Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What I learn from 'post-SPM journeys'.

SPM results

Some did excellently, some did OK and some might be shameful to show their result slip to anyone. However, I must congratulate each and every SPM candidates (and their parents) who studied hard and smart, enduring loads of (unnecessary, which some could be) pressures and pep talk from tonnes of people. Whatever the outcome is, I pat you on your back for working hard and didn't use the 'Que-Sera, Sera!' mentality. You've conquered the first mountain in your life! Kudos!

I must admit, SPM is one of the biggest hurdles that I had to jump in order to do well in life. Though I worked hard and tried to understand the nitty gritty of all 9 subject matters, I did not get the result I wanted.

I was a student in one of the greatest boarding school in Malaysia, with superb teachers guiding me to excel in my studies, surrounded with extremely talented and brilliant friends, great infrastructure and disciplined lifestyle. I had it all, but in the end, I didn't do as well as my friends.

Why? A big question that was extremely hard for me to answer and comprehend when I was 18. 

What-people-want-me-to-be VS what-I-want-to-be.

At 18, most of us should have discovered our own interests as well subjects that we are dispassionate on. It is important for you to be sure the answer of a vital question, what do you love to do in long-term? 

I learned later that this was the answer of why I didn't do as well as I wanted in SPM. I learned it the hard way, which was after getting the result. I did not choose the correct path (or stream) that I could excel in. That was why I struggled to understand simple pure science concept when other friends could finish the Physics exercises in a breeze!

Hence, answering the question of 'what do I love to be?' is easy for some, but extremely difficult for others. Many issues will be involved, namely, your own parents, relatives, monetary issues, location of higher education institutions, etc.  

It is a HUMONGOUS step -  to choose your career choice carefully - because one wrong move will take you years and years to correct. Take your time, discuss with your parents, teachers, aunties, uncles, siblings, working cousins, or any other people that you trust. Don't forget Allah in this process. This is the best time to practice the istikharah prayers that you have learned theoretically in your Religious class (and you might get and A+ in your Agama Islam subject, too!) Ask Allah to guide your path to excellence, ask Him to help you to decide what's best for your life.

I sincerely pray that my cousin (Hani), cousins' children (Syirah, Aidil and Ain) as well as other post-SPM hopefuls will make wise decisions which will make them successful in their lives. I hope they will find a course that they really love to do. Earning loads of money from a career that you loathe is not cool, and you'll be far from being happy and contented in life. It'll be stressful and you'll end up to be less motivated. When you're less motivated, it's hard to grow professionally. Yes, you maybe rewarded materially but spiritually, you're a poor man. And I don't want you to be that.

So, all the best in living your dreams. Choose the best path for you (and for your parents, too) to live your life. Work hard and smart to achieve your goals. Persevere. Pray to Him. Remember, there are many ways to climb a mountain. If you're willing and passionate, you will overcome the difficulties. If you can dream about achieving it, the power lies within yourself to make it come true. So, persevere. Don't give up.

Our prayers are with you!

This piece is dedicated to 
Farah Hani Fauzudin
Iza Nur Ain
Tunku Aidil Idham
Syirah Zainal
SPM '10

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I learn from 'Peristiwa: PTA of Al Fateh's school'

I remember the days when I was teaching in Al Hidayah, eager and passionate parents came and knocked on the classroom door after school to ask about their children's progress. Though there were stacks of books to be marked, I was pleased to know that these parents were concern and wanted to be involved with their children's school work. 

These parents came into my classroom not to accuse me of not teaching their children enough or condemning my pedagogical approaches, but to ask me if there was anything that they could contribute to ensure better  progress, not just for their own child, but for the benefit of others, too. Masha Allah... I was amazed with their matured perspectives and the feeling of togetherness to educate the young minds. 

Partnership between school and home is essential for our child's progress.

I promised myself that however different the phenomenon in my own country, I need to learn from that lesson. I should not point fingers and blame others for any shortcomings of my children's education at school, I need to be involved. I need to be proactive and contribute, too.

