Grieving Moms on Mothers Day

While there are many things i can chalk down, this is one of the hardest! How do mothers who have endured the greatest pain, a still birth, a miscarriage, a sunshine whose giggle and play they will never hear and behold again grapple with the absence and void in their heart. On Mothers day as we receive those cute cards and praises let's not fail to remember those mamas who we know are battling despair. I have been through three miscarriage myself and it was one of the coldest seasons I braved out. There have been days I have dreamed about holding my 3 little angels that never made it to earth, but some day will welcome me on the golden shores across the bridge. This mothers day i know of a few mommies who have endured the worst pain, who have held their precious children here in this world but will never again feel their warmth as they have gone too soon. I hold so closely in my heart all those recently bereaved moms. You may have another child, but that does not take away the pain of a great loss and mothers day may always remain as one of those bitter-sweet days to live through. I honor those incredible women who carry in their heart love and memories, who pick themselves up and live again. The tears in the dark, the cracks in the heart, one who has withstood the unthinkable and emerged as a survivor. To you i pay respect!

Remember to write a note or visit a grieving mommy-friend and acknowledge their mother-heart. Let them know they are loved, precious and that you care. A little support can go miles to brave the hardest of days.

Should we expose children to superheros

Do we expose children to Superhero's or not? There are conflicting views on this. Superhero-play, especially with little boys is inevitable. Totally banning them could lead to aggression in the long haul. In our household we have decided to introduce positive values as we guide and cheer on our adventurous little souls while they save the world from destruction and fight evil. I live with three superhero's, seven years and younger who go by distinguished names AB, Nicky and Merav. My youngest struts around creating webs at home in his blue and red Spidy costume (His latest birthday gift). He has hardly watched a spider man movie, but feels the part of a superhero. My oldest and middle child absolutely love their light saber battles. They have fostered deep friendship engaging in action-hero play and testing their physical limit. While my kids categorically love imitating larger than life characters, I do not take it lightly  that I am responsible to guide and advise them against trying out dangerous feats like jumping off buildings and walking into raging fire.

As my children enjoy this wave, I harness this passion through teachable moments and intentional discussions to introduce them to some real life superhero's like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln . Surprisingly the lil munchkins are curious to learn and all ears. I also prepare them to understand that a real life superhero can be some one ordinary with no special powers like their parents, teachers or next door neighbors.

Tips to foster healthy superhero play:

1. Explain to kids the difference between fantasy superhero's and real life heros

2. Help kids understand where to draw the lines when it comes to action play. Never to cross over to aggression and hostile language.

3. Allow them to enjoy an age appropriate superhero cartoon, but train them to stay grounded and not get lost in an imaginary world forever.

4. Show them the ropes to pick the good traits  like generosity, compassion, community help and chivalry from superhero's.

5. Enlighten them on life-skills: how to use power wisely while they learn to negotiate and cooperate, Identify right from wrong and fair from unfair.

 

As parents let's be a guiding force as kids' imagination soar up up and away!

Immune Boosting Power Foods

children As we welcome winter, it comes accompanied by the uninvited guest, ' the nasty Influenza virus'. Children are more prone to its attack than adults. Preventive measure such as washings hands and avoiding contact with the virus is certainly a good idea, however the key to a healthy child is a healthy immune system.

boy

Reem Abdallah, Dietician, Health Factory, offers my readers  tips to promote healthy eating at home which in turn promotes positive immune function. Reem advises parents to visit the local grocery store and choose a variety of ingredients that aids in keeping your child's immune system running strong. Of these the main ingredients are:

 

yogurt

citrusBerriesbroccolliSpinachfish

Let the giggles explode

   

laughter

Shake your sillies, play games, and indulge in funny movies with your kids.

A team of French scientists has discovered that using humor appears to help toddlers learn new tasks, reports a new study in the journal Cognition and Emotion. Building on the knowledge that making older children laugh can enhance many aspects of cognition, Rana Esseily and her colleagues designed an experiment to see whether using humor could also have an effect on the ability of infants to learn.

Each of the 18-month-olds selected to participate in the final part of the study observed an adult using a tool to grab an out-of-reach toy. In one group the adult simply played with the toy after retrieving it; but in the other group, the adult threw the toy immediately on the floor, which made half the children in that group laugh.

