Why we decided to homeschool

Every homeschooling family will have to face this question ‘why are you homeschooling your child?’ And all homeschooling parents will have a different story, and reason to give. Because let’s face it, deciding to homeschool is not an easy decision; it require careful thought, and deliberation to come to conclusion. One of the apprehensions is also how to deal with people, and their reactions, and their judgment, and ignorance/misconceptions on the topic. Well, here’s why I decided to homeschool my daughter (8yrs old) and my son (18 months) in the future too.

Let’s go back to the beginning; since I found out about the concept of homeschooling good 9 or ten years ago, I had totally fallen in love with it. Having gone to school myself, I could see so many possibilities within the homeschooling scenario. Of course, with all desires, comes the logic to research and explore, possibilities of applying it to your own life. It just so happened that an amazing IB school opened up right when my daughter turned 3, but since she was a preemie, I was going to delay her admission till she turned 4yrs old. Fast forward few years in school, and a divorce and an ugly custody battle, which unfortunately affected the daughter emotionally, school just couldn’t cut it.

She was also very behind academically, and needed a lot more help with socialising. So, I decided it was time, she spent more time with me, and her family, and develop closeness to those who love her unconditionally. Stress free and now able to focus on all the remedial she needed, she suddenly had more time, less anxiety and the freedom to be a child.

Her school was fantastic, but not for her. Being visually disabled, she needed more help, and that wasn’t something the school could cater to inclusively in the classroom. And I didn’t want it to come to a point where she needed a shadow teacher, what’s the purpose in going to a school and be in a class full of students, when you’re constantly getting one on one attention and not really mingling with others. Anyway, here are the pointers to the reasons:

  1. To develop her spiritually
  2.  Increase the span of interaction with family for emotional nourishment
  3. Customized academics prog. as per her need and ability
  4. More free time to socialise with people in different scenarios
  5. More time for remedial work (speech therapy, physical therapy, vision rehab etc.)
  6. More time for extracurricular activities

It’s been two months since I officially started homeschooling. And the change in her personality is profound, she’s showing much more interest in her academics and is enjoying the approach to learning. She is also bonding greatly and participating actively as the elder sister in her baby brothers life. He too is emulating her, and has started showing interest in notebooks, etc.

I have to say, I didn’t realise how much homeschooling impacts the family dynamic in a positive way. I suddenly felt like there was so much time to enjoy and interact with my own daughter, I myself didn’t feel the pressure of early mornings, and HW completions and all that stress which takes away from being a mother and instead turned me into a discipline police. Plus the mom guilt of not doing enough, has reduced tremendously. I have found out that homeschooling works very well for our family as a whole. My husband is very supportive, and we discuss topics that we could inculcate within our curriculum, the focus in our household is on the overall development of the children, as education should do that.

We have seen such positive changes in Batool, that we are already mentally ready to homeschool the little one, and I see him grow a personality, as he heads into his terrible twos, and I know, that he would be best nurtured in an environment that is not restrictive, and full of love and affection. In the end, all that children want is love and care from their parents (no matter how old they get).

Living in FOMO

See I didn’t know how to describe this feeling till I came across few weeks ago, FOMO. That’s what my twenties have been about. And while I slowly reach the end of my 29th year of life, that’s how I can describe my twenties.

Hindsight is a terrible thing, it can make you feel guilty, smart, stupid, naive etc. And I can’t help but look back at my twenties when I am so close to ending a significant era of my life. There are many TEDx talks on this issue, make twenties your everything, or twenties aren’t everything. Everyone has a point of view, and a lot of those points seem logical, reasonable, understandable, but nevertheless don’t calm my soul.

You see I didn’t ever make a concrete plan for myself, I was only 19 when I got married. To be honest, I didn’t even know the significance of having a plan in the first place. But with time, I realised that the sane thing is to be the best that you can. Achieve what you’re capable of, and hustle for that.

