7 ways to boost your child’s early literacy skills — without a book in sight

– Adizah Eghan

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of early literacy? For most people, it’s books. But storybook reading is not the only way to help your child learn reading skills.

Surprisingly, one of the best ways to teach reading skills is also the simplest: talking! Children need to say or hear about 21,000 words each day to develop their vocabulary, and a good vocabulary increases kids’ chances of completing both high school and college.

  1. Play with hi and bye

    Teach your child different ways to say hello and good-bye — in English and other languages. (Here are some examples: Good morning, Namaste, Buenos Dias, Allo, Annyeonghaseyo, Konnichiwa, Zao, Aloha, Good-bye, Ciao, See you later, Buh-bye, Adios, Later alligator, Hasta Luego). Practice different greetings every day. Even the physical act of waving helps children learn these expressive statements at an early age. Not comfortable speaking other languages? Try stringing words together to make longer and longer sentences: Good morning. Good morning, Monica. Good morning, Monica, with the big pretty eyes. Good morning, Monica, sitting on the blue blanket.

  2. Play storyteller and listener

    Use stories to introduce new words your child might not encounter in everyday conversations, such as the names of planets, flowers, or animals. If your child is a little older, you can switch off who is telling the story. Be sure to add questions while telling a story (e.g. What do you think the boy should do?). This gives your little one a chance to be creative and practice both speaking and comprehension skills. Plus, the bonding time helps children’s brains make important connections between emotions and words.

  3. Hit pause regularly

    You’re probably already watching TV and movies. If so, make it a habit to hit pause to share your reactions. Was that surprising? Funny? When a program or movie is over, talk about what happened in the story and how it ended. For example, How else could the movie have ended?

  4. Do chores and errands together

    Tackle grocery shopping and laundry as a team. While creating your grocery list, ask your child what to add. At the store, ask questions like Where do you think we’ll find the milk? In the produce aisle, let your child touch the rough outer layer of pineapple and compare it to the smooth skin of an apple. Ask questions that get your little one using descriptive words, like How do these feel different? When you’re doing laundry, name different items of clothing (e.g. socks, shorts, skirts) and talk about separating the clothes into groups, such as by color. As you sort, ask your child questions like Which pile does this shirt go into? Why?

  5. Sing!

    Listen to music and sing along. Whether it’s the ABCs and nursery rhymes or Taylor Swift, listening to — and singing along to — songs helps your child develop an ear for different words and sounds. Singing, chanting, and rhyming help kids learn new words, practice telling the difference between sounds, and even boost thinking skills. When it comes time to learn or grow their reading skills, all of these other skills will help. Try age-appropriate rhyming games and songs you may remember from childhood, such as “This little piggy,” “Itsy bitsy spider, “I’m a little teapot,” “The wheels on the bus,” and “Pat-a-cake.”

  6. Play make-believe

    The more your child uses their imagination, the better. Games such as follow the leader, dress up, and make-believe (with dolls or household items) help your child set goals, stay on task, and avoid distractions. Model pretending by saying things like Let’s pretend we’re on a pirate ship or Now you be the mommy. As your child grows older, continue to add more complex and exciting twists. For example, What might be Goldilocks’ next adventure?

  7. Ask your child open-ended questions

    Parents often try to make things easy for children by asking simple questions that only require a yes or no answer. Did you have fun at the park? Yes! Can you eat your broccoli, please? No. But yes or no questions fail to promote language development. Flip the switch on your conversations by asking questions that require your child to use more and more words, starting with nouns, then adjectives and nouns, and then full sentences. For example, The legos go in here, what is this? At first, try to get your child to give the basic answer, shoebox, then see if your child can build on that over time. For example, blue shoebox, or even better, answering with a full sentence: The legos go in the blue shoebox.

Abridged and Adapted
Credits: www.greatschools.org

5 secrets to keeping your family healthy this winter!

