Beware! Are you letting the ‘play station’ win over the ‘play ground’?

Remember when we were little, our favorite part of the day was when we went out to play in the park? Those games like ‘hide and seek’, ‘hopscotch’, ‘jumping the rope’ and how we would run to the swings and ladders? Ah! This brings back many sweet memories for me, and I am sure for all you parents out there too. I still remember how we would run out of the house in the evenings to meet our friends and play until we tired ourselves out completely. I am sure I have taken you all down the memory lane.

I have heard most parents saying that they’re reliving their childhood through their children and how they see themselves in them. But, turn around and take a look at your child. Is your child sitting on the couch, glued to the television/ ipad/ computer/ play station or some gadget right now? If your child isn’t one to sit on the couch all evening,rather takes interest in some physical activity, then take a bow dear parents.

Unfortunately, in today’s day and age, I see most of the children spending hours in front of the television, laptop or some other gadget. While it does provide them with knowledge, it also brings with it a dozen problems. In my last few articles I talked about developing fine motor skills of your child. Other than that, our gross motor skills are equally important. Gross motor skills are the ones that involve large muscle groups like the legs, arms, trunk, etc. These skills are required for the very basic activities like walking, running, crawling to highly complex ones like gmynastics or other complex sports.

Due to the current over load of media content for children, they are more inclined towards sitting at home than indulging in some physical activity. This has resulted in many health related issues like obseity and has also hampered the development of these larger muscles. Such a sedentary lifestyle has serious implications in the long run, which we all are aware of. It has also restricted social interaction for children. These days, the couch is their best friend and the house or rather their room is their playground.

Apart from hampering the development of gross motor skills and increasing health issues, we are also raising our children in a very protected environment. Instead of building their confidence and empowering them, we are being over protective. It is disheartening to see litte children refusing to play even in the school grounds and complaining of heat or tiredness after just 10 minutes of play. Yes, that is true! I have had children complaining of back pains at the age of 4 and others refusing to play in the sun because they are so used to staying indoors in an air conditioned environment.

We are raising a generation of lethargic and unhealthy adults, who are underconfident and emotionally deprived due to real social interactions. An underlying cause of this is also the lifestyle of parents. Many moms hand over the ipad to their little ones, when they need time for themselves. Some parents complain of lack of time due their gruesome working hours. Well, the children learn what they see. When they see their parents glued to the phone or laptop all the time, they follow the same.

I understand that it can be difficult to take your child out every evening to play. Try starting with a day or two in a week and as your child gets older, let them go out and play themselves if you feel it is safe for them. However, do encourage and inculcate some physical activity in their lives.  It is my urge to all the parents out there, instead of buying a Play Station next time, buy a skipping rope or a trampoline for your child. Encourage them to play a sport they like. Take them to the nearby park and relive your own childhood too.

Empower your children and then watch how they succeed in the future. Like I said in one of my previous posts, give them a childhood to remember. Let there be real friends, games, parks, sports, fun and frolic in their childhood and not just a couch and television.article-2385722-1B279CE6000005DC-239_634x416

Stay tuned!

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10 Ways to strengthen the wrists and improve fine motor skills.

A shoutout to all you lovely parents out there. I hope you are enjoying the summer with your little angles. In my previous posts, I shared some ways you can help your child in developing their fine motor skills and finger dexterity. Mostly we concentrate on these two and forget a very important aspect that is imperative for strengthening the fine motor skills; i.e, the wrists.

In today’s post I will share a few activities that can help:

  1. Opening bottle caps– This is a day to day activity that you must encourage your child to do. Usually, when the children come to me with their bottles and ask to open the caps, I encourage them to do it on their own first. Let them try first, for every time they twist the cap, they work on improving their fine motor skills.
  2. Sharpening the pencils– Another small activity that requires the children to twist  their wrists and work on their fine motor.
  3. Work with the glue sticks– Activities like ‘tearing and pasting’ are fantastic for fine motor skills. It works on the hands while tearing bits of paper, pasting and the wrists while twisting the glue.
  4. Open door knobs and taps– Make you child independent and work on their fine motor skills at the same time.
  5. Kneading dough/ clay- This requires pressure of the entire hand and wrists and is a fun activity for children.
  6. Mix it up- Give them a spoon or ladle and ask them to stir things that you feel are safe. Give them a glass of juice or milk and let them mix the sugar in it. It works wonderfully on the wrists.
  7. Vertical Boards- Let them work on black/ white boards and let them write with chalks or white board markers. This requires the right amount of pressure on the wrists and the children love writing on them.
  8. Wring those clothes– Ask your little ones to wring the clothes before you put them out for drying. They could also use a sponge to wring and clean things or paint with it.
  9. Colouring– Always encourage your child to colour, even if they scribble. This works wonders!
  10. Play dough– Like I shared in my previous post, knead some dough at home and add food colouring to it. Let your child unleash his creativity while playing with the dough. This activity works on the entire hand, fingers and wrists.

