain, irritable behavior, low productivity at work, and predisposition to diseases of the immune system, respiratory and cardiac problems.

Eventhough, the phenomen is not studied extensively in kids, its our responsibility to equip them with knowledge and awareness about the requirement of adequate sleep. And to help them plan their daily routine with due consideration to what body needs. As Benjamin Franklin had quoted “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise“… kids must be made aware that a bed time routine with good nights sleep is one of the predictors of academic success!

 

 

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

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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!

Were you worried about fear of failure?

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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.

What’s inside the box: 5-tips that helped a bullied child

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The other day, I was walking past the corridor on my way home from work. As soon as I walked past the elevator, a huge cardboard box caught my sight. I was curious about what might have been wrapped inside! It was written shoe-stand with shoes :). I thought our new neighbors might have shipped stuff from the middle east. Because of curiosity again, I tried to peep inside the box. And guess what! I discovered a young boy hiding inside with his hands and legs folded. He somehow managed to fit himself inside the box. I became alert. I pulled him out. Thought he might be with a gang of friends playing ‘Hide and Seek’. I started talking to the boy.

– Are you hiding from your friends? Playing hide-and-seek?

– No

– Why are you sitting inside this box? Where are your friends?

– They are playing inside the house.

– What? Why are you here alone? Let me take you to your friends.

We rang the bell. There were 3-4 kids in my neighbor’s house. The leader mentioned that they do not play with young kids. And that’s an instruction from his parents. I understood now that the boy was sad and the box was his cocoon shelter. Can you please play with him outside for sometime?  “No auntie, he has damaged a flower pot already”. And they all came out and showed a pot that the boy had kicked in a fit of rage and damaged! There was some spill over soil to testify their fact!  I looked at the boy, and his sadness had increased. He murmured softly that he already said “Sorry” to the team of elder kids. And told that he kicked the pot because he was left out of the games. “Don’t you have other friends to play with?” To this he mentioned that his age kids usually return little late from school, and come late for playing.

My only option was to safely take the boy to his house. But the I decided to spend some time with him. I talked to him, tried to instill some life skills. The only reason was that I wanted to see him happy. Here are my 5-tips that helped the bullied boy:

1. Listened to his story: I gained the trust of the boy as I offered to listen to him. I took him to the house of the elder kids, and tried to solve his problem. I discussed with him various options, and offered solutions. But most importantly, I listened patiently. It’s a common suggestion to parents when their kid becomes a victim of bullying.

2. Made him aware of his mistake: I took the boy near the flowering pot. I explained to him that plants are living objects. And that he must say sorry to the plant for having kicked it. The boy did what I asked. I mean he really stood before the plant and said sorry in all earnestness. He was aware of his behavior. He promised that he will not hurt others just because he is angry or sad.

3. Helped him to come out of sadness: My conversation with the boy helped him come out of his sadness. As we discussed options of play for him, he came out with the idea of going back home to his mother, spend time doing painting, and come out to the play area in the evening when his other friends would be around!

4. Directed him to his safety net: The boy was hiding inside the cardboard box.  Somebody could have easily pushed it to the side and he would have got hurt. Luckily that was not the case and he was not hurt. I showed him the way to his safety net i.e. his home.

5. Imparted him the SHIFT-skills: Overall, I had to quickly ensure that his confidence does not take a hit, and help with a strategy to overcome the rejection and mild bullying that he encountered. First was to help him Show confidence, to be able to Handle emotions, to learn to Ignore bullies and Find good friends, and to confide in a Trusted adult are the skills to be imparted to victims of bullying. I explained to the boy that if the elder kids do not want to play with him, he must move on and find good friends of his age. And that he must discuss this incident with his trusted adults.

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Bullying is such a common phenomenon that all of us see it around us. Kids can become victims and perpetrators of bullying without really consciously being aware of it. Some are mild forms of bullying, and some are severe. Either way, the victim does go through rejection, sadness, and can lose confidence. And we have to get them out of it and help them come out of it.

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try”- John F. Kennedy. I hope I tried the right way to pull out a kid of his danger zone…

5-reasons why to involve kids in cooking

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On our recent visit to hometown, some friends and family members complimented my 11 year old daughter about her cooking skills. They were quite surprised that we let her frequent the kitchen, let her experiment with dishes, and sometimes prepare her own meal. The common questions asked were “Do you let her light the gas-stove?/Is she not fearful of the kitchen knives?/Don’t you think she should utilize those time on studies?” I understood many people follow my posts on social media! And that in a small city, kids have the luxury of love and care from extended family other than parents. Even if parents are not around, an aunt or grandmother will be around to help them serve or warm up food or during meal times. They are not encouraged to spend time in the kitchen.

“Do you let her light the gas-stove?/Is she not fearful of the kitchen knives?/Don’t you think she should utilize those time on studies?” Needless to say, no sensible parent would want the child to spend time in the kitchen at the expense of studies, sports, or time with music/dance/painting or whatever else the child likes to do. Nevertheless, these questions made me ponder. Think about 5-reasons why to involve kids in cooking!

