The Diary of a Young Girl - Lessons for Mankind

A diary is a record of events in a person’s life arranged in chronological order, usually by hand. It can also be a social commentary of the times they lived in or about their personal experience traveling around the world.
Earliest diaries belong to the Middle Eastern and East Asian cultures.
The person who keeps a diary is known as a diarist.
Perhaps the most famous diary keeper was the German teenager Anne Frank, who chronicled her life in hiding in The Diary of a Young Girl during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II.
The Frank family who lived in Germany had to move to the Netherlands after losing the German citizenship. They were then forced to go into hiding to avoid being sent to the concentration camps by the Nazis.
They concealed themselves in some rooms behind the bookshelves in the building where Anne’s father Otto Frank worked. To pass the time, the young Anne took to writing, examining various issues such as her relationships with the rest of the family members, their persecution by the Nazis, and even her plans for the future, once they came out of hiding.
The diaries were published after the Franks, with the exception of Otto, perished at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Legacy of Anne Frank
Anne Frank, who kept up good cheer and spirits in the face of extreme adversities, has since become an icon and a symbol of hope for millions of people around the world. The diaries also serve to remind human beings of the past mistakes and how we can create a better future.
      It’s about survival: No matter how tough one’s circumstances are. One can survive against all odds if one is mentally tough.
      It’s about growing up: Young people often go through a crisis of identity growing up, but they also learn valuable lessons in the bargain.
      It’s about humanism: Prejudice is the greatest threat to humanity. Hatred for others based on differences things like ethnicity, religion has no place in a civilized society.
      It’s about hope: Never lose hope. Knowing well that their chances of escape were virtually nil does not stop Anne from planning for her future.
Should children be encouraged to keep a diary?
Yes, the exercise can benefit your child in the following ways.
      Self-Expression: Children benefit from learning to express themselves on a given topic. This ability is very important for personality development.
      Self-Help: Excellent written communication is a prerequisite for any job and regular writing can sharpen those skills in children without much intervention from adults.
      Self-Evaluation: Re-visiting an old entry gives children a chance to evaluate the thought process at the time and how it has evolved over a period of time to what it is now.
      Self-Correction: Children can correct the writing and also examine if they were right or wrong in coming to a particular conclusion at a given point in time.
      Self-Esteem: Ability to chronicle one’s feelings and thoughts clearly can make your children independent in thought and action, thus boosting their sense of self-worth.

Self compassion: Why it is important

Self compassion: Why it is important
We are moved by the pain of others, we feel the pain of others, we take the time and effort to comfort those in pain. That’s human nature.
Now, take time to think for yourself -- how would you respond if you were having a troublesome day or if things were not going the way you had planned them to be.
Will you offer the same amount of care to yourself?
Self-compassion is compassion for self -- kindness, care, and understanding directed towards ourselves when we make mistakes, or face a failure.
It is the acknowledgement of our own pain. It is an admission of the fact that we are after all human and that we will also encounter difficult situations.
It is not uncommon for many to reject the idea of self-compassion, believing that having compassion for self just leads to a practice of legitimizing poor behavior or engagement in unnecessary indulgences.
However, research on self-compassion has unearthed a wealth of evidence refuting that claim.
In fact, there are many benefits to practicing self-compassion.
Some tips for practicing self-compassion:
      Acknowledge your pain: Notice when you are hurting, and allow yourself to mourn the fact that you are not perfect. Resist the temptation to pretend like nothing is wrong or that your feelings don’t matter.
      Adopt a new perspective: View the world through the lens of a best friend or a person who cares deeply about you. When you’re tempted to be self-critical or judgmental, try to speak to yourself as someone who cares about you would. Think about what they might say to encourage and comfort you.
      Practice: Being self-compassionate is not an innate quality, and it may or may not have been a skill that we learned from our parents. But as adults, we can choose to practice this skill until it becomes a second nature to us. Take five minutes at the end of each day and write about the worst thing that happened to you during the day. Here is the twist. Pretend that you’re writing about it from the perspective of someone who cares deeply about you. Research shows that participants reported experiencing a greater sense of happiness after just one week practicing it. All it takes is a few caring moments a day, and they can work wonders.
So, what distinguishes people with self-compassion from those who don’t?
      They procrastinate less:Compared to those who try to use guilt, shame, or fear as motivators to complete a project or goal, the self-compassionate people spend less time dragging their feet when it comes time to performing a task.
      They re-engage after failure:They accept a perceived or real failure readily, but begin being caring towards themselves and therefore, are much more likely to get back on their feet much quicker and move on.
      They believe in being more accountable:Contrary to popular assumption, self-compassion does not relieve a person of the ownership of a problem. Rather, it actually serves to assist them to make a more realistic assessment of their own role in perpetuating the problem.

