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AT HOME WITH HOMER: Back to School, Creating a Path to Confidence — with Stephanie Dua

AT HOME WITH HOMER: Back to School, Creating a Path to Confidence — with Stephanie Dua 1920 1080 Kanika

Kanika: It’s been a hard year; families have been through a lot of twists and turns. Through it all, our kids have shown us just how resilient they are. As we prepare for kids to go back to school this Fall, what should parents be thinking about? How can best prepare their kids?

Stephanie: For me personally and the way we think about it at HOMER is, it’s most important to spend time this summer building confidence and connection. As you mentioned, kids have shown just how resilient they are but we as parents must continue building their confidence by giving them tools to continue learning, solving problems, overcoming obstacles, and taking on challenges with a growth mindset.

Stephanie Tips:

  • Building Social Emotional Confidence
    • To thrive academically, kids need a deep sense of security and safe spaces to process their pandemic experience.
    • Create open dialogue about the pandemic
      • What I loved the most about last year, what I liked the least?
      • What I am most excited about next year, what I am most nervous about?
      • Write a story
  • Celebrate “I Did it Moments”
    • Celebrate the small victories along the way, Learning is a journey
    • When kids are learning something new, praise can really help them through those early frustrating moments and help them push on
  • Embracing a Growth Mindset
    • Develop a daily affirmation
    • Practice tools and strategies to change and grow and with a healthy mindset
    • Calming strategies to help deal with stress
  • Prepare for the academic year
    • What supplemental resources might you want to incorporate this year, that might not have in the past? There are a number of digital resources including HOMER, codeSpark Academy, etc that can help academically all while playing and having fun!
    • Be informed — Speak to the school about:
      • Their focus on SEL
      • How they might deal with the varying learning levels after 2020

Episode Links:

Visit learnwithhomer.com/momsense for a 60-day FREE trial

summer of play featured

AT HOME WITH HOMER: Summer of Play — with Stephanie Dua

AT HOME WITH HOMER: Summer of Play — with Stephanie Dua 1920 1080 Kanika

Kanika: Summer is here, but it feels different from any other summer. Typically summer break is a time to travel, enjoy the sunshine, spend time with friends and family, however this year, how we spend our summer isn’t as clear — Is it safe to travel? Should we use this time to catch up on school? Take summer school classes? Or is this a time for play? A time to recover and recharge?

Stephanie: Absolutely, I think all families can relate to what you just described. I know I certainly can. On the heels of the pandemic, everything looks a bit different and this certainly applies to summer break.

Kanika: What advice do you have for families when it comes to making the most of this summer break?

Stephanie Tips: School offers kids that needed sense of structure. When summer comes around it’s important to give kids the freedom to play, while offering some structure. The key is finding a nice balance!

  • Get into nature. Nature has the ability to heal us, so whether that’s a walk around the neighborhood, hike or a day trip to a nearby national park with your family.
    • Create a scavenger hunt together. Before you head out, make a list of things you might see on your walk
  • Encourage independence and a bit of downtime
    • Start a project that can be worked on a bit everyday
  • Studies have shown the importance of having jobs around the house. It’s important to make sure your kids feel like they’re part of the team but contributing with certain chores. This also gives them structure and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Encourage play, not academic learning because the good news is that Play is Learning! Like our friend Fred Rogers once said: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” So think of this as your SUMMER OF PLAY!
    • Play is so powerful because kids don’t realize just how much they’re learning while playing. It’s like “sneaking” vegetables into the muffin or smoothie recipe to get some greens in there.

Episode Links:

Visit learnwithhomer.com/momsense for a 60-day FREE trial

Rupa Parekh – Jai Jai Hooray!

Rupa Parekh – Jai Jai Hooray! 600 600 Kanika


I am always on the lookout for educational, cultural toys to teach my kids about our Hindu religion in a fun, captivating way. When I attended Brown Girl Magazine‘s “Mimosas with Mom” event in New York (thanks for hosting Trisha Sakhuja!), I was thrilled to meet fellow mompreneur Rupa Parkeh. Her company, Umani (named after her daughter Uma and son Niko), creates beautifully-crafted, simple learning tools that introduce our Indian culture to new audiences with modern flair. Rupa told me about her first product launch, the Jai Jai Hooray flash card set, which showcases the nine deities of Hinduism in a SAY-SEE-LEARN framework enabling anyone to be a teacher or student. I thought the concept was brilliant and bought a set for my twins.

