Are you stealing your child’s share of Earth by Wasting?

Best out of waste

Author – Shriya Agarwal

Waste isn’t waste until we throw it & creativity lies in creating something marvelous out of the discarded.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

As a grade five student, I remember making pencil holders out of ice-cream sticks. What wonderful days those were when all the students in the class used to get abandoned materials from home, put them together, and transform them into something useful. The very thought of Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle was ingrained in us, barely ten-year-olds. Our EVS teachers used to tell us:

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production”.

In the same grade during an English class, I read the story of an abandoned train; one of the most memorable stories I must say. The non-functional train was converted into a school for the kids in the village. As a primary school student, I could only imagine and be in awe of the idea that I still hold dear today.


My inference as a child was – “Everything from a used ice-cream stick to an abandoned train could be transformed into something meaningful, with value”.

Do we still remember those BEST OUT OF WASTE competitions? If yes, are we applying the ideology in our lives?

Everyone’s doing it! Are you?

With wisdom comes the desire for simplicity. Instead of buying things on a spree, if we just stopped and reviewed our household items maybe we would shorten our shopping lists, save more money, and save the environment too.

On one hand are people who still need reminders for carrying paper-bags or cloth-bags when going shopping so as to reduce use of polybags and on the other are people running successful businesses by manufacturing only eco-friendly products. Like, instance at ThinkTac, the two important aspects of our work and our products are to:

  1. Use simple materials that are a) Recycled or b) Repurposed.
  2. Minimize packaging material, especially plastic

We do this with two primary goals in mind, in terms of educating kids to:

  1. Realize the value of simple materials and discarded materials
  2. Help to develop a culture of 3R – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Like that of ours, several other small groups of thoughtful and committed citizens in the society are trying to set the trend. But is that enough?

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”

—Jane Goodall

This heart-rending video of animals that are going extinct due to human intervention, should leave us alarmed:

Awareness equals Action

Innumerable ads and short films, like these, have highlighted the importance of switching off the engine at red light, planting trees, preserving forests, reducing the use of single-use plastic, and proper disposal of used materials from industries.

Yet, we fail to understand that the proper use of science is not to conquer nature but to live in it sustainably. Guess, environmentally friendly items will soon cease to be an option and will become a necessity.

Over the years, our bond with nature has strained and we are only using it, not nurturing it. One day, nature will be unable to paint pictures of infinite beauty for us. We know this, but are we willing to change?

On this Earth Day let’s promise to protect our natural resources, so that our kids can live to their kids, live comfortable lives, as we did.

Help us spread the green word by donating to the NGO ISPF.

“We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do”—Barbara Ward

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Homeschooling Vs.Traditional schooling: Considered homeschooling your kids?

Homeschooling

Author – Shriya Agarwal

Being a less-known and an even less-practiced concept, I would love to share an experience with you about homeschooling; a road less traveled by!

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”

Gandhi

In the middle of the room was a bed where my younger friend was sitting and reading a book which was as heavy as him. I couldn’t help but wonder how much he was understanding from what he was reading. That was the first time I realized that:

One of my mother’s friend has two kids, a son, and a daughter. The first time I visited their house was at their son’s birthday party many years ago. The next time I went there my aunt showed me a room full of books. It was no less than a one-room library.

Learning has less to do with a person’s age and more to do with the person himself.

Homeschooling

The series of visits kept happening over the years. Every time I visited them I found myself picking up books from their one-room library and skimming through them. And everytime they would visit us, they’d get books for me and my siblings.

They would also often take me along to the museums and libraries they visited. During such one-day trips, we would share our hobbies, experiences, and thoughts and would get to terms with the way we were learning the same things in different settings and manners. My aunt would often appreciate my parents for raising us with diverse interests and skills that were being nourished by both my parents’ efforts and school activities.

Homeschooling

A few years later, I remember giving my board exams when my younger friend was appearing for some college-entrance exams, in which he excelled. The second realization happened that day. I  discerned that:

What we do in life does not need to be a part of a system that works in ways that are pre-defined; there is always some scope to customize.

In my first year of college I happened to visit one of the IITs as part of the music society; the same college where my younger friend had already completed three years of graduation. Seeing the outcome of homeschooling I definitely agreed that if done right, homeschooling can do wonders for a child’s mind.

On one hand, I saw him indulging mostly in academic activities and excelling at them. While on the other hand saw myself performing decently at both academics and hobbies. This got me wondering if my friend was constantly performing under pressure to prove himself and making the most of being homeschooled.

His younger sister’s learning process was similar to mine. Except that she would only go to the school she was enrolled in to give exams. How amazing was that?

Homeschooling children comes with great responsibility. If you’re planning to homeschool your child you might want to take a look at the points below.

  1. Homeschooling requires personal attention and monitoring by at least one of the parents. Proper planning and execution would be important to remain on track.
  2. At some point, you would need to hire home-tutors and would have to choose them wisely depending on their knowledge, teaching skills, and ability to connect.
  3. Getting your kid/kids to socialize with kids of their age would be as necessary for their development as keeping yourself updated with what their peers are learning.
  4. In the process of homeschooling, you will have to find ways to teach them to live away from you and think independently.
  5. To ensure their life doesn’t get boring, learning outside of the four walls would be essential. You might want to find ways to provide the needed exposure.
  6. Counseling may be an integral part to enable them to feel confident about your choice of homeschooling and not feel like they’re missing out on something
  7. Lastly, prepare your child for the world by educating him/her about cultural differences, society, and the realities of the world.

And yes, while you are at homeschooling your child, you can use the wide product range offered by ThinkTac. They enable experiential learning of science concepts to simplify and make science fun for your kid!