      They are open to feedback: They do not feel threatened by others’ feedback about them. This is because those who practice self-compassion are confident of their ability to take a negative feedback in their stride and go on to recover from its ill-effects.

Anger Management through Self-compassion

Your alarm did not go off and you are late for work. On the way to school, your child spills food on the uniform.
You did not have a good day at office and upon your return, you find the house is a complete mess. You are trying to complete some unfinished business and your laptop hangs in the middle of an important call.
Well, you’ve had it.  You are ready to burst into tears. Or snap someone’s head off, who chose this inopportune moment to cross your path.
Does the feeling of anger all-encompassing? How do you react? How is one supposed to react?
Did the intensity of your anger surprise you into thinking of silencing your anger?
Well, silencing your anger is not a good idea. It has been clinically proven that suppressing anger over long term is capable of damaging your heart, resulting in an eating disorder, and raising your blood pressure to dangerous levels.
In other words, anger is such a strong emotion that concealing or suppressing it will result in it manifesting itself in some other form.
Taking recourse to something like lashing out when you are angry works only in the short term at best. Its effectiveness and potency in dealing with the problem begins to reduce after a while.
Then what?
The real danger of silencing your anger is it could make you prone to acting in ways that are destructive to your self-esteem. Let’s see how.
      Every person is compassionate deep down, but in a fit of anger might react in an aggressive way. Once they cool down, their reaction is like, ‘what did I do just now?’
      If one has not defined self protective boundaries, then they are apt to be suppresses and trampled upon by others.
      Some people tend to shame themselves to get over a feeling of guilt by turning their anger against themselves so that they are at par with the other person.
      Some people do not even recognise they have a problem managing anger, thus effectively shutting themselves out from taking corrective measure.
Blame it on cortisol
When the focus is on the anger and not on the source of the anger, 2 things happen:
1.     We activate our brain’s fight, flight, or freeze system which begins to pump cortisol, or the stress hormone, into our body. This will prime us to fight, flight, or freeze, even if there is nobody or nothing to fight or run from. Having cortisol in our bodies for long periods of time can damage us physically and mentally.
2.     We miss the opportunity to gain insight on our anger.
So what’s the way out?
Treat yourself with compassion
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, an associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, acting with self-compassion holds the answer.
Dr. Neff says self-compassion has three components:
1.     Self-kindness: Be warm and understanding toward yourself when you suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Recognize that being imperfect and failing is inevitable. It is far more better for you to treat yourself with kindness and gentleness, than anger and hate.
2.     Common humanity: means recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience – something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
3.     Mindfulness: allows us the space to hold our feelings in a way so that we can choose to act on them or not. Our feelings in mindfulness do not need to be suppressed or exaggerated. We can observe negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, without judgment.
Finally, developing a sense of forgiveness is a great help. When you have decided not to hold a grudge, you have allowed yourself to be rid of all negativity - and that can make a huge difference.

The Story of Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri

The Trimurti (‘Three Forms’) is a Hindu concept consisting of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Shiva (the Destroyer). Together they perform the cosmic functions of creation, preservation, and finally the destruction or transformation.
Shiva means the ‘The Auspicious One’ and is depicted as having a third eye on his forehead, a snake around his neck, the crescent moon in his great locks, the river Ganga flowing from his hair, the trishula or the trident in his hand and the damaru as his musical instrument.
Following are the main iconographical attributes of Mahadeva (‘Great God’), one of the many names of Shiva,  and their significance:
      Third Eye: Also known as the inner eye, it provides perception beyond ordinary sight.
      Snake: The serpent is said to represent ego, after controlling of which it can be used as an ornament.
      Crescent Moon: The moon’s waxing and waning phenomenon is symbolic of the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end.
      River Ganga: The holy river represents the nectar of immortality.
      Trisula: The trident represents the three Gunas through which he rules the world. The three Gunas are passion (rajas) which creates, goodness (sattva) which sustains and ignorance (tamas) which destroys.
      Damaru: The small hourglass shaped drum represents the OM aum) sound, which forms the basis of all the other languages.
Maha Shivratri (Great Night of Shiva) is one of the great Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India and also by the diaspora in the rest of the world.
It depicts the wedding of Goddess Parvathi and Lord Shiva, marking the convergence of Shiva and Shakti, the divine feminine creative power that represents the dynamic forces moving through the universe.
The day is marked by offering of Bael leaf to Shiva, chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and an all-night vigil known as jagaran.
The Shiva Purana outlines the mode of worship on Mahashivaratri:
      Bathing the Shiva Linga with water, milk and honey with Wood Apple or bael leaves represents purification of the soul.
      Vermilion paste applied to the Shiva Linga represents virtue.
      Fruit offering represents longevity and gratification of desires.
      Lighting of the lamp represents attainment of knowledge.
      Betel leaves represent satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
Like all great festivals, Maha Shivaratri is a day to celebrate life itself.
It is a day to cleanse our mind and body. Fasting helps us to detoxify the body and a night of wakefulness (jagaran), is meant to awaken us in true sense of the word.

