Everyone Loves A Good Story

To be able to use one's imagination to entertain others is a great skill to master -- our parents and grandparents used bedtime stories to great effect in our childhood.

Storytelling is an art: it educates, it entertains, and it enthralls. It encourages us to be creative. It can even lull us into a good night's sleep. It helped preserve different cultures and traditions across the world before the printed word was invented.

The word 'story' can attain a slightly negative connotation with such English-language phrases as ‘cook up a story’ (invent a story or alibi), or ‘spin a yarn’ (tell a long, far- fetched story). Were you aware that ‘old wives tale’ is a widely held traditional belief that is now thought to be unscientific or incorrect, while ‘a tall tale’ is a hard to believe story?

Those who always tell a ‘cock and bull story’(an obviously untrue story) to their parents, teachers or classmates will find it difficult to convince them they are actually telling the truth and are likely be dismissed with a shake of the head and a “Don’t trust him/her, we are sure it's the ‘same old story’(a bad situation that has happened many times before)”

A story can make us warm and fuzzy inside like a success story, a heartwarming story, a bedtime story or a rags-to-riches story.

Moreover, a good story can fire up our imagination and everybody loves a good story! Therefore, being able to tell a story well can keep your audience spellbound; it is an art worth mastering.

In recent times, the practice of storytelling at home and in schools has declined due to the popularity of video games and social media networks. However, scientists and educators recommend that, this tradition should be made a part of family time and school curriculum.

Storytelling helps students in many ways:

  • Level-playing field: Every child is gifted, but in a different way. Storytelling gives an alternative to children who are unable to cope with traditional learning methods.
  • Job opportunities: The ability to express our ideas and vision clearly and imaginatively is a key to be a part of the 21st century workforce.
  • Networking: The power of oral expression can help students create effective networks -- the lifeline of modern living.

Teachers, on the other hand, can benefit from:

  • Increased reach: They can reach out to every student in the class and keep them interested for longer periods of time.
  • Less stress: By introducing an element of fun, teachers can communicate with students with less effort.
  • Renewed creativity: Educators can broaden their own horizons by effective and creative use of storytelling.

Finally, storytelling is an effective method of communication that has been in existence for thousands of years. In case you are interested, here is a link to some interesting variations of the word story/tale/yarn at http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/story)

What values do festivals teach us?

India is a vast country where the landscape – along with language and customs – changes every few kilometers. We are the most diverse country in the world by far!

Festivals are an integral part of a country: There is not a single community, or country in the world that does not celebrate some festival associated with seasons, religion or a day that holds special significance to the people of that country.

In India, we celebrate Diwali, Ramzan, Christmas, Guru Poornima (and many others) which have their origins in religion, while Bihu, Pongal and Sankranti are about celebrating nature.

There has been a welcome trend in our country in recent times that can go a long way in further strengthening relationship between different communities. We now celebrate most festivals which were earlier considered as being specific to a community cutting across divisions – religious, ethnic and linguistic. This is unsurprising and is consistent with our national ethos.

Are you surprised at the emerging trend? If you are not, it is clear the thought never crossed your mind. It is also possible that you did not think it was worth looking for differences when finding similarities with fellow human beings made more sense to you. It reaffirmed your belief that all festivals are a celebration of Unity – the oneness of mankind.

We are born equal and we must live as equals. We have no adversaries but in disease, poverty, and illiteracy and we must be united in our fight against them.

The world belongs to all of us, but so does the responsibility of keeping it the way our forefathers found it many moons ago.

We should strive to leave the world in a better shape for our future generations. Harvest festivals across the world are celebrated with this specific purpose in mind. Our ancestors realized that Nature is the supreme force that rewards us for our good deeds, and punishes us for the bad ones.

Festivals are celebrated with another purpose in mind; to reaffirm our commitment to our family, friends and the community we live in. It is also a happy occasion for making new pledges.

Finally, conservation of nature and promotion of unity among the inhabitants of our planet should be our top priority and festivals help us achieve both the objectives in a fun way.