Paradigm shift

One of the 'formal' channels to contribute is PTA (Parent Teachers Association aka PIBG in Malaysian schools). There should be a shift of thoughts, especially by young professional parents, from non-involvement to active involvement in PTAs. Issues discussed in these meetings are our personal, important issues: the issues of our children's education. This is the place where we can share what we have learned from the schools abroad (especially to those parents who have sent their children to school during their postgraduate days abroad). Not every one is blessed like us, having the chance to experience the education system abroad. However, we can help by sharing our invaluable experiences,  especially with our children's teachers.

Puzzle pieces
Parents contributions complete the puzzle.

During our second Peristiwa (PTA) meeting of the Teaching School of Kuala Terengganu, I was very pleased that the turnouts were overwhelming. Many parents contributed ideas and thoughts in many aspects during the discussion, chaired by my husband, the elected (but-not-so-elated) chairperson. This shows that the parent teacher conference could actually complete some puzzles faced by the teachers, with the help and guidance from the pro-active and dedicated parents.

I surely hope that this dedication perseveres. And I surely pray that the selfless contributions made by these parents will be paid off with excellent education for their children.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I learn from 'the reconstruction of the Great Kanto Highway, Japan'

When there's a will, there's a way.  

Great Kanto Highway. Credit to AP/Daily Mail online picture 

Looking at this photo, I couldn't help but to feel astounded and at the same time motivated to get back to my stack of surveys which hasn't been punched into SPSS. In my previous entry, I found it amazing on how the Japanese reacted after the great earthquake and tsunami. Then, looking at this vivid before and after photos, it proved to me that they are highly resistant and disciplined lot.

I want myself and my children to have the same attitude in life. I need to teach myself and my children that despite any chaos or nerve-wracking moments that we have to endure in life, we need to stand by each other, will not panic or blame each other, but work together to restore peace and order in our lives.

Another lesson learned from the photo above is the astonishing speed of reconstruction which makes me believe that the Nippons will come around faster then I can imagine. Together with their positive and winning mental attitude, there's no question about the nation's ability to get back on its feet

Hence, if we ever stumble and fall during the course of life, we need to adopt the fabulous positive energy displayed by the Japanese. With the spirit of togetherness, positive and winning mental attitude, and high quality job done, we will surely can make changes in our lives by leaps and bounds.

The hypothesised formula from this phenomenon is; 
Positive attitude + strong determination + fantastic effort = 
a HUGE difference in your life.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What I learn from 'our bed time story session - the Nippon's fab manners (adaab)'

I found this note from a social network user (Jun Shiomitsu) and it's very inspiring. I always wanted to tell the children real stories on exemplary manners from real life experience. While I was reading updates regarding the Tohoku tragedy in Japan, I came across, Jun san's note. 

His stories (well, Jun-san actually translated others' 'tweets' from Japanese to English) were the kind of stories that I wanted to share with my children. Simple, straight to the point and have clear morale which I can relate very closely to the Prophet's sunnah

How I pray and hope that my children and I (and of course, you, too) can absorb these wonderful adaabs, which I must admit are seriously lacking among us Muslims, even though most, if not all of them were actually the teachings of the Prophet.

Please enjoy reading and reflect on ourselves...

Lessons Learnt
What caught my attention on twitter is that a lot of the tweets were about the Kobe earthquake and how what we have learned from it has been put into practice this time around.  I know it goes without saying, but I was once again reminded of how humans are indeed creatures that possess the amazing ability to think and learn from experience.  It’s a great thought.

At a congested downtown intersection …
Cars were moving at the rate of maybe one every green light, but everyone was letting each other go first with a warm look and a smile.  At a complicated intersection, the traffic was at a complete standstill for 5 minutes, but I listened for 10 minutes and didn’t hear a single beep or honk except for an occasional one thanking someone for giving way.  It was a terrifying day, but scenes like this warmed me and made me love my country even more. 

During the earthquake
We’ve all been trained to immediately open the doors and establish an escape route when there is an earthquake.  In the middle of the quake while the building was shaking crazily and things falling everywhere, a man made his way to the entrance and held it open.  Honestly, the chandelier could have crashed down any minute … that was a brave man!

