investment planning for a child

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Posted by appa | Posted in finance | Posted on 20-03-2009

Following Maxim’s example, I felt that Abhinav should have a bank account of his own as well. Visited the nearby Canara bank and found that its quite easy to do so. And also found that there was a good policy (that would help me save some tax as well!). A parent could buy this insurance for a child, and pay x amount of rupees every year, and in the case of a death of the policy payer, then the bank guarantees that it will continue paying the same amount every year till the end of the tenure. The tenure is 10 years, after which the amount is locked and the profit invested within itself for another 10 years, so at the end of 20 years, the total amount which is quite a handsome sum is handed over to the child.

Of course I must’ve botched up the description… so better details from the site are here: Canara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life Unit Linked Limited Pay Endowment Plan. A bank account isn’t necessary for this, but we still want to open the account so that we can save money regularly and also save a bit of the premium there as and when we have the budget for it, so that the total amount is ready before its next due date next year.

can television add value to an infant's education?

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Posted by appa | Posted in habits, listen, parenting | Posted on 19-03-2009

Abhinav has learnt quite a few rhymes and vocabulary from watching videos, so I used to think the answer was yes, to a certain extent of course. But this article from Time magazine was quite surprising.

Television often helps as an alternative babysitter or maid, but there are claims that it can add value to education as well and making them smarter.

The claim always seemed too good to be true: park your infant in front of a video and, in no time, he or she will be talking and getting smarter than the neighbor’s kid. In the latest study on the effects of popular videos such as the “Baby Einstein” and “Brainy Baby” series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.

Are they suggesting a balanced approach, of a little bit of TV? No! They recommend no to any television.

This growing evidence led the Academy to issue its recommendation in 1999 that no child under two years old watch any television.

The reason they give actually makes sense… (emphasis mine)

As far as Christakis and his colleagues can determine, the only thing that baby videos are doing is producing a generation of overstimulated kids. “There is an assumption that stimulation is good, so more is better,” he says. “But that’s not true; there is such a thing as overstimulation.” His group has found that the more television children watch, the shorter their attention spans later in life. “Their minds come to expect a high level of stimulation, and view that as normal,” says Christakis, “and by comparison, reality is boring.”

Pretty amazing similarity in Nipun’s striking post: Attention, please

So what’s the alternative?

The authors of the new study might suggest reading instead: children who got daily reading or storytelling time with their parents showed a slight increase in language skills.

Very simple idea but easy to forget…

“Every interaction with your child is meaningful,” says Christakis. “Time is precious in those early years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you do.” So just talk to them; they’re listening.

Well in any case here’s one of the Baby Einstein videos on the net… its pretty cool I think.

Another article has a counterviews and presents both perspectives, that reports that viewing within a certain threshold does help.

And studies suggest that parents’ talking and gesturing frequently to their babies early on have a significant impact on their children’s vocabulary and language competence by school age.

This is something we did, that sure seemed to have worked quite well with Abhinav.

TV exposure in babies younger than 2 doesn’t do any good, Schmidt and Christakis agree. But does that mean a few minutes in front of the tube will sentence a baby to remedial classes for the rest of his life? “What I tell parents is ‘Ask yourself why you’re having your baby watch TV,’ ” says Christakis. “If you absolutely need a break to take a shower or make dinner, then the risks are quite low. But if you are doing it because you think it’s actually good for your child’s brain, then you need to rethink that, because there is no evidence of benefit and certainly a risk of harm at high viewing levels.”

In any case I don’t know how to manage to avoid cartoons and stories and rhyms without TV/computers & youtube. One thing that works well is to instead of delegating babysitting to them, we often watch the video with him and explain what’s going on in Kannada, and find him quite responsive to this.

parent's inculcation of silence and listening adds real quality to bonding

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Posted by appa | Posted in communication, listen, parenting | Posted on 19-03-2009

For some stint of indiscipline, I had almost discontinued practice of observing silence daily, for a few months. I felt that even though Abhinav was right there with me, I was still missing him. I was missing the depth of the bond that deepens with this practice. Once I got back on track, I’m able to clearly see a difference even in the way he reciprocates.

(Whenever he sees me sitting on the floor in meditation, he comes and sits on my lap very happily saying “appa hatra” (near Dad). I have to call my wife to take him away for a while, even though in my heart is only prayer for his highest welfare!)

True that any father feels paternal love due to the role or relationship or ‘blood is thicker than water’ factor. But there is a lot more depth in the purity and joy of the love one feels as a meditator. And the beauty is, that the same love and joy automatically gets extended to any child one comes across eg a friend’s kids or even a small boy who comes to clean the car windshield at a traffic signal! With my limited sense of commitment, atleast just during those moments that we’re together I truly wish them well. For them it may not matter I don’t know, but its a good thing anyway 🙂

story of the monkey and the buffalo – and now tiger

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Posted by appa | Posted in mischief, story | Posted on 04-03-2009

There is a Jataka tale we tell Abhinav sometimes…

One time lived in some forest region as a wild buffalo-bull of grim appearance, owing to his dark complexion and being dirty with mud. But the Buffalo had quite a calm temperament. One mischevous Monkey however, aware of the buffalo’s calmness, was not afraid and liked nothing more than to tease him. The monkey knew that the Buffalo would be forgiving. The Monkey would climb on the Buffalo and swing from his horns, stand at his feet and keep him from grazing when hungry, ride on his back with a stick in hand, and do all kinds of other mischief.

One day, one day the patient buffalo wandered off and another similar looking one happened to be standing around the same place! The monkey turned up later, without realising it was a different buffalo, and started his antics again. This buffalo was patient too but just a little bit, and after a short while threw the monkey off his back and broke his tail!

So better be careful and not be like the ತುಂಟ ಕೋತಿ (mischevous monkey)!

(In some version on the net, a Yaksha (divine being) asks the Buffalo why he is putting up with all the monkey’s nonsense when he can just kick the monkey’s ass. To which the Buffalo answers that while it is easy to be patient with those who are more powerful, when enduring injuries from the powerless, it is an opportunity to show real patience, however uncomfortable it may be. Then the Yaksha kicks the monkey’s ass!!)

In both the versions the monkey gets it… but here’s a recent video of another mischevous monkey playing with some tigers… and this fellow happens to get away 😉