Value Education and Parenting - Importance of Inculcating Right Values in Children

We often find ourselves vulnerable to enticements and temptations. The true test of our integrity is dependent on how our core set of values inculcated by our parents and nurtured by our teachers can withstand the challenges posed by our environment.

For example, most of us are law-abiding citizens. But, many of us will admit to driving down a one-way street in a moment of weakness only to end up running into a police officer.

Oh, the ignominy!

Moral of the story is, our core set of values are non-negotiable and we must remain true to ourselves regardless of the circumstances.

Our education begins from the day we are born. We continue to learn all our life, with parents and educators sharing the great responsibility of shaping our future.

The world around us is changing rapidly with the advancement in technology and we must adapt ourselves to our new environment. However, it is equally important to preserve our core value system. Teachers and parents need to work together to shape the youth of today into responsible citizens of tomorrow.

Incorporating value education in schools and greater involvement from parents could provide the answers to the issues like social alienation and antisocial behaviour faced by our society.

School environment is ideal for developing traits like growth mindset in children. Let's see what other values children can develop in school with the help of their teachers:

  • Creativity: Encouraging children to be creative boosts their sense of self-worth.

 

  • Collaboration: Teamwork is the ability to work across barriers and is a highly valued quality in the 21st century work culture.

 

  • Growth mindset: A ‘fixed’ mindset makes children believe their talent is a fixed trait, whereas a growth mindset encourages them to further develop that talent.

Home environment provides a natural space for parents to inculcate values like compassion in children. Let's see how it can benefit a child's growth:

  • Family Values: Spending more time with children is a great way to teach them the importance of family life.
  • Compassion: Teaching children to have concern for all living things goes a long way in making the world a better place.
  • Sharing: Teaching children the joy of sharing with the less fortunate is a great way to get them to place others’ interests before their own.

 

Finally, children may not always be forthcoming with their problems. For this reason, it is important to create a support system based on value education and responsible parenting to help them deal effectively with their anxieties and concerns.

Festivals Food and Family

Most parents have two preoccupations: the first is to keep their children out of mischief; and the second is to ensure the children eat well and eat right.

Children typically have short attention spans. Keeping them interested in any activity for long periods of time is an art and requires ingenuity and patience on the parents' part. And keeping children away from unhealthy food and persuading them to eat right requires a miracle!

Celebration of festivals is a family affair in India and food plays an important role in the festivities, and Navratri is no exception.

Navaratri ('nine nights' in Sanskrit) is a festival dedicated to the Hindu deity Durga, and celebrated over nine nights, during which the goddess is worshipped in nine forms. The tenth day is referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra."

So why not combine the two goals this season to keep your kids engaged? First, let us look at some simple recipes for you to try out with your children. It is important for you to supervise your kids’ activities in the kitchen at all times.

Since our main objective is to involve children to help us around the kitchen, let’s keep our recipes simple. (Source: http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/)

  1. Banana Milkshake: Simple, yet delicious and healthful. Blend bananas, vanilla and coconut milk in the blender. Add sugar (optional) and sprinkle cardamom powder on top.
  2. Sweet Lime (Mosambi) Juice: Slightly labour-intensive, but useful to get the children to help you peel and remove the seeds from the fruit. Blend the fruit in a juicer, add honey or sugar, add ice cubes and serve.
  3. Cucumber Raita: Chop or grate the cucumber, add it to the beaten curd, and garnish the mixture with coriander or mint leaves.

The essence of celebrating festivals is to strengthen family bonds. Festivals are also a great time to teach our children the importance of money and the joy of lending a helping hand in household chores.

Grocery shopping with your children is a great way to teach them about the value of money. Getting them to help you around the kitchen will help them to learn about the importance of teamwork.

Finally, children expect their parents to spend quality time with them and they consider parental attention as the greatest gift they could ever hope to receive.

Mount Litera Zee school wishes you a happy Navratri. May you be blessed with a life full of happiness and good fortune.