Try out these activities and the ones I shared in my previous posts and do share your feedback with me. In my next post, I will share activities that help in building the gross motor skills. Enjoy your summer and make the best use of this time.

Stay tuned!

Work on your child’s finger dexterity this summer.

Hello!

All the lovely parents out there who are reading my blog, I hope you tried some activities I mentioned in my previous blog, to develop your child’s fine motor skills of the hand.

Today we shall continue with the same, but we’ll concentrate on developing the finger dexterity of the little ones. Before I share with you some activities to improve or develop the dexterity, let me share that it is the index finger which is usually most dexterous and sensitive finger of the hand. Now, how do we work on this?

Here are some activities you can easily do at home which will help your child.

  1. Finger painting– Bring out all the colors this summer and let your child unleash his creativity. Dip the finger in the paint and make cards, posters, decorate things and just play around. This activity is deeply loved by most of my students and can work wonders.
  2. Picking and Sorting– This is an easy one. Give your child a bowl with some assorted things and let them sort the things in separate bowls. If you’re doing this at home, use some pulses and rice and ask them to separate the two. Like I said in my previous post, if you involve your children in your household chores, you’re also teaching them to be helpful and responsible.
  3. Sand tracing– If you’re heading out to the beach this summer or if you have a sand pit near your house, let that be your child’s canvas.
  4. Tracing at home– Is it too hot to play in the sand? Well, provide your child with a large plate full of pulses, rice or some semolina. Let that be their canvas and they’ll have so much fun.
  5. Lego/ Blocks– Now this one is an absolute favorite of most children. Gift your child some blocks or lego to play with. Let them build their own buildings, animals and whatever they like. You will be surprised by their imagination and you can use these to teach them a thing or two about numeracy, colours, shapes, etc. This is a      ‘ Must- Have’ for every child. Every time their little fingers plug or unplug each block, they are working on their finger dexterity.
  6. Plastic scissors- There are ‘child- friendly’ scissors available in the market which can be of great help. Initially, provide them with an old newspaper and allow them to cut as they like. This one really helps in improving the finger dexterity and the hand muscles. When you see some improvement in their skill, then give them a page with dotted lines that you’ve drawn and ask them to cut along the dotted lines. As their skill improves, move onto figures and create some collages or posters, etc.
  7. Tearing and pasting- This activity is extremely beneficial for the little ones. Every time they tear a paper, they are working on the hand muscles primarily and when they paste, they use a certain pressure of the fingers to do so. Give them some colourful paper and let them create something they like.
  8. Stringing– If you have beads/ straws and a thread at home, allow them to string the beads. This is a fantastic exercise for the fingers. If you wish, you could use ‘penne pasta’ or ‘macaroni’ at home and ask them to string the pasta instead. The way they hold the string, pick and put the bead in, will help in developing their dexterity as well as concentration.
  9. Holding the spoon– Firstly, encourage your child to eat his/ her food on their own. You can be around them to ensure they eat properly, but please let them hold the spoon, make their bite and eat. This will make them more independent, teach them table manners, help them understand about portions and eventually you won’t be worried if they ate in school or not. This is also extremely important for their fine motor and oral motor development.
  10. Colouring– Like I mentioned in my earlier posts too, start by giving them thicker crayons and let them color. The more they do this, the better dexterity and concentration they will build.

Apart from the activities mentioned above, you could involve your child in some household chores like I mentioned in my previous post. Take their help in putting the clothes in the washing machine and when you put them out for drying, let them put the pegs on them. Ask for their help in cleaning small things, putting some things, like pulses, in a jar( even if they use the spoon for it, it helps).

Give  them jigsaws to play with. It works on the fine motor, concentration, reasoning and spatial skills.

Play some board games with your child. We all remember these from our childhood. Gift your child these memories too and simultaneously help them develop heir fine motor by playing with dice, cards, beads, etc. Use these to teach them about numeracy too. This could be a fun activity where the entire family comes together to play and create a thousand memories.

In my next blog, I will talk about developing the muscles of the wrists which are often ignored.

Stay tuned!

How can you help in developing the fine motor skills of your child?

As promised in my previous post, we will now work on developing the fine motor skills. Let us start by first understanding what ‘fine motor’ skills really are.

Fine motor is the coordination of small muscles in movements with the eyes. They are controlled by the nervous system and aid in the growth of intelligence. They develop continuously as we grow. Fine motor skills are involved in the smaller movements that occur in wrist, hands, fingers, feet and toes. Some examples would be picking up things between two fingers, writing, holding a spoon and even blinking.

