Category Archives: Playing

Stop Saying ‘No’

A post from my wife Maya. 

Parental discussions at parks tend to focus on how kids say ‘No’ for everything. Yes, some kids are more difficult than others. Yes, kids who say ‘No’ to most things that are suggested can be frustrating.

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Small child plays on the porch 2 by simpleinsomnia

The solution is not to shout back at such kids, because it might easily be reduced to a shouting match. The trick is to diffuse the situation using humor, or distract or use any other trick available in the parental arsenal to break the status quo.

Lead by example

As parents, it’s our job to lead by example, however trying it might be under certain circumstances. After a full day at work, it’s easy to let the kids to play online games to keep them occupied and say ‘No’ to most things a child suggests. When we are too tired to run behind or play with our child, there is a tendency in us to say ‘Don’t run, just sit and play here where I can keep an eye on you.’ Play is important for kids, and it’s one of the best ways to bond. This should involve activity, and running around which is good for both the physical and mental development of a child. So, however tired you are, pull out the energy from deep within to play with your child. By playing regularly, a child internalizes play and it becomes natural to want to play. Kids who play regularly, especially outdoors are generally less frustrated. There is a reason why forest bathing is being followed by so many.

Over using ‘No’ and ‘Don’t’

Parents need to stop over using these word while kids play or explore. They must be watchful and stop kids when they feel something’s risky, but they must not stop a child from trying things or regular play. Kids are meant to run around and be with other kids. By testing their boundaries, they learn to judge for themselves. This also help them go beyond what they are capable of. Such activity also helps them burn energy, leaving them calm and happy. If kids play with peers in wide open areas, they also learnt o help each other if they take a tumble. It’s also interesting to see kids team up naturally to so something which they might not be able to do on their own. It’s not uncommon to see kids push up one kid, who then bends over to pull up another.

Kids who grow up playing are generally well balanced and rarely lose their cool. As they haven’t heard people around them using ‘No’, they don’t use it extensively. Nurture curiosity in them. When the mind is alert, happy and occupied, there’s nothing they want to say ‘No’ to.

It’s our job

Parental responsibility is not just about stopping our kids from hurting themselves. It’s bigger. We have to nurture our young by equipping them with what they need to go out into the wide wide world and make it theirs. For, in a way they are not just ours. As Khalil Gibran wrote,

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

Put Away Those Reading Games

Yes, get the kids to put away those reading games and pull out their walking shoes. Spring is officially here 20th March on. As new life blooms in nature, it’s time to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

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Sakura tunnel by akaitori

Spring’s in the Air

After the miserable cold, spring is welcomed with open arms. This is celebrated across the world in many different ways. Some are new age celebrations, while others have a history of thousands of years. Vitamin-Nature is something which kids need massive doses off. As our lifestyle changes, lives are getting busy and kids as well as adults spend very little time outdoors. This is not a good sign for younger kids. Hit the park or the playground. Younger kids need to spend a lot of time in nature. This is crucial for their sensory development.

Getting a big dose of Vitamin-N

Kids need to run about with shoes and without. They need to jump, tumble, hop, skip and spin with abandon. This helps in their health and development.Movement is crucial in the developing years. Many of the problems associated with kids’ development and health, like childhood obesity and sensory processing disorders, can really be helped with large doses of nature. Interestingly in Washington DC, children are prescribed doses of spending time at the park! Yes, it’s called Park Rx and it’s a communtiy initiative.

Swinging by themselves – basic playground stuff

Many kids much beyond preschool do not know how to swing by themselves. Parents rarely give pumping on a swing any thought. It’s complicated and crucial to developing musculature and coordination. Once the child is confident to sit in a regular swing and they are ready to follow your direction to hold the chains tight, start them slow. Coach them to stretch their legs and fold it as the swing starts up. Before you know it, they’ll get into the rhythm of swinging, and you’ll see the kids jumping off in mid-air and 2-3 of them swing all at once on swing! Make sure they are careful around others swinging high.