Father's Day Activities to show your affection for your father

He is addressed as Babba (Arabic), pai (Brazilian Portuguese), táta (Czech), pappie (Dutch), isa (Estonian), abba (Hebrew), apa(Hungarian), otec(Slovak), tata (Spanish), tad (Welsh) and also using a host of other names in other parts of the world.

 

In India, pitaji (Hindi), appa (Tamil), tandri (Telugu), pitav (Malayalam), appa/anna (Kannada) and aanu/bappa in Konkani are used. Regardless of the word used, he is the single most important man in our lives. He is loved, respected, and sometimes even feared.

 

We hero worship our father. Haven’t most of us fought with other boys in our childhood to settle the issue as to whose father is the strongest one?

 

We look up to the man for practically every single thing in our life. But we also fear him as he is often an enforcer of discipline, or at least his name is regularly invoked by mothers as a last resort to calm things down when things get unruly at home.

 

Here is an attempt to describe the man:

 

A father is someone who comforts you when you are in distress, disciplines you when you get unruly, beams with pride when you succeed, and never loses faith in you even when you fail.

 

Do we ever take time to appreciate what he does for us? We all do, in our own way. But should we do more?

 

Probably not, considering our parents do not expect anything in return from their offspring except respect and good behaviour. On the other hand, any celebration or activity involving the entire family is a good thing. We just need a good pretext or an excuse and here is a good one.

 

Father’s day is celebrated on the 19th of June. Let us see how kids can make their fathers feel special:

 

    • Spend time with dad: Dads are busy people who are always on the move, working hard to make sure their family is well looked after. Show your appreciation by spending time with your dad - bring him up-to-date about your school, your friends, and bring to his notice any important issues.

 

  • Come up with an amusing slogan: Show your creativity by coining a slogan about how special your dad is. Here is a sample: “Some people don’t believe in Superheroes. I say, they’ve not met my dad.” Be creative and be bold.

 

    • Help cook your dad’s favourite food: Taking a leaf out of the old saying ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ you can help your mother to cook his favourite food. But make sure you do not try to do things on your own in the kitchen without your mother’s knowledge.

 

  • Buy dad something special: Our parents always put off buying things for themselves so that children’s needs are met first. If your dad has been wanting to buy something, say, a belt or a pair of jogging shoes, but keeps postponing it, you can help your mother to buy it for him with a part of your own savings.

 

  • Take up a small project: There is nothing like having your dad to guide you in a project. He has done it all and he has the expertise.

 

You can also solve a puzzle, play board games, go to beach, go hiking, go for a long walk, go to the movies, go through the family album together or do things which you know he likes doing.

 

You can even give him the choice of deciding what he would like to do!

 

Finally, make a pledge to yourself on Father’s Day that you will always do things that will make him proud of you. That’s probably the greatest gift children can give to their parents.

The Biggest Contribution of Children to Humanity

Most of us have noticed infants smiling - apparently to themselves - in their sleep and wondered about it. Finally, my grandmother, a pious and upright lady solved the mystery for me.

 

“They are in conversation with God,” my granny said softly. Now, I respected the dear old lady enormously. She was known to be traditional in her ways, but completely free of prejudice and totally modern in her outlook. She was our family matriarch and our guiding spirit.

 

I waited for her to burst out laughing for having pulled out a fast one on me. I looked her in the eye for a twinkle that might give away her real intentions. There was none.

 

For some reason, she fell silent without attempting to shed more light on the matter nor did I press her for further explanations.

 

I never stopped thinking about what she said, and it was years later it struck me what she meant - we are born godlike, and it is external influences that corrupt us and convert us into individuals with our share of faults and imperfections.

 

Children’s contribution to humanity is a masterclass in hope, tolerance, sharing and loving that needs to be emulated by others.

 

  • Seeing hope: Life depends on hope for it sustenance, Without hope, there is no life. In children, we find hope that spurs us to do good things.

