The Great Outdoors

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Boy” by tookapic is licensed under CC by 2.0

It won’t be wrong to call our kids ‘robo-babies’. Robo-babies as in not exactly robot babies; more like a ‘multimedia generation’ that would prefer spending hours curled up indoors in some remote recess, glued to their tablets, laptops or iPods. My kids are no exception – in fact, they are very fine examples of this new ‘multimedia generation’ of sorts.  I know for a fact that I can’t wean them off from the gadgets which form a part and parcel of their daily life and neither do I wish to do so. But what I do wish is that they venture outdoors, even if it is for as little as a couple of minutes a day, away from their screens and video games. Even if it entails playing something like Pokemon Go. It would do for a start at least.

So, in the season and month of New Year resolutions, my sole resolution is this: I’m going to show them and not tell them. Show them the joy and exhilaration of jogging along a grassy track, cycling on cobbled paths and sitting on grass damp with dew in the early morning sunshine. It is easier said than done. But then, children learn from what they see. The key here lies in introducing the outdoors as a fun activity – be it a beach picnic coupled with a barefoot run in the sand, skate-boarding with helmets on in the evenings or just a daily ritual of a ten minute jog in the park, with their favorite music plugged in. My resolution is that I’m going to lead by example, and run alongside them. What’s more, I am quite sure that once these young, digitally controlled minds start, they will never want to stop. And that’ll hopefully be one resolution I won’t have to give up on as the New Year sets in!

3 Video Games Parents & Kids Should Play Together

“Every time you play a video game with someone in the same room, your breathing rates will start to sync up, your heart rates will start beating at the same pulse and your facial expressions and body language will mirror each other. It means your brains are working in exactly the same way.”

So claims Jane McGonigal, the author of the book called Superbetter which tries to explore the science behind gaming. And what can be better when the other ‘someone in the same room’ is your own child, who would generally turn up his or her nose at you in normal circumstances whenever you suggest something (or anything) new?

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Joystick” by paulinapratko is licensed under CC by 2.0

I am one of those parents who is a staunch supporter of the belief that parents and kids playing video games together brings them closer to each other, in the process doing a world of good to both parties. Hence, here are three video games which are my personal favorites when it comes to gaming time together as a family.

Mario Kart

This one tops our list of video games at home for one simple reason – it is a whole lot of fun! This gravity-defying go-kart style racing video game appeals to both the young generations as well as the older ones. Be it shells being thrown on opponents, driving into and through power-up item boxes along the racing course or a fellow player slipping on a banana peel strategically placed on the way by one of his opponents, each aspect of Mario Kart is engaging and enjoyable.

School of Dragons

This is an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) which is a big hit with my kids. They adore both the How to Train Your Dragon movies and are eagerly awaiting the third film in the series. The dragon games in question involve choosing and hatching your own dragon from more than 50 different species available, exploring the exciting Viking world Cressida Cowell’s books and the subsequent movies are set in and (best of all, according to me) the science experiments and educational quests they get to participate in within the School of Dragons.

Wii Sports

I can vouch for the fact that dads – irrespective of whether they are avid gamers or not – are going to absolutely love this one. Right from swinging a tennis racket to putting on your boxing gloves and delivering one punch at a time, Wii Sports is almost as good as the real tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing; minus the actual physical exercise of course. Which is why dads like me are not really complaining, eh? 🙂

Which video games do you enjoy playing with your kids, if yours too is a gamer-friendly household like ours?

Ideal Father’s Day Gifts for a Sports-Loving Dad

I recently came across this list of Father’s Day gift ideas for dads who seem to have it all. It left me wondering what dads like me would probably want on this special occasion meant for making dads feel special.

I’m a sports-loving dad. Definitely. And since Father’s Day is just around the corner, this post is dedicated to all the like-minded sporty dads out there – plus, their kids and better halves who are still in a quandary regarding what to gift the dads on their special day.

For golfer dads who love to par-tee

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Happy Fathers Day” by hannahlouise123 is licensed under CC by 2.0

If you’re short on time, get your hands on stylishly designed golf club covers which will encourage your dad to spend more time out teeing on the golf course. If your budget is not too low, try getting him some custom imprinted personalized velocity gift balls with his name as well as a favorite sporting quote of his on it and he’ll be proud to show them off to his golfer friends. However, if neither of the above seem to work, simply gift him a (couple of) year(s) membership of the local/town golf course (if he doesn’t have a lifetime membership already). It’ll spur him on to get outdoors every weekend or so and spend some extra time on the grassy golf course.

