Thursday, July 30, 2009


TV has been almost always a part of our shopping expeditions (we had no choice to start with.) And mind you, she is quite an active part of her own shopping - so much so that I forecast that by her second birthday, we'll be playing passive spectators while she's shopping for herself.

Actually it so happened, that as new parents (and even new grandparents, aunts) we would be tempted to buy stuff for her - clothes, toys, accessories, board books and games. And as a result, by her first birthday, we had a whole lot of everything for her. The gifts on TV's first birthday only added to the largely underutilized treasure of baby stuff.

Also, TV is hardly a toy person. Her love for any new toy, stays only for the first half an hour until she has explored the 'new thing'. Then ocassionally she plays with any of her toys for a maximum of 5 min. I don't know if its same with all babies and toddlers. Or that we have not been able to really get her and keep her interested in the toys.

So post her first birthday, if we come across something really really exciting and worth taking, we have TV explore the toy in the store itself. We leave her with it for 15 min while we would check something else. If her excitement stays and if she doesn't shrug and say 'done' then we pick it up.

Even in case of clothes, she has her mind and opinion on what we should buy. As for shoes / accessories, TV is ready to try them on, look in the mirror, look around at others to see what they say and then make a choice.

There have been times when she has made demands for things we never intended to buy. And we have so far been able to not give in to those 'oh-so-cute' looks. We either convince or distract her and move on.

Thanks to her exposure to the whole process of shopping - she has now learned a few key lessons;

1. Make a list of things you want to buy and stick to the list ('that's not on our list' a good tool to convince her that we dont need abc yet)

2. Look around, try and make a choice.

3. You cannot just lift things from a shop. You need to 'pay' for it.

4. That's how things come in our house.

5. It's indeed hard work

6. Mom and dad also need some things for themselves

Involving her in this highly important activity also leaves us some room to spend time shopping for ourselves. And may I add that she's turning out to be an extremely helpful daughter who would also pick up things for us - 'this yon (one)?' just the way we do it for her!

In Seach of a perfect Preschool

Last couple of weeks our family has been busy viewing preschools for our bright little one. Of course our internet survey and literature survey about preschools started much before that.

TV is just 20 months, but we feel she is ready for a pre school. She is able to communicate, almost potty trained, can self feed finger food, seems to have grown out of all the 'mums and tots' activities and most importantly is getting very demanding.

So we've been to practically to all the relevant playschools around, ranging from a good neighborhood play school to national and international preschool chains.

My new found knowledge about preschool education has indeed got me interested in the area of business opportunity. And no wonder that the area, which did'nt seem to be significant earlier, is seeing rapid mushrooming of preschools everywhere.

So I've seen a couple of montessori schools. Here mixed age group kids direct the course of their own learning, along various areas of intelligence - sensorial, mathematical,language,cultural, language and practical life skills. This essentially happens through the montessori materials, toys and activities.

Then of course there are some versions of the montessori schools. And some are its distant relatives, like the one I saw - a school for multiple intelligences.

And then there are many preschools whose sole mission is to prepare the tots for entry into primary schools - they teach alphabet, numbers, colors etc through flashcards or rote. Some of these have a national/international curriculum developed by experts in preschool education.

Some are just day cares - no major educational/developmental objectives here.

I was particularly impressed with an education system from a village in Italy - Reggio Emilia. The system is based on the principle of 'play based education'. In this an environment conducive to playing (generally intending at driving some learnings) is said to be child's 'third teacher'. And the teachers are supposed to be learners, documenting every bit of the child's actions and developments and in the process learning about the child's interests, aptitudes, behavior and development. Very few schools know and offer this program. And no doubt a promising concept that it is, as their is no standard training/ endorsement or accredition of the schools following this system, much is left to the people executing it.

I've taken to studying the system of Reggio Emilia seriously. But meanwhile, we've enroled TV in a play school that offers the flexibility of going 2 days a week, 2 hours a day. I feel that's a reasonable start for a 22-month-old. Besides this school offers free play, story time, music time and arts. But for us what it really offers TV is a professionally-supervised 2-hour opportunity to interact with other kids, adults and the environment, when mom and dad are not around. What it really offers her is an opportunity to open up and come into her own, regardless of our presence/absence. An opportunity to becoming independent and facing the (tiny) world. To know different people from her own experience and in the process to discover herself. And if this comes in a playful and fun environment, that is surely how a first-school-experience should be like:)


TV and I went shopping today. After an hour and a half of pushing her around in the shopping cart, while finding and picking up things and then checking out and loading our 'shopping bags' (with TV's chotti bag) in the taxi, I sat back and relaxed.

