Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Sayonara 2014

Finally, December 2014 is here and that means that the school session for 2014 is already come to an end. Letzhop Selayang has managed to organize several annual activities such as camping and visiting the National Zoo with the autistic children.

We conducted an indoor camping program the centre, where all teachers were involved during the three days and two nights session, including a few volunteers who were brought along by the teachers. We received so many positive feedbacks from the parents as at first, they were quite doubtful in allowing their children to join the program due to some worries like unable to adjust to the new surrounding at night without their parents or guardians. The parents were eventually amazed and felt quite a relieve when they found out that their children were very comfortable and had a lot of fun throughout the days as teachers did so many activities such as egg peeling, colouring, and outdoor activities at the nearest playground in the Selayang’s Metropolitan Park, near the centre. The main objectives of the program were to strengthen the relationship between parents, teachers, and the children in getting a stronger bond with one another. The program was also held to help the children to be more independent without their parents, and to improve the children’s self-help and living skills. 

Besides than taking them to the nearest playground, we also brought them to the National Zoo on the second day. With the help from the volunteers, the visit went quite smoothly. Children with Autism may have difficulties to walk around a place that is surrounded with animals or any unfamiliar figures/objects. In this case, our students were not familiar with the bigger animals at the zoo and at first, they were terrified of the animals and refused to get close to the animals' compound. However, the teachers managed to persuade the students to walk through the area and help them to conquer their fears. The children had a lot of fun with the trip and enjoyed the experiences and new things gathered the whole day. It was also a relief to the teachers seeing that the parents were also happy to find out that the children were safe and had a great time.  

The memorable trip and camping program were truly meaningful to each and every one of us here at Letzhop Selayang as we ended our school year in 2014 with a lot of challenging, interesting, and yet, inspiring experiences with our children. We are hoping that the year 2015 will give us more happy, yet meaningful experiences with our children. We wish to also improve ourselves in helping the children to live their lives as other children out there. As teachers, we are willing to help them as much as we could and hoping for the best. We hope to see everyone again in 2015 and we wish everyone a Happy New Year. “Bye-bye 2014, and welcome 2015!”

Please go to Letzhop Selayang's main Facebook page to view the awesome pictures captured during the camping program!

Authored by,
Teacher Edia
LETZHOP Selayang

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Authentic Art and Directional Art Activity

I was reading this article today and what a timely article it was! As I was observing my students’ various wonderful artwork over the year, I have come to the conclusion that both authentic and directional art activities should be allowed to be experienced by ALL children. We should stop dictating what is right or what is wrong, or why a child needs to color in the boxes or why an elephant has to be grey, or why a police car needs to be blue and white in color.

At Letzhop, we advocate both authentic artwork and craftivity. There is a need for directional art, for there are undoubtedly benefits in learning to follow instructions and creating something in sequence. But at the same time, giving space to children to do their own interpretation is absolutely essential as well, because how else would they exercise their creativity other than having the freedom to express themselves?

For example, in making a paper plate giraffe, it is totally okay if the giraffe is purple in color or if certain parts of the giraffe isn’t colored. As long as the general instructions in making the art are followed and the goals of the class are achieved e.g. learning about zoo animals, then learning is hopefully acquired.

As educators and parents, we have to always remember that children will complete a task at their current skill sets and capabilities. Pushing them to do exactly as how it is supposed to be will only supress their individuality, their own uniqueness. Not only that, forcing them to do something that is beyond what they’re capable of currently will only result in frustration for both educators/parents and children, as well as undesired environment in learning, leading to a gradual diminishing of a love for learning. We certainly do not want to generate robots or unthinking, unquestioning people in the future.

So, yes, the next time a student wants to color his penguin blue, or if a student wants to have just 3 spots on her giraffe, or if she decides that her finger-painted flower has stripes for petals, I’m going to say, “What a wonderful, authentic, genuine art!” 

P.S. There is actually a very well received (overseas) approach to what I described above, which is called the Reggio Emilia approach, where the child is at the center of his own learning and teachers are co-learners and collaborators. Read on here

Authored by,
Puan Sarini Bujang 
Principal and Teacher
LETZHOP Damansara

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Practice Good Manners to Kids

Teaching good manners seems like a lot of work, but it is as important as brushing teeth twice a day. As a teacher, here at Letzhop Mind Enrichment Centre, we are always on our feet to ensure that our students practice good etiquette when they are here at the centre.