When Esseily and her colleagues studied their data, they found that the children who laughed at the antics of the adults were able to repeat the action themselves more successfully than those who didn’t laugh, as well as those who were included in the ‘humorless’ control group.

Parents such as myself, about to embark on the un-funny business of toilet training might want to keep laughing – no matter what!!

Tips for balanced snacking

eggs

I had the privileged to meet and interview, Barni Nutritionist Hala Barghout, at an event hosted by Barni early this year. Hala believes in committing to family meal times and making them enjoyable. As a parent one of the best gifts you can give your children is a strong nutritional start. With school season in full swing, every mothers biggest challenge is to put together a creative and healthy snack box amidst all the hustle and bustle prior to sending kids off to school. When kids are back from school, preparing a meal that they will actually eat is another mammoth task. As a mom of 3 boys( 2 in school), i keep my eyes open for any tips i can find to make meal times more enjoyable to prepare, and enjoyable for my picky-eaters to savor.

picstitch

     Nutritionist Hala Barghout and i, at an event hosted by Barni Snacks, promoting healthy eating and balanced diet for kids.

Below are some child friendly pointers by Hala, for  ensuring a well-balanced diet for your child, thereby contributing to their overall growth.

  • Mix and match

Serve baby carrots, cucumber or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Dip cracker sticks or fresh fruit pieces in labneh. Or, keep a portion of fruits in the mid meal snack daily with peanut butter to allure your child to eat fruits.

  • Broaden the menu

Offer out-of-the-usual fare, such as pineapples, cranberries, red or yellow peppers, or roasted peanuts, almonds or Mediterranean nuts that are freely available in the local supermarkets. Whole grain pretzels and tortillas provide energy and stamina for your little ones.

  • Revisit breakfast

Serve breakfast foods — such as scrambled eggs and a whole-grain toast — as alternative snacks for kids in the afternoon.

  • Sweeten it up

Healthy snacks for children don't have to be bland or tasteless. To satisfy your child's sweet tooth, offer fat-free pudding, pancakes or frozen yogurt. Make smoothies with skimmed milk, yogurt, and fresh fruits.

  • Creativity is key

Use a cookie cutter to make shapes out of cheese slices, whole-grain bread similar to the attractive shape of their endeared Barni Bear.  Make fruit kebabs or show your child how to eat diced fruit with chopsticks or toothpicks. Make a tower out of whole-grain crackers, spell words with pretzel sticks, or make funny faces on a plate using different types of fruits.

Hala says, “Above all, remember that food diversity and moderation are the keys to sensible and well balanced diet. Smart nutritional choices during childhood can reinforce lifelong healthy eating habits and it helps kids grow up to their full potential. So it’s important to start young to reap good results in the future.” A HEALTHY OUTSIDE STARTS FROM THE INSIDE.

Hello School

  knowdledge

My little boy had spent the 3 years learning from me and our family values. The moment had arrived where he starts his school adventure in unchartered territory. We walked through the gates of his school as he gripped my pinky finger so tight, it could break off and as he clung to me like a leech, I could almost feel my blood sucked out. I leaned down to my 3-year-old as I swept his hair across his angel face, building his self-confidence as i set him up for a good start. It was a feeling of Deja Vous. I have been in this spot not too long ago with my oldest and learned that this journey has allowed him to grow wings, yet the jitters chased me. Whether a veteran or a rookie this is a difficult  and mixed emotion as a parent to get to grips with. But this time around I felt I was readier than my first experience, hence I was able to mentally prepare my little one in advance and limit his and my potential for tears. The first day went smooth and drama-free and was an enjoyable one.

A few things I did at home to prepare my child were:

  • I discussed my happy memories of school and got my oldest to discuss his and the exciting part of making new friends
  • I discussed his anxieties and encouraged him with stories of how his older brother overcame his challenges.
  • I read story books and enjoyed putting together board puzzles with my boy
  • I used pretend play by making school time look fun and exciting. The both of us took turns in being teacher and student.
  • I involved my boy in the shopping process of picking his school essentials and planning his snack.
  • Established a bedtime routine in advance so he would wake up fresh and well rested to meet his crucial day

The one thing I did not do(I wish I did) was check on my boy’s medical and dental records to make sure they were up to date, so I would be rest assured that he did not have concerns that we will have to treat in the busy academic period. As I waved a goodbye and flung a desperate flying kiss, I knew I had released him to grow some roots and sprout some wings.

