The Much-Dreaded Report Card

report card

By Imrana Moiz – Mother of four, lead teacher at “Generation’s School”, holder of a diploma from “Association Montessori International” and a certificate from “Agha Khan Institute of Educational Development” in early childhood education.

Children are the coolness of their parents’ eyes. ‘Coolness of eyes’ is an Arabic expression. It means that if someone is deeply depressed, his “eyes are warm” as opposed to a mother whose “eyes are cool” when she cries upon seeing her child after many years.

When the ‘season of tests and exams’ arrives, the entire parent fraternity is bogged down with preparation, stressing themselves and straining their children. The worst arguments arise during this season. As the D-Day approaches, another storm in the box is waiting to explode. Pre-result day talks include: “Wait till you get your report” and the sanctions are all set to be implemented.

The most important thing at stake is the child’s self-esteem, which should be respected in order for him to achieve success in the future. The aim is to help the child develop a balanced personality, which is neither over-confident nor of an individual who thinks very low of himself.

Some positive ways to turn this occasion into a beneficial event are:

  • Publicly discussing the unpleasant will always bring ill feelings and estranged relationship. It is not very hard to choose between result and relationship. A healthy relationship is directly proportional to good results in all the exams of life. This is the only thing which can positively influence an individual’s way of thinking and living.
  • Praise the child for whatever effort he has made. Tell him what you thought worked for him.
  • Irrelevant is the fact that you are about to receive a good or a bad result. The important thing is it could be a ‘teachable’ moment. Discussing what to do next must be of utmost importance, rather than crying over spilt milk or celebrating out of bounds.
  • Help the child to think through the process. An analysis of actions is a reflective task that will help him throughout his life.
  • Sift through the effective and not-so-effective strategies of self-study. A self-study plan is always better, as it provides an intrinsic motivation to the child to keep trying. Remember, we have to help our children to learn how to fish, rather than to provide them with a fish every time they need one.
  • The worst reaction to a below-average result is “I knew this was going to happen!” The esteem-related needs of children are very important in order for them to reach the state of self-actualization.
  • Never compare one child’s result with those of others, whether to yours when you were young, a sibling, a neighbour or a classmate.

When you are about to receive your child’s result, control the sudden flow of adrenalin and let sense prevail. Just think over what you want: a hardened relationship or an improved result. Your reflection on this important question will help you decide what is to be achieved from this moment.

Inspired by a talk of Nouman Ali Khan, the CEO and founder of “Bayyinah”, an Islamic educational institution in the US. He talked about a Dua from Surah Al-Furqan: “…bestow on us from our wives and offspring the coolness of our eyes…” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

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Childhood Milestones: From a Teacher’s Diary

Childhood Milestones From a Teachers Diary

By Imrana Moiz – Lead teacher at Generation’s School. She holds a Diploma from Association Montessori Internationale and a certificate from Agha Khan Institute of Educational Development in Early Childhood Education

These days we, as teachers and parents, have become increasingly aware of special needs, thanks to the movie “Tare Zameen Pay”. Working in primary education in Pakistan for almost a decade now, I have seen many systems of education based on different theories of development. For example, Montessori and High Scope are established approaches, which require proper training of teachers. But no matter what theory the school follows, the focus is on one or two aspects of child psychology. Consequently, all teaching techniques are centred upon the development of those aspects.

However, in my experience, I have seen that sometimes we are too quick to declare a child as dyslexic or having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These terms, now widely known, have created many stereotypes in our minds regarding children. These conditions are real, but we should be very sure when we declare that a specific child is suffering from them.

Over-anxious parents with high expectations tend to label their own child as a slow learner. If we try to elaborate the word ‘slow’ and ask them to explain it, they usually reply that, “he/she cannot write as well as his/her older sibling”, “he/she has no interest in reading” or “he/she cannot sit still”.

When saying such things, they drive their children into unhealthy and unnecessary competitions, without stopping to consider the basics. The particular child becomes a specimen under a microscope. He may not have reached developmentally appropriate milestones for these tasks. Instead of helping children reach their goals, kids are pressurized at a tender age. When their mental growth is hindered by the fussing of the parents, kids perform poorly. Rather than being free to grow, pressure makes them worried and depressed, which results in erratic behaviour.

Besides, the child might be facing a number of problems, which can hamper his or her studies. The child might not be getting enough sleep, may be bullied, may be ignored by his parents or teacher, or only looking for a little encouragement. Any one of these reasons can lead to misbehaviour.

ADHD is characterised by a combination of inattentiveness, hyper-activity and impulsivity, exceeding the limits of the normal developmental range for children of that age. While parents might think that studying will make their child successful, too much studying is also harmful. Bombarding the child with information and around-the-clock learning is not the answer. It only makes them run away from it.

Narrated Ibn Masood: “The Prophet used to take care of us in preaching by selecting a suitable time, so that we might not get bored. He abstained from pestering us with sermons and knowledge all the time.” (Bukhari)