If you would have read one of my previous posts, you would remember that I talked about using the correct pencils as per your child’s age, so that the child uses correct pressure as his nerves and muscles develop. The muscles of the arms and shoulders develop first, while the hands and fingers take longer. It is imperative that we work on our child’s fine motor skills before expecting them write properly.

Let us start by focusing on the hand first. How do we develop the muscles of the hand? Here are some activities you can do with your child which focus primarily on the development of hand muscles:

  1. Hand painting– Help your child in creating cards or paintings using this technique. Dip their palms in various colours and ask them to imprint it on paper. You will see it requires a certain pressure of the hand to imprint. This could also be a good opportunity to teach your child about various colours and well, in my experience, children love doing this.
  2. Clay modeling– This technique works wonders for the hands and fingers. You can buy a ‘Play Dough’ that is safe for your child or you can make some at home. Head to the kitchen and knead some dough. Yes, the dough we make for our daily routine! To make it fun, add some food colouring while kneading it and let your child create shapes and figures with it. You could also provide a small rolling pin that will enhance their muscle development further. This will also unleash their creativity and you could teach them about shapes too.
  3. Sand modeling– If this summer, you’re heading out to the beach, or if you can take them to the park where they can find some mud, let them build something out of it. Children love playing outside and if you’re worried about them soiling their clothes, well I would say that you should watch them play and you’ll see how happy they will be. Let them enjoy a nice summer bath later, but first, let them play!
  4. Crumbling Paper- This one helps a lot with weaker muscles. Provide your child with an old newspaper and ask them to crumble it into the tiniest ball they can. Once they do that, they can paint it in different colours. To add on, give them a string and a wooden straw which isn’t sharp, to string these balls into necklaces or wall hangings.
  5. Squeezing the sponge- All you mothers out there, hear me out. I know your children are at home during summers and you are finding ways to keep them occupied. Also, I know you and your child want to spend time together. Here is one solution- ask them to help you out in some chores at home. Next time you’re cleaning some kitchen slab or table, ask them to squeeze a sponge and give it you. This helps in their fine motor development and they feel connected to you. Also, you are teaching them to be helpful and independent at a very young age.
  6. Water spray bottles– Now I am sure most of you have some beautiful plants in your gardens or balconies. Get some water spray bottles that are easily available in the market. From now onward, ask your child to help you in taking care of the plants. They can spray on the leaves and you can use this opportunity to teach them a thing or two about plants.
  7. Wiping with duster- Sometimes, hand them a dusting cloth, and ask them to help you in wiping the dust off a table or chairs in your house. Maybe after the family eats their meal, your child could just help in cleaning the dining table, while you clear up the leftovers. These type of activities not only help in their fine motor development, but also teach them to respect all kinds of jobs. They also learn to be helpful and humble.
  8. Kitchen tongs– take a box full of small assorted things like bottle caps, lids, small balls, etc. Provide your child with a tong which isn’t sharp. Ask your child to pick up things from the box and sort them. The pressure used to grasp things will help in fine motor development. This will also be a good lesson in sorting. Also, please don’t throw used bottle caps and other such things. They can come in handy for various activities. They could also use it while clay modeling to make various shapes and designs.
  9. Clothes’ pegs– Next time you’re putting your clothes out for drying, ask your child to help you in putting the pegs on them. Another activity where you can work with your child while doing your household chores.
  10. Threads or Velcro bands- Use these to play with. Make some patterns around the fingers with threads and pull, play some games with these and you’ll see how much the children enjoy it.

 

Apart from the activities mentioned above there are some more things that can help like squeezy balls, toys, pulling off tape, squeezing the glue bottle, bubble wrap, etc. Focus on things that use pressure of the hand to do things.

In my next post, I will talk about developing the finger dexterity or fine motor skills of fingers. Stay tuned!

 

P.S- Always appreciate your child. Even for the little things they create or do. This will go a long way and will keep them at it. I shall discuss this in one of my future blogs.

Hooray! Summer Break is here.

As a teacher, every year I see the excitement level of my children touch the ceiling when the much awaited Summer Break is around the corner. Each one of them has plans of either traveling with family, meeting their grand parents, playing with siblings, watching their favorite cartoons and what not!

On the other hand, the parents usually come up to me asking about assignments for home, what they must teach their children during the break or how they should keep them engaged. But I have one thing to say to all the parents out there, “Do you remember your school days when you waited for your summer holidays? Did you want to study all day?” I am sure the answer would be, “No”.