Rupa and I stayed in touch as she relocated from New York to Houston and she included me in a focus group for her next launch, The Goddess Power Tower.

Wasn’t that inspiring? I’ll give you a second to wipe your tears and blow your nose. This commercial pulls at my heartstrings too and makes me think of all the strong women in my life, especially my nani who taught me to follow my sanatan dharma, or “the right way to live.” The Goddess Power Tower poignantly conveys how each goddess in Hindu mythology is a mother (Mata), and is synonymous with virtues we should aspire to, like Sarawasti Mata symbolizes wisdom and Durga Mata is a fearless warrior. We all face mom guilt from time to time and underestimate ourselves and our abilities, but the truth is, we are real-life goddesses and make an impact on our children in so many ways.


I was honored to be a part of Jai Jai Hooray’s #SheisaGoddess campaign where nine women were featured to represent the nine goddesses. Rupa chose me as her real-life Parvati, the ambassador of motherhood and fertility; You can read more about it here and check out photos here.

I am so pleased to have met Rupa and convinced her to share her story on Musings of a Mompreneur. 😉 Originally from Buffalo, she attended Northwestern for undergrad and earned her MBA from Wharton. Her husband Emre is Turkish American. Rupa has been working in tech, design, and innovation for the past 15 years and aims to help children, and adults alike, learn and play better.

What does motherhood mean to you?

Being a mother to Uma and Niko has been such an honor and blessing. They are growing up to be such clever, funny and creative kids. Our first and second thoughts nearly everyday that we wake up as parents are: “wow, I hope we make them proud” and “how long before they realize we have no idea what we’re doing?!”

When did you become a mompreneur?

I come from a family of business people. We talked about customers and clients at dinner; we geek out about ads. Everyone in my family is sort of a sucker for good marketing.

Umani and Jai Jai Hooray was inspired by the family I’m starting to grow. Both my husband and I are connected to our culture, but we’re not experts. It’s an overwhelming feeling to have children and suddenly you’re supposed to be a teacher of language, customs, and heritage. When Uma was a baby, I searched for tools, games and activities that were both engaging and well designed. I couldn’t find much. Not about India nor any other culture. We saw a gap in the market and went for it. Umani was born.

You believe that every day is Mother’s Day and designed the Goddess Power Tower to serve as a reminder.

Absolutely. Moms, by definition, can do more! It’s astonishing to think about the amount of thinking, feeling, planning, loving, dreaming and nurturing a mom can do all at once.

Celebrating mom just one day out of the year isn’t enough! We thought it would be really fun to create a toy that makes it easier for families to treasure mama. Afterall, for little ones, mom is the center of their universe–she IS a goddess. (Unfortunately, I think that wears off fast as they become tweens!)

Our favorite part of the Goddess Power Tower is the poem that builds when you stack each block. It’s an ode to mommy that should resonate with any family, regardless of their cultural background.

We loved your mom Rashmi Parkeh’s feature. How did your mom inspire you to start your business?

My mom started her small business when I was 6 months old. She is a force of nature–at 69 she has more energy than I think I will ever have. She is also our families culture keeper. Even before we had children, I always wondered, “how do I bottle up my mom and all of her tips and stories?” Umani and Jai Jai Hooray are a first step toward doing that.

Who is your inner Goddess?

Great question! What’s really cool about the Goddess Power Tower is that it brings to life that women have so many personas. On some days, I feel like a warrior (Durga) and other days I’m more calm and fluid (Ganga).

What are your hopes for Umani for the future?

Toys, books and media are simply not diverse–certainly not in the United States. We want to help families feel more culturally connected and we’re only just scratching the surface. We’ll be experimenting with digital learning and play in the coming year. Stay tuned!

What are your top tips for mothers and mompreneurs.

  1. Be patient with yourself. The chips are unfortunately still stacked against moms so we have to create our own opportunities AND set our own pace.
  2. Get better at vocalizing what you need and want in real-time. With your colleagues, boss, spouse, friends–be transparent about what you’re feeling, what you need and what could help you. Moms are optimizers not festerers!
  3. Make time for date night, girls time or solo sanctuaries. If we’re lucky, life is a marathon. Newborn and toddler years are exhausting. Don’t burn out when you’ve just begun!