Bus stop mini episode:
It was freezing and bus was taking ages to arrive.  “@saiso” left the queue to run to a nearby pharmacy.  He bought heating pads and gave one to everyone in the queue!

Thank you Tokyo Disney Sea
My daughter who was staying at DisneySea just made it back home!  Many, many thanks to the staff who worked very hard in the cold with ready smiles that made her to feel safe and secure during the entire night.  They brought her food, drinks, snacks, heating pads, and anything necessary to ensure she was comfortable and secure throughout her stay.  I was touched by the Disney staff’s warmth and hospitality.  Thank you so much!

Reminded of the goodness of the Japanese people
This earthquake has reminded me of that Japanese goodness that had recently become harder and harder to see.  Today I see no crime or looting: I am reminded once again of the good Japanese spirit of helping one another, of propriety, and of gentleness.  I had recently begun to regard my modern countrymen as cold people … but this earthquake has revived and given back to all of us the spirit of “kizuna” (bond, trust, sharing, the human connection).  I am very touched.  I am brought to tears.

Card board boxes, Thank you!
It was cold and I was getting very weary waiting forever for the train to come.  Some homeless people saw me, gave me some of their own cardboard boxes and saying “you’ll be warmer if you sit on these!”  I have always walked by homeless people pretending I didn’t see them, and yet here they were offering me warmth.  Such warm people. 

(HONESTY) What foreigners are saying about Japanese people
At a supermarket where everything was scattered everywhere over the floors, shoppers were helping pick them up and putting them back neatly on the shelves before quietly moving into line to wait to pay for them.  On the totally jam-packed first train after the quake, an elderly man gave up his seat for a pregnant woman.  Foreigners have told me they are amazed witnessing sights like these.  I do believe they actually saw what they said they saw.  Japan is truly amazing. 

Information network this time around
The information sharing efforts on Twitter or USTREAM, together with the quality of coverage and crucial updates provided by the mass media this time around is incomparable to what we got during the Kobe earthquake.  I am deeply impressed by Japan’s successful efforts and ability to put to practice lessons learnt from past tragedies. 

Touch of art
I saw artists and painters trying to keep things upbeat by painting or drawing beautiful or encouraging drawings for the evacuees around them.  I was touched at how everyone was doing their very best to help.

BBC Reports
The words of BBC’s reports are so moving they make me cry.  They were praising us with words of admiration!  “One of the worst earthquakes in recorded history has hit the world’s most well-prepared, well-trained nations.  The strength of its government and its people are put to the test.  While there have been casualties, in no other country could the government and the people have worked together in such an accurate and coordinated way in the face of such tragedy.  The Japanese people have shown their cultural ability to remain calm in the face of adversity.”

A little story about Papa
We live in an area that was not directly hit.  When my father came downstairs and heard the news saying that our area had begun allocating electricity to the hard-hit areas, he quietly led by example, turning off the power around the house and pulling the plugs out of their sockets.  I was touched.  He usually NEVER turns off the lights or the AC or the TV or anything! 

Japanese people don’t shove
I'm looking at Yurakucho station from above.  I see people standing in line, not pushing or shoving to get onto the Yamanote Line (probably the busiest line in central Tokyo), even at a time like this! 

The bakery lady
There was a small bread shop on the street I take to go to school.  It has long been out of business.  But last night, I saw the old lady of the shop giving people her handmade bread for free.  It was a heart-warming sight.  She, like everyone else, was doing what she could to help people in a time of need.  Tokyo isn’t that bad afterall!

A helping nation! 
Both the government and the people, everyone is helping one another today.  There are truck drivers helping evacuees move.  I even heard that the “yakuza” (gangsters, organized crime groups) are helping to direct traffic in the Tohoku region!  There have been many recent developments that have made me lose my sense of pride in my country, but not anymore.  Japan is an amazing place!  I’m just simply touched.  Go Japan!

Twitter is amazing!
The information shared to us all by the twitter community has been amazingly consistent with each other and has been so helpful.  Thank you Twitterers!  I’m very moved. People recently talk about social networks replacing traditional social life and making people cold and unsociable in real life.  But … I guess that’s not true at all. 

