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The Plight of Children’s Reading in War-Torn Countries

 

For most of us here, war is a nightmare we only experience through print and the media. In other parts of the world, war is a nightmare people are forced to live in against their will. They can’t press pause on the horrific events playing out in their lives the way we can pause a television programme. There are no breaks, no “time-outs” where they can take a breather and gather their thoughts on what they’re going through. War is like a fast-moving locomotive; if you happen to be standing on the tracks with no way of getting away from it, you have no choice but to face what’s coming until it passes by.

In a war-torn country, it takes a lot of strength to prioritize things like education. It’s difficult enough to manage your own survival in the midst of the ongoing strife. With bombs and ammunition raining down around you, the subject of books and reading lie far away from your foremost thoughts. The story of Malala Yousafzai– notably what she went through for her education would bring tears to anybody’s eyes. She was merely 14 years old when she was shot in the head for fighting for the right to a proper education. One can only imagine the horrors children her age (and quite possibly younger) had to face just so they can attend school. This is not just something that is happening in one location. Horrifyingly, it is a common and ongoing plight in various countries around the world.

The following are some words taken from the children of Syria, victims of a terrifying ordeal that has been going on since 2011 :

“You can’t imagine what I’ve seen. What Syria has seen…Please help us. I am asking people around the world who can, please help us,” Ali, 12 years old

“I ask the leaders all around the world to save the children in Syria, save them from all the shelling. Children need medicine. We need clothes, and food. Every child should play and be happy. I am worried about the future. What will happen to us? Where will we go?” Hassan, 14 years old

“Some men came to our village. I tried to escape, but they took me to jail. Except it wasn’t a jail– it was my old school. It’s ironic– they took me there to torture me, in the same place I used to go to school to learn. They had taken over the school and made it into a torture centre.” Khalid, 15 years old

Those are quotes from 3 children– only 3 out of about 3.3 million children living in the midst of the crisis, cut off completely from education. Who knows how many more children there are living through the savagery? How many more are unaccounted for?  What has happened since those quotes were recorded? The extent of our knowledge on their plight only goes as far as the limits set by our reading materials. We are not living in their nightmare. What we have imagined might not even begin to touch the reality of their situation.

For the past four years, the Syrian children have been caught in the middle of a raging storm of barrel bombs, chemical warfare, siege, starvation, mass torture and who knows what else. With all of that going on in their lives, and their own survival at stake, is there even a time and place for them to manage their education? Most of them are stranded and displaced from their families and their homes. Unlike us, there is barely anyone to take them by the hand and guide them through life. The situation is especially sad for the younger ones, because having not lived for very long before the crisis began, all they know is what they’re going through and nothing much else. Their future is bleak, and will remain that way for as long as the crisis is in effect.

A recent report by the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights says the Israeli army has detained 740 Palestinian minors– some as young as 8– in the Occupied West Bank during the first two months of 2014. That is only within TWO months. Most of the charges held against these children are linked to throwing stones or being active in demonstrations. These children aren’t deliberately indulging in what we might deem delinquent behavior for the fun of it, they are fighting for the rights to a better life and future.

In our country, we have learning opportunities in spades. We do not have to fight for the rights to a proper education. Our children are able to develop and learn with ease, unburdened with the monstrosities children trapped in battle zones are faced with. We live in comfortable homes, unfettered with the prospect or war-inflicted ordeals like starvation. It is our duty to send our help to these children and their families, for they are not in a position where they can help themselves.

That is the reason behind Genius Aulad’s READING MISSION FOR SYRIA-PALESTINE, which will commence on the 27th of March till the 9th of April 2014. We aim to spread and instill the habit of reading among the children of the world. We believe that no child should be deprived of the ability to read and learn. On our mission, we will be sharing our Starter Words Reading Series among the children of Palestine and Syrian camps in Jordan. This mission is a joint programme with Islamic Relief Malaysia and TV3. We hope that you can spare us a du’a so we will have a safe return from our journey, InsyaAllah.

The Prophet (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The best gift that a father can bestow upon his son is to arrange good education and training for him.” [Mishkat]

What of the children who have no one to guide them in these trying times? As brothers and sisters in Islam, it is our duty to provide our troubled fellow Muslims with the help that they need. Let’s us pray for the plight of our Muslim brothers and sisters in distress to end. Amiin.

