“Saathiya” Peer educators!

This morning at breakfast, my daughter suddenly shouted, “What? I can’t believe it! Is this really happening? In India? Under the BJP rule? Oh wow! I wonder whose brain child this is!”

“What are you talking about?” I asked her. And she showed me this post http://indianexpress.com/article/india/same-sex-attraction-is-ok-boys-can-cry-girls-no-means-no-health-ministry-sex-education-4535410/

I must say, I am really impressed. To quote from the article, “In a bid to reach out to 26 crore adolescents in the country on health issues, the Ministry has decided to involve 1.65 lakh peer educators called “Saathiya”.

Health Secretary CK Mishra launched the ‘Saathiya Resource Kits’ along with the ‘Saathiya Salah’ – a mobile app for adolescents – under the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) program.  http://zeenews.india.com/health/health-ministry-launches-saathiya-kits-to-improve-adolescent-health-1979431

This programme aims to reach out to the youth, the adolescents and educate them about sex, attraction, respect for the other and other things that kids at that age are curious about but don’t have the guts to ask anyone.

To quote from the article again, Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex. It is normal to have special feelings for someone. It is important for adolescents to understand that such relationships are based on mutual consent, trust, transparency and respect. It is alright to talk about such feelings to the person for whom you have them but always in a respectful manner… Boys should understand that when a girl says ‘no’ it means no,” reads the resource material in Hindi that is going to be circulated to states as part of the adolescent peer-education plan.”

A boy can cry to give vent to his feelings. He can also be soft-spoken or shy. Being rude and insensitive is not a sign of masculinity. It is alright for boys to like things like cooking and designing that are normally associated with girls; adopting the role of the other gender does not mean that he is not male. The same applies for girls who talk too much or like to dress like boys or play games like boys. It is wrong to label such people as ‘sissy’ or ‘tomboy’.”

 It goes on to talk about safe sex and masturbation as one of the options.

This was really something I never expected to see in India in a million years. I am so glad that it is being talked about and if implemented well, it will really have a great impact.

Yes, it seems radical, but isn’t it high time we stop burying our head in the sand and stop believing that teenagers are kids who should be protected from everything to do with sex till they get married. There is enough material out there to give them answers, mainly the wrong ones.

Telling them that attraction is normal, whether towards the opposite sex or the same sex is a bold statement and I am sure a lot of people are going to find it difficult to digest.

But I am sure the people who are looking forward to a more enlightened country where tolerance and respect form the basis of society, will definitely welcome this.

I for one, applaud this bold much needed sensible way of dealing with the issues we have and educating our young ones in the true sense. This is education at its best, not history or geography, but teaching our kids to live in the real world and giving them the tools for it!

What do you think? Please share your feelings in the comments below.

Have You Finished Your Homework?

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Over  the last few days, there have been a lot of messages on social media regarding kids who are missing. Most of them have thankfully been found again, but the trend is scary, because a lot of these kids have run away from home or school.

The comments on the social media groups regarding this have been varied, from relief that the children have been found, to blaming the children for not being able to deal with failure and running away in the face of obstacles.

For God’s sake! They are just kids! How many of us as adults are able to deal with failure or pressure? We have this convenient fall back of “Oh I’m so depressed” or “I have so much of stress!”  But what does a child say? What would you say to a child who told you that he or she was under a lot of stress or in a state of depression? Most adults would just scoff at the idea. “Really? At your age? What do you know about stress or depression?”

But look at the lives they live today. Even top executives have shorter work days.  I asked a few students what their schedule was. They are in school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That is seven hours in school. Add to that the hours spent on homework and tuition classes and projects.  That is like 10 to 12 hours a day!

And what do they get at the end of it? Just questions and nagging from parents?

Let’s consider two sentences. “I love you!”  and “Have you finished your homework/portion?”

Which of these have you used more in the last few months /years while talking to your child?

Every single parent I spoke to ruefully admitted that they rarely told their kids how much they loved them or how important they were, while almost everyday there was an arguement about homework and studies.

I agree that we all want our kids to be successful in life. But where is it written that only getting high grades ensures success? What will make your child successful is something that is never taught in school. And that is the belief in himself or herself. That is something only you as a parent can build.

It involves time and effort. It involves communicating with your child. It involves going against social trends. This can happen only when we as parents change our mindset and stop looking at our kids as trophy kids whose achievements reflect back on us.