  1. Fill up those tigers’ tanks

    The chilly, dark winter mornings make it extra challenging to get up a few minutes early to whip up a nourishing, hearty breakfast for the kiddos. But a sugary bowl of cereal isn’t the kind of high-octane fuel they need to make it through a demanding school day. The good news? A protein-and-vitamin-packed breakfast can be pulled off with little effort. Opt for simple, nutrition-loaded fare like eggs (keep a couple hard-boiled eggs in the ‘fridge for days you’re running late), milk, cottage cheese, whole grains, fruit, and yogurt.

  2. Wash your hands!

    In case you sustain any lingering doubts, the science is in: handwashing helps ward off illness. Danish research found that kids taught proper handwashing techniques and required to wash three times a day missed 26 percent fewer school days and had 22 percent fewer illnesses than kids who weren’t trained or required to wash.

  3. Take your anti-stress meds

    Exercise is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to shaking off stress, which for children can compromise a healthy, growing brain. So take advantage of the nippy weather by letting them go out to play, or taking a brisk, pre-dinner walk. Not only will your childrens’ endorphins be doing the happy dance, but their I.Q.’s will also be ramped up a few notches.

  4. Avoiding colds? Don’t avoid the cold.

    Your parental instincts may be telling you that to keep kids healthy, you should keep them safely out of the cold. But that can mean long hours staring, inert, at a screen, which has multiple negative health implications for your child, including Nature-Deficit Disorder. As long as they’re dressed warmly, don’t hesitate to take a foray into the great outdoors — or even a quick jaunt to your local park. According to the National Wildlife Federation, spending time in nature offers a wealth of health benefits for kids, including helping to prevent sleep deprivation, as children need to be outside in natural daylight to regulate their internal “sleep clocks.”

  5. Want more A’s? Get more Zzzz’s.

    If your New Year’s resolution to make sure the kids get a good night’s sleep has fallen by the wayside, time to do a sleep check at your house. There’s plenty of reason to ensure your children are getting the rest they need. Researchers have found a link between sleep and cognitive abilities. One researcher found that sixth-graders who lost just an hour of sleep performed at a fourth-grade level. Other studies show a link between getting enough sleep and higher grades.

 

Abridged and adapted
Credits: www.greatschools.org

My Experience at the DAV MUN!

“And the best delegate award goes to the delegate of UK…”, was my moment of utter shock!
Well, this doesn’t happen in many MUNs to me, even in those that I win. This was only because
I was up against undoubtedly one of the most experienced delegates in the Hyderabad MUN
circuit; one with over 39 MUN experiences, was the Chairperson in DRSMUN 2K19, and an
extremely intelligent friend. People say hard work really pays off. I now do second that notion.
You must be thinking that I had been researching for days and days to reach this result, but in
fact, I had registered only two days before the MUN deadline. Well, that is not something I would
recommend! To make up for the delay I had nights that lasted till almost 1AM or 2 AM
researching, with the best partner any MUNer or researcher can have – a can of Monster (BTW,
believe me, you drink Redbull, you’ll doze off straight away).
This is undoubtedly the most productive MUN I’ve been to as it has opened a whole other
side of the United Nations to me – the ‘technical part’ as I call it. One where you dig up
resolutions and treaties signed in the 1940s and 50s and find articles and clauses that the
opposing party violates and retort to them with evidence or loopholes and interpretations that
can be used to justify and defend your side. The agenda of the Committee – The Security Council
– I participated in was ‘The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.’ And one thing that made the most
challenging committee, the Security Council even more challenging was that it was a historic
Security Council, with the freeze date being 4th January 1980. (In real life, the Security Council
meeting was called on 5th January 1980).
So, what that means is there are 0 Reuters reports or UN reports up to this date, as in the
simulation the Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan around 6 months back, and there were no
huge advancements made by that time, except in the President’s House. So basically, the soviets
invoked Article 51 of the UN charter, one of the most widely used and controversial article
which allows “collective self-defense” and the Afghanistan government was under threat from a
militant group, the Mujahedeen – the Soviets intervened. They staged a coup and installed a
Soviet-backed president and killed the previous President who had also just killed the previous
Socialist President who also came to power in 1978 after a coup. Hilarious!!!
Well, that’s more or less what MUN-ing is all about. The MUN provides a platform for me to
meet new people and make new friends – people with diverse lives, and different perspectives
and high maturity. The icing on the cake is the Socials – with the rappers and beatboxers and the
DJs, it is the part that all of MUNers look forward to, to close our two-three days of formal
experience, let loose and enjoy.
#DemoracyDiesInDarkness #DAVMUN