My twenties, I lived in FOMO, and when I asked myself what exactly those things were. I strangely, with a broken heart had to succumb to accepting that I actually was in the FOMO on my twenties. It doesn’t get disappointing than that. Nothing I have done in my twenties has given me leverage for my thirties. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end? Everything we do consciously has to eventually yield some fruit. None of the seeds I sowed, are worth jazz for my future. Highlights include a degree via distance in Psychology, a career stream I am no longer interested in because it requires dedication and higher education. I started a Sunday School, and Yes, Allah will reward me in continuity for this venture. However due to my health I’m not able to go as regularly as I used to. I spent 6.5 years married, trying to make things work, only to end up divorcing. Wasted the crucial early twenties in this. Got married again, and have a baby boy too. And as we all know babies bring a big gigantic comma if not full stop to your life. The struggle of adjusting to a new home life, a new partner, a new marriage is on another level. A simultaneous custody case in court for the daughter, drains energy out. I won the case and have her, and working on damage control.

I am not anti-struggle. I just want a different struggle now. I want a struggle that takes me somewhere, a struggle that has some promise. Otherwise I will remain in this state of unrest, irritated, in quarter life crisis, constantly confused, pulled on one side spiritually, and struggling to survive through every worldly issues.

The highs and lows are extreme now, emotionally it’s draining to be a mom, add to that someone who actually wants to be more than that. Simply because I have the potential. How does one get clarity, when the clouds of disappointment are always around? Where do you go for support when you have only one friend in the city? How much can you burden others with your same unresolved questions?

One thing I know for sure is that the thirties shouldn’t have to be this way. But unless I figure things out, I will be aimless squandering like a nomad. What do we do, to not live in FOMO?

Himalaya Prickly heat baby powder Review

Another product that will help your baby from Himalaya Baby Care! The heat is at peak and while we wait and pray for the monsoons to shed some rain, Himalaya brings a soothing product for your baby to battle the heat.

 

The Prickly heat baby powder was sent to me by the Himalaya team, a generous 200gm pack at that. Before I give you a review and overall rating let’s acquaint ourselves with what’s on the products packaging; the prickly heat powder is described as ‘ A gentle formulation that relieves prickly heat and keeps the baby’s skin cool and fresh’ There are several herbal contents in the powder that enable it to fulfill the purpose of the powder.

Yashada bhasma is the anti-inflammatory which helps reduce excess sweat and soothes irritated skin. Karanja helps reduce the itching sensation, Khus grass refreshes the skin and finally neem helps in protecting the skin from infection through antimicrobial action. Usage is simple as any powder just sprinkle on the baby’s skin liberally after baby’s bath, or during nappy change or before bedtime. Powder has to be kept away from nose, eyes and mouth of the baby.

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The 200gm container retails at Rs.125, the product is available in 50gm and 100gm sizes too. Manufacturing date is very clearly mentioned at the bottom of the package and the product can be used within 2 years from the date of manufacture.

On to the Review:

The powder finely milled, and makes the skin extremely soft, and has a cooling effect. The good thing is that it can be applied multiple times a day as mentioned, in the ‘directions of use’. Adult prickly heat powders tend to give a tingling effect which can cause irritation if too much product is applied, but this product doesn’t have that problem. This is a plus point for new moms or just in general for caregivers who may tend to reapply a baby product several times a day. Himalaya has tested the product for baby skin; however it’s good to go small steps with any new product on your baby for safety reasons. Apart from the actual performance of the product one stand out factor I must say is the strong Khus smell, now I am not a fan of Khus in general, and was rather taken aback by how strong the smell was, especially considering that its purpose as per packaging is only to ‘refresh the skin’.  I sneezed a couple of times too, and I have dust allergy, if your baby has any dust allergy you may want to try a small quantity on yourself and see how he/she reacts to the powder. In fact purchase a small 50gm pack and see, if this product is for you. While it says to use it liberally, I wouldn’t suggest so because the smell is very strong. I love the fresh smell of their regular baby powder, so for a company that makes fresh, light products with pleasant smell, I was surprised.

I would myself not use it as liberally, but just to serve the purpose, my husband liked it too. So adults could get mild usage out of the product as well. But it does the job, and if you’re a fan of Khus you will thoroughly enjoy this! Overall I would give it a 4/5.

Eid in pics

I am not a poser, I don’t even enjoy buying clothes and all those girlie things. Normal people get excited to shop, I do too, but not for Indian wear. But this year I was up for some excitement, and I had made it a point to buy something in white. You may already know that I like white from my previous post.

