Toy review#1 Kaleidoscope

I plan to post the review of the toys and games I play with my daughters. Being in the teaching profession opens me to many more such educational toys. Thus, thought to spread the word about it to other parents. I will be more than happy to hear from you, your critical inputs in those games.( or others that you played or came across)

My elder daughter has just turned 8 this January. She received this game Kaleidoscope from smartivity from her maternal uncle (ordered from Amazon.in).

This game engaged my daughter no bound. She was able to follow the simple instructions independently after following the manual. The manual was self-explanatory as it depicted the instruments pictorially as well. Each item was packed very well and could easily be dismantled. The joy of being able to place the mirrors triangularly (to get that impact) was eureka for her!

The reflection of three mirrors…

beautiful pattern formed after reflection of the beads in the mirror

Thus, as a parent I would definitely give a ‘yes’ to this game wherein it engages the child with hands-on and mind-on. Also, a relief to be away from the screen time! what a relief!!!

the final product…

When disability is an Obstruction of mind

The worst thing about a disability is that the people see it before they see you

Easter Seals

I have been sitting in my room to interact with many parents to guide them on the areas to be worked with their kid, the dos and don’ts ( assuming they ll follow all). I religiously perform my duty of sitting with them for hours to tell them what should they do, just with the thought that they should not waste the child’s crucial years of intervention to bring a change in their lives. However, meeting the parents one after the other had made me realise that it has been easy for me as an educator to push them forward to work with the child or take them a psycho-educational assessment, however, unaware what goes in a parent’s mind. 

Being the parent of the child, they certainly wish the best for their child, though they still take days pondering over the idea. Why so? I generally scream this question loud in my head, until one day, a parent sat in my room and said “What will happen if I go for the assessment? Will my child be labelled for years and seen through that lens always? This question stayed with me for long and I have been pondering on this for a while. 

The fear they have is somewhere right, as the society we live in works on ‘labelling’ for easy categorization and communication. However, in that process, the child’s self-esteem and confidence are taken for a toss. The words like ‘dyslexia’, ‘autism’ are looked with negative connotations than with the aspect of individuality. The system as a whole is closed to deviations and prefer all falling in the same box. Thus, the struggle of getting acceptance increases.

So, what could be done? Here is the easiest thing we all could do. ACCEPT, ACCEPT AND just ACCEPT (Always See Someone with Exceptional Personality and Temperament)! We need to accept that the individuals are unique beings who are there with their own strengths and weaknesses like you and me. You might be an excellent orator while I might be a talented dancer. But you do not count my weaknesses and put me down. Instead, you work along with me to help me either live with them or overcome them. So next time while you walk in the park or go for a movie and you meet an individual who  ‘looks’ different, just given them a SMILE and accept. Do not let your judgemental mind take over and have assumptions. JUST ACCEPT! If a parent or colleague tells you that his child is autistic or dyslexic, just accept and listen to them. JUST ACCEPT!  

Strike the iron when its COLD!

The world has always paid attention to the noise created through the wars and fights. However, the media has never paid heed to the peaceful measures being propagated through different spiritual leaders. The reason seems to be simple to me! Fights and arguments catch our attention more than the sereneness of the calm river flowing by. It is striking for everyone. The louder it is, but might not be better.

A similar kind of approach is witnessed when a parent or a teacher handle a child either at home or in a classroom. Each day, that child might give ample of opportunities to the adult to look and appreciate the good deads. He or she might have helped in daily chores or might have set the bed right or might have not engaged in an argument. But sadly no one bothers to smile when he waits for a pat on his back. No one literally bothers! On the contrary, if that child takes a ride, indulges into a fight or spills the milk, then all the adult suddenly wake up from their dream and pay attention to the child through scoldings, shouting. How surprising, isn’t it? Now, I personally am feeling bad recollecting moments when I scolded my 8 years old daughter on misbehaviour she had exhibited. While I reflect back, I ponder, was that misbehaviour so huge that I had to shout? Was it a matter of life and death that I could not have waited for my anger to settle? More important is what exactly happened when I shouted at my child? Did she change her ways or did she just freeze to what I said?

The answer is she simply froze to my shoutings, her thinking mind had stopped working due to which she could not register my instructions. Whereas, if I would have explained her calmly (without raising my voice) she would have heard me better and understood me better. She might have altered her behaviour in that situation. Now, the question arises, what else could I do as a parent? How else can I approach my child so that he listens to me? There are two ways to approach or deal with it. One is the long term way and the other is the short term method.

As a part of the long term strategy, the parent or the adult need to ensure that the child has high self-esteem. That is the child thinks and feels good about himself or herself. To make the child trust his own abilities the parent needs to trust the child’s abilities. As a parent show your interest in the child and CATCH THEM DOING RIGHT! Appreciate them when you see them keeping a plate in the kitchen. Cuddle them and tell that you really liked when he carried the grocery bags at home. These ways the child will exactly know of the ways which make you feel happy. The verbal praise will stay with the child and will go far with him. Certainly, they would repeat those behaviours and would look with those little eyes and waiting for you to smile at them. For us as humans, appreciation is a basic psychological need which when not fulfilled leads to unacceptable behaviours.