We need to accept our kids as they are, average grades and all. Then and only then are we laying the true foundations of their success.

Going Back to School

The month of September always makes me feel nostalgic. It brings back strong memories of my school days. Not only did we celebrate Teacher’s day in September, but our school feast also fell on the 14th of September and that was a huge event for us.

We were proud to be students of “Holy Cross Convent” the only school runs by nuns in Thane at that time and the Sisters of the Cross as the order is called were really strict disciplinarians. Not only were the students mortally scared of the nuns, our parents were too and a summons by the Principal struck terror in the hearts of the bravest of the brave. Nails had to be clipped just so, hair had to be plaited; uniforms properly below the knee and blouses pristine white.

Many were the times when a particular Sister X would despair of our immortal souls as she could see horns growing on our heads and she would shake her head in sorrow as we would shake in our shiny polished shoes in terror. At other times we would be charged with the murder of English and sentenced hours of imprisonment working out clauses in our grammar books.

One would have thought we would have hated school, but strangely enough, we loved it. The perfection that we were expected to live up to seeped right into our blood, without us realising it. Whether it was planning and putting up a flawless performance for teacher’s day or getting out the school magazine, we were encouraged to do it all ourselves. We were given the freedom to make decisions and act on them. We were given opportunities to participate in sports, elocution competitions, drawing, drama, dance and a host of other creative competitions. We learnt to compete and we learnt to co-operate. We learnt to push and to let go. We learnt to critique and to appreciate. We got “educated.”

Our teachers were not just teachers of the subjects that they taught us, but were our mentors and guides as well. This was at a time when there were no “counsellors” in schools. But we didn’t need them. School was our second home.

hcc1A few weeks ago I had the honour of being asked to go back to school to judge an extempore speech competition. I was of course thrilled to be back in the spotless premises after so many years, but what elated me even more was the way the students carried themselves.

They spoke on topics like

“We only live once”

“The healing power of Nature”

“Man is known by the company he keeps”

“The Science of being Nice” and believe it or not those 14 and 15 year old’s speeches put a lot of grown up bloggers to shame.

hcc2Given the limited time they had to prepare their speech, their flow of ideas was amazing. It was thinking on their feet at its best. Their command of the language, had my “Wren and Martin” fed heart weeping tears of joy and when I had to mark them on diction, I actually asked out aloud, “Are you serious?” Except for their surnames, I couldn’t distinguish a Bengali from a South Indian or a Gujarati, or anyone from any other state for that matter. Their diction was flawless!

hcc3The entire programme was hosted by the students themselves; with a dignity that is ingrained in convent educated girls ,while the Principal, Sr. Anita and the senior most teacher, Mrs. Colleen Abreo, were just as much part of the audience as the other students and teachers.

Once again, 36 years later, I still feel proud that I belong to Holy Cross Convent School, Thane.

 

Kids and the Summer Vacation

 

Children and the Summer Vacations!

Come summer and most parents are faced with the question, “ What do I do with the kids the whole day? How do I keep them occupied? Is there anything I can do to help them utilize their time in a more productive manner than watching mindless television or playing games on the computer?”

I personally feel that the holidays are a great time to get the kids to do all that they don’t have the time to do during school days: creative stuff, having fun, learning life skills, reading, learning…

sunita_saldhana_learning_expressions3Looking at today’s scenario, most kids only “study” during school days. There is little time for “learning”; what with long school hours, home work, tuitions and tuition home work. And if we stop to think, how much does all this really help our kids in the long run?

What our children need is to learn in a joyful manner. They need to learn life skills, values and cognitive skills. Know & Grow AD-01They need to increase their knowledge through fun reading and exploration and what better time for this than the vacations?

To help you keep your children occupied in a fun manner where they will also learn things for life, we have planned a summer camp at The Know & Grow Learning Centre.

summer camp blog 3This year we will be conducting courses in Creative Writing where the kids will learn to unleash their imagination, find better words to express themselves and have a lot of fun writing  stories, poems and other fun stuff.

In our course on Public Speaking and Elocution, they will learn to speak confidently in front of an audience, to perform poetry and mono acts and learn how to modulate their voices for the  best effect.summer camp blog 4

The first batch  starts on the 3rd of May, 2016 and the second batch starts on the 17th of May. Since we take very few students, please ensure your kids place by registering today.

Call on 9892939062 or click here and we will get back to you.

Give your kids a summer full of fun!