Magical Ramadhan With Our Children


Alhamdulillah, we are well into the month of Ramadhan. It is a month full of extraordinary benefits to reap, and laden with lessons to reinforce within our hearts and the hearts of our little ones. Let us take the opportunity to introduce the incredible and important life lessons to our children while we’re in the heart of this blessed month!

First and foremost, one of the most important elements that we should instill in our children’s hearts is gratitude towards Allah s.w.t. It is He who has blessed with us everything that we have in our lives, every waking moment, every joyous occasion, and the list goes on and on. Begin teaching them so say “Alhamdulillah” whenever they receive something, or when a smile touches their lips. Perhaps come up with a list of family rules, and making it one of them! In shaa Allah, by doing so, they’ll soon be accustomed to saying “Alhamdulillah” that they can’t go a day without saying it at least once.

Another major element highlighted throughout the month of Ramadhan is patience. Throughout this month we are encouraged to keep a calm and patient disposition. It takes a lot of self-control to maintain our patience throughout the day, let alone for an entire month. Especially when you’re young with a whole universe of things to discover. How about inserting the theme of patience into your routine bedtime storytelling sessions? Let this value be food for their thoughts before they fall asleep.

Self-control is also a life lesson that you can brush your child up on. It is not only limited to the act of fasting and abstaining from any form of food or drinks throughout the day. It can also be taught before you break your fast, for example. Imagine a trip to bazaar where there are so many varieties to choose from! Ask your child, “What do you want to eat?” or “Which one do you want?” Teach them how to pick out an amount of food that is just enough to fill their belly. It is through little things and moments like these that you can implant certain values into your child’s character.

It is also a great time to introduce the concept of punctuality to your children. There are certain times, in addition to the daily prayer times, where we have to do certain things. For example, there are specific time frames meant for you to sahur, fast, and iftar. You cannot exceed these important points of time at your whim. For an entire month, you have a timetable all laid out for you. Teaching them to follow this global timetable as closely as they can throughout Ramadhan will not only help them keep their daily prayers in check, but it can also help them to adapt to school, where they would have to follow a timetable as well. In shaa Allah.

Peace is a wonderful element that is also highlighted during this month. The air is different during Ramadhan. It is easier for us to be at ease, easier for us to be calm and relaxed. All of our thoughts are focused on fulfilling what will bring us closer to Allah s.w.t., and because of that most of us are prone to be in a state that is so much more peaceful than the state that we are usually in. Highlight the feeling of peace to your little ones, and draw some comparisons between this month and the rest of the year. Tell them that during the month of Ramadhan, we have to behave as though we are in a mosque. We have to be respectful of everything and everyone. Bring them to the mosque and let them fully immerse themselves in the feeling of what being in it is like. Teach them the proper mannerisms they must adopt whenever they’re in a mosque. Then tell them that during Ramadhan, they are to behave in a similar manner no matter where they are.

The bond that ties all Muslims together are amplified throughout this beautiful month. There is a stronger sense of brotherhood among all of the Muslims in the world, as we basically live the same lives for an entire month. We all do the same thing when we wake up before dawn, we all go through our daily life with at least one or two things in common, and we all meet the end of the day the same way. It is as though we are all in a huge school where we adhere to the same timetable. It is during Ramadhan that you can enlighten your child on the wonders of Muslim brotherhood, and the importance of upholding it. Encourage them to at least be super sweet to their siblings, family members, friends and neighbours. Take them to the mosque for prayers and even for Iftar. Let them experience these things in jama’ah with the Muslim community.

Lastly, an important element to be highlighted to your little ones is equality. It is during Ramadhan that we truly feel as though our ummah is one huge family. The struggles we face during Ramadhan could be what other members of our Muslim family experience on a day to day basis. During Ramadhan, all Muslims are equal. No matter how high their social and financial standing is, they still have to fast like the others who are not as well-off in life as they are. There could be Muslims from opposite ends of the world but all of us are going through the exact same thing. It is the perfect time to teach your children to treat everyone they meet equally, even though they might look, talk and walk differently. Take your child to the library, neighbourhood playground or any public place where they are able to meet all kinds of people. Let them practice interacting in a diverse community, and learn how to be kind to others regardless of their origin.

There are a whole bunch of life-lessons to be taught throughout this remarkable month. Make the most out of Ramadhan by walking your little ones through what being a Muslim means. Who knows, perhaps we could learn a thing or two ourselves? One of the methods that we have taken on to introduce the elements of Ramadhan is through our RAMADHAN : ADVICE FOR ME booklet, which is filled with activities that can help the students understand Ramadhan. In shaa Allah. Take every opportunity to teach your child these life lessons while you can, and make these moments count. With Allah s.w.t.’s blessing, they’ll grow up to be fine young Muslims.

