What is hands-on parenting?

HoP started with questions that some parents were contemplating. These questions led to understanding what resources we can rely on and what can do with them. This led to an experimental initiative that we continue to work on and learn from. This whole blog is a result of our continued experimentation and our learnings from it. Below is the original document that helped us organise things a bit better.

Key questions

  • We, the parents, help big companies become bigger and better .. why can’t we give our children a head-start?
  • In a world so polarised and fragmented, can we give our children some tools to navigate it better? Even help them figure out a nice middle ground, away from the extremes?
  • Other than the initially helping my kids to learn to walk, talk etc, what am I actively teaching my child? Am I handing over my responsibility to the school to teach them everything they need to lead a meaningful life?
  • I am worried about academics but that’s a very small part of the picture, what else is out there that they need to succeed?
  • How can we help them live happier, fuller lives that don’t revolve around money but their passions?
  • What can we do to help the kids rely on their mental capabilities more than the brands they should be wearing to look cool? Can we stop them from becoming a walking/talking billboard?
  • Where can I get some guidance to be a better parent?
  • Can we help the kids just do life better?
  • We complain about the schools and the community, not doing enough, can we do anything to solve those issues ourselves?
  • Given our status as relative newcomers to the country, what can we do to alleviate the issue of social isolation for our kids and provide them with a network they can rely on?
  • In a world with increasing mental health issues, can we do something to ensure that we are aware of what’s going in our kids’ life? Give them tools to deal with the stress?
  • We all want to change the world, maybe instead of us being the hero of the story, we can be the supporting actors for our kids and help them be the heroes?

Resources available

As parents we are always working with competing priorities. Parenting is and should be a community responsibility, in that vein, it is relatively easy to slot out some dedicated time that the parents can come together as a group and contribute with their own expertise, every little matters. Pooling together some money to buy some kits and resources that can be shared is much easier than everyone doing it all on their own.

The proposal

Bring all the kids together once a week for 2 – 2.5 hours. Encourage the social element and turn the parents into hands-on mentors that have support from other parents that are aligned on the vision.


We will group together the kids by their school grade:

  • Cohort K –  a Grade 1 to 3
  • Cohort M – Grade 3 to 6
  • Cohort Y – Grade 7+

What can the children get out of their time?

  • Become the best version of themselves e.g self-discovery – All Cohorts
  • Focus on “What kind of person I want to be?” rather than “What do I want to be?” –  cohorts M and Y
  • Be good, thankful, contributing citizens of the global and local community – All Cohorts
  • Self-discovery by understanding others – M and Y
  • Learn why empathy, supporting others pays off in the long run  – All Cohorts
  • Learn to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing rather than fear of punishment  – All Cohorts
  • Social grooming. Having a safety net by establishing a “circle of trust”  – All Cohorts
  • Become producers rather than consumers – M and Y
  • Learn the ability to distinguish between information and crap – M and Y
  • Learn to say “I don’t know”, as a stepping stone to more knowledge  – All Cohorts
  • Understand the physical e.g what is the universe made of? M and Y
  • Understand the metaphysical e.g ethics and civility – Y
  • Academic support for STEM subjects – M and Y
  • Connect bookish knowledge with the world around  – All Cohorts
  • Learn problem-solving skills  – All Cohorts
  • Special focus on our girls to help them become kick-ass fearless leaders – M and Y
  • Learn to be okay outside the comfort zone  – All Cohorts
  • Build grit and resilience e.g learn to fail and get up again – M and Y
  • Introduction to ideas they would otherwise learn much later on, maybe the hard way – M and Y
  • Help them discover their passions  – All Cohorts
  • Understand tools and methodologies to facilitate their entrepreneurial adventures – Y
  • Be prepared for hard/tricky conversations e.g. racism, sexism etc – M and Y
  • Discuss any personal issues with the adults and seek guidance  – All Cohorts
  • Learn general life skills e.g cooking, baking, mending etc –  M and Y
  • Learn the importance of teamwork  – All Cohorts
  • Gradually build a CV, without realising it – Y

What should the parents get out of their time?

  • More hands-on contribution/involvement in the future of the kids, in a group environment
  • Parents relying more on their our own mix of skill-sets and expertise rather than looking outward
  • Parents can always disengage from their own kid and bring in another parent to assist, if they feel like the child is not taking them seriously (or taking them too seriously)
  • Not resource intensive
  • Input from other parents is most valuable, new perspectives in parenting always help. My ignorance is infinite, maybe I missed something that someone else can pull me up on?
  • If we trust each other with our kids, then we trust each other. It establishes a strong community bond.

What not to expect

  • It’s not a school or a tuition center.
  • It’s not a competition. If a child is having difficulty, it’s okay, we will all help make things better.
  • Understand that our primary focus is not on doing well in the exams, it would be a by-product in the longer run. When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.
  • We don’t have a strict curriculum but we will follow some sane pattern to build the conceptual ladder. We will adjust based on feedback, needs and new ideas.
  • Don’t expect immediate results, it takes time for kids to settle and re-calibrate.
  • We are not creating a bubble. This means the kids would be reading literature and scientific books that might go against the belief system in your home and kids need to learn to navigate these differences.
  • We aren’t a perfect, homogeneous bunch. Help us become better with constructive criticism and ideas.
  • Kids might not immediately like it or understand what’s going on, give it time. Although we try to make it non-boring but sometimes it can’t be helped. Encourage your kids to attend regularly and acquire the taste for it.

Suggested timetable on the day

  • Upskill in something specific with 4 to 6 weeks long themes e.g. public speaking & presentation – 30 to 60 minutes
  • Video and discussion – 30 minutes
  • Introduce something new, preferably something linked to working with their hands e.g using tools, fixing things, baking etc – 30 minutes

Other Activities

  • Kids will be given topics to write stories or essays (2000 to 5000 words) on over a longer period of time e.g 6 weeks.
  • All kids should know how to solve the Rubik’s cube. This will be an ongoing exercise.
  • To encourage reading, kids will be given books (ebook or otherwise) to read during the week, at least a few pages or a chapter.
  • One call during the week for the kids over Skype
  • Parents call to go over what’s working and what isn’t. Planning ahead and re-aligning. Difficulties and ideas to counter them.
  • Outdoor activity once every couple of months, as per suitability. Family BBQ, picnic, hiking etc
  • For older kids interested in dedicated time for programming, Arduino etc can have one dedicated hour during the week in the evening.
  • As per suitability, kids can be given paid assignments. Any time required for this will be catered to outside the usual hours.


  • Slack for communication
  • Skype for conference calls for the kids
  • Parents have a WhatsApp group
  • Trello, when needed
  • Medium blog for older kids
  • Modern tech – cloud, AI
  • Standard MS tools – excel in particular
  • Note taking – how to filter out key messages
  • Google and products
  • Emails – professional communication
  • Cybersecurity as users awareness

Measuring Success

  • Monthly review with parents against learning objectives
  • Progress with assignments
  • Participation scoring, as an indicator of engagement
  • What new tools did they learn
  • What new information did they create
  • How are they working as a group/ team
  • Have we noticed any positive or negative behavioural changes
  • Impacts on Practical life

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