Architect, visual critic, and anthropologist with interest in exploring linkages between design, culture, and lived experience. Particularly interested in challenges involving behavioural change, ranging from preventing open defecation, adopting good health and hygiene practices, promoting reading at an early age, and reducing air pollution.
More than 6 years of professional experience in addressing social innovation challenges in multiple sectors, such as healthcare, education, financial services, telecommunications, agriculture, across emerging economies using user-centered and participatory design approaches.
Current focus is on helping start ups in India evaluate the effectiveness and refine their business ideas based on the needs and behaviours of target users.
“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift,” said a famous author Cate Di Camilo.
But more often than not, we gift our children books by popular authors that we want them to read or other children are reading. Very rarely we gift them what they would actually like to read based on their interests.
When I discovered that my 5 year old sonny boy loved math and talked about numbers all day long, I searched for a related book and was lucky enough to find one that aligned perfectly…
The book ‘THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH’ became a perfect gift that he enjoys reading over and over again to think more and more about numbers!
When the air outside was relatively clean, we spent our week conducting multiple interactive storytelling sessions with Grade 1 and 5 students at the BRITISH SCHOOL, New Delhi, educating them about Indoor Air Check – air monsters (dust, smoke and gases) inside their homes using real-life props based on a story in our book – CITY OF STARS.
Because we believe that children are the key agents of behavioural change we wish to see in our society. Because we want to make them eco-warriors both outside and inside their homes. Because we believe in truly passing on the greatest values to them for the sake of their health and their own future!
The feedback from the school at the end made our day. “Today was fabulous…We enjoyed listening to the interesting story and talk on our current pollution situation. Thank you for reading to us during the Book Week.”
We have all had our fears growing up. Reading this book to my son a night before author speak session at his school reminded me of them…fear of monsters/ghosts, fear of lizards, fear of darkness, fear of scissors used during a haircut…and the list goes on! I also got reminded of some of my own unusual childhood fears – fear of WATER and FIRE.
While my fears were instilled because of some life incidents, more often than not fears in children are instilled by parents. Many of our fears continue till adult age (e.g., fear of lizards) and we often pass them on to our children. We also resort to them to discipline our children (drink your milk or else…) or protect them (beware of strangers).
We often forget that they can deeply impact our child’s psychology, develop into bigger fears when they grow up, such as fear of failure, and come in the way of raising a POSITIVE and HAPPY child. When I realised my 5 year old did not raise his hand when all children were talking about their fears during the session, I thought more deeply about what I had been doing to raise a FEARLESS CHILD…
1. SEE AND TALK ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF ‘UGLY’ THINGS – We often talk about beautiful colours and patterns of masks that adorn the walls of every corner of our house instead of describing them as ugly monsters or ghosts. We observe and enjoy discussing the changing colours of a chameleon. We also read books that portray ‘scary things’- mouse, snakes and lizards – in a positive light.
2. NEVER PUSH YOUR CHILD BEFORE THEY ARE READY – I developed a fear of water which took me years to shed off my skin because I was pushed into the swimming pool by my older brother where I almost drowned. I have never pushed my child into an activity which he is not willing to try himself.
3. DO NOT BE OVERPROTECTIVE – Taking my child up and down narrow and dark alleys of monuments from a young age has certainly helped in preventing fear of darkness or heights. Telling him not to talk to people he has never met before and not how bad things will happen to him if he does, has helped to warn him about strangers without instilling fear.
4. ADDRESS THEIR FEARS FROM A YOUNG AGE – When I realised that he had started fearing dogs a bit because we don’t own a pet, we decided to learn the names of dogs in our building and say hello to them or talk lightly about their moods when they are barking at us during our evening walks.
So what do I do to keep my child off things that can harm him? Simply say NO in a firm voice instead of instilling fear. What do I do to discipline my child when he is not listening to me? Try to lure him in through opportunities he will miss on (e..g, playing with a best friend if he doesn’t finish his milk on time) instead of scaring him with ghosts or lizards! And what do I often remind myself day in day out at work – KEEP MOVING FORWARD FEARLESSLY!
