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editorial

For the Parent in you To know, to understand, to connect

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New Year, New Beginnings! A time to reflect on ourselves as parents; a time to take a fresh look at our children. Let us appreciate our children for who they are and enjoy every moment with them. Children, they grow, they change, they move on. Every second spent with them is a moment in eternity, never to return again. Each child is a flower bud waiting to bloom, each with its own unique shape, size and color, filled with its own special fragrance. Nurture them and watch them grow and blossom. Relish every moment and enjoy their radiant beauty. Be thankful for the unique, special gift God has bestowed upon you. With this fresh, positive perspective, parenting becomes more of pleasure and less of stress.

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Education is an important part of nurturing our children. What type of education? Which school? What other options do we have? These are all dilemmas facing every parent, as they search for the best education opportunities for their children. Today more and more parents are choosing homeschooling as an option for various reasons – from nurturing special talents to the unavailability of a good school nearby. Our cover story ‘At Home with Homeschooling’, explores why homeschooling is a good option for some families. Teaching our children to manage their money and understand its value is a vital part of preparing them for the future, to lead financially secure, independent lives. Our special story ’Beyond the Piggy Bank‘, gives you tips on how you can encourage your child to start saving and managing money. This is also the season of stress for a lot of children with exams approaching and new plans for the future. When does this stress turn into depression? What are the signs? How can we support our child? Our article ‘Swing away your teen‘s blues’, explores this important subject, so you can be aware of the early signs and support your child as necessary. Please check out our website www.parentcircle.in. You can now subscribe online using net banking or credit/debit cards. And we always look forward to your contributions and feedback. Happy New Year to you and your family!

Nalina Ramalakshmi PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

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Parent Circle is published by Nalina Ramalakshmi, Director, Shri Harini Media Pvt. Ltd. All editorial material including editorial comments, opinions and statement of facts appearing in this publication, represent the views of its respective authors and does not necessarily carry the endorsement of the publishers. Information carried in Parent Circle is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed. The publication of any advertisements or listings is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product or service offered.

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contents

FIND US at the

35TH CHENNAI BOOK FAIR

REGULARS 6

IN FOCUS

@ St. George Anglo Indian Hr. Secondary School. (Opp. to Pachaiappan College), Chennai 30 From 5.1.2012 to 17.1.2012. Stall no. 267

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LEARNING Helping Children with Homework

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MINDSET Mom’s Morning Rush: Managing the Lean Way

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FEATURE Creative Movement

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TEEN CIRCLE Swing Away your Teen's Blues

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DESTINATIONS Aaah Andaman!

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ROOTS Harvest Festivals Across India

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HEALTH CIRCLE Eye Problems in Children

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TECH TALK I am Facebooking You!

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LIGHTER VEIN Family Life Exposed

COVER STORY P.10

At Home with Homeschooling RESOURCES

SPECIAL P.16

Beyond the Piggy Bank

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NUTRITION Medicinal Uses of Curry Leaves

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BOOK REVIEW Nurture Shock

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PARENT CHEF Meditteranean Menu

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CHECK IT OUT Good Reads for All Ages

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HANDS ON Pulli Kolam

FORUM 4 18

YOUR WORD PARENT EXPRESS God and a Growing Child

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DISCUSSION POINT Are Tuitions Necessary?

ON THE COVER NIKHIL RAMKUMAR PHOTOGRAPH BY ARJUN DOGRA

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Parent Circle / January 2012


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your word

Letters to the Editor I was happy to see the theme of the December magazine and the coverage given to the music season. While I have nothing against people celebrating Christmas, I do not know why we have to import an American Christmas. It is quite irritating to look around and see Christmas trees and snow everywhere you turn in Chennai and so incongruous out here. We do not think about the kind of cultural invasion that is happening, when we are just adopting a western way of celebrating this season - more so, because it sells! While right under our nose we have a world-class huge music festival which should actually be setting the city ablaze. Thanks for giving it the importance it deserves. KESANG MENEZES, Chennai

t le a ! c r i nt C month e r a f P after o y op month c r you ep, Get doorst r you

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I noticed Parent Circle in an office, as I was awaiting my turn in an interview. I found that every single topic was analysed and presented in a holistic way. When I was pregnant I used to subscribe to all the parenting magazines, but stopped subsequently. I find that Parent Circle’s approach is quite different and refreshing. Now my daughter is 3 1/2 years old, and the magazine has helped me change some pre-conceived notions on parenting. Each time I read a new article it widens my perspective, gives depth to my knowledge and makes me more confident of myself. PERIYANAYAKI THENARASU, Chennai I went through your current issue, it was very easy to sign up and browse through the magazine where I found many ideas. I must say, that I was a bit puzzled by the two pages you have on Ancient Indian Mathematics. Not easy to understand but I grasped the cultural aspect of the message. NICOLE OSTROWSKY, Université de Nice SophiaAntipolisParc ValroseF-06108 Nice Cedex, France I was very impressed with the ‘From Waste to Art’ article in the December issue of the magazine. Thanks a lot Salma Banu. RAMYA RAM

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in focus

In honour of their ability ‘Recognize them for their talent and not for their physical attributes’ - this was the message, conveyed at an event hosted by Freedom Trust in Chennai on December 17, 2011. The event was organized to honour individuals from the physically-disabled community who have won National Awards and State Awards for painting and singing. The President’s award for the ‘Most Creative Individual’ went to V Lokesh, who is hearing-impaired, for his painting; and to P Aishwarya who is visually impaired, for her singing. P Akshaya and N Vishnupriya (both visually impaired) won State Awards for singing classical music. In the past, three individuals from the Freedom Trust - N Vidarthe, Mehtab Allam and Suveda Ganesan (all hearing impaired) have won National Awards for painting.

Safety in schools Dr V S Habibullah, a consultant paediatrician who made a presentation on safety at Bamboola, a play-school in Chennai, has this to say about safety in schools.

Kidnapping of children

The award winners with their mentors

Dr S Sunder, Managing Trustee of Freedom Trust, said,“I congratulate and applaud the parents of these children, who never gave up on their child and let them achieve their dreams”. Such awards give the parents of the disabled, great confidence. “I was worried about my child’s future, but not anymore” says Uma Maheswari, mother of 24-year-old N Vidarthe, who won the National Award for her artworks in 2005. The winners were given training under the Shishu Punarjanmam programme of the Freedom Trust. The Freedom Trust was started in 1997 with the aim of reaching out to the physically-challenged from the economically-backward communities.

students. The school should have adequate fencing, and cameras need to be installed at important places, like the hallway of the school. Anybody, apart from the parent, who is taking the child out of school for any reason, should be identified and vetted by the child, and the parent has to be notified immediately.

This is a real danger. Parents have to check if the bus driver and conductor, van operator/auto driver have a clean record in terms of conduct and behaviour; and whether they have been operating consistently. The school has some responsibility in vetting them, if it is running a bus service, while parents should get details about the auto or van driver (ration card copy, license copy, and any other identification). Schools should have a messaging service for parents, (for which parents could pay), which indicates that the child has arrived safely and is in class. It is best that parents drop the child in school themselves, if possible.

Injuries It is believed that 70%

At school, the security staff has to be alert and keep an eye on all the

the other way, when a child expresses distress on account of bullying. Often

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Parent Circle / January 2012

of injuries in children occur when they fall, and that happens more in schools. The physical trainer has to make sure that the children are playing in a safe environment where there are no equipments with sharp edges. The teachers should be trained in first-aid in case of an emergency. Children are known to drown in halfa-bucket of water. Schools having swimming pools should keep this in mind when students are allowed to swim, and carefully monitor each young learner.

Bullying Sadly, many teachers turn

they think that the child can sort it out by himself, which does not always happen. This can be disastrous for instance, if it happens in a swimming pool, or if the child is hit on the temple by a wooden scale or bat. Often children (including the bully) won’t be aware of the consequences of what they consider harmless fun – until it is too late. The school should have a strict policy on bullying, take action in an appropriate manner, and help alleviate the affected child’s discomfort. The parent must also probe their child from time to time to ensure that all is well.

Sudden illness The school should have a proper medical room with equipments like plaster and also a nebulizer (in case of asthma attack). It should have at least one full-time nurse employed. Even the ambulances it hires in case of emergencies, should be within a 5 minute reach. These should come with life-saving equipment and trained attenders. Help should preferably be provided to the child before he falls unconscious Schools are called second homes. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the school to take care of each child as their own.


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JANUARY 26

We the People...

what we feel about Republic Day

in focus

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Parent Circle / January 2012

COMPILED BY T K SRINIVAS CHARI

The Indian National Congress, which was spearheading the freedom movement, officially declared Purna Swaraj or complete self-rule for India on January 26, 1930. DHARSHINI, a XI class student: ”Studying civics was dry but it did help me realise that the Independence we enjoy took concrete shape only with the writing of the Constitution and the declaration of India as a Republic. On that day, the nation stands united kindled by patriotic fervour, regardless of religion, language, caste or creed”.

MEGHNA, 13 years: “It is our right to have sensible laws that would put an end to corruption at the grass-roots”.

VIKAS, an 8th class student: “Our rights become relevant only when they help the country develop. There is a need for greater awareness on the recentlyenacted Right to Education”.

E G RAVIKUMAR, a visually challenged person, who works on a text-based software called Job Access With Speech: “Equality for All is only on paper and not practised”.

VASANTHI GOVINDARAJAN, mother of a seven and five-year-old: “These days, schools keep the flag-hoisting the previous day to suit their convenience. As for rights, I wish that the President could be elected directly by the people instead of the people’s representatives electing him or her as is the practice now”.

T MURALIDHARAN, a Central Government officer: “To a great extent, India has been able to grant a majority of its people the fundamental rights.”

DR JYOTSNA CODATY, who has served in the Army: ”If the Republic Day parade were to be packaged, marketed and associated with a shopping extravaganza, then it would receive attention. People are conscious of their rights but not their duties.”

Lawyer and National Awardwinning Actor CHARUHASAN: ”There is considerable infighting among parties and a lack of confidence in the Constitution among ruling parties in the states. Today we have to be content, just being a human being on planet Earth.”

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” MAHATMA GANDHI


cover story

h t i w e m at ho schooling home GHAVAN

BY NIRUPAMA RA

rt-time g, whether pa n li o o h sc e m o H preschooler or a h it w , e im -t or full ting , seems a daun d il ch r e ld o n a ol ear-total contr task. Taking n not ’s education is d il ch r u yo r ve o at e made lightly a decision to b re, e moment. He the spur of th e t at sorting th p m e tt a n a is , then nt to arents may wa basic factors p . omeschooling h re fo e b r, e d consi

W

hy do you want to homeschool your child?

There are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are homeschooling parents. Some choose homeschooling for geographical reasons (isolation, emigration); some have gifted children who may not do well in group schooling; some have children with various mental/physical challenges; a surprisingly large number withdraw their children from school in response to bullying, discrimination and plain old dissatisfaction with the system.

What type of homeschooling are you planning? ‘Homeschooling’ is an umbrella term

10 Parent Circle / January 2012

that covers a plethora of options in breadth and nature. Many parents homeschool up to the first standard; some up to the sixth or eighth; others past the twelfth, as my parents did. The safety net that the Right to Education Act provides, should eliminate most parents’ worries about enrollment possibilities. Curriculum covers a range of methods from traditional instruction to Waldorf, Montessori and Doman methods, from Vedic math to Abacus. Some even enroll their child in a school, and then take partial responsibility for teaching, only sending the child to school for tests and exams, with the administration’s blessing. Finding full and comprehensive answers to these questions may require some

reading/researching/asking around/ googling; so take the time, and do the work. Not only will it make your work easier when you begin, you’ll find yourself more confident of your ground, and more relaxed with your child. However clear you may be on how you would like to homeschool your child, there are some basic pre-requisites for the plan to be a success: A well-educated primary parent (PP): This refers only tangentially to formal education; given the state of education in this country, I would consider it infinitely more important that the PP is extremely well-read, a logical and organized teacher. The


Nirupama Raghavan

pool of knowledge required to teach a young child is extensive, more than what is expected of any one teacher in any primary school. A supportive and enthusiastic secondary parent (SP): Ideally for the emotional stability of the child and the family as a whole, both parents need to be involved in educating the child. The secondary parent, however, may not have as much time to invest in it, and might have to take over more household/logistical support, as is the case with most homeschooling families that I have seen. These roles are completely gender-interchangeable; my father handled half of my primary and a good chunk of my highly arts-oriented secondary education, and I don’t think he is an exception that proves the rule. A consistent and comprehensive syllabus: Whether you choose to adopt a syllabus (IGCSE, CBSE, State board, etc) or integrate multiple syllabuses, do have clear three-year, one-year, and half-year plans; these should be tailored to your child’s gifts, needs and preferences. This prevents the classes devolving into interesting but goalless meandering, which is always a risk when everyone is having fun.