When did your little bundle start school? Was the first day rough? How did you cope and how did you prepare them? I’d love to hear your experience and any advice that could be shared.

 

 

 

Barnilicious Saturday at KidZania®

With a range of nutritional challenges facing children in UAE, Barni the bear shaped wholesome snack in collaboration with KidZania, the award-winning children’s edutainment center organized the 4th session of an informative event, to inculcate a healthy eating lifestyle in kids.

The organizers partnered with Hala Barghot, a leading nutritionist in the UAE and Founder of Nutritalks to educate parents on a balanced diet for children.         

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Dr. Hala and I at the Barnilicious event held at KidZania®

The event gave parents the opportunity to learn about picky eaters, energy needs for kids, good food options and smart snacking ideas.The moms got off to a great start dropping off their little champs to a dedicated play space offering organized by Barni. The mommies then sat down to listen to  Hala who shared her top tips for getting kids to embark on a well-rounded diet.

Hala took questions and listened to the personal frustrations of some mom’s experiences around food and mealtime issues. She encouraged moms to become 'Involved Parents' and to cultivate family mealtime routines to make healthy a lifestyle. She emphasized on a child’s diet packed with more fruits, vegetable, legumes, and nuts. Hala advised parents to limit their children’s consumption of processed meat, sugar, and saturated fat. When it comes to the healthier snacks, some may not be as healthy as they seem. She mentioned the Barni snack is a good option as it claims to have no artificial colorants and preservatives. However, she advised the consumption be limited to one bar a day due to the sugar content, which is reasonably lower than other snacks but still prevalent.

In my one-on-one interview with her she enlightened me on her many initiatives geared to bring about a culture of wellness within the school community in the Gulf region. She has also worked with restaurants in the region to encourage them to offer healthier menu options. Hala is a certified dietitian, who educates people on health and nutrition, practicing for almost 10 years. She also offers private nutrition consulting.

image1 image2

Cocoon to Butterfly Kids at Barnilicious event held at  KidZania® 

The event then called for the moms to be spectators as the kids enjoyed a productive day in KidZania, indulging in some role-playing fun that recreates workplaces. Children learn best through experience and this was an experience that was every bit magical.

 

Disclaimer: I was invited to the event  for the purpose of this review. All content and comments are based on my own opinion and was not influenced by any external factors.

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'Entertain Me Parenting' VS 'Spontaneous Unstructured Fun'

 outdoorsplay time

I am no craft Savvy guru and can barely work a glue gun... Yet I believe in being a 'hands on mommy', growing creative kids, & crafting timeless memories. I am not one sold to ‘Entertain Me’ parenting, & by this term I am referring to parents living under a misconception that kids need constant entertainment, being 'over stimulated' by gadgets or parents alike. I believe in a balance  which includes planned activities and unstructured play. Are you a parent that feels hideously guilty that you cannot find time to balance your lifestyle and entertain your kid’s enthusiastically? We have all been there and I urge you not to kick yourself for that. After all we have relationships to nurture, a home to keep up and career to pursue. There are many simple ways you can engage with your kids authentically and not pretend on being a crafty Martha Steward that you’re not.

Technology is an excellent source of entertainment and a wellspring of education for the kids.  But it could also pose the risk of turning your children into digital zombies and curbing their social skills. I am not one of those moms who squeal out an irrefutable ‘NO’ to digital devices. I believe they are a good source of entertainment as long as I am monitoring for quality programming and limiting the screen time. Honestly, this is one of my greatest struggles with my oldest and I often have to put him on ‘No Screen curfews’ and ‘Digital blackouts’. I feel like I am in the middle of a battle with my boy. It appears to me that most often he gets his way around his screen time. But the best part of limiting 'Screen Time' is that when I manage to win him over I succeed in focusing on more ‘Face Time’. We have a chat on his favorite Superhero and why he chose him. He helps me bake a bread pudding and draws out pages and pages of his favorite memories of holidaying and growing up in our home. I call this our ‘Special Fun’. We plan a few ‘Special Fun’ moments in a week. This is more structured and my boys told in advance what to expect to get the excitement going. It could be cooking together( sunday nights), Dress ups, Organized play dates, Go to the movies(saturday afternoons), Play a sport together, Make Play Dough, Paint eggs. The options are countless.