For footballer dads who eat, sleep, play soccer

Okay, so first things first: Let me make it very clear that the so-called ‘grown men shouldn’t wear jerseys rule’ is totally unfounded and doesn’t hold true under any circumstances whatsoever. Footballer dads adore and treasure their favorite team or player’s jerseys (and this is speaking from personal experience). While the named jerseys of legends never go out of style, it is best to gift your dad one named after a current favorite player of his, so that he can wear it on his favorite game evenings. Too late to get him one? Gift him a team mug instead and you’re sure to see it on the kitchen counter first thing every morning with his daily cuppa coffee.

For swimmer dads who just wish to dive in

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Swimming Pool” by HardyS is licensed under CC by 2.0

Items like waterproof stop watches are passé; think more along the lines of something that is out-of-the-box if your dad is someone who loves to swim. If your dad is an avid gamer, maybe a waterproof cover for his phone would be a good idea; he could then play his favorite virtual games while floating on his back. How would he like a floating cordless water radio which plays AM/FM? Or else maybe a waterproof wireless Bluetooth speaker which he can connect to his smartphone and play all his preferred playlists while spending time in the water? After all, music always makes good things even better.

Last but not the least, dads would be perfectly happy if they get to spend Father’s Day evening (or any other evening for that matter) just sitting back on the couch with a tub of popcorn and/or a hot dog surrounded by their better halves and the kids while a perfectly exciting game is taking place live on the television. That’s all it takes to make us dads happy 🙂

Mother’s Day and Football

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Mother’s Day” by Wokandapix is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thankfully to me (and much to my wife’s chagrin), our daughter is turning out to be like me in a number of ways. For instance, she has already managed to accumulate about a dozen pairs of mismatched socks (I have several dozens). She insists on having no less than three chocolate chip cookies at one go (I agree; one simply does not get the actual flavor of the cookies if one eats less than three chocolatey ones at a time). And when last weekend she announced that she wanted to make Mother’s Day special for her mum by playing football with her, my joy knew no bounds (like dad, like daughter). It is another story that the wife’s outright refusal dampened the daughter’s spirits to a certain degree. However, we made the day special by having pepperoni pizza overloaded with extra cheese – something both wife and daughter adore. Peace.

Coming to Mother’s Day, I was curious as to how it came into being. Here’s the story behind it: A lady named Ann Reeves Jarvis was a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers back in the times of the American Civil War. When she passed away in the year 1905, her daughter called Anna Jarvis started a campaign in the United States to make ‘Mother’s Day’ a recognized holiday in the country – a day to honor all mothers around the world because she believed that a mom was ‘the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world’. And hence, the first Mother’s Day came to be celebrated in the year 1908, when Anna held a memorial service for her mother at a church in West Virginia. This was her way to honor her mum by carrying on with the work she had started out to do.

Now I’m looking forward to Father’s Day which is still more than a month away. Will it be about football, along with other things? Fingers crossed!

Choosing Online Virtual Games to Educate Children

Online virtual games have redefined games as technology continues to reduce the gap between the real and virtual world. With growing awareness of the benefits of online virtual games for learning, educators are trying to adapt to this trend. Virtual games cannot replace some of the established learning methods completely. However, they gain value for being a good educational supplement.

Identifying the right virtual game for the right age is crucial to its success as a learning tool. By outlining the learning objectives, educators can measure the effectiveness of using game-based learning in classrooms. Understanding the ways in which these games benefit children can help you maximize its advantages.

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  • Context – Virtual games are unique because they promote learning within a well-defined context. Children can learn through simulated experiences. This can be very useful in areas where safety is a concern like driving. Students can safely try out many choices before they master a skill thereby reducing the error rate in real life.


Learning through context also increases the level of engagement. Apart from the focus subject, children also learn to navigate through the virtual world while constantly making sharp observations. This can indirectly train them to respond to situations in real life quickly and accurately.

MabinogiMabinogi G9…” by Shadoe Landman is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Practice – Children don’t mind repetitive steps within the virtual world. They learn by doing things and experimenting with the different ways in which things can be done. They also have to participate actively by making choices based on their own judgment and interacting with the game as it is played out. If one choice fails, they have to try another one. This helps them retain the information they learn for longer.
  • Achievement – Educators don’t have to worry about preparing a separate round of assessment to measure a student’s success. Online virtual games are designed with different levels that move from simple to complex. At each level the progress made by kids is captured and rewarded. The rewards give kids a sense of achievement and can be encouraging.

On the LooseOn The Loose!” by Joonie.. is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Social – Virtual worlds are also popular because they offer a social environment and multi-player game options. This can lead to collaboration. Children also learn to communicate and share information online.