 

  • Being tolerant: Tolerance is key to our progress. Let us learn it from our children.

 

  • Ignoring differences: Children neither notice nor care for the colour of skin or something as trivial, until it is pointed out to them by adults.

 

  • Sharing with others: Haven’t we seen little children going around and offering to share their chocolate with others?

 

  • Loving unconditionally: Unconditional service, love, and commitment are the need of the hour for humanity. Our children show us the way.

 

There is plenty adults can learn from children - the closest one can come to experiencing divinity on this earth. The future of humanity depends on inculcating these values to lead a peaceful life full of harmony, spirit of coexistence and respect and concern for others.

 

Children lead the way for the better future of humanity. It is time for the rest of us to follow their path. Therein lies the hope for humanity.

 

Teaching Entrepreneurship To Children: Should We Do It?

According to Wikipedia, entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, often a small business, popularly known as a ‘startup.’  It typically involves development of a product or a process or even offering of a certain service. Entrepreneurship requires capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business venture with the associated risks, with the eventual goal being the generation of healthy profits.

 

Not all startups are destined to be successes. In fact the rate of failure in this field is very high, owing to a number of factors. Inadequate funding, lack of market demand, bad business decisions, and economic crisis can all play a part, either individually or collectively, and make the venture a non-productive enterprise.

 

Not a viable career option for an aspiring young hopeful then? Not really. The rate of failure in this field is not radically different from any other activity.

 

Risks are realities that cannot be wished away but need to be dealt with effectively. However, we can certainly reduce the impact of those risks by taking some prudent decisions.

 

There is an ongoing debate about introducing children to entrepreneurship. But opinion is equally divided with one school of thought fearing for the impact of failure on young minds, while the other is of the opinion that there is a lot more to be learnt from one’s failures than successes.

 

However, one can learn from both - one’s successes and failures. We can use the context of a startup venture to help us learn some valuable lessons.

 

Let us look at what failure can teach us:

 

  • Lack of or inadequate funding: The lesson on offer here is to have respect for money. Money management is an important skill that can help kids to understand and appreciate what it takes to earn money and how hard their parents are working to provide for them.

 

  • Lack of market demand: Do your research thoroughly, study the current trends and patterns and make allowances for future contingencies.

 

  • Economic crises: Be disciplined in your approach to spending money. Do not spend your money before you have earned it. Strong emphasis on savings helped India to tide over the crises of global economic recession, financial meltdowns and economic downturns.

 

  • Bad business decisions: Teaches children to base their decisions on facts, research and common sense as opposed to taking chances, depending on hearsay and having unrealistic expectations.

 

Nothing succeeds like success, they say. Success can teach the children the virtues of being resilient, patient, and organized, the very qualities required for effective management of resources, people and business.

 

Teaching children about entrepreneurship is a win-win situation. There are lessons to be learnt in both our failures and successes. And that is a valuable lesson to learn.

 

Packing school lunch the right way and making sure your kids are eating right

Most children tend to have a short attention span and one of the greatest challenges is to keep them alert, active and attentive in class.

 

Teachers know from experience that one of the ways to keep them energetic all day is by getting them to eat nutritious and wholesome food.

 

However, the task is a delicate one. Get the children to eat well and you will have half the children trying hard to keep their eyes open in the post lunch session. Get them to eat a little less and you will have them looking restless and impatient to go home. The trick is to get them to eat nutritious food in right quantities so that they are energetic but not lethargic.

 

This seemingly mundane everyday job is very important for children’s development. Eat right is a concept that advocates right eating habits in children and is attracting a lot of attention, in the developed nations. Schools in the West have been running Eat right campaigns with considerable success for some time now.

 

In the West, managing children’s diet is often a part of a school’s many responsibilities. But in India, by and large, the norm is for parents to pack school lunch. That being the case, how can we ensure our children eat a healthful, well-balanced diet? Let us find out:

 

  • First rule of the thumb is, junk food is not an option: Many schools have come down  heavily on junk food and rightly so. Junk food is rich in calories but are devoid of any nutritional value and is not acceptable as the main item of school lunchboxes. It is extremely harmful for the children’s growth - both mental and physical. Think of the preservatives, additives and artificial colours in the junk food and you get the picture.