At the supermarket
I just came back safely from the supermarket!  Man, I was so touched at how everyone there was mindful of others, buying only as much as they needed and leaving the rest for the people behind them. 
*(Can Malaysian do this? I seriously doubt it!!)

 Gotenba traffic
Japan is really something!  Yesterday, not a single traffic light was functioning in Gotenba City.  But drivers knew to take turns at intersections and give way to others when needed.  Local people were using flags to direct traffic at intersections.  I drove for 9 hours but never saw a single car trying to get in front of another.  Every single driver on the road contributed to the traffic situation and as a result there was no confusion at all. 

“All of us”
I spoke with an old taxi driver and some elderly staff at the train stations.  All of them had been working non-stop and had not been able to go home for a long time.  They were visibly very tired, but never once did they show any sign of impatience; they were gentle and very caring.  They told me “… because all of us are in this together.”  I was touched at what the notion of “all of us” meant to these elderly people.  It is a value I will treasure and carry on to my generation. 

 A strong Japan
Suntory Beverages has set up free vending machines.  Softbank Telephone services is offering free Wifi spots.  Everyone in Japan is putting everything they can into helping one another.  Japan is also now receiving aid from abroad.  Compared to the Kobe earthquake, when Japan took too long to contemplate accepting foreign aid or dispatching the self-defense force to join the rescue effort, Japan has definitely grown into a far stronger nation.  Be strong, everyone!

Morning Ceremony
At the shopping center I work at, every morning we have a ritual (common in Japan) where we stand and recite, “No matter what the situation, I will never show anxiety before my customer; in all customer-facing situations I will treat my customers with respect and do everything I can to make them feel comfortable and at ease”.  Today, these words were all actually kind of touching.  Well, so the day begins!  Here we go people, open shop!

Mr. Inoue
Mr. Inoue has been churning out drawings of smiling and laughing faces at an amazing pace!  Things like this remind me again of what it truly means to give people a message of strength and courage. 

A strong voice
Yesterday, I was impressed and touched by the actions of my neighbor’s 13-year-old-boy.  He was home alone when the earthquake hit.  But instead of hiding, as soon as the earthquake quieted down, he jumped on his bicycle and road around the block repeatedly shouting at the top of his voice, “Is everyone alright?  Is everyone okay?”  At the time, there were only women and children and the elderly in the homes.  I cannot describe how comforting it was just to hear a strong voice asking if I was okay.  Thank you!

The beauty of helping one another
I went out last night to help some friends who were volunteering as security personnel between Machida City and Sagami Ohno City.  I saw total strangers, both young and old, helping each other along everywhere I turned and was heartened with an overwhelming feeling of encouragement.  I was so touched I hid behind the toilets and cried. 

I just have a bike
I’m so touched!  My colleague at my part time job, wanting to help even just one extra person, wrote a sign saying “I just have a bike, but if you don’t mind hop on!”, rode out on his motorbike, picked up a stranded construction worker and took him all the way to Tokorozawa!  Respect!  I have never felt so strongly that I want to do something helpful for others. 

Sharing your ride
It was stupid of me to think I could catch a cab at Urawamien Station.  I ended up walking 30 minutes and then finally was picked up by a stranger who offered to give me a lift.  I’m touched by the warmth of human kindness.  Thank you, thank you!

Rest here!
Last night, I decided, rather than stay at the office, I should try walking home.  So I slowly made my way west on Koshu freeway on foot.  It was around 9PM when I saw an office building that had a sign that said “Please use our office’s bathrooms! Please rest here!”  The employees of the office were loudly shouting out the same to all the people trying to walk home.  I was so touch I felt like crying.  Well, I guess I was too tense yesterday to cry, but now the tension is wearing off and am very much in tears. 

At the convenience store
While most of the convenience stores near the station were closed because of the quake, there was just one Seven Eleven that was open.  The employees had lit lots of candles and put them on the stores shelves.  The cash register was not working and they could not take inventory, so the employees worked in threes, one reading up the item description and price, another punching the numbers into a calculator, and the last one using a flashlight to help them work.  The store managed to operate both “cash registers” efficiently this way.  Impressed!

