Category Archives: Ask the Experts

Ask local experts in fitness, grammar, gardening, spirituality

Gifted children in the classroom

By Geeta Padmanabhan

Call it the Matilda syndrome. A bright child, far ahead in reading, writing and in thinking compared to kids of her age. Not a prodigy, just very bright. Hold that “wow” for a second. It’s hard to believe, but she/he can be a “problem” kid in the classroom. Ask any teacher.

This is why in the B Ed. syllabus in India there is a complete unit on “How to handle the exceptionally bright in the classroom”.

On July 25, 2008, S Chandrasekar, 17 became the youngest postgraduate from IIT-Madras when he received his degree at the convocation. The teenager topped his class. Born on September 25, 1990, Chandrasekar was dubbed a “precocious” child.  "His teachers used to complain that he would finish his work quickly and disturb other children, so we asked them to give him some books to read," said his father. Continue reading

Going Green – in your garden

By Laxmi Natarajan

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle : we hear this everywhere today. Small changes in our everyday life go a long way towards a better environment and prepare us for a greener lifestyle.  Driving hybrid cars (or not driving a car), using alternate modes of transport, conserving electrical energy at home (insulation, using lights only when you need it, using green lights) and yes, using a clothesline, particularly in summer season, are all the things to do to be green.

Last weekend I visited a green event hosted by the City of Belmont and was fascinated by the number of green vendors.   The green industry is taking off in all walks of life.  From the smart car to Segway, Argon filled double paned windows to Compost bins – all these contribute to having clean and less polluted air and a healthier planet. Continue reading

Ask the grammar expert – Capital letters and family relationships

Reader Seema asks:

My students mess up in their writing using capital M for Mom and D for dad in all places. How can I teach them (first graders) when to capitalize mom and when not to. How can I make it easy for them?

Geeta Padmanabhan answers: 

Family relationships are capitalised when used as proper names.

I sent a thank-you note to Aunt Sarah, but not to my other aunts.

Here is a present I bought for Mother

.Did you buy a present for your mother?

If the kids are capitalizing “mom”, they can do it in two situations.

1] When they are addressing “mom”. For example:

Mom, are you there?

[2] When they use it as a proper name.

You know who is in that room? It is Mom. Here the kid thinks her mother’s name is Mom. That’s how the kid has always known her.

You will notice there is no ‘whose’ marker (my, your, his, her, their) before the word “Mom”. If the sentence establishes the relationship with that marker, “mom” starts with a lower case letter. Once the relationship is established, she is just my/your/her/his/its “mom”.

Example: “Is that your mom?” 
So if a kid writes:
“Mom makes me do all the work” or “I buy a gift for Mom” we have to accept it as right.
It becomes wrong only when the sentence goes, “My Mom drives me to school.”

Children learn through drill work. Some of the work we have for beginners:
[1] Write your name on the corner of every page of your workbook.
[2] Your city, district
[3] Names of parents, friends
[4] Then move on to sentences. The sentences are simple first and then have proper names.
Example: River Nile flows through Africa.
Exercises could be
[a] Fill in the blanks
[b] Correct the sentences.
[c] This simple letter has mistakes in capitalization. Can you fix it? Kids get familiar with letters as well.
[d] Game of tic-tac-toe for capitalization
[e] Kids pick a capital letter from a box of cards. Then write a word using it as the first letter.
[f] Make it clear there are no capital letters in the middle of a word. Give a list (fish, fiSh). Which one is right?
[g] Building sentences. Break sentences into three parts. Put them in three columns. Ask kids to form sentences using capital letters as clues.

Hope this helps. 

Spring ahead – Getting your garden ready for the season

By Laxmi Natarajan 

The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another.  The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.  ~Henry Van Dyke

This morning I looked out of my window and saw the first blooms on my flowering plum and could smell the spring in the air.   This month early spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and grape muscari start to flower and it reminds me that it is time to get ready for the sowing season ahead.  It is the time to fix your garden structures, ready the flower beds, prepare the soil for the vegetable garden, cleanup the weeds, add a bare-root fruit tree or a rose bush and the list goes on. Continue reading

Shobha Reddy answers readers' queries -1

Shobha Reddy is a fitness guru and personal trainer based in the Bay Area. She will answer reader queries on fitness and nutrition. Questions may be sent to her via our feedback form.

1. What are the diet challenges for a vegetarian who wants to train for a marathon?
For any person training for a marathon, he or she needs to consume a lot of complex carbohydrates which will give him a lot of energy for endurance events, such as marathons. Complex carbohydrates include whole wheat bread and brown rice, NOT white rice and white bread, etc. Moderate to high protein consumption is also needed.  This is one of the challenges for vegetarians.  Good vegetarian protein sources are nuts, lentils, tofu, and cheese.  There is nothing wrong with adding a little protein powder to a meal as well.  Morning fruit smoothie shakes with protein powder is a great addition.
The key is not to skip balanced meals when training for a marathon.
2. After age 40 what are the diet no-nos and fitness yes-yesses for a woman?

Women need to cut back their sugar intake, including sweets, simple carbs such as white bread/rice, and soda, and increase their iron intake such as broccoli and green leafy vegetables.  Fitness should be increased to at least six times a week. Weight training is a must to prevent osteoporosis, especially after age 40.


Sadhguru answers readers' queries -1

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev has very graciously agreed to answer questions from WNI readers on spirituality and life. Send your queries to WNI via our feedback form. 

1.  Living in the US, one of the things we fear is that something will happen to our loved ones while we are far away, unable to help them. How do we cope with this?
Let us not waste our time and life worrying about things that we cannot do, let us see what can be done.  We can reach out to them emotionally, which should not be difficult w/ today’s communication capabilities or you can reach out financially, if that is what is needed.  Going there personally may not solve any issue as such, so it is best to reach out to them in whatever way possible.   And for yourself learn to be meditative, which would be a great contribution to yourself and all life around you.
2. What is the ideal relationship between a parent and his or her child?  

The most important thing is to stop being a parent and rather be a good friend.   A child who is growing up, whose body and psyche is changing rapidly is constantly looking for a friend who is just of a little more capability and understanding than his own.  Be a friend to him and also seek his friendship for your own well being.