Friday, 23 December 2011

Your Child's New Year...

If you have a child who is at least four years or older check out the following New Year ideas to give your child a unique New Year experience. As always, keep in mind that your may have to modify the given ideas to suit your child’s personality.

Goal Setting- Ask your child about how she would like the coming year to unfold- what places she would like to visit, whom she would like to meet, what she would like to achieve, what she would like to learn etc. She can even write it down in her diary or on a sheet of paper. Don’t be alarmed if your child says something like she would like to visit Pluto! Often, children say things that may not be realistic. But it is nothing to worry about or react to. The point is to make her aware of her preferences and train her to set goals that are her own. And of course, you can always follow up on the goals that are possible to attain in the present. What about those wishes that are unrealistic? Ask your child about how she would like to attain those goals, without making them sound absurd? This will set her thinking and will help her conclude on her own about why some things may not be possible in reality (such as flying in space or visiting Pluto).

New Year’s Play Date- Organise a New Year’s play date at home for your child and her close friends. Take your child’s help to decorate your home and to get some snacks and beverages ready for the party! Encourage your child to make New Year greeting cards for her pals, to be given away during the party. Let your child be the host and entertain her friends.

Special Gesture- Do something special for your child this New Year. Maybe you could gift her something she’s been longing for, take her out for ice cream, buy her a favourite chocolate or make your own card for her. It all depends on your child’s personality and her likes

Celebrating New Year as a special event will help your child learn from a young age that every New Year is a wonderful opportunity to love, learn, live life and have fun J

With this post, I take a break from blogging for a short while. Will be back with a bang soon! Here’s wishing everyone a fun filled New Year’s Eve and plenty of good times in 2012! 

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Your Intelligent Child....

Do you believe musicians such as A.R.Rahman or Zakir Hussain are intelligent folks?

How about a sportsperson like Sachin Tendulkar or a superstar like Amitabh Bachhan?

An artist like M.F. Hussian, an author like R.K.Narayan or a cartoonist like R.K. Lakshman?

What about a businessman like Dhirubhai Ambani or a software professional like Narayan Murthy?

And to name some international personalities, how about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Yanni, Enid Blyton, Shakespeare and countless others?

Though all these people are from different backgrounds, can one say that any one of them is or was not intelligent? Or that any of them is or was less intelligent?

Do you think intelligence is restricted to any specific domain? Is it limited to studies and sports? Or high grades and academic distinctions?

Intelligence has neither boundaries nor narrow definitions. It is not restricted to a lucky few. It is something that exists in all, in different forms. It is more active in some folks, while it lies latent in others. It is something that can be developed by one and all, including your child.  

In fact, as per Howard Gardener’s theory, multiple intelligences exist in all human beings, with some intelligences being dominant over the others. The intelligences as classified by the theory are as follows-

  1. Math Logical Intelligence- Related to logic and numbers.
  2. Linguistic Intelligence- Related to words and their usage.
  3. Visual Spatial Intelligence- Related to sight, dimensions and all that is visual. 
  4. Musical Intelligence- Related to rhythm, songs and music of any kind. 
  5. Bodily Kinaesthetic Intelligence- Related to sports, dance, drama and movement of any kind.
  6. Interpersonal Intelligence- Related to interactions with others and team dynamics.
  7. Intrapersonal Intelligence-Related to self, understanding of self, self introspection and reflection.
  8. Naturalistic Intelligence- Related to all that is to be found in nature or connected to it. 

Food for thought- Keeping in mind the number of people who have been successful outside the conventional definition of success (read academic achievement), how can we define intelligence?

It is time to redefine intelligence.
It is time to recognise intelligence, especially in children.

When recognised at a tender age, it gets wonderful opportunities for development.

And who knows, your child just might be one of the most intelligent musicians, sports persons, authors or business tycoons of the millennium!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Explore Christmas & Have Fun with Your Child!

The season to be merry is here again! What with decorated Christmas trees in every corner, people dressed as Santa spreading joy, festive lights, jingling bells, the aroma of plum cake and the sweet melodies of age old carols, Christmas sure brings plenty of cheer, fun and happiness for one and all. So, how about letting your child explore Christmas and learn all about this heart warming festival? Read on for some ideas-

