Creative Learning for Kids

Creativity1Admire your child learning in his early years
Soon after the birth of my child, I started thinking of the most creative ways to make my little child learn. I tried some techniques that proved to be a major success; and hence, I wish to share these with all the mothers who can do wonders by using them.

Exposure to lively objects
Show the child some rotating, and moving toys with lights. The toys that work by pushing the string may help the child learn the trial and error method- as well as- to understand cause and effect of actions.

Building patterns
Build weird patterns using the toys of all shapes and colour. You may stack or make a line or any pattern you want. This will improve the child’s creativity skills as he may think of different ways of using objects.

Interacting while managing simple task
When working in the kitchen and doing a simple task, use appropriate vocabulary to define what you are trying do to. Like while making a milkshake, tell them how to add milk, sugar, and cream and allow them to press the button of the blender. This will enhance their vocabulary and they will become expressive.

Show and tell
Describe everything in front of them using action. If you are usingtoothpaste then show them how to apply it over the brush, and how to brush- that will enhance their recognition and recalling abilities.

What can you see………?
While you are on road or a garden, play this little game, “What can you see?” You will marvel later on how well they will describe the place.

Developing thematic pictures
Collect pictures relating to different themes like family or a market, and jumble them. Sort out to make a thematic picture, widening their mental capacities.

Guess who is who?
Give them simple hints with action, and allow them to guess who you are referring to like flap your arms, glide and make the sounds of the bird and they will guess. Start with simple ones developing their cognitive abilities.

Let’s map out
Hide the object and then tell them to find it by drawing the simple maps. Amazingly they will learn to read maps so early.
Hope you will find these techniques valuable. Insha’Allah.

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(Part 1) Public restroom etiquettes: Meet the elephant in the room!

restroomI’m sure that it’s an international issue, but I’m going to specifically discuss public washrooms around the religious sanctities since Tahara (cleanliness) is our half faith. In my travels, it has become clear that people don’t understand how to behave in the washrooms, let alone take care of Tahara.

Yes it’s a fairly gross subject; but this dormant ‘loo-phobia’ you may have, could soon be defeated by nature, hitting its panic button on you. You will start to see black spots floating in the air, and one of them of them will even speak to you. Nature does not always wait for the most opportune time to make its appearance; your days there (especially at Hajj) may be longer than your endurance. So, sometimes you are forced to visit the nearest facility. Unfortunately, the nearest restrooms are not always the most fun to call upon. And in case you can’t find one near, just follow your senses. Your nose will guide your way. Wherever it smells funny, there it is. But you won’t be laughing!

So consider this a refresher course – a guide to be crammed, forwarded or shared as needed. (Not for the weak hearted.) Just breathe into a paper bag, until you throw up. But till then, bear with me.

1) Clean after yourself

Now, this is a no-brainer. Bathrooms should be clean. There should be no sign of fecal matter (yours or anyone else’s). But since it’s not always the case, you will walk into a cubicle and walk right out again, mentally and emotionally scarred. To even get to the seat, you have to wade through a lake of mystery liquid that, by the laws of logistical probability, very likely isn’t water. And when you arrive, you may find that the last person to use it couldn’t decide, because it’s everywhere but in the bowl given, which isn’t rocket science. Feces are supposed to go in the water inside the toilet into the dark abyss.

“Duh,” you say, “everyone knows that.”

Oh really? Then why is it on the toilet seat and on the restroom floor approximately all the time?

There is a button located directly above the toilet paper that is marked with the word… wait for it… “FLUSH”. Press that! And if the water isn’t available, then you should’ve kept a water bottle with you. If it’s too late, then cry us some river, please, and get it flushed.

You shouldn’t expect free toilet paper, tissue or soap either. So carry them with you in small amounts.

P.S. If it’s like a cubicle, from which Ikea should learn space management, then don’t go in with big gallons of water (above 1 litre – definitely a ‘no-no’), because that will leave no space for you. And if you start to wrestle in there, deciding whether the bottle should occupy the space or you, making people outside lose it and giving up right beside the door of your cubicle, then you may not have many gymnastic abilities to try when stepping out.

2) Cover and let others stay covered

People naturally expect privacy in the restroom, but it’s far from priority for most.

You may get in to only find your second biggest fear happening (I say second biggest fear, because your first biggest fear is obviously being that person) – someone didn’t lock the door and is now smiling at you. Smiling is Sunnah – I accept. But in such circumstances, it’s frightening. But obviously screaming too is the worst option at that time. It will draw a large crowd. Just close the door immediately – don’t even wait to apologize. If the guilt is overwhelming, then offer them something from your bag/purse/wallet as a peace offering – definitely after they have stepped out of the cubicle. Or you can stand outside their door and beg for their forgiveness. If they were out of water (as you may have noticed in a split second), you could go to a bathroom close by and steal some water – but be sure to knock to make sure no one is in there. You don’t want to get stuck doing double bathroom apologies. It will get expensive and tiring. And you may lose your own control during the process.

