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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Can Playing Prepare your Child to Face Life’s Challenges?

kids playing

Your child’s body doesn’t know the difference between playing and exercising. But their mind sure knows when they are having fun. We adults call it working out, while our children call it playing.

Ever felt like your kid is whiling away precious time while indulging in fun and games? Well, that’s okay, it sometimes worries the best of us!

Which is why, like me, a lot of us consciously or unconsciously, infringe on our children’s playtime by enrolling them into mentally taxing tuitions.

 

via GIPHY

 

But, what if I told you that the time ‘squandered away’ in playing, could teach your child more than what Kumar Sir could in 100 hours of his class?

Well, here’s my argument to how children learn life’s most important lesson through playing:

1. EVERY ACTION HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

Has your kid ever hidden her bruises from you? This is probably because she loves going out in the park more than sitting at home but also knows you, who wish the best for her, will ask her to stay back.

By taking responsibility for her actions, your child understands the VALUE IN PAIN and that EVERY ACTION HAS A CONSEQUENCE.

2. NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE

Ever consoled your injured son, only to have him desert you and get back to playing at the blink of an eye, as if he never got hurt?

Well, it is no news that your kid loves to play and some words of encouragement from you is exactly what he needs to get back on the field and instill a NEVER GIVE UP ATTITUDE.

Playing for kids

 

Maybe a few times over they would understand that the bruises would come and go but THEY’D KEEP GETTING STRONGER.

3. OVERCOMING FEARS

At a very young age, my daughter developed a fear of swings. But it took a great deal of communication, choosing the right words, and going on swings myself, to lure her into getting onto swings.

Initially, I would have her sit on my lap until one day she went on it by herself. And then never stopped!

 

Playing for kids

 

If you ever find yourself in this spot, you could subtly help your child learn that running away from what scares you is never the solution. It is FACING YOUR FEARS, that can expand your horizons.

4. DEDICATION BEATS MOTIVATION

Ask any professional athlete what makes them great and they will tell you that, it is showing up on the days when they don’t want to, is what made them exceptional.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY to learning and growing in life. And what can teach this better than the discipline that your child learns from just any sport she chooses to play! Yes, even chess!

5. AND EVERYTHING ELSE

From inculcating healthy habits and instilling qualities like PERSISTENCE, RESILIENCE, to DEVELOPING REFLEXES; Playing a sport can teach your child just about everything and holistically develop them.

Whether they play solo or in teams, at the end of the day, they LEARN TO HANDLE BOTH SUCCESS & FAILURE.

The hobbies your child chooses today have the potential to become her/his strengths tomorrow.

My advice to you: Instead of encroaching on your child’s playing hours, next time, join your kid and play along! I’m sure you’re never too old to rekindle the inner child in you. And yes, it’ll improve the bond between your kid and yourself!

A Family that plays together, stays together! ThinkTac

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Curtailing your Kid’s Phone Usage: Good or Bad?

children using phone

Have you ever had one of those discussions with your children: How as kids, you went around running, climbing trees, chasing your friends while playing catch-catch?

Right after which, you see your son spend his summer sitting on the phone or the iPad. And the generational gap hits you in the face like a dodgeball!?

The Phone-age

Much like the Stone-age, where stones were an active part of the lifestyle, if this current era that we lived in had to be given a name, it would certainly be the Phone-age.

You must have considered seizing your kid’s phone because he needs to experience the “real world” more often. However, would that necessarily be a good idea?

Let’s look at both sides of the argument.

The Shortcomings

Here are a few banes of your child having a phone:

1. May result in reduced Social Skills

The more time your kids spend on their phones, the less time they have to interact face-to-face. This is probably hindering their one-on-one social skills.

2. They are susceptible to higher levels of Anxiety and Depression

A study by science daily says that the pressure to be available on social media 24/7 leads to higher levels of depression and anxiety among teenagers these days.

3. May result in reduced sleeping time.

The compulsion to be on the phone, before going to bed, may slowly be infringing their sleeping time. As a result, these kids may actually be missing out on the crucial sleep necessary during their childhood.

Also, it so happens that the light emitted from phones, tablets and computers emit more from the blue region of the spectrum; this triggers the hormone serotonin (which helps us stay awake) and suppresses the hormone melatonin (which helps us sleep).

via GIPHY

This can have a detrimental effect on our child’s sleep pattern, especially if exposure is just prior to their sleep time

4. Increased problems with weight

When children choose to play virtual games on their phones over the rather more traditional games and sports that involve more physical activity, it leads to sedentary lifestyle patterns that hamper their health and can result in increasing their weight and childhood obesity.

5. Decreasing Attention Span

In a study by Boston College, it was found that when the students were kept in a room with both television and computers on, they switched their eyes back and forth every 14 seconds — 120 times in 27.5 minutes.

Clearly, from all of the above, now you would be pretty convinced to not put a phone in your kid’s hands EVER again!

But needless to say, having a phone also has its positive aspects. And, to jump to a rational conclusion, it would only be fair to take a look at the positive aspects of giving your son or daughter that small yet powerful machine.

The Strengths

1. Changing Social Habits

Yes, most of us reading this, value the importance of face-to-face interaction and wouldn’t want it to die. However, it is also true that society is always evolving and there is little that we can do to change that.

Interactions today are moving from real life to virtual interactions and would you really want to hinder your child’s evolution into this rapidly changing society?

2. Communication

Do you really want your son/daughter to miss out on an assignment that was communicated over WhatsApp on his class group? No, right?

As much as your children would use their phone for texting their friends, at the end of the day all they are doing is staying connected. Man is a social animal, after all!

3. Technological Evolution

As quick as it sounds, the world is getting ever closer to the futuristic picture shown in the movie Love Story 2050. And our kids are the vehicle for this digital evolution. By depriving them of a phone in their learning years, you are impeding their smooth landing into this digital era.

4. Infinite Knowledge

Yes, we all can agree that Google and YouTube have content that all the books in the world couldn’t cover! The kind of knowledge that the internet can provide us with, nothing else in the world can, so easily and ubiquitously. Wouldn’t you want your child to know things beyond the textbooks and the courses taught in school?

via GIPHY

5. SOS Scenario

Imagine you are unable to trach your child. In such situation, you can use the GPS tracking on the phone to know that your child is somewhere safe and sound. Hopefully, you’d never have to use this. But the facility is available, just in case. And the emergency dial feature on the phone would also come in handy if your child is in a threatened or dangerous situation.

The Decision

Okay, so now that we have seen a few boons and banes, here’s what we can conclude:

  1. Using the phone isn’t bad, abusing it is. You may want to restrict your kid’s phone use to a certain amount every day. (even the CEO of Snap does it!)
  2. Educating your child about the addictions and making them aware of the harm of overusing a phone would certainly help.
  3. It would help to show them a lot of educational platforms (like ThinkTac) the phone can provide while at the same time, ensuring they make use of it.

Curbing them from using a phone is only going to make them want to use it more than ever! In an article by Psychology Today it has been shown that Scarcity makes everything a lot more desirable.

So, it’s your call to make. Whether you would want your child to be deprived of a phone in their early years and binge on their phone usage later or to have them accustomed to the Dos and Don’ts of a phone from early in their childhood!

Do you agree? Let me know your thoughts and inputs in the comments below!

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