  1. Shopping with Your Child- Buy a Christmas tree (big or small, depending on your budget). Ask your child to select some small bells, balls, candy sticks, holy leaves,gifts, stars etc to decorate the tree. You can also make your own Christmas tree at home, if your do not wish to buy one.
  2. Create a Backdrop- Give your child chart paper, colours, glitter, glue, stencils etc. Let her create a backdrop based on Christmas with these materials. Allow her to be creative and make the backdrop as she likes.
  3. Set the stage- Choose a small space in your home to celebrate Christmas. Put up your child’s backdrop on the wall. Place the tree in front of the backdrop. Get your child to decorate the tree on her own. Give her cotton wool to use as snow on the tree. You can also use pieces of thermocol or cotton wool around the base of the tree to represent snow, as shown in the images. 
  4. Fun with Cooking & Stories on Christmas Eve- If you have an oven at home, bake a plum cake together with your child on Christmas Eve. If not, you can always get one from a bakery. Sit in front of the tree and take a few minutes to learn about the significance of Christmas. Tell your child the story of Christmas, with carols playing softly in the background. Keep the story short and sweet.  Invite her contributions to the story. If your child can read, encourage her to read the Christmas story from a book or from the internet.  Sing some carols together. Eat some cake. Have fun!
  5. Christmas Gift- Buy your child a Christmas present secretly. On Christmas Eve, after your child goes to bed, place it near the Christmas tree. Once your child wakes up in the morning, tell her you have a surprise for her. Let her open her Christmas present and feel special J
 Points to Remember

The above ideas are pointers to letting children explore and enjoy Christmas. The same ideas can be executed in several different ways depending on your budget and the child’s preferences. All children would not enjoy doing activities exactly as I have described them. Hence, it is important that you tailor the ideas to suit your child’s personality.

Merry Christmas!! 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Fun Writing Ideas for Older Children!

If you have a child who is at least five years or older and she is able to write comfortably, she can have a lot more fun working on her writing skills. Here are some ideas to make writing interesting for an older child-

  1. Stories- Many children are highly imaginative and love to make up stories of their own. If your child is a story teller, take her to a stationery store and let her pick up a notebook in which she can pen down her stories. Tell her to begin each story on a new page in her book. Allow her complete freedom to weave the story as she wants to. It does not matter even if does not make sense to you! The idea here is to work on writing skills and develop a love for writing in the child. Once done, she can even read out her story to you. Encourage her to think up titles for her stories and be accepting of unique titles.
  2. Diary- If your child is the reflective kind who loves to talk about her life, her activities in school, her friends and her feelings, encourage her to maintain a diary. Tell her that she can write about anything she likes in her diary. She can also date her entries, to make reading them at a later point in life interesting!
  3. Event Planning- If you are planning a birthday party for your child or any other event with family and friends, you can take her assistance to create lists of guests and things to do. Many children feel responsible when asked to take up such initiatives and do so happilyJ.
  4. Emails- If you have friends or relatives that your child likes in other cities, encourage her to send emails to them once in a while. Though sending an email does not involve using pen and paper, it is nevertheless one way to work on writing skills. 
  5. Just Writing- Encourage the child to write on random topics that she likes. Some topic ideas are- “My Family”, “My Best Friend”, “ What I Love To Do”, “My House”, “My Favourite Food” etc. The list can go on and on. Suggest topics that you think your child would like. Let her choose from your list or work on some of her own.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 3

Flexibility is the key.
Encourage quality and not quantity.

Every child picks up writing at a different pace. Some can write lots and also write for extended lengths of time, while others write little and do not have the patience to write for long periods. Hence, it is very important to customise writing to suit the child’s capabilities. This would ensure that the child and the adult do not get frustrated.

Do not force every child to finish pages of every letter, number or sentence. How much a child writes should not be the parameter to assess his progress. It should suffice if the child knows what he is writing.
For instance, if the child is writing number 28, see if he is able to recognise the number first. Then check if he is able to write it with ease. If the child is familiar with the number and writes it with ease, would it make sense to force him to write pages of the same number? He might as well utilise his time more constructively.

Often, we adults are so paranoid about getting a set quantity of work completed by children, that we take our focus off the quality of learning.

Let the goal not be to finish five, ten or fifty pages of anything. Let the goal be to ensure that what is being written, even if just half a page, is being absorbed by the child.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 2

Restrict Writing Time- Many young children get frustrated if expected to write for long periods of time or several times a day. Therefore, it is important to restrict writing activities to suit your child’s personality. Limit it to one session per day or divide it into several short sessions through the day. It all depends on the individual child and what he prefers.

Connect Writing to Reality and Make it Fun- Learning is always more interesting when we see its relevance in the world. No matter how young a child is, learning can be connected to reality and also made fun in different ways. Consider the following example. A four year old is learning to write the letter “a”. You can make it interesting for the child by preparing him for it in different ways. Some suggestions are given below-

