4 Essentials to Your Child’s Back-to-School Kit

A back-to-school kit is quintessential to your child’s rebound back into school life.

As young kids face the blues of making the transition from laid back vacations to routine academics, they need to be equipped with all the help they can get. Parents, on the other hand, have a separate challenge. This involves preparing their ward’s mindset alongside adapting to the change in their routine.

This is when having a prepped back to school kit comes in handy. A back to school kit is essentially a staple set of materials and mindsets that will be put to use immediately as the student gets out of the break and into school. Suggestions to hit the bull’s eye with the back to school kit are as following:

Essentials to the back-to-school Kit

1. Stock up on school supplies

Back to School Kit

unsplash-logoTim Gouw

The visual of freshly purchased notebooks, tightly wrapped in a brown sheet and labeled still spells out ‘Back-to-School’ to me!

Supplies entail all the stationery and knick-knacks that a student will require at school. These ensure that the student has no logistical hindrances in the beginning days. A way to up the excitement to get back to the routine could also be to accessorize supplies by themes, like the solar system, or seek out such design inspirations.

2. Revisit the Vacation

Vacation - Back to School

unsplash-logoVicko Mozara

It is always a good idea to have a roundup of how your kid spent their time in the break.

Assessing the activities’ they took part in, the hobbies that held a major chunk of their time, and the changes in their interests will help you, as a parent, approach the academic year better. You will know which extracurricular activity to sign them up for (which could also ease the vacation-lag). It will also help in identifying the areas of concern with the child’s lifestyle and attitude towards learning.

3. Stress on curiosity

Curiosity - Back to School

unsplash-logoJoseph Rosales

The most important weapon in any young learner’s arsenal, is the inquisitive attitude towards anything they learn.

As Walt Disney, famously said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

The initial days of an academic term are synonymous with lesser workload. This could be the right time to tap into your child’s will to learn and explore, thus setting stage for all the lessons that the curriculum will being them.

The TACtivities provided at ThinkTac are an ideal way of ensuring the same. They introduce new and engaging concepts in a manner that doesn’t compromise on the fun aspect of learning. It also employs the tactile and experiential learning experiences for your kid.

4. Play-time and down hours

Lego for Kids - Back to School

unsplash-logoHello I’m Nik

There was definitely one hard obstacle that I faced getting back to school every term. This was losing all my idle time to play and do the things that restored my energy. Be it- reading, watching television or socializing with friends.

Recreation is an indelible part of growing up. And, in the transformative time of getting back to school, kids tend to find a need for it more than ever. They feel the temptation to extend their designated play hours and engage in un-academic interests.

As parents, it is important to be mindful of the fact that the transition is always hard. This is an apt time to cut some slack for the children and allow them to dwell in their mirth till the demands of academic life pick up.

No back to school kit will ever be complete without some implied considerations- A healthy breakfast, a positive outlook, and a good night’s sleep. Ensure that your kids leave their anxiety and fears at home and march on to conquer another year of school.

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?

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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!

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.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Critical Thinking Abilities

Remember as a kid when the biggest decision you made was whether to buy that Dairy Milk or that packet of Lays’ with your ten-rupee budget?

From childhood to adulthood – and even right now – we continually create descriptive plans of how to optimum use of the limited money or the precious time that we have.

Did you know that the basic act of doing this is the process of critical thinking?

To break down the Jenga, critical thinking is simply the aggregate of those skills that empower you to think, observe and interpret anything that you sense (see, hear, smell, feel or taste).

Like for instance, when you push off your copy-writing assignment till an hour before the deadline (we do not advise this!), makes you utilise your critical thinking skills to get it done within that time constraint. 

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a single day, for you to foster these skills, you need to be in a steady tortoise race. 

So the question now arises, how do you develop your critical thinking skills?

Five Point Guide to enhancing your critical thinking:

1. All you got is 24 hours

Whether it be Bill Gates, Narendra Modi, Stephen Hawking or You, all of us have the same 24 hours a day. It is essential to channelise your day and decide how and what you will address every day. 

“Time isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.”

– Miles Davis

Along with making you more productive, this also improves your decision-making skills as you’d have to prioritise one activity over another or decide how to fit both into your tight schedule. 

2. Get more Inquisitive

Increasing your curiosity and questioning things around you not only gives you more information but also gives you a lot of perspectives you couldn’t have imagined earlier. 

via GIPHY

A simple trick is to find a statement and cover at least the 4 W’s and an H (How, What, Why When, Who)

For instance, while watching an American TV show, it says “Its 125 degrees outside; we’re burning!”.  You can ask:

  • How can the temperature be 125 degrees?!
  • Why does America still follow the Imperial system?
  • What other countries use Fahrenheit to measure temperature? And so on…

3. Experiment and Experience

Let’s say back in the fifth grade you had to learn the concept of volume and pressure. Would you understand better if you read: a monochrome text print or conducted an activity blowing a balloon?

Experiential learning taps into zones that theoretical or rote learning fails to. It gives the untapped potentials of the mind a chance to shine.

 It is a pot pourri of cognitive, critical-thinking and academic skills. 

via GIPHY

Subscribing to ThinkTac’s Activities is a really good way to hone your experiential learning abilities. And if you think you got it in you to create crazy experiments, get yourself enrolled on this Raman Young Student Innovator Award!

By doing so, you learn and experience something new every day. And in today’s world experience is money.

4. Just One Case a Day

Recently, I was reading this debate about why we study history still, and one of the reasons is so that we learn from it and do not make the same mistakes our predecessors did.

Case Study is one of the best ways to do that. The best way to study cases is – 

  • Step 1: Read up the problems in the cases.
  • Step 2: Think of how you would overcome those problems
  • Step 3: Tally your solutions with what solutions were really made
  • Step 4: Repeat and get better. 

5. Keep Changing Your Shoes

via GIPHY

All of our judgements are impaired by a lot of biases. However, the one way to make the best considered decision would be to think about it from another person’s shoes. 

This gives you a perspective different from your own. And now you can weigh the pros and cons of both and conclude what the best logical decision will be.

I will now leave you with this Ted-Ed video by Samantha Agoos. Do watch it. 

See you on the other side of critical thinking!

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