Sunday, June 25, 2017

Parenting my growing child, letting go and finding myself.

For a long time... I am afraid of letting go, epecially when Tyler, my number 3 was born. Every milestone he achieved I felt a mox feelings of happiness and of sadness, sad of losing that precious moment, my last time experiencing or witnessing that moment.

I love parenting a baby. Maybe because that is something I am confident in and have success in. I absolutely love the early years of nursing, quietly observing their every expression and movement, discovering that they have acquired new skills and milestones. Now that they are all growing up and Tyler has turned 4. I realised there's  no more baby in the house. There's a void in my heart, a kind of a loss. I am no longer breastfeeding, changing diapers, wearing a baby in a sling. I now need to learn how to be a parent to my growing children of 11, soon to be a teenager, 8 discovering new talents and thoughts, 4 wanting to grow up too soon as he plays with his elder brothers and their friends. I wish I can freeze time and enjoy their baby and toddler days, but no. Time does not stop. They will continue to grow and it's time I let go.

Being a stay at home mom, I feel that I need to do more for them. Coach them and guide them in their school, Every subject... and prepare them for life. Plan for their every areas of development, interest, explore and experience different things and learn different skills. I try to equip them with skills and values to help them succeed in life and to function well and contribute positively to society. But I come to realise that the early years for the older ones have passed.. and most of the hands on parenting days are over. I need to trust that I have done my best and start letting go and letting them make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and learn from there.  So many years of just managing and parenting that I don't seem to find the time to connect, really connect and have conversation with the kids. I need to re-learn how to listen and talk to them. I realised I have just been pushing or rather I feel that I am dragging them along from one task to another, forcing them to complete their work... do revision, clean up after themselves...etc.
Everything revolves around getting the checklist done. Even prayer feels like just completing a task on the checklist rather than really spending time and connecting with the spirit and talking to God.

For this I feel like I have failed... I want to slow down but there's so much to be done and I am always feeling behind in everything. Chasing after the expectations... of society? Of my own?

Is it because I have 3 very different kids and all needing my attention? Is it due to my terrible time management? Is it because I feel unfulfilled and therefore I place such high expectations on my kids as a measure of my success?

I am not sure... I am still reflecting and trying to work it out.

Motherhood has taken a toll on me. As I give up my career and postpone striving to achieve my dreams to care and nurture the kids, I have somehow lost my identity as a person. I have become known as a mother of 3 and... a teacher. But now... I am not sure who am I anymore.

Parenting is a time for self reflect and I think I can only be a better parent if I can find fulfillment and my own path in life. When my cup is empty, I can't fill their cup with love and reassurance.  That's where I constantly feel strained, frustrated, impatient and unable to connect heart to heart with my boys.

I love listening to how others hear the witty things my kids say. Sadly I realised I don't hear them anymore... not in the recent years. Maybe I shut them up and rush from task to task. Maybe they don't open up to me anymore or maybe I am not present mind body and soul when I am with them. It's ironic. I am a full time mom but I don't spend enough time with them. I realised quality and quantity time does not equate.

To say no and cut down on my wants and focus on within and build my self again.... that's what I need to do. Put an oxygen mask for myself before putting it for my kids. Pray that God send me confirmations of what I should be doing  with my life and how to be a better mom to my kids and a better wife to my husband.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Seeing the best in our education system, seeing the best in our child.

Just returned from a parent teacher briefing, some reflections today... The teachers are very dedicated. In the briefing, they are educating the parents on the curriculum and what to take note. The parents are asked to attend workshops so we can also learn and coach them at home. I noticed the part where everyone took out their phones to take picture was when the teachers talked about Exams, the allocation of marks..etc. the deeply rooted exam culture is still present in our society. It's a quantitative way of measuring if your child is Smart or not, where does he stand amongst others and how are his chances of surviving this rat race. Unfortunately not all will 'win' in this race... as we only measure them by paper and testing. But if each child is recognised as individual with different talents and innate qualities, every child will achieve great heights! Not in the same way but it's ok and encouraged.
I am constantly in guilt of pushing my kids to meet standards set by the schools and society. Many of my views and opinions springs from my search for true education for the future so we are able to allow these gifts and innate talents to manifest itself, to achieve greater heights, to bring peace, unity, justice and progress to the world, to do what humanity is meant to do.
Having said that, I am reminded that there's a reality now that we need to work with and to deal with, to accept and look on the positive side of things. I realised the most important thing in learning is 'joy', the teacher that inspire the child and the parents- ME who will make the biggest difference in their learning journey. So.... I am coming to a new realisation that I cannot fight this education system, but to accept and work with it, and help my boys to walk this journey joyfully, as joyful as possible. (not easy... but will try... As Abdul Baha, the son of the prophet of Bahai Faith says: "Kam Kam, Ruz Bih Ruz" which means:little by little, day by day...). To do our best in schools together, but more importantly to see their strength and help them achieve their potentials.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Exams... the new killer.

Exams... Examinations... Assessments...Test...
What's the purpose of it all?

