Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I learn from 'my Research Framework OT (RFOT)'

Alhamdulillah, I attended a course handled by dedicated Dr Othman Taib, the founder of An award winning blog dedicated to novice researchers (like me!)

One of the most precious things I learned (and it might be a tad late for me) is filling in the one page Research Framework. It does look simple, but it needs in depth thoughts. But this simple piece of paper will give you (and your supervisor and the panel of assessors for your proposal defense) a greater idea of your research, what's lacking and more. Fantastic and highly prescribed for novice researchers, masters and PhD students, preferably the beginners.

This what's mine looked like... you can click on the photo's caption if you really want to read it! 

I showed this to my concern supervisor, after being absent from seeing him for about 4 months (pre-delivery admission to ward, post-admission of the twins to NICU for a month).. and to my relieve, he was satisfied that I'm on track (though the RFOT I submitted needed a few amendments, but at least he believes that I have a clear idea of what I'm doing!) And so will you, after you fill this one page RFOT! Alhamdulillah, doing this gives me a kick start or a launch pad after being stuck in a deep end for sometime.

And if you are interested in making your own, this is a blank RFOT template (this is the latest and simpler version of RFOT) and an example that you can refer to. (However, if you like the version that I'm using up there, click here for the blank template). Dr Othman gave his full permission for all to make use of this template.. May Allah showers him with more blessings and greater ease in doing his work.. aamin.

All the best, folks!

It's not enough to mildly want what you want -
you must wildly want what you want. 
There are no wishy washy CEOs - 
or wishy washy nobel peace prize winners - 
or wishy washy winners of anything. 
It helps to remember that life is rarely linear - 
there are always zigzags on your path to your dreams. 
True failure only happens when you abandon your quest. 
Keep on questing.


Monday, May 21, 2012

What I learn from 'time-out vs time-in'

Grumpy young man... oh yes, he can be one!

 What consequences do you use when your kids misbehave?

I used time-out sessions for my kids. It worked to a certain extend, but not anymore... it has just lost its 'power' to heal the bad manners. But Alhamdulillah, today, Allah grants me an idea of conducting a 'time-in'.

'TIME-IN' can be accomplished by sending your child to a designated spot where he must complete a task that has a definite beginning and end. This could be putting together a small puzzle, memorising a line/two from a surah, completing 3 pages of revision book, scrub their shoes, clean and clear a certain area of the house which is toy messy, peeling carrots.. any activity that can has a definite beginning and end . A 'time-in' diverts his energies and encourages him to focus on something positive.

Re-arranging the books is a good time-in activity, especially books with numerical orders (i.e. Mr Men collection.)

Another way to teach our children, in every action, there is a consequence, we  create a homemade "Correction" can. This works when the children can understand that if they do bad things, they need to face the outcome. And the outcome is time in using the "Correction" can. 

In every action, there is a consequence - good and bad. Teach our child to choose the correct action

We fill it with tickets or slips of paper with various consequences written on them. Instead of giving your child a time-out, send her to the can for a slip. A few ideas might include no TV or computer after school or an extra chore.We also toss in a blank piece of paper, a "mercy" ticket, which gives us an opportunity to talk about how Allah gives us mercy even when we deserve punishment (I personally love this tix.. there are lots of stories of the prophets showing Allah's mercy. My children love stories, and sometimes it serves a better purpose then time-out/in!)

Fill in this can with various consequences as well as "mercy" tickets. A good way to use your scrap paper, as well as to source out house chores to your children!

What I learn is that, disciplining our children takes dedication and effort.  It also helps to mix in a little creativity when needed. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

What I learn from 'Made vs Bought'

The teachers in Malaysia has recently celebrated Teachers' Day on the 16th of May and prior to the occassion, Al Fateh and Alwani had reminded me that they would like to give something to their teachers (which accumulates to 14 teachers!).

I remember a talk by one of the imaams of the local madrasah. He reminded us that one of the basics that many new parents forget to follow from the older generations is to seek baraka or blessings from teachers, include them in your daily du'a, respect them as they work hard to impart knowledge to our children.

And so, this is the day to show our appreciation to the teachers. Thanking them for being so tolerant when teaching our kids ;)

For us, a home made or self made gifts are always cherished and add a personal touch since it shows that one has put more effort into it by taking the time out of one's life to make them a gift.

These are some examples of the home made gifts that my friends have done for their children's' teachers. Salute to you!

Sya Annur's famous marble choc cheese cakes for her son's lucky teachers.

Janna's cuppies for her childrens' teachers.

Tini's preaching to her kids, ' appreciate teachers from the bottom of their hearts' (Tini Yahya, 2012). Her daughters made beautiful hand decorated frames.

While my kids coloured-in certificates to be given to their teachers. Laminating them would be a nice touch and it'll last longer.

A wonderful well planned present for those with green hands.
Congratulations to all my friends who find time to appreciate the teachers of our children. I applaud each and every one of you who uses their own special skills i.e baking, painting, planting, sewing, art and crafting, giving orders to their kids to complete their colouring (<-- that's me!! haha).

Here is some ideas (for next year!) of 30 Homemade Gift for Teachers, Teacher Appreciation Ideas and printable cards.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What I (re)learn from 'a purchase in Subiaco'.