There is a clear line that is not supposed to be crossed. Your Satr (part of body to cover) is from navel till knees. Keep it covered. Nobody wants to see it. (This is meant for men in Ihram also – people are there to attain closeness of Allah (swt) and your unawareness about your whereabouts could make a difference).

If you can’t find any stall empty, please, prefer the bushes over exhibition, because others may join you in your brave-step-taken; and now, you have a sin of the entire bathroom audience on you and this would yank the Haram meter up to a highest level.

3) Don’t steal toiletries

The person you saw smiling at you may have a reason behind it – no bathroom lock.

Now, I don’t know, if people think whether they are going to build their own toilet someday or open a bathroom business, that’s why they came in with screw-drivers and took all the locks away; or it’s their way of serial revenge – but that stuff is not for free and it’s not yours to take away. Let it be where it belongs. Or next time, you will be in that state, where one of your hand will be covering the space, from where the lock is kidnapped and another will be holding the door (while someone will be trying to open it) and you won’t be the one smiling this time.What goes around comes around. Beware!

Please don’t steal – be it locks, tissue paper, pipes, etc. Anything. You don’t want to owe toiletries to so many people on the Day of Judgment.

4) Don’t answer nature calls with a conversation

Now, here’s a fairly interesting pet peeve: talking. Holding court in the area, where people are relieving themselves, is not good for unbiased judgments. They might not want to be your audience or testify for anything in your favour. And worse than observing a forum, is having someone engage them in that conversation.

ou do know it’s not ok to talk while attending to your ‘business’, right?

And even, the most commonest-of-all-common senses say, “It’s just gross!”

This brings me to attending phone calls in the toilet. If there’s any sort of line, don’t use your phone in the bathroom. This is purely a matter of courtesy. Please, focus on the task at hand. If it’s called a restroom, it doesn’t mean you rest in there. No text or a selfie can be more urgent than what others, with bladders the size of a grape, in line need to do – every second for whom means the difference between dignified relief and a desperate sprint from the door to a dark corner of the nearest hill/jungle, which you shouldn’t be grumpy about, when you step on it.

5) Keep your creativity confined to your own walls

I’m all for creativity and art, but, please, limit your mediums to less-pukable ones. Nobody wants to see your art on the toilet floor or anywhere around it. I’m glad human being doesn’t possess superpowers, with which they could climb the walls, because you may have to deal with wall art as well – and, no, I’m not talking about graffiti. But I’m coming to that.

Keep your graffiti confined to your own walls. This is a public area. Not yours to claim or paint. Do not spray paint the bathroom doors with things that may force parents to blindfold their kids, when sending them in these toilets. (Now you know the reason behind that wreck). Then writing your number beside, seriously? I can’t even comment on this one. I’m out. Sorry – retiring from earth. I live in space now.

Heart not warmed yet? It will be microwaved because…

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Story Writing Competition 2014

It’s time to get creative!
Participate in Hiba Magazine’s Short Story Writing Competition
Themes
  1. When I covered my head, I opened my mind
  2. When my sincere Dua was answered…
  3. My greatest parenting challenge
  4. Sabr and Shukr: My formula for a happy life
  5. Happily ever after
  6. Solutions for the Struggling Ummah
Note
  1. Participants can submit multiple entries.
  2. Word limit per story: 800-1100 words
  3. The entry has to be a short story – no essays or poems please.
  4. Entries should not be previously published anywhere – not even on the writer’s blog.
  5. Entries should be submitted via the hiba’s website.
  6. The winning story will receive a hiba gift pack.
  7. Top stories will be published on the blog and/or magazine.
  8. Decision of the judges will be final.
Submission Date: 15th October, 2014 
Submit your stories using the following form

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For queries, email editor@hibamagazine.com

Bring Life to Learning and Learning to Life

education_researchChildren are naturally inventive. They do not need to be told to be creative. Perhaps, they need guidance, motivation and inspiration to boost up their creativity. Research, design and evaluation provide the opportunity to young children to enhance their intellectual learning. The concept of research development is not yet accepted as fundamental to educational change by our educational institutions. Many schools still believe in traditional teaching methodologies. However, educational research culture should be adopted for an improved educational system in our country.

Educational research defined

It is a field of inquiry, the systematic generation of new knowledge, development of new ideas and experimenting with new techniques. Clear and open-minded questions call for real research and thinking and furnish ways for evaluating answers. It aims at advancing knowledge of education and learning processes, while simultaneously developing the human resource.

