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babies, baby, education, Montessori, natural parenting, pampers, parenting, parents

How to select a playschool or Pre-school- Quick Guide For Parents


Why would you write a post on selecting a school, someone asked me. Well that someone has kids who are my age and that someone doesn’t know the challenges that we face. 

 

Being an army kid, my parents had to move cities every 2-3 years, which meant changing schools that often. Was it difficult? Well no, it was rather like a cake walk, easier for them than for me. Fewer schools, even fewer boards and our safest bet was a KV(Kendriya Vidyalaya) or an Army School. Things have changed drastically and choosing a school is as crucial and as confusing as making a career choice. 

 

Before move further, let us first know what exactly a play school is? A playschool as you may have guessed, is an informal set-up where a child learns through play. Pre-school is a term often interchangeably used with playschool. However, preschool is from 3 years to 5 years before a child starts his formal education at 6 years of age. A play school can start as early as 1.5years of age. 

 

Parents are flustered just by the thought of leaving their tiny baby in a play school or Pre-school, all by herself. They are confronted by many fears.  Here are a few things that you may look at before finalising a play school or a Pre-school for your child.

 

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eco-friendly, education, engagement, Lifestyle and health, natural parenting, parenting

Eco friendly Return Gift ideas

What is a birthday party without party favours or return gifts? Kids look forward to bday parties for 2 reasons; 1. The Cake 2. Return Gifts
Last year we celebrated our son’s birthday the eco friendly way.  It was pretty doable, from décor to return gifts, all was either wood, paper or cloth.
You can check out the post here.  I am always on a look out for sustainable gifting options and hence this post on eco-friendly return gift ideas. Some of which I have personally tried and tested!

1. Piggy bank- A ceramic or wooden piggy bank. Piggy banks or Gullaks as we would call it have been one of my priced possessions all through my childhood and teenage years and that is what precisely I chose as party favours for my son’s first birthday party. The Gullak (piggybank) was a wooden house shaped box with lock and key. I sourced these from Sarahanpur in Uttar Pradesh known for artisans making brass and wooden artefacts and furniture. The gift was super-hit, everybody loved it.

2. A sapling or a plant with a pot- for Little A’s second birthday. I had a mix of return gifts. For kid’s above 3, I chose plants like ajwain, mint, tulsi etc and gave a pot separately, with a message ” plant me, water me and watch me grow”.  The plant was given separately so that kids can engage in potting exercise and take ownership, learn to nurture, watch it and relate to the lifecycle of plants and what is required for them to grow.

3. Wooden puzzles/toys- Unlike plastic toys, wooden toys last longer and look better.
There are few Indian brands selling wooden toys puzzles etc.  I have written a dedicated post on why we prefer wooden toys, you can check it here .

Also my personal favourites are Chanapatna toys. Chanapatna toys are wooden toys made in the town of Chanapatna near Bangalore. Channapatna is also known as GOMBEGALA OORU ( toy-town) of Karnataka. The toys are handcrafted and have a unique appeal to them, these can be used as art pieces or just as toys to play with.

Chanapatna kitchen set

For kids under 3 years I chose to give wooden puzzles/puzzle books and regular books. I bought puzzles from “little fingers at work” they have great variety of educational toys that are also reasonably priced. You can find more about them at their website. 

4. Small Terrariums or a Terrarium “make and take ” activity. – Terranium is a sealable glass container having soil and plants, the container can be opened for regular maintenance. These look wonderful, though slightly expensive these  can make a perfect return gift. Check this post to know about different varieties of terrarium and how they aren’t so difficult to make. Bigger Terrarium can make a good b’day/ house warming gifting option too.

image credits- whatagreenlife.com 

5. Craft kits- Craft kits are always a hit with moms and kids alike. You could gift a quilling set, DIY craft set for making paper bags/envelopes or just a kit with variety of craft supplies for open ended work. We absolutely adored the craft kit that we recently got in a party.

6. Terracotta clay with steel moulds or cutters- I love how clay can take any form, terracotta clay is natural as it is sourced from the riverbeds and prepared to produce various articles. It can be baked for strength or just used as it is. You can now buy terracotta clay at Amazon too.

The cutters can be bought at snapdeal or amazon. I found these at a throw away price for a set of 20 cutters. (click here )
You could alternatively buy cookie cutters and give 2 each to a kid along with some (250/500gms) clay and paint.

Here is a picture of me with my amateurish work at handbuilding pottery, I find working with clay therapeutic, you can tell that from the smile on my face in the this picture.