(Easter eggs painted by mommie and boys)

easter eggs easter egg

However with the many hats I wear and switch, it does not give me the luxury on being a 'Mothering Martyr'.  I remember when my boys yelled 'I am bored' i used to come under immense mommie pressure of having to organise a structured activity to keep them entertained. If I could not deliver to the expectation then I was found drooling in a whirlwind of guilt. Not any more. Oh the joys of learning as you journey on the road of parenting! I have discovered that children are better off left alone to play and to explore some unstructured activity that nurtures creativity. Now when I hear 'i am bored' i just scream back 'never in a million years'. I let them run around in the garden or explore their toys and books in their room and let them create for themselves an adventure land. I give them the opportunity to come up with spontaneous unstructured fun such as play Hide and seek, Tag, I spy, Paint a picture together, Ride their bike…

ab n nickymerav

Simplicity is one of the greatest lessons you can instil in your children. Train them while they are young to avoid associating happiness with constant accumulation and enjoyment of expensive toys, extravagant play-areas and luxurious possessions. There is always an opportunity to turn mundane into a lasting memory without having to lavish on kids financially and having to come under pressure on being  a crafty goddess. Creating a fun memory is not dependent on crafting perfection  but in the FUN PROCESS involved in creating life.

Little boys are little wonders

little wonders

I grew up believing I was a little princess and someday I would find my Prince charming and would be teeming with delightful little ones. I saw myself dressing little princesses in floral cottage dresses and cascading their hair with the perfect bow clips and fascinators. I dreamed of our colossal Christmas table where my girls and I would prepare the most delectable dishes and entertain with finesse. I envisioned teaching them how to accessories clothing and how to decorate a home. Oh the joys of being a girl!

In reality there are many days I feel like a princess trapped in a castle surrounded by hooligans and testosterones. Please do not misunderstand my ramblings. I love and adore my boys and I am ever grateful for them. There is not a chance in a million years that I would ever trade them for any other. However I never imagined of having to live in a house full of monkeys bouncing off stairs, beds and kitchen platforms and who care very little about equilibrium and balance. As for myself this princess of poise is caught very often-screaming “seat-up, seat-down, flush, wash, boogers on tissue not on t-shirt, dirty feet’s off couch”. When I finally sit down I find myself giving them a class on decorum of how they should not be running around naked screaming words like, ‘butt and fart’. My shopping list involves kids body wash and kids toothpaste on every trip. You can imagine why. As a mother who monitors the cartoons my kids watch, I am still trying to get my head around to understand why does a hanger turn into a gun, a balloon into a bomb and a spatula into a sword. What is so fascinating about battles and wars as opposed to doll houses that involves nurturing and loom bands that involve creativity. I look at the limitless energy my boys have and think; I have in my home the answer, the source to our world ‘s energy crisis. Some days can be relentless, overwhelming and exhausting. I tell myself “Breathe in and breathe out” and I say a little prayer and hope that I am gifted every day with a little more portion of patience.

I was that person who went through the throbbing pain of miscarriages and childlessness. I was that person who cried to God to bless me with a child. I would give up anything for this mischief, fun and laughter. So does any of this justify my grievance and annoyance? I agree it is not possible to enjoy every moment. Especially as a mother of little boys you need to be endowed with constant supply of energy and motivation. There may be days I may not enjoy and treasure every moment but I have decided that I will enjoy my boys. I have resolved to lay down standards of raising them that are not measurable. I am determined to refrain from saturating my mind with the infinite legions of instructions that the world has to offer on raising ‘proper organic children’.

There are a few things I have learned in my trek of raising boys and  am beginning to recognize is universal truth.

  1. Boys are born to explore. So quit trying to contain their energy.
  2. Boys are created as boys so they will be boisterous and often messy. Get used to noise and dirt. Teach them where and when it is appropriate to indulge in ‘dirt art’ as I call it and to be loud and noisy.
  3. Boys enjoy being funny. Polish your sense of humor and laugh along with them.
  4. Boys do not multitask just like men do not. So stop screaming out endless lists such as tidy up, change into PJ’s, brush your teeth and into bed. Learn to give one instruction at a time and follow up. Oh, did I mention not to forget praising them for a job well done. They love it.
  5. Boys love to be loved. They may not always be expressive but they sure love it when you spent time with them, when you attempt to answer the trillion questions they shoot out, and when you put them to bed with cuddles and kisses.

Little boys are little wonders

Little boys are little wonders, filled with charm, and joy they render.