It is formed on the basis that children need to be motivated to learn, that learning must be imposed, learning is not natural, that humans are born with brain with nothing and we need to fill it up with knowledge. And therefore exams are there to "make sure" kids learn.
My boys, 8 and 10 years are having exams this week. They are stressed... their mother, me is more stressed. I am in a huge dilemma of whether I should just step back and let them learn whatever they can and want in school and sit for the exams with that and accept whatever results that get OR like almost every other parents, be worried and 'kiasu' (scared to lose) and get heaps of assessment books and past year exam papers from the 'prestige' schools to drill my boys to score better in exams.  I am falling into the second category... which I hate what I am becoming! Every cell in my body is rejecting it.. and I am becoming increasingly frustrated and forcing my boys to learn as if they are empty vessels and bribing them with rewards to motivate them to learn. What can I do???

Schools or training centers were created to train human resources for the factories, for production, for the economic growth of the country. Therefore it's a set curriculum where everyone has to go through, and a set goal and examinations are conducted to make sure the outcome achieved is of a measurable standard. However that's not the case for every circumstances and that is not what education should be like. We have blindly followed the same model and make examination compulsory even for even little 6 year olds. My view of what examination is as follows:

- Examination limits imagination and creativity
- Examination limits the knowledge that is to be learnt and explored as they only learn those that are in the syllabus of the exam.
- Children are made to learn things that are not relevant nor of interest to them. 
- Children have no time to explore and learn things that are of interest to them... however little that is left.
- Examination kills the joy of learning
- Examination encourages competition 
- Examination discourages sharing of knowledge 
- Examination marks and grades damages self esteem and causes depression
- And sometimes Exams causes children to take their own lives... such a tragedy...
- Examination causes stress and pressure to perform
- Children are pressured to meet expectations of parents, teachers, school, society, government.
- It is a hindrance to the progress of civilization, retard the progress of humankind.(please read on...)

Children are taught as if they are empty vessels to be filled, and teachers are merely filling a bucket and not lighting a flame. Baha'i's believe that all man are created noble. "Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom."

Every human being is unique and each have their latent talents and virtues waiting manifest itself. However if we were to standardize learning and judge the intelligence of a child by some examinations, test, grades or marks, then we are judging the fish by it's ability to climb the tree.

Love this video and the courage to stand up to centuries of 'schooling'.

I believe that learning is a natural phenomenon. Babies absorb knowledge, language, mobility without anyone teaching him/her. We have to just step back and allow this natural development to happen. We often do things for children because they are 'clumsy' or 'slow' but if we show them how to do it and provide the means for them to practice and do it. They can achieve so much more.

I strive to practice this at home since my kids were born, by guiding and showing them how things are done, I then allow them to do it by themselves. Result is motivated, independent, active learners. Never do something for a child that he can do it for himself, if not we are impeding the development of the child. Montessori schools strive to do the same. And therefore I studied Montesssori and send my boys to Montessori pre school. However we don't have Montessori Primary/Secondary schools here, sadly so I have no choice but to enrol them into traditional schools. And that is when the light in their eyes dimmed.... and learning become dry and imposed and forced upon them. No freedom of choice of what they want to learn or their interest and talent lies. Everyone does pretty much the same thing.

If Albert Einstein, Thomas Edision... and all the famous inventors of the past were to be confined in a classroom doing what every other kid is doing, and sitting for standardised test, we would not have electric light bulbs, electricity... and every other great invention there is.
Baha'ullah, the prophet of the Baha'i faith continue to say:  " All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."

If we were to advance forward, we cannot only teach the children the knowledge of what is already known. We have to allow plenty of time, room and space for the children of today to explore, to become active learners, independent thinkers, have time for them to dream, imagine and then discover, create and experiment and build a better world then what we have today.

I am guilty at charged of limited time for play and exploration to STUDY and score for the examinations the past few weeks. It has been a very stressful time for both the kids and me. What is the purpose really? I see no joy in learning the things they are being forced to learn regardless whether they want to. But there's a few incidents where I gave them some break time, and they found some recycle papers and started making paper planes. And all 3 of them were so engrossed in it that they took such a long break that I was beginning to get irritated and I find myself wanting to tell them to stop 'playing' and get back to 'work'. But, I took a step back and I observed.  They are so happy and they are working together and discussing ways to make the plane fly higher, faster. They were exploring and experimenting what happens if they fold the front and make it thicker, what if one wing was bigger than the other, what happens when they use another type of paper, if they fold it a different way. I came to a big realisation that this 'play' is the real 'work'! First they chose it, they were joyful, what started off as a simple origami craft at break time became a test for a hypothesis, they were experimenting and learning about physis and science and in the process, they were focus, their attention were high, they were engaged, they were thinking, they were motivated to find tapes, staplers, other materials to make their plane better, they were repeating and practicing until they achieve excellence or almost there. Can you imagine the satisfaction, the sense of achievement, the amount of self esteem each of them have?

Can you imagine if for every single thing that each child learn, they get this feeling of achievement? of self fulfillment? Can you imagine what all this children will create? And when such motivated positive children grow up to be self fulfilled, motivated, young adults... together what they can achieve? The future is limitless!

I don't know what I can do now to help my children achieve this, but I will strive to provide more break time and allow for this latent potential to manifest itself. I hope in time we will abolish examinations and find a way to harness this great and precious resource we have to advance civilization.


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