Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Study: Covid-19 spread fastest by teens, tweens

Monday, July 20th, 2020
A new study of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea shows that older children are more likely to spread Covid-19 within a household than younger children and adults. - AFP picA new study of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea shows that older children are more likely to spread Covid-19 within a household than younger children and adults. – AFP pic

OLDER children are more likely to spread Covid-19 within a household than younger children and adults, according to a new study of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea.

The researchers traced and tested nearly 60,000 people who had contact with the infected people and found that, on average, 11.8 per cent of household contacts tested positive for Covid-19, according to the early release of a study published on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

For people who lived with patients between the ages of 10 and 19, 18.6 per cent tested positive for the virus within about 10 days after the initial case was detected – the highest rate of transmission among the groups studied. Children younger than 10 spread the virus at the lowest rate, though researchers warned that could change when schools reopen.

The study comes on the heels of an intensifying debate about whether, when and how schools should resume classes. Working parents around the world have been struggling to balance their own remote work with the added complication of school closures. There is intense pressure on political leaders. In the US, the Trump administration has threatened to withhold federal funds for local school districts that fail to reopen.

At the same time, virus rates have been rising again, even in places that thought they’d extinguished their outbreaks, and many teachers are wary of returning to the classroom. State data suggests the infection rates among children could also be far higher than the 2 per cent reported by the CDC.

The South Korean study suggests that older children may be particularly contagious, although the researchers point out that household contacts could have contracted the virus elsewhere. Still, given the high rates of infection within families, the study called for more research to understand how to limit the spread of the virus at home.

by Bloomberg.

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Improving parenting skills during the pandemic

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
Parents become the primary teachers during the Covid-19 Parents become the primary teachers during the Covid-19

LETTER: Parents need time to let their children adapt to the new norms during the Covid-19 pandemic. Parents have to multitask, manage home and office work, as well as take care of their children’s needs, especially education.

In other words, parents have become the primary teachers.

Parents are updated on their children’s school work through social media such as WhatsApp groups administrated by class teachers.

One of the programmes being conducted by schools is online learning. There are two types of online learning: Google Classroom and face-to-face learning.

Online learning is fun because children are provided learning activities that help them to be active learners. As gadgets are ubiquitous in their lives, they can connect the new experience with what they normally do in their lives.

Interactive quizzes, YouTube videos and downloadable worksheets are examples of lesson contents that are shared by teachers in Google Classroom. In face-to-face learning, students meet the teacher “in person”.

Individual or group learning takes place with the teachers explaining and discussing the lessons or the children reading and carrying out tasks set by the teacher.

The experience makes the children feel as if they are learning in a real classroom.

As parents, we learn to come to grips with technology and upskill our knowledge of information and communications technology. We learn to see technology as an educational tool and not a tool to merely entertain.

Nonetheless, not all students have access to the Internet. Some families do not have good Internet connection due to the location or cost.

This could pose a problem because some task sheets on Google Classroom need to be printed out for the children to complete, or uploaded once the assignment is finished.

Apart from that, parents with schoolgoing children must let them take turns using the gadgets. Parents with young children need someone to oversee them while they focus on a child’s school work.

Recently, my son’s school introduced a method where the teachers prepare the homework in printed form and parents would collect it from school. This seems to be an easier and efficient method.

This pandemic is a good time for parents to reflect on our parenting skills and involvement with our children’s learning process.

We spend more time addressing our children’s issues through interaction. We probably do more activities together too.

It must be challenging for parents who work from home to focus on the children.

Perhaps by sharing parenting and household responsibilities, parents can strike the right balance between work and family. It is not easy to be patient and passionate with children all the time.

Teaching them to toe the line, managing arguments between siblings, entertaining, and coping with the pestering and whining. All these can be a big drain on our energy.

This requires knowledge on how to handle emotions and remain calm and positive at all times. Besides, cooperation between spouses is paramount.

In all, the pandemic has allowed us to self-evaluate our skills to be better parents.

by Soraya Lin

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Parents remain concerned

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

KLANG: Despite some nagging concerns, bank employee M. Chanddradevey will go ahead with plans to send her five-year-old twins Nashwina and Nashwin to their daycare and pre-kindergarten centres today.

“They have been very pampered by their grandmother and have become extra mischievous during the movement control order period,’’ said Chanddradevey, 36.