My daughter used to be part of our grocery shopping right from a very young age. She used to love to add different colors of fruits and vegetables in the shopping cart. This helped her learn colors and numbers. I used to make her sit in the kitchen slab, and play with wheat dough! Used to let her crack eggs. She learnt about various textures! Later, she used to plan for school snacks parties with friends. And learnt about the food habits of people of various parts of India. Her interest in the kitchen inspired her to browse for cake recipes in youtube. To our surprise, our angel learnt to bake!

Am I a good parent? So many questions asked at home town! Here is what I barged into: “Crawling, walking, catching, running, riding a bike and learning to swim – all essential activities to learn for a child. But cooking? It might not sound like a core skill but an increasing amount of evidence points to the fact that learning to cook has numerous benefits for children…A study conducted by the Children’s Food Trust (formerly the School Food Trust) discovered that learning “how to cook enhanced children’s recognition of healthier foods and, furthermore, encouraged their desire to eat them.”

Kids should learn to cook. They should feel comfortable enough to pull a few ingredients into a simple meal. Its a basic life skill that will come handy in future too. Here are 5-reasons why to involve kids in cooking:

1. Builds self confidence: When kids help prepare a meal they feel a sense of pride in their creation. They learn how to contribute to a goal. It builds self confidence.

2. Helps nurture fine motor skills and brain development: Stirring, mixing and pouring all help the development of fine motor skills. If you have a pre-schooler or child in the primary, get her/him to sit beside while you make a meal. The process engages all of their senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and  tasting!

3. Encourages healthy eating: Cooking together provides a wonderful opportunity to talk informally with kids about types and origins of food. You can show what comprises a balanced diet and explain the importance of healthy food. Being involved in food preparation, talking about and handling food encourages kids to be more adventurous when it comes to trying new types of food.

4. Kids are much more likely to eat what they make: Cooking creates a sense of ownership. When kids help in the kitchen there are fewer meal-time battles and more willingness to try new food items. It gives you chance to experiment. And even if it does not come out as planned, you can all laugh about it. So many moms share that their kids are fussy eaters. When the child helps prepare the meal, she/he gets engaged in the process. They usually happily eat what they helped prepare.

5. Family bonding: Making a meal together provides a crucial opportunity to bond with your child. It offers you an opportunity to ask how the child’s day has been. Get to know about the child’s friends and peers, likes and dislikes, pressures and influences that the child may be exposed to. The informal setting allows you to have some casual chit-chat, some banter and engage in some playfulness. All these are extremely important to keep the channels of communication smooth as the kids enter their adolescence. And guess what, it’s fun. Like the picture above says – it’s the little memories that last a lifetime.

Cooking is a basic life skill. And every child must be exposed to the process. Initially just as an observer. Gradually as a participant. With time switch roles as you take more of an observer’s role while your child makes some simple dishes. And along with the practical aspects, the 5-reasons why to involve kids in cooking, its also so much fun to do this together.

5-reasons why festivals help in the development of Kids

FESTIVALS OF INDIA

 

I was on my return journey  from my home-town after celebration of Durga pooja festival. In the flight, I was seated next to a young girl and her mother. The kid sat in the middle seat, and myself at the window. I offered the window seat to the girl, but her mother politely declined. She mentioned that her kid was sleepy and won’t really enjoy the view down! She was right. Within minutes, the kid slept off. I observed her. She had mehendi on both hands. She was carrying a small hand fan, that was lying in the seat by her side. I used to see those in the carnivals during festivals. Usually made of palm leaves. After sometime, even I felt sleepy! My next interaction with the family was after 2 hrs when I got up with the landing announcement. Me too was sleep deprived after a week of mega celebration!

Which city do you like the most, Bangalore or Kolkata? I asked the 7 year old. Within secs, she announced “Kolkata”…because her nani, nana, mousi, mama, chacha, chachi, cousins, all live there. She gets to play in a big house. And does not need to go to the “Day-care”! She enjoys trips to the zoo, carnivals, and visiting a nearby shop for chocolates. And also the pandal hopping, different types and sizes of Goddess Durga, the themes, and concepts of the pandals. Why didn’t you get everyone here to Bangalore with you? I asked. To this she said her house is small and will not be able to accommodate all! All this while, she was sitting very close to her mom. I could feel her sadness… I was thinking about joining my work, and the kid about her day care, I guess.

On my way back home from the airport, I was remembering my conversation with the kid. Pandal hopping, chocolate, the hand fan…reminded me of my childhood days. How we kids used to look forward to festivals, the fun, family time, and freedom from studies! Here are my 5-reasons why festivals help in the development of Kids:

1. Family time: During festivals, parents, extended family members, and friends come together and spend quality time together. We get together and forget all our worries, our work burdens, and are left only with joy! We exchange gifts, take meals together, and get involved in various traditional activities.  This experience helps kids to grow as a happy, well-adjusted, and contributing member of society.