Important external resources: Libraries, TV shows, museums, galleries and the internet are important. They provide you with sources of information, both for your child and for the research that you will need to complete in order to teach. Cable TV and the internet will rapidly become your best friends for video clips, articles, documentaries and research; you can teach music by using YouTube or practice organizational skills together through Farmville. The box is only as idiotic as the priorities of its user. While the basics are universal, homeschooling offers virtually unlimited possibilities for tailoring them to the learning style and preferences of the child. A quick google search or a visit to a bookstore specialising in textbooks will enable you to cross-check the boards that cover the topics you want, and in the style that you prefer.

How to bring about Learning in the child?

Expert Speak Mohana Narayanan, Psychological Counsellor, Aatmika Centre for Counselling Even home schooling has its flipside. A regular school provides an environment where the child learns to give and take, and develops other soft skills which are often missed out in homeschooling. School life also has an organized structure with rules and regulations - this is what makes the child self-disciplined. A child feels safe within this structure. The children need to blend with the present day education system to know its importance. I know of some children who do not know even the importance of a graduation and shun education.

With each topic, list out what your child has to know, what else is connected with it, and what more is available if he is interested. He could just develop a deep interest in a facet of Taxonomy! Don’t be surprised if your child develops obscure and highly specific interests and skills; it’s an advantage - some say a side-effect - of getting to learn the way one likes. You may have to bear in mind that your child may not necessarily be interested in pursuing some - or many - things beyond the basics. Do not push too hard when that is the case; but don’t compromise on them learning what they need to know, either. A most important tip: Branch out from textbooks! The best way to learn is from an expert (who writes from a place of passion and expertise)8

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cover story rather than a textbook author (who is primarily focused on being readily comprehensible). I learnt geography and zoology by reading Gerald Durrell’s books on his expeditions, James Herriott’s stories of country veterinary practice, and watching/reading David Attenborough’s The Living Planet. I learned world history through reading James Michener, Leon Uris, Jawaharlal Nehru; science - from Isaac Asimov’s books on basic astronomy and physics. Of course, this approach leaves gaps in knowledge (particularly in the raw basics), but that is where the textbooks,

Meet some home schoolers S Esha is a 12-year-old girl living in Pondicherry, who did not like regular school. She is being homeschooled now and also runs her own magazine Raindrops in which other children contribute articles. Ask her whether she misses school and she says: I do get irritated that I have to wait for a weekend to meet a school-going friend. But I feel good when most of my friends say that they would prefer to be homeschooled like me. Ruchir Raju Deepthi lives in Koba, a village near Gandhinagar, Gujarat. He is 23 years old now, has been home-schooled, and publishes his own online magazine, care4nature. “Everything in regular school was so mechanical; other students were just repeating what the teacher said. They had no ideas of their own. I learnt better when I went along with my parents to conferences. Also, there are many professors and engineers in my family. Whenever they had lengthy discussions, I picked up a lot of information,” he says.

12 Parent Circle / January 2012

encyclopedias and educational CDs come in. Some resources: DK’s encyclopedias and Picturepedias are a treasure trove; so is the Childcraft series, which covers poetry and literary needs as well as science and general knowledge. Collect posters, flashcard sets and quiz-based board games; they will always come in handy. At a more advanced level, you can find the Time-Life series, National Geographic archives, and a plethora of Discovery Channel and BBC documentaries on everything from aardvarks to zygotes. On the internet, Youtube is a valuable resource (when used right), as are other child or information-oriented websites such as the BBC’s, or the USGS (United States Geological Survey), or NASA. A quick Google search will run up enough math or grammar exercises to keep even the most grimly industrious little quiz-lover occupied for years. For the literary-inclined and an older child with a computer, Project Gutenberg uploads, html and notepad versions of all books with expired copyrights, are a cheap, efficient and legal alternative to spending huge amounts on buying up the classics. For the rest... keep your eyes open and keep looking. For every resource in here, there are a hundred out there, that your child might adore. Have a wonderful time exploring!

Can homeschooling bring about loneliness in a child? There were other children around for me, for a significant chunk of the day. I attended Tamil, civics and physical sciences classes with other children; all my extra-curricular activities were in groups. Since my school-time wrapped

up by 3:00 pm, I had a whole evening to run around with other kids, climb trees, play in fields, get very muddy, play in irrigation canals, photograph cloud formations, or even just sit and read and listen to music, if I was in the mood. I was not athletic, but was very interested in getting wet/muddy/ covered with stray foliage and dog fur in the shortest amount of time. My loneliness – and I was, at times, very lonely – had more to do with being far more intellectual than my age group. There are millions who have undergone perfectly traditional education who have felt precisely that isolation. The socialization and social skills that children need, are not always acquired by passing out from the modern Swargavaasal (Gate to heaven) of schools. They come from spending time with other children, and around their mental/emotional age group, which may be quite different. They also come from spending time with adults. NIRUPAMA RAGHAVAN WAS HOME SCHOOLED. SHE WAS 16 WHEN HER TRANSLATION ‘PARTHIBAN’S DREAM’ WAS PUBLISHED; SHE HAS WRITTEN ‘PAVO AND CAVO’ A PICTURE STORY BOOK FOR CHILDREN; BESIDES A NUMBER OF POEMS.


the different shades of homeschooling BY SHASHWATHI SANDEEP

R

uchir Raju Deepthi is a 23-year-old who has his own publication and so does 12year-old Esha S. The other common link between them is the fact that they have been home-schooled. Contrary to perception, home-schooling has its share of successes, and brings out the individuality of a person to the fore. The term homeschooling has been understood vaguely by the general public. They perceive it to be a system where the child is taught at home by his parent with the same kind of text books and even a blackboard. It is usually understood and followed as ‘the home replacing the school’, following a similar syllabus, having similar goals, preparing for exams, etc. “For us, homeschooling means that there won’t be any syllabus. This is because we feel that ‘setting a syllabus’ means deciding for our

daughter what subjects/areas of life are more important than others,” explains Sangeetha Sriram, a writer, an urban farmer and a parent who is homeschooling her child. Genie Kids (a school emulating homeschooling) in Bangalore encourages and practises the kind of learning where there are neither text books nor a syllabus. “There is no teaching that happens. No faculty, equipment or activity imposes learning on children. Over here, children construct their own learning. All children learn in their own style, in their own way, at their own pace, in different quantities and intensities,” says Aditi Shah Mathur, founder of Genie Kids.

Why homeschooling When school is considered to be a

second home, why would any parent want to home school their child? Homeschooling need not have fixed timings, and it gives you many choices. “Thanks to its flexibility, holidays and vacations are not dictated by the school schedules. Learning happens at the child’s pace and there is no stress to keep up with the grade levels. Competition is only against oneself, so there is no one-upmanship or bullying. Learning happens for the joy of it,” says Meena Srinivasan, a software professional and a stay-at-home mom from Puducherry. Some parents also feel that schools have a distorted way of measuring a child’s intelligence. “We don’t really need much of what we learn in school, and most of what we need to learn 8

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cover story in life, we learn from life. Yet, children start believing themselves to be clever or dumb, based on what a few teachers and educators decide as life-skills. Students are carefully moulded and measured according to their ability to conform,” says Vidyut Kale, a parent from Mumbai.

When to start “I would personally advise parents to start as early as possible. Just as children express freely their hunger for food, they will also express their desire for learning if parents listen and learn with them,” says Vidya Shankar, who is setting up CASCADE (Creating Alternative System for Children Aiding Development Experientially), a common platform for the homeschooling parents of Chennai and Puducherry.

How does the child actually learn Well, from everything that is around him! “We prefer a child led - project oriented approach. We use an eclectic collection of material – textbooks from different schools, workbooks that we find in second hand stores etc. The internet is a huge boon with its unlimited resources. We have subscribed to a couple of sites which gives us access to grade level and subject level worksheets/books when we feel a need for them. We are part of several online groups and forums. We support each other by sharing our thoughts, concerns and more importantly, resources. Materials and resources cost a lot of money and we get very creative when it comes to study material. In our case, we would also like the curriculum to be relevant to the child’s immediate surroundings

14 Parent Circle / January 2012

instead of resorting to remote facts from a text book. Often we end up devising our own curriculum”, says Meena. Some other children learn from their day-to-day activities. Explains Sangeetha, mother of a two-and-ahalf-year-old daughter, ”Our ‘method’ is to expose our daughter to varied environments like the beach, park, railway station, bus journeys, buying from vegetable markets and small roadside shops, family functions, temples and even our maid’s home, where she can see and experience sensorially, a variety of things. She soaks it all in and ask us questions and thus makes sense of the world around her. We also involve her in work, as in the kitchen.” “As for the Sciences, most of the experiments are performed hands-on with day to day materials. The kitchen

WEBSITE RESOURCES 4www.alternativeeducationindia.com 4homeschooling creatively (Yahoo group) 4living math forum (Yahoo) 4living science forum (Yahoo) 4www.indiahomeschoolers.ning.com

becomes the chemistry lab, the garden the biology lab and so on,” explains Meena. The option of writing exams is also left to the child. There are exams at two levels - the 10th and the 12th. “Children can currently write the NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) and Cambridge board exams with ease. I would suggest that children write the NIOS exams for the 10th grade and both the Board exams at the 12th grade level,” advises Vidya Shankar. IGCSE is also an option for children.


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special YOUR CHILD AND MONEY

Beyond the piggy bank BY KARTHIKEYAN JAWAHAR

W

e have always been taught how to make more money – study well; take up this course; join this particular institution; train yourself in ‘xyz’ and/or ‘abc’; find a well-paying job; be seen with the ‘right’ people; learn etiquette; take up ‘this’ business; shift jobs after ‘x’ years etc. But has anyone ever taught us how to manage money? Don’t you think if someone had actually taught us how to manage money, we could have done so much better in life and not have gone through so much pain? The more important question is do we want our children to learn about money the ‘painful’ way after they grow up?

Thankfully, we can help our children learn about money the fun way starting from an early age, rather than letting them face money on their own when they are much older.

same day. Her bouquet of weapons included asking, pleading, crying, shouting and rolling on the floor of the shop. As a preschooler, she was very innovative and would never relent until a toy was bought - the value of the toy never mattered.

THE BEGINNING

Today at age 9, Bhavani is a wellbehaved shopper and even teaches her younger brother Avinash (now 4 years) on how to behave when going out. The turnaround happened, because, in order to train her, we started behaving responsibly as parents. We realized that when we went shopping, we were highly impulsive. We bought anything that we found to our liking – ‘our toy’. So as a child, Bhavani saw to it that she got her toy too.

Many parents believe that talking about money with children is a taboo. This is not so. Children can understand money and our financial status several times better than we do. At this juncture, I wish to share my own personal experience with my daughter, Bhavani. When she was 3 years old, she always wanted to buy a toy, whenever we went out. This was at a time, when she already had 2 big cartons of toys, at different stages of functioning. The problem became so acute that one day she wanted us to buy toys twice on the

Childrens’ Savings Account Bank name

Eligibility

The change came about after we started listing things to buy before our shopping trips, or before any outing for that matter, and sticking to that list. Today we have progressed so much that my children want to know our plan

Minimum balance

ICICI 1 day- 18 years Quarterly balance of ` 2500 Young Stars a/c

Withdrawals ` 5000- ` 15,000 per day through the branch

HDFC 0 days- 18 years ` 5000- average monthly balance A maximum of ` 1500 per day Kids Advantage a/c through debit card

City Union Bank 1 day- 17 years ` 250 for cheque book account The children should have the Junior India a/c and ` 100 for non-cheque permission of the parents to book account withdraw cash. No stipulation on the amount withdrawn

IDBI 10 years to ` 1500- average ` 2000/day through Power Kids a/c 18 years quarterly balance the debit card ING Vysya 1 day to ` 2500- Average No stipulated limit Zing Savings a/c 17 years quarterly balance Karur Vysya Upto ` 500 Permitted only through ATM Jumbo Kids 12 years Savings a/c Citibank 1 month - ` 5000 per month It is set by the Junior a/c 18 years guardian/parent

16 Parent Circle / January 2012

Andhra Bank Kiddy Bank

Upto ` 100 18 years

Parent has to come personally and withdraw the amount


of activities for the day, before we leave home. It is ok, even if I am just planning on ‘window shopping only’ today. It is also ok if I am going to buy a dress just for one member of the family. But, we go out with a plan and stick to that. While we have not built a castle out of the money that we have saved, we have also not piled up useless junk in our house. The major difference is that today our family outings are joyful and happy occasions instead of dreaded events. The children today scour shops, find what they want, and put it in their list when it is time for their shopping.

GIVE AN ALLOWANCE Giving a monthly (or weekly) allowance to children is an excellent way to train children with their money. The allowance need not be big, but the key is to track the way the money is spent. In a few months, children learn to distinguish and differentiate what is important to them and therefore learn to limit their ’fancy needs’.