And not only did I pick a beautiful dress in white, I also happened to love a white and pink one for Batool. 🙂

This year I called up me cousin, and asked her to come prepared to click a tonne of pictures, because for the firts time I was feeling like enjoying a little, and just obsessing over myself 😉

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The Eid day was not elaborate, I had stayed over at my paternal aunts place as my cousin is in town from London. I stayed home the whole day and Batool visited her paternal grandparents for a while. It was a good day, just felt refreshed.

What did you do for Eid?

Organising for school

I am big on preserving memories, I have a box full of cards, presents, autographed shirts etc. And since Batool is going to a new class, it only makes sense to start preserving her memories. I have photos all organised by year, and at PTM his year I got files of all her activity work, so I sorted them according to date and filed them in a blue box file her school gave.

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CAM03413I also inserted the schools journal, for memories.

CAM03414Amongst the papers were some activity sheets that Batool hadn’t done. I kept them for practicing now.

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It was such a relief to see everything all filed up together. I will continue to do this every academic year. It helps you to visually see the difference and improvement in the skills of your child as well. Children too can be motivated to do better by seeing the change.

There’s a lot of work to still be done, my school starts tomorrow and well, there’s much to be done! But excited for a new adventure, every year is great fun, looking forward to Batools new year as a big girl in PP2!

Scholastic Haul book review 1

I had blogged just few days ago about the 9 book purchases I made. And it’s time for some reviewing!

1. Who wears Glasses? by Ana Galan, Illustrated by Seb Burnett

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Batool simply loved this book, being a spectacles wearer herself she was happy to see animals wearing them just like her. The book itself is well written, the content rhymes, and is funny too. Batool understood the humor in the book, and one would think that it’s going to be a book that won’t provide any substance to the reader beyond the satisfaction of others wearing specks, but it has depth. The specks are animal appropriate, relating to their physical features, interests, environment, activities etc. Each animal has it’s own personality, which can be understood by their specks.

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CAM03053 This is a great book for children who like animals, have siblings or friends who wear specks, they can learn to respect them instead of bully. And obviously for the child who wears specks this is going to be confidence build up.

2. Clifford goes to the Doctor by Norman Bridwall

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As mentioned, I was looking forward to introducing Clifford to Batool. She enjoyed reading this, found it incredibly funny how the whole check-up with grown up Clifford went. This was a good first book for her, she’s already asking me to start reading the other two! so that’s a great response.This book is about not rejecting, and solving a problem. In the beginning Clifford is a tiny puppy, and has his first appointment, and by the next one he’s a giant healthy dog, but the Dr. doesn’t ask him to leave because he can’t fit through the door, she instead transports him on a truck, weighs him on an industrial weighing machine and does the whole check-up. This is a lesson for kids to not give up, and try to find creative solutions to problems.

She could relate her doctor appointments with Cliffords, one of the reasons why I picked up this particular doctor visit book is because she’s having vaccinations lined up this year. And it’s been quite a while since she’s experienced one of those. Will be reading this book again, before her vaccinations next month, just to ease her into it. I liked also that the Clifford book didn’t have any inappropriate illustrations, the doctor was not wearing unreasonably weird clothes, and the colours in the book are vibrant and illustrations easy to visualise for her.

Observations and tips:

1. Batools picking up books and trying to reach phonically on her own now.

2. Introduce sight words to your child, and initially let them read a word or two on their own while reading with them. Praise them when they try also, this will make them feel proud, and motivate them

3. Make reading an enjoyable experience, books are not to make yourself feel lonely, they’re to make sure you can enjoy your own company. Take pics, make memories.

4. Batool laughed heartily while reading the Clifford book, the Dr. having to climb on his tummy, and entering his whole mouth to check it. She laughed out even later remembering it all.

5. Reading a tiny book with children is a great way to bond with them, they won”t judge you so make it fun for yourself, change your voice when delivering dialogues of different characters, re-read funny names, spend time exploring the illustrations, ask the child ‘imagine if your dr. entered your mouth’, they would relate everything.

6. Answer questions when the child asks while reading, they are visual and so will have questions about the illustrations more. And while that may seem to us like they’re distracted, they’re actually trying to relate the image to the story. The illustrators of childrens books are no ordinary people, they spend endless hours trying to make it the most stimulating experience for the child. Let them absorb the vibrant colours, shapes and scenes. Let the child visit the vet, the doctor, the market etc. through the illustration.