Maha Shivaratri falls on March 7 this year and we at Mount Litera would like to wish everyone happiness, prosperity & peace on this auspicious occasion.

Importance of Nutrition for Kids

Importance of Child Nutrition
Raising children is a not exactly a walk in the park, and dealing with them effectively on a daily basis can be considered a good test of one’s patience and endurance.
But the onerous task of getting them to eat the right kind of food deserves to be included on the popular BBC Three TV show, World’s Toughest Jobs.
A mother would know.
So would a teacher, who has been given the additional responsibility of ensuring children eat the right kind of food in school.
Children today are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. In the good old days, mothers gave their children just two choices - take it or leave it!
And mothers ensured children ate the right kind of food - the ones that met all their nutritional needs and never the ones that just filled them with useless calories devoid of any nutritional value.
In the present times, children’s diet is not getting the kind of attention it deserves for various reasons, which are mostly socio-economic in nature.
But, why is there so much fuss about food and why is it necessary to be fussy about the kind of diet children should adopt?
There are enough reasons to ensure your child eats right. Consider these:
-       A well-balanced diet is essential for normal physical and mental development of your child.
-       Obesity is a real and worrisome challenge the world is facing today. It can lead to heart disease and diabetes in the long run, not to mention the emotional and psychological problems.
-       A nutrient-deficient diet weakens immune system and consequently, the ability to fight diseases.
-       Prevalence of dental cavities in children is a direct result of consuming sugar-rich junk food.
Balanced diet is a dietconsisting of the proper quantities and proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water necessary to maintain good health.
      What to eat: Green Leafy Vegetables, Whole Grains, Fresh fruits, Lean Meats, Poultry, Nuts, Eggs, Fish etc.
      What to avoid: Candy, Aerated drinks, Deep-fried Food, Food with Colouring Agents and Preservative.
Finally, a nutritious diet works well when it is complemented by physical exercise and high standards of personal hygiene. For instance, brushing teeth and rinsing mouth every time after eating can keep dental cavities away. Drinking plenty of water is recommended too.
Do consult your doctor for expert medical advice on your child’s diet.

Leap Year and its Significance

The year 2016 is a leap year, which means we have an extra day in February.
In the Gregorian calendar, each leap year has 366 days instead of the usual 365, by extending February to 29 days rather than the more common 28.
According to Wikipedia, a leap year is a year containing one additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.
Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track.
By inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected.
Why is a leap day added?
Earth takes about a tropical year i.e. 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to go around the Sun. Not having an extra day on February 29 nearly every four years would result in a loss of almost six hours every year.
This means our calendar would be off by about 24 days after only 100 years and leap day keeps the calendar in alignment with the Earth's revolutions around the Sun.
Here’s an algorithm from the Microsoft website that tells you how to find if a year is a leap year:
1.     If the year is evenly divisible by 4, go to step 2. Else, go to step 5.
2.     If the year is evenly divisible by 100, go to step 3. Else, go to step 4.
3.     If the year is evenly divisible by 400, go to step 4. Else, go to step 5.
4.     The year is a leap year (it has 366 days).
5.     The year is not a leap year (it has 365 days)
Some facts associated with leap year:
      Julius Caesar introduced the leap year in 45 BC, but there was no February 29. Instead, February 24 was repeated.
      The frog is a symbol associated with February 29.
      "Leaplings" or "Leapers" is what the people born on February 29 are called.
      February 29 also marks Rare Disease Day.
      People working on a fixed annual wage work for free on this day.
      Your chance of being born on February 29 is one in 1461.
Leap year being an unusual occurrence has spawned its own genre of humour and satire. Here are some to tickle your funny bone:
      “My 84-year-old friend is celebrating his 21st birthday today. He has finally reached legally marriageable age!”     
      “I envy your only having to put up with incessant Facebook wishes every 4 years.”
      And finally, “Leap year? You study 24x7x366 days now.”