Warming Your Children Up for Ramadhan

Time has flown by with its persistently swift speed, and now we’re well into 2014. It is almost time to welcome the special month of Ramadhan! Even as adults, we would need to adjust more than a few aspects of our daily routine. What of our little ones? How do we gear them up for the upcoming holy month?
One of the most important things that we must teach our children is what Ramadhan is all about, and how unique it is compared to the other months in the year. Perhaps you can incorporate a Ramadhan theme in the nightly bedtime story sessions. You can spin tales of how Ramadhan is essentially like a faraway friend who visits you once a year and showers you with special gifts. You can even describe it to be like a extraordinary ‘school’ all of his Muslim brothers and sisters attend together once every year. Make them anticipate Ramadhan, instead of dreading it. Sure, the idea of abstaining from food and drinks for an entire day might seem daunting to a child…but if we can sprinkle some magic into the idea of Ramadhan itself, perhaps they will be excited for it, and learn to love it way before its arrival.
We can also pique their excitement by putting up Ramadhan-themed decorations around the house. You know the feeling of excitement we get as we decorate the house and embellish our wardrobe for the sake of Eid? Perhaps we can generate the same kind of eagerness by doing the same for Ramadhan. It doesn’t have to be outlandish. Perhaps you can put up a large family Ramadhan tracker or add some special elements to your usual table setting, and things of the sort. Enthusiasm can be infectious, especially when our children see us getting all hyped up for Ramadhan.
It is always good to help them memorize and practice the Niyah for fasting early, as it is an important component in the fasting routine. There are catchy tunes that you can casually sing the Niyah along to with your child. Songs are a great way to help your child remember things.
Another way that we can warm up our children for Ramadhan is to have them wake up a little earlier than usual, perhaps throughout the week before Ramadhan. This is to get them used to the act of waking up early for Sahur later on. Perhaps, as a family, you can perform Subuh in jama’ah as well.
You may also bring your child to the nearest mosque so they can experience
what it is like to pray in jama’ah with other Muslims. You can also teach them of the mannerisms they should adopt whilst in a mosque. You can even arrange group trips to the mosque with your child’s circle of usual play dates. This can be like a preview of what Tarawih would be like.
You should also bring your child to volunteer at the neighbourhood orphanage so they can practice the act of helping others who are in need. Sadaqah and kindness to others is a huge element that is especially highlighted during Ramadhan. When we fast, we develop empathy for other people who aren’t as fortunate as we are. By exposing them to the hardships of others, you are easing them into the idea of how Ramadhan is the month where all Muslims are equal, and that they shouldn’t feel negative about having to fast because what they experience during Ramadhan is a daily phenomenon for some people.
Discussing “special” recipes might also be a fun a way to warm your little ones to Ramadhan. Perhaps you can put together a little scrapbook of special menus to prepare throughout the Ramadhan month. Food is the key to almost anyone’s heart, really. Get their input as to what they might like to break their fast with. Children tend to put their all in something they truly feel a part of. It’s a creatively subtle way to foster the spirit of Ramadhan.
There is a wealth of ideas on warming up your precious children to Ramadhan out there. It’s never too early to prepare them for this special month, as it is a huge part of our identity as Muslims. Encourage your children to fully immerse themselves in everything there is to know about Ramadhan, so they’ll be able to appreciate it as one of the five pillars of Islam. Allow them the opportunity to grasp the magical essence of Ramadhan, as it only comes by once a year.
In honour of doing that, we are setting up an exciting programme for your children to prepare them for Ramadhan. It’s called the ADVICE FOR ME : RAMADHAN WORKSHOP. During the workshop, we will equip your child with the most important components of the fasting month, so they’ll be all geared up and ready to welcome Ramadhan with open arms!
May Allah s.w.t. bless your family with an abundance of patience and rezeki in preparation of the much-anticipated month of Ramadhan, In shaa Allah.

S-PET-acular Benefits for Our Children

Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) was a kind, generous and loving man, and we should all endeavour to emulate the values he upheld when he was alive. One of his inspiring qualities was his great love for animals. He cherished his cat so much that he was willing to cut off his own sleeve instead of waking it from its slumber. MasyaAllah, is that not admirable?

