Every moments that I spend with my children is a blessing from Allah. Inshaa Allah I will try to stick around as long as I could through out their childhood, loving and guiding them all along the way. Hopefully they will remember me, their only mother, when they lead their own life.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Intelligence and Achievement - The Dangers of Confusing the Two

(From the Book 'Einstein Never Used Flash Cards)

We have suggested that the key to intelligence is how you learn, how you adapt knowledge, and how you process what is going on around you. Yet there is tremendous pressure today to look more at what children know rather than at how they know and learn it. Eighty-year-old Aunt Babe makes this point crystal clear. Every time she saw 4-year-old Josh for their weekly card game, she asked him to recite the ABCs. She also marveled that he could name the numbers on the cards when they played War. This was a brilliant child because he could "perform". We do this all the time to our children : "Sing that song you learned in school for your grandmother." "Teddy knows how to write his name. Want to see him do it?" If a child wants to give a show and tell, there is nothing wrong with performing. We just need to understand that showing what they know does not give an indication of their intelligence. It tells instead about their achievements

     This confusion between intelligence, broadly conceived, and achievement is abundant and can have some serious consequences. Being able to do a limited task is not the same thing as being able to use your knowledge intelligently. For example, many are excited that in the United States, the issue of early childhood learning has finally reached the front burner. At both state and national levels, children are finally being recognized as our greatest natural resource, and educators and policy makers are working to ensure that we have quality programs and schools for the young in which they actually learn. President Bush's early childhood initiative Good Start, Grow Smart and the related No Child Left Behind are well-intentioned. They are designed so that the underprivileged children in our society get enough information when they are young to make them competitive learners in a global society. These initiatives will help our preschools teach what children need to learn and assure that our children are growing intellectually and socially as a result.

     To increase accountability at the national level, it has been mandated that every Head Start child be tested twice a year and that progress be monitored in 13 areas, including assessments in vocabulary; print concepts (such as which way book opens); awareness of the sounds in rhymes and words; and number knowledge. On its face, this is a good idea, but many experts fear that testing achievement in this way will force teachers to teach to the test and will divert attention from curricula that foster intelligence and problem solving. Sure, children need to know their letter names. But this, as an end in itself, would be a narrow achievement. Mary Ann, a teacher of 4-years-olds in Portland, Maine, worries, "I will have to spend much of my day teaching letters and numbers rather than reading books and giving the children time to paint."

     Scholars in the areas of literacy, language, mathematics, and social skills  agree. Author Kathy Hirsh-Pasek coconvened a recent meeting at Temple University in Philadelphia to discuss these issues at length. The scientists present reaches remarkable consensus. They concluded that the current assessments of children's progress are culturally biased and too focused on outcome (read that as "achievement") rather than on process. Young children need to learn how to learn and to think. If we test only how many words they know and not whether they can link them into story lines and narrative, we won't know if we have prepared them for reading. If we look only at whether they know the names of the number symbols, we will have no idea about whether they have a concept of more or less and whether they realize that adding and subtracting are related. If we test only surface markers of achievement, we will never know if we are fostering intelligence. And if we test only language and mathematics, we will not even consider the developing social skills that are so important to children's growth.

     In recommendations to the government, the scholars who met in Philadelphia applauded the move to look at how children learn and at their growth over the course of a year in preschool. Such information will be critical to how we design our preschool curricula. But, they cautioned, we must look in the right places if we want to have an accurate barometer of progress. Of the myths we harbor as parents, policy makers, and professionals, one of the deepest held is that fact learning is equivalent to intelligence; that achievement and intelligence are synonymous. This is a dangerous conclusion that can have serious consequences for how we teach our children.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Way Children Learn

These are a few points from the book 'Einstein Never Used Flash Cards' on how children learn.

The Way Children Learn

To give you a sense of what it's like for your children to learn, we'll tell you a little story.Last summer, one of us was gazing out in our backyard, looking at the small lake that sits underneath some willows. It was dusk and the sky was a kind of orangey haze. Suddenly through the haze, there appeared a large object, as big as merry-go-round, shaped more like a Frisbee, hovering over the lake. It appeared to be made of metal. We blinked, and blinked again. Then, the thing began to move in spiral, right up into the air, and then it disappeared.