All teachers see how the children change post their summer break. This is an observation we make every year. It isn’t what they studied that makes the difference. It is the experiences they gather, the activities they engage in, the interactions they have and many more little things that make a difference.

As for home assignments for Early Years, well I always have one answer, “Spend time with your child. Read out to them, play with them, take them out to see the world, create memories and experiences. That is how you can teach them best”.

I will share a few activities in my next blog that you all can do at home with your child which will help them in developing their fine and gross motor skills, keep them engaged in a constructive way. However, this year, gift your child your time and create some everlasting memories. Nurture your child with love and experiences and see how he blossoms. And remember:

“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. But work through play, makes him wise and gives him joy.” 

 

Is your 3-4 year old writing with a regular pencil? If so, stop now!

I remember my days in nursery vaguely, but I do remember the fact that we used regular pencils to write as soon as we were sent to school. It was the same when my younger brother or cousins went to school, and  I am sure it was the same for all you parents out there too.

For the past few years there have been a lot of research and classroom experiments being done, that have dramatically changed the system of education and our outlook towards learning. If your child goes to a progressive school in today’s times, you would know exactly what I am talking about.

Researchers understood the growth and development pattern of the little ones and have brought many things to light. One such thing is the fact that the nerve endings in your child’s hands are still quite sensitive till the age of 4 to 5. Therefore, not too much pressure must be put on them. It affects the brain functioning and dexterity of the hands.

After understanding this, schools realised that certain kind of activities are more advisable for the children aged 3-5 years, for example colouring with thick crayons, finger printing, hand painting, etc. I will talk about some such activities in my next blog in detail.

If your child is between 2-3 years and wishes to draw or scribble something, kindly provide him with thicker wax crayons or thick bark pencil that are available in the market. Between the age of 3-4, begin by building the finger dexterity, by focusing on a number of activities like clay modeling, tearing and pasting, hand painting, finger printing, etc and continue with thicker crayons and bark pencils.

When you see that the grip of your child is more stable, then hand out thinner crayons and round smooth pencils. Please do not hand over sketch pens at this age. If the child works with them, his grip will get affected as he will try to hold it using the complete palm and not just two fingers.

As you see the grip getting better, then you can provide the child with colour pencils (which require more pressure than crayons), tripod pencils and at times, sketch pens to work with. At this stage, you can also provide your child paint brushes to work with.

In my next post I will talk about building the fine motor skills of children at this age and some activities that you can do at home, easily with your child. Stay tuned!

Dear Parents, Invest in your personal bond first, the financial bonds can wait!

Let me start by asking a question, “Who was your first friend in life”?

Now i asked this questions to a few friends of mine and they took a while only to dish out names of some friend they vaguely remembered from kindergarten. My next question was if they could tell me any memorable moments they had shared with this friend they mentioned. Most of them did not remember any special memory except for the fact that they either studied together or played together.

After a while i posted another question, “Would you like to share any memorable moments of the first 5 years of your life?”

When i posed this question, i saw a sweet smile on their faces and suddenly their eyes lit up. After this followed a series of cute little things they did with their parents. They told me how they would play with their Moms and how their Dads would take them out for ice creams, etc. This went on for a while as everyone had some sweet, some naughty and some emotional memories.

I am sure all you readers will also have plenty of things to share. Each one of us has fond memories of our early years, but the only constant in every story, is the role our parents played. Wasn’t our Mother the first person we ever played with? For the first few years of our lives, whom did we share all our secrets with? Who was the one who painted and danced with us? It was always them.

That is the first thing i say to the parents of these little ones. You have to be their friend. And not just a friend, try to be their best friend. If you form a strong bond right now, you’ll pave the way for a beautiful relationship in the future.

However, it isn’t easy to be a best friend. Of course a best friend loves and cares for you. But a best friend accepts you for who you are. He is your personal cheerleader at all times. A best friend doesn’t compare you with other friends, instead he believes in you.

Most parents say their children are their friends. But that is true only till they are playing or having fun together. When your child sees you as his/her best friend, they will pour their heart out to you, even their little mistakes. What do you do then? Do you scold them or do you hear them out and deal with it patiently? That is where the lines get blurred.

As a teacher, my children would come and share every little thing with me. Whether it was why their Mummy scolded them at home, why they had picked up a fight with another child or whether they had finished the assignment they were asked to do. The reason was simple. They saw a friend in me. And yes, there were times when they would tell me about some notorious thing they did and i could’ve taken a strict action. But i chose to say , “As your friend, i appreciate your kindness towards me and i would want my friend to be kind and good to others too.”

If you tell your child that you believe in them and appreciate their good qualities, you will raise a good human being. For no one, wants to let down their best friend. And you, dear parents, can be their best friend for life. If you invest in this friendship now, they will never let you down.