– Murtasa Khambati

India’s Golden Girl felicitates Suchitra Academy’s 9th Founder’s Day!

On 23rd November 2019, we at Suchitra Academy celebrated our Founder’s Day with the Chief Guest as Ms. P.V. Sindhu, India’s Golden Girl! We thank Eenadu, Vaartha, Andhrajyothi, Andhrabhoomi, Andhraprabha, Sakshi, Namaste Telangana, Mana Telangana, Manam, Hindi Milaap, and many others from the press and media for covering our Founder’s Day event. Here is a gist of what they covered regarding the event and the school.

The event started with lamp lighting followed by a few words by the Chief Guest. P.V. Sindhu stating that children should not only study, but also should take part in extra-curricular activities and sports.

The event was characterized by drama, singing, and dancing. The students showed their talents in all categories and activities. Not only students but also their parents were given prizes for pre-organized essays. The students who won awards in sports were given prizes by the Chief Guest Ms. P.V. Sindhu. The cultural dances, in particular, were very attractive to the audience and media. Parents found the “Arabian Nights” performance to be very entertaining and the musical drama “Jack and the Beanstalk” enchanted the audience the most. One of the news sources, Sakshi, in light of Suchitra Academy’s 9th Founder’s Day, stated: “Wonder Kids, Thunder Dance” as the headline for their article. Approximately, 1600 parents and 800 students have attended the event. The students of the 1st to 6th standard had participated in the event’s cultural performances.

P.V. Sindhu congratulated all the students, teachers, and management for 09 glorious years of Suchitra Academy and appreciated everyone for their efforts, with special mentions to the Founder Mr. Krishnam Raju, Chief Mentor Mr. Praveen Raju, Director-Principal Mrs. Renu Shorey, and Vice-Principal Mrs. Deepa Kapoor and said that she was reminded of her school days while watching the performance.

PV Sindhu also said that she considers Suchitra Academy as her second home as she visits the school regularly for her fitness training and workouts.

Here are a few more news clippings of the event:

Tips from moms whose kids hate veggies!

Food battles can be epic. They can also slowly drain a parent’s will to make sure their child eats well. Here, a few moms share their tried-and-true ideas for sneaking veggies into snacks and meals for their picky eater.

An egg-cellent disguise

“It’s not all that clandestine, but I put mashed veggies in my son’s scrambled eggs in the morning. I’ve done cauliflower, squash, and broccoli (not all together) — he seemed to like the added texture and eats it regularly. I also tried bell pepper strips, but those totally bombed. For the record, I’d encourage people to add extra-yummy stuff too. I add lemon ricotta to the broccoli eggs — it’s delicious. Why not add extra-yummy stuff, in addition to extra-healthy stuff? I started doing this because I hate to throw out food but then realized it was a way to get some extra veggies in there.”

Smoothie popsicles

“My favorite sneaky kid recipe is for smoothie popsicles. You can sneak pretty much anything healthy into a smoothie, and when you make it into a popsicle, it becomes a portable, nutritious snack. I usually add plain yogurt and soymilk, fresh or frozen berries, and bananas. Pour the mixture into ready-made popsicle molds, and you have an easy snack that can even be breakfast to go!”

Good-for-you garnish

“My kids love toasted wheat germ sprinkled on their ice cream. I know ice cream is not health food, but when they have it as a treat, they might as well get a touch of something healthy along with it. I was laughing last night when they were arguing about who got extra wheat germ on the ice cream [because] they have no idea it’s good for them. Flaxseed is another power food that’s easy to add to everything, including smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt.”

