Tag Archives: online games

5 Activities For This Summer

Summers are a good time for kids to put away their devices and homework. Kids need to switch off from online games and explore non digital activities. After all human beings are a part of nature and it’s important to stay plugged into a system that we are part of. Being in touch with nature regulates well-being, keeps the senses sharp and gives kids a sense of cyclical continuity.

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Sprinkler Fun by Donnie Ray Jones

Many of the modern day lifestyle problems that kids have developed can easily be sorted out with a massive dose of Vit-N. Here are 5 summer activities for you to explore:

  1. Get the kids to explore the geography around where they live. Take the kids out to parks and open spaces close to home. Let them feel the soil and grass under their feet. Open up a map and talk about the contiguity of land. Spot rivers and other water bodies close by. Wade through the water and throw pebbles in. Talk of the source of drinking water. Get them to wonder where all our dirty water goes. Help them wonder about where our trash goes.
  2. Spot our fellow creatures in the world. If you live in an urban jungle watch out for birds which have found new nesting places. Help kids understand the importance of our little insect friends. Teach them to observe plants and insects. Spot the caterpillars, butterflies, wasps, bee hives or the many other signs of nature in our concrete hubs. In case you need to learn more to get your kids interested, many universities put out a lot of information about our fellow creatures on their departmental sites. There are a lot of dedicated scientists/commoners who love sharing their information on virtual and real world spaces.
  3. Get kids to photograph the same things through various parts of the day. When they see the same scene/thing photographed under various conditions of light, they understand the impact of the Sun, and how we fit into the astronomical world.
  4. Try Hapa Zome, a craft activity. Get the kids to collect leaves and flowers in various colors and shapes. Lay them out on a piece of clean white cotton cloth with no starch. Spread a piece of tissue on the plant matter and hammer gently on it. This will help release the pigments onto the cloth. Peel the plant matter off to see the prettiest of designs. Kids can hang their piece of art on the wall or on the refrigerator at home.
  5. Run a scavenger hunt in a park. This can be an intensely fun activity in a small neighborhood park. Make lists of things to be found. Distribute it among the groups. Help the kids find them. This will help them explore the park in ways you had never imagined. Give clues which will make them look for things from different perspectives. E.g. Spotting an owl home or a type of ant nest in the ground.

These are just sample activities. Parents and kids can get more inventive. Use the parks and public spaces. Frequently our memories define us. Summers are a great time to make some great memories. Spot your fellow beings on the planet. Help your kids understand how everything in nature is woven tightly together. Enjoy the summer!

 

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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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Bonding with Grandparents

A post from my wife Maya. Perhaps its the upcoming holiday, that made her write this post.

My grandmother is a quiet person, and I don’t have memories of conversations or bedtime stories. What I do remember is the unconditional love that I received. Since becoming a parent and watching my parents and in-laws become grandparents, I have a new found appreciation for the role grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren.

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Grandparents and Pupa” by Juhan Sonin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

That said, not all grandparent-grandchild relationships progress easily. Sometimes distance hinders the development of a meaningful relationship. In other cases, the generation gap may make one or both parties feel uncertain about how to connect with one another. Then there are cases where blended families or trouble between family members come in the way of a smooth relationship. However, with a little effort and the readiness to try new things, there are many ways in which you can overcome obstacles and help your children build a meaningful relationship with their grandparents.

Even if the kids already have a great relationship with their grandparents, encourage them to try out the ideas listed below to add more fun and excitement to their time together. And if you happen to be a grandparent, these tips are for you as well.

  1. Keeping in touch. If the grandparents aren’t in touch with the kids, that’s the first place to start. If you live close-by make sure to take the kids over on a regular basis, and also to invite the grandparents home. If you live in different cities, use technology to bridge the distance between you. Rather than making phone calls, use Skype or Google hangout so that you can see each other as you talk. If your kids are really young, keep the grandparents updated about their milestones and send them pictures, videos and voice recordings of the kids on a regular basis. As they grow older, you still play an important role in fostering the bond between them. Keep the grandparents informed about important events in the kids’ lives so that they have something to talk about when they interact with each other. Whether you use email or regular mail, encourage the kids to write letters to their grandparents. Grandparents, send the kids small, inexpensive gifts in the mail. That will certainly get them excited about receiving mail from you.
  1. Hanging out together online. Video conferencing is one thing, and hanging out online is another. The internet is an important part of kids’ lives and it will mean a lot to them if their grandparents make an effort to connect with them online. Play different kinds of online games with your grandchildren and see how it instantly changes your relationship for the better. A kid-friendly virtual world game is best for this purpose, as it means that you and your grandkids can chat and have fun adventures together without you worrying about your arthritis or keeping up with them. If you’re having trouble understanding the game, ask the kids for help! For younger kids, you can try out the website Grandparent Games, which is all about connecting with grandkids and being a part of their early learning.
  1. Teaching the kids a new skill. Do you have a hobby that you think you could introduce to the kids? Gardening? Fishing? Baking? Knitting? Kids are quick and eager learners, and they will love spending time with you learning a new skill. Give them the first few lessons when you are physically there with them, and later on your hobby can be a great way to connect over long distances.
  1. Sharing stories of the past. Kids love hearing stories about when the adults in their lives were kids just like them. Who better to tell these stories than the one who was there for it all? Tell the kids interesting and funny stories about when their parents, aunts and uncles were kids. Don’t forget to talk about your own childhood as well.
  1. Building a family tree. Help the kids get to know their extended family by building a family tree with them. The kids are likely to have lots of questions about the people they aren’t very familiar with, and talking about them is a great way for you to bond with the kids.
  1. Vacationing together. Traveling is always a great way to bond. Take the grandkids with you on a vacation they’ll never forget. If this isn’t a viable option for you, even a simple day trip will do. If you live in different cities, you can spend a day taking them to all the local tourist attractions in your hometown.

There are many other small ways in which you can strengthen the bond between grandparents and grandkids. I’d love to know what activities your family does together to help build this invaluable relationship.