my incredible little doctors

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This evening before bedtime, the boys were playing with their doctor’s kit. Sid was on the bed with his stethoscope and Nish and Amu cam along in an imaginary ambulance accompanied by lots of loud siren sounds.

“What’s the problem?” asked Dr. Sid
“The patient is here” said Nish, pointing to Amu
“What is wrong with him?” asked Dr. Sid
“He’s not well…he is dead” said Nish
“Ok…let me take his temperature…now an injection…it won’t hurt don’t worry” said Dr. Sid
And the dead patient smiled broadly and said “thank you Doctor, I feel much better already!”

Oh…the simplicity of early childhood!

of birds and bees and beards

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This evening, after his bath, Nish came up to me looking a little distraught. “aai” he started in a worried voice (nish is a master of the worried voice) “…i think i have a bone in my penis. Actually its not in my penic..its in this thing under it” “That’s your scrotum” i replied not sure where we were headed with this. “You don’t have a bone there”
“no no there is something there…its hard like a bone. it’s not a bone??”
“Nope” i replied and tried to return to my task of folding and putting the laundered clothes away.
“Then what is it???” he asked persistently following his line of inquiry
“Those are your testes” i replied, sticking to basic facts and volunteering nothing more
“What do they do?” he asked me in all earnestness
“Um…many things…one of which is to produce testosterone.. it will help you become more ‘manly’ as you grow older…like getting a mustache and a beard.
Now Nish looked horrified..worried was passe…
“I DON”T WANT a mustache or a beard!!!” he exclaimed
“hey, if you don’t like it you can always shave …your baba (dad) does it everyday”
“Oh disgusting! i don’t want a beard and a mustache! And i don’t want to shave! it is so much jard work to do everyday…i don’t want to!”
Me, trying to lighten the mood “well, i guess you could get it all removed by laser so it will never come back huh? that’s something we can think about later”
Nish after a few minutes of thinking this over..”Aai, that lazy (laser) shop you mentioned…can e go there tomorrow itself?”

Guess he really does not want his mustache and beard now does he???!!!

Playing indoors

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The summer is really and truly here. The afternoons are hot and the kids really don’t want to go down or outside. I don’t have any help at home and the kids are on vacation so I need to find ways to keep them busy without being super engaged as i need to get more mundane stuff like cooking and clearing up done.

After spending some time in Mumbai we finally got back to bangalore yesterday. The boys were happy to be home and pulled out all the toys they had missed. But today they wanted to do ‘something else’.

I had too much stuff to do, so i found an easy way out…and it really worked well. I put a mattress on the floor. on both sides i lined up the cushions and seats from our cane sofa set and also added dining chair foam cushions.

The boys could make what they wanted of it. Sid decided this was perfect for somersaults and he tried all sorts of things with that..running starts, trying to create and incline using 2 pillows and trying to somersault down that. Amu was most fascinated and a very willing learner…a quick study too. So both master and pupil practiced their gymnastics while Nish decided that the set up was great for his cars. So he had elaborate parking lots, cars going down slopes, etc. He experimented with what inclines would work for the car without it toppling, how fast a truck could go without its confetti cargo flying off, etc.

Intermittently, the gym mat/car course turned into some sort of obstacle course, with the boys hopping form cushion to cushion, crawling on the mat and more. Once their imaginations took over it was like being on auto pilot.

I got dinner cooked and sorted, put a bunch of things away, unpacked… all this with out a single instance of being called in to help or intervene.

We all cleaned up together before we went down for a swim. Cleanup was super simple – just involved putting the cushions all back in place and shoving the mattress back where it belonged.

Definitely something i would do again in a few days!

The Mulberry Cooperative

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I just liked how that sounded…so in case you are wondering if we’ve taken up an agricultural hobby…negative.

We were in Lonavala last week. The boys had been so boisterous at home in Mumbai, cranky, squabbling and fighting…mom decided it would be nice for them to just be able to run around in the garden and let off some pent up energy. So we all drove up to Lonavala (just what the doctor ordered).

Sure enough, the boys were running all over the garden, enjoying the trees and the grass and the little pond. The highlight of the first day (and our trip) for them however, was the mulberry tree.

Otherwise busy snatching stuff from each other and complaining loudly about it…the mulberry tree actually managed to bring the trio together. The tree had lots of mulberries on it..more red than black but once they got a taste of the mulberry they wanted more …and more. The ones on the lower branches were quickly picked and eaten but they still wanted more…however, the others were a little too high for them.

Nish and Sid tried jumping but they only managed to grasp at some of the leaves. Finally they came up with a plan…they came up with what i decided to call the mulberry cooperative. Sid jumped, caught hold of a leaf and pulled it gently down (he quickly realized that if he wasn’t gentle the leaf would simply tear). As he pulled the branch down using the leaf, Nish secured the branch and pulled it lower, Finally Amu was able to pick the mulberries for all of them while his brothers held the branches down for him. They all shared the spoils and proudly sported reddinsh purple stains all around their lips!