Two small arms and tiny fingers, someday they’ll stand tall and conquer.

With power packed like fire crackers, they are messy with their cars and tractors.

They hide in bushes, swing on trees, they are hard to find but they are one of a kind.

They are every mothers dream come true; cherish every bear hug as they shout out ‘I love you’.

Sneha Cherian

 

 

 

When Love takes you IN

This weekend my husband and I had the unique privilege of spending the day with our dear friend Daryl Heald. He has been a man who has challenged and inspired us to live life generously for others, not only with our resources but also with our time and family. Daryl currently serves as Director of Generosity with The Maclellan Foundation as well as serving on the boards of Crown Financial Ministries, Excellence in Giving, ProVision Foundation and the Haggai Institute. His wife Cathy is by all means what I would call chief of supermoms. Daryl and Cathy, live in Georgia, with their eight children. They have 5 biological children (Frances, Hallie, Hamilton, Anders and Louisa) and 3 adopted children (Lee Lee,Lucy Wu and Bella from China). Their adoption story is anything but typical. Daryl and his friend Michael Dennehy, who have adopted, have created a video on adoption. I would encourage all my readers to watch this 15-minute video on their story. I share it with the hope that it may help others who are considering or beginning the adoption journey.

In a self-gratifying world this production is counter-cultural. I promise you this creative effort will tug your heart and take ahold of you as it sheds light on the beautiful world of adoption.  

 

Odyssey of a sun-kissed princess

My heart was thumping like a heard of galloping horses as I awaited the results of my oldest s' MRI scan. AB was rushed to the hospital as he suffered excruciating pain and had restricted movement around his neck and head. The doctors ran many tests to investigate the underlying cause of the pain and to conclude what events lead to this. Upon examining the medical reports and hearing my boys’ story they arrived at a diagnosis that he suffers a condition called ‘strain’. Phew, that’s a relief! Not as serious as one would imagine it to be. Watching a screen in an unsuitable position for extended periods caused this. Prior to this incident AB was enjoying his playtime indulging in some Xbox extravaganza at our neighbors home with his buddy’s. I had reasoned with him that the great outdoors had much adventure to offer than plugging into a fantasy world indoors. He convinced me saying he would play outdoors 4 days a week and 3 days he would spend time gaming indoors. It seemed like a reasonable proposition, so I agreed. In hindsight I wish I had not. This incident left me turning back pages in my memory book. It brought back spirited memories of my childhood. When I was AB’s age I was rushed to the doctors after I fell off a guava tree in my grandmas home. It was painful, but at least I re-lived ‘Mowgli’ from ‘Jungle book’ and enjoyed a few bites of ripe organic goodness before my fall. This one little incident taught me 2 valuable life lessons: how to measure risks and how to take responsibility of myself. Looking back, I cannot recall one amazing memory of watching the little TV I got to watch as a child. But I hold close an array of fond memories of exploring the wild and running barefoot on my granddad’s 10 acres of rustic landscape.

Growing up I was let loose to enjoy free-unstructured play. I eagerly waited for the holiday seasons to head to my grandparents home where I could build dollhouses with thatched coconut leaves and twigs. I even remember building a hideaway hut for myself. I enjoyed trawling the wild and scouring them looking for cashew fruits and fallen mangoes. I have a particular fond memory of trying my hand at milking a cow and getting kicked by it at the same time. My favorite part of the great outdoors was at dusk where the children got to chase the hens, ducks and lamb back to its coop and barns. There were ponds, woods, muddy patches and open spaces. The environment was challenging and inspiring and I created my own adventure. I learned problem solving, managing resources, flexibility and teamwork. I have learned to love nature and to survive and be creative. I am dreaming that my children will experience this to some extend and all this would not just be a fairy tale from yester years.

With the invasion of technology sadly, children’s contact with nature is declining and they are on a road to transforming to what I would term ‘Digital zombies’. I agree we cannot bring back the vast countryside experience to our urban kids. But there is always room to teach them appreciation for nature, creation and the creator.

Usher your little treasures into an experience of enjoying the brilliance of God’s paint over the sunset. Engage in chasing the bright visions of spectacular prints in every unique butterfly. Experience the feeling of God’s rest as you remove your shoes along with the tiny feet folks and sink your toes in the lush green grass. Encourage the younglings to close their eyes and enjoy the kiss of a soft breeze, which resonates with the creator’s peace. Connect with your tiny sparks as you help them perceive the wonder of nature which points to a creative genius. Help your kids create memories as they live a life bursting with flavor.