The first time when Bhavani got her allowance, she spent it on her friends. This was 3 years ago. Last month she funded herself to a National Level Yoga Competition held at Bangalore – travel, food, stay (for 2 days) and the entry fee. We gave her some money to go shopping. She came back without spending it, and instead used it as seed money for her trip to a competition in Sri Lanka. That said, when we give an allowance to our children, our expectation that they should only save it and not spend it, is not warranted. They should be allowed to experiment with small amounts of money and learn from it. This will prepare them for larger amounts of money in the future. The small falls at an early age are not very painful; besides, we are around as parents, to help them. We teach our children to ride a bicycle before we buy them a motor-cycle, don’t we?

ATM Card

Internet Banking

Cheque Book

7 years and above. Pre defined upper limit for withdrawal

Separate passwords for Personalised cheque book, child and parent controlled by the parent

START A BANK ACCOUNT AND DEMAT ACCOUNT Deposit the savings (from the piggy bank) of your children in a bank. Take your children along (on Saturdays or when both of you have a holiday) to deposit the money. It is prudent to link a demat trading account to the bank account. (A demat account allows you to keep in it shares and bonds in a non-physical form.) Once in a while buy stocks from good companies with this money. These shares are only for the child. From my personal experience, it is amazing to see, the way this fund grows. The above are just some of the ways in which children could be introduced to the concept of money and finance. There is so much more that we can do for our children.

KARTHIKEYAN JAWAHAR IS A FOUNDER DIRECTOR OF FINERVA FINANCIAL SERVICES, ADVISING ON PERSONAL FINANCE.

Additional features The cheque would have the child’s name on it

7-18 years. ` 2500 max per day Monthly statement Free personalized cheque book through e-mail

Free education insurance in case of death or accident of parent/guardian, special sweep out facility and free standing instructions to transfer amount from parent’s account to kid’s advantage account

Limit up to ` 2000 The account can only be viewed by the child, operated by the parent.

The child can remit school fees from his account and transfer it to the school’s account.The child also has the privilege of choosing his nominee. A piggy bank is also given to the child on opening the account to encourage saving. Promotion activities are held in schools where the children are educated on banking.

The cheque book would have the name of the child on it. If the guardian/parents insist, then their name is also printed on it. The sign on the cheque is that of the parent/guardian

Attractive debit card Monthly statements Personalized local cheque book customised for the child through mail Debit card with Free access to internet cartoon figures on banking it is given

Cheque book is given with the child’s name on it but signed only by the parent/ guardian

Discounts and cash back offer from time to time. Educational programs held once in a while for the child. Not mandatory that the child’s parents or guardians need to have an account in the bank. Discount on books, toys and other things at selected outlets. Monthly transfer of money from parent/ guardian’s account to the child’s account

Issue of VISA Debit card. Not permitted Not permitted. Withdrawal only No charge on issue as well through ATM card. as no AMC The debit card will be attractive Nil Cheque book in the name of the child, The debit card is accepted by 75,000 merchant with pictures on it. It will be issued but operated by the parent. establishments in India and at 6 million outlets worldwide. within 4 working days of the submission of the ATM Indemnity form by the parent/guardian. Nil

Nil

Nil

www.parentcircle.in 17


parent express

BY SHAIL RAGHUVANSHI

H

elping children understand the good, bad and the ugly is difficult but not impossible, with the resources that we have. Unfortunately, the distractions have also increased with the resources. Acquiring information is easy, but losing values is even easier. That includes beliefs like believing in things that can be seen, felt and heard is easy. But when it comes to making children believe in the concept of God, then, that’s something to ponder about. I firmly believe that most children are born believers. Many a cute image of a child folding his little palms in a temple comes to my mind, some even muttering the name of a God they have been asked to pray to. I suppose it is easier for the little ones to listen and follow what their parents do. For them, their parents have not developed clay feet as yet. Besides, they know nothing more than what their parents tell them. It is only as they grow older, does the questioning start. No, don’t get me wrong! I certainly believe that children must have a questioning attitude in order to learn. But, when it comes to children not believing in God or whenever this belief gets diminished

18 Parent Circle / January 2012

substantially, then I do begin to get a wee bit uncomfortable! Born into a home that believes in God and in the Almighty’s Grace, my son was always encouraged to believe and respect the Power that created us. He was quick at learning the slokas, at singing bhajans and saying his little prayer before he went to bed. He was also made aware of other religions. We visited temples, churches and many other religious institutions like any other Indian family. Everything was smooth for some years; but then we began to observe a slow and steady lack of interest in our son in his prayer rituals. “He is growing” we told ourselves. “Let’s not suffocate him with more than necessary” we commented. But, when we prayed together every day, his voice was seldom heard. His prayers before he left for school were hurried. His attention span in religious places was distracted. Then, one day, when he was being scolded for his non-praying ways he mentioned emotionally that his belief in God had lessened when his grandmother (my mother who doted on him immensely) passed away suddenly when he was 7 years old. I

remember that it took us a while to convince him about how she needed to rest with God, as she had grown old. Was that a mistake? Did he suddenly believe that God had intentionally separated him from granny? Besides, that was in the past, why was this emotion resurfacing now? Then we learnt that he was having a tough time in his new school. No new friends, an alien environment, a different school-routine, had somehow re-kindled thoughts of rejection, frustration and helplessness in him, similar in intensity to what he must have felt after his grandmother had died. We understood that he needed our support more than ever, so we let him be; we shared more conversations with him and criticized less. Many years have passed by, and today, my son believes in God, though not as intensely as we do. We are happy as long as he realizes that he is never alone in this world. That Unseen Force called God is always there for him when he needs Him…. SHAIL RAGHUVANSHI IS A FREELANCE WRITER.


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www.parentcircle.in 21


learning

Helping children with homework SCENE 1:

BY KESANG MENEZES

Child: Appa, I cannot understand this maths problem. Parent: Ok. Come, I will explain it. As he explains, the child is unable to grasp… Parent: You do not even understand how to do division? You should have learnt this in 4th standard. How can I teach you when you do not even know the basics? What were you doing when they taught you this? And even now you are not concentrating. How do you expect me to teach you?

SCENE 2: Parent: Anitha... this page is full of spelling mistakes and your handwriting is too messy. I think you should rewrite it. Child: I am not going to do it all over again. I want to go and play. Parent: But you cannot do such bad work. What will your teacher say? Child: Why do you have to bother? I will handle my teacher. You do not have to keep telling me. Parent: I am only telling you for your own good. Today, parents are enthusiastic and interested in helping children with their studies. They want their children to do well in academics and they feel that they must push their children to do their best in this competitive world. They meet their stumbling blocks at

22 Parent Circle / January 2012

Constructive ways of giving feedback to the child “I think your teacher would enjoy reading your work more if you took the trouble to write neater.” “What you have written is so interesting, but if you write it more clearly everyone would enjoy reading it.” “I know you are capable of doing these sums, but sometimes you get distracted. Let’s see how you can work on them with more concentration.”


home...with homework issues! Instead of this tug of war, we can, if we choose to, use the homework opportunity to create a climate of learning and exploration at home. We can make it a bonding time with our children, through an activity made rewarding. For this, we need to know what we are doing wrong.

What we do to our children from our position of strength From the examples above, when a child seeks a parent’s help for homework, we do not give the desired inputs in a manner that he can understand and accept. So the child feels that we are being critical and judgmental. This feeling grows on him, even when it is not always warranted. He feels more and more inadequate. Our constant correction - No, that is not the way, you should do it this way - gives the child the message that he knows nothing. He loses confidence and hence his work deteriorates even more.

Why do we do this, when we wish the best for him It rests in our belief about our own role as a parent. Parents should be all-knowing. Parents should pick out mistakes and correct the child. Parents should push the child to work harder. It is also related to our beliefs about children. If we do not force them, they will never want to do well. They do not care to excel. They do not like to learn. These ideas that we have about children have been proven false by a number of child development experts. In fact, studies show that every child is constantly working towards his own development and has a great deal of inner motivation. We need to recognize that actually there is a desire in each child to do well. (Maybe not in every task but in things of interest to them, and this is true of a particular piece of

homework as well). Children see their peers, get feedback from teachers and try to do better.

Correcting our overall objective Instead of looking at the completion of those 30 sums in Math, or that essay in English, we should look at a larger goal of getting the child to develop and strengthen his attitude towards learning. The fact is, that if our children have an interest in learning, they can achieve anything; and without that, nothing. If we want them to engage in learning with enthusiasm and be self-driven, we need to give children the message that it is the effort and the interest that is more important than the result. So when we sit down to help children with

homework, we need to be clear in our mind as to why we are there. To set the tone, we should ask the child “What kind of help would you like from me?” Then the child feels nourished and respected by his parent. As long as the child is happy doing his work, we should leave him in peace. When we expect perfection in his homework or project, we put a burden on the child. Only if a child overtly resists school work, do we need to dig deeper to find the reasons. Has he labelled himself as incompetent? Has criticism from the teacher discouraged him? Or is there a learning problem? KESANG MENEZES IS A FACILITATOR WITH ’PARENTING MATTERS‘, A FORUM AIMING TO BRING OUT THE BEST IN PARENTING.

To encourage learning Negotiate with the child and arrive at a time when he is willing to do homework: Keep that as a fixed time

every day. Children function best with a routine. Do not take over: Be clear, that it is the child’s responsibility to get the work done. Make it clear that you are there to help him. Be present for him, but without interfering. How much help do I give? This is something you have to decide based on the need of the child. If you see a child getting overwhelmed, you may have to step in and break up the work into manageable parts. Do not pick on every error the child has made: Just make sure that he has

understood the overall concept. Try to give a child indirect help: For

example - If the child is learning the tables in a way that you feel is not correct, you can say “You know when I was small I found an easy way to learn the tables - I would do it like

this…. Would you like to try it this way?“

Allowing him to discover things by himself: When we see a spelling

error, we can say “Hey, I am not sure about this, why don’t we look at the dictionary”. Instead of giving all the answers, encourage them to use resources like reference books. Make homework learning a partnership: “I am sure you know a

lot. Let's put our heads together and see how to do this.” The child feels motivated when treated as an equal. He will reveal his knowledge, and we can learn from them too. Give importance to what the child knows rather than focusing on what he does not know: When he

gets things right appreciate it - “You managed to learn that long poem by heart. That must have taken a lot of effort!” Do not put crosses and red marks on children’s work: This is very

discouraging. Even if this is done at school, we need not do it at home.

www.parentcircle.in 23


mindset

morning rush

MANAGING THE ‘LEAN’ WAY BY RANGASHREE SRINIVAS

PICTURE THIS. A much hassled mother of two children - a footdragging 13-year-old and a mischievous 6-year-old. Mother has had a bad night, has slept through the 5:00 am alarm and wakes up at 6:00 am instead. The school bus arrives at 7:30 am, and she has to prepare breakfast, pack a snack and lunch, and help the younger child get ready for school. The older child has to prepare for the class test in the morning. Horrors! Both the children are still sleeping. The tension builds up. If the husband had been in town, he might have woken them up and helped with the snack-packing. All hell breaks loose, as the stressed-out mother loses her cool and transfers her tensions on to the children. The younger one has wet her bed again! The older one is not coming out of the bathroom! The younger one does not go to school as it is too late; the older one has stormed out of the house in tears, with a semi-packed school bag and the previous day’s leftovers for lunch. Mother is left with a migraine and a cranky child to manage during the day.

M

any households experience similar morning madness, ranging from the mild to utter chaos, setting the tone for the rest of the day. This takes a toll on everybody’s productivity and peace of mind. Parents and children alike lead stressful lives. Children experience trauma, and do not learn life-skills with a positive attitude. Parents have health-related issues; they go through feelings of inadequacy, guilt and self-doubt. There is a way out of this vicious circle through Lean Management, which is a Japanese style of managing resources efficiently. Though commonly used by corporates Lean can also be practised at home by families, says Kaizen consultant and Lean management expert S Durairajan. This can be done through better management of

24 Parent Circle / January 2012

emotions and demonstrating good practices.

How does Lean work? Introduced by Toyota Motor Company, the key elements of Lean are: • Well-defined Value (workflow) Stream • Value (work) flowing without interruption • Production to requirement only • Synchronizing all the processes, to the delivery process. Durairajan explains, ”Corporate organisations and families need to be managed well, to run without hiccups. Delayed starts, under-preparedness and unexpected events interrupting the manufacturing processes result in short delivery to some customers (mother oversleeping and child bedwetting, in


SYSTEMATICALLY our family example). Delivery failures leave dissatisfied customers and create a negative image of the company (the entire family). To add to this, labour issues (no help from children) can cause additional headaches for the management (mother). This is further aggravated by the untimely absence of a key manager (the husband) and the lack of alternate processes to make up for the lost time. Complexity actually increases in the households due to the intense emotions evoked between the members.”