     Consider what we've describe. What do you think? No, we were not taking drugs. Was it some sort of optical illusion? We don't think so. You might ask - was it a UFO? The fact is, we did not see this. But you were probably trying pretty hard to figure it out. Something was being described that didn't fit with your notion of reality. You searched for a way to explain it. And finally, you lobbed it into the catch-all category of "UFO", or unidentified flying object. Your mind was probably working hard to explain the incongruity, to understand the reality as it was presented. But it didn't match up to what you knew. You worked to explain it.

     That is what happens with children from the start.The world is new to them, and they are busy trying to interpret it. Children are active learners, constantly seeking to understand and master their environment. You don't have to make them want to learn. Babies are constantly putting things in their mouth - not necessarily because the things taste good, but because it's babies' way of discovering what things are made of. Babies are constantly dropping their spoons on the floor, not to make you get your daily exercise, but to see : Will it always go down? At the same speed? Can I make it go faster? They are discovering the properties of gravity and velocity.

     Jean Piaget, the great Swiss scholar whose ideas have so dominated developmental psychology, taught us that the mistakes children make are far more revealing than the answers they get right on IQ tests. After all, sometimes when children get things right, they are simply parroting what they have heard. But when they tell you how they think about the problem, you know if they really understand. Piaget defined intelligence as a kind of adaptation to the environment. To learn how young children think, Piaget watched his own three children as well as hundreds of other children. What he found was startling. Children are the engines behind their own development. This means that, as we argued in chapter 2, the everyday, mundane experiences children have are sufficient to fuel their drive to understand the world. They do not wait passively to be urged to engage in intellectual behaviors, nor do they conservatively avoid new experiences. To the contrary, children create much of their own stimulation by observing and actively experimenting as they play and go through their daily lives. As a result, parents can relax and relieve themselves of the mantle of responsibility for cognitive development that they have assumed.

     .....Children are constantly learning, and there is a lot  to learn that we don't even think about .The repetitive, annoying things babies and young children often do are their way of learning about the world, manipulating the parameters of the situation for fun, just to see what will happen.

     What Piaget discovered, then, is that babies and young children are programmed by nature to learn in unique ways that fir their own developing brains and bodies. Show a 2-year-old some flash cards with numbers and he'll learn to parrot what you say. Let him play with M&M's, and quantity will become of great interest to him. Read him a story about Peter Rabbit, and he won't forget a single detail. Learning in context is the key to intelligent learning.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

How do you treat your child?

I have to admit that, recently, children upbringing has been my obsession. It all began when the new member of the family came into our life and all of sudden, I realized that my son was having a hard time trying to cope with it; which I have to change my parenting style and approach.

before Abdullah became a big brother, he was an 'easy' type of a child. frankly, at that time, i didn't even know the word 'tantrum' and 'terrible twos'. alhamdulillah all praise be to Allah.

and now, he still is mashaa Allah. it's just that he had learnt how to be more expressive and he needs a little time to cope with a new life; having a little sister, maybe a bit less attention but much much more love is coming in the way inshaa Allah.

i find that raising a toddler is both fascinating and challenging. to discipline a child means disciplining yourself; patience and time is really they key. subhanallah i'm really awed by seeing how much we can learn from young children.

soon, Abdullah will outgrow toddlerhood and Umamah will be its new member. i wonder how she will be. certainly there are so much more to anticipate :)

أسأل الله العظيم رب العرش الكريم أن يرزقني التقوى والعلم والصبر والهدى إلى التربية إنه ولي ذلك والقادر عليه

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Treasure Basket

Okay, this one is for your little baby to play. Once your baby is able to sit and hold things, she can definitely start to explore things and try to make sense everything around her. Get a low basket or box (well I'm not using a low one but I made it low for her :)) and fill it with lots of interesting household objects or things from nature. You can put almost anything inside but make sure it is safe for your baby and large enough not to be swallowed and also free from sharp edges. Because they will probably be mouthed by your young eager explorer.