“We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people.” ―

Diane Flynn Keith
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Mindfulness for Kids: Why they need it and what can be done to improve it

Today, life can be equated with a turbulent boat on which you are the sailor. Needs are pressing and the obstacles are mounting; only with true control of the swaying boat, can you assure yourself a smooth sail. Our children are no strangers to this whirlpool called modern life. To thrive and propel in such times, mindfulness for kids is vital.

Courtesy: Giphy.com

We can all agree that the challenges of today’s competitive world require us to be more mentally present for the numerous activities than ever before.

(Disclaimer: This blog might be a little long, but I promise you it’s worth sticking through)

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

In 4 words, mindfulness means “To Be Mentally Present”.

Mindfulness
Courtesy: Pocket Mindfulness

Relevancy of Mindfulness for Children

Our kids today are expected to be equipped to face gargantuan challenges in their academic and personal lives. With growing expectations, anxiety and exhaustion follow suit.

We all have seen and experienced the following situations:

  • Lack of focus in the job at hand
  • Decreasing appetite and energy levels
  • A general apathetic approach to life
  • Deteriorating social skills
  • Unexplained fatigue and irritability
  • Constant running out of gas

To tackle these worrisome realities from taking over their mind space, the scope of mindfulness arises for our kids.

Mindfulness is elevated by connections in the prefrontal circuits in our brain, which are created at their fastest rate during childhood.

As parents that come across this concept, we often have the same question of “what’s in store for our kids?”.

What to expect from mindfulness practice for our children?

Experts state that such practices build the five pillars that in turn serve as the foundation for any other skills that our kids will go on to imbibe. These are:

  1. Focus and inner strength
  2. Cognitive control
  3. Self-Regulation
  4. Judgement and Reasoning
  5. Patience and Empathy

These learnings help our kids make more sense of their inner and outer experience and build an understanding of everything that encompasses their world.

How can the kids practice it?

Research shows mindfulness for kids brings positive effects on their mental health and well-being.

Teaching mindfulness to children and adolescents is a growing trend as part of therapy and as part of the curriculum in schools.

There are numerous ways that our kids can be guided to be more mindful.

These include meditation, rhythmic breathing, expressing gratitude, and practising self-love. However, mindfulness is a very personal experience and is highly subjective.

Today there are several meditation apps, like that of Andy Puddicombe’s Headspace app that help you jump start on the journey of mindfulness

Much like science, it comes with the development of an aptitude. This aptitude, when met with compassion and reasoning, goes on to develop the five pillars that I earlier mentioned.

Significance of mindfulness for kids

Most working adults today crave a sense of being at peace with themselves and their surroundings. Over time, we all have realised that this serenity is not something that can be carted overnight.

With the adoption of mindfulness, you tend to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions and physical feelings. Now simply imagine the understated power of such awareness in our young kids. Through practise it will:

  • Help them notice when they get caught up in negative thoughts so that they can manage them
  • Make them aware of the effect that thoughts or events have on their body, so that they can look after themselves better
  • Empower them to make a choice about how they respond to their thoughts and feelings
  • Engrain in them the truism that thoughts come and go and that does not have to define who they are or what their experience of the world is
  • Aid them to truly appreciate the bounty and shortcomings of everything around them

It is a conscious journey that must be embarked on early in life for it to have a lasting impact. For our innate responses to be mindful, it needs to be a part of our system.

Some people may even go on to say that mindfulness as a practice is the only skill we can leave behind as an asset for the further generations to embrace.

If today’s children look to be knowledgeable and technically sound to create a better tomorrow, we must hand them the true reins of their lives and the adoption of such practices is a step in that direction.

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The One True Way To Make Learning Fun For Your Child

Fun? What’s that?

After a  long day at work, you come back home exhausted and you just want to sleep. But then you remember that your little one has his homework to do.

With the diminishing energy that you have, you sit with him to do his homework, only to see him apathetic and unresponsive to your attempts at making him study!

Well, if this is the case, then I can assure you, you’re not alone.

The Plague

Education in India is continually found guilty of being mundane and pro-rote methods. We can definitely empathise with our kids on this one, as we ourselves have been victims of this education system. 

Children Studies
Make learning fun for children

The one thing our kids focus on while they sit there “ardently” studying is, when they can go back to play

We have always categorised School and games as mutually exclusive. But, can there be a fun way to integrate the two and give our children the fun they seek, whilst giving them the knowledge that they require? 

The Trick

Yes, the very scarce, yet obvious solution to this would be to integrate the polar opposites of fun and education.

According to a report by Jessica Sanders in her Market Analysis blog, 70% of teachers have seen that implementing games in their teaching aids increases the response they get from students, yet only 18% of them are implementing them.

This is the reason why ThinkTac has come up with a range of fun and games to redefine how schools teach in India.

studying for kids

Benefits of the Integration

I can assure you that the benefits to this integration are endless but here are my top few:

  1. Deep-rooted understanding: When youngsters play a game, they tend to go through the instructions and technicalities more carefully. As they are aware that these need to be recalled at a point later in the game. The perks of knowing the terms and complex jargon are more exciting in a game vs. a mundane Monday morning lesson.
  2. Dealing with Failure:  Games transform the discomfort and mental hurdle that ‘failure’ can create and turns it into an opportunity to master the task at hand.
  3. Increasing the attention span: With the advent of smartphones, the attention span of the younger generation has been on a big decline. With the focus needed in video games, your kid can now have a platform to work on the dearth of his concentration. 
  4. Less to worry: Going back to the point of you coming back exhausted from work, you can now be rest assured that your child is studying wisely and you can finally sleep peacefully!

At this note, I shall leave you with some food for thought. 

When we make play the foundation of learning, we teach the Whole Child.

Vince Gowmon

We also have a really cool competition for your innovative little genius, check it out here.

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