What this mother could have done Ideally, she could have had a backup plan for breakfast and lunch – something easy to prepare, in case she woke up late. Instead of losing her temper, she could have asked the older child to eat at the canteen or deliver lunch at school if that was possible. She could have ‘empowered’ the children to take on greater responsibility in the absence of her husband – like encouraging them to wake up at the first call; pack their own lunches; complete school work the previous night. In short, planning and organizing for the next day should be the last activity of the day to ensure success in everyday activities. It is very important to prepare oneself and the children mentally about the activities of the next day and plan out a sequence for doing them. Lean requires consensus and bonding, to be practised well. The entire family should eat dinner together; talk about the day’s events, discuss interpersonal issues that arise during the day (without blaming one another); and follow it up with ideas for a better and smoother tomorrow. This way, a culture of continually improving the processes and the self, will be ushered.

What is 5S? 5S is a key factor in practising Lean. They are illustrated here with tips on how this applies inside the home.

Sort out: Remove unwanted things

SORT SELF DISCIPLINE

ARRANGE

SHINE STANDARDIZE

and retain only the items that are needed. In the kitchen: Store only the vessels and food items needed for weekday use in easily accessible shelves. Put away reserve supplies on the shelves above; rarely used items in the harder-to-reach areas. Definitely do a monthly spring-cleaning, and throw away things not used for at least six months.

Systematically arrange: In the sequence of use. In the bathroom: Run a weekly check for essentials such as toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo etc. Likewise lay out your clothes and the children’s uniforms the night before. Encourage your children to take responsibility for towels, ironed clothes, underwear, clean socks and shoes. Introduce the concept of checklists to them when they are young, as a game. Teach them to keep their things in an easy-to-reach orderly way.

Shine: Keep the place and items sparklingly clean. In the kitchen: Half-an-hour of extra effort cleaning the kitchen the night before, will save you from a day’s worth of tension. If you have a maid to wash utensils, rinse out the used vessels. Stack them neatly in a pre-assigned area so that they don’t come in the way of your morning kitchen work. Wash what is needed and set them aside in an accessible place. Enlist the help of your children and spouse in taking on different cleaning and arranging assignments.

Standardize: The practice of regularly sorting, of systematic arrangement and cleaning. In the house: Plan and fine tune the sort, sequence and shine processes in every area of your home. Involve your family one Saturday night on a pretend play of board-room strategy where each family member is an important board member contributing key ideas and strategies. Evolve a game plan on a white board with different coloured markers for each family member. Develop a strategy that works for your family with ideas pooled in by everybody, with individuals taking on specific responsibilities.

Self-Discipline: Demonstrated by you as an adult, and involving the children in sorting, systematically arranging and standardizing processes. At home: If your children see you sorting out your wardrobe at regular intervals, they will do the same. Resist the temptations of impulsive shopping; this will de-clutter the house and help you gain contentment with fewer possessions.

www.parentcircle.in 25


feature

Creative

C

Movement

reative movement uses body actions to communicate an image (eg: the wind), an idea (eg: a journey) or a feeling (eg: strength). It uses dance, drama and music as a form of expression. For children, creative movement is a way to start the process of understanding themselves better and the world that they live in, through activities that enhance all areas of their growth and development. It helps them understand their environment and develops physical skills and creative skills. Sensory skills are enhanced through visualization, hearing and touch. Social skills are broadened, even as every child realizes his own uniqueness. The child learns to respect himself and others. Creative movement also increases the child’s concentration. As children grow, they become

26 Parent Circle / January 2012

BY MRINALINI SEKAR

more aware of themselves and their bodies. Creative movement activities help with a better body-languageexpression which in turn, helps in the understanding of the body language of others. It leads to considerable motor skill development, and a good understanding of rhythm. Apart from the highly evolved forms of classical dancing which allow for creative movement, there are various less imposing creative movement classes, combining fitness with dance and fun for children of all ages. Some programmes are outlined below. (Please see resource box for more information.)

Creative Movement Classes Movement sessions for mothers and babies of 6 to 18 months This helps

enhance the mother-child relationship, where they discover the world through each other’s eyes. Several facets of growth for the baby are addressed,

such as cognitive learning, and motor skills, guided by the mother’s active participation. Neural pattern formations are actively altered. A theatrical movement class for 3 to 5 year old children This enables

children to become excellent storytellers expressing themselves through movement and themes based on age-appropriate concepts. This class supports their formative ideas. Ballroom Buddies This allows

for partnering across age groups, particularly within extended families, to make it a great family bonding activity. Parent and child, grandparent and child, including babies take part in the class as a pair.

Other Movement and Fitness classes Kalari is an ancient Indian martial art

form that is regarded as the basis of


all martial art. Learning the basics of Kalari improves physical, emotional and mental agility, strength and stamina. Some of the choreography, such as sparring in kalari payat can be applied to classical dance forms. Kathakalli dancers who knew martial arts were believed to be markedly better than the other performers. Some traditional Indian dance schools still incorporate kalari payat as part of their exercise regimen.

physical development to bonding and communication, and resolving emotional issues. For infants: The traditional massages

animal. Ask them to make up a story based on this animal and act it out through gestures and movement. Ask them to experiment with role reversals. For instance the more aggressive child can take on the role of a gentle deer and the quieter one can be the lion. This will help them to look at the world from different perspectives.

body, a universal language that everyone understands. Mime brings to life, fantasy and illusion using one’s whole body to form a picture.

that our grandmas advocated helps the mother move the child’s limbs which is good for joint development. Baby games that involve small movements while the mother chants a rhyme, is important for both physical development and motherchild bonding. The mother can croon lullabies to the baby, which will help the child feel secure. Refrain from playing recorded music. The mother’s voice off-key is still better than professionally choreographed songs!

Dance aerobics is one of the

For young children: Play different

commonest forms of aerobics that can be seen today around the world. It is a good way to utilize time, an even better way to lose weight and an excellent way to increase the oxygen intake in the body.

kinds of music and watch the child’s response. Some may break into a free spirited dance, some may jump about and others may clap or thump their feet. Allow each child to move freely to her favourite music. Make it an everyday ritual of playing music and moving. You can give her a theme by asking her to do only hand movements or you can join her in a game of mirroring her movements.

movement offers great opportunities to channelize the energies of hyper-active children and help them stay focused. Offer a restricted area, say within four squares of floor tiles and ask them to move to their favourite music. They will jump, kick air and move wildly. Ask them to pick any four moves and repeat the same in a pattern. Say, two jumps, followed by three kicks in the air and so on. This will make them focus on remembering a sequence, while expending energy. Hyper-active children, despite hectic activities during the day, cannot settle down at night. As a bed-time ritual, for the first five minutes, get them moving to really fast music; then gradually introduce slower music, more conducive to sleep. In 2 to 3 weeks, they will be able to sleep.

For siblings: Your children can be

For older children: Parents often have

encouraged to practise creative movement together. In the absence of competitive ‘win or lose’ situation, there is less scope for quarrels in such an activity. Give them a topic, say, an

trouble reaching out to their adolescent and teenage children. Creative movement helps open a window of communication between the parent and child in a non-verbal manner. When you feel your teen is upset, hold her gently and sway to melodious music. The child gets a great sense of security and a feeling that ‘mom is there, no matter what’, while the mother gets to relieve all the repressed tensions.

Miming is talking with your whole

Zumba the largest dance fitness

program in the world, based on a Latin-inspired dance fitness program created by dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in Colombia during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba’s choreography incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Squats and lunges are also included.

What you can do for children at home Everyone can enjoy a sense of wellbeing and develop finer sensibilities through simple acts of creative movement at home. Parents can encourage creative movement and participate with their children towards different goals, from

SOME RESOURCES Chennai: Creative Movement www.bluemovementcircle.in Kalari www.shajikalari.com Other www.o2healthstudio.com, www.oxygen6.net

For hyper-active children: Creative

MRINALINI SEKAR IS A BHARATHANATYAM

Mumbai: www.wavesgym.com, www.dancewithemdc.com

DANCER WHO CONDUCTS CREATIVE

Bengaluru: Navarasa 97412 90592

ADULTS.

MOVEMENT CLASSES FOR CHILDREN AND

www.parentcircle.in 27


teen circle

Swing away your teen’s blues Understanding depression in teenagers

You may be tempted to dismiss your teen’s brooding manners and uncommunicative moods as just ‘one of those growing up things’ but in reality, these may be signs of the onset of juvenile depression. BY SMITA SHENOY

W

HAT IS DEPRESSION?

You walk into your child’s room, and meet happiness as you see the carefully constructed universe of stuffed toys and stationary cars, cartoons on the walls sharing space with rock stars, messy floors strewn with CDs and candy wrappers, books on the table left half-open and perhaps, half-read. Yes, the room is exactly how it should be, and you think that all is right with the world. And then the nagging worry returns. You remember that your precious teen does not allow you a generous peek into school life anymore. Test scores are now a mystery to you and you are clueless about friends found or notebooks lost. Your vivacious child prefers the sanctuary of the room, surfing the Internet, sulking with a

28 Parent Circle / January 2012

book, quietly simmering with some secret anger or staring listlessly, with ears glued to the white earbuds of the iPod you gifted. You realise that this has been the case for weeks; surely the behaviour has a deeper cause than a mere fight with the best friend. You may have just caught a glimpse of juvenile depression, which is now targeting teens with alarming ease. According to well-known clinical psychologist Sangeetha Makesh, ‘depression is a feeling of intense hopelessness with frequent crying spells accompanied by a general lack of initiative to do anything; in extreme cases it brings about suicidal tendencies.’

JUVENILE DEPRESSION Many aspects of depression coincide with the teenage ‘normal’ changes;

it tends to deceive, and you may respond erroneously with ‘tough’ love. Watch out. It is better to err on the side of caution if you have the slightest suspicion of the untoward, and take immediate remedial measures. Teenager suicide rates are depressingly high; a slight trigger can make the teen take an instantaneous tragic decision, for a smouldering underlying cause that was not revealed to you. The teen may ask for Band-Aid for the bruise on his leg but when feeling unhappy for no apparent reason, he may not identify it as depression and seek help. Recognising and tackling juvenile depression is thus, more of a parent’s responsibility. Adult and juvenile depression reveal similar symptoms. Eminent psychiatrist Dr S Mohan Raj explains, “Symptoms


like sadness, hopelessness and withdrawing from social life appear in adults and teens. However, while adults experience loss of appetite and sleep during depression, teens may exhibit a marked increase in hunger and the propensity to sleep longer. Diet and sleep patterns may swing either way.”

REBELS WITH A CAUSE From a carefree world filled with fun, children encounter an adult-like scary world of competition, career choices, heartbreaks and peer pressure as they move to the higher classes. Life seems to throw more problems and offer lesser solutions. Eager to be seen as brave and independent, they disregard your advice, resist your protection and attempt to resolve problems by themselves rather unsuccessfully. Clinical psychologist Sangeetha Madhu says, “It is difficult to isolate a single cause of teen depression. A combination of genetic and environmental factors triggers and aggravates the symptoms such as a family history of depression and an exposure to psycho-social stressors at school and home. Personality factors, coping styles and the extent of or the lack of support from friends and family, all play varied roles in rendering a child vulnerable to depression.” Dr Raj opines that in children the cause is often academic. “For instance, children with learning difficulties like dyslexia may be exposed to peer ridicule and taunts which push them into a shell,” he says. Madhu agrees that though teens face similar problems, not all are susceptible to depression.“Resilient children with a healthy personality and better coping mechanisms, who are able to logically appraise stressors, are less likely to get depressed,” she explains.

BE A FRIEND AND GUIDE Unintentionally, parents may be behind a child’s depression. Well-meaning parental concerns smother children and they turn towards friends for comfort. Retired teacher A G Tara, who has helped students overcome depression, says, “During my teaching days, I realised that parents needed counselling more than their children. Parents have to accept that their children have grown up and can handle most things responsibly. Also, they should not quarrel among themselves in front of the child as it affects the child’s sense of security.” Domineering parents also affect a child’s emotional well-being. Some coax their children to pursue an educational stream which they deem best, without even consulting their children. Such forceful behaviour makes the youngsters feel betrayed by the two people they love the most in the world. Tara feels that passive parenting is the need of the hour. She believes that parents should never attempt to fulfill their dreams through their children nor should they dominate the decisionmaking process. As she sagely remarks, ”Parents can at best advise and guide the teens to take informed decisions.” Parents need to realise that for all its hormonal surges and emotional ups and downs, teenage life is a temporary phase. A few years down the line, the children will laugh at the punk hairstyle they once flaunted and which gave much grief to their parents. According to Sangeetha Makesh, parents should refrain from indiscriminate punitive behaviour and instead strive to keep the communication channels open. Says Kalyani (name changed), mother of a 17-year-old daughter, “It used to

Symptoms of depression A READY RECKONER social withdrawal feelings of sadness, anxiety academic decline low self-esteem restlessness and irritability loss of interest in activities that once gave them happiness loss of appetite or overeating lack of sleep or excessive sleeping short attention span lack of concentration poor memory or decisionmaking skills imaginary aches constant fatigue

HOW THE TEEN FEELS sadness or hopelessness irritable and hostile tearful, frequently feels like crying isolated has feelings of worthlessness and guilt preoccupied with morbid things thoughts of death or suicide lacks motivation to do many things break my heart to see my daughter tackle her inner demons on her own. As a tween, she used to share her problems. In her teenage years, our ideologies clashed. As a mother, I felt that it was my duty to point out her flaws but she got irritable and defensive when I did this. The silver lining was that she discussed issues with her friends and accepted their verdict. That helped her to beat the blues. Now I have changed my approach. I am a friend to her and guide her. She is a lot more receptive to my suggestions of late.” 8

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teen circle RIPPLE EFFECT The effects of depression are at first reflected in studies. Poor attendance, a marked decline in academic performance and a lack of interest in hobbies become inevitable. Teens may embrace substance abuse as an escape route, and that worsens the situation. Some teens surf the Internet for solace

TIPS FOR TALKING TO A DEPRESSED TEEN Offer support: Let depressed teenagers know that you are there for them, fully and unconditionally. Hold back from asking a lot of questions (teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded) but make it clear that you are ready and willing to provide whatever support they need. Be gentle but persistent: Don’t give up, if your adolescent shuts you out at first. Talking about depression can be tough for them. Be mindful of your child’s comfort level while continuing to emphasize your concern and willingness to listen. Listen without lecturing: Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once the teen begins to talk. The important thing is that he is communicating. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or ultimatums. Validate feelings: Don’t try to talk teens out of their depression even if their concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness. If you don’t, they will feel that you don’t take their emotions seriously.

