Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Fun Alternative to TV Watching

- Contributed by Krishnan, father of two boys, ages 3 and 5.

Children enjoy watching television. They especially enjoy watching cartoons, preferring them to serials and feature films that catch the fancy of elders. Some of the favorite shows of our children are classics like Tom & Jerry, Popeye the Sailor, and even the action-oriented cartoon shows where the main characters possess some amazing powers. I have observed that when they watch the shows they seem to be completely transported into another world. In fact, my father once said so… and that made me wonder whether it was related to the power of story telling. Stories told visually that evoke fantasy, and stimulate imagination.

The only problem was the TV-viewing, and the dulling effect it had on their mind and eyes. It set us thinking. What if we narrate stories of fun and heroism from the conventional story book - would it take their mind off the TV?

One evening, once they finished with their playing, they gathered in the house to settle down and watch TV as a group. We quickly intercepted, got them seated together, and read out a story from a book. We substituted the characters in the story with our children and their friends. It was a great hit, and the close of the session took an unexpected turn. They started discussing why a certain character behaved in a particular manner, and that he ought not to have acted in that manner. The funny thing was they referred to each other by the name of the character he or she had played in the story.

With the discussion getting passionate, we decided to step in with the moral of the story, and calmed things down with a round of chocolates. It was time well spent, and lessons learnt.

Garlic and my little one

One day while cleaning up the onion, potato and garlic basket in the kitchen, my little one walked in and sat on the floor, and started peeling the skin off the onions and garlic. I thought was very cute.

Nowadays, I find that my little one loves to help. She comes to the kitchen often and says, “I wanna help”. She helps me put away washed dishes from the dish-washer, spoons, forks, and cups being her favorite. She loves to remove the cutlery and dump them into the cutlery draw. She is indeed a good help. But sometimes her ‘help’ is a little unhelpful. Especially those days when I am back from work, and want to get her dinner ready.

The earlier ‘peeling’ incident gave me an idea to keep her occupied. I now seat her on her high chair, and give her a bulb of garlic. She loves to peel the skin off the garlic cloves with her little fingers and separate the cloves from the bulb. But then, she puts all the skin and the garlic cloves in the same container and says, “All done, mamma”.

This is fine by me. At least, it keeps her occupied and gives me time to prepare her dinner. I am also happy that I found a way to make her feel a part of the process, rather than send her away from the kitchen. And, by the way, I use the peeled garlic cloves to make garlic pickle!

I would like to ask other moms, when you are back from work and are busy fixing dinner, how do you keep your little one/s fruitfully occupied?

KidzSight - making the child an active participant in the process rather than excluding her from it.