 

  • So what constitutes a well-balanced diet?  According to Wikipedia “A healthy diet provides the body with essential nutrition: fluid, adequate essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories. A healthy diet supports energy needs and provides for human nutrition without exposure to toxicity or excessive weight gain from consuming excessive amounts.” A great definition which gives us a good idea about what should be a part of our child’s lunchbox.

 

 

  • Packing the lunch box: Let us look at some of the essential nutrients that should be a part of your child’s lunch box and their source.

 

 

 

  • Amino acids: Nuts like almonds, peanut butter, cheese, soybeans.

 

    • Essential fatty acids: Walnut, leafy vegetables, fish, olive oil
    • Vitamins: Milk, butter, eggs, chicken
    • Minerals: Our body needs Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Sodium and Potassium. Some of the sources are : tofu, apricots, yoghurt, bananas, orange juice.
    • Fresh fruits: Always include fresh fruit but make sure they are free of traces of pesticide by washing them thoroughly.
    • Water: Boiled and cooled water should always be a part of the lunchbox and children should be encouraged to drink water regularly.

 

The ingredients listed above are the essential dietary elements around which you can improvise using your knowledge of your child's likes and dislikes and also your culinary skills.

 

Disclaimer: This write-up is to only serve as a general guide. Consult your doctor or dietician for expert advice.

Protecting Your Child's Health During the Monsoons

Summers appear to be getting harsher with every passing year, and this year was no exception, with mercury touching high 40s in most parts of the country. But mercifully, the relief from the relentless heat seems to be around the corner.

 

The southern part of the country has already experienced pre-monsoon showers, bringing the temperatures down. Finally, the famed Indian Summer is giving way to the famous Indian Monsoons.

 

The Monsoons this year are expected to be normal by Met Department and one hopes it comes true. We just cannot afford one more deficient monsoons after successive years of scanty rainfall.

 

The Monsoons, while providing the much needed relief from the physical discomforts and ailments associated with the summer, bring their own set of problems. Commuting to work, attending school, and even shopping assumes additional levels of difficulty, with waterlogging, falling tree branches and chaotic vehicular traffic, adding to our woes.

 

During the monsoons, our health can be adversely affected if we are not careful. But rains can be good fun too, if you take a few precautionary measures:

 

  • Indigestion: Eat moderately and stick to fruits and vegetables. But make sure you wash them thoroughly as they are apt to be a little less cleaner during the rains. Boiled vegetables are a safe bet as they are high on nutrition and germs-free.

 

  • Dehydration: Contrary to the general belief, on can get dehydrated during the rains, causing indigestion. Encourage your children to carry a water bottle at all times to stay hydrated and to make sure they are protected against water-borne diseases.

 

  • Food contamination: This is probably the number one reason for illness during the monsoons. Advise your children to avoid eating at roadside eateries and always stick to the nutritious and hygienically prepared homemade food prepared by you.

 

  • Mosquito control: Make sure there are no breeding space for mosquitoes. Malaria, Chikungunya and Dengue are not only dangerous but also have a long recovery period. Make sure there is no stagnant water around your homes and schools.

 

  • Avoid puddles: Children and adults alike cannot resist the temptation to step and splash into a puddle. Not a good idea as the stagnant water may be home to insect and worm larvae and can enter our body through cuts and bruises on our legs.

 

Finally, get the children to wash their hands and feet thoroughly after a visit outdoors. If they get soaked in the rain, get them to change into warm and dry clothes.

 

In addition, also make sure your children are watch out for fallen live power transmission lines, overflowing stormwater drains and falling tree branches. They also need to be told to be extra careful while getting on and off school bus or other modes of transport.

 

Now that we have taken all the necessary precautions, let’s welcome and enjoy the Monsoons!