We gripe and grumble about the costs of caring for a household pet, but MasyaAllah, if you knew of how good it would be for you and your little ones, you would probably adopt one of Allah’s beautiful animals into your household as soon as you can. Alhamdulillah, in this day and age, several studies have been made on almost every variable we can think of. They have even been studies on the effect animals impart unto children.

One of the wonderful benefits that have been discovered is that pets teach responsibility. Children can learn responsibility by helping with the caretaking of a pet, InsyaAllah. They learn about the requirements of a living being- such as food, water and exercise. Fish are a great first pet because it is easy to give children and active role in feeding them. Pets that require more attention, like a cat or pony, can present an ideal opportunity for parent and child to spend time together doing activities such as walking or riding the pony or preparing the food.

Pets are friends to children. Children turn to pets when they need a friend, confidante or protector. In fact, studies have shown that pets often hold a similar status in children’s lives to parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, teachers, best friends, and childminders. Should our little ones feel lonely or need someone to talk to, they can always turn to their pets for companionship. Pets can provide them with the kind of comfort and joy friends normally give them, and the best thing is, they can see their pets at any hour of the day!

Pets do not judge children or get angry at them which can help nurture their self esteem. Children often trust their pets with their secrets and private thoughts. Sometimes, our little ones have thoughts that they might feel a little awkward to share with us, because we might not always understand what they tell us. They can always ‘talk’ to their pets about anything in the world, even it it doesn’t make sense. Pets make great listeners, and while we should try our best to listen to our little ones, perhaps there are some things that we just cannot understand. Do not feel bad if you do not know why “time travel is better than shape shifting” or if you fail to understand the story of how “ultraman swallowed more pebbles than the monkey on the magic cloud”. They can tell the most imaginative of tales to their pets with abandon, and can build their self-esteem as the pets won’t show any signs of judgment or unacceptance. It’s also a great way for them to practice conversational skills!

Following the lead of the point above, pets aid childhood development. They help children develop nurturing and social skills. Developing positive feelings about pets can aid self-esteem and help children develop non-verbal communication and compassion. Studies of school children have shown that pet owners are not only more popular with their classmates but seem to be more empathetic as well. They can be more adaptable to their social surroundings, because their pets can aid children in learning how to understand and respect any and all living things.

Pets encourage children to exercise! Physical activity in children results in social, mental and physical health benefits, to maximise these benefits it’s important to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in Australian children.The Children’s Leisure Activities Study (CLASS) was undertaken to look at the family environment and its influence on children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviours. Preliminary findings indicate that playing with pets is in the top ten physical activity choices for children and families; and constantly moving around and playing with their household animals may encourage children to exercise and help reduce childhood obesity.

All those are excellent reasons why we encourage the adoption of household pets, but the most important and precious benefit would be the pahala that we would get. When we show kindness and mercy to animals, Allah s.w.t. will grant us with unimaginable pahala and rezeki, both of which no amount of money can ever buy. InsyaAllah. They are Allah s.w.t.’s creations too, just like us! Therefore it is important that we show them the kind of goodwill and generosity that we wish others will show us.

We feel that it is vital for this message to be spread around to everyone, especially our students. That is why we came up with the “My Family Pet Show & Tell” theme for our latest SPA : STUDENTS-PARENTS ACTIVITIES. We wanted to encourage you to showcase your household pet and show others how wonderful it is to care for one. InsyaAllah, through your earnest and sincere efforts others will learn of the amazing benefits we can gain through the caretaking of animals. We cannot thank you enough for your part in this campaign of goodwill. We were really impressed by the way you interacted with the children and presented the various pets, stories and art activities at the event! Head on over to our facebook to check out the fantastic shots and beautiful moments we managed to capture!

Open Children’s Eyes to the World

“Open our children’s eyes
to the WORLD AROUND them,
not just to the WORLD WITHIN them.
The earth is ROUND,
Beyond the SQUARE of a classroom,
Beyond the SQUARE of a laptop screen. ”
- READ FOR CHILDREN OF THE WORLD , Genius Aulad.

Gone are the times where we live a life revolved solely around the community we are in direct contact with. Times have changed. Barriers that separate us from the outside world are close to being non-existent. There is so much more to see, to learn, to feel and to experience. We now possess the ability to reach out to people, and in a multitude of ways. We have been generously blessed with a wealth of convenience. We can travel to faraway countries in the matter of hours, or a few days at the most. We can talk to people who are in outer space. We can send money and other things from the comfort of our own home to people around the world. To the people of the past, we are close to “superhero” status. With all that also comes a greater responsibility. Back then, we were only capable of caring for those who are near to us. Now, our ‘family’ has grown so much bigger. We cannot live our life in isolation. We have to broaden our hearts and minds, and learn to see the world beyond our own.