On the way to the emergency evacuation area
My oldest daughter was making her way to Yokohama’s emergency evacuation area.  Total strangers were helping each other out and showing each other the way to the emergency evacuation area.  She told me she was moved at how strangers, who can seem so cold at times, showed her kindness and care.  I was reminded at the Japanese peoples’ inherent ability to immediately unite in the face of adversity.  Today, I have discovered a newfound faith in my nation and my people. 

A big, kind voice
I’ve been walking for many hours now.  I’m touched at how everywhere I turn, there are shops open with people shouting “Please use our bathroom!” or “Please rest here!” There were also office buildings where people with access to information were voluntarily shouting out helpful tips, like “**** line is now operational!”  Seeing things like this after walking for hours and hours made me feel like weeping with gratitude.  Seriously, there is still hope for this country!

On the platform
The Oedo Subway Line for Hikarigaoka is very congested.  On the platform and at the gate there are just crowds and crowds of people waiting for the train.  But in all the confusion, every last person is neatly lined up waiting his or her turn while managing to keep a passage of space open for staff and people going the other way.  Everyone is listening to the instructions from the staff and everyone acts accordingly.  And amazingly … there isn’t even a rope or anything in sight to keep people in queue or open space for staff to pass, they just do!  I am so impressed at this almost unnatural orderliness!  I have nothing but praise for these people!

My husband finally got home very late last night after walking for 4 hours.  He told me he felt like giving up at around Akabane, when an elderly man who was going around handing out free coffee saw him, gave him a steaming cup and said, “You must be tired and cold.  Here, have some coffee!”  My husband told me that it was because of this elderly man that he found the will and strength to continue walking.  I’ve already heard this story from him five times tonight, so no doubt he was really, really touched!  Thank you to my husband’s anonymous helper!

Blood donations
Japan is strong!  At Osaka I saw a LONG line of people waiting to give blood at the blood donation center.  This is the first time I have seen such a queue of selfless people waiting patiently in line just to give.  It was a moving sight!  To everyone in the hard-hit areas, we your countrymen accept your suffering as our own and we share in your grief.  Do not give up!  Stay strong!

Saving electricity for the North
I went to my neighborhood supermarket and was initially surprised that their neon signs were off.  They usually are open till 1AM.  I then found out that they were open, but were saving electricity so that more power could be channeled to the hard-hit coastal areas.  Wow!

Not enough money!
At the store where I work, a huge group of young men suddenly came in to buy booze.  One of them suddenly said, “Oops, I only have enough money to buy booze, I can’t donate!  Forget the booze, maybe next time!” and instead put ALL his money into the disaster relief donation box.  One by one, every single one of the army of youths threw all their money into the box after him.  What a heart-warming sight that was!

Goth youth
A goth youth with white hair and body piercings walked into my store and shoved several hundred dollars (several tens of thousands of yen) into the disaster relief fund donation box.  As he walked out, I and people around me heard him saying to his buddies, “I mean, we can buy those games anytime!”  At that, we all opened our wallets and put our money into the donation box.  Really, you cannot judge people by their appearances. 

They looked absolutely delicious!
I too saw the guy handing out free rice balls and miso soup on the way back from Akihabara.  I was on my bicycle so I told him, “I’m okay, please give it to other people!”  On hindsight, I should have taken one … they looked absolutely delicious!!

Another Disney episode 
Amazing!  My brother just managed to get home from Disneyland right now.  He’s got bags and bags of free sweets.  Furthermore, Disneyland paid for every customer’s travel fare back.  All night long, the staff responded immediately and fully to every request he made.  Disneyland is truly a world class brand!

Same boat! 
Last night, Aobadai station was jammed with stranded people unable to get home.  But there were private cars with drivers shouting “If you’re going in the direction of ****, please hop on!”  I was able to hitch a ride on one of them.  When I thanked the driver, he replied “No worries! We’re all on the same boat. We have to stick together!”

