Life's like that!

September 26, 2010

New Bundle of Joy

My younger brother in Singapore has a new baby boy! All praise be to Allah SWT my sister-in-law is recovering well from the delivery.

Now that the baby boy is home, his three sisters will have a new sibling to play with. Allah SWT willing I hope to skype with my brother soon so that I can see the baby in real time.


Badly Bruised Toe

Last Thursday night at about 9pm, DD1 dropped a 3-lb metal pencil sharpener on her big left toe. The toe turned red instantly and DD1 cried nonstop. Husband happened to work late that day and came back a few minutes after the incident happened. He immediately comforted DD1 and gave her 2 teaspoons of ibuprofen (for children) to reduce inflammation. I called my sister and she suggested that we bring DD1 to the ER for an x-ray in case the toe bone is broken or fractured. We decided to wait till morning to see how bad the injury was.

Throughout the night, DD1 was crying due to the pain and we didn't get much sleep. By Friday morning, the toe turned purple so we decided to bring her to the ER. I informed the 4th grade teacher about the incident and told her I've called one of the admin assistants to get a substitute teacher for me. The 4th grade teacher told me not to worry about the class and to take care of my daughter.

7:30am: We reached the ER and by now DD1 was still in a lot of pain. She was not crying so much now but wanted us to read to her. All praise be to Allah SWT I brought four of her favorite picture books to the hospital, so it took her mind off her injured toe as I read to her. DD1 was very quiet when Nurse Erin took three x-rays of her toe. She followed directions to remain still during the process and even thanked the nurse for taking good care of her.

10:15am: All praise be to Allah SWT the ER doctor told us that the x-rays did not show any broken or fractured bones in the toe. The toe is badly bruised and we'll need to give DD1 painkiller medicine every 6 hours. According to him, the toe will be swollen for about 1 week and the nail will fall off in about 2-3 weeks. The foot need to be elevated and an ice pack can be applied on the toe to relieve the pain.

It has been physically exhausting to breastfeed DD2 while working full-time. Now that I have an injured child to take care, I think I'll need another cup of coffee to help me get through the day.


September 19, 2010

Schoolhouse Rock "Adjective"


Video: Schoolhouse Rock "Interjections!"


September 18, 2010

I am tired...

Yesterday I was so glad that it was the last work day of the week.

Throughout the whole week, I have been sleeping at around 9:30pm and waking up at 3:30am to feed DD2. It would be great if only I could go back to sleep. But unfortunately that was not the case. Usually I would just lie on bed and stared at the ceiling. After 10 minutes or so, I got out of bed and start preparing breakfast and lunch for husband and I. I don't know if this has caused my milk supply to go down, so I am taking fenugreek supplement capsules twice a day. Allah SWT willing I hope this will help to keep up with breastfeeding DD2 as long as possible.

Yesterday during lunch, a 4th grade boy told me he did not bring lunch from home. Since I was munching on carrots, I offered two slices of bread with butter to him. He was really happy to eat that for lunch, and I was surprised to see that he looked like he enjoyed his lunch. Another 4th grade boy kindly offered his bag of Chex Mix snack to me. I knew that he'll need that for lunch, so I thanked him for his generosity and declined his offer.

I am thankful that I was able to feed a hungry kid, and other children are able to witness how small acts of kindness can be of great help to someone in need. All praise be to Allah SWT I am thankful for the opportunity to have a positive impact on kids at school.


September 15, 2010

Eid Party Activities

All praise be to Allah SWT today 4th grade students enjoyed participating in the Eid Party activities that I planned for them.

In the morning before assembly, parents dropped off food items for the party. Since the classroom is located outside the cafeteria, two students helped me organize food items on a table. After assembly, the students had regular classes for the first three 45-minute periods. Immediately after recess, the homeroom teacher and I conducted four activities for the rest of the day.

