In India, parents start planning for school admissions even before they beget babies! Yes. some schools ask parents to register for admission while the mom is pregnant. With such a rush for a place in the right school, infants are bundled off to play school even at the age of 2. But is this right- sending children to school even before they outgrow their infancy?

What is the right age for your child to start school, then? Let us discuss.

The right age to start school

A Stanford University study reveals that kids performed better when they were enrolled in Kindergarten at 6 years. Its results showed that kids had better self-control and test scores by the age of 7-11.

Our ancestors were probably right. Yes, ancient wisdom dictated school enrollment to be at 6 years. Until then, the home was the right environ for learning basic life skills. This approach is correct indeed for the brain development begins at birth, peaks at 3 and prunes itself to become adult-like at 6 years. By the age of 6, the child’s brain has developed definite cognitive abilities to understand the language of instruction and imbibe what is taught.

By the 1990s, pre-schooling ad steeped into India with several private pre-schools cropping up and enrolling kids at the age of 3. Today every child in an Indian home begins pre-school at 3 years. India also has the largest early childhood programmes in the world with 1.3 million government-funded anganwadis. All these facts point out to the kid starting his school/playschool experience at the age of 3.

Teaching methodologies for pre-school education

Kindergarten

Kindergarten involves guided learning through a play-way method of singing, dancing and games for the preschooler. This term was coined by Friedrich Froebel and has become immensely popular in India s the standard system of pre-schooling with Lower and Upper Kindergarten classes.

Montessori

Maria Montessori evolved this approach which is based on the natural eagerness of the child to learn. This methodology encourages children to learn by themselves while the teacher facilitates this process. This approach allows the child to learn at his/her own pace understanding his/her physical and emotional levels.

Waldorf

The Waldorf methodology introduced by Rudolf Steiner focuses on the imagination of the child which is encouraged with hands-on activities.

Whatever be the methodology of early education, it forms the basis for actual schooling at 6 years. PPlayschools focus on the process of getting the child ready to adapt to the system of formal education. They act as a stepping stone to actual schooling. Playschools go even the extra mile in teaching children personal hygiene like toilet training and social skills like interacting with other children to get them ready for school.

Schooling

Actual schooling from class 1 begins at 6 years and from then on, the child follows a curriculum of study like State Board, CBSE, ICSE etc. The child is tested for his basic cognitive abilities and then enrolled into the curriculum. It is not mandatory that the child should have followed a Kindergarten, Montessori or Waldorf system. Even homeschoolers can enroll directly in class 1 provided the child qualifies in the entrance tests for class 1. This is possible with the help of practice question papers available from Letspractise.

Children can practise basic Maths numbers and English words etc. using these practise tests and gear up for school in no time.

Getting children ready for proper schooling is a challenging task. Give your children a good start by enrolling them at age 6. Get them ready for school by enrolling them in pre-school or letting them enjoy homeschooling. Build a strong base with practise tests from Letspractise for a bright future for your child at school.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a festival that is celebrated almost in every state of India. Kids love this Elephant God Ganesh with his round belly and swinging trunk as he looks cute and friendly to them. Moreover, he is said to be the Vighnaharta – the remover of obstacles and this is why kids believe that praying to him, will make their life trouble-free.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in the month of September with great pomp and show in India by creating idols of Ganesh, worshipping them and finally immersing them in water after the pooja. In Maharashtra, this festival is celebrated for 10 days and in South India, just for one day. Be it one or ten, it is a beautiful sight to see the procession of Ganeshas parading through the town on the final day of the visarjan or immersion.

With eco-consciousness being the need of the hour, people have stopped using paper-mache and plasticine for creating Ganeshas and are instead moving to eco-friendly options like clay, mud, etc. Let us take this opportunity to involve children in the spirit of this festival by teaching them to create Ganesh idols at home or school.

Creating Ganesh idols with kids.

