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