And guess what my 20 month old was upto? Talking on her toy phone (I told you, she packs her own bag as well).

'Are you answering the missed calls?' I ask

'Huh' a cold response as she continued further. 'Hullo lata (that's my friend by the way). I home today.'

A long pause, while still holding the phone by her ear, as she took time to look out of the taxi - probably checking if the cabbie was taking us in the right direction.

'OK OK', the phone call continues, 'achcha achcha'

By now, our cabbie looked surprised from the rare view mirror. Then as he stopped on the traffic light, turned back to look at the little girl on my lap.

'Busy, she's working from home today,' I justified.

'snoogums boogums shopping,' TV continued, undistracted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Typical TV Talk Titbits (T4)

'apla apla (on my own)'

'no, no. no gana (song) today' - when her dad starts to sing.

'ga-gai (sleep/nap) done'

'more?' to dad, during meals, generally once he is just done, seeing his empty plate.

'my paysure (pleasure)' even before we say thank you - generally when she thinks she's helping mom.

Getting ready to go out!

While TV and I were getting ready to go out today, something really funny happened.

As usual, I got ready, got TV ready and I was packing some snack for her in the kitchen. While I was doing that, TV -busy as usual- was running all over the house - into her room, our study, bedroom.

She is a chatter-box and has an uncanny way of giving a commentary of whatever she's doing. So I could hear from the kitchen, my little walkie-talkie in action.

'TV chhotti (little) bag'
'TV chootta (little) shone (phone)'
'TV keys'

By the time I was done, I realised that my little one had packed her own bag with the 'most important' items just the way I do.

Art Class

Talking about art, I took TV to the art class when she was 11 months. Everyone around thought it was ridiculous to take such a tiny tot to a 'class'. But TV was exploring colors and textures at home and I thought the 'art exploration' will give us (her and I) the opportunity to have some more fun. Moreover, at 11 months, TV was not quite mobile and running around like others. She was barely crawling to reach things she wanted to but was not enjoying the 'crawling all over', unlike other babies her age. Besides, she seemed to show good attention span and focus. So I thought, I shall give it a try!

Our trial class, was messy - finger and hand painting:) The art teacher was great - being a trained artist as well as an early childhood educator. And TV loved to explore the gooey paints of different colors (a texture she was not exposed to before - for obvious reasons). She was amused about transfering the 'color' on hand onto the paper in the front. She was confused that while she was mish-mushing squish-squashing and getting her hands 'dirty', the grownups around (mom included) were applauding and encouraging. She sat through the activity for 20 -25 min - about half the class duration. Then I took her around to look at what the other tots were doing, and to see the beautiful paintings by kids exhibited on the walls. After this 10 min break, TV was back to her drawing board, with markers this time (her first time with such tool too.) During the 15 min with markers, she inspected them turning them over and over. The teacher, holding her hand made some dots on the paper, by barely touching the paper. She did'nt use them much that day - the way she should have. But on the next day, at home, with my pen and diary, she explored the tool thoroughly, while I was busy with a phone call.

Since this first day, we attended 10 sessions at the 'Mums and Tots Arts Class'. And during these, TV explored water paints, colored and textured papers, collage, canvass board, brushes, rollers, markers, hand paints, and other tools like strings, rubber bands on tissue rolls, bubble paper, golf ball, crushed paper/foil, wooden blocks.

By her sixth session (at around 12 and half months), TV was following teacher's directions and doing as per instructions (although she had her opinions, preferences and of course the power to say no). Her sixt session she sat through the entire 55 minutes, without a break. (WOW! believe me its not so easy.)

Our Art Rhyme:
Move Move Move the brush,
gently on the sheet,
merrily, newly, funnily, merrily,
art is such a treat!

By the end of the term, TV had some 40-45 original artworks - those made in the class with the teacher, and many made at home on the cue. Like once mom and dad were chatting at tea, TV ripped apart a small red envelope lying around, put those pieces in my glass of water, took them out and placed those pieces on another paper to create a collage to our surprise.

