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Archive for August, 2015

Aug
31
2015

Shock and outrage would be putting it mildly. This is how the turmoil of last week unfolded:

Background: My daughter P. has been in a private school for 3 years from Pre-K through Kindergarten (we will call this School A. We were not happy with the either the depth or breadth of the curriculum going forward, and so last spring we hunted for a new school. Public school was not an option, as the class size in our neighborhood school is 36:1 (no, that is not a typo), and due to the sparsity of teacher attention during school hours, many parents are forced to supplement at home. We homeschool our son, so we don’t have the time to re-teach our daughter concepts she should be mastering during school hours. After an exhaustive search, and many hours spent reviewing school textbooks and listening to recommendations, we decide on School B.

P. is not thrilled about School B, but after spending a few days there this summer, and understanding she gets to have more science, writing, and geography, we convince her it is a good choice.

Last week, School B has an orientation week, at which new students spend the mornings learning school routines and warming up for the academic year. In the car home one day, P. says, “Mommy, is [School B] a Christian school?” No, I say, we would not send you to a Christian school. “They had us do a church thing today.” “What?” I say. “Yeah, we had to go like this [she shows me hands folded on desk with heads bowed] and we had to say something like they do in church.” I dismissed it, telling her that it was probably just a general thank you.

Friday rolls around – the end of orientation – and the teacher sends a mass email telling the parents the week went well, students are great and worked hard, blah, blah, blah, and that they all had memorized their morning prayer and snack prayer.

WHAT!

I politely emailed the teacher, thanked her for the week, and asked for the text of the “prayers” they had to recite. And so we have:

Morning prayer: “God in heaven, to thee we pray, asking Thy help, day by day. In all we say, in all we do, make us kind and generous too. Make us eager in our work today, make us joyous in our play. Help us always, follow Thy rules, God in heaven, bless our school. Amen.”

Snack/lunch prayer: “God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands, we all our fed, give us Lord our daily bread. Amen.”

Life in our house comes to a stop as there is a flurry of emails, phone calls, and meetings. School B’s director maintains that they are a “non-sectarian” school. My husband and I are irate that they require kids to recite what we believe to be a Christian prayer twice daily WITHOUT INFORMING PARENTS AND WITHOUT OUR CONSENT.

Our 9-year-old son treats this as The Event of The Decade – “Did you hear? My sister had to say a Christian prayer in her new school!”

That’s right: without our consent. The issue that the school requires a twice-daily prayer is not mentioned anywhere in the school’s literature: not in the Parent Handbook, not in the schedule, not on their website, not during initial visit and assessment/interview. Nowhere.

Apparently, they thought the issue of school prayer was a trivial matter that parents didn’t need to know about – notwithstanding the fact that the US Supreme Court has issued many decisions on this very topic. Yes, they are a private school, but for them to be so culturally myopic to not disclose this practice to parents is deeply offensive and disrespectful.

My daughter confirmed that she felt uncomfortable when they talked about “their God.” School B said she can remain silent. But trust has been broken: if they didn’t think school prayer was material enough to inform the parents about…it’s a slippery slope. And if a student asks about the meaning of the prayer – is the teacher going to define “God” for them?

I respect all faiths and teach my kids to do the same, but holding yourself out to be a secular (er, “non-sectarian” – but they are not that either) school, but secretly providing religious instruction to my child without my consent is not acceptable.

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Aug
29
2015

A beautiful pledge of protection. Happy Rakhi.

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Aug
18
2015

May we present our Wooden Hindi Moveable Alphabets!

Wooden moveable alphabets have been a staple in Montessori classrooms for generations. And it’s no wonder: they are an invaluable tool for learning to read, write, and spell.

These wooden alphabets are designed for kids who are ready to take the next step and form Hindi words. This set contains 68 pieces so you can form a complete set of Hindi alphabets: 1 set of vowels (11 pieces), 1 set of consonants (36 pieces), and 2 sets of matras (21 pieces). Vowels and matras are painted blue and consonants are painted red.

And when you’re done for the day, pack them up in our beautiful eco-friendly tin box!

Ships 30 September. Pre-order and reserve your set here…

NOTE: Due to small parts, this product is not intended for children under 3 years of age.

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Aug
13
2015
Name That Chakra
Author: Gnaana

No, it’s not Gandhi’s spinning wheel (a common misconception in the West). It’s the Ashoka Chakra, which in itself is a symbol of the Dharma Chakra. It’s called the Ashoka Chakra after Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (304 – 232 BCE), who inscribed roughly 33 edicts on various pillars, caves and boulders throughout India. These edicts memorialize Ashoka’s view about dharma.

The Ashoka Chakra has 24 spokes – which some say represent the 24 hours of a day, and that this chakra is rotating continuously throughout time. A variant interpretation of the 24 spokes has closer ties to Hinduism and Buddhism and explains the 24 spokes as 24 principles of dharma: Love, Courage, Patience, Peacefulness, Magnanimity, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Selflessness, Self-Control, Self Sacrifice, Truthfulness, Righteousness, Justice, Mercy, Gracefulness, Humility, Empathy, Sympathy, Spiritual Knowledge, Moral Values, Spiritual Wisdom, The Fear of God and Faith (Belief or Hope).

Happy Independence Day!

Colouring Page for kids (click on image and print).

Ashoka Chakra wall decal available here.

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Aug
10
2015

I don’t think humans were meant to wake up to bone-chilling buzzers. Buzzers set an awful tone for the rest of the day. They elicit anger, stress, and a feeble paranoia…there are so many better ways to wake up.

Growing up, we woke up to the Sri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam (played quietly at first, then it somehow mysteriously got ramped up in volume). That I could deal with – it was divine. But buzzers, no.

I bought this nature sounds CD alarm clock 12 years ago, which I love – you can wake up to nature sounds or your favourite CD. Since I no longer need an alarm clock (mom duties to be blamed for this), I gave the clock to my son. He wakes up to santoor – Raag Bageshri in teentaal.

It sets a lovely tone for all of us. However, being style-conscious, I am on the hunt for a less hideous (and more modern) alarm clock with the same functionality. So the Tocky is on order.

I highly recommend waking up to beautiful Indian classical music – another way to squeeze a little culture into your day!

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Aug
5
2015

Our new A is for Anaar: My First Hindi Alphabet Book! has been through an exhaustive review process. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to have several dedicated parents review the book in manuscript form, and this is what they had to say:

Help us make history and show the children’s book industry that we need more books about Indian language. Help us reach our goal of 1,000 pre-orders. Pre-order your book here…!

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Aug
3
2015

It’s amazing what children can draw inspiration from. My daughter, the 6-year-old sweetheart that she is, took it upon herself to surprise me with her own version of a Telugu Colors Book for my birthday last week – copying Telugu text from our Bindi Baby Colors Book!. Devoting a page for each of the rainbow colours, she painstaking drew pictures on each page – and even asked Tatha (Grandpa) for Telugu names of more obscure colours (like “turquoise”).

This is validation (for me, at least) of the importance of having language tools visible and available for kids. Who knows how this inspiration can manifest itself…

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