Many parents ask me that they understand the long term strategy, but what should they do AT THAT moment when the milk is spilt. At that moment take a deep breath and count till 5 in your mind (slowly). This will help you settle down the immediate reflex or reaction. If you could curtail that immediate impulse to shout, your mind will then train itself to think and respond. Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying of not showing your disappointment to your child, nowhere do you have to show that you are happy when the milk spilt. It is not at all like that. Instead, you should show your disappointment but in a way which makes the impact to the listener. Gandhi ji in his book My experiments with truth shared his first encounter with Ahimsa was when his father did not scold him knowing that he had stolen the money to buy cigarettes. Instead, he just went away from the room. The lesser the noise the more impact it makes. You are also teaching the child of the ways to respond to conflict situations when they encounter with their friends. Remember, you are and will always be their ROLE MODELS! So you will have to live up to it each day!

Thus, each day the child will give us many opportunities to appreciate them and scold them. Now what you do with those opportunities is in your hands. The more you fill your child’s bucket with appreciation and unconditional love, the more will your child blossom. The more will you become the wind under his wings. So each day, find those little moments of REAL appreciation so that the world becomes a better place where the silence makes more noise and fights sound like chaos. The country wherein the child is filled with love and compassion, success and happiness can not keep away. so how will you appreciate today and strike the iron when its cold!

 

Be that ONE!

An individual is the accumulation of experiences experienced since childhood. Each experience lived, felt shapes up one’s attitude, thought and outlook towards life. I will not go deep into ‘nature vs nuture theory’. Undoubtedly, nature does play a crucial role, it gives us the blueprint to determine one’s temperament. However, what one makes out of it depends a lot on one’s interaction with the environment.

As adults we are formed by the experiences through childhood. They move along with us in our actions and beliefs. However, we always have a scope to mould them to become a happier me. Though this change does not come in easy. It requires a lot of introspection and reflection. Only when one is AWARE and OPEN TO ACCEPTANCE of oneself as a mixed bag of beans will the change come in. Moving back to the topic, during our interaction with people from different fields we generally come across two kinds of people. One who critiques everything they encounter. They would just not be happy with the green grass their side. Do not be harsh with them, they might have seen life through that lens all through their lives. The second category is of the ones who might hide their true feelings and mask them under to suit the world. They might smile to be a part of the group however they might not be happy with things around. This is one of the major IMAGE CRISES faced by a teenager. Wherein they are still in a journey to find that ‘I’ and might have those odd days.

Knowing and understanding this, what should we do? What should I do as a parent to not let my child belong to either of the two categories? Instead belong to a third category wherein he or she sees life as a way to live , welcoming all odds happily. How can I be THAT ONE person in my child’s life who builds in resilience to take on the world with all its difficulties? How can I build a palace of compassion than worldly possessions?

If you want to be that ONE then reading on might help.

  • TRUST YOUR CHILD
  • A parent is the face of the world for a child. He encounters the world through a parent’s eyes. A child’s way of thinking is so dominated by the parents and the parenting style. Thus, it is imperative that the parent exhibits TRUST in the child’s abilities and trust them for doing right!
    • TELL HIM OT HER
  • As parents you will love your child but how will he or she know until you say it to them. Always keep the doors of clear communication of emotions open with your child. Share with them what you feel. No harm in sharing your disappointment even. Your child will completely respect what you feel only when you are honest about it. So never fake with him. They will be smart enough to evaluate.
    • TELL HIM HOW BEAUTIFUL HE IS
  • There will be many moments in a teenager’s life when they sulk about their appearance. Instead of adding to their misery and pouring the pent up frustration with them ( you may read on how to respond in http://www.upasanakapur.com/2018/12/27/give-me-24-hours/) you need to find moments to tell you child how beautiful he or she is. You need to tell him how blessed you feel for them being around. Not only will his eyes sparkle but the heart and mind be filled with FAITH in oneself. What better to have than faith on ones own abilities. Aha! What else can you gift your child? Start this early, they should hear this since childhood as a way to believe and not suddenly in teenage. In that case, you might lose their trust for not being authentic.
    • HUG HIM OR HER
  • As the child grows up, you as a parent might feel awkward in hugging you child or vice versa. You might feel he does not need it anymore as he is a grown up child. Break those shackles of doubt. Your child needs them now as much as he/ she needed then. The physical connection with you will reassure him that you care. He or she might give a baffled look, but trust you me, in hearts and hearts he loved it. How much old he gets he would still want to snuggle in you and cuddle you tight.
  • So what are you waiting for? Go right up to your child and tell him or her how much they mean to you. It is important for them to know that their acts do not waver your love for them. They still are the princess or prince for you. Be that ONE person in your child’s life who loves them selflessly. Be that one to give them HOPE in one’s abilities. What a place this world be with children filled with hope than doubt. Such children will be the ones who will be capable of creating magic wherever they go. So BE THAT ONE!
  • do share what did you do to be that one person in your child’s life to being in more love. We would love to hear and learn from each other.