Need to charge your phone?
At the emergency evacuation area, a young first-year intern at my company who had brought her phone’s charger got permission from the facility to use their power socket and went around shouting “Anyone need to charge their phone?  Please use my charger!”  Just a little thing, but I was touched. 

So, can we make the difference? Insha Allah.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What I learn from 'the correlation of Tohoku Earthquake and PhD process '.

Prelude: For social science researchers, the word correlation plays an important role to ‘statistically’ describe and measure the degree of relationship between two or more variables.

Tohoku Earthquake and Sendai Tsunami
Last week, incredibly devastating news on Tohoku earthquake (9.0 magnitude) and tsunami (10m height) were covered in most news network. It's assumed (since the real amount is untold just yet) that this might be the costliest earthquakes and tsunamis ever.

A couple of friends of mine were personally affected, since they are doing their doctorate studies in Tohoku University in Sendai. Alhamdulillah, they were saved by Allah’s perfect plan – meeting up a relative who stopped over in Tokyo from Dubai, which meant, their usual routine of working in the Uni lab for one, and performing Friday prayers for another were distorted. Allah’s plan ensured them to be together during this trying time, and away from the distressed area.

Some of the footage were terrifying  and way beyond disheartening, and I personally think it’s impossible to imagine what it’d be like to be caught up in the tragedy. Na’uzubillahi minzalik.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t stop relating this phenomenon with my own research.

PhD Process 

Got it here
It would be inevitable for anyone to face tough and challenging phases during the process of PhD-ing oneself. The first phase would be feeling restless and lonely, not forgetting, sensing of being totally lost in piles of journals. Then it came to the time(s) of burning the midnight oil - then waking up cranky in the morning. There were times when the layers of patience left the body, and the wicked witch of the west emerged from within and transformed me into the short-tempered melancholic lady (whom I detest).  Then the feelings of 'there's not enough hours in the 24 hours' and 'why didn't I do this earlier' which could sometimes contribute to the stamping of the word GUILT (bold and caps) on the forehead. In short, the process of PhD-ing oneself could be pretty self-shattering.

But Alhamdulillah, I have Allah. Alhamdulillah, I have a supportive and understanding husband. Alhamdulillah, I have great kids who listen to me. Alhamdulillah, I have great parents who support me physically and mentally. Alhamdulillah, I have super friends who showers me with guidance and personally aid me through this lonely and treacherous journey. Alhamdulillah for all the miracles that Allah bestows upon me. 

The correlation of Tohoku Earthquake and PhD process

It is vital to keep things in perspectives.

Should the PhD stress and the aftermath of the earthquake stop ourselves from living our lives to the fullest? NO! Both should help creating better person for the future, that is, after the hurdles have been successfully leaped over.
I don’t mean to say that it isn’t stressful, or that the stress isn’t real. It exists, unfortunately. However, by reading a couple of paragraphs above, there are always little and big things in our lives to be happy and grateful about - i.e. in the case of my friends in Tohoku, Sendai, they still have each other, healthy and alive!

We need to always keep in mind that everything is temporary. There'll be rainbow after the rain, sunshine after a stormy nights. In order to earn the sunshine, we need to work on it, and don't let the stress (and procrastination) succumb you to a deeper ditch. I believe that the Japanese will surely rise and go on with their lives and build a better Nippon; and they have proven it after the Kobe Earthquake in 1995. If they can overcome a horrific situation, we sure can, too! Let's 'earn the sunshine'!

Let's pray for the victims of Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami in Japan. 
Let's pray that from this tragedy, they learn to find truth and peace in Allah. 
Let's pray that we are always grateful to Allah. 
Let's pray that He always grants us positive yet critical perspectives in life.
Let's pray that we will always appreciate good and bad experiences in our lives, 
even if sometimes it takes some effort to see them. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I learn from 'Alwani's PHD laundry effort'.