1. Clay Ganesha

This cute Clay Ganesh is very easy to make and is ready within minutes. Small kids love to make this  Ganesha as it involves dabbling with clay.

Materials needed:  Potter’s Clay, Water,  small black beads, a bowl to mix, newspaper to spread

Procedure

  1.    Spread the newspaper on the ground or table.
  2.   Take the clay in the bowl.
  3.   Add water little by little to it and knead it to form a dough similar to the chapati dough.
  4.   Make 2 round balls- one big and one small.
  5.   Place the small ball as the head on the large ball which is the body.
  6.   Make four small balls of dough and shape them into carrots. These are the arms and legs of the Ganesh.
  7.   Place the 2 arms and 2 legs on the  body
  8.   Make another carrot shape and bend it to form the trunk. Attach the trunk to the face.
  9.   Make 2 small balls and flatten them as the ears. Attach the ears to either side of the face.
  10.  Lastly, make 2 small balls and shape them into 2 tusks- one long and one short. Attach them to the trunk on   either side.
  11.  Place 2 black beads as the eyes of the Ganesha.
  12.  Your cute little clay Ganesha is ready. Allow him to dry and then worship him with flowers.

2. Wheat Ganesha

This Ganesha is made solely of edible items like wheat flour, turmeric etc. which are available at home and are eco-friendly.

Materials needed: Wheat Flour, Turmeric, Peppercorns, cotton thread,  beetroot, kumkum, 2 small stick/ toothpicks.

Procedure

  1. Make a soft dough of Wheat flour with water.
  2. Now make 2  balls out of the dough – one small for the head and the other big one for the body.
  3. Place the small ball on top of the big one.
  4. Insert a small stick or toothpick into the head and body so that it goes straight through both, holding them together.
  5. Now merge the lines between the head and body by kneading.
  6. Make a small ball of the dough, knead it into a long tube and attach it to the face for the trunk. Fold the trunk to one side. Merge the trunk to the face and body.
  7. Form the head portion, flatten out the ears on either side.
  8. Make 2 small discs out of the dough – one large and one small. Place the large disc on top of the head covering the toothpick. Now place the smaller one. Cover this with a tiny ball of dough. This forms the crown of the Ganesha.
  9. Now make a small ball and place it in the bent trunk as his favourite sweet- the “modak”
  10. Then take some dough, knead it as a tube. Shape one end of the tube as a snake’s head. attach the snake to Ganesha’s waist.
  11. Place 2 peppercorns as the eyes of the Ganesha.
  12. Now make 2 small tusks from the dough- one long and one short and place it on either side of the trunk. Merge these tusks to the trunk and body by using toothpick gently.
  13. Your Ganesha is ready. Place him on a slice of beetroot as his seat with some rice and a coin underneath.
  14. Worship Ganesha with flowers and kumkum.

Make this Ganesh Chaturthi more special by getting kids to create their own Ganeshas at home or school and worship them heartily.

Letspractise wishes you all a Happy Ganesh Chaturthi

Excitement, anxiety, pride and various other mixed emotions in terms of emotional, physical, social and academic factors are the changes that occur during this transformation. I don’t know if you have realized but this is a crucial phase when these children are moulded into young adults, the country’s future. If you have ever been exposed to a higher class it is clearly observable that there is a constant battle fought by each one of them by themselves. Life has its ways of giving us curve balls at every invisible bend and these bright sparks are jumping the barriers and crossing hurdles to come out as beautifully grown adults at the end of this short race. As mentioned before it is crucial, the choices made by them little by little, in turn, become who they are.

Now we also have to bear in mind that one’s personality and character is built under the following circumstances of environmental conditions such as the climate at one’s home (the major contribution to one’s emotions), peer influence and the unavoidable biological factors. Their decision-making is partly clouded and their judgments are mostly without a proper thought process and it mostly based on ‘spur of the moment thinking’. The initial transformation phase could be jittery and a handful of them would experience anxiety and this is the time the educational institution and the teachers need to step in. This phase is not just crucial but also delicate. They are at a level where they also experience symptoms of emotional imbalance. Therefore, when emotions are running high situations need to be dealt with care.  At this phase commanding and demanding do not work out well. The students need to be felt heard, requested not demanded and appreciated.