30 Parent Circle / January 2012

and feel better. Soon, the virtual world makes the real people strangers and heightens their sense of loneliness. They may turn violent or reclusive. In extreme cases and over time, depression can lead to tragic consequences like murder or suicide. As Sangeetha Makesh adds, “Adolescence is a period when emotions run high. In a depressed teen, the impulsivity is heightened. Most of them threaten suicide to shock their loved ones into listening to their woes. When they actually attempt it, many youngsters do not realise the consequences of their actions.”

HELLO SUNSHINE! There is no room for complacence. But there is help at hand, especially when you spot depression on time. Dr Raj believes that if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, family members should step in to help their child.

“Early recognition of warning signs, seeking help from mental health professionals, regular treatment and follow-up go a long way in treating juvenile depression,” says Madhu. SIXTH SENSE: Pandering to all their

whims is as harmful as ignoring all their wishes. Luckily, parents are able to distinguish between tantrums and genuine irritability. Let your parental antennae guide you. Trust your instincts to help you decide when your teen needs help. Be alert – always. TALK TO ME: Dr Raj says, “Parents

should have a healthy dialogue with their children regularly to keep abreast of the happenings in their lives. This way, they can recognise any abnormal symptoms and help stem depression in its nascent stage.” The way you talk to your children also makes a lot of difference, says 8

A MUDRA FOR DEPRESSION Gertrude Hirschi, a well-known practitioner and exponent of yoga and alternate healing says, ’Often depressed people lack the strength to do yoga, gymnastics or walk in fresh air. But everybody has to breathe. The Tse Mudra outlined by Taoist monks is a good remedy that ‘chases away sadness, reduces fearfulness, turns away misfortune and bad luck and overcomes depression. It is known to increase magnetism and enhance the intuitive and mental powers‘. Place both hands on your thighs. Put the thumb tip onto the root of your little finger. Slowly encircle your thumbs with the other four fingers while slowly inhaling through your nose. Hold your breath and form the sound of OM seven times in your head while hearing the vibration of the tone in your right ear. Then slowly exhale while drawing in the abdominal wall; open your hands again and imagine all your worries, fears, unhappiness leaving your body. Repeat the exercise 7 to 49 times. Then stretch vigorously. Gertrude also advises that depressed people drink plenty of water and shower frequently.


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teen circle THE GIRL WHO CHASED THE BLUES AWAY “I have been to hell and back,” says 17-year-old Reshmi (name changed) recalling her battle with depression. She was 15 when her father got transferred to Chennai from Mumbai. Leaving the only city she had called home for the past one and a half decades, and being transported to a city where everything including the language, the food, the people and the lifestyle was different, was more than a cultural shock. “Loneliness gripped me and I felt trapped. I withdrew into a shell. I could not make new friends and did not feel like reaching out to my old ones either. TV and junk food became my faithful companions. I put on twenty kilos in twelve months. My grades slipped. Dad and Mom were at a loss. Someone suggested a psychiatrist. After living in denial that there was nothing ‘mentally’ wrong with their daughter, my parents finally agreed to the suggestion. A series of counselling sessions made me realise the gravity of my situation. With my own determination and the unconditional support of my parents, I pulled myself back from the brink. Slowly, I arranged my life in order. I got in touch with my old friends online, began interacting with my new classmates and most importantly, I reached out to my parents. It took a lot of time and there were moments of frustration and anger. But finally, I was free from depression.”

Tara. “When you lend a ear, let your tongue take rest. Encouraging teens to open up is difficult and requires a lot of persuasion. Once they confide in you, let them pour their hearts out without interruption. Resist your urge to pass snap judgements or dismiss the problem as trivial. Offer your shoulders for them to cry on and assure them of your love and support. Most teens just want that. Once they know they have it, they will come out of their depression,” she advises. THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW:

Gone are the days when seeking psychiatric help was considered a stigma. Seek out a reputed clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist who specialises in paediatric and adolescent cases and inculcate the habit of taking your child to him right from an early age. This will help both to ‘connect’ with each other and will make your

32 Parent Circle / January 2012

ANTIDEPRESSANTS: Experts warn that

antidepressants should be used as a last resort as most of these are meant for adults and can have negative effects on teens. They have to be administered under strict medical supervision and care. Dr Madhu explains, “In case of an early prognosis, counselling sessions may suffice to get the teen back on track. But if the teen has been suffering for a long period of time, a combination of medication and cognitive behaviour therapy may help.” Makesh elaborates, “Clinical depression and its intensity have to be assessed by an expert. Chemical imbalance remains the basic cause of depression. If the imbalance is high, then medication is warranted to restore the balance.”

Before you know it, with your patience and untiring efforts, it is possible for your child to snap out of depression and behold a brave new world with a sense of joy, awe and wonder. Like child relaxed and confide in the doctor. Paul Newman in the evergreen Butch Seek feedback from your children on Cassidy and the Sunshine Kid, your teen their comfort level with the psychiatrist/ will soon hum merrily – psychologist. “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head/ But that doesn’t mean my eyes will RUN, SKIP, HOP!: “Being physically soon be turnin’ red/ Cryin’s not for me/ active is vital as exercise releases ‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by endorphins, the body’s natural feelcomplainin’/Because I’m free/Nothin’s good chemicals. Exercise acts as a worryin’ me …” prevention and as a cure. Swimming, cycling and walking are great for SMITA SHENOY IS A FREELANCE WRITER. rejuvenating the mind and body,” says Suggested Dr Raj. inspirational reading that teens might like: MIND MATTERS: Yoga checks negative Richard Bach’s emotions and fights depression. Jonathan Livingston “Suryanamaskar is a powerful tool to Seagull conquer inner demons. The 12-step Scott Peck’s The combination of asanas engages the mind, gives inner strength, soothes Road Less Travelled the soul and improves concentration. Paul Coelho’s Listening to Tibetan chants, reading The Alchemist inspirational literature, can also calm Anand Dwivedi’s the mind,” says Tara. Dance of the Bee


destinations

White sands, blue seas and green green forest… BY RANGASHREE SRINIVAS mainland of Port Blair and in Havelock island where snorkelling and scuba diving facilities can be found.

M

oonlit beaches, a blazing sun and the incredible Jarawa tribals- the Andaman and Nicobar islands offer this and more! An archipelago of small isles separated by blue waters in several shades, the islands have distinct geographical features, and also offer an inspiring peek into the Nationalist movement.

I scoured the internet for best air fares. Fares hugely vary from day to day and the lowest that I could find was about Rs 10,000, per person round trip.  Ship travel operated by the Government of India is also available if you have two and a half days to spare for travel and is comparable with air fare (http://www.and.nic.in). The ships ply once a week and bookings must be done well in advance. I heard that ship travel is an experience in itself! As a first time traveller though, I had my share of ferrying from island to island in those 5 days, to make up in part for the journey by sea. An outlay of Rs 75,000 for a family of four, can cover travel, accommodation and food. We landed at the Veer Savarkar Airport at Port Blair in the wee hours

34 Parent Circle / January 2012

We checked into the hotel, which looked totally shorn of the glamour that appeared in its website photos. Still, we got used to it. Our daughter was disappointed by the unkempt pool. But as one of the hotel staff pointed out that when she had the pick of the best beaches to swim in, why would she need a pokey little pool? After a hearty breakfast of toast, omelettes, aloo parathas and fresh guava juice we set off for the morning’s lesson in history! First stop – the infamous Cellular Jail of Kaala Paani, converted into a magnificent heritage centre.

A LESSON IN HISTORY

Seeking a break from the humdrum of Chennai life, we decided on a five–day trip to the Andamans. With the help of a friend who runs a diving school in the Havelock Island in Andamans, we planned our itinerary. While an internet search gave us some options, we were particularly interested in snorkelling and delving into the mysteries under the sea. We booked rooms with the Symphony Palms resort (http:// symphonypalmshavelock.com). The resort has properties both in the

centres! But driving away from the airport, we came to wide roads flanked by sedate Government buildings that included a huge State Library. And then we came upon the breath-taking vistas of the harbour which reminded me of our local bus terminus for the inlandersjust far more beautiful and much less crowded.

The museum has photographs and artifacts of some of the well-known freedom fighters housed there in

of April 13, 2010. This capital of the Andaman & Nicobar islands, at first sight looked like any other small town elsewhere in India – complete with its tea shops and the ubiquitous tuition

the 19th and 20th centuries. Our guide Mustapha, in mellifluous Hindi, explained its history, and the pathos of the place and the prisoners within. We saw the brass vessels that were used


for gruel and water, and for collecting urine. We saw models of prisoners who were chained liked animals, and an Indian sepoy beating a chained prisoner. We saw the sack garment that the repeat-offenders had to wear – these were the ones who raised their voices against their British captors. Our guide explained that their hands would be lifted above their heads and tied, and they would be left thus, to bear the heat and the itchy garment. They would also be beaten up for days on end, in this condition. All the prisoners were nationalists and freedom fighters – no criminals here. Before the jail was built, the arrested nationalists could roam around freely. Even though escaping was near impossible, people still attempted to escape. The British then compounded the hostility of the environment with Kaala Pani. Later, we watched a well-narrated sound and light show by the side of an ancient Peepul tree that was witness to the many atrocities perpetrated by the British officials on our freedom fighters. A tour of the spectacular prison campus surrounded by an endless sweep of water, made us realize the isolation that its exalted inmates would have felt.

HAVELOCK ISLAND The next day we travelled to Havelock islands by a steamer and tried photographing in vain, the flying fish. We befriended several passengers on the steamer - a varied mixture of back-packing foreigners and locals. The demographic composition of the Cellular Jail of Kaala Paani

islanders is made up of Bengalis, Tamils and a few people from other states of India. They are largely employed by the Government. When we landed at the island we were witness to a glorious sunset at the Radha Nagar Beach. The sand here is fine, white and firm, so your feet do not sink into it. Pretty eco-huts dot the beach, and one can sit against them sipping sweet tender coconut water. That night we stayed at Symphony Palms in Havelock Island. A path down the property leads to a small private beach. Dreamlike, we watched the quiet, small waves, and the vast expanse of a starry sky. A boat was silhouetted against the moonlight... The next morning we set off in a dinghy to snorkel at the Elephant beach. We really enjoyed our snorkelling adventure, viewing a variety corals under the sea. The underwater world is filmy – the flora and fauna evolved in an aquatic environment appear iridescent. A few weeks later I read in the newspaper that in the same area we had snorkelled, a crocodile had dragged a tourist away, in a highly unusual incident! We were told during our stay that the crocodile habitat is a highly localised and that they seldom venture out to other shores.

THE DENSE AND THE BARREN A boat ride later, we were back at our hotel in Port Blair. After resting our aching limbs, we set off to explore in a different direction, through the thick jungles of Middle Andaman where the Jarawa tribes reside. The Jarawas are the ancient hostile unclothed Negroid tribe of the Andamans. They are not allowed to be photographed. We drove as part of a convoy through the forest to see them. They stand by the roadsides and make a sign asking for tobacco - an unfortunate habit that

Mangroves by the shores of Barren Island

they seemed to have picked up from the 'civilization' that passes them by. At the end of the jungle stretch we reach another ‘boat stop’ plying Andaman's public transport! Islanders use ferries and helicopters for their daily commute. Cars, buses and heavy vehicles are also ferried between islands. We stood around a big bus on the deck of a ferry even as some commuters made themselves comfortable inside the bus! Our destination was the Barren Island. Another connecting ferry took us to the shores of a deep mangrove forest, so beautiful, that the word ‘barren’ is a misnomer. This place should be rightfully called Paradise island. Our boat took us through nearly 3 kms of thick mangroves on either side, with the shrubs forming a low canopy overhead. Danger lurks beneath, in the form of crocodiles. A short trek later, we reached an ancient stalactites and stalagmites cave. The gigantic underground calcified contours mirroring the landform above, teach us geography better than any textbook. Finally we visited a mud volcano that spews cold ash as opposed to the more popular lava-volcanoes. This ash renders the nearby landscape infertile - hence the name Barren Island. After five fulfilling days of boat-hopping and experiencing history, culture and nature, we flew back to Chennai, determined to travel soon to another equally interesting place!