7. Books to choose from- You could keep 2-3 sets of different books and have the kids choose one from them.

8. Cloth hand puppets or dolls – hand puppets and cloth dolls look really cute and can be used as props for story narration and for pretend play. Not only the kids will love it, your mommy friends will love it too.

9. Plush toys – keep a counter/table with a placard saying “adopt a friend” and have 2-3 varieties of plush/soft toys, the kids can choose one and take it home as a return gift. The fibres used for a soft toy may not be natural, however it is better than giving plastic toys/tiffins/boxes that would soon break

10. Gardening kit- The real learning happens outdoors and there is nothing better than growing your own garden. Sowing the seeds of greener practices early on in life will have a positive impact on little ones. A gardening kit makes a great gift for young kids aged above 3. 

 A gardening kit for kids may include Rake, shovel etc, include a pack of seeds too to complete it.
These were 10 eco friendly gifts that I could think of, if you have anything in mind please do share here in comments.

The purpose of your gift will fail if you choose to give it in a plastic bag, try to use eco-friendly packaging for your return gifts. We have been using home made newspaper bags and for heavier gifts repurposed clothbags ( made from my old kurtas and pyjamas). I am going to do a dedicated post on packaging gifts the eco-friendly way!!

 

 

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early learning, education, learning, Montessori, Reviews, skola, toys

Flowers and the bee – A toy for toddlers to enhance multiple skills

Image source: skola.toys

Flowers and the bee – A toy for toddlers to enhance multiple skills 

Children are intrinsically curious and creative, growing up in this made up world adulterates these traits.
I still remember my childhood days, how we loved  playing outdoors and made into toys things that would otherwise be trashed. Not that there was any dearth of toys, but making those things gave us a sense of accomplishment and also taught many other lessons.
So, if you ask me, the best way to keep their imagination alive will be to keep them close to nature and to offer them opportunities for lots of open ended play.
Skola is one of my favourite toy brands; they have  wonderful range of educational toys made from the high quality material which is mostly wood.
I am going to share my views and our experience of this particular Skola toy –
“Flower and the bee”
Packaging-
The toy came in an attractive doodled carton along with detailed description about the toy and how it can be used.
Contents- The toy has 5 pairs of wooden flowers and 4 leaves. The flowers come in different colors.
A string with a bee-shaped needle at the end. The package also had a complimentary set of 4 crayons to be used for coloring the box.
Quality- There is no doubt that the toy is made up of the best quality material. The colors are bright and beautiful. The toy is sturdy and the finishing is just perfect.
Engagement-
The toy primarily requires threading of all the flowers and leaves.
Threading is a complex fine motor skill where coordination is required between both hands and eyes simultaneously. The child must be shown a few times how to perform this activity.
The beauty of such toys is that there are multiple things you can do with them.
You could teach pairing colors or shapes with this toy.
A memory game can be deviced with this toy.
Different pattern formation can be done, we made a few rangoli designs with these flowers.
Skills developed-
Fine motor skills-
The activity helps in improving multiple muscle movements and dexterity.
Cognitive skills- pairing helps in building short term memory and developing cognitive abilities.
Visual discrimination- Pairing activity helps the children observe patterns and to classify them based on their physical properties.
Creativity- Varied patterns can be drawn with just a few wooden flowers challenging and enhancing the creative abilities.
Writing skills- Threading is a pre-writing activity, setting the base for writing.
As the child moves the flower, the hand movements and tri-finger grip aid in writing skills.
Since threading requires finer skills, the toy did not interest my son much (he is 19 months old right now), but he does enjoy playing with the flowers and the string individually, another advantage of open ended toys.
Some pointers for parents when they head out to buy toys, these are the questions I try to answer before buying toys for my son-
1. What I want him to achieve from these toys?
2. Will this enhance his motor skills?
3. How will it improve his cognitive abilities?
4. Is there scope of manipulation or open ended play?
5. What material is It?
6. Could it pose any hazard to my child?
7. How many more months will it possibly be useful for?
8. How long can my child be engaged with this toy at a stretch?
9. What is the complexity level?
10. And of course the price. Is it a value for money purchase?
Skola toys are manufactured by a company that has pioneered preschool solutions in India and is a leader in making montessori materials. Each Skola toy is researched and crafted to provide the best learning outcomes for children. Check out their website for wonderful educational toys to choose from.
Happy learning and happy playing!!!