Educate the heart of your child to transform the heart of your world

Today as I spent time helping a dear friend with her beautiful new born I had a flash back down memory lane. I was reminded of the incredible moment in my life when my oldest was born. Nothing compares to the rush and excitement of holding the bone of your bone and the flesh of your flesh for the very first time. As new parents my husband and I were not sure what to expect and how to steward this treasure we were given. Today as guardians of 3 spirited young hearts we are not looking at being the perfect parents but intentional about our parenting. I chose to feed the heart before I feed the head. My focus is not narrowed to raising high achievers rather to raise my bars on Godly character and good virtues with my boys. I believe if you can get this right then your children would grow up to excel at what they were made for.

As a mother I decided to make a list of life lessons I wish for my boys to take when they leave home. As I started off i was not sure if i would have 5 points on that list. As i progressed i was surprised to see how long and daunting it seemed to be. I encourage each of you to take time and journal a list of life lessons you would like to leave with your children. As you pen down your thoughts you will realize what a powerful yet life molding journey you have embarked on with parenting. Investing into a strong foundation of values for your home will leave you and your loved ones withstanding any storm that comes by.

Like many mothers the ongoing world events have troubled me much. It concerns me enough to worry that my children are growing in unpredictable dangerous times. What often keeps me brooding over is the thought that I want to see change but I am limited with my influence and position to bring about meaningful change. As I have been reflecting over these thoughts I have realized that motherhood has tethered me into learning that as mothers we have the greatest weapons of change in our hand. We are positioned with the greatest opportunity to shape young minds to be decision makers for a better world. What is a more important take away for me is my learning that it is matters more to focus on the kind of citizen I help my child become than worry about the world in which he grows in.

The best gift you can offer this world as mothers is to raise your children to be seeds of transformation to your future unseen world. As parents I encourage you to invest into educating the heart of your child, which will bring about change to the heart of your world.

GUARD OUR TREASURE

This week I have dedicated my time with my kids to teach them about ‘STRANGER DANGER’. The city where we live is considered one of the most safest, yet we frequently hear about predators targeting children as young as a 3 year old. As parents, we often think our children are way too young to practice safety measures. I say 'Better early than Sorry'. It is tricky to strike a balance between teaching children safety without having them to feel this great world is a dangerous place to be and most people they meet are scary. I am on a journey of creating some family rules for our boys to abide by. I have also thought of making this teaching a practical one by inculcating some role-play sessions with my kids. I urge Parents to make it a point to be intentional about bringing safety awareness into your family. Join me in this ‘GUARD OUR TREASURE ‘run. ‘I have attached an interesting video for preschoolers and young kids to watch as a first step towards learning about ‘STRANGER DANGER’

Have fun while you equip your children with the knowledge and strategy to protect themselves in a dangerous situation. The most important lesson as parents we need to bear in mind is that we are not taking our children through a journey where we instill fear,rather we empower them with confidence and assure them that help is a prayer and shout away.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEtJtFEVDbI

 

Teach them to read while they are young

read One of the most exciting and rewarding phases in Parenting, for me, has been reading to my little ones. I started as early as when the bun was baking in the oven. Throughout my pregnant phase, I read to all 3 of my babies in the womb. I chose to read positive reading material of which ‘The Bible’ is my favorite. At any age group when you choose to read with your child choose a time when they are in the best mood and when you are too. Look for interactive ways to engage your child in reading. Yes! It might require of you to get out of your shell and to behave and sound like a fool.

With my Toddlers, I started with differentiating sounds and words. A child finds it fascinating as they learn to make a connection between a ‘COW’ and ‘MOO MOO’. The next phase is to recognize an alphabet with their sound. For this, I would use flash cards and alphabet books. For learning sounds a great resource I use is ‘Jolly Phonics’ on YouTube, they are the best. Once they recognize the sound they can combine letters to sound the word. Once the child learns a few words then ‘Sight Words’ can be used. I use Picture books and the Internet provided you with innumerable resources for the same. Reading to your child a bedtime story or their favorites fairy tale is the best way you could gain their interest. If you are ever lost for ideas for the perfect gift for your child, run to grab a storybook and I can assure you, you will never regret that decision. You have in your hands a genius in the making, it is up to you to mold and inculcate this amazing habit.