Enormous benefits

The benefits from nature are enormous for the development of kids. This does not mean going and living in a forest with your family. It just means increasing association with natural environments. Apart from parks, families can start small gardens. Watching something grow can fascinate kids. Get a pet. Buy fresh ingredients to make a meal and involve the kids. Soon they might be involved in cooking a Thanksgiving meal!

Encourage them to enjoy the rain, wind, sun and the snow. Do some activities which involve nature – hapa zome, flower drying, planting seeds, vegetable printing or anything that interests the kids.

Winding Up

My parents have always told us stories about the simple things they played with – cartons, tins, pieces of wood, bottles, sticks, newspaper etc. With massive doses of imagination, they got really inventive with their playtime. From such open ended play to the high levels of structured play that kids get, the move has been rapid and not fully beneficial. It’s time for a prescription of Park Rx!

 

Math Games with Younger Kids

Mathematics can be fun for many, but can also be a monster for others. It’s unfortunate if kids are afraid of math even before they start regular school. Frequently this happens because parents are afraid, and they pass on their fears to the children.

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Happy Kids by Caio Vinicius Reis de Carvalho

One of the easiest ways to reduce this fear it to talk math. Yes, talk. Mathematics. Talk quarter pizzas and half burgers. Exchange 5 peanuts for an almond. Ask the kids to distribute fruit to the family. We must surround kids with numbers. This makes kids comfortable with numbers and their concepts. This exposure will help them throughout their lives. Just like sportive spirit, an appreciation of mathematics has to be imbibed. Sometimes playing games is a great way to get kids into math.

Here are three Math Games to play with Younger Kids:

  1. Count your Steps

Count your steps as you walk. It could be to the bathroom or just till the front door. You could call out a number and your kid calls out the next. Make it more interesting by singing out your numbers, or you could sound funny. This is also a great way for kids to advance their counting abilities. You could even try reverse counting.

2. Weigh things

This can be messy but fun. You might have to wait a bit until kids can read out numbers. Trust me kids love doing this. Ask them to weigh one object against the other, just using their hands. Occasionally you could ask them to load two small buckets. They they could lift the two and decide. At the park use the see saw to talk about weight. Start with imbalance and see if balance can be achieved with the help of other kids. Children like to weigh their shoes, food, books, toys etc. Beware of finding a used nappy on the scale!

3. Count and throw

This is a great game to be played indoors or outdoors. Keep a large container. Pile up a few things which will not break, and not hurt. Aim and throw them into the container. Keep count of the ones which land inside. This game is also good for improving hand eye coordination. If you have a mix of kids, change the distance they throw from. To make it more exciting, throw things into water. Make sure objects are waterproof and make sure the mess is outside the house. Alternatively, you could also stand at a height and drop things into a bucket. Just make sure the kids do this safely.

As kids start school most of them get on to playing math games. Schools maintain resource links for kids. Always play the game you are allowing your kids to play. If you are happy with it, let the kids play. Some teachers are enthusiastic enough to design games for kids. It is definitely an age where kids learn through games. In fact education and gaming are evolving together. In spite of all this the first games played at home are the ones which leave a deep impression.

 

 

 

 

What do you want to do this Mother’s Day?

The kids asked me what I was going to do for Mother’s Day. I replied, ‘The usual’.

My kids decided I do too much of the usual stuff. They want all of us to do something unusual for this Mother’s Day. They started with a trip to the Arctic Circle. I countered with the beach. You can imagine how the conversation went from thereon.

When I was younger, we generally got my mother a card or a flower. Now kids buy their mothers flowers, gift or sometimes both.

About the Founder

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By Olairian – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26708917

The lady in the picture, Anna Jarvis, might not be well known, but she is the person who campaigned for Mother’s Day to be celebrated on the second Sunday of May. It culminated in a Presidential Order being passed by Woodrow Wilson in 1914. It was in the memory of her mother, who had said – I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mothers day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.