  1. Trace the letter “a” together using sand paper letters and say the phonetic sound.
  2. Weave a story that has lots of words with the sound “a”, such as apple, ant, cat, rat etc. The “a” sound does not have to be only in the beginning of a word as in apple, ant etc. It can be anywhere in the word. Note that the “a” sound is in the middle of the word when you say “cat” or “rat”. Stress on the “a” sound whenever it appears in a word in your story. Invite contributions to the story from your child. Let him add to the story and also think up some words that have the “a” sound.
  3. Play a game wherein each of you takes turns to point out objects around you that have the “a” sound in them. You can play the game in different places such as in your home, in the garden, in the park, in the mall etc.
  4. A simple story could go like this- Once upon a time, there lived an ant. The ant had a friend. His friend was a cat. The cat had a friend. His friend was a rat. The rat was quite fat. The rat loved apples. Note the number of times the “a” sound appears in this story. It is important to stress on the sound as and when it appears in the story. Also, remember that the story does not have to make perfect sense. Let your imagination go wild!
  5. Sing songs that have lots of “a” words in them. You can look on the internet for phonics songs or even make up your own. Encourage your child to add to your song or even make up his own.
  6. Make the letter “a” on paper using paint or crayons.
  7. Make the letter using clay.
  8. Narrate stories for the formation of the letter “a”. This is purely based on your imagination. For example, while writing “a”, you can pretend that you are going from home to the park.  The point where you start writing “a” in the book is your home, the path followed by the letter is the road and the point where you finish writing the letter is the park. Many children love such imaginary stories. This approach also helps them grasp the formation of the letter quickly. If your child likes this approach, you can also encourage him to make up his own stories for the formation of different letters.
  9. Begin the actual process of writing in books only once you’ve prepared the child on similar lines as mentioned above. It will make writing a lot easier and fun for the child. When children see some meaning to what they are writing, they are more willing to do it, than when it seems like a repetitive activity that has no relevance and is boring.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Children and Writing: Part 1

Have you ever heard little children express a lack of interest in writing?

Do they complain of aching hands at the end of a writing lesson?

Do they ask you in a whining tone of voice about why they need to write everyday?

Have you seen children hitting their foreheads in frustration when writing hour draws near?

Do they end up dreaming or staring into the distance in the midst of writing?

Do you ever wonder why writing seems to be a tiring job for several children?

Writing is BORING!


Imagine how you as an adult would feel if you are given three or four workbooks and are expected to write pages in each of those books every single day?

To make matters worse, you are also told to write the same thing multiple times, even if you have mastered whatever it is that you are writing.

And to top it all, you don’t even know what you are writing or why you are writing something you don’t like.

Under these circumstances, would you enjoy writing? Or would you treat it like a chore that is to be done with quickly? So once you’re done with it, you can go out and enjoy life!

This is exactly how children feel when writing becomes an activity that is repetitive and highly predictable in nature. And that is why, come writing hour, you hear all those groans and moans!

Does writing have to be such a boring task? Certainly not!

Can writing be enjoyable? Absolutely!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Joy of Reading!

Consider the following scenario-

You learn the Japanese language.
You are sent to Japan for an assignment.
You are able to read all the Japanese signboards, newspapers and magazines.

Does that sound exciting? Would you feel a sense of accomplishment on mastering a foreign language? Would you feel thrilled that you are able to read a new script on your own?

Now imagine a young child of three who was only used to his mother tongue, suddenly reading English words all by himself. Do you think he would be thrilled to do so?


Children as young as three years can learn to read. Does that sound strange? Does it feel like there is unnecessary pressure on a child who learns to read at the age of three?

Well, CERTAINLY NOT, if reading is made a joyful experience for the child!

Thanks to the emergence of phonetics as a popular approach to reading, reading can be made a pleasurable activity easily.

Phonetic sounds are the sounds made by the letters of the alphabet. When these sounds are introduced to children at an early age, they learn to put sounds together and begin reading simple words. Most children who learn to read phonetically also develop a love for reading.

If you consider introducing reading to your little one, please keep in mind the following points to make reading an enriching experience for your child-

  • Introduce the vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u) and a few consonant sounds first.
  • Once you have introduced a few sounds, start reading simple three letter words such as cat, mat, rat phonetically. You don’t have to wait until you are done learning all the sounds to begin reading.
  • If your child likes stories, weave stories around the words that are being learnt to make it fun.
  • Give the child simple phonics books to read.
  • Do not make reading seem like a test or expect perfection from the child. Practice will make perfect.
  • Encourage your child’s attempts to read and provide ample opportunities for the same.  

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

A Great Learning Environment.....

A great learning environment is a place where children are encouraged to 

  1. Explore at their own pace.
  2. Experiment.
  3. Talk and express constructively.
  4. Behave well and make good behaviour a way of life.
  5. Showcase their individual creativity in art, craft and other kinaesthetic activities.
  6. Think, think & think.
  7. Observe and learn.
  8. Pay more attention to the process than to the end result.
  9. Make mistakes and view them as stepping stones to newer heights.
  10. Have confidence in their abilities.
  11. Be independent in all that they do.
  12. Have fun and be happy.
  13. Play everyday.
  14. Recognise their strengths and build on them.
  15. Judge their progress.
  16. Learn at their own pace.
  17. Showcase their talents meaningfully.
  18. Do the BEST they can.
  19. Love themselves and their learning.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Make Time for Yourself :)

Being a parent or a teacher to young children is the most satisfying job in the world. However, it can also be one of the most challenging and demanding jobs, even if you are doing everything right and your child seems to be catching on!