Here are a few tips to allow a smooth transformation of these adolescents to move to the higher classes for guardians, parents, and teachers.

1. Intellectually 

The students at this phase learn out of curiosity and interest. At this phase, educating themselves becomes an automatic behaviour. They do not need to be compelled or forced to study. It is the responsibility of the adults around him or her to simply create an interest and the job is done.

2. Social 

At this phase, peer influence is at its peak. The desire to fit into cliques turns out to be of high importance. Restrictions only create repulsion, therefore, adult-like one on one conversations are recommended. The child at this phase is a budding adult and tends to start acting like one. Telling him or her off isn’t going to do you good but instead treat him like the adult he would like to be treated and you would notice him taking responsibility for his actions.

3. Academic 

During this transformation, students are bombarded from all angles academically and are required to up their game. No more casual lounging around in the school and at home. They are expected to keep up with the upgrade in their syllabus, introduction of new topics and various advancements throughout this phase. Again, compulsion and demands will fail to work. Resort to more mature methods of explaining his responsibility and the results he owes to himself and his future.

4. Psychological

The students are self-conscious and still searching for their identities. Dilemmas of what to choose and who to be like at the battles one has to fight in his head. Therefore, give him the space to explore and find himself to avoid a personality crisis in the future.

Adolescents are never easy to handle – but it is our responsibility as an adult to guide, mentor and usher them to adulthood. Challenges will be faced, battles will be fought only to make them the future selves they will turn out to be. But it is important to be better humans than accomplished humans, therefore, focus on creating an adult who will contribute to the society and not just bring success to himself.

 

Pillow fights and fighting for rights; sharing stuff or playing rough- these are things you have to contend with if you have siblings. For kids who have siblings, the grass is always greener on the other side. They long to be the apple of their parent’s eyes and bask in their undivided attention. But little do they realize that having siblings is much better than being an only child.

Research proves that an only child is much more selfish and spoilt compared to the others with siblings. A study by the Southwest University of Chongqing in China further reveals that “only children” may be better at creativity but always scored lower on “agreeable personality traits” than children with siblings. In fact, medical scans revealed that the “only children” have less grey matter in the median prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain which deals with thinking about one’s relationships with others. This is why “only children” tend to think more selfishly and are more demanding in attention than those with siblings.

If you are not convinced, here are more reasons why having siblings is better than being an only child.

Reasons why having siblings is better than being an only child.

Having siblings is always better because they are

  • Someone to talk to

Your sibling is a great companion to talk to and hang out with. You can always discuss, debate, argue and brainstorm ideas and topics. You will never be bored when you have a sibling around. There is so much to share and chat when a brother or sister is around.

  • Someone to share your secrets with

After a certain age, children find it difficult to discuss their personal problems with parents. For such children, siblings are a boon. Sibling is someone with whom you can share your secrets with. Even the darkest of secrets can be revealed in confidence to your brother or sister. This is because your brother or sister is a person of your age who can relate to you and your problems. They also know you from childhood and are familiar with your strengths and shortcomings. This is why you can always use a sibling as a “sounding board” to express your feelings and share your secrets. 

Your sibling is your alter-ego- the most intimate and trusted friend for life.

  • Someone to lean on

In times of trouble, your sibling is the first person whom you can lean on. They are the silent staff of support who can help carry your burden. You do not have to think twice about asking for help and you can be assured that they will be there for you- any time, any day.

  • Someone to guard you, and guide you

Everyone needs a friend, philosopher, and guide and the best you can get is a sibling. Siblings always speak their mind and warn you against any risks and dangers. They will also guide you on the right path to choose as they have your best interests at heart.