Both Chanddradevey and her 39-year-old husband Reuben Victor, who works for a telecommunications company, acknowledged however that they were worried about their children’s safety at the centre.

“But we feel a little reassured after the centre contacted us and explained their new standard operating procedure,’’ she said.

According to Chanddradevey, before the Covid-19 pandemic, she would send her children to the centre in Kota Damansara while they were still in their pajamas as the twins would be bathed and dressed by the staff there.

“They have now told us that the children must be bathed and dressed at home,’’ said Chanddradevey.

She said that parents were also told not to come directly from their workplace to fetch their children from the centre.

“Parents have to go home first and shower before coming to get the children,’’ said Chanddradevey.

Meanwhile, kindergarten teacher Kalyani Subramaniam said only eight out of the 18 children enrolled in her class had confirmed their attendance.

“We called their parents and most of them are not comfortable sending their children yet. Some of them said they would send their children in August. Others said that their children would return to the kindergarten in September,’’ said Kalyani, whose kindergarten is in Teluk Pulai near here.

She said the kindergarten’s management had also prepared a SOP to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Children are no longer allowed to bring anything from home, including water bottles, as we will be providing everything for them from now on,’’ she said.

Kalyani said that body temperature would be taken at the start and end of the day. Shoes will be disinfected before the children enter the premises.

In Melaka, six-year-old Marcus Neo Chao Wei had been pestering his mother about wanting to see his buddies.

Less playtime soon: Nashwina and Nashwin will finally be going back to kindergarden today after a long impromptu break.Less playtime soon: Nashwina and Nashwin will finally be going back to kindergarden today after a long impromptu break.

His only playmate for the past few months was his brother, said his mother Gan Swee Wai. “And now, he would be pleased to meet his friends,” she said.

Today, the boy will attend kindergarten, which has been allowed to reopen under the recovery movement control order.

Gan, 39, said she was confident of sending Marcus to kindergarten as safety measures had been taken by the operator of the preschool.

Besides temperature checks, she said the kindergarten had also carried out disinfection exercises.

“With the SOP in place, I believe that my son will be in good hands,” she said.

Gan, who celebrated her birthday yesterday, said she was also happy to see her boy returning to kindergarten.


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Fathers can become ‘Better Dads’

Sunday, June 21st, 2020
A father has enormous power. For good or for bad, by his presence or absence, action or inaction, whether abusive or nurturing, the fact remains that a father influences and impacts his children deeply.A father has enormous power. For good or for bad, by his presence or absence, action or inaction, whether abusive or nurturing, the fact remains that a father influences and impacts his children deeply.

LETTER: We often say that nothing is more important to us than our children. But many times, our personal and societal priorities do not always seem in accord with our professed belief.

If we envision a future in which all our children have the opportunity to live rewarding lives, then we must consider the role of fathers more carefully. Doing so will strengthen the family, help mothers, promote equality and create a brighter future for our children.

A father has enormous power. For good or for bad, by his presence or absence, action or inaction, whether abusive or nurturing, the fact remains that a father influences and impacts his children deeply.

In his book “Fatherneed”, Yale University child psychologist Kyle Pruett notes that children whose fathers are deeply involved in their lives do better in school. Toddlers with involved fathers are better prepared to handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling than children whose fathers are less involved. And young men need dads who are present as they embark on their own life’s journey.

In other words, society benefits in tangible ways when fathers have the time to invest in the lives of their children.

Most men do want to be effective fathers but often times, a major obstacle is that we lack complete and effective models. Our own fathers are the default models – if our past experience with our fathers is negative and if we reject them as models but fail to replace them with new ones, then we often end up using them as our models anyway, in spite of ourselves.

Hence, we need a plan for being an effective father – a practical action plan that makes sense and that considers social research.

Better Dads Malaysia is here to help provide that practical action plan through our globally recognised ICAN Fathering Workshops designed exclusively for men. And it is never too late to start intentionally to become a Better Dad as we take it one day at a time.

Whether having a stay-at-home or working father, anyone who experienced riding on their father’s shoulders, putting their tiny hands in his large ones, or dancing on his toes, will always cherish the memories. Chances are, Dad remembers those moments too.

Fathers are also the most important role model to their children for being a good husband, friend, worker, and community supporter. Fathers represent something different and unique to everyone.