I bought a card with this on it at Subiaco market when Alwani was a baby. Found it this morning during our weekly 'major' cleaning up session. A stark reminder of my mission to love my children, parent them and love myself, all at the same time!

p/s.. I love cool cards, with meaningful words!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What I learn from 'Al Fateh and Friday prayers'.

Teaching our children to live as Muslims is an OK task... but teaching them to love Islam and practice its teachings are big tasks. A task which each parent is responsible for. 

Friday prayers is the latest 'syllabus' that we are instilling in Al Fateh, for him to do it routinely (and as sincerely as possible). It's hard for him to go with a smile. Hey, I don't blame him, it is his weekend, he just came back from his tennis practice, his other siblings are happily at home, enjoying the swirling fan on the ceiling while he has to endure the stunning heat and glare outside. It's a big task for him to do it sincerely and without a hint of resentment. But as parents, we believe that we have to train them when they are ready and Islam has clearly suggested that at the age of 7 the children should be taught how to pray.

Friday sermons in Malaysia is not as children (or adults) friendly as the sermons we have attended in the UK or Australia. They are pre-suggested speech and the imaams have limited authority to change them. As a result, many enjoy these sermons as naptime story...

I remembered those teaching days in Australia, in a class full with Year 2 boys, I asked them as soon as they came back into the classroom after the Friday prayers, "What did you learn from the Friday sermons?" Each student had to write one on the whiteboard as they entered the classroom.

During the first few weeks, these 7-8 year old boys found it difficult to write. So I asked those who could not suggest anything to recite their istighfar 10 times outside the classroom, then they were allowed to enter the class. They did not like this punishment. However, after a few weeks, all would come into the class after Jumaah prayers and confidently wrote something on the board.

One particular scene is still fresh in my mind when Sheikh Yusuf Parker (the imam of the area) came into the class with my boys, then loudly exclaimed a long 'Aaahhhhh, now I understand why..' (after looking on the huge title on my whiteboard - WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN FRIDAY SERMONS?)

He then reported to me that one of my students, Abdul Qani, an energetic Somalian boy, raised up his hand during the Friday prayers and asked him questions. He boldly told the Sheikh that he didn't understand what he was saying and he needs to understand them because, "Sr Azza will ask us what we learn in the sermons". The Sheikh told me the congregation were impressed with his boldness and said their 'Takbir!'.
(Sheikh Yusuf Parker then re-told them the sermons using easier words, that's what the kids told me!)

In this simple event, I learned alot of things...
  1. The imaam has a huge role in educating. They should learn to accommodate his congregation, old AND young (and whatever political background they have!).
  2. Kids need to have a purpose in doing something - as parents, we need to set them. This will ensure that they are not doing things blindly, without any purpose (which also will mean wasting their time!)
  3. When the kids understand that they have an objective to fill, the activity will be more meaningful (but please remind your children not to ask any question during Friday sermons! It was embarrassing for me!)
  4. Never underestimate the power of reciting 'istighfar' loudly and publicly! hahah.. I thought it was a simple penalty, but it digs deep!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What I learn from 'Bye-bye CDs!!'

At the age of 3 years and 3 months, Yusuf finally manage to say, 'I'm nappy free!!'

'I'm nappy free at the age of three!!'

We are sooo proud of him, though it took us a few times (since he was 2 and a half), to potty train him. It was a bit hard at the beginning since he sent us mixed messages, i.e, he wanted to pee, sat on the toilet and he'd say 'Eh, pee tak nak keluar!' (pee is not coming out!). And once we put back the nappy on, he'd pee like a turned-on water pipe!

Lesson #1 - Keep the nappy off! We were actually sending him mixed messages, putting it on and off. Of course Yusuf will be more comfortable to pee in the nappy, he had been doing it since birth! So, once you take off those diapers and put on the underwear, never put on the diapers again!

And so, we took it off (even asked the girls in the nursery to cooperate and do the same!) and (of course) there were only 2 accidents at nursery, and one in his bedroom, and that's it! No forcing, lots of encouragement. 

Lesson#2 - Remember that our children will do it in their own time. When they're ready, we'll be amazed at how quickly they become trained. Just take our time, don't scold, nag or fuss and most of all, don't worry (especially about money since Yusuf is on cloth diaper!)

Lesson #3 - Start only after our child signals his readiness. If we force them to do something that they're not sure of, we will feel defeated (and they will be scolded). Keep an eye out for common clues, like staying dry for longer periods of time (indicating stronger bladder control), wanting to wear "big kid" underwear, or telling you when he's soiled a diaper.

Took a CD from his nursery bag and chuck it in the bin, telling me, 'I don't need this anymore!'

Lesson #4 - We offer praise and prizes. After Yusuf peed in the toilet, we made the BIGGEST fuss in the house (Al Fateh, Alwani included). We cheered, clapped, danced around, hoping it will make Yusuf felt he has done something wonderful and he'll want to do it again and again. We had planned to reward him, but praises were enough to make him happy!

Lesson #5 - Extra motivational boost.. In addition, we used a sticker rewards chart for my three year old, Yusuf. He was rewarded with a sticker of his choice that he was able to put on the sticker chart he created with me AFTER he peed. Poos earned double stickers (hahaha.. seriously! Yusuf found it hard to poo in the toilet). 

He's fully trained in 5 days! Alhamdulillah..

So, to mommies out there who's planning to potty train, stay calm and keep our child motivated. You can do it, (and they'll surely do it, too!)
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