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© Kara Newhouse

roots

Preparing for Pongal

BY SHASHWATHI SANDEEP

W

ith a song on the lips and a hop in each step, comes the season of spring. It is harvest time, and India, with its varied culture and rituals, celebrates this event with grandeur and fun! Makar Sankranti, as it is called, marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around midDecember. It is the day when the sun moves from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, (south to north), from the Sagittarius zodiac to Capricorn zodiac. Different states celebrate the harvest festival in their own way on this day, which is January 14th.

UTTAR PRADESH Uttar Pradesh begins the day with a holy dip, considered mandatory on this day. Triveni, Haridwar and Garh Mukteshwar are the places where the ritual bathing takes place. “This day is considered to be very auspicious and people donate whatever they can to the needy. We make Til ka laddoo (sesame seed balls) and hare moong ki dal. In the olden days, people also used to donate gold,” informs Anish Dikshit, who was in Uttar Pradesh and is now in Delhi. Triveni Sangam in Allahabad hosts

36 Parent Circle / January 2012

the Magha Mela. “People from across the world come during this time and put up tents. For a month, everyday, these people take a dip in the water there,” says Anish.

PUNJAB The Punjabis love to do their Bhangra and this festival provides them with the perfect excuse for doing just that. The festival is celebrated as Lohri in the state. It gains momentum in the evening. “We make huge bonfires in the fields. We gather around the fire, circle around it for five times and throw the puffed rice, popcorn and other things which are harvested, into the fire. At the same time we offer a prayer to the fire god and sing popular folk songs,” explains Sindhu Bharti, a resident of Chennai, who is originally from Jalandhar in Punjab.

flying kites! “The offices and schools are literally shut down for these three days. We just cook some savouries like Khichdi and Rice Chikki and take them up to the terrace. We don’t leave the place after that. You can see lots of kites fighting with each other and the sky looks colourful. In the evening, we also attach a candle to the kites. The sky is lit by the thousands of candles,” says Sweta Lokesh enthusiastically. Sweta lived in Ahmedabad before moving to Chennai.

KARNATAKA

The festivities continue with people meeting and greeting each other, the place resounding with the music of Bhangra. “We then sit around the fire as a community and have the traditional makki-di-roti (multi-millet hand-rolled bread) and sarson-dasaag (cooked mustard herbs),” says Sindhu.

The most prominent part of the festival is the Yellu Bella (Til seeds and jaggery). “A mixture of Til Seeds, Jaggery, Fried Groundnuts, dry coconut is made and put in small packets. Along with it, Sakkare Acchu (Sugar candy in various shapes), and sugarcane is kept on a plate. The girls visit each other‘s houses and exchange this sweet mixture. This is called Ellu Birodhu. The children and the adults enjoy this. There is a saying in Kannada ellu bella thindu olle maathadi which translates to 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good,'“ says Parvathi Limbekar, a resident of Bangalore. The same ritual is followed in Maharashtra.

GUJARAT

TAMIL NADU

In the state of Gujarat, the festival goes on for three days. All that is done is

While the festival of Pongal is celebrated in almost every home in


The farmer’s wife prepares the new mud pot to make the sweet pongal (freshly harvested and hand-pounded rice boiled in milk, sweetened and flavoured with jaggery and nuts and spices) in an open hearth under the sky, near the field and the temple. The pot is cured earlier to prevent seepage. Its neck is decorated with ginger, turmeric, herbs with medicinal value, and marigold flowers, all available in the farmer’s backyard. A bit of sugar-cane (which is also harvested) along with the leaf is also added to this decoration. A rice-powder kolam (geometric design, to ward away evil and welcome the auspicious) is drawn under the hearth and in front of it. Then fresh milk from the farm is poured into the pot along with a little water. The milk is allowed

© Meena Kadri

The sweet mixture exchanged in Karnataka

to overflow liberally, signifying the thanksgiving to the Earth. Children and adults thump pots and pans, spoons and rattles in a joyous clanging. Then rice, with a little green gram and jaggery is placed into the pot and is boiled in the remaining milk. The smoke from the lit hearth mingles with the decorated herbs tied to the pot (which are good for stomach ailments) and infuses the cooked pongal – thus making it a safe and healthy food. Pongal is offered to the Sun-god and eaten as prasad on plantain leaves. It is made at an auspicious time in the morning and conches are blown before the formal offering.

Flying kites in Gujarat

© Simran Kaur

the state, it takes on a special flavour in farms, where predominantly rice and some other crops get harvested. On the day prior to Makara Sankranti, known as Bogi, old mats, thatchings, sackings and even some old clothes are burnt. The logic behind this activity – the north-east monsoons and the cold bring in their wake, dampness and fungus. There is now a new freshness in the air. Houses are freshly painted while the mud floorings are freshly cleaned, washed and lined with cow-dung, considered to be an anti-septic.

© Crawl India

© Margaret Hardy Feeding a cow during Pongal

Throwing puffed rice into a bonfire in Punjab

Pongal is a typical thanksgiving festival to Mother Earth for her bounties. While man benefits from the top part of the crop (the rice), farm animals consume the husk and the rice straw (the middle part of the crop) while the roots are left to replenish the ground. During Kanu, the third day of the Pongal festival, the birds are drawn to the coloured balls of rice kept as an offering for them. These birds are needed to eat the pests off the paddy that are heaped together! Cows are bathed and taken out to various houses, garbed in splendid robes, flowers and jingling bells. 8 The holy dip in the river in Uttar Pradesh

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roots

KERALA The harvest festival here is known as Onam and it is celebrated in the month of August, in the month of Chingam in the Kerala calendar. According to the common story, Mahabali, the legendary King of Kerala, visits the state every year during the Onam festival, to ensure the wellbeing of the people. The festival is a ten-day celebration - with shopping and feasting, as a sign of welcome to King Mahabali.

Pookkalam is a colourful arrangement of flowers made during the ten days. Dances like Thumbi, Thullal are also performed. Onasadya (a lavish feast) is an inevitable part of Onam festival. ‘It is said that you have to make the Onasadya, even if you have to sell your property to make ends meet,” says Preetha Gopan, a resident of Alleppey. Thiruvonam is the day when the lavish feast is prepared. “At least 12 varieties of dishes are prepared, and with this the ten-day festival ends,” she says.

“We take puthari kalangi [a tuber] and a little thambittu and pray to the ancestors in the main hall, while giving them these offerings. The patriarch/ family head of the house then takes the kuthi with the scythe and gives it to each person in rotation to hold it”, says A Machaiah, a resident of Coorg. A girl takes the lamp and the entire family goes to the paddy field to keep the thambittu at the foot of the paddy clump. A gun shot is fired and the patriarch cuts the first paddy sheaves (large clumps of it). “Everyone carries home a handful of sheaves from this, while the kuthi bearer who is the patriarch carries the rest of it on his head. He leads the procession back home to the accompaniment of firecrackers and a band singing Poli poli Deva (give us bountiful crop),” says Machaiah. 

© Coorg.com

There are a few other harvest festivals in India, celebrated at different dates.

“On that day, the front door is decorated with a string of a particular variety of marigold. Mango and peepul leaves are also strung together and hung. In the central hall under the Lamp (thook bolacha) a mat is spread; on it mango, peepul leaves and a vine called puthari nar are placed. Besides this, two stems of bamboo, called kuthi, are kept. One is filled with old paddy and in the other, a scythe along with thambittu, a delicacy of Coorg.

Bringing home the paddy sheaves in Coorg

© Shyam Chandran

They are fed with sweet pongal and other sweetmeats as an acknowledgment of their contribution to man and soil.

Onasadya

The people of Coorg celebrate Puthari, their harvest festival, 3 months after Onam. It falls on a full moon day, in the month of November or December. First, the new crop is cut in front of the presiding deity of Coorg at the Lord Igguthappa temple. Then this ritual is followed in temples and houses across every village. At least one member from every family goes to the temple to take part in the ritual offering and brings home a stalk of the new grain.

38 Parent Circle / January 2012

Upon homecoming, a girl pours water on the feet of the kuthi bearer and offers him milk. The kuthi is kept in the hall while the paddy sheaves are tied everywhere in the house. A few grains of rice are taken from the sheaves and are put in the already cooked payasa (sweetened milk and rice laced with fragrant spices and nuts). After feeding the labourers, everyone enjoys the dinner and celebrate further with the bursting of crackers.

© Anita Kumar

COORG

Pookkalam during Onam


health circle

Eye problems in children BY DR P VIJAYALAKSHMI

O

ften eye problems occur on account of prevailing infections, accidents, and congenital defects. In such cases, it is best to be aware of the nature of the problem and consult an ophthalmologist at the earliest.

parents to facilitate this process, as the refractive error increases with age. Of late, globally, the number of children requiring spectacles is on the rise. Children spending considerable time before ‘screens’ (laptops, TV, video games), are advised to take a two to three minute break every half an hour.

REFRACTIVE PROBLEMS

DEFICIENCY OF VITAMIN A

The major cause of visual impairment is refractive error, which exists when the eye cannot focus on the targeted object, resulting in blurred vision. This happens mainly because of the physical abnormality of the eyeball (shape, size, curvature) and can be corrected with spectacles or contact lenses.

Loading children with foods rich in vitamin ‘A’ will not help correct refractive errors, which does not occur on account of nutritional deficiencies. However, vitamin ‘A’ is an essential nutrient and this should be given in a balanced amount to all children. Its deficiency can result in night blindness, discolouration of the eyes. It leads to corneal infections, which if not treated immediately, might result in blindness. Adequate breast-feeding in the early months, with regular intake of specific micronutrients will take care of this problem.8

No child is too small for vision estimation and spectacle wear. Even babies that are only a few months old, will voluntarily wear glasses as they understand that they are able to see better with them. It is mandatory for

40 Parent Circle / January 2012

Your child has poor vision if She has to go near the board to see Keeps books close to face to read Has defective night vision Is sensitive to light Often squeezes the eyes Has frequent pain around the eyes Sometimes squints A regular check-up between the ages of 3 and 5 years will help to detect these errors early. As this problem can run in the families, it becomes more important for other siblings and immediate cousins to get examined at right time.


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health circle ADDRESSING SQUINTS: Squints are the result of a weak eye muscle, or an imbalance in the mechanism of alignment of the eyes, or due to other problems which obstruct the light entering the eye. The squint is identified when the eye under focus is looking straight and the other eye is deviated, either towards the nose or away from it. If this is not recognized early and treated, the eye that is squinting will become too lazy to function. It is much more difficult to reverse the ‘Lazy eye syndrome’, unless treatment is given immediately at its onset.

CATARACT AT BIRTH: Children can be born with cataract or develop it in their early childhood, especially if there is a family history of the condition. Mothers who get German measles during the first few weeks of pregnancy may deliver babies with cataract. (It is important that the mother has taken the MMR vaccination during her childhood, or at least before pregnancy). The treatment is by surgical removal of the cataract. Children can have intraocular lens implanted, if needed.

PREMATURE BABIES: Premature babies or a baby born with low birth weight can have significant vision loss. In these babies, the normal process of development of the blood vessels at the back of the eye (retina) is not complete at the time of birth. As the development of these blood vessels is sensitive to biochemical changes (such as blood/gas levels), this can lead to the formation of abnormal blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels can bleed, causing severe vision impairment. This condition is called Retinopathy of Prematurity. If this is treated before the bleeding starts, one can save the child’s vision. It is therefore very important that the parents get their babies’ (born premature or

42 Parent Circle / January 2012

If you see any of the following signs in your child’s eye, you should consult your ophthalmologist immediately White pupil, larger eyeballs with discolouration, premature babies or babies with low birth weight, any baby with watering and discharge from eyes, squinting of the eyes, swelling or drooping of the eye lids, eyes moving involuntarily, tilting the head to one side to see etc.

White pupil Cataract in both eyes

Cataract in left eye

Glaucoma in right eye; eye enlarged and hazy

Tear duct obstruction in left eye causing watering

Squint - right eye deviated in

Ptosis

Squint- Right eye deviated out

Tilting of the head to right side

weighing less than 2000 gms) eyes examined by an ophthalmologist within 30 days of birth.

fomentation helps in relieving acute swelling of the lids. One should avoid native and self-medication at any stage.

