Teaching life skills and the first poem


Well, first thing is first, big S is writing poems now. I don’t think it is particularly her hobby, interest or passion. And Allah knows best, I might be wrong… One day I just casually mentioned that some of her friends have been writing a poem and read 2 poems written by her friends to her. She wanted to prove that she could do it too and straight after got a pen and paper. And ten minutes later this poem was born. MashaAllah, I was well pleased and chuffed.

Books books are the best
They really put my brain to the test
After a good book I like to rest
Snuggled up in bed with a book on my chest
Then I fall asleep and have a nice dream
When I wake up how real it seems
That’s why I love books so much much
They really have that special touch.

We have been learning some life skills lately, mainly to do with character building. We have watched some of the My Life series on BBC to learn more about the difficulties and challenges disabled children go through in their lives. Last week they watched the film about Helen Keller called the Miracle Worker. Then we did some follow up activities.

First, I blindfolded the girls. They were so giddy and found it very strange. I cut on a plate some fruits and vegetables, namely: lemon, cucumber, pear, apple, tomatoes, banana. I gave them a piece of paper and a pen. I held up one piece of fruit/veg at a time and they had to smell each piece of fruit or veg. Using their sense of smell they both had to try and guess what the fruit/veg was. If they can’t guess it by smelling, then I put the fruit or veg in their mouth. After eating they had to write down the name of that fruit/veg on their piece of paper quietly, without shouting out the answer. That was so much fun for them. Little S has absolutely brilliant sense of smell. She could guess everything straight away by just smelling, even things like cucumber, tomatoes etc that has little smell. Big S could only guess after eating. But they both enjoyed writing the names of fruits/veggies blindfoldedly.  After the activity was over, they had a good laugh looking at their writing. We revised fruit/veg names in Arabic. Then I gave them one question “What is different in the life of a girl who can not see?” to write at least 3 sentence long answer. MashaAllah, they thought and came up with good thought-provoking answers.

Yesterday we watched the film again together since they asked for it. I could not watch it with them last week. I was able to explain how we should not discriminate against children with disabilities; how it is a test from Allah through which Allah will purify them; if those disable people remain patient then Allah will compensate for them in the HereAfter; how an illness can be a blessing sometimes. Again, we discussed Helen’s manners and why she acted in a way she did. Then we did follow up activity again.

First activity we did was on team-building. I folded up the girls’ left hands. They were given paper, straws and cello-tape. Using just their right hands, they were asked to make a bridge with paper, straw and cello-tape in 10 minutes. Big S does not like doing anything under time pressure. It really de-motivates her. Anyway, they took longer but nevertheless were able to work together to cut the tape, one holding the straw, one sticking etc. I kept saying if you argue on what to do next you will take forever. So, you both have to agree on something quickly, take one job each and do it. They both wanted to cut and were unable to cut single-handedly so one had to hold the tape and the other cut etc. Alhamdulillah, it was nice activity to make them work together.

Then I folded their right hands and they had to draw an object I shouted out with a left hand. Another fun activity as they have never used left hand to draw/write/paint etc and were finding it funny. Then they did some painting too.

And finally, they have learnt how to fill out a simple form. Being able to complete forms is one of the essential skills as this is something that they would need to do many times in the future. So, we had old child registration forms for RE which I gave a copy each and asked them to fill out. It was only a page long and very simple form. They read the sections: Child’s details, Parent’s details; Emergency contact details. They completed the forms and loved putting down their signatures at the bottom lol. In the process of writing they memorized my mobile number and email and revised our full home address.

So, we have been focusing on life-skills the past 2 weeks. I can’t help but think of doing less and less structured learning and doing more and more practical and hands-on activities together. Just like any other mom, I want them to enjoy learning. In order to accomplish this goal, I need to provide them with a set of activities that are appealing to their age and interest. Being able to finish 10 pages of worksheets and 1 unit of workbook does mean nothing to me at the moment. The point is that, what impact is that time spent doing worksheets leaving in their brain? What is the real outcome? Have they learnt anything worthwhile that would help them in the long run? That would help them to develop themselves? Watching this TED clip made me think all of this all over again