Commercialization

Anna Jarvis had meant for Mother’s Day to be a sentimental observance. Kids would write sweet notes of tenderness to their mothers and give them a carnation. They were her mother’s favorite flower. What happened a few years down the line was rather sad. Florists would increase the price of carnations just before Mother’s Day. Card makers made sappy cards for Mother’s Day. People went out for big lunches with their mother and bought them gifts. In the melee the sentiment behind Mother’s Day got lost as early as the 1920s.

There was a point when Anna Jarvis called greeting card manufacturers and florists “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.” After years of campaigning to start the observance, she now collected signatures to stop the whole thing.

Going back to the roots

“A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world,” Jarvis reportedly said. It is true that most of us just buy a card, flowers and a gift for our mothers. We don’t even spend time with her.

As we understand more and more of the world around us, we realize that all the toys, online games, candy, music, comics, gadgets, flowers in the world, cannot be as precious as the time we spend with our mother. It is a relationship surfeit with love and  tenderness. Mother’s Day is a day when we let our mothers know about how much we care for them.

This Mother’s Day, we decided to stay simple. I would write a note for my mother and the kids would make cards for their mother. We would sing their favorite songs and play their favorite movie. And together we would bake a cake for them. This Mother’s Day would be memorable and all about strengthening family bonds and showing our love for our mothers.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Activities for Spring

Here is Maya writing a post about spring activities.

Yes, I say it again – ditch the games to be played inside the house, spring is here. March 21st was the Spring Equinox. For humans the Sun plays an important role, without which we would have no food and therefore we would not exist. The equinoxes signify those days when we celebrate equal day and night. These dates hold cultural significance because they were tied in with our harvests. Even today the seasons are important and the sun’s role has not changed, but the celebrations have been toned down.

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Finding_Sweet_Leaves_5283 by James Emery

Spring brings warmth, color and happiness. Here are four activities for spring:

  • Homemade dough for playing

When kids are young, they like putting stuff in their mouths. If it is the store bought Playdoh, we worry about what goes into making it. It is simple and easy to make a dough for playing at home. In fact the making of the dough is one activity even as the dough can be used to make other stuff. One of my favorite recipes is making a herbal playdough. Apart from being a good way to explore materials and consistency, it it completely safe even if a child pops some into her mouth.

  • Spending time with real pets

Time to throw out the pet games and spend time with real pets. If you are considering the idea of getting a pet, this is a good time to get one home. In case you would rather spend time with animals, but would rather not bring any pets home just schedule a visit to a pet shelter. Kids can spend time with animals and parents need not have the responsibility. Exposure to animals is comforting to most kids. They learn empathy and a lot about sharing the planet with other creatures.

  • Learning to grow 

Spring is all about new life. It is a good time for kids to learn to grow stuff, be it in a pot or in the garden. If kids have gone fruit picking, this is a sort of complimentary activity. Kids can start little gardens in a pot or just a plastic tub if need be. Many schools introduce kids to growing stuff as a part of the gardening class. Growing things establishes a connect with nature.

  • Playing under the sun

Humans are designed to spend time outdoors. We get our fix of Vitamin D from sun exposure. This is not the hot afternoon sun we are talking of, but the sunlight during other parts of the day when it is comfortable. It is great for metabolism, getting out of bad moods, good health and growth. In fact we must encourage kids to play outdoors irrespective of the cold.

It’s spring! Come on, get out of the house with the kids. Play, walk and just enjoy a gentle meander around a green patch. Ready for more? Well kick a ball around, read under the warm sun, fix things in the yard, water your garden, grow your own herbs, play outside with your pet or just sit out and sun. Be careful and don’t burn. Feel the connect with nature!

3 Tips for Strengthening Family Bonds

A post from Maya.

There are many different kinds of families, but regardless of type, all families are built upon one common idea – that of sharing, caring and togetherness. All families also need to spend quality time together in order to build, strengthen and nurture bonds. Here are a few ways in which you can improve relationships in your family and contribute significantly to each other’s well-being.