Today, advanced technologies are deployed while administering general anaesthesia to children. Therefore, any surgical intervention in these babies can be accomplished with ease. Any disease occurring in the eyes of children will need a long-term follow up to achieve the optimum results. The parents should adhere to the doctor’s advice on review examinations.

WATERING AND EYE DISCHARGE: Sometimes the infants

MADRAS EYE: In case of redness

INHERITED EYE DISEASE:

of eyes (commonly termed as Madras Eye), make the child wash the eyes frequently and apply the medication recommended by your ophthalmologist. Since this infection spreads to others, make sure you wash your hands after applying the medication to the child’s eyes and avoid the linen used by the affected child. To further avoid spreading the disease, the affected children can wear protective glasses and not go to school till the active infection subsides. A simple hot

Consanguineous marriages contribute in large part to childhood blindness, which invariably cannot be treated. As prenatal diagnoses of many diseases are possible, the parents of affected children and the parents at risk should avail genetic counselling and undergo further investigations if necessary.

get watering and discharge without redness, which could be the result of an obstruction of the tear circulation mechanism. Invariably it subsides with massaging as shown by your doctor, if it is done early in the first few weeks of life. Otherwise this might need a surgical intervention.

DR P VIJAYALASKSHMI IS THE CHIEF OF THE PAEDIATRIC OPHTHALMOLOGY & ADULT STRABISMUS DEPARTMENT AT ARAVIND EYE HOSPITAL, MADURAI.


nutrition AYURVEDIC HOME REMEDIES

Medicinal Uses of Curry Leaves

escee

kristal

BY SHASHWATHI SANDEEP The curry tree is native to India. Its leaves are used extensively in South Indian and Sri Lankan cooking, especially in curries. Curry leaves are said to be good for those who are diabetic. The leaves are rich in Calcium and Iron and are powerful antioxidants. “As the curry leaf contains a large amount of calcium, it helps build immunity for the whole body,” says Dr A Radhakrishna, practitioner at Venkataramana Ayurveda Hospital. “Curry leaves are very good for indigestion, and diarrhea due to indigestion. “At the start of a meal, if you eat rice mixed with curry leaf powder, it helps greatly in digesting the following courses,” he says. “The leaves also help hair growth and minimize hair fall. When you eat curry leaves not only is the hair root strengthened, premature greying is also prevented, and sometimes cured,” he says. The leaves are also used to treat mild burns. A paste made of curry leaves is applied on the affected area for quick relief. Apart from these advantages, curry leaves are also good for the kidney and the eyes. So the next time you want to throw out a curry leaf from your plate, think twice. One tip for chefs: If curry leaves are seasoned to crispness while cooking root vegetables like the potato, even children will have no problem eating them.

RECIPE

Curry Leaf Powder (makes 3/4 cup) Ingredients: 3 cups of curry leaves tightly packed, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 red chilly and salt to taste.

Method: Wash the curry leaves and dry them. Next, dry roast them and keep aside. Dry roast the other ingredients except salt and grind together. Add the curry leaves and grind again. Add salt and mix well. This mixture has a very long shelf life. It is mixed with rice and ghee for a tasty rice dish. It can also be used to flavour tadka dhals or curries like the potato masala in masala dosai. For a spicy version, add more pepper and a few pods of dry-roasted garlic.

Refined Free Flowing Iodised salt

Kristal = Salt Salt = Kristal ESCEE INFRASTRUCTURE (P) LTD. (An ISO 9001-2008 Certified Company) Manufacturers of: ESCEE Kristal Iodised Free Flow / Crystal Salt, No.37, Nelson Manickam Road, 6th Floor, Aminjikarai, Chennai - 600 029. Phone: 24808888, 24808834 Fax: 23742525 E: salt@escee.in W: www.escee.in


tech talk

BY SHLOKA NARAYANAN everything else that one could possibly do physically (even ‘poking’), on a virtual platform. Facebook is just a case in point for social networking as a concept, being one of the most successful sites as compared to ‘Orkut’ or ‘hi5’ The social bug has well caught on throughout the world. Everyone, right from an eight year old to an eighty year old is social networking, never mind the fact that they may often be dependent on others to access and operate these accounts. It is successful because people want to know what is going on in other people’s lives. Social networking builds on this inherent human characteristic: curiosity. No one cares that it kills the cat!

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hen Mark Zuckerburg started Facebook as a college student in 2004, his intention was to take the entire social experience online. While we could study online, shop online and listen to music online, Facebook was meant to be a sort of a continuous party, but online. And it has achieved that and more. Facebook allows photo sharing, commenting, ‘liking’, video uploads, status updates, gaming, and almost

44 Parent Circle / January 2012

It also has its dangers, but that is because people are unaware of how to use them safely. It is like a game of squash: play with all the safety equipment, else you could put yourself in grave danger.

UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL NETWORKING Falling prey to fake identity: The internet is foremost, a place of anonymity. When you go to a party,

you get to put a face to a name, perceive the person’s looks and behavior, and based on this you can make a fair judgement about the person. Online, however, all you have is a computer with null IQ, and an internet connection. Tomorrow, the author could create a profile with her neighbour’s name and details, and could quite easily get away with it. If you are a great and blind believer in the honesty of humans, you could easily be a victim of fake identity; particularly if you are in the habit of adding or accepting people you do not know, on your list.

Privacy: Privacy here, is basically informational privacy, that is, to decide how much information to reveal and how much to keep to yourself. Unlike the western world, in India, privacy has never been a major part of society. Neighbours, neighbours’ neighbours, a friend’s aunt’s mother’s grand-daughter, all will be clued into a person’s life. It is perhaps this social value that prompts many users of social networking sites to give out more information than is warranted.

Read the privacy policy: For the uninitiated, every website which asks for any information, has what is known as a ‘privacy policy’. This means that every user is entitled to know how the


information they provide will be used by the site. The irony is that no one bothers to actually read them, because these are long and complicated. These privacy policies, however, are extremely useful tools for being safe online. Any privacy policy will provide you with a list of all the information that will be collected from you by the website. Websites cannot ‘directly’ ask for information beyond this. This would range from simple personal information like name, age, date of birth, sex, to sensitive information such as sexual orientation, to personal details like phone number, address, email id and so on. The word ‘directly’ is used here because, several times websites allow other software on their site, which are not under the privacy policy of the parent site. When a user provides any information to this guest software, a warning is displayed to the effect that the software does not belong to the parent site. A simple example is the ‘Photos’ application on Facebook which belongs to Facebook itself and hence the rules of the privacy policy will apply to it. Whereas if any user opts to play a game on the site, which is not owned by Facebook, a warning will be displayed asking for permission to use personal data in order to use the desired application (here, a game). A privacy policy also should tell you how the information you provide is used: whether it is shared with anyone else, whether it is displayed on the web, or whether the website themselves retain the information for a long period of time. For example, if a user allows it, their IP (Internet Protocol) address maybe used by the website in order to ascertain the geographical location of the user. Similarly, a user can choose whether or not their identity can be

found on a search engine such as Google or Bing.

considerable trust with their children to avoid these conflicts.

Don’t make friends with strangers: Once a member of a social

RELATIONSHIP DIVIDES BETWEEN THE NETWORKED

networking site, it is best not to make friends with people you don’t know personally. Often people send out requests reading ‘I wnt to b frnds wid u yar’ or ‘y r u on d site if u dnt want to make new frnds???!!??’ Although such decisions are best left to each person’s judgement, allowing someone to be ‘friends’ or to be connected with you, is like a joint ownership of a bank account. Once allowed to connect with you, they can access all the information you provide, right from photos, phone numbers, videos, email ids and so on.

A recent report of a young girl who committed suicide because her boyfriend broke up with her on a social platform, has taken the dangers of networking online to an all-new high. This seems to be the latest addition to relationship issues, with complaints ranging from ‘He has more girls on his friend list than guys’, ‘He hasn’t changed his relationship status’, ‘He doesn’t wall post me’, ‘His profile picture doesn’t have men in it’, and so on.

Most sites, allow the members to segregate people and put them on different ‘groups’ or ‘lists’. This helps to selectively allow information to be shared or not shared with certain groups. For example, a ‘family’ list may have access to all photos and information, while a ‘work’ group may have access only to the bare minimum details.

RELATIONSHIP DIVIDES BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN

Overall, social networking has no doubt revolutionized the world. It helps to stay connected always with people, who may be physically far away. With safety precautions, it can be an integral part of one’s everyday life. But does the whole world need to know whether you drank coffee in the morning, or that you visited Rome last summer? This is a personal choice that every individual needs to make. SHLOKA NARAYANAN IS A FIRST YEAR LAW STUDENT.

Children usually don’t want to ‘add’ their parents. They have conversations and information that they want to keep away from their parents. In turn parents get jittery, wondering about the secrets that are being hidden from them. Due credit has to be given to these parents, as they are trying very hard to keep up with a technology that was unknown to them when they were children. Their intention is not to snoop around (hopefully), but only to make sure their children are safe. Parents need to build

www.parentcircle.in 45


book review

Nurture Shock Authors: Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman List price: ` 399 Publication: Random House

BY AISHWARYA M Am I praising my child enough? Or am I overdoing it? Is my child getting enough sleep? Am I encouraging my child to lie to me? You will ask these and many more questions as you read ‘Nurture Shock’ by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. The book gives a new perspective to nurturing that turns several accepted notions upside down. It is unconventional, because it is not a culmination of the opinions of parents, caregivers, doctors and experts. Instead, it is based completely on scientific and quantitative data through research done in labs, recording children’s every word and action. It was spread across control groups of children of different races and cultures, with resultant observations on how they fared over time. For instance: When do you expose your child to the concept of failure? Today, the popular belief is that positive reinforcement is the way to go. To this end, many countries, including India, are abolishing the testing of children in schools until a certain age, lest the child experience failure and cannot handle it. Bronson and Merryman say that by doing this, you are in fact setting up your child for a bigger kind of failure.

46 Parent Circle / January 2012

They conducted an experiment where sets of children were exposed to a very difficult test, in which almost everybody failed. After this, they asked their parents to talk to the child. Some parents glossed over the failure, patted their children and told them that they were doing great. Others told their children in a matter of fact way, that they failed the test, but encouraged them to do better next time. When both sets of children were given tests again, surprisingly, the second set of children performed better than the first set. Similarly, Bronson and Merryman work on nine different areas. Some of them are: Schools test children at a very early age (about 4, when they enter school) to determine whether the child is intelligent or not. Data proves that 70% of the time, they are wrong, because, as the book says, ‘the young minds are just not done yet’! Thus, it advocates testing at a later age (7 or 8). When children sleep even an hour lesser than 10 hours a day, their IQ drops by one class lower than they are. Hmm…! Pushing them for that extra class which eats into their sleep time – not such a great idea! Do we encourage our kids to lie to us? Research says that we do – freely and without guilt – because when children are afraid of the consequences, they take the easy way out. …And so it goes on, a mixture of common sense and surprises. One thing that stands out in the book is that small changes in our behaviour

as parents can make huge positive differences to our children. Thankfully, the book does not prescribe and preach, like most parenting books do. It simply places well-researched facts on the table, leaving us to take from it whatever we think is relevant to our parenting styles. The book’s underlying assumption is that parenting is a science, which can be analyzed to derive a formula for success. We may tend to argue that it is an art – every child is different and, so too is the parent and her/his style of upbringing. But one can conclude after reading the book that like any other good art-science form, we should attempt a grand union – take the scientifically tried and tested techniques from the book and merge them with one’s unique style – thereby getting the best of both worlds!


www.parentcircle.in 47


parent chef

Mediterranean Menu BY RASHMEE RAMKUMAR

Flavoured Hummus

Makes 3 cups

A dip or spread made from mashed chickpeas

Turkish saffron rice

Serves 2

An aromatic rice flavoured with rich saffron and a generous sprinkling of raisins

INGREDIENTS

INGREDIENTS

Chick peas 3 cups (Boiled) Jalapenos 7 Beetroot 1 small Coriander ¼ bunch Garlic 6 pods Lime juice 3 tsp Roasted sesame seeds 3 tsp Olive oil 3 tsp Cumin powder 1 and ½ tsp Chopped parsley 3 tsp

Long grain rice 1 cup (uncooked) Saffron generous pinch Milk half cup Onion 1 large Yellow capsicum 1 medium Raisins ¼ cup Ghee 4 tsp Garlic 5 pods Chili flakes 1 tsp Parsley 1 tsp

METHOD

METHOD

Jalapeno hummus: Blend 1 cup boiled chick peas with jalapenos, 2 pods garlic,1 tsp lime juice,1 tsp sesame seeds , 1 tsp olive oil and half tsp cumin powder into a smooth paste using required quantity of water. Serve chilled garnished with chopped parsley and olive oil. Beetroot hummus: repeat above procedure using boiled beetroot while blending. Coriander hummus: repeat above procedure using coriander while blending.