It is highly important that we broaden the horizon and globalize the mindset of our little ones. We have to teach them that there is so much more to life beyond their fancy gadgets, beyond the four walls they usually spend their time confined in, and even beyond their home. Why spend hours on end watching television programmes depicting children playing with their friends in the neighbourhood park? There’s nothing wrong with these programmes, really, but why not do that in real life instead of experiencing it through a small screen? Why spend hours on cooking apps on an iPad when you can spend a little bit of time whipping something up in the kitchen as a family?

As parents and educators, it is highly advised that we involve our children in more hands-on activities, rather than depend on digitally stimulated real-life activities. This is so they will establish a greater connection with real life, and in effect, understand the way things work with a greater depth. When children are connected to something, they will be able to understand it with comparatively more ease and see things pertaining it from a better perspective. Perhaps trips to places where the children can involve themselves will do them a lot of good. For example, we have taken our students to orphanages where they interacted with the orphans and learned how to feel compassionate towards others and grateful for what they are blessed with. It truly was a humbling thing to witness and experience. More recently, we have taken our children to some of the beautiful mosques in our country where they can marvel at the beautiful architecture and carry out the adaab of visiting a mosque we have been teaching them in school. InsyaAllah, we will go to an equally mind-stimulating place on the Educational Trip coming up.

Storybooks and rhymes can go a long way in fostering an imaginative and broad mind. When we immerse ourselves in stories of faraway lands, various cultures and societies, be it real or fictional, we are pushing the circumference of our mind from what it’s used to outwards, creating even bigger space to make room for critical thinking and understanding. This is one of the main reasons why we put so much effort in Story Telling. Behind the fun and drama is a plethora of mind boosters and eye openers. When we expose our little ones to stories, we are expanding their view of the world and presenting them with new adventures to undertake. We are teaching them how to empathize with others and be more understanding and accepting of people who are not like them.

Some of you may have heard of our latest READ FOR CHILDREN OF THE WORLD MISSION in Syrian and Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan. We have returned from our mission safely, Alhamdulillah. The version of us that left for the mission is different than the people we have become upon our return. We return to our own soil humbled, grateful and determined to do anything and everything we can to help from here. One of the ways that we intend on doing that is by directing more attention their way, and raising awareness about their devastatingly ongoing strife. We hope that the children entrusted into our care will see that there is more to life beyond what their life seems to revolve around at the moment. We intend on opening their eyes to the fact that the Muslim community is vast, and consists of Muslims that are of different races, cultures, ages, sizes and whatever attributes beyond what they are used to. We intend on fostering the spirit of goodwill and compassion in their tender, young souls.

None of us are meant to be alone, neglected and ignored in the face of adversity. As members of the Muslim brotherhood, it is our duty to look after and care for one another. When we are knocked down, we need the help of others, do we not? Let us not halt the chain of kindness among us. If we open our hearts to do something good for someone in need, regardless if they are complete strangers or not, then surely the good deed will be given to you when you are in need, InsyaAllah.

Prophet Muhammad implores us not to be selfish, and instead, to have a spirit of love and giving in the following hadith :

Truly The Faithful Are To One Another Like Components Of A Building—Each Part Supports The Other.

Our Prophet directs us to cooperate, support, and help each other. We are to do so to the fullest extent so that we build a strong and wholesome society. Each of us is a tiny part of a huge society and if we strive to live Islamicly, our society will reach a high level of excellence, justice, and brotherhood, InsyaAllah.

Therefore, dear parents. Let us send a prayer to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are in need. Let us open the eyes of our children and teach them to do the same. Let us make them see that despite being just a tiny part of something big, if all of us come together and help each other out, we can make our Muslim brotherhood much stronger than it has ever been, InsyaAllah.

The Wonders of Story Telling

We are phenomenally blessed to live in a time so modern, so convenient that almost anything is within our reach. However, somewhere along the way, some of the treasures of the past have been left behind. In this article, we will put the spotlight on what we feel is a lost and underappreciated art, which is the art of Story Telling.

Stories are meant to be shared. They can be told in many forms, be it in print or various other forms of the media. These days, there are audio books, e-books, apps and other modern variations of story telling in existence. While they are amazing and easy to use, they don’t provide the kind of connection and depth old-fashioned Story Telling might.