Drinkable salad

“The only thing that works for us is juicing — yes, I juice a bunch (literally) of kale, two carrots, 1/3 beet, and one to two oranges, then dilute with water (50-50 ratio). I also add a multivitamin to the mix. I’m amazed that it works because it’s an incredibly earthy-tasting juice and not very sweet at all.”

Cheesy cover-ups

“Add pureed or mashed veggies to a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve chopped up sauteed spinach and attempted to hide it inside a grilled cheese sandwich. It worked a few times until [my son] got smart enough to notice it and start picking it out.”

Sneaky sauces

“If your kid will eat tomato sauce on pasta, it’s easy to hide veggies in [the dish]. Either chop or puree mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery, and spinach and add to the sauce.”

Sweet potato treats

“Sweet potatoes might be one of the only veggies that are slightly easier to get a picky eater to ingest. But if yours still won’t, try slicing them into fries and seasoning with salt, or baking and pureeing them to add to a pancake mix for breakfast.”

Your child’s brain on technology: Social Media

– Hank Pellissier

Is your child disinterested in video games, television, and texting, but alarmingly enthralled by social media sites?

Why is social media so popular? The two primary reasons — for people of all ages — include a love of “sharing” (46 percent) and searching for “entertaining or funny” content (39 percent). Women also list “learning about ways to help others” (35 percent) and “receiving support from people in your network” (29 percent) as major excuses to log in.

These all sound like healthy reasons to use social media. Nothing to worry about, so… what are parents afraid of?

Social media, like other technology examined in this series, has the potential to provide enormous benefits or catastrophic damage to your child’s frame of mind. It’s safe in proper doses that are cautiously monitored, but it can be harmful if obsessively used with wide-open access to age-inappropriate content.

Let’s examine the scientific research to see what should be on parents’ list of things to guard against.

Social network sadness?

Can a person’s obsession with Facebook lead to depression? Quite possibly, but opinions vary. A 2013 study of 190 college students ages 18 to 23 concluded that they “did not find evidence supporting a relationship between SNS [social networking services] use and clinical depression. Counseling patients or parents regarding the risk of ‘Facebook Depression’ may be premature.” A 2012 study of 160 high school students determined that “online social networking is related to depression,” — but that additional research would be needed to determine whether or not Facebook is triggering depression.

This finding was echoed by another 2013 study in which researchers report the more time participants spent on Facebook, “the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.” The study noted that this negative effect didn’t happen from interacting with others in real life. On the surface, Facebook is an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection. Rather than enhancing well-being, however, these findings suggest that Facebook may undermine it.

Am I too fat?

An April 2014 study of 881 college women who use Facebook regularly determined that “more time spent on Facebook was associated with more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends.” The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on traditional media because participants in social media are people we know.

An earlier study reached the same conclusion, with these dismaying statistics: “32 percent of users feel sad when comparing Facebook photos of themselves to those of their friends… 37 percent feel they need to change specific parts of their body when comparing their photos to others’, and… 44 percent wish they had the same body or weight as a friend when looking at the photos.”

International cyberbully

A 2014 South Korea survey of 4,531 youths ages 11 to 14 uncovered that 9.7 percent of the children were involved in cyberbullying — either as victims (3.3 percent), perpetrators (3.4 percent), or both (3.0 percent). These rates were much higher, however, in a 2009 Finnish study of 5,516 adolescents that found 10 percent of the boys had been victims, 10 percent had bullied, and 10 percent had witnessed cyberbullying. Among the girls, the figures were slightly higher: 11 percent, 9 percent, and 16 percent, respectively.

A 2012 poll conducted by The Global Research Company Ipsos showed even higher numbers: 12 percent of parents around the world reported that their child has been cyberbullied and 26 percent reported knowing a child in their community who has experienced cyberbullying. Of those, a majority (60 percent) said the harassment occurred on social networking sites like Facebook.