A sibling is your guardian angel in times of distress and your godfather to guide you throughout your life.

  • Someone to giggle, gossip and gallivant and play with

Siblings are such fun. You can speak your mind freely without inhibitions to them. You can gossip and giggle unabashedly. You can also bravely gallivant the whole town with them. Yes, siblings are your best friends and companions for life.

All the special moments of your life will probably be with your siblings. Siblings are a part of your tears, fears, smiles, wails, laughter, grins and guffaws. They are the people who support you every step of the way -in both good and bad. Siblings are not only a part of your growing up, they are a part of your entire life. They can play games both indoor and outdoors – resulting in laughter and bonding. They are great companions during family vacations who want to do and explore all the things that you want to.

It is always better to have siblings than to be an only child for they are someone to share and care in your life’s thoroughfare.

The term “Raksha Bandhan”, literally means, “the bond of protection”.

This is an event that is most looked forward to by the people of India and the only occasion that celebrates the relationship between a brother and a sister. Although there is a story that goes way back to why this practice of tying a decorated rope or a bracelet called ‘Rakhi’ around the brother’s wrist, the whole idea has been forgotten. To the forgotten few, there are a great many myths but this one stands out to honor the brother-sister like relationships is the battle fought by Alexander the Great. The people of India have been practicing this for decades from the Hindu, Jain and Sikh religious backgrounds but in the recent years, it isn’t about it being a religious practice anymore but simply the honoring of this special bond we Indians give the greatest importance to.

So the practice goes like this. After the ceremonial tying of the ‘rakhi’ around the brother’s wrist, the sister applies a tilak, a colorful mark on the brother’s forehead and wishes him a long and healthy life and in return, the brother pledges to protect her and take care of her come what may. The most exciting part is when the brother presents his sister with a gift and the ritual is wrapped up with the distribution of sweets.

Choosing a rakhi for your brother is quite a simple task but for the brother in order to pledge his love for his sister can clearly be done through the chosen gift. Now, this process could be quite tedious and we all know how it could possibly go down when a sister hasn’t been gifted anything close to her expectation. For all those brothers out there confused on what to get your sister this year.

Here are the top 3 items that you could choose from but whatever you choose make sure it’s personal.

Buying a gift for a woman can be quite a task and you could go wrong in a million ways but personalizing anything for a woman sends the message that says ‘you care’ and that you have taken the time to choose and not just something that you have grabbed off the shelf.

1. Photographs

Choose one of your best moments together, be it in your adulthood or when you were kids. Memories are always cherished. ‘Go big or go home’! In order to stay trendy and suit your sister’s apartment choose a canvas wooden frame. It’s trendy with a contemporary look. She could display it anywhere in her home and be reminded of the bond you share.

2. Jewellery

These are a girl’s best friend. From gold to silver to simply choosing from those fancy beady ethic works will bring a huge smile on her face but make sure you choose wisely where the gift is a reminder of your relationship and not just extravagant. Choose from daily wear where she will be reminded of your constant love and protection or jewellery that is to be used on special occasions as a way to cherish your bond on those special days.

3. Wristwatches

It has been a recent trend to gift your sister a watch. It is both symbolic as well as a necessity. When the watch ticks every day it will be a constant reminder that you are always around and only a call away. The watch companies have realized that this is one such gift that tops the list so there are various offers for this auspicious day. Don’t forget to choose based on her personality. If your sister is a tom-boy choosing a delicate feminine one could send the wrong message. Choose wisely!

Giving a gift to your sister doesn’t always have to be extravagant. It is a day where you celebrate each other, therefore, don’t sweat it if you have a low budget simply keep in mind to be that protective, loving and caring brother you ought to be. Take her out to lunch, get to know what’s going on in her life, show her your support. We are all clearly aware that all relationships are not perfect and if you and your sister had a tiff make amends, put the past behind as nothing is as strong as a bond between siblings.