When one tells another a story, it is almost as good as having the characters involved tell you the story themselves. There is a profound beauty to Story Telling, for it does not only tell you what happens in the story, but it feels so much more heartfelt that you can’t help but be more engaged and involved in the story. There is a magical bond, if only for a moment, between the story teller and his/her audience. Through telling a story, one is able to reach out and draw the listener in. It is difficult to not be swept away and feel like you are a part of something remarkable, a part of the great adventure that is being told.

When one tells a story, it involves a lot of gestures and voice play. The story being told feels more alive and captivating, and it’s easier to visualize and really immerse one’s self into it. The listener is able to fully understand what is being told, so it’s not just a one dimensional experience.
Because of all of these amazing qualities it possesses, Story Telling is an entertainingly effective form of Dakwah. Let’s say you want to tell your little one about our Prophet (peace be upon him). Would it be better to let them read on their own, or tell them the story yourself?

While apps are excellent tools, we should refrain from letting them spend so much time on electronic devices because they are still so young and these gadgets can cause some damage to their developing minds and bodies, especially when it comes to their eyesight and their spatial awareness. Most parents these days, due their busy lifestyle, are prone to giving their children gadgets to entertain themselves with. They may buy books for their children, but they don’t take the time to sit down and read with them. These days, children mostly engage in solitary activities where they just play on their own. It feels so disconcerting to see the disconnection between parent and child these days. We understand that sometimes things are so hectic that it is nearly impossible to spend as much time as we want to with our children, but we should set aside some quality time with our children. What better way to spend it by having 15 to 20 minutes of nightly story telling sessions with our children? We should bring back the bedtime story time our parents used to spend with us when we were children.

Ever since our establishment as an Islamic kindergarten, we have been engaged in Story Telling and have put in effort to spread this wonderful activity anywhere and anytime we can. We have regular Story Telling sessions with our students, and it doesn’t just stop there. Our teachers have been to MPH bookstores nationwide to tell stories to the children that go there. These bookstores may be filled with various visitors of different backgrounds. Some of them don’t necessarily go there to buy books, but to read them there. They might not be able to afford any. It’s kind of like a library where they have access to any book they want without having to pay a fee. We just want to provide the children there with something that makes them feel loved and a part of something special. We also go to nearby orphanages to tell them stories and make them feel loved and cherished.

We are currently involved in our READ FOR CHILDREN OF THE WORLD MISSION in the camps in Jordan and Palestine. Alongside sharing our Starter Words books with the children, which Alhamdulillah is going well, we also engage in Story Telling activities with them. These children need love, support, and a little bit of excitement and magic in their lives, and what better way to connect with them through stories? We might not be fluent in their language, but through the words in the story we tell them, we are able to reach out to them and make them feel connected and understood, InsyaAllah.

Rasulullah s.a.w. said , “The best of charity is a Muslim who learns a knowledge and later teaches it to his Muslim brother.”

According to the hadith above, a person who learns a knowledge or skill and then teaches it to another person , even if it is one sentence, is highly regarded in Islam. If we teach our friend a certain skill, and he later teaches it to another friend, who also teaches it to another friend, imagine how many people can benefit from our act. We will not lose anything by sharing our knowledge, but only to bring us great rewards from Allah.

We believe in the idea that through story telling, we can reach out to anyone, be it our own children or the less fortunate. It is why we put so much emphasis on this activity and make sure that our teachers practice it regularly with our children. We are determined to reach out to all children and share our stories, knowledge and love, InsyaAllah.

Better Behaving Children

 

Salam dear parents. School can be a wondrous place, where all the learning and fun happens. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid children misbehaving themselves at school, and giving a hard time for their teachers, friends, and also parents. So, do keep your children in check so that their learning can be facilitated properly, and that they are in the best environment. Here’s a plan for encouraging appropriate behaviour.

As an experienced parent, you know that any rewarding experience motivates children to repeat the behaviour that earned them the reward. However, children who misbehave in school are actually “rewarded” for their poor behaviour. These rewards are not always obvious to parents and teachers. So, what are they

  • Extra attention from the teacher. Even though it’s negative attention, remember that children are hungry for all sorts of attention.

  • Classmates laughing at the misbehaviour, and even admiring the fact that he’s giving the teacher a hard time.

  • Delaying schoolwork—or getting out of it altogether.