    Give me 24 Hours

     

    In the hustle bustle

    trying to meet the daily needs

    Letting each day pass-by

    without having felt it.

    When the rain stopped making me feel like a child again

    Instead I crib its onset.

    When winters no longer stand for a snuggle from a loved ones

    and is replaced by a lonely stroll.

    When quarrels and fights are the ways to be

     

    In that hustle bustle

    Give me those 24 hours

    The hours to think

    The hours to introspect

    of what has happened

    what is it I need?

    Why am I and what is the way to be?

     

    No longer will there be dark clouds,

    but rays of sunshine

    No longer will the quarrel be nasty anymore

    or will the fight last or war exist

    No longer will I defy,

    but allow it to settle

     

    Let the joy settle

    to map the road ahead

    Let the anger settle and thinking evolve

    For the mind to have a clearer lens

    Let me have that time

    To ponder my responses thoughtfully

    that is how I map my mind

    The way it should be.

     

    Those 24 hours is what I need!

    Educated or Literate?

    What does it take to draw the picture of an orange tree by 7 years old? Does it only need the drawing skills as a pre-requisite? Or does it need fine observation skills, the eyes which are trained to look at minute details? As educationalists or parents, we need to change our outlook towards learning and education. The learning has to be more realistic and connected to the child’s immediate environment.

    Let us talk about what is education at first place. We as adults need to understand the difference between literacy and education, to avoid any confusion I will elaborate both here. Education is the way of life, it is the way an individual lives his life, solves his problems and thinks rationally and Is able to take data driven decisions. On the other hand literacy is the ability for an individual to read and write and perform basic arithmetic. According to the world data, India ranks 159 amongst all the 196 countries in the literacy rate with 69% of literacy rate. The statistics are not very encouraging, though even further disappointing fact remains that there are schools which are following the hackneyed pedagogies which are nowhere connected to the learner and his environment/living conditions.

    There are viewpoints stating many factors contributing towards high drop rate of students from the schools. To mention a few, children drop out due to high poverty, children working as laborers and contributing to the income of the families. There is one hidden factor as well. It does not meet the naked eye so easily. That fact is that school is considered as a knowledge store house wherein the child will GET all the knowledge from the teacher lecturing in front. There has not been any credibility or accountability for the child to use his mind to THINK, REFLECT and EXPERIMENT. Instead the child has to act against his wish, he/she has to tortuously sit through those number of hours and try and fit in all the EXISITING information in the head. There is NO scope, and I mean it, No scope for the child to TRY, fiddle with things, have their own tinkering time.

     To understand the current scenario of the way our pedagogy and methodology have been designed, we will have to look into the emergence of our educational system.  During the colonial time, Britishers had introduced schools to produce literate clerks who could read and write for clerical work. They did not need THINKERS. As producing thinkers would have been a threat to their own rule. They did not support analytical skills, problem solving, observation skills. However, it has been 72 years of India’s freedom. The paradox is that we still continue with the same old education system wherein we discourage a child to TRY. We condition their mind with fear, anxiety and threats and they do not even try. We continue to be colonial in our thoughts wherein we continue to give prime importance to memory over the skills of reasoning, dialoguing. We consider dialoguing as offensive for the child and end up punishing them. In case a child raises his voice, he is considered indecent to question authority. Questioning which is a natural way to clarify a doubt was and is considered a taboo. Napolian Hill in his book, Think and Grow Rich mentions that an educated person is not necessarily one who has an abundance of general and specializes knowledge. To be truly educated is to have so developed faculties of mind that one may acquire anything one wishes, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.

    As teachers and parents, we shoulder responsibility in bringing up the child and shaping his future. However, that responsibility has turned into a burden. We live and sustain in a production unit where our hearts do not respond to our inner voices and the joy of learning is a fantasy. As rightly quoted by A.S Neil in the book Summerhill “The function of the child is to live his own life- not the life that his anxious parents thing he should live, nor a life according to the purpose of the educator who thinks he knows what is best. “ Instead our roles as adults should be to scaffold a child’s learning. Give them the experiences but do not feel for the child. The education has to be a zone to trying out without fear and anxiety. What is wrong in failing? Failures are nothing but experiences which help us grow.

    Now the question arises, if not this, then what kind of education system do we want? We are looking at global leaders who can think, be good problem solvers and have rational decision making abilities. We need to allow our kids to make mistakes. Mistakes should not be seen as failures; instead they should be seen as learning opportunities. As parents and educators, we need to focus on skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. The focus should shift from mugging up to practical implication of those skills.