7. As parents we should read the book alone first, try to derive hidden lessons in them, and then give a full experience to the child. Childrens books are meant for educational entertainment. Because they’re at the peak of learning and absorbing, it’s a great way to give them exposure to long term wisdom through tiny books, with funny stories and endless illustrations.

Have you read any of these books? What are your tips on reading to your child?

Accepting Ignorance

I just came across a quote that inspired me to write this post. This is going to be deeply intellectual and thought provoking readers….

“Whoever abandons saying, “I do not know” meets his destruction”- Imam Ali (as)

The above quote holds great significance in my life. It has been my point of realisation of many people and mentalities around me. This isn’t specific to Hyderabad per say, even though here is where I came to my realisations. I will break this quote down into three…Child, parent and society

1. Child-A child will never be afraid to say “mommy I don’t know”. He is willing to learn, and so he understands the only way to do so is just express that he doesn’t have the knowledge. This eventually dies in some kids, we call it lack of confidence or self-esteem, when the child returns home and has so many doubts. “why didn’t ask your teacher?” we say. This issue arises partially due to the extreme pressure on students in schools. When it comes to education we want children to be top notch, ‘know it alls’. But a child who isn’t willing to accept his ignorance will never learn, simply because he will never ask questions.

2. Parent- As parents we are the role models, we are older, more mature, more experienced than our kids, and this gets to our heads. Accept it! Many of us are guilty of this; we change topics when we can’t answer the questions of our toddlers, we are embarrassed when we don’t know something, and even more embarrassed to accept it. This happens to teachers as well, they will ask the child to “keep quiet”, “this isn’t part of your syllabus” instead of being human and accepting that they don’t know. Our kids didn’t come with a manual, and we are only humans, so why not accept our ignorance with finesse? This will be a great model for your child to follow at school too. He will not be afraid to face the truth, and ask questions an make and effort to find out the answers.

3. Society- This is very tricky, because this is the land of adults. In families I have noticed when the elders have a mind set of “i am infallible’ such dialogues occur. You can’t move forward with time if you’re not willing to constantly educate yourself, and for that the first step is to accept that ‘you don’t know’. The lack of this courage in turn sends the message to the whole society that once you’re a certain age, or become the only elders alive in the family, you can do whatever, no questions asked; in other words Being unreasonable is your right. What sets us apart from animals is our capability to evolve intellectually, learn, educate, move forward, and if we can’t accept that we don’t know something, we are definitely headed for destruction. No one likes a person living in denial of the obvious. We shouldn’t be proud about things that are going to make us backward, everyday is a learning opportunity, and to make the most of it, we need to accept that God has created a world for us to explore and educate ourselves.

Scholastic haul

The school had distributed a hand out by Scholastic for books to order. It’s their initiative to promote reading at schools. Batool has always loved books, and enjoys it. And I thought this is a great way to just purchase selected books for age levels. So I got all excited and ordered few, it was my first experience, and even though I was tempted to buy almost all of them, I tried to keep in mind that they’re for Batool and not for me to explore!. So I decided to go for books that she didn’t have, variety to expose her to.

The great thing was all these books arrived in separate parcels, which made it easier for the teachers also to distribute them at school. Let’s get some picture in shall we?

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1. Trees to paper- This is a science based book, and since the daughter knows what paper is and trees are, it would e of interest to her. The concept to learn is how things come into being.

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2. Trash crafts- I mainly got this to have fun activities to do with her. This should be interesting

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3. Fly Guy Dinosaurs- She loves dinosaurs, there was no other reason to this order

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4.Night Sky Glow- Batool hasn’t shown much interest in space, and I had once almost picked up this ginormous book at Crosswords on the planets and space and all that beautiful stuff. But then I thought she needs something simpler, I should expose her to the idea first and then pursue it if she enjoys it. Because these space books for kids are a litle on the expensive side, they have many pictures, and textures too, some even have stickers. They make it super interesting. Anyway, when I spotted this on the list I thought this will be a great way to introduce Space into her little head. It has radium content also, that should make it grasping.

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5. Enjoy Phonics level 1- I wanted to explore this frankly, the book is nice and colourful with a CD too. There are writing activities as well, she’s just been introduced to the various lines (standing, sleeping, slanting) at school, so good timing.

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All of these books and others can be found on the website. Reading is the best and safest habit that can be inculcated in children. And the sooner it happens the better.