Cook the rice along with half cup milk, 1 cup water, saffron, chilly flakes, 1 tsp ghee and required salt. Cool rice and set aside. Finely slice the onions and garlic and caramelize in 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp ghee till golden brown. Finely slice the yellow capsicum and sauté in 1 tsp ghee. Sauté raisins in 1 tsp ghee till golden brown. Place rice on a bed of lettuce. Top with caramelized onions and garlic, yellow capsicum and raisins. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve hot.

48 Parent Circle / January 2012


The Mediterranean diet is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world offering a judicious blend of all nutrients. The diet involves high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables along with moderate consumption of dairy (cheese and yogurt), fish and wine and a low consumption of meat. The traditional Mediterranean diet has shown tremendous benefit in fighting heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Whole wheat pita bread

Makes 10

Falafel

Makes 15-20

A round leavened pocket bread, made here with whole wheat flour to add to the nutritional value

Deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas. Falafel is usually served in a pita bread, which acts as a pocket

INGREDIENTS

INGREDIENTS

Whole wheat flour 1 cup Fresh yeast 1 tbsp (available in super markets)* Honey 1 tsp Salt 1 tsp Olive oil 2 tsp

Chick peas 3 cups boiled Onion 1 large (finely chopped) Garlic 5 pods Coriander ¼ bunch Parsley ¼ bunch Cumin powder 1 tsp Chilly flakes 1 tsp Crushed whole pepper 1 tsp Corn flour 2 tblsp Salt to taste Olive oil to fry

METHOD Dissolve yeast, salt and honey in ¼ cup water (luke warm) and allow to rest for 10 minutes till it foams. Place the whole wheat flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the oil and yeast mixture and knead well to form a smooth dough. Oil the vessel and place dough. Cover with wet muslin cloth and set aside in a warm place for half hour till the dough doubles in volume. Knead the dough again on a lightly floured surface to remove air. Roll out into small chapathis and place on a hot tava. When bubbles start to appear, turn over and press lightly with a tissue or cloth till it puffs up. Do not use oil or place on direct fire like phulkas. Serve warm. *Fresh yeast can be substituted with 1 tsp active dried yeast pellets.

METHOD Blend all ingredients in a food processor without water to form a thick paste (like tikki/cutlet dough). Shape into small balls; flatten out like cutlets and deep fry in medium hot olive oil till crisp and golden brown. If cutlet disintegrates while frying, dip in a thin corn flour batter before frying. RASHMEE RAMKUMAR IS A CHENNAI-BASED NUTRITIONIST WHO RUNS HER OWN BAKING ENTERPRISE ‘SNOW FROSTING’.

Allow rising time of at least 2 hours.

www.parentcircle.in 49


check it out

BY SHASHWATHI SANDEEP

Where’s Spot BY ERIC HILL `169 onwards Flipkart.com

The book is a lift-theflap book about a little puppy called Spot. It’s dinnertime and Spot is nowhere to be found. Mom looks everywhere for him - behind the door, under the stairs, inside the piano. Children love lifting the flaps to help find Spot, only to find Spot’s friends hiding all over the house. Little children can relate to this book, since, as Eric Hill himself says, “What I had created is a puppy who is reflecting the life of a young child in his own home, playing games with his mom, playing hide and seek.” You will find yourself looking for Spot again and again and again.

50 Parent Circle / January 2012

Excuses Excuses

Judy Moody was in a mood

Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Cook

BY MEGAN McDONALD

SUBHADRA SEN GUPTA

BY ANUSHKA RAVISHANKAR

`165, Walker India

`199, Puffin

`375, Tara Books

Judy Moody has different moods - good moods, bad moods and even back-to-school moods. The story revolves around the life of a third grader, Judy Moody. She has a younger brother Stink, a best friend in Rocky and a pesky friend in Frank Pearl.

Rohin is a 15-year-old; his parents are scientists and his elder sister is on the way to becoming one. Naturally, his parents want him to become one too; but Rohin is not interested. He goes on a vacation to his grandparents’ bungalow in Lucknow. While in the process of cleaning a room, he stumbles upon an old diary. This belonged to a 15-year-old Hassan Ali known as Hasnu, who despised cooking and his father was a chef! Hasnu was branded by his dad as the world’s worst cook! As Rohin reads the diary, he gets curious by the day, about Hasnu’s fate and starts tracking him down.

Children will always have a stock of excuses to give, particularly when they have to do things they would like to avoid – like going to school. This book narrates in a poetic format, the excuses that the young boy Neel gives, when confronted with his lapses. Many of the excuses appear absurd, but also manage to be delightfully tongue-incheek. They reflect the typical creativity and fantasy of a child that age. Neel may run out of days of the week but never runs out of excuses. Every child can relate to this book and the illustrations made by Gabrielle Manglou.

Judy Moody’s first assignment in the third grade is to make a ‘Me Collage’. Her idea of a pet is a Venus Fly Trap and she is a proud member of the exclusive TP Club (which is the Toad Pee Club) whose other members are Rocky and Stink. The language used is simple and the illustrations filled with humour.


The Pink Locker Society BY DEBRA MOFFITT

The 14th Dalai Lama – Buddha of Compassion

` 311, Griffin Publishing

BY ARAVINDA ANANTHARAMAN

It’s time to Think Pink! Welcome to the pink locker society where the members help other girls by answering their questions on various problems. Jemma, Kate and Piper have been friends forever and now they are part of a secret community. They go to their secret office, by skipping study hall (a free period intended to be used by students for studying). Their mission is to help girls with problems related to PBBs (Periods, Bras and Boyfriends).

`150, Puffin

The questions asked, and which get answered in the book, are relevant to every girl. The author, Debra, is an editor of KidsHealth.org and some of the questions which come in the story are actually questions she was asked by the thousands of girls through email. Pre-teens and teens should read the book to get their own unasked queries answered.

Teenagers and adults who somehow lost track of the happenings in Tibet in the last six decades, could be brought up to date with a highly interesting and anecdotal biography of the Dalai Lama. It speaks in detail about the insidious Chinese occupation of Tibet. It describes how the ever-reasonable and exiled Dalai Lama is weaning Tibetans away from the centuries-old idea of being led by a pontiff, to a more appropriate democracy. The poignancy lies in the fact, that Lobsang Sangay, who is now vested with the temporal powers of the Dalai Lama, is an elected political head of a people without a country! The Tibetans in exile are now scattered in 30 countries, but are all looking forward to returning to their homeland, where they can have the freedom to preserve and practise their culture.

www.parentcircle.in 51


hands on

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Pulli Kolam BY UMA MAHESHWARI

Kolams are generally drawn in front yards, with fine rice flour powder or paste to mark festivities and auspicious occassions. The idea behind using rice flour is that the insects and small birds will feed on it and bless the household. The Pulli Kolam is very special to Tamil Nadu. Varied and intricate patterns emerge from simple lines drawn around an arrangement of dots. The most basic arrangement is of three dots in the middle row and one each above and below it. Veterans can fill a whole street with beautiful kolams drawn around hundreds of dots. Children can have fun trying the most basic pulli kolams which are also geometric marvels!

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UMA MAHESHWARI IS A CHENNAI PARENT WHO HAD BROUGHT OUT A BOOKLET OF KOLAMS WHEN SHE WAS A TEENAGER.

52 Parent Circle / January 2012


discussion point Tuitions are necessary only if the children find it hard to cope with the subject content. Otherwise, a disciplined self-study should be enough. It is necessary in higher classes especially in subjects like maths, where regular practice is essential to master a topic and gain confidence. Malathi Rao, Bengaluru

Current day tuition classes (especially the higher secondary ones) have become like parallel classrooms (mattu sandai). So unless the children are themselves motivated there is no guarantee that tuitions will succeed. However, tuitions focussing on the weak learning spots of the child are definitely welcome (rider: if the parents can afford the fees).

a miniscule part of life. Already, children spend a majority of their time in school for academic learning. Sending them to tuitions to learn the very same lessons once again is a waste of time and energy. I have seen that children who have been encouraged to learn on their own through curiosity, experience and research grow into better individuals having lot of expertise, enthusiasm and efficiency in their work and home lives. Lekha Krishnakumar, Chennai

I think interacting with the peer group at the tuition helps. I have two children and I have realised that after interactions with their peer group, they have improved a lot. Interaction is very important as it promotes exchange of information. Jamuna Rangachari, Mumbai

Kannan Ganesan, Chennai

It is totally subjective. If the child needs special attention that the teachers in school are not able to provide, and if the parents also cannot teach, then tuitions may be necessary. It should not be at the 'tuition centres' which is just another class room having 70 children per batch. Amudha Ravi Shankar, Chennai

Depends on the child.... Tuitions can add value only where the tutor-student ratio is 1:3 at the most, and for children who require that extra care to blossom; not for children who are already topping the class and whose parents want to push them harder! Kaveri Satyanarayan, Chennai

Teaching methods are vastly different at tuition centres and quite often children get confused. If the child studies at home everyday for 30 - 45 minutes, it is enough. Vidya Nagarajan, Chennai

My son is 7 years old and I got him a Beyblade last month, but he wants the latest version now. How do I handle this pester power? 54 Parent Circle / January 2012

The focus of any education system should be on learning. If tuitions are only meant for teaching the appropriate portions in a crammed manner, for the sake of scoring in an examination, it is serving only a limited purpose. I feel that academics are only

I feel that the standard of subjects is quite high - so a good person to help out is always useful. For example, my son goes for maths tuition to ‘Sujatha Aunty‘- thanks to her, the phobia before the exam is not there! Priya Murle, Chennai

If CCE is truly implemented the way it ought to be, then tuitions may take a back seat. But that is a big If. In some places up north, I am told that schools and tuition centres have started cooperating with each other. Schools have recognised/acknowledged specific tuition centres. As long as the child pays the school fees, he need not attend classes in school. The child can go straight to the tuition centre, (for which the parent again pays the fees), and learn for some three hours. The child can make the occasional appearance for the test or exam in school, for his assessment. This spares him from wasting his time during the day at school and losing out the evenings by going to tuition. Many parents welcome this! Malathi Kishore, Hyderabad Please send in your responses before January 15, 2012 to editorial@parentcircle.in with the subject line ‘Discussion Point’, or send them to PARENT CIRCLE, 3rd Floor, Shri Renga Vihar, 8/14 First Cross St, Karpagam Gardens, Adyar, Chennai 600020, India.


www.parentcircle.in 55


lighter vein Okay, everybody …

Family Life Exposed

Smile!

BY CAROL BAND

I

just picked up photos from our end-of-the summer family vacation and as I studied them, I thought, “Gee, that really was the best vacation we ever had. It was perfect.” Then, I came to my senses and remembered that although it was a good trip, there were plenty of moments that weren’t documented on that roll of four by six inch, double prints. In one photo, taken by a willing passerby, the five of us are standing on a beach smiling into the sun; Although you may see that image on our holiday card in December, what the photo doesn’t reveal is that the kids had been bickering in the backseat of the car the whole way to the beach. My husband was tense because by the time we got there, the parking lot was full and we had to pay twenty dollars to park in a swamp. Smile! Another vacation photo depicts Lewis digging into a serious scoop of black raspberry ice cream. In a few years, we won’t remember that after the picture was taken he blew lunch all over the rental van. We won’t remember because we don’t have a picture of it. A quick check into the fifteen years of photos jammed into the shoe boxes in our basement reveals that my fond memories of the past may indeed be a result of failing to accurately

56 Parent Circle / January 2012

document the bad and the ugly along with the good and the scenic. From our family photos, it would be easy to conclude that we live on a beach where it is always Christmas. This gross misrepresentation is an injustice to our future generations and to us. You need to remember the bad times in order to appreciate the good for a few laughs… or for blackmail. My daughter’s three-month bout of colic, the Thanksgiving Day when the garbage disposal backed up, my shag haircut, the time the car broke down in the tunnel downtown - these are just some of the moments I wish I had captured on film. From now on in the interest of historical accuracy and in the spirit of those popular reality based television shows, I propose that families pay equal attention to getting snapshots of all aspects of daily life. Take pictures of your kids when they sit glassy-eyed playing Nintendo; get a close up of the idiot who cut you off at the

intersection; and take a moment to snap a photo during the next spar with your spouse, “Honey, say ‘cheese!’ … it’s our first fight!” Now, every moment can be a Kodak moment and, if you do an admirable job of honestly chronicling family life your friends will probably beg to see the photos of your conference with the school principal or the pictures from the day that your cleaning lady didn’t show up. The next time the toilet overflows, the cat coughs up a hairball or one of the kids has a full-blown tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, I’ll be sure to grab a camera and say “Okay, everybody …Smile!” Click. CAROL BAND IS A JOURNALIST BY TRAINING AND MOM BY CHANCE. THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN HER COLUMN ‘HOUSEHOLD WORD’ BY DOMINION PARENTING MEDIA. PLEASE SEND YOUR FEEDBACK TO EDITORIAL@PARENTCIRCLE.IN WITH A CC TO CAROL@CAROLBAND.COM.



parentcircle January 2012