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As an Indian mom raising her sons in suburban America, I have often felt confused between the culture I grew up in and the one where I now live. For instance, starting in elementary school all the way to high school, my education was dominated by exams at least twice a year. These truly were high-stakes examinations as failure could result in being held back in the same grade for a year while all of one’s friends moved up. Compared to that scenario, my children who are both in elementary school have no tests or exams to worry about. Even their performance on the dreaded PARCC exams have no direct consequences for them as it is their schools that are held accountable rather than them. Therefore, it has been something of a mystery to me why parents worry about their children being traumatized by these exams.  Read the rest→

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Here are three multicultural books that girls will definitely enjoy. Each is part of a series that is fun and humorous. So if your kids want to read more of a character, more books are available! They feature multi-cultural characters and explore important themes.  Read the rest→

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 My children and I discovered this comprehensive book about the country of the Philippines that educates as well as entertains. The details make it useful for children anywhere between 7 to 10 years of age. The rich culture and ethnic diversity of the islands is explained by 3 children Mary, Jaime and Ari, who represent the major ethnic groups in the country and also happen to be cousins. Each character in the book explains a typical day in his or her life. I loved the detailed information, both cultural and geographical, presented in an interesting style with lots and lots of bright, attractive pictures.  Read the rest→

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A lovely and meaningful picture book I enjoyed reading with my seven year old son is The Cambodian Dancer, Sophany's Gift of Hope. The book tells the true story of Sophany, a traditional Cambodian dancer and refugee from the Khmer Rouge regime. Beautiful illustrations of dancers and ancient Cambodian temples along with a simple text make this a book that can be enjoyed at many levels.  Read the rest→

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As a quiet, painfully shy child growing up in India, I lived and breathed books. My books formed an alternate reality where I was never awkward. I was the best and the bravest heroine who overcame all the odds and my name was George (short for Georgina for anyone unfamiliar with The Famous Five). My reading landscape was dominated by prolific British author Enid Blyton who wrote over 600 books for children between 1922 and 1968. While I thoroughly enjoyed and loved the books I read, the characters had not even a shade of diversity. This may be understandable given the period when they were written. However, it is worrying to note that the state of affairs hasn’t changed much today, and my own kids find very few characters that look like them or have names like theirs when they seek their own internal heroes.  Read the rest→

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My fourth grader seems to be completely beset with homework and after school activities these days; he has little time to play with his friends after school or goof around with his brother. It’s down to business as soon as he’s had a snack, all the way to dinner time. I’m a firm believer in free play for kids, especially after long days of focusing in the classroom. Here are a few ways I try to give him a break and fit in fun even on the busiest of evenings:  Read the rest→

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Lately my 8 year old has become very argumentative. Little things such as taking a shower, coming down for dinner, putting the Lego away leads to comments - " Why do you always call me first" or "You never give me time to play" or the perennial "You're so strict!" It can get exhausting to deal with it on a daily basis. I recognize that part of this is him growing up and wanting to assert his own independence but if things have to get done on time then I cannot allow for this endless verbal exchange. After a lot of trial and error here are some methods that I have adopted and so far they seem to have helped:  Read the rest→

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My nine year old started fourth grade this fall and we found ourselves suddenly floundering in a sea of homework, tests, projects, and orchestra practice in addition to regular extra-curricular activities. When he started to miss outdoor playtime with his neighborhood friends, I realized that my child  needs to learn some skills to manage his tasks and still have time left over for healthy play and relaxation.  Read the rest→

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Spirituality & Kids - 3 October 2014

I have never been one to give too much thought to my views on spirituality. I grew up with certain beliefs and honestly did not spend too much time questioning or thinking about them. Now as a parent, I find myself in this position where I need to decide whether I would like to provide a spiritual base for my kids and if so, how much and in what shape. It is a very personal decision and I’m sure one where parents have very differing viewpoints.  Read the rest→

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Over the last two weeks I’ve attended Back to School Night for both my kids. While it’s always a good experience to meet your child’s teacher, other parents, see the classroom and understand the curriculum, I also find that I get some unexpected parenting tips from these sessions. After all, many teachers are parents themselves and some of the techniques that are used in school can be transferred home to facilitate a more peaceful and conflict-free home.  Here are 5 tips that I got from my kids’ teachers that I plan to try out at home:  Read the rest→

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Our Top 10 Books for Kids - 5 September 2014

Following the latest fad on Facebook, since we are big fans of books and reading, we decided to jump in and share our top 10 list of Favorite kids’ books. Our list is ordered by increasing age group. The main criterion we used was whether it was a book that a child would want to read again and again. So here goes:  Read the rest→

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Our kids, and we, are bombarded with messages about physical good looks from the media on a daily basis. Unless we take positive steps to counter these messages, most of us will end up pretty miserable and dissatisfied about ourselves and our looks. The Eating Disorder Foundation estimates that 10 million women and 1 million men in the US suffer from an eating disorder and this number is only growing. It was a shocker for me when my friend’s middle school aged daughter, a bright and lovely child, was recently hospitalized for failing to eat enough and maintain a healthy body weight. In order to safeguard our kids when they hit adolescence and become vulnerable, we need to start laying a strong foundation of physical and mental health when kids are much younger.  Read the rest→

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Our summer vacation last year stood out not so much for the fun we had but for the amount my kids squabbled with each other. It seemed like every five minutes a new fight would erupt and we had all gotten very used to the constant “He did it first", “No SHE started it." A year later, while no means perfect I can honestly say things are  much better. Even my family and friends have commented on the fact that the kids have been playing very well together.  A large  part of this improvement can be attributed to them becoming more mature but there have been some methods that we have tried in order to reduce or at least make the fights more manageable.  Read the rest→

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The other day one of my friends was lamenting on how exhausted she feels constantly ferrying her kids from one activity to another every day of the week. She’s not alone in this. I think a lot of us parents feel  the pressure to send our kids to different activities and then face the stress of making it on time for these various pursuits. Not to mention the load we put on our kids to practice and do their best in each of these activities.  Is it really worth it?  Having spoken extensively on this topic to parents and kids of all ages, here are some thoughts on after-school activities and how to approach them.  Read the rest→

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Our kids are growing up in a digitally-interconnected world where much of their learning and entertainment experiences happen over the internet. This is only going to grow as they get older. It is our role as parents to raise children who will be responsible, contributing citizens in both offline and online worlds. Here we take a look at some things we can do as parents to sow the seeds of responsible digital citizenship when kids are young.  Read the rest→

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