If you want a detailed review of any of the above books do let me know in the comments below. Happy reading.

Where is happiness?

Emptiness takes over every marriage, for some it happens earlier for some later. There’s no set time to it. Marriage is more complex than newly weds comprehend, and the married are still too confused to explain it. Happiness seems lost, a vacuum is felt, it’s not gender specific. It’s not entirely dependent on factors like kids, in-laws, extended family, society, work, exhausting responsibilities, financial stress. There’s no indication, it just happens. It just does. And with the exposure to media, it’s becoming even more easier to consider “quitting” the marriage and “moving on”.

We are complex beings, we are human beings, the most unreliable recourse on earth. But it is we who can make a change, it is us who can DO something, solve problems, THINK about them, consult those with experience. We shouldn’t be quitters. We should be role models, we should be able to look beyond our understandings and perceptions, we are the ones who can truly educate ourselves. If we can’t act educated, then why do we believe ourselves to be superior to animals?

In fact our music and lyrics are making us think like animals. Social sciences phrases such as ‘social animal’, ‘party animal’, are making us think we’re very close to them not just biologically but spiritually and mentally. ff we can’t think about others before we make decisions, if he can’t look beyond the present problem, if we can’t keep hope, what’s our purpose?

Moving forward leaving FB behind

I have been under a dark spell these couple of days. There are many decisions we make in life, and don’t regret, however over time negativity gets attached to them when we look around and get exposed to the world. Life isn’t meant to be all candy floss but we as humans always tend to want perfection. Perceived perfection of anothers life is the worst, it gives rise to unrealistic hopes which eventually take over your emotions and leave you confused and lost.

Image courtesy insidermonkey

Thinking regularly, pondering over life, trying to pick up on patterns of stupidity help us to be wiser. I am a big fan of thinking. And I realised that finding time was becoming an issue with each passing day, and my list of to-dos be it domestic or personal were just increasing. Facebook has been taking up a lot of that time. Meaningless, unfruitful browsing. I decided to quit, just to see if it makes any difference. And it did, within just an hour, when I didn’t have that tab to open anymore, I started to browse for information, read more, explored the internet, spent time with the daughter. I felt good that I didn’t get any updates on the fabulous life of the many “friends” I had on my list. It’s sad when we live our lives just to show them off on the web. We are deliberately making an effort to live the life of a show off, with good or bad intentions, doesn’t matter. We have been consumed by taking pics for the sake of posting them up, we are losing moments trying to capture them on film, and eagerly tweet/fb/instagram them. We are living moments via the net, and it’s not normal, it’s not human and it’s not fun. It’s just not.

What was bothering me was the bombardment of information that I wasn’t keen on receiving, there isn’t envy when I see fellow school mates succeed. But there’s a pinch, the question of ‘what are you doing?’ and ‘what have you accomplished?’ and I realised that I don’t deserve to scrutinize myself. Truth is my age mates don’t understand what I have accomplished because they’re only now getting married (at-least most of them). They can’t appreciate or value motherhood, the hardwork that goes into it, the level of accomplishment that it is. And I can’t blame them, and I am happy that they’re entering marriage when they’re stable, emotionally happy and ready for it. Then again, I don’t need to build issues, and then waste time trying to resolve them. It’s not practical, it’s not what I need in my life. And as adults, life is a series of constant decision making, and the older you get the more complex these decisions become, the more effect they have on others and most importantly they start defining you more.

I realised that I am way more happy to live in my bubble than be consumed by other people and their lives. I don’t have a lot of friends in Hyderabad, actually I can count them on my fingers, on one hand! But I don’t need friends sitting in a different country who can’t benefit me in anyway. We are connected via news through fb, but in reality half of us don’t give a shit. We would take maybe 2 minutes out of our lives, if we found out a fb friend died. Harsh truth, it’s bitter, it’s a reality bite. You want to surround yourself with happiness, and love, not the illusion of happiness and love that the internet provides. Anyway, my philosophical self is happier without fb.

I am moving forward, and focusing on myself, as it is being a mom takes that whole segment off your brain, it’s a whole exercise that requires warm up and appointments with your brain to think about your own happiness and life. I speak of fb as though it’s a breakup,hehe but it’s just been a weighing chapter of my life that I want to close and never revisit. I don’t have time in my life for that, I only have time for me and my family and happiness.