For many men who have never experienced fatherhood, there is a strong realisation of love they never thought possible as they see their child for the first time, and assume an important role that is ironic, awkward, heartwarming and portentous, all simultaneously.

Father’s Day is an excellent time to celebrate the fathers we love, cherish memories of fathers who have died, express gratitude to men who have been like fathers to us when our own fathers were unable to fulfill that role, and provide support to those who are trying to figure out how to be a father without their child.

Fathers, whether good or not so good, make an indelible mark on our lives but all fathers can be ‘Better Dads’. Happy Father’s Day to all.

by Jason Leong.

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Essence of a father

Sunday, June 21st, 2020
 Balancing youth and parenthood is something Afeeq is getting to grips with.Balancing youth and parenthood is something Afeeq is getting to grips with.

“EKKKKKKKKKK…” the high-pitched shrieking emanating from the toddler who’d hitherto been playing happily under the dining table with her cat startles Muhammad Afeeq Mohd Azam, or Afeeq as he’s better known.

Apologising profusely for his daughter’s untimely interruption of our interview session, he promptly scoops her up in his arms and patiently settles her on his lap before turning to me sheepishly.

“Sorry, where were we?”

The 23-year-old father of one, who’s still studying for his degree in Sports Science, had been sharing about his journey as a young father trying his best to manoeuvre fatherhood.

He was only 21 when he was informed by his wife, Nur Naszurah Maisarah that she was pregnant.

“I was petrified when I heard the news. To know that someone was going to call me ‘dad’ was a terrifying thought because of all that it constitutes,” begins Afeeq solemnly.

Absently stroking his daughter, Mya’s hair, he continues: “But at the same time, I was also quietly excited. To be honest, one of my goals in life has always been to become a father. I guess it came a bit earlier than I’d planned! I was thinking maybe nearer 25!”

He confides that the days thereafter became a blur as he grew more introspective. “I was wondering how the baby would turn out; how I was going to take to the role and whether I’d be ‘qualified’ enough to even call myself a father,” shares Afeeq.

But the niggling doubts dissipated, replaced by one of awe the moment he clapped eyes on his baby — all 2.4kg of her.

Chuckling, Afeeq, the eldest of two siblings, says: “I literally froze when I saw her. Even the nurses and my wife had to shake me. I couldn’t believe that the baby was mine. I was so stunned that I couldn’t even register the bustle around me.”

Asked to recall any funny incidents, Afeeq grins before replying: “We were still at the hospital. The baby had poo-ed in her nappy. My wife and I had no idea what to do!”

Chuckling, he continues: “It was rather hilarious now thinking back. The two of us discussing furiously what to do with the baby. And just beyond the curtains was another patient, probably listening in on our crazy conversation!”


 Spending time with daughter Mya is important to Afeeq.Spending time with daughter Mya is important to Afeeq.

Life as they knew it changed the moment they brought baby Mya Althea Amanda home. The young father recalls receiving plenty of well-meaning advice from older family members and friends.

“Of course, we welcomed it. But at the end of the day, we discovered we were more comfortable doing things our own way — through trial and error.”

He admits he’s fortunate that Naszurah fell into her new role — motherhood — naturally.

Throwing a glance at his wife seated on the sofa, Afeeq shares: “My wife seemed to know what to do while I was still fumbling. If she was stuck, she turned to Google! Also, we were lucky because during her confinement period, which was spent at my in-laws, she was guided by her own mother.”

Afeeq shares that he wasn’t able to seek the counsel of his circle of friends as most of them were still single.

Wryly, he says: “They were actually more incredulous than anything. They were sceptical whether I’d be able to handle this new role. They said they couldn’t even look after their younger siblings let alone a baby!”

When Mya was born, Afeeq was still juggling classes. On weekends, it was his part-time work at a local gym. Suffice to say, life was terribly packed.

“But I didn’t mind it,” he says, thoughtfully. “The routine of having to attend classes, go to work, handle the baby and look after my wife… it was my responsibility. I guess if you’re genuine about your intentions, you don’t question. You just do.”

Despite everything, Afeeq managed to complete his assignments, achieve reasonable grades and ensure that both wife and baby were well provided for.

“Actually, I’m supposed to have completed my studies by now but because of the MCO, everything has been postponed,” he adds, ruefully.