 Interview with Ms. Uma Pratap Preprimary coordinator of Vidyaranyapura branch

1.What objectives did you have when you started here 2 years back??
My prime objectives when I stepped into the portal of MLZS were:
a) to create and maintain an environment for children where they feel safe, loved & cared.
b) master the skill of learning and logical thinking in a cheerful way without any stress.
C) For teachers to impart their best to children happily.

2.What experiences have you taken from this onto your life??
Prior planning is required so that children learn in a happy environment, and when planning doesn’t work, then we need to make it work with patience and presence of mind. Every individual is unique and we need to identify and appreciate those special traits.
3.What is the most important aspect that a preschool teacher imparts to the child?
A preschool teacher must understand the psyche of each and every child; make him/her feel confident, respected and cheerful. The major aspects that a preschool teacher imparts to a child is the readiness to explore, innovate and create
4.What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses? How have these influences on the pre-school?
My strengths are my interpersonal skills, confidence, and connectedness. I am a systematic organizer, empathizer and most of all believe in creating an atmosphere of harmony which is very important for a preschool teacher.
My not so strong traits are that I am too tolerant which makes it a bit difficult to handle certain situations certain times. But, the same trait is my strength when I need to deal with children.

5.What is your take on inculcating values in children and any experiences that you would like to share?
The values should always be the essence of everything that we teach.   The future of our children will be bright and glorious if they are inculcated with good values along with knowledge and skills. The world will indeed be a beautiful place inhabited by the beautiful human beings.
While teaching the concept of manners which is an important component of values, I had introduced the word “sneak” while narrating a story to the children and explained to them that one cannot enter into anyone’s room without permission. Some days later, when I absentmindedly entered the classroom without taking permission, the children quipped that I need to take permission before entering.
6.What future plans do you have for SamSidhMLZS ?
a)To set up a theatre and involve children in value based skits and plays that can keep up our tradition.
b)To plan  activities that  provide:
  • more information in enhancing in the intelligence of children through flashcards.
  •   More opportunities to develop in children, the patience of listening to others and respecting each other’s opinion (social skills).
  •   Enrichment classes to students who need it.
  •   Higher order thinking skills.
  • ·   To involve parents in inculcating values and good manners in children.

Fostering self development in Children at School

Fostering self development in Children at School - Teachers can play an important role

The Early Years
Growing up, we all hated school in varying degrees, some of us more passionately than others. The ordeal would start with us having to wake up early in the morning, followed by rounding up of things which we had cast aside carelessly the previous evening after school, and finally sharing space with half-asleep and irritable schoolmates in the school bus.
Eventually, the sight of the school would loom large before us, like an imposing penitentiary, into which we felt like we were doomed to spend the rest of our life.
The school bag was a hated symbol of oppression. What was being taught did not interest us. We would try to push minutes into hours, hours into days and finally, days into the weekend. We really believed if we concentrated hard enough, we could make the process faster.
The Favourite Teacher
Then, one day everything changed. In walked the new teacher and we instinctively felt there was something special about him/her. School suddenly became a playground and the new teacher became our mascot, leading us from the front, inspiring us to reach greater heights, helping us to realize our true potential and more importantly, making us look forward to the next class.
Then it was all over. We found our calling in various fields and spread out far and wide. The communication became more infrequent and ultimately reached a point where the only common thread that continued to bind us all was the memory of ‘miracle person’ who changed our lives forever.
There’s a favourite teacher in everyone’s life who fostered self-development in us, who encouraged us, who guided us, who shaped us to be the persons that we are today.
How did they do it
What does it take to be able to positively influence the lives of generations of students? Well, we all have come under the influence of the ‘miracle person’ in our lives and we all agree that they possessed some special qualities, apart from their obvious ability to ‘teach.’
      The Mentoring: They guided us, mentored us and most importantly, they believed in us. And that made us feel special. They convinced us that we had their complete support in whatever we did. They backed us and we did not want to betray their faith in us.
      Positive Attitude: They not only encouraged good students but also took the trouble to understand what was causing a child to underperform and take suitable corrective measures. Making us feel wanted always worked wonders for our morale.
      Never-say-die spirit : They taught us it was important to accept our failures as our own and not blame other people for them. They made us understand that failure was fine, even welcome, provided we owned up to our role in the failure and also promised to try harder the next time.
      Others before self :  They taught us that our needs came last. When we completed a tough assignment before everyone in the class, they would say ‘Very well done.’ Now shall we work with Jack/Jill and help him/her complete the assignment?’
      We all owe a debt: They made us understand that we owe it to our parents, our family, our friends, our teachers, our society and more importantly, to ourselves, to do complete justice to our talents, and without ever deviating from the core set of  human values.
A good teacher is one who does not teach, but encourages self-learning, does not pose questions, but leads us into a self-questioning mode, does not show us how to to do things but helps us at self-discovery. Fostering self-development in children is what a ‘miracle person’ does best.