The reason many children misbehave in school is not only because they get lots of attention and get out of work, though. They aren’t punished at home for misbehaving in school, either. Sometimes, that’s because parents don’t find out about the poor behaviour until they receive their child’s report card.

In order for parents to head off misbehaviour, they need to connect with their child’s school within the first couple of weeks. When parents and teachers work together, parents know on a daily basis how their child is behaving and apply the appropriate consequence at home.

To accomplish this, it is suggested that parents create a behaviour report card. The following is an example of what would be included on one:

  • Being kind and friendly to classmates

  • Listening and cooperating with your teacher

  • Following school rules

  • Showing good manners

  • No pushing, shoving or hitting in school

Parents can rely on this behavioural categories or create their own on an index card. Post it on the refrigerator so you can easily review it with your child before they head off to school. If you have a young child, run through the behaviour listed on the card just before she leaves for school. As you wish your child a good day, simply tell them: “Now, remember. I expect you to be kind and friendly, listen to your teacher, follow rules, show good manners and not hit or push.”

If you’re fortunate, just reminding your child of your expectations will be enough. However, if the teacher tells you that they’ve been misbehaving, you’ll have to be stricter by sending the report card to the teacher for grades. Good grades will result in rewards or special privileges at night. Poor grades might result in an earlier bedtime, no television and not getting to play after school. Though these consequences may sound harsh, the goal is to make the consequence so significant that your child thinks about it at school and is motivated to behave. At the end of a really good week, they can receive a grand prize.

Furthermore, parents can instil the values of Islam to ensure the best of Akhlaq is displayed by their children. One of the many ways to do this is to tell your child stories about the prophets and prophets’ companions. These stories will provide a lot of moral advice and lessons for the children that are easy to digest and understand for them to practice everywhere and every time. Remember, the best person to be made as an idol is Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. So do tell your children who he is and that they follow in his ways, his Sunnah.

In the old days, parents considered a teacher akin to another parent helping them raise their children. You might find it helpful to think of your child’s teacher as another parent, working with you to encourage appropriate behaviour from your child.

And Allah knows best,

3 Tips to Help Handwriting Skills

Salam, dear parents. The world we know today is bustling with all the latest and most modern technologies. Our gadgets can do almost anything. But despite all that, the skill that remains humble, remains important to us all, that is writing. One of the biggest challenges of the early school years is practicing printing skills. Good penmanship isn’t just a bragging right: Kids who can form letters better actually have an easier time expressing their thoughts on paper. Here’s how to get them started on the right path:

Get a grip
To be sure your child’s holding his pencil properly, check that his thumb and forefinger don’t overlap and that they’re forming a loose “o”, with the pencil resting on the middle finger. His wrist should be straight, not crooked at an angle (a common habit among lefties). Short pencils are the best for beginners — they’re easier to balance and aren’t as awkward as long or thick as the standard pencils. Apart from that, this also helps the children in writing Arabic alphabets or Jawi. This is because they are comparably harder to write than the standard alphabets because of its curves, and needs a proper grip to be written nicely and neatly.

Take it from the top
Encourage your child to make his letters with downward strokes — it’s neater than working his way from the bottom up. Vertical and horizontal lines are easier to write than diagonals or curves, so capitals like E, F, and T will be simpler at first than A or C. Mix it up a bit — and reinforce reading — by also practicing common sight words, such as “the,” “to,” “and,” “he,” “you,” “it,” “if,” “in,” “was,” and “said.”

Make it fun
Usually, children practice writing by tracing dotted words. But doing this all the time can be quite a drag. Instead, have them write their name in different colours or compose stories. Or maybe write out the lyrics of some songs.

Just like everything else, writing definitely gets better with practice! Therefore, do not fret if your children are a little bit slow. All they need is practice. But do keep in mind, they will only hate writing if you keep pushing them and putting pressure on them. On top of that, it is best if children are taught to start writing Islamic phrasessuch as “Bismillah”,”Alhamdulillah”, and such. All the best to everyone!

And Allah Knows Best,

-GA

Guide On Your Child’s Backpack

Salam dear parents. Have you ever heard your children complain about how they have to carry such heavy bags and that they are having a hard time lugging around the bags at school? Many children have to face this every day and unfortunately, this is not a new issue, but has been around for already quite some time. But parents all around do not take it that much seriously. In actuality, this problem can cause back pains, which is a serious problem, and can bring complications later in the child’s life. This article is especially useful for ourstudents who are entering Primary School, because they are adjusting themselves from the weight of a preschool bag to a real school bag. So, here a few ways to lighten the load;

Choose a backpack that has two wide straps with good padding to distribute the load evenly.