Teachers’ professional development – a crisis or negative teaching culture?

Teachers’ learning and professional development is not much valued in Pakistan. They are merely trained as classroom teachers. The research-based teacher training culture is hardly seen in Pakistani schools. Research culture has made its way into higher educational institutions but not in schools. School heads and principals expect teachers to teach their students but not lead them. Teachers are required to teach the syllabus prescribed by the school. They are not encouraged to experiment with new innovative approaches of teaching. Anyone, who shares a new idea from a book or design creative activities for students, is criticized. In such schools, positive views of professional learning are counter cultural. Due to negative and unsupportive attitude of the school management, teachers do not bother to take interest in research and are compelled to use the age old traditional teaching methods.  Thus, negative teaching culture has seriously impaired learning skills of teachers.

To respond to these challenges, many educationists face confusion and constraints in their minds as to how can they make schools research oriented.  What goals and strategies should be adopted to create research learning environment in the schools?

 Action research strategy

Today, many schools are using research culture in their schools; however, they are not aware that their teaching methodologies are based on research. The teaching strategy used in classrooms is action research strategy.

Action research involves three forms of research:

  1. Exploratory
  2. Evaluative
  3. Experimental

The teacher uses research element in developing the curriculum, content and activities. To make the classroom climate interactive, teacher uses teaching methods that include group discussion, individual presentation, searching information from the library or internet and creative writing tasks. The research projects introduced in classroom help to explore student’s learning strategy and also strengthen student-teacher relationship.

School – a teacher’s hub

To promote teacher as a researcher and a proactive learner, work place learning such as school is considered as an essential element in enhancing the professional development of teachers. The work place must provide continuous learning opportunities for teachers and encourage them to reflect and practice new ideas or new skills in classroom. Many teachers believe that they learn most effectively from the judgment and perception of their students in the classroom.

Collaborative learning

Another important source of learning for teachers is co-operative learning in which teachers share their new ideas and introduce modern teaching methods to their colleagues.

Some schools are following observation and assessment approach which is also beneficial for enhancing teacher professional development. This includes peer coaching and teacher evaluation which encourage teachers to improve their professional competencies. The teacher, as a person and learner, has to develop skills, qualities and attitudes such as commitment, confidence, flexibility and passion for learning, analytic and conceptual thinking to enhance his professional skills respectively.

Importance of research-based learning

The sole purpose of stimulating educational research in children is to give them an insight of what they learn. The curriculum, modes of instruction, assessments and learning opportunities should be clearly linked with natural environment and developed to cater the needs and interests of the students. The firsthand experience in a child’s education comes from nature. Dienes (1969) suggests that children need to build or construct their own concepts from within rather than having those concepts imposed upon them. This means that children at a very young age are inquisitive about their surroundings and have a desire to explore them. It is the responsibility of teachers to let children explore, think and question. The questions formed in the mind enhance learning and intellectual capabilities of young children.

Let the wind of change blow!

The present scenario implies that in order to bring a cultural change in schools, the teachers, students and communities should collectively work together for a unified goal. Research and development has great significance in shaping developing communities. The first step to raise awareness among teachers and parents to bring a meaningful change in our education system is the collective acceptance of re-thinking schooling. Workshops, seminar and other training sessions provide a platform to teachers and educationists to collectively think about redefining their goals and objectives. Having the same vision in mind, an educational institution organized a seminar which focused on enhancing research culture in schools. The guest speakers in the seminar talked about the significance of research in teaching and learning; and pondered over various reasons that are causing hindrance in increasing research skills among teachers and students.

The focal point of that seminar was to emphasize upon a radical change in education system. The change has been centered to the need for schools to create an environment which is conducive to promoting research skills in teachers and students. We need to provide the learners with a fundamental precept of Islamic education integrated with Islamic Tarbiyah. An eminent Muslim political thinker Al-Mauwardi in his book entitled “The Leadership and Politics” writes that the essential characteristic for a Muslim educator is to have knowledge, perception, intellect, intuition and revelation which enhances research skills in teachers and students. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah said: “To gain knowledge and research in children, an educator must encourage children to be creative, inquisitive and ask questions. Children should remain quiet and listen attentively and understand well. And lastly act upon the knowledge being gained.

The seminar outlined the fact there is a general consensus that schools need to adopt research teaching approaches. But this process of change is still a big challenge for various schools who still believe in unreflective and conventional teaching methods. Radical change in education is impossible unless education leaders critically analyze and understand the goals and objectives of research in educational development. Research element reveals that transmission of knowledge, values and beliefs into classroom practices offers multiple opportunities for students and teachers to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.