Based on my experience as a teacher and an adult, children imitate each and everything that an adult does. Therefore, showing appropriate manners in front of them is an effective way to educate on the appropriate manner we wish them to follow. This effective approach, however, needs time. They also need to be constantly rewarded and reminded of the appropriate manners we wish to instil.

The fundamental of inculcating good manners in children starts with greetings. At Letzhop, we make sure that the teachers say ‘good morning' or ‘how are you?' and give Salam (for Muslim students) and we wait for them to reply back. After a few times, you could see that they are the ones who will start greeting the teachers first. Eventually, this good, positive habit is followed with ‘goodbye' and ‘thank you' when the school has finished. 

Other than ‘greetings', ‘goodbye' and ‘thank you', we are also exposing an appropriate way of asking for things by adding the word, ‘please'. Often you will hear our children say, "May I play with the toys teacher? Pleaseeeeee….." or "Teacher, can we do that again? Please, please, pleaseeeeee…." 

Yes, ‘please' is an amazing magic word – they are using the word even when they want to borrow something or to take turns doing something. These words and positive behaviours result in the students' practice of respecting each other. For example, remind the children to take turns and give a chance to their friends when queuing in a line and wait for their turns to speak and not to interrupt when others are speaking. Children learn by seeing. 

So, show them that, to gain respect from others, one needs to respect the other. 

What about table manners? Are we teaching them the right way? The teachers at Letzhop are doing their very best at inculcating good, positive manners especially on washing hands, sitting properly, reciting doa', not talking when mouth is full and elbows are off the table. Learning about manners may be seen as an easy thing to do but it is seldom showed accordingly. 

Authored by,
Teacher Azila
LETZHOP Bandar Baru Bangi

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Indoor Activities

Letzhop has always believed in children's learning by playing and fine motor play as we think that these methods are not only fun to do, it gets our kids to learn about things differently. 

There are a lot of interesting plays that we often do with the children and if you have been following Letzhop's programs, we incorporate the games for the plays using all kinds of materials that are easy to get at home. Main materials that we use are recyclable items like the toilet rolls, plastic bottles, glass jars, egg cartons and many more. 

The plays that we love most in class will be the arts and crafts play - which the children are expected to get messy and use 100% grip of their motor skills.  According to Professor Fergus P. Huges, play is the most natural of childhood activities and one of the most frequently observed (Spontaneous play in the 21st century, 2003)

He listed three criteria that may help to define play as freedom of choice, personal enjoyment and focus is on the activity itself rather than its outcomes. These three criteria are the foundational to the play process and in connecting children’s development with their learning. Building on these
foundations of play are the characteristics of play. 

Similar to Hughes, Letzhop also believe that the characteristics of play of self-directed, self-selected, enjoyable, flexible and motivating will let the children to develop more meaningful learning.

If you are wondering the kind of activities that you could do with your children (at home or school), we are sharing here with you some interesting play websites that we adapt from to offer to our children at Letzhop!

  1. http://www.teach-me-mommy.com/2014/02/fine-motor-play-from-recyclables.html
  2. http://www.toddlerapproved.com/search?q=Mom+and+Tot+Craft+Time
  3. http://www.howweelearn.com/create/art-activities-for-big-kids/
  4. http://lemonlimeadventures.com/category/sensory-play/

Have fun playing and making crafts with your kids!

Authored by,
Adibah Mutalib
English Master Trainer

Hughes, F. (2003). Spontaneous play in the 21st century. In O. Saracho & B. Spodek (Eds.), Contemporary perspectives on play in early childhood education (pp. 21-40). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Monday, 17 November 2014

A New Journey at Letzhop

I started searching for a job immediately after I graduated in August, 2014. Previously, I studied in Diploma in Early Childhood Education at the Methodist College, Brickfields. I have always loved children and teaching. This is about the start of a journey of a my career at Letzhop Bandar Botanic, Klang.

The reason why I enjoy teaching here the most is that the educational content provided itself. The curriculum follows a structured and holistic approach of learning in which child-friendly topics are introduced in class together with the supporting media of songs and videos as well as the interactive activities that are easily accessed on the interactive, touch panel screen. Here at Letzhop, the students are taught on the body parts, how to dress up, the types of food and even how to make friends with the help of teaching tools like the songs and videos from the Sesame Street TV Program where you can find the cute and furry Sesame Street characters like Elmo, Cookie Monster and Grover! The characters seem to have helped to enlighten up the learning mood in class.

Another factor that will surely make everyone including the teachers love the lessons in class is the adorable puppets or muppets! A different and unique approach of getting the students to get engaged with the lesson taught in class - a way of instilling the love to search for new things and knowledge in children.