 The young parents know it will be a hard slog but worth it.

The  young parents know it will be a hard slog but worth it.

Unlike many young men of his age, Afeeq doesn’t feel like his freedom has been curtailed as a result of early fatherhood.

“I’ve never yearned to travel the world with friends or do stuff that people my age are doing,” he muses.

Adding, the taekwondo practitioner says: “If I wanted to travel, I can still do so — with my family. Also, having been a sportsman since I was young, I’ve already travelled so that need doesn’t arise anymore. It’s like ‘been there, done that!’”

However, if he could turn back the clock to change one thing, it’s to have graduated first before becoming a father.

“That would have been better. Now I have to balance studying, parenthood and a job. Finances are a challenge. Of course, I do feel stressed knowing there’s a lot to do but I just need to push on.”

Now that his wife is pregnant with their second child, Afeeq is aware that life’s about to get harder. But he’s happy to go with the flow. “We’ll adjust accordingly,” he says simply.

His demeanour changes when he confides that he’s had to grow up — fast.

“I’m not single anymore. And it’s not okay to behave like I’m single. I can’t be spending all my time hanging out with friends, or waking up late and then playing video games all day. I used to do that!”

“Me-time”, he adds, has had to be sacrificed. “If I want to play or do my own thing, I have to fit them in, in between the things I need to do first. It’s not great but it’s still something.”

Fatherhood and marriage have matured this happy-go-lucky young man.

Chuckling, Afeeq shares: “I used to think my dad was so unreasonable when I was growing up — especially when it came to girls and socialising. Now I can see just why he was so protective. Even when I watch movies these days, I find myself on the side of the parents!”

Another shriek from Mya reminds me that I’ve taken this young father’s time far longer than I’d planned. Signalling to my watch, I ask Afeeq a final question: What’s his most favourite thing about fatherhood?

His handsome face breaks into a wide smile. “Coming home to see Mya. To be honest, even when I’m in class, my mind wanders to what my daughter’s doing. I’ll scroll her pictures on my phone. And I can’t wait to get home!”

Concluding, he adds: “I’m really looking forward to ‘growing’ with my growing children. I can’t wait to walk the journey with them…”


 Julian is very much a modern, hands-on dad to his two daughters.Julian is very much a modern, hands-on dad to his two daughters.

AN FX (forex) strategist, Julian Suresh Sundaram was 38 when he became a father to his first-born, daughter Jaeda.

When wife Melissa told him the news of her pregnancy, Julian recalls a lengthy pause ensuing as he grappled with what to say.

“I guess there’s no such thing as the best thing to say so I just smiled, hugged her and I can’t really remember what I said thereafter!” he begins, voice laced with mirth.

The now-44-year-old recalls the early days of fatherhood as being somewhat challenging.

 Happy family.Happy family.

“Wrapping my face with what was worn moments before to clean Jaeda. The trials of feeding, more so during the haunting hours. The anxieties that came with every cough, every rise in temperature, every unending cry,” he recollects, as if it were only yesterday.

Continuing, he reels off breathlessly: “The marathon of putting her to sleep, rocking her and counting to 200 because if the rocking was too short, she’d wake up when put down. If the rocking was too long, well… that’s just bad for my back!”

With a gentle smile, he swiftly adds: “But you know, none of that matters now. It’s just wonderful to have a daughter who looks at you with new eyes every day. It’s God’s clean slate and I pray I’ve painted it well for her.”

Asked whether he had any help from his friends during the early days of fatherhood, Julian pauses for thought before recalling that he did ask a particular friend — a father-of-two — for tips on being a parent.

Chuckling, he shares: “My friend just shrugged his shoulders and said there’s really nothing. I was a bit disappointed. Not even a single tip! But soon enough, I quickly realised that there are no tips. One would just have to learn as one embark on the journey.”

His support system then comprised his wife and mother-in-law who took care of little Jaeda in the first year of her life.

“My own parents were also always there whenever emergencies arose,” says Julian.


 Reading to his two girls is one way that Julian bonds with them.

Reading to his two girls is one way that Julian bonds with them.

Suffice to say, the early years of parenthood took some getting used to. Julian remembers feeling particularly helpless whenever he was unable to be of much help to wife Melissa.

“Coming back from work and seeing her totally frazzled and knowing that there was nothing I could do to make it better… that was hard for me.”

