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Interactive reading to charge a child's brain

+1 vote

Engaging children while reading to them can better activate their brains, say scientists who suggest that simply speaking words aloud from a book may not be enough to improve cognitive development in toddlers. The study involved functional MRI scans of 22 4-year-old girls to explore the link between engagement and verbal interactivity during a mother-child reading observation and neural activation and connectivity during a story listening task.

Children exhibiting greater interest in the narrative showed increased activation in right-sided cerebellar areas of the brain, thought to support cognitive skill acquisition and refinement via connection to language, association and executive function areas.

The study, led by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre in the US, reinforces the value of "dialogic reading," where the child is encouraged to actively participate. "The takeaway for parents in this study is that they should engage more when reading with their child, ask questions, have them turn the page, and interact with each other," said John Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and lead author of the study.

"In turn, this could fuel brain activation - or turbocharge the development of literacy skills, particularly comprehension, in preschool aged children," explained Hutton.

posted Jun 2, 2017 by Krinz Kiran

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+1 vote

Photo credit   V. Srinivas Murthy, The

From a foundation in memory of a friend to a library on the move, young professionals in the city are taking books to those who need them the most

Sarumthy K.

Children at Twinkle Library, which was inaugurated this month, at Cheshire Home on Old Airport Road          

Children living in the neighbourhood of a primary school and crèche run by city-based trust Sewac-B in Guddadahalli, Hebbal, were pleasantly surprised a year ago when stacks of books were delivered to their premises.

It heralded the birth of a library— a gift by four friends.

Under the banner Nirupa Reading Foundation, city-based Rajni Singh and her friends — Vikram Sridhar, Sindhu Naik, and Kapil Vardhan — started setting up libraries in children’s homes, schools, and old age homes across the city. The initiative began last year, and to date, they have set up three libraries—two in Bengaluru and one in Gurugram (Haryana).

Their plan is to spread the habit of reading in cities across India.

Apart from the crèche, the second library in Bengaluru — christened Twinkle Library — was inaugurated this month at Cheshire Home on Old Airport Road.

Nirupa Reading Foundation, which was registered as a trust in March this year, was started in memory of their friend Nirupa, who died after battling cancer at the age of 36. Nirupa, Ms. Singh, and Ms. Naik met when they were part of Runner Girls India, an all-women runners group in Bengaluru, in 2007

“I introduced Nirupa to Vikram and Kapil and we used to travel together extensively. We were almost like a family,” Ms. Singh says. “Nirupa was very fond of reading. We wanted to keep her memory alive in a constructive way, and that is how the foundation came about. We want to give the gift of reading to underprivileged children and adults through the trust,” Ms. Singh, a 41-year-old software engineer, adds.

The Hebbal library is operated by the crèche staff five days a week for two hours in the evening. The children were asked to come up with a name for the library and it was christened “Happy library”. The library has 500 books, of which 120 are in Kannada and the remaining in English.

“Nirupa Reading Foundation contacted us and set up a well-structured library. Now, at least 20 children visit the library every day from the neighbourhood. We also have a librarian to assist the children,” Shalini Joshi, secretary, Sewac-B, says.

At Cheshire Home, which provides care, treatment, and education support to about 45 physically challenged and visually impaired children, 300 children’s books have already been stacked in a cupboard. Most of the books are pre-owned and donated. “The new books are funded by our friends and relatives. We have not gone for corporate funding as of now,” Ms. Singh adds.

The librarians at the two facilities have been trained and all books are colour coded to match with the children’s reading levels. “We have followed the Hippocampus Reading Foundation’s Grow by Reading Model so that children read books appropriate for their age and reading capacity,” she concludes.



+1 vote

Dayashankar Mishra

Every parent wants their child to do well in life and wants them to get good marks in their exams.                         However, the fiercely competitive world certainly doesn't make things easier. But do marks or a percentage hold a higher priority than your own child? Every year when school board results are declared, it brings with it a wave of depression and a number of suicides among students.

Who is to blame? Is parental pressure to do 'better than your siblings/cousins/friends/neighbours' worth more than your child's happiness and mental wellbeing? Parents sometimes forget that children are a part of them. So what if they didn't score as per your expectations? Should their percentage become a measuring unit for your love for them?

At that point, your love and support is the only thing a child requires - a promise that you're with them at every step of their life, to pick them up when they fall. Because there is no shame in falling down, but there is pride in getting back up. Don't let a mere marksheet make or break the bond of love and compassion you hold for your child. Let them make mistakes, they are, after all, human too.

Salutations to those parents who find a way to celebrate with their children regardless of how they scored in their exams. You might not know it right now, but your unconditional support will definitely help your child later in life and you will see it when they live their life with their heads held high.

Show them love, give them hope, be their pillar of strength like you should, because a small speed-bump should never decide the journey of their life.

+1 vote

How do you raise a thinking citizen? Start thinking yourself
After two refreshing holidays in cities both cleaner/dirty, organised/messed up than our own, I wondered how we could get kids to think beyond themselves and our own needs.

By Christobelle JosephChristobelle Joseph, Bangalore Mirror Bureau

Our country has been notoriously branded as a nation of selfish people. We get ahead, often, by stepping on everyone else. Mr Dad argued that our sheer numbers make it natural for behaviour such as this. He’d seen amazingly similar (and “extraordinary”) behaviour in London recently, when the public transit system had unexpected problems and people needed to get home – some more urgently than the rest.