Most of the mornings, I would hang the clothes on the drying line. Each line is allocated for each person, the front bit is Alwani's, the second is Yusuf's and third is AF's. I hang them according to the shelving areas. My husband's clothes are usually hanged using hangers, and the same as mine. Mak taught me this since she knows that we are not planning to get a helper and she said it's easier for us to organise our lives with small kids. And I must admit, it works very well in my household.

Usually, I fold the clothes at the drying line so that it would not crumple as much, and I would go into the house with a stack of folded clothes, while the rest of other clothes will be hanged in the 'holding area' before they are to be ironed and worn. Then, the stack would be dissembled according to the proper shelves.

However, for the past few days, it has been pouring heavily outside. I didn't manage to fold and keep them like the usual manner. My laundry was PHD (piled higher and deeper, literally!) since the rain poured more than a couple of days!

And then, a princess came to the rescue. While waiting for me to get ready to send her to kindy, Alwani took one garment after another and folded them (in her own 'princess-y' way). And believe or not, she completed 3/4 of the pile! My husband and I were amazed! And to my surprise, she actually classified those garments... 'I want to do it just like Ummi. This is mine, that's Yusuf's and the other one is Abang's!'

This is the end product, she piled 'baju kanak-kanak' (children's clothings) and 'baju besar susah lipat' (big clothings which are hard to fold) into two stacks.

L-R: 'Baju kanak-kanak', 'Baju besar susah lipat'.  
Though her folding skills must be polished, she has grasped the idea of neatness and cleanliness at such a young age, Masha Allah. She's 3 years and 11 months old, that PHD helper of mine!
  • Does that folding techniques passed my QC? Not really.
  • Did I refold the clothings? No! That would mean I, as her mother, thrashing her efforts.
  • So, am I happy with the outcome? Yes, because Alwani did it her way, her special thoughtful way.
A young child learns by absorbing what she hears and sees people's (re)actions around her. If she knows that I refolded her stacks, surely she would not be interested in helping me the next time. Alwani learns by doing; from the interaction of her own thinking and her experiences in the external world.
Thus as parents, we should strive to prepare the environment so that it provides stimulating, challenging materials and activities for children - even daily chores can be stimulating and interesting if we want them to be! 
Thank you, Princess Alwani! You have helped me proven that Piaget's theory is spot on!
Ummi's PHD helper.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What I learn from 'Al Fateh's Maulidur Rasul (The birth of the Prophet) celebration'.

As I was picking up Al Fateh from school yesterday, he told me that he was excited for tomorrow. I knew earlier from the teacher that he was to wear full baju Melayu - the Malay traditional costume, to school as the pre-school classes are going to celebrate Maulidur Rasul. I asked him casually, 'Are you looking forward to wear your baju Melayu?' 'No, I want to answer all questions for the class quiz!'

I must admit that I was impressed and proud of him.

'But you need to help me revise, Ummi. The quiz will be about the Prophet!' 
And with that statement, I was positive that I, myself, needed to do more revision! I realised that this would be a challenge to make the history of the Prophet meaningful to my son, who's going to be 6 in July. Yes, to make my son learn about the Prophet, get to know more about him, teach Al Fateh to love him and ultimately to live following his sunnah.

Among the lessons learned from our 2 minutes walk from the pre-school to the car park are, firstly, as a mother, I need to be knowledgeable so that I can teach my children the precise facts in regards to whatever topics they are learning at school, and in this case, it is about my Prophet. 

Secondly, it is important for the children to learn in a simple, yet effective and meaningful way (well, theoretically, not just the children, but anyone in the world!). It does sound simple, but believe me, it's not! Story telling and songs, and relating the simple lessons of the Prophet (i.e. always telling the truth and being called Al-Amin) with his day to day life (i.e. The Prophet spoke only the truth, and everyone trusted him. Hence when we lie, we can lose people's trust.).

Thirdly, it is essential for parents to take part in whatever learning process/subject/matter that our children are facing at school, so that there will be continuation at home, which, insha Allah will ensure better and clearer understanding. My son did ask a lot of questions to me as I told him about the early years of Rasulullah, and it showed that he's thinking deeper regarding this matter, since he repeatedly hear (then understand, hopefully) about the story of Prophet, both at school and at home.


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