A treasure basket should create a sense of wonder, surprise and discovery. Gather things which has distinctly different characteristics; shape, color, weight, texture and smell. Infants and toddlers use all of their senses. To them, everything is new and exciting discovery. The treasure basket can entertain young children for long periods of time. With infants, keep in mind that it is very stimulating, so is best offered when your baby is rested and alert. When she is first exploring the basket it is best not to say a word -  just select an object, carefully examine it, and put it back in the basket. Your baby might reach for it as soon you put it down. 

Your baby will use all of her senses during this time; tasting, looking, hearing, touching, exploring and smelling.

Older toddlers might enjoy the treasure basket too - just keep introducing new objects.

Mashaa Allah she is really exploring. Enjoy, Umamah! :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A whole last week in KL

We had spent the whole week in Keramat because Baba was not at home, attending a special course in KL. So, I prepared a 'busy bag' for Abdullah to make sure he had something to do there; story books, his soft  stuffs,  wooden train set, art and crafts supply and many more. Though I already set up a few 'outdoor' activities for him.

I planned to take him to Playtime at Early Learning Centre Mothercare KLCC. I want him to meet people especially his peers, doing activities in group or at least with people around him ( other than his mother ). We went there, not knowing that we had to preregister. I asked him to back out while he's enjoying his playtime. But alhamdulillah he seemed fine with it. So, I guess that day was not very productive.

The next day, I already registered him for another playgroup. I thought the activities were fun; story telling, science project and art & craft. But unfortunately the program was canceled. Abdullah was quite disappointed. So, I took him to Yukids at The Curve and alhamdulillah he really enjoyed spending hours there.

We did some painting, and a few activities on letter 'beh' (b); stamping, cutting, pasting etc. And most of all, we did a lot of free play.

I want to write more but I'm too sleepy now. So see you later!


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Sound Game

Like I've promised before, I will write about the sound game which is one of the Montessori approach to literacy for children.

I've been playing this game with Abdullah for a few weeks. And sometimes we didn't even follow exactly the directions but still I can see that my son is progressing bit by bit. Mashaa Allah you just keep playing playing and playing this game whenever and wherever you want and gradually you can see that your child is actually acquiring something subhanallah. You barely need anything to play the game! Just play, laugh and have fun!

The book (Montessori Read & Write) suggests that you can start playing the game from the age of 2 and a half on. I simply think because at this age a child already has an ample developing vocabulary which he manages to speak in sentences of three to four words or maybe more. Even if your child is older than 2 and a half when you start, you should still begin with level 1 and move her at her own pace through the different levels of the game.

This game will help to make your child aware of the sounds that can make up words. Play it as often as you can; it is one of the most important ways of preparing her for both writing and reading. Make sure you say the sounds correctly!

There are six levels to the game (although we used to play level 1 to level 3 randomly). I'll start with level 1.

What you will need

Gather together a few objects which your child can name and put them on a table in front of you. In the beginning, avoid objects that start with similar sounds, such as 'p' and 'b' , 'v' and 'w'.


To help your child to hear individual sounds at the beginning of words.

How to Play

Choose one of the objects, for a example a pen, and hold it out to show it to your child.

'I spy with my little eye something in my hand beginning with 'p'.'

Your child will say 'pen'. Confirm that she is right. Yes, 'p' for pen. Change the object and change the place where it can be found to keep the game interesting.

She will quickly grasp the rules of the game and happily tell you the names of the objects you are asking for. You will probably need to play this stage of the game for several weeks (or maybe more) before she actually makes the connection between the sound that you say and the sound at the beginning of the object you have chosen. When she appears to be beginning to listen to the sounds, you can move on to level 2.

p/s : at first I felt like my son will never make the connection between those sounds but alhamdulillah he's getting it. for instance, if I asked him to tell me the words that start with the sound 'beh' (b) and nothing popped up at that time, he will just say 'bekasut' or whatever appeared to be in front of him and he just add the sound 'beh' at the front LOL! For me, it's a sign that he can connect the sounds because on the early days we played the game and I asked him to tell me words that start with 'keh' (k) for example, he will say 'gigi' 'buku' 'atuk' etc which is incorrect.

Please make sure you say the alphabet's sound and not the alphabet's name.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to start homeschooling?