Yet another reason for you to explore online virtual games as an education tool is the learning styles they cater to like auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. By setting objectives and choosing the right games, virtual games can be used effectively in education.

Essential Rules to Keep Kids Active

Physical activities help children to not only grow strong bones and discover the world around them but also to maintain a healthy weight. It’s required of children to be active for a minimum of two hours in a day so that they remain fit and active. Follow the essential rules below to help kids stay active.

2847422081_f7d765719c_zImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/grandmaitre/2847422081/

Think beyond organized sports

Though there are multiple benefits of playing pet games online, nothing can really beat running around with a pet in real life and burning calories. Agree kids don’t need to burn fat but they do need to stay active. Slumber is just as harmful for kids as it is for adults. So think beyond organized sports like baseball, basketball, etc. and engage kids in activities such as watering the plants, running around with pets, playing “Red Rover, Red Rover”, asking them to fetch you things you need from the floors above, chasing butterflies, etc. Not many kids like participating in the regular spots events and classes in school, so it’s a good idea to help them stay active with other equally beneficial physical activities.

No TV

Every home must have a TV deadline for kids. However schedule the TV deadline keeping in mind the child’s favorite shows. For example, if your child loves watching a certain TV program at a certain time, don’t forcefully take that time away from her routine. Instead accommodate that in your ‘TV deadline rule’. The main objective is to prevent lethargy from creeping in your child’s life, so don’t make TV disappear from your child’s life but try and curtail it so that she gets time to step out and indulge in playtime with peers.

Make play fun

Don’t worry too much about the rules. In other words, making rigid rules in a kids’ game is the worst possible mistake one can make and the best possible way to ensure kids aren’t active. Parents must be contended as long as kids are running, hopping, jumping and have fun because that’s the best they can do to their health at their age. So oversee your child’s playtime but avoid becoming strict disciplinarian.

Never reward food

Avoid proposing food as giveaway for any game. It’s no wonder that juvenile obesity is so prevalent today. Most parents teach their children to eat healthy on the one hand and also give them junk food sometimes as rewards on the other hand. Promising a cotton candy or a fast food burger form your child’s favorite joint for completing her homework on time drives home a wrong message and should be avoided. Instead reward them with extra playtime or a book.

Plan holidays

Avoid planning your family holidays where there aren’t many activities for the kids to engage in, examples being historical sights, mountains, etc. Instead head to beaches, riversides, or another city that has plenty of activities for children. Parents would certainly want to avoid cranky children on family trips and children would also want ‘anything fun but studies’ from their holidays. Ill-planned holidays will make kids reluctant to play around and have fun.

Things to Remember While Getting your Child Into Sport

Child sports is encouraged in the US, much more than in any other country I’ve visited so far. Having grown up in a family that lived and loved sport, I grew up in a competitive environment and most activity we did together was done outdoors. We were always running about, playing some sport or the other and when we were too few for organized sport, we’d make up our own game.

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When I first had kids, my wife and I struggled with the role sports played in our lives. She was from a family who preferred more intellectual pursuits during their free time. The wife is fiercely independent and self-motivated. She was, at first, overwhelmed by the number of sports themed clothes and toys for the toddlers and then slowly got into the groove of balancing sports and education. It was a struggle but we both reached a compromise.

There are plenty of parents who have the same struggle. I’m no expert but if I were to list a few things that helped us grapple with child sports, it would be these!

Being Realistic – Child sports comes with its share of aggression, bullying and injuries etc. If the negative if focused on too much, you will lose out on the opportunity to nurse other skills that come with playing sport – skills like compromise, understanding and playing as a team etc. Your job will be to talk through the positives to reinforce these lessons and to prepare yourselves and them for mistakes and setbacks.

Being Supportive – In your encouragement of your child, watch yourself for an signs of being pushy or sending your child the message of your expectations (they tend to build it up to be bigger than it is)

Highlighting Choice – Forcing your kid into sport is the worst thing you can do. There’s no need to rush them into it or make them feel like they have to learn it. While the ‘competitive edge’ argument is a powerful one, encourage exposure to different sports over pushing them to make a decision and stick with a sport.

Encouraging Effort – While talent is important, not everyone is a natural. Some skills come with practice and rather than focusing on talent, praise effort. Children need to know that you appreciate and are proud of any and every effort they make.

Throw out Comparisons – It’s so easy to compare your child to another. It happens so seemingly instinctively that you sometimes don’t even realize you are doing it. If you have to compare, compare against their own personal bests, their own milestones.

What are some of the tips you would give to first time sporting parents?