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Being Healthy is Beautiful by Army Medicine, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Eat meals together

Studies have shown that families that eat meals together have better communication. Children who regularly eat meals with their family are less likely to get addicted to alcohol, drugs and tobacco and perform better academically. Mealtimes offer excellent opportunities to share your day with your spouse and kids. If you’re unable to bring the family together for dinner because of hectic schedules, try breakfast. The dinner table should be a space where everyone can communicate openly, without being judged or criticized. Recognize and praise achievements and encourage family members who’ve had a bad day. Small chores revolving around meals also help kids understand co-operative living.

Schedule family time

Your calendar may be packed with important meetings but you need to remember that nothing can take precedence over the most important thing in your life – your family. Try and schedule quality time for each other by designating family nights. Getting family members involved in decisions around the house and making consistent efforts to show your loved ones that they are the ones who matter the most to you go a long way in strengthening family ties. Do things together as a family – go for hikes, attend concerts, go for picnics, work on a craft and so on. Kids who participate in family activities are known to have higher self-esteem and a greater sense of belonging.  Besides setting time aside for your family, actively look for opportunities to connect with your kids – these can be small moments that you spend in child-centric activities such as making up stories while doing chores; reading a book together while waiting at the dentist’s, etc. Besides all this, don’t forget you and your family need to just hang out together enjoying your leisure.

Play games together

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Family Games by Matthew Hurst, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Host a family game night ever so often and make sure all family members make time for it. Invite friends over and play interactive games to promote healthy competition. Organizing a family event may not be possible every time – in that case you can play online pet games or other kinds of multiplayer online games together. One of the best things about playing together – whether online or offline – is that it gives your family a reason to just be with each other. Family gaming is a great parenting tool that offers parents the opportunity to understand the kinds of games that their little ones enjoy and be an active participant in them. You can also give your family a scheduled event they can look forward to and participate in enthusiastically.

With increasingly busy and hectic schedules, family members tend to spend little time with each other. Such activities will also help younger kids understand that in e The activities stated above were perhaps commonplace in times past, but are oft overlooked by families today. Make a conscious effort to engage in these simple activities and you’re sure to see positive results in terms of family bonding and communication.

What are some of the activities that you and your family engage in?

Long Term Resolutions

The dawn of the New Year means there is a party preceding it, which in turn means lots of planning and shopping for New Year’s Eve. What am I doing writing this instead of organizing things?

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party planes play by woodley wonder works

Resolutions

As a family, we did not write out our resolutions for the New Year, but have decided to adopt a few basic changes, which we think will be good for us – some realistic long term resolutions, we can stay with. We think this is a better way to bring positive change in our lives.

Being Better Organized

Well, as a start to being better organized next year, Maya and I have planned the party a little in advance. Yes, it’s true. Invites are out, menus are planned and shopping is done. As a part of the exercise, the kids have also decided on trying to be better organized. For a start, they have planned a few games for the kids. I like this better that having the kids slink off to various sofas and bean bags only to play online puzzle games  or pet games on their individual devices. Games played together, I believe, are wonderful for bonding.

Enjoying Every Day

We are going to enjoy every day, so that we have no regrets after our kids are all grown up. Our kids are key to our happiness, so it makes sense to enjoy our moments with them. As a part of this, we are frequently going to pick small family projects and work on them. This will not only help the kids explore their skills, but it will also be a fun activity to work on together, even as we create fun moments.

Letting Go

Within families, there is always the occasional argument, and sometimes we carry them with us. Well, we will try to inculcate the habit of ‘letting go‘. Why carry bad memories? It is simpler to let them go and build newer and happier memories for ourselves. This way the future is not complicated by the past.

A Starting Point

We can start new habits whenever we want. There are no set days or patterns. It’s just a tradition to have New Year Resolutions. Though not mandatory, it’s a nice touch to start new thing at the New Year. A sense of newness makes all of us open to change, and being open to change is key to bring about change.

Well, do try and bring positive change into your lives. Happy New Year and have a great year ahead!