I love every bit of this mashaa Allah.. Hope it inspires you :)
 Consider starting your homeschooling journey together in a truly relaxed way - just exploring for a while. You have time to take walks in nature and notice all the little things you see. Spend time at the library and help your children, if they'd like, to find books that might interest them. Do crafts and projects - the juvenile nonfiction section of the library has lots of good books with fun and creative project ideas and even science experiments. Watch films together; play games; and read wonderful books to your children. Go to the chamber of commerce to find out what they tell visitors about your area, and try an Internet search about it too - take field trips to interesting places. Have good conversations, and look things up in books or the Internet as questions come up. Support their interests but also give them the space to explore them on their own. Before long, it will begin to become apparent what they know and how they learn. Little by little, you can add elements to facilitate their personalized learning paths.

UmmHaya Salahuddin

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Plans.. plans.. plans!

So, here are my plans for my beloved son, Abdullah. As for now, I'm not thinking of a structural kind of learning or scheduled timetable. I won't set specific time for each activity and just let him take the lead. He is 3 years and 8 months. Inshaa Allah, I'll try to make things fun, interesting and let it be hands-on activities as much as I could because children learn better in context. 

- Quran reading

I use Iqra' books and Abdullah has just started Book 1. He can recognize 'aa' to 'ra'' in this 1 week alhamdulillah. I would like to make it a daily morning routine. It is really a challenge to make a 3-year-old boy to sit and read, as I always believe that children learn best when they can relate things to real life. So, rule no. 1, I will not force him to read and will wait until he says 'yes' if I ask him to. No. 2; while reading Quran, I will try my best to make him participate by asking him to identify a few ahruuf that he already knew. Inshaa Allah by this way he will know that the ahruuf that he read during our Iqra' session are actually preparation for him to read Quran the way his Ibu and Baba read.

- Quran memorization

I think I already started with short surahs memorization when he was 2. I kept reciting Surah al-Ikhlas to him and I don't realize when he actually got everything. It motivated me to proceed with other surahs; so now he memorizes al-Fatihah, al-Ikhlas, al-Falaq, al-Naas and al-Masad.

- Quran tafseer

This will be along side with Quran memorization. Each time we start new surah, I will read to him the story behind the surah so that he can memorize them easier. Masha Allah I've tried with sabab an-nuzuul for surah al-Masad and he is completely in love with them and always make me tell the 'story' all over again.

- Islamic Studies

This include Aqidah, Seerah, Hadith. Islam is a way of life and I like my children to learn about Islam and the knowledge of Quran and Sunnah through practicality. So let say at this early stage of childhood you can inculcate the Islamic values and knowledge about Allah, prophets, the hereafter and so much more just by practicing it in daily life and take time to explain them to your children so that they will understand better how Quran and Sunnah must be your guidelines and life's manual. And also, the Islamic studies will definitely go along side with Quran tafseer as we go through and discuss them over and over again.

Inshaa Allah, for the seerah of prophets 'alayhimus-salam and the seerah of Prophet Muhammad shallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam specifically, it will be great if I can make my children learn about them in our up coming story telling and read aloud sessions.

- Literacy

Of course the path to literacy must begin with a whole lot of vocabulary and letter recognition. I'm happy to adopt the Montessori approach. Inshaa Allah will share later the activities we have done so far. And now Abdullah just begun to recognize letter 'aa' and I don't know how and when - letter 'ss' and 'oo'.

- Writing

Again, am happy with Montessori way with the sandpaper letters and tracing letters on sand/salt/flour. We haven't started anything yet. Inshaa Allah i'm planning to do it soon. Just did a few tracing on workbook and he didn't want to finish them all. It's ok, no rush and no push.

- Numeracy

He can count from 1 to 10 in Bahasa, English and Arabic alhamdulillah. He is starting to recognize numbers. We will continue this through lots and lots of play! Maybe we'll make sandpaper numbers too.

- Physical games

Play and play and play until Ibu runs out of idea!

Sweet Darling Umamah..

I still need to do more reading and research for infant activities. So hopefully I will come up with a few fun activities for her. For now, I do a lot of talking to her to let her learn and build vocabulary. She always joins our read aloud session before bedtime. She just got her balance to sit and now she has more freedom to explore things with her two hands! She can cruise and definitely very active alhamdulillah.

I pray to Allah 'azza wa jalla to realize my plans and give me His guidance and help in educating myself and my children.