Science Invention Contest (1 hour) - (Team Building) Students were formed into teams to invent one or more items using pipe cleaners. They were instructed to present their items with the following information:
1) Team Name and names of members
2) Who can use the invention
3) How to use the invention
All students were recognized for their creativity and teamwork. Teams who invented the wackiest item and most useful item were given special recognition.

Puzzle Contest (20 minutes) - (Team Building) Students were divided into four teams. Each team was given a 60-piece puzzle of the 50 states of the United States. Teams need to put together the puzzle without looking at the cover and they were rotated to different designs three times. The fastest team to put together the puzzle won.

Lunch - I am really grateful to a parent for distributing pizza to students. If not for her, I wouldn't have the time to judge the Science Invention Contest.

Bounce House (20 minutes) - Three Pre-K classes and two kindergarten classes sponsored rental fees for three bounce houses and they cost $230 per day Each grade from Pre-K to high school was allocated 30 minutes to play in the bounce houses.

Charade (1 hour) - Students who have played before wanted to act out the words. Those who have never played before were allowed to provide categories and suggest words. The homeroom teacher acted out several words and she was really good at it!

Eid Poster Design (30 minutes) - This was an effective activity to help students wind down. They were allowed to work individually or in groups.

All praise be to Allah SWT the Eid Party was a success. I am grateful to the 4th grade homeroom teacher for letting me implement these activities and providing invaluable guidance on classroom management strategies. We had fun and students learned about sportsmanship through these activities. I really look forward to planning more team building activities for 4th grade students in the future Allah SWT willing.


September 13, 2010

Who wants to play charade?

It was a lot of fun teaching fourth grade students how to play charade this morning. And I was able to do so because morning assembly was delayed by one hour.

Due to the Eid celebration, students were allowed to be in school by 9am although teachers and staff were supposed to be in school by 7:30am.

At 8am I was in the main lobby when several first grade students were waiting for their homeroom teacher. Since we should not leave students unsupervised, one of the kindergarten teachers told me to bring them to the second floor for morning assembly. I brought them to the venue but no one was there. So I brought the students to the other first grade homeroom teacher. She said that she needed time to clean up her classroom, therefore she was unable to watch these students.

I went to the office to check with one of the admin staff, and just then the principal arrived. I asked him about morning assembly procedure for today, and he said that students who arrived before 9am should stay with their homeroom teacher. So I brought the students to the other first grade teacher who was in the computer lab to ask her if she could watch those students because by then several fourth grade students had arrived. Just before the teacher could answer me, I saw the students' homeroom teacher stood outside the computer lab and told her about the principal's decision on morning assembly. Then I gathered fourth grade students who were hanging out on the second floor and played charade with them in the classroom.

The charade game was a blast! I let students have the chance to provide categories such as places, food, hobbies, animals and sports. The boys played against the girls and the boys eventually won by one point. During the game, I instructed students to use their imagination to act out the categories. Everyone got so involved in the game that we were late for the morning assembly at 9am. Since I promised them that winners would receive prizes, I decided to give fruit juice packets to the winners. When I told them I would give prizes to the girls who participated in the game, they said it was unfair. I told them that it is a virtue to be gracious and since I was the judge, I could decide who could receive prizes. Allah SWT willing I hope that this would be a chance for fourth grade students to learn about good sportsmanship.


I need my beauty sleep...

1 sick husband + 2 sick and cranky kids + 8 days = 'interesting' parenting experience

Slept uninterrupted for at least 4 hours at night = priceless


September 07, 2010

Eid Holiday

All praise be to Allah SWT this week we are having a one-week break from school due to the end of the month of fasting. Allah SWT willing we will be celebrating the Eid festival either on Thursday or Friday, depending when the new moon is sighted.

Although I have plans to visit friends during this week, the weather forecast does not seem to cooperate. It seems that there is a 60-80% chance of rain today and tomorrow, Allah SWT willing. I don't think I'll get out of the house when it rains, so I may end up staying home with the kids. Anyway, I'm glad to have the time to hang out with DD1 so that we color books, read and play together.