In my mind, many South East Asian countries are populous, and yet there is order. They don’t just deface/ruin public property on a whim/habit. Could the secret lie in giving kids an overview of the world we live in? Could a widening of our own view be a step into letting them see their worlds holistically?

Small example. My early a.m. flight, last night, saw many children disrupted and sleep-deprived. Travelling with young children myself, I have immense patience reserved for little ones and a storehouse full of comforting smiles for embarrassed parents; I use them freely.

While there were kids who braved the snakey queues with few inaudible sniffles, heavy eyes and cheeks, others had all-out wriggling-and-screaming fest with their parents. A closer listen revealed to me, in that short social experiment, that the ones who were dealing better, were the ones with communicative parents.

“Why are we waiting?” “I want my toys!” “I need to go to Bangalore!””When can we go home?” seemed questions common to all the children, but while some parents responded with “Do you want to get your bag? Then wait!”, others drew children’s attention to the fact that there was a long line of people who had arrived
before them.

I thought this was fab. Suddenly, it was not about me and MY discomfort, MY late luggage, but about US waiting, a system to follow, and a queue to respect those that had arrived earlier and waited longer.
I’m not sure how much the kids understood, and what impact it will have for life, but I liked that approach better.

+2 votes

When a 15-day-old baby, who had a bout of mild diarrhoea and vomiting became severely dehydrated, the parents, though worried, did not sense something could be seriously wrong. However, they were shocked when their doctor diagnosed the baby with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).

CAH is an inherited disorder that affects the adrenal glands where the glands cannot produce cortisol and aldosterone, and instead produce an unwanted excess amount of androgens.

A child with CAH lacks enzymes the adrenal glands use to produce hormones that help regulate metabolism, the immune system, blood pressure, and other essential functions. Parents with children suffering from it often have great difficulty in the upbringing of the child, including treatment, getting school admission and other support issues.

For the first time, Shyam Nair and Deepa Kannan, parents of a CAH child, have started a support group called ‘CAH Support India’ ( www.cahindia,org ) involving a community of parents, grandparents and caregivers of CAH children. The International Coalition for Endocrine Patient Support Organisations worldwide has listed this support group as the first such group for endocrine disorders in India.

The couple has also created a closed Facebook group for parents and endocrinologists and a Facebook page called Omkar’s journey with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia to chronicle all possible events in the life of a child with CAH . The link is

Shaila S. Bhattacharyya, paediatric endocrinologist at Manipal Hospitals, who is also part of the support group, said: “A CAH child gets severely dehydrated even with a mild episode of diarrhoea and needs hospitalisation, which is stressful both for the child and the caregivers.”

Although about one in 10,000 children are born with CAH, awareness about the condition is low. It is either not detected early or is misdiagnosed and turns fatal in most children within months of their birth. A neonatal hormone test 17-OHP should be done to screen for CAH in children before symptoms appear. “However, not all hospitals do this test,” the doctor added.

Ms. Deepa Kannan, a yoga teacher, said she and her husband are trying to spread awareness about the condition, which is not known even in educated circles. “Having experienced the challenges in bringing up our child, who is seven years old now, our aim is to support parents and help them in bringing up their children,” she told The Hindu.

Narrating how difficult it is for CAH children to get admission in regular schools as the child needs continuous monitoring, she said the aim of the support group is to change this mindset of schools. “Such discrimination towards children for no fault of theirs is unfair,” she said.

+2 votes

NEW DELHI: India has taken a firm step towards building 20 world-class educational institutions, which will be termed Institutions of Eminence, with the human resource development ministry moving the proposal to the Union Cabinet for approval. Firmly bearing the stamp of the Prime Minister’s Office, this is a new framework to catapult Indian institutions to global recognition by freeing the best of them from the University Grants Commission’s restrictive regulatory regime and ushering in an unprecedented level of institutional autonomy. Here are some of the finer details:

WHAT WILL MAKE THEM ‘EMINENT’ The UGC (Institutions of Eminence Deemed to be Universities) regulations, 2017 will govern all such institutions that are conferred with this status, ensuring their complete academic, administrative and financial autonomy. These regulations will override all other UGC regulations and free the institutions of UGC’s restrictive inspection regime, the regulatory control over fee and curriculum.

* The institutions will have to achieve a place in the top 500 of any of the global rankings within 10 years of being declared an institution of eminence and eventually reach the top 100 slot * They will have a teacher: student ratio of 1:20 to begin with and 1:10 in five years, with a student enrolment of 15,000 in 15 years. There will be a good mix of Indian and international faculty, and only those who come with a degree from top 500 institutions in global rankings will be considered eligible foreign faculty. * The institutions will be free to select students through a merit-based transparent admission process to ensure no meritorious student is turned away for lack of funds.

Up to 30% foreign students vis-à-vis the strength of domestic students can be admitted. The institution will be free to decide its fee structure but will have to declare it in a transparent manner. Any reports of capitation fee will be treated as serious violation.

An Ombudsman will be set up to cater to student grievances. * One paper will have to be published per faculty member per year on average in a reputed peer reviewed international journal, with publications included in SCOPUS, Web Science, etc. to be counted as a research publication. A world-class library with subscriptions to reputed journals related to courses offered will have to be maintained along with cutting-edge research in frontier areas.

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