In the meantime, all our near and dear ones received a touch of TV's art on their special days - either as a painting or as a greeting card or a gift wrap on their gifts. I am not sure how many of them liked or appreciated her art, this practice turned out to be a great confidence boost and motivator for TV.
'It's my painting' 'I did something useful'.
And of course, whether the recipients found it worthwhile or now, everyone had a courtsey praise for it.
'Did you do it TV? that's so beautiful. Thanks for making this special for me.'
I realised that this simple practice also had another big impact. It projected little TV as an entity in her own right. Her presence was acknowledged in social gatherings. This 1 year old was greeted and talked to by adults even in busiest of parties. She had a significant role to play during gift exchange as we made it a point to get her to gift the pack to whoever it may be.

Well, we took a break from the art class after the 10 sessions. I do intend to take her back when she begins to understand more.

But meanwhile she now has a preferred tool - markers, with which she is 'paint-paint'ing away to her heart's delight and my peace of mind.

She has innovated different techniques with her favorite tool - mono-color, black and white, poke-a-painting, doodle-ing with both hands, circle-circle, marker and water...

Not to mention, now we have a lot of gift wrap and greeting card material and a few real 'master pieces', some of which we have displayed on our walls and some we intend to part off for the ones really special to TV!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


To our great surprise (and huge pleasure) TV can now identify at least 12 colors - even if they are fleeting; changing every second. She's 20 months and has not been exposed to flash cards yet.

The world is her classroom - the environment, nature, people around, books, photos, our home, she herself and of course us - mom and dad.

Down the memory lane, I think it was when she was 10 months, when I first introduced colors consciously to her.
'Would you wear a blue dress or a yellow one?' while pointing at the dresses.
'Hey, we got a red taxi today'
'Wow, look at these colorful fruits' in the supermarket. 'A yellow banana, red apple, green apple.'

She could'nt talk much then, but she's been very expressive and could express her excitement and curiosity. She seemed to be loving the color game. And her attention and observation were now focussed on colors.

She must have been looking around and spotting colors then. 'Blue taxi, orange uncle, red flowers'. I could see the sparks in her eyes.

We even had a color rhyme;
Pink pink flowers, pink pink flowers,
where are they, where are they, pink pink flowers?
- up on the green plants.
Green green plants, Green green plants,
where are they, where are they, Green green plants?
- rising from the brown brown soil.
Brown brown soil, Brown brown soil,
where is it, where is it, Brown brown soil?
- everywhere in our colorful garden,
- under the blue blue sky!

When she was 11 months, I took her to one of those 'mums and tots' arts programs. I think, her love and curiosity for colors grew and blossomed with the 'arts class'.

Around 13 months, when she could speak a few words, blue was the first color she spotted and labled as bu (or boo). Then it was red (jed). Although she would often confuse an orange with a red or a purple with a blue, she could identify the two main colors almost flawlessly.

It was only when she was 16 months she could add the third - yellow - to her list. But at this point, it was her turn to play our 'color game'.

'Bu taxi'
'Jed dess'
'Yellow umbella' (yes, umbrella! actually that was one of her very first words - starting with ummmb - ummmla - ummmbella!)

Of course, our 'color game' was an ongoing activity.
In kitchen,
'can you pass me the yellow pepper, now the green one, now the red tomato please and the orange carrot, now how about some white onion and now the last green zucchini)'
In dressing room,
'Should I wear a green shirt or a pink one on my white pants?'
In bed room,
'Hey, it's blue bedsheet today'
With board books
and of course, in the garden, on roads, at public places.

Starting with I initiating most of the times in the beginnning (from 10 - 16 months) to TV taking charge from the last couple of months.

Yesterday, while we were sitting by the waterfront, at dusk, TV observed reflection in the water of a color changing (neon) logo from a tall building. The colors changed every second (or even faster - I did'nt care to note that much). The waters were not still - with the ripples due to wind and an ocassional passing boat. The colors were not solid (the way they are on children's board books or on taxis or even flowers/leaves). And still, our 20 month old could identify every color the moment it appeared - Red, pink, green, orange, white, purple, blue, yellow!

We were thrilled to watch her make difference between sister colors (a yellow and orange, blue and purple, red and pink) reflecting on water!

A month later