The centre where I am working now offers English Language Learning program for children from 3 to 12 years old but I am assigned mainly to teach the K1 to K3 (3 to 6 years old) students. In the past four months of my teaching period over here, I have come across many children with distinct characteristics - some are quite difficult and the others are rather easy to handle. I must say, a teacher with zero experience and passion for teaching, may find the job stressful. As for myself, I would usually take up a breathe once in a while and think of all the positive things around me so that I could build up again an enthusiastic energy and fun vibes the next time I see the kids.

I started off my journey at Letzhop as a part time educator for a month or two. Then, I decided that I would take up the full time teaching while furthering my studies next year (2015). Here at Letzhop, my career path is not only channeled into teaching the students per say, I am also involved in planning and preparing the lessons, keeping the centre neat and clean, as well as ensuring the students' safety inside the centre's premise.

Other than the main job responsibilities, I enjoy the most preparing and planning for a story-telling class for the students who are attending the school holiday program. During the planning, I could only foresee what is to be expected during the class but once the program is executed, and the students are having fun, learning a lot from the program I planned, it made me feel good and relieved. Due to that, my motivation to be more involved with the students' learning increases quite tremendously. I look forward to this kind of task every time I am asked by the principal - this will look very good in my Resume, definitely! Another interesting opportunity that I get, working at Letzhop is that I can be part of the promotional activities of the centre. This is rather new to me as I am to entertain parents' inquiries about the programs offered at the centre. However, it seems quite easy to do since I am just informing the parents about all of the great things about the lessons and activities done here with the children. It is like telling another person, the good things about the product you are taking or using and you would be rather happy that they agree with you. Another advantage that I could add to my experience.

My journey as a teacher here at Letzhop gets more and more interesting when there will be times that when the students are the ones who constantly inspiring me when it's my job in the first place to do so. They inspire me in so many ways - to look at life in a different perspective and for that, I have truly believed in the say, when you teach, you learn even more from the learners. Phillip Di Bella once quoted;

Passion is the one thing experience can't teach.

It is true indeed that teaching is an intense endeavor and yet one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever encountered in life. 

Authored by,
Teacher Khavittraran 

Monday, 10 November 2014

An Experience as an OT

Definition of OT in the title is referring to the term, Occupational Therapist - the role is to work with a client to help them achieve a fulfilled and satisfied state in life through the use of "purposeful activity or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability and which develop, improve, sustain or restore the highest possible level of independence (AOTA Inc. 1994). 

As coping with autism child in term of their behaviour issues at home can be very challenging, parents have to deal with anything from toileting issues to self-harm, and this can be very hard for some parents to do it by their own. These children with autism have complex needs, some parents and carers may find it difficult to trust other person to care for their autistic child - but that is not the issue that I’m dealing with the parents right now as they do trust all staff including the teachers and myself. I believe that there is a good cooperation from all of the teaching and support team that makes us easier to provide service at the same time, reaching goals for each child – bear in mind that each child under our care is targeted to achieve development of their gross motor, fine motor and self-help goals in our 5-days per week program. 

The occupational therapy is to determine each child’s need for sensory integration accommodations and provide consultation to the team and parents in strategies to address individualized sensory processing disorder goal in every setting. My other role as an OT is to support the children in improving their play skills, living skills, social skills, and education. Here at Letzhop EIP Selayang, we are focusing greatly on the sensory processing, which refers to child’s ability to take in information from environment and appropriately process and respond to the sensory system.

Sensory processing is seen through a child’s ability to respond to, engage with and learn their own body and how they can relate it to the surrounding. This will help them to be more capable in interacting with the environment and increasing participation in daily living skills.

At Letzhop EIP Selayang, we provide a one-to-one therapy session for once a week for each child. The session is to support the objective and goals targeted. Both the OT and the teachers plan for every child’s needs and will take into account their strength, challenges, development and sensory profiles. We believe that this will help the children to be more independent in their work, personal care, and social interaction. 

As read and learned, autism is believed as an unseen disability since it is quite impossible to identify one’s condition through the physical or external signs. Autism children with similar physical and external features like other kids may not act similarly with children with no learning challenges or special needs. Strangers and public with no autism experience may not know or familiar with how they act and behave – this could be one of the reasons why some parents choose to not leave the home and this issue later on is leading the whole family with an autistic child becoming socially isolated. 