Neil Gaiman, a British fiction writer of children and adult books, in an article highlighting the future of libraries, reading, and day dreaming, emphasizes that children should be allowed to read what they enjoy as opposed to what adults consider good books for them.
“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”
Here are few stories of parents who developed child-driven love for reading in their bundles of joy! If you have a similar story to share with other parents, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conducted a session with Grade 2 and 3 students around how to celebrate Green Diwali based on one of the 12 stories in our book – City of Stars!
Was delighted to see children engrossed in storytelling and participate excitedly in a discussion around how to change our habits and convince our friends and family too, to celebrate a truly GREEN DIWALI this year.
At the end of the session, was also happy to share tips on story writing with the budding authors!
Got an opportunity to exhibit our book ‘City of Stars’ at the Shriram School, Delhi – a pioneer in environment initiatives. Was delighted to see children across age groups (from 5 to 9 yrs old) as well as their parents and teachers take keen interest in our City of Stars storybook and calendar book .
One of the hardest things about planning a kid’s bday party is deciding on return gifts.While the kids are most excited about it, moms are often biting their nails figuring out what unique gifts to give kids to make the party and the kids faces shine!
When one such mom approached us for ideas for return gifts because she did not want to gift the usual stationery items or books, we proposed our unique behaviour changing games for kids across age groups (4 to 9 yrs).
Why not gift children a brighter future to build habits and values that protect our environment and their own health instead of fancy gifts wrapped in bright wrapping papers?
She caught on to this innovative idea of games that can bring change in the behaviour of kids and so did the kids who enjoyed carrying the games back in eco-friendly bags.
While the mom will get blessings from the Mother Earth for sending less waste to the landfills, the kids will learn basic maths in a fun way and bond with their families, besides changing their habits, while playing these ‘Save the World’ games.
One of the most challenging aspects of motherhood is keeping your child productively busy while you are working from home or struggling to find your ‘me time.’ More often than not, we (moms) are looking for activity sheets for preschoolers and early schoolers to learn new concepts and keep them busy every month on their own at a reasonable price.
This led us to start thinking about designing a single tool which keeps a child occupied throughout the year through simple, yet engaging activities with multiple interactions (drawing, colouring, writing, tracing, pasting stickers) and multi-dimensional learning.
A tool which helps the child learn new concepts (numbers, days of the week, months, year etc), along with keeping a track of festivals and other important dates like birthdays and vacations through. A tool that gets a child to learn about constellations in an extremely fun way as well as touch, see and feel natural materials, which enhances a child’s observation, spatial recognition and visual cognition skills, but most importantly, brings him/her closer to nature.
Conducted two back to back workshops at Kunskapsskolan international school with Grade 2 students and Grade 4 students around two topics (Indoor Air Check and Energy Saving) from our storybook – City of Stars.
While the Grade 2 students enjoyed interactive storytelling, guessing sources of indoor air pollution, getting such enemies of clean air out of the tent house and placing them in three categories (dust, smoke and gases), it was a delight to see their extreme enthusiasm and excitement in even guessing how to prevent them.
The testimonial from the Team Lead at the school at the end of the day added to our joy…
“It was a pleasure to have you in the school with your team today for a workshop on indoor air pollution. Your team conducted a wonderful session for grade 2 students enriching them with the cause, effect and the ways to prevent indoor air pollution. It was a delight to see our students interacting and participating equally with your team. You took care of each minute detail as per their interest by using the props and storytelling. We look forward to more of such sessions, with you in the future.”
In Energy Saving session, was taken aback by the excitement of Grade 4 students to guess energy eating monsters at home, the amount of energy they consume as well as learn how to save energy consumed by the biggest monster – AC, by keeping a check on their everyday behaviours!
City of Stars, a unique and innovative experiential book, with 12 real-life stories and 48 activity pages, is designed to bring behavioural change in children across age groups through the year to protect their own health and environment!