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Archive for the ‘education’ Category

Mar
29
2017

The Western Gregorian calendar has a leap day every 4 years to reconcile the Earth’s rotation around the sun, but did you know that the Hindu calendar has a leap month? ‘Cause we’re cool like that…

Many Hindus celebrate Ugadi/Gudi Padwa today (or yesterday by some calculations), which marks the beginning of the Hindu/Vedic New Year. This year starts on the first day of the Hindu month Chaitra – which, interestingly, closely corresponds with the coming of Spring – when nature comes to life and things begin anew.

The Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It’s not purely a lunar calendar. Lunar calendars count months solely based on moon cycles. If you do the math (29-30 days multiplied by 12, yielding 340-360 days), you’ll see that if there were no adjustments made, there would be years when you could be celebrating Diwali in February!

In order to reconcile the lunar months with the Earth’s rotation around the sun, the Hindu calendar adds an extra month about every 3 years. This allows Hindu festivals and crop seasons to no fall too far off schedule.

The extra, or “leap”, month is called Adhik Maas. The next Adhik Maas is in 2018 (May 16 to June 13, 2018 to be exact).

Happy Ugadi/Gudi Padwa!

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Mar
28
2017

While the US is on its way to dismantling environmental regulations (and denying climate change), kids in India are learning about global warming.

This video produced for Indian kids is short, cute, and to the point:

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Mar
24
2017

Word problems can be tricky. Add-in multiple steps and multiple operations, and it’s enough for many kids to throw down their pencils in frustration.

When my kids were struggling with math word problems, it became apparent to me that, although they may be great in doing arithmetic, they weren’t as strong with mastering conceptual math concepts. Kumon and Aloha weren’t the solution either.

I began researching various math curricula, and Singapore Math was praised by mathematicians and teachers the world over. More on Singapore later (we have 2 shelves of Singapore books!), but if you want to test and improve your kids’ word problem skills, I highly recommend Math Playground’s Thinking Blocks. Thinking Blocks mimic Singapore Math’s approach to world problems in many ways, and the online, interactive format is fun for the kids. For young kids, and as a warm-up, start with Thinking Blocks Jr.

The blocks method is much easier (and portable and practical) than pulling out 20+ peanuts from your pantry…

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Mar
22
2017

We’re celebrating World Water Day by focusing on India’s rivers. Check out this cute-and-catchy song by Karadi Tales that will have your kids singing 9 major rivers of India in no time:

Do note, the Sindhu is also called the “Indus” (and although it appears to be mainly running through Pakistan, it does flow through the northern tip of India). Also, the Saraswati is not pictured on the map. It’s such an important river to our culture, so where is it? Well, experts say that this ancient Vedic river actually dried up about 4,000 years ago. It used to run through present-day Indian states of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.

Fun Fact! Just this past Monday, 2 judges in Uttarakhand ruled that the Ganga and the Yamuna actually have legal rights!  That means, in the eyes of the law, these 2 rivers are now to be treated the same as a human person! The judges appointed 3 people to act as guardians of the rivers. So Ganga and Yamuna can now demand that other people take care of them and not pollute them! More here…

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Feb
22
2017

Suno! Suno! Parents and teachers: Our A is for Anaar Teacher’s Guide is now available! This 7-page Guide is rich with supplementary information to enhance your A is for Anaar reading experience – complete with Reading Tips, Fun Facts about Hindi, About India, Discussion Questions and more!

Click on the image above, or download here…

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Feb
1
2017

A story I read after the Women’s March struck me and inspired this post.  It was a story about a Muslim woman in a restaurant near the Washington, DC area who was antagonistically approached by a man. The man fired “questions” at her about her hijab and her faith.  The striking thing about this story is that there was a group of women at a nearby table, presumably fresh from the Women’s March as some were donning pussy hats, who observed what was going on – but remained silent.

So what was the point of the March? [Note: I fully support the March.]

This got me thinking about my own behaviours, and I came up with a list of 7 Calls to Action for myself – ways to model my behaviour.  I share these with you today:

1. Speak Up.  If you see someone being harassed or intimidated, don’t be a silent bystander. Speak up. The best way to do this is not to confront the bully, but to focus on the victim. In the restaurant scenario described above, the nearby women could have, perhaps, approached the Muslim woman and started to engage her in conversation – this would have effectively taken her adversary out of the equation. Also, don’t feel shy about voicing your perspective. I was once at a birthday party at which a parent was lamenting about too much Spanish being spoken in their local public school, and other parents in our conversation circle were nodding in agreement. I could have remained silent, but instead I piped in with a short, “I’d love my kids to learn more Spanish.” Sometimes, I feel, it helps to let it be known that not everyone in a group feels the same way.

2. Read.  The best thing you can do for yourself and your children in our current environment is to READ. For yourself, read about history, perspectives, science – whatever interests you. Read books with your children about historical figures, injustices of the past, and stories of courage. Arm your family with knowledge so they have the power to handle themselves and to speak up for others.

3. Speak Your Language.  As a follow-up to #1 above, don’t be afraid to speak your native language in public. Now is the time, more than ever, to demonstrate the diversity of the United States. A while back, at a dropoff for a class, a fellow mom (she was white) noticed I was speaking [Telugu] to my daughter and came up to me to say how she thought it was wonderful that I maintained my culture. People notice.