Therefore, it is very important that you give yourself time and take breaks every once in a while. These breaks also help you recharge before you get back to being with children.


Make exclusive time for yourself as often as possible to do anything you love - watching TV, listening to music, reading a book, visiting the spa, meeting friends and the like.Arrange for a family member or friend to watch over your child during these breaks. If you are a stay at home parent, it may be relatively easy for you to make time for yourself when your child is in school. However, if you work, you will have to think of other ways to make some time for yourself.


Take it easy in class every once in a while. You do not have to spend every minute of every single day teaching children something. Allow children free play at times and sit down with a cup of tea in their play area. Just watch them have a good time playing and see how relaxed you feel!

<p><a href="">Image: photostock /</a></p>

Story Time!

Let me tell you the story of a preschooler named Sonia J

It was a bright sunny morning.

Sonia walked into preschool with her friends. As she walked in, she pointed out to her friends that it was a sunny day, when she was interrupted by the class helper who told her to stop talking and get to her class.

Once in class, Sonia and her friends ran to the window to observe a cloud that looked like a rabbit, when the teacher walked in and ordered them to get back to their seats.

During snack break, Sonia commented to her friends that the piece of roti in her hand resembled a square, when the principal who was passing by told her to stop talking and finish her snack.

After school, as Sonia waited to be picked up by her mother, she and her friends began drawing different shapes on the blackboard, when again the teacher shouted at them to stop drawing and get back to their seats!

And that is the end of the story.

Now that you’ve read the story, go ahead and reflect on the following questions!

  • How would you feel if you were Sonia?

  • Do you think Sonia learnt while she expressed, either in words or in pictures?

  • Do you think constant suppression of thoughts, words and actions benefits children?

Friday, 2 December 2011

Never Give Up on Your Child!

Ever feel drained after being with children? 

Feel like they just don't listen to you?

Tired of screaming and shouting?

How about making them read, write and do their homework?

And ensuring they eat healthy?

Getting their attention time and again?

Issuing threats and withdrawing privileges?

And to top it all, feeling guilty and frustrated, for not knowing how to be an effective parent or teacher?


Why ruin the time you spend with children stressing yourself out?


Change your beliefs.
Work on your communication style.
Set boundaries.
Create a routine.
Make children active participants in all decisions concerning them, including eating, dressing, cleaning up, studies, homework & playtime.
Be firm.
Be kind.
Be fun loving.
Be consistent.
Be a friend. 

And if despite all you do, you have bad days don’t worry. Everyone has their bad days- even the most seasoned teachers, parents and veterans in the field!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Is Structure a Part of your Child’s Life?

  • Does your child get so engrossed in play that he turns a deaf ear on you when you plead with him to stop and carry on home?

  • Do you find it hard to get him to sit in one place and do his homework?

  • Does he refuse to switch off the television even after repeated reminders that it is time to go to bed?

Do you find yourself getting stressed over repeating yourself several times through the day? And yet get no response from your child day after day? Finally, you are forced to literally remove the chid from the situation he is in;

  • Carry him forcefully and run home from the park.

  • Drag him to to the study table, hold his hands and make him finish his homework.

  • Switch off the television, disconnect the cable and carry him to bed while he struggles to free himself from your grip.

And lots of similar instances.

Do you also have to face tantrums and bad behaviour whenever you force your child out of something he is engrossed in?

Then all you need to do to make life smoother is set up a structure- a timetable that clearly spells out the child’s activities for every single day of the week.

Get creative and name your slots in the structure. Some examples are-

  1. Lunch Time
  2. Play Time
  3. TV Time
  4. Fun Time
  5. Dinner Time
  6. Art Time
  7. Homework Time


Choose names that work for your child. Make a chart that has this structure on it and put it up in the child’s room. If the child likes art, get him to decorate the chart. If he can write, let him do the writing on the chart himself.

When you have a structure in place, the child knows exactly what to expect at different times during the day. This makes his transition from one activity to the next a lot smoother. And you are more relaxed as well! Make sure you follow the structure consistently. Keep in mind that there will be days when you will need to be flexible for varied reasons. On such days, make sure you explain to the child beforehand about any changes you intend to make.

For a young child, you will have to create the structure yourself. But if you have a child who is older, get him to participate in creating the structure and give him the freedom to do so, while ensuring that all relevant activities are included in the same. This way the child also feels responsible for his structure and knows what needs to be done at different times of the day.

Most children respond well to structures. So, go ahead, have a structure in place and make life easy for you and your little one!

<p><a href="">Image: photostock /</a>