Our responsibilities here at Letzhop is not to only achieve the targeted goals but to also ensure parents with autistic children get confidence on how to tackle such “obstacles” when going out or dealing with strangers with zero-knowledge (and maybe sensitivity) of autism. An experience I had, based on an observation at a public area – the KTMB railway station, there was a boy who was running around all excited, and ignoring his mother’s yelling out his name was later on jumped off the station onto the train rails. He was later saved by the public but the KTMB staff scolded him, not realizing his condition or even asking the child’s mother of his condition – the reason why he jumped off the station and all. I had to go and tell the staff that obviously, he is a child of special needs and that his scolding was not necessary. 

The mother was not entirely unlucky to be dealing with the child’s tantrum when they were in the train. I could still see other people who are kind enough to give away their seats for the child and his mother although they were not sure of his condition. All these kind people need are a little bit of information and probably more awareness on autism and autistic children. That way, we could help the children as well as the parents whenever that we encounter such incident again out in the public. 

Authored by,
Nurul Huda Binti Nor Kasani 
Occupational Therapist 
LETZHOP Selayang 

AOTA Inc. (1994). Policy 5.3.1: Definition of occupational therapy practice for state regulation. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 48(11), 1072-1073.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Right or Left Brain?

Children of all ages have different ways on acquire learning. This is from what we observe our children do differently at Letzhop. One third of our students in the class may be excited about coloring pictures all day long while the other 2/3 of them prefer counting numbers and learning alphabets. It was quite challenging for us, teachers to understand them at first – having very few experiences handling young learners, but all we kept having in mind is that, “this must have something to do with how their brain works!” and from what we have been reading, a young child’s brain will let its dominant side to take over, without blending it in order to reach the brain’s full potential (Lipoff, 2011). 

In her article also, Lipoff highlighted that the brain consists of two main sides which known as the right and the left where the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and otherwise (2011). Right side of the brain is responsible for creative, social, visualize skills and intuition while the left side deals with language, math and rational thought. The integration of the right and left parts of the brain encourage the working of the whole brain which enable the brain to reach its full potential. Thus, it is crucial for the children to learn through various types of activities that suit them that may help to integrate the right and left side of the brain. 

So, here at Letzhop, we let our children go through an interesting session every morning before class which we call the Hello! session that incorporates the Brain Gym exercises to initiate a fun learning mood (Letzhop Ready-to-Learn).

 Our P level students are doing the Log Roll

These are our Three-2-Six students doing the Log Roll early in the morning!

The exercise movements that we adapt from Brain Gym help the students to activate the brain cells and also to prepare their body for the upcoming activities of the day. We adapt the Brain Gym movements and activities from the original 26 Brain Gym movements and these activities replicated the movements that are naturally done during the first years of life when one learns to coordinate the eyes, ears, hands and whole body. Some example of movements that the students do at the centre is crawling, Commando-crawling, rolling and Bear-walking. 

We also incorporate PACE – Positive, Active, Clear and Energetic before the children activate their brain buttons. Well, brief information of how the abbreviation works; 

  1. Energetic – before we start off the activities, the children are encouraged to sip or drink some water. Not any water, it has to be a glass of plain, H20. 
  2. Clear – they need to clear up their minds, while breathing slowly, massaging their collar bones or what the teachers and Letzhop children call, the Brain Buttons.
  3. Active – our children will be guided by the teacher to do some cross-crawl movements – they could either touch their elbows and knees (crisscross movement) or as simple as by touching or patting their hands to their knees (left-to-right or right-to-left), slowly, at a medium pace.
  4. Positive – this is when our children start to relax their minds from the active movements done in #3. They will do interesting movements that we call “Hook-ups”. They will cross their ankles, extend their arms in front and cross one wrist over the other and clasp their hands up towards the chest. While doing the “Hook-ups”, the students are to inhale, touch he tip of their tongue to the root of their mouth at the hard palate and relax, before exhaling. 
The movements that we do with our children bring about dramatic improvements in areas such as concentration and focus, memories, academics, physical coordination, self-responsibilities, organization skills and attitude whenever we start the lesson in class. 

At Letzhop Shah Alam, we really believe in encouraging our students and even parents to do the movements so that they could see the wonders of using both the right and left sides of the brain. 

Authored by,
Teacher Siti Hajar 
LETZHOP Shah Alam 

Lipoff, S. (2011, April 26). Funderstanding. Retrieved November 3, 2014, from http://www.funderstanding.com/theory/child-development/right-brain-vs-left-brain-children-and-creativity/