Parenting in the age of technology

Are there any simple rules for monitoring a child’s technology — whether it means video games, tablets, cell phones, TV or social media? Unfortunately, there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects of technology on the brain. But since technology isn’t going anywhere, parents need to think carefully about the role it plays in our children’s lives. “Every child is different, so it is difficult to draw hard-and-fast rules, but I think wise parents go for less tech use rather than more,” concludes psychologist Jane Healy, author of Failure to Connect.

In the end, it’s vital to remember that your kids are watching you. The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work when it comes to technology. If your face is pasted to an electronic screen most of the time, your impressionable offspring will consider that normal — and do the same. Shut off all gizmos regularly and enjoy a face-to-face conversation. Take your children outside, without digital toys, and enjoy the wind, sunshine, trees, and flowers. Growing brains need the kind of nourishment that technology — no matter how sophisticated and bewitching — can never supply.

A Hypocrite

I was walking in a park and suddenly heard a mother getting angry with her son. As I reached closer, I found the mother telling her son to act as she expects. For a moment, I thought that the child must have done something against the norms of the family values or must have shown some misbehavior. To my surprise, I found her insisting on the child to ensure he lies about their whereabouts to his aunt.

 

This mother, like many other mothers, wants a moral value class for her son in school because she and the other parents who share the same Whatsapp group feels that this generation is not going the right way. Please do not think I am gender-biased, and there are ample examples where fathers, too, behave the same way. 

 

This shows a microcosm of what goes on in our society at large.

 

How many times have we encountered such double standard people? You would say a thousand times. When we retrospect, our own lives, we find ourselves too guilty of the same and that too now and then. The only difference is when it is about others, we are vocal about it, but when it is about us, we say ‘Oh! This last time’. Sometimes we also become that cat who closes its eyes and thinks no one is looking at it. 

 

These days there is this fad of ‘inclusive society,’ ‘inclusive education’… It sounds good, very fancy but in practical life who cares. We have escalators running across the roads for old, but most of the time, not in order. We have lifts meant for physically challenged people, but all are crowding over there. Buses have pictures indicating the public to give space to ladies, and the men say why should we when ladies want equality. And so is the case in railways counters, movie halls. Something is wrong somewhere, where else it can be, if not schools. Because school is the place where the future society is taking its shape, so, the school will have to take the onus of doing things right. And this causes the birth of moral science class in schools. A period in the time table weekly to teach children about what is right and what is wrong: the class begins, and the teacher teaches children to be honest, not to lie, copying is terrible, always respect everyone, how to behave with adults, on-road, in public, empathy for physically challenged, feeling of charity for poor. The child sitting in this classroom thinks it is for some superman to be able to do all this, not for us, mere human beings, and throws the lesson outside the window, which he just received it from his teacher. Five of them probably keep it with them to check if all that works in ‘normal’ life and finds most of it is dual. Out of these five, about three get frustrated in life, frustrated because they see meaning in the lessons given to them but no doers or takers in the real experience. Seeing the sad part of being one or two decide to change the path, and maybe the last one left finds it inappropriate to exist in this world. What has a moral science class done for us?

 

At every step, we have given children suitable lessons. Along with these lessons, we have also provided ample wrong examples. What we preach, we don’t follow ourselves, and we never walk the talk. Children are, therefore, confused, they find us adults hypocrites, so most of them just chose to grow into a hypocrite as that is the most natural path and easily acceptable in the society and some struggle throughout their life because neither they can leave those proper lessons nor can they get fitted in norms of the society. 

 

What do children need is to see the right examples, need adults whom they can look up to, people who live by their values and not by the glitters of the world. But where is the laboratory to grow such adults? What a vicious circle we are in!

 

We want something, we say something, and we do something. Heart and mind disconnected from each other. We don’t dare to walk the path, and we remain mediocre in our whole life and create mediocre after mediocre. 

 

So, would you like to bring some change? How?

 

                                            Trisha Chakraborty, Head Senior School, Suchitra Academy