Forgiven

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Yesterday I totally lost my temper with Nish. He was whining…and whining. Basically i was tired and felt he was being so difficult about everything. Refused to go to the bathroom before his swim, then wanting to go but not going..then screaming about his swim suit..Finally i blew my top and was really not nice in how i yelled at him.

eventually got all three boys changed and we got out of the building to head to the pool. Nish stopped to pick up a gorgeous paink frangipani flower for me and gave it to me with the biggest og smiles like nothing had happened. I sat down and gave him the biggest squash i could.

We need to be 4 yrs old too sometimes…and be able to see that someone loves us even though they may have shouted or been mean. to know that at the bottom of it all, it is okay. no ego hassles…no long term grudge holding…all simply sorted with a beautiful flower and a gorgeous smile…

Art inspired by books

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We have this lovely book called Peely Wally by Kali Stileman. We’ve had the book for a while now and several months ago we had done some art and craft inspired by the illustrations in the book.

Today, after a long time, Sid suddenly remembered Peely Wally as he looked at the piece of art we had done inspired by the book.

he suggested we try it again. So i diligently took their old sheets of painted paper and cut up some stuff for them to stick. Nish joined in and Amu was not to be left out. here is what they came up with. I made a few suggestions but allowed them to work at it how they wanted to. Tomorrow i want ot have them write a story about the picture…

But, it is nice to see that the boys are looking at and appreciating illustrations in their picture books…illustrations contribute in so many ways to stories, adding details, nuances, irony, parody, humor…extending the pact between the reader and the book to a level deeper than the just the narrative.

here is an image of what the boys came up with this evening. It is surprisingly neat given that all three worked on it together!
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Yummy snack…healthy too!

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Three boys = lots of random snacking. “What can I eat?” is something i hear at all times except at the table when they ought to be asking the question. Especially when i pick them up from school or summer camp they want something interesting to snack on in the car.

I am not a fan of junk food…chip type stuff on a regular basis is a no-no..yet i can only hand out that many apples or carrot sticks :)

Anyway, tried out something as I found a lot of white chocolate lying in my fridge. Wondering what to do with it (had bought it to make stuff over christmas but did not use any of it)…i thought i would try and make some healthy-ish snack with it (starting point it after all chocolate).

So basically, in a bowl, i took some rice crispies (had got them from a baking shop earlier), muesli, almond slivers, raisins, pumpkin seeds and some m&m’s i had lying around. Then i took about 180 gm of white chocolate, added a tsp of oil to it and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. took it out, stirred it a little and put in for another 30 on high. that was enough to melt the chocolate. I poured it over the mix (which was about 1 1/2 cups but i had not measure exactly. I realized when i did batch 2 that it is easier to pour the mix into the melted white chocolate and then mix it up well. I then dropped small spoonfuls onto a baking tray lined with butter paper and put it in the fridge to set for 10 minutes.

Super easy and a really delicious snack at the end of it. You can play around with what goes into the mix…kinda like trail mix in white chocolate. The boys and their friends demolished the first lot in the car when i picked them up and asked for another batch…so i have obliged.

am putting in a couple of pics…IMG_8284

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Report cards and reflections

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My baby went to preschool for almost 9 months…and his year of discoveries, explorations, friendships and exponential development was captured in a 2 page checklist and a small narrative paragraph. His folder gives me the tiniest glimpse into what his days might have been…but most of the artwork in there (too little and too neat) looks incredibly guided. Lucky for me my little chap likes to chat and generally babbled about his day when i picked him up…so i knew what songs they were singing or that he could count a little. Yeah…i guess at the end of the day, he is the report card.

I am not interested in a checklist which codes with a little tickmark whether my child is able or unable to do something. And this is where i find value in the portfolio system…as well as a more organic student led report system which can be ongoing.

The latter is something I experienced in the twins’ previous preschool- By the Sea (https://myfourboysandme.wordpress.com/2014/10/28/a-school-full-of-memories/)

At BTS they had a really nice system where parents or caregivers could come into school on fridays to pick up the kids. On Friday, kids would take their parents around the school, show them all that they had been up to…what they liked, what they were interested in, who they were playing with, special things in the school…and so on. So all through the year I had a really nice sense of what was happening with the boys. This was very informal and while it really was not set up to be a sort of report on progress…it was in effect exactly what it could be. And so, I got 2 incredibly interesting versions of the week because my twins were on such different trajectories…From one i found out about the imaginary play corner, another led me to the books they were reading…one showed me all the pictures they had painted (each one so starkly different from the other, beautifully unguided and imagined by the kids with complete ownership). another showed me what all he was doing in the sandpit. It was all with so much excitement and a sense of pride. And it created a wonderful connect with the teachers and staff as well!

The formal interactions for discussing kids progress over the year was also a wonderful experience. Teachers had detailed documentation and notes and it was such a lovely conversation. A lot more fulfilling than a checklist – i assure you…and it certainly captured the child and his growth in a much more competent and meaningful manner. This coupled with their bag of ‘work’ that came home every friday was great to give me a good glimpse into how they were developing and what they were learning.