2. Bonding with others: As we become more reliant on our smart-phones, and more “connected” through Facebook, we can actually become more disconnected from the real world. There is a concern that people have become lonely in this digital era. Festivals are time when we come out of the virtual world. We gain real life experience in the 4C skills: Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical thinking. These skills play an important role in “Bonding” with family and friends. Also, festivals help in bonding with people from other religions.

3. Organizational skills: Kids imitate their parents, and learn many things from them. Any festival requires planning, arranging, and execution. By being with parents and extended family during festivals, they gain an experience in organizational skills.  This experience will help them in planning, arranging and executing their  homework, chores, and other tasks  with increasing consistency and efficiency.

4. Empathy: Festivals are the times when we feel for others, and get involved in various community charity activities. As kids learn empathy both from watching us and from experiencing our empathy for them, festivals are the right occasions to inculcate empathy in kids.

5. Awareness about Culture: Awareness about culture is an important aspect of education of kids. It helps them differentiate between right and wrong, pros and cons of various things that come up in life. And ingrain the values associated with cultures.

As I mulled over the incident on the flight, I visualized the moments the child spent with her extended family during the festivals. The joy of being with all family members, the bonding that it brings with various people. How she’d be more aware of the culture and how it would subtly orient her with the values held by her folks. I could see, visualize, all the 5-reasons why festivals help in the development of kids. What are your thoughts on this?

 

5-reasons why kids must do household chores

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The other day, we had a  get together with old friends. There was this friend’s daughter, a thirteen year old, who had her birthday on the same day. She lived abroad with her parents since her birth, and recently moved back to India. I had always known her as a sweet kid who loved to interact, and make friends easily. She was having her fun time with the gang of kids. And then she came to the kitchen for a glass of water, and observed me arranging dinner. “Auntie do you need help?” I was spell-bound! This kid is good in mixing with people, good in academics, and even had the empathy and manners to offer me help with my chores. These days, most  parents want their kids to concentrate on things that will bring them success – good academic scores, brilliance in performing arts, and excellence in sports etc.  Her parents must have been training her in life skills as well!

Why must kids do household chores? I found an interesting article published in the Wall Street Journal. It mentions that decades of research shows the benefits of chores—academically, emotionally and even professionally. Involving children in household chores at an early age helps build a lasting sense of responsibility and self-reliance. By taking active role in household tasks, kids begin to take care of themselves and learn skills that comes in handy as they grow up. A child may not always be the star student or athlete, but they get to realize that they can contribute to the family. This sense of self-worth alone is reason enough why kids must do household chores.

What are some of the tasks where you could involve your child? Start with some very simple habits – arranging toys, bringing back their plates and bowls to the kitchen after a meal etc. Gradually, you get them to make their bed, tidying up the study table etc. With time, kids learn to do these tasks well. And as kids grow up, one can introduce few more like watering plants, and helping with dishes. All you need to do is stick to chores that are age-appropriate. Here are a good set of guidelines for age-appropriate chores.

Here are 5-reasons why kids must do household chores:

1.Responsibility: Kids need to understand that housework and chores are a part of life. They must learn that after playing, its their responsibility to rearrange the toys back to their respective places. To switch off the lights and fans when not required, to put their clothes for laundry etc. Life does not treat us same always. They have their parents to help them now, but in future they will need to take responsibility of their chores.

2. Self-sufficiency: As society changes, one needs to adopt and survive well. When kids learn to do things for themselves, they develop a positive self identity, and it makes them feel competent and worthy. A kid who learns to help himself with meals as a tween, will definitely be able to prepare a meal as an adult.

3. Empathy: Kids who take part in chores become more empathic.  They learn the importance of contributing to family. This in turn gets ingrained in them. They later understand the needs of others, and  contribute to the society, . They are more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family and be more successful in their careers as adults.

4. Confidence: As kids grow up helping with household chores, they gain confidence in their own abilities. Taking up a task, finishing it and doing it well to the satisfaction of adults boost the confidence of kids. They realize that they can actually accomplish tasks like adults. Initially, the joy the kids get out of this is tremendous. More importantly, it subconsciously fills kids with confidence – something that helps in academics, sports and other tasks kids take up.

5. Better team-players: When you get your child to participate in household chores, it is teamwork. The family is the team! Every member of the family, including the children, does his or her bit. Still, does it really help the child in any way, you wonder. The answer is a resounding yes. Participating in household chores along with the rest of the family makes kids better team players. And teamwork is fundamental to success in life. Whether it doing a science project in school, participating in school cultural events, or sports – teamwork becomes the name of the game. And beyond school and college, teamwork is supremely important for success in one’s professional life.

Why must kids do household chores? Participation, following instructions, ownership are some of the aspects that are naturally ingrained when kids help with household chores. When you tell your child to water the plants everyday, the child owns the task. For some, it brings immediate sense of responsibility. For others, it may take a few days to get into a habit. Yet, at some point, ownership kicks in. Likewise, other traits such as tendency to volunteer, follow and execute instructions, and taking a lead – all get gradually ingrained in them. They eventually start enjoying their part of work. They develop into responsible, self sufficient, empathic, confident adults who are better team-players- traits that are very much required for overall success in life!