Brows furrowing, he continues: “Whenever Jaeda cried and I had to pacify her somehow… that also made me feel helpless. Feeding time would sometimes end up being a marathon, complete with nursery rhymes and Bole Chudiya (from Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham) stuck on repeat!”

Now that Jaeda is bigger and the family has grown with the addition of another adorable daughter, Jia, Julian admits that as a father, he’s still a work in progress.

“There are too many distractions and I think this is the main challenge of modern-day parenting. You want to be there for the kids more but there are those distractions that hinder that aspiration.”

Fatherhood, confesses Julian, who loves to read to his children, has been a beautiful journey, despite being peppered with the odd challenges.

Enthusiastically, he declares: “I can’t even describe the feeling I get when I see Jaeda’s face light up, especially as a result of having learnt something new that I’ve taught her. Of course, I can’t explain everything that she asks, because she’s too young, but she accepts when I tell her that I would do so when she’s better able to comprehend.”

If there’s one thing he has learnt about himself as a result of fatherhood, it’s that there’s nothing else he’d rather do.

Concludes Julian thoughtfully: “I’ve also learnt to accept that I’m not always right and the fact that it’s not ‘me’ anymore, but ‘we’!”


 Despite being a busy father, Patrick believes in making time for his sons. Seen here with young Mervin, left and son, Adrian, right.Despite being a busy father, Patrick believes in making time for his sons. Seen here with young Mervin, left and son, Adrian, right.

From his favourite perch on a comfy rattan chair in one corner of the bustling cafe, his cup of coffee cradled in his hands, Patrick Chin Beng Chew smiles broadly. Business has been brisk today and of course, he’s suitably pleased.

His son, Mervin Chin, the 28-year-old proprietor of this popular café, Rinse in Bandar Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur has yet to make an appearance.

But dad Patrick is unperturbed, contented in the knowledge that his mere presence there will ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Tearing his watchful gaze away from proceedings, the sprightly 58-year-old turns his attention to me, finally able to begin our chat. “Fatherhood… hmm… that has certainly been an interesting — and fulfilling — journey,” he begins, tone reflective.

I duly learn that this driven businessman was already 31 when he became a father. A lengthy courtship with his then-girlfriend (now wife) — of 11 years — culminated in the decision to tie the knot and start a family immediately.

“I’d waited long enough, done enough (he had a steady job in sales) and I felt that the time was right to start a family,” shares Patrick, an engineer by training.

After nine months of matrimonial bliss, their much-awaited first son, Mervin was born. Little did they know that with the new arrival, their world would be completely altered.

“Bringing up our first child wasn’t easy at all,” recalls Patrick. “In fact, it was downright challenging.”

The newly-weds didn’t have the luxury of in-house parental support as they were living in their own home.

“Everything was new to us and we hadn’t a clue what to do. A flurry of phone calls to my mum became the norm as we consulted her for countless advice,” confides the hiking enthusiast.

The young Mervin wasn’t an “easy” child to raise, he remembers.

“Our son gave us plenty of headaches! The moment he came out, he cried. And would continue to do so for a long time!”

Leaning closer to make his next point, Patrick continues: “You know there’s this Chinese belief that if a baby comes out crying non-stop, he’ll cry for 100 days. And it was true! Our introduction into parenthood was really exhausting!”

Patrick admits to being completely baffled as to why his son was always crying.

“Colic?” I ventured. “Maybe,” is his quizzical reply. He goes on to confide that he even went as far as to consult traditional Chinese healers for answers and undertook several rituals but to no avail.

“In the end we resigned ourselves to the idea that we just needed to struggle through this. We believed that better days would come — eventually.”

 A proud day for Patrick and wife seeing son Mervin graduate.A proud day for Patrick and wife seeing son Mervin graduate

Grinning, the doting father adds: “That’s probably why our second son, Adrian only arrived three years later! We were so worried that there’d be a repeat of the first time. Luckily, the second journey into parenthood was pretty smooth.”

Despite his busy work life, Patrick shares that he was very much a hands-on father.

“I went to the market; I helped prepare the milk for the baby; fed him; took my shifts whenever my wife needed her rest. We had a good system going. Knowing that I had to work, my wife took care of everything at night so I could get some sleep. On weekends and when I returned from work, I’d take over.”


 Although