Yoga in Schools - Is it beneficial for children?

Yoga is a pre-vedic Indian practice that deals with spiritual, physical and mental aspects of life. It is increasingly becoming popular in all parts of the world in recent times.
Indian Masters introduced Yoga to the western world, which was quick to recognise its potential as a form of physical exercise to keep fit, flexible and agile. They later discovered and popularized the meditative and spiritual benefits of regular practice of Yoga.
Modern scientific community is divided on the health benefits of Yoga. Clearly, modern science demands more research on the subject and compiling of reliable and authentic data before it can endorse the curative powers of Yoga in treating diseases like cancer.
However, regular practitioners of Yoga point out that it is possible to prevent the onset of diseases by strengthening the body’s immune system through exercise or asanas and adoption of a simple and healthful diet. Even modern medicine endorses physical exercise as a way to fitness and good health, they say. Real Yoga, they point out, is not about making unsubstantiated claims about its supposed ability to cure diseases like cancer, but is about enjoying a simple lifestyle by attaining one’s goals through discipline and by controlling body and the mind.
Should Yoga be made a compulsory subject in schools and how will the the student be benefited from such a step?
The holistic definition of health adopted by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 has Yoga as its integral part and Yoga has been a compulsory subject up to the secondary school stage since the year 1988.
The iCBSE websitehas more details on the subject in which it is stated, “Both yoga and physical education contribute to not merely the physical development of the child but have a positive impact on psychosocial and mental development as well.”
“Yoga practice contributes to the overall development of the child and various studies have shown that it contributes to flexibility and muscular fitness and also corrects postural defects among school children.”
“There is a need to provide children accurate information and help them to construct knowledge and acquire life skills, so that they cope up with the concerns related to the process of growing up, counter stress and strains and cope up with examination stress.”
“Within this overall framework both yoga and physical education are seen as routes for achieving overall development of children.”
Well, we have heard from the medical community, Yoga masters and practitioners, and education boards. Suffice to say, Yoga does have something to offer to everyone, but consensus is lacking in some areas about the benefits of its practice.

Teach Typing Skills to Children on QWERTY Keyboard

Teach Typing Skills to Children on QWERTY Keyboard

‘Qwerty’ is not a word, though it definitely sound like one. It denotes the first 6 keys on the left on the top row of the standard English language typewriters and keyboards.
Cambridge Online Dictionary defines qwerty as “with or ​relating to the ​usual ​arrangement of the ​keys on the ​keyboard of a ​computer, in which the ​top ​line of ​letters ​begins with q, w, e, r, t, and y, as in a qwerty keyboard or qwerty layout”
Typewriters were a ubiquitous presence in offices, schools, and even homes until they were pensioned off by computers. But for the generation that used them extensively, they evoke nostalgia. Catch an old movie on the telly to see a bunch of typists in action in a government office and tapping away at the ‘keyboard’ furiously. The typewriter was bulky and noisy, but it did its job well. In the days gone by, possessing typing skills made one more employable.
How is possessing good typing skills beneficial to students is a question relevant to educators, parents, and even researchers? Let us see how:
      Typewriter may have become a part of history, but the need to possess typing skills has most definitely not. Even though touchscreens, autocomplete feature, and voice typing are useful for certain tasks, typing is a skill that is likely to remain relevant for some time.
      Before the advent of computers, graduates learnt their typing skills in typing institutes. And students were taught typing in schools in most parts of the world. Once typewriters were out of the way, the practice was discontinued under the assumption that students would learn to type on their own. Clearly, that did not happen.
      Search and Peck, Hunt and Peck or Eagle Fingerare some of the terms used to describe two finger typing method used by untrained people (and students) for their text-inputting needs. It is slower, can lead to bad physical posture and related health risks.
      Typing is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced until you master it. In the age of computer-based learning, children who have not mastered the skill are likely to lag behind their skilled peers in academics, in spite of possessing other talents.
      Classical memory-based typing known as Touch-type, teaches students to assume correct physical posture, use all 10 fingers, and to type effortlessly and with fewer errors. It improves hand-to-eye coordination and is less stressful as it eliminates the need to constantly look at the keyboard to locate the keys.
Typing is a skill that has become an integral part of our everyday life - be it at school or at workplace. So mastering it assumes greater significance and urgency. One can master typing even with an instruction manual or book. Practice is what makes you master the skill.
Internet is full of  useful resources for learning and improving typing skills. However, make sure you carefully read terms of service before using them.