4. Wear Your Sari.  Or your salwar, turban, bindi or other cultural attire or mark – at least more than twice a year. It’s easier to accept diversity when it’s seen. You are also modeling positive cultural practices for your children.

5. 20 Minutes a Day.  In this politically charged climate, I struggle to restrain myself. As a politically-active attorney, it’s very difficult for me not to be consumed about the news. In times like these, I have to remind myself about dharma – right action – and that right now, it would be wrong of me to neglect my kids and my family. So I promised myself that I would limit my “political work” to 20 minutes a day. These 20 minutes are enough to call/message/write to Senators or Representatives, educate myself on certain calls to action, or to do a quick social media post. Conversely, if being politically active is new to you, now is a good time to put your Senators’ and Representative’s phone numbers in your contacts list and to make some calls.

6. Say Hello. It’s important to maintain civility and to promote friendliness at times like these. A simple friendly “hello” can open windows to perspective.

7. Smile. Because in the end, the light of truth will (eventually) prevail over darkness.

Image: “Rise above it” Fine Art Print by Amanda Cass. Available here…

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Jan
19
2017

Kids: Let’s get down to business today.  Can you name the 4 Vedas?  The names of the 4 Vedas are definitely something you should know if Hinduism is a part of your life.

The Vedas are the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. It is believed that they originated from Lord Brahma himself. They contain knowledge and insight by ancient sages as to many deep philosophical questions – such as Who are we? and Why are we here? – that humans have been wondering since the dawn of mankind.

No one knows exactly how old the Vedas are. For many, many years the Vedas existed as shruti (oral literature) – so they were passed down orally. Experts believe that, starting with the Rig Veda, the Vedas began to be written down (in Sanskrit) by about 1200 BCE – making the Rig Veda one of the oldest texts in any Indo-European language!

There is a lot to learn about the Vedas, but today we’ll just focus on knowing the names of the 4 Vedas and being able to describe a little about each of the Vedas.

1. Rig Veda

The oldest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda is a Veda of praise. It contains several hymns that praise a number of Hindu gods. The all-important Gayatri Mantra is in the Rig Veda.

2. Sama Veda

Think of the Sama Veda as a partner of the Rig Veda: It is simply a collection of samans (chants). These chants are derived from a part of the Rig Veda. The Sama Veda contains strict instructions for priests as to how each chant is to be sung, with very detailed guides for pronunciation and sound of each word!

3. Yajur Veda

While the Sama Veda focuses on chants, the Yajur Veda focuses on rituals. It offers formulas to be said by a priest while a person is performing a ritual action before yagna (sacred fire).

4. Atharva Veda

The Atharva Veda is different from the other 3 Vedas. Its language is simpler, and its verses touch upon more diverse subjects. The Atharva Veda also contains knowledge on medicines. In fact, it is one of the first texts to record uses of antibiotics!

Ready to quiz yourself?

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Nov
4
2016
Diwali Hangover
Author: admin

It just doesn’t seem fair – toxic Holi colors, pollution of water bodies from too many Ganesh Visarjans, and now this: dangerous levels of air pollution due to too many firecrackers.

It’s no joke. We’re talking Particulate Matter (coarse particles) at over 1,600 micrograms per cubic meter – that’s 16x the safe level of 100 micrograms.

Above is a picture taken in Delhi this past Monday morning.

What’s the solution? See if your kids can come up with some ideas – it’s a interesting “thinking” question.

More here…

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Nov
2
2016

If you casually tell your kids that it’s illegal to kill cows in India, you’re (sort of) correct. In fact, most educated Westerners are at least vaguely familiar with the connection between Hinduism and cows – it’s even made its way into most school textbooks.

The politics of cows in India, however, is anything but a stable situation. For one thing, there is no federal ban on cow-killing; rather, this issue is left to the individual states. Legally, there are 3 issues related to cows: killing, consumption of beef, and possession of beef. Some states may ban killing, but allow consumption and/or possession.

The paradoxes of secular laws in a nation of 80%+ Hindus, traditional vs. progressive values, and individual rights vs. common values all add to the quagmire.

Oh, and then there is the illegal cow smuggling across the West Bengal – Bangladesh border.

What an interesting issue to discuss…

Here are some interesting articles to read:

Summary of Indian State Laws

Recent Bombay High Court Decision

The British Origin of Cow Slaughter

Cow Smuggling

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Oct
13
2016

It’s hard to even turn on the TV these days – the news has officially become inappropriate to watch with young kids.

Time to switch to Plan B: using news-watching time to explain the US election process to the kids. Do your kids know who their senators and representatives are? Or how the electoral college process works?

Here are some resources you can use to educate kids about what all the adults are in a frenzy over (geared toward grades 3-6):

Presidential Election 2016 by Tied 2 Teaching – available at Teachers Pay Teachers here…
Race to the White House: Electing the President – available here…

Both are very comprehensive, and you can pick and choose what to focus on.

Or, if you only have 2 minutes, you can watch this with the kids:

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