Adjust the height. Kids like to leave the straps loose so the bag hangs off their back. That may cause pain because the lower back is carrying all the weight, rather than the shoulders doing more of the work. Tighten straps so the bag is centered on the back, ideally above the lower curve of the spine.

Use both straps. The one-shoulder method may be cool, but it adds serious pressure and throws body alignment out of whack.

Weigh the bag. Plunk it on a scale, then have your kid step on (without the backpack). Do the math, and pull things out of the bag until you get the bag to be below 10% of your child’s weight. If he regularly has to carry more than he should, get him one of those rolling backpacks that he can pull.

Have them checked if your kid complains of back pain, even if it seems minor-talk to your doc. No amount of achiness is normal, and a physician can recommend strengthening exercises to help ease it.

Check their bags. Children bring all sorts of things to school. Their toys to show off to their friends, mommy’s make-up that they sneak inside their bags, and A LOT of stationeries. Clearly these things are not necessary. So, if they are making your child’s bag too heavy, do take them out.

Source: http://www.parenting.com/article/backpack-safety-tips

Your Child Doesn’t Like School?

Alhamdulillah, January is already towards the end. MasyaAllah, time flies so very fast without us even realizing it. Most of our kids probably have settled in with school and have adapted themselves with the schedule. Some might also say they love going to school! Alhamdulillah.. But for a few, they are still like when they were during the first days of school. Still throwing a tantrum and giving so many excuses when it comes to school. So, here we have some tips for you to read on about how to cope with children that screams and shouts when it comes to going to school.

BE PUNCTUAL

It’s not always easy to get anywhere on time with little kids, but it’s worth making an extra effort to be prompt on school days. A child may feel like an outsider if the others are already there, engaged in activities.

Children tend to feel uneasy if they arrive and they see that the classroom is already bustling. It’s much easier for them if we get there a bit early, especially on “high-risk” shyness days, such as the beginning of the school year and the first days back after vacation or illness.

Being on time at the end of the day is just as important. Standing alone while the other kids are happily reuniting with loved ones can cause a young child to worry that by going to school, they risk losing you  – or getting lost.

RAISE YOUR HAND

To the degree that your schedule permits, help out in the classroom, participate in fund-raising, read the school newsletter. Your involvement lets your child know that his school is a part of your world, too. More than that, volunteering helps you watch out for your child’s interests.

If you work full-time or for other reasons can’t make such a commitment, you can still be involved through after-school activities and fund-raising efforts. Let the school staff get to know your face. The more you make clear that you’re part of the team  – the more credible an advocate you can be for your child

QUIZ YOUR KID

To build strong connections between home and school, you need to have a sense of what’s going on in your child’s classroom. It’s best that you set aside a time to talk with your kids and give them undivided attention. In that time, remember to properly listen to what your child have to say.

But what if your child isn’t such an enthusiastic reporter? If your “What did you do in school today?” is answered with “Nothing,” you have plenty of company; most children don’t like to be quizzed. Plus, young ones may not even remember all of the day’s experiences. So ask small, undaunting questions that will help jog the memory: Did you get to play outside? What did you have for snack? What did you sing in music? And when your child does talk, be a good listener.

FACILITATE BONDING WITH OTHER KIDS

Kids need to feel bonded with at least one other child. Ask the teacher if she’s noticed who your child is hanging with.  Ask your child which kids he’d like to invite over to play. Do remember to teach them how to make friends. Help them in any ways you can if a problem comes up along the way in making new friends. Your child needs a companion. They wouldn’t be able to cope with the entire school hours if they are all alone.

CALM HER FEARS

Most school anxiety is caused by worries that adults might find silly, such as the fear that you’ll die or disappear while she’s at school. Point out that naturally people who love each other don’t like parting, but she’ll have fun, you’ll be absolutely fine, the school can always contact you, and your love is always with her even when you aren’t.  End every conversation with the reassurance “You know I ALWAYS come back” so she can repeat this mantra to herself if she worries.

If your child is not happy at school, chances are that he/she won’t be learning that good either. They will tend to lose interest in whatever is being taught in the class. InsyaAllah, if we follow the tips given, our children will get to enjoy school and learn a lot more, and go to school a lot happier!

And Allah Knows Best,

Source: http://www.parenting.com/article/how-to-help-your-kids-love-school?

-GA