DD2 has been 'chatting' with husband and I starting a month ago. She looks quite focus whenever she 'converses' with us and we would be quiet and listen to her. I guess since I talk to DD1 all the time, DD2 picks up on how conversation is carried out between people. I think it makes her happy because after she finished her 'speech' she would have a big smile on her face. Hopefully DD2 will learn to speak some simple words by the time she turns two years old so that we can avoid the 'terrible twos'.

DD1 is already four months old, and soon she will be five, Allah SWT willing. When I think about how fast time flies, I start to feel sad. Our children will be with us for a short twenty-plus years, then they will spread their wings to find their path in this society. I am praying hard to Allah SWT that when they get married, they will live close to us. Now I can truly understand my mother's agony when I left Singapore eight years ago. I always thought that I would get married in Singapore and have my mother stay with my husband and me. But I don't regret that it didn't happen that way. I am thankful that my relationship with my mother has become better since I left home. My only regret is that my kids have not have the chance to get to know their maternal grandmother in person. Allah SWT willing I hope that I can bring them to visit her soon.


September 03, 2010

Preschool Work is Fun!

On Wednesday and Thursday, I began to assign 'homework' for DD1 and the Sr. Salma's son who is also turning four years old this month. Their homework assignments were to cut out triangle and hexagon shapes and color the shapes. All praise be to Allah SWT they followed directions and produced neat and creative cut-outs. They enjoyed working on this assignments and felt satisfied that they did a good job. I praised them for their efforts and gave them simple incentives to reward them. Sr. Salma said that they couldn't wait for me to see their individual art work and kept asking her when I will get off from work.

Allah SWT willing I hope that this simple but rewarding work that the kids do help to build their interest in learning. It also helps them learn to master coloring and cutting techniques.

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Five Stone Game in 4th Grade

Earlier this week, I taught some of the girls in 4th grade how to play the Five Stones game during lunch time. I love to play this game because it trains eye-hand coordination and patience. On top of that, it is really fun!

Yesterday during lunch time, some of the boys wanted to play this game too! They were all eager to show me how well they could play this game after a brief practice. I encouraged them to never give up after the first few failed attempts to grab all five stones in their hands. I also praised individual students for giving their best effort to master this game. All of them seemed to be excited about this simple yet fun game and I told them that I'll give a pizza treat to the students who can beat me in this game.

Allah SWT willing I will be introducing confidence building games to the 4th graders to help raise their self-esteem. I am also happy to just join in the fun with them as well!


September 01, 2010

Are We Stressing Out Our Kids?

The following information is abstracted from the online article. Thanks to the School Counselor for the link to this article.

Teaching students to regulate stress

A number of strategies are available to help navigate the stresses of school. Parents can start by listening to their children. If a child complains of stress, anxiety, depression or hopelessness, parents should pay attention.

There are many children, however, who do not or cannot verbalize their stress. In these cases, parents need to be on the lookout for other signs. Some children may not want to stop or slow down their schedules for fear of disappointing their parents.

1. Strategies for parents of younger children

- Listen and notice any expressions of anxiety

- Talk with them about their feelings

- Brainstorm with them to find things they can do to feel better

- Make sure they are getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9-11 hours for children 5-12 years old.

- Make sure you are not overscheduling them

2. Strategies for parents of older children

- Make sure they are not overscheduling themselves

- Make sure they are getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 8.5-9.5 hours a day for adolescents

- Look at your assumptions about what constitutes a good college and what you are communicating, perhaps unknowingly, to them

3. Strategies for parents of children of all ages

- Look at how you define success and how you communicate that to your children
- Limit media time
- Increase family time, especially eating meals together as a family

4. Strategies for students

- Think about how you define success and make the appropriate changes to your attitude

- Root out any tendencies to perfectionism

- Be aware of tendencies to be overly competitive

- Ask yourself whether you are being less creative and open to exploration in exchange for high grades and test scores

It goes without saying that schools have a part to play in reducing stress.