Why do I feel that a portfolio is important? (first of all because i do recognize that there is worth in a progress report if it is done right and not as yet another task on a list of chores for the end of the year). Here are components I feel that a good portfolio tries to capture:

Assessments:
Things that capture the learning that has taken place …objectives that have been set up and met and a sense of how one arrives at this.

Children’s work: It is important for the portfolio to showcase authentic examples of children’s work. As a parent of a preschooler, I do not care so much about receiving a portfolio of art and craft that it obviously adult planned and executed and painfully guided in order to have a beautiful finished product. Like i keep on saying in my blogs…learning is largely in the process and not always so much in the product. I don’t expect the paper doggie to have two perfectly glued eyes…i know my 2 1/2 yr old cannot do that unless he is really REALLY guided and made to. I know he prefers giving most creatures three eyes (don’t ask me why…he does!)
Authentic independent art and craft work show me right away how is doing with his fine motor development, his cognitive processes, his imagination and creativity, his ability to take risks and try something he wants to. Teacher art work makes no sense for me to have in a portfolio.

Narrative is important! It tells a story, it provides a real context for what is happening and how it is taking place. Narrative for me is NOT a 3 line paragraph stating the obvious…”XYZ enjoys school and playing with his friends. He is social and likes music. It has been a pleasure having him in class” So impersonal if you think about it…applies to half the class and gives no real sense of anything does it?

Observations – if a preschool is set up right, with space for discovery, experiential learning and independent time, the teacher is actually able to spend some time making notes and observations. Especially if the desired student-teacher ratio is in place. These observations are really important to understand development and then validate the assessment criteria and objectives met in the first component of the portfolio.

Reflections: Along with the child’s work and teacher’s observations, it is important that the portfolio capture to some extent the student’s reflections and thoughts as well. This also brings us to the importance of conversations in the preschool classroom..most teacher-student conversations are directions, instructions or reprimands. There is very little authentic ‘conversation’ happening in a lot of preschool classrooms. It is important for these to take place for a variety of reasons…but yes reflections is one aspect these conversations can bring out.

Pictures: This may be an added cost, but it is good to have some images that capture some of the child’s experiences over the year.

This probably take more time than your standard checklist but it is something that needs to be ongoing and probably not something to be filled up over a couple of days and many cups of coffee. This is a year in the life of a child entrusted to you. Stand up for your self and your work, your children and your philosophy and share the wonders you work with parents and other teachers.

Let the report be something the next teacher can pick up and really understand the child with so she can plan and work with this student to the best of her abilities. Do it for your self, your students and for a more constructive learning and growing experience!

And thank you teachers for doing so much with my kids…i maybe critical of checklists but that does not take away from what you do with the kids, the hours of planning, infinite patience and oodles of love!

an evening at the beach

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myfourboysandme:

As summer break is coming up, here are some old posts that i am reblogging so we can have some ideas for things to do with kids this vacation.

Originally posted on myfourboysandme:

finally an evening without any rain…i would not go so far as to call it clear skies…but at least the grey clouds were not threatening to burst into showers anytime soon. So, we decided to hit the beach…off again to chowpatty!

We went well equipped…digging material – spades, shovels, bucket rake and we also took a sheet for the baby. The baby of course had very little intention of staying on the sheet…but it was used by me and my mum at least. The twins started out by digging and destroying (i thought of Calvin and Hobbes as i watched Sid gleefully destroy ‘mountains’ and ‘houses’ and ‘cakes’). 

Then Nish pulled out all his dinky cars that he had stashed away inside the beach toys bag and spent nearly the next half hour parking them in the san, around little mounds, in holes and in his crocs. 

In the meanwhile…

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Word Bingo

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The twins have started reading a little and I decided to have a fun bingo game to get them excited about it. It is super simple to set up. I took 2 sheets of paper and put their name on top of one each. Then on the paper I drew a 3 x 3 grid. In each cell i put a CVC / CCVC word (hut, bug, stop, plot, etc). So each of them had a sheet with 9 words on it. Most of the words were the same – but put a few different ones on their grids too. Then i made of list of the words on my paper, put in a few that were not on their list too. I gave the boys their papers and asked them to called Bingo each time they got a word. (Since this was their first time at the game figuring words out in a game too – i made the bingo part fairly non-challenging).

i was actually fun and the boys enjoyed searching for their words and calling Bingo with great gusto. It took some time to get started because Sid’s first response was to simply state that he did not have the word without really checking…but once he got the hang of it it was fun! Next time will make it more challenging and ask them to call Bingo when they find 3 words or something.

Will try it with number too one of these days. And I guess you can spiral it to meet your needs – math problems, countries and capitals, opposites, history dates…anything you may want to prep kids for or practice in a fun manner. I am sure this would make for a fun class quiz too!