5. Strategies for schools

- Examine the testing, homework and final exam policies

- Stop publishing the honor roll in newspapers

- Stop listing where kids are going to college in community newspapers and in graduation ceremonies

- Look at teaching and assessment policies


Regular Bedtimes Linked to Better Language, Reading and Math Skills in Preschool Children

Article received from Sr. Sarah. Thanks!

Regular Bedtimes Linked to Better Language, Reading and Math Skills in Preschool Children

ScienceDaily (June 9, 2010) Children in households with bedtime rules and children who get adequate sleep score higher on a range of developmental assessments, according to a research abstract presented June 7, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Results indicate that among sleep habits, having a regular bedtime was the most consistent predictor of positive developmental outcomes at 4 years of age. Scores for receptive and expressive language, phonological awareness, literacy and early math abilities were higher in children whose parents reported having rules about what time their child goes to bed. Having an earlier bedtime also was predictive of higher scores for most developmental measures.

The study also provides a wealth of information about typical sleep patterns in 4-year-old children. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, preschool children should get a minimum of 11 hours of sleep each night. Getting less than this recommended amount of sleep, the study's authors found, was associated with lower scores on phonological awareness, literacy and early math skills. The data show that many children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep, which may have negative consequences for their development and school achievement.

"Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," said lead author Erika Gaylor, PhD, early childhood policy researcher for SRI International, an independent, nonprofit research institute in Menlo Park, Calif. "Pediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviors which in turn lead to healthy sleep."

Gaylor recommended that parents can help their preschooler get sufficient sleep by setting an appropriate time for their child to go to bed and interacting with their child at bedtime using routines such as reading books or telling stories.

The study involved a nationally representative sample of approximately 8,000 children who completed a direct assessment at 4 years of age as part of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study -- Birth Cohort. This analysis included information from parent phone interviews when their child was 9 months old and again when their child was 4 years old. Nighttime sleep duration was based on parent-reported usual bedtime and wake time. Developmental outcomes were assessed using a shortened set of items from standardized assessments. Results were controlled for potential confounders such as child and bedtime characteristics.

"This is by far the largest study of its kind to date. Previous studies have included up to 500 children in this age group," Gaylor said. "It's fortunate to have this rich dataset available for analysis."

Last year a study in the August 2009 issue of Sleep Medicine also emphasized the importance of an early bedtime and consistent bedtime routine for children. It reported that children with a bedtime after 9 p.m. took longer to fall asleep and had a shorter total sleep time. Children without a consistent bedtime routine also were reported to obtain less sleep.


Sal Khan: Bill Gate's Favorite Teacher

Article received from the School Counselor. Thanks!

By David A. Kaplan, contributor

FORTUNE -- Sal Khan, you can count Bill Gates as your newest fan. Gates is a voracious consumer of online education. This past spring a colleague at his small think tank, bgC3, e-mailed him about the nonprofit, a vast digital trove of free mini-lectures all narrated by Khan, an ebullient, articulate Harvard MBA and former hedge fund manager. Gates replied within minutes. "This guy is amazing," he wrote. "It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources." Gates and his 11-year-old son, Rory, began soaking up videos, from algebra to biology. Then, several weeks ago, at the Aspen Ideas Festival in front of 2,000 people, Gates gave the 33-year-old Khan a shout-out that any entrepreneur would kill for. Ruminating on what he called the "mind-blowing misallocation" of resources away from education, Gates touted the "unbelievable" 10- to 15-minute Khan Academy tutorials "I've been using with my kids." With admiration and surprise, the world's second-richest person noted that Khan "was a hedge fund guy making lots of money." Now, Gates said, "I'd say we've moved about 160 IQ points from the hedge fund category to the teaching-many-people-in-a-leveraged-way category. It was a good day his wife let him quit his job." Khan wasn't even there -- he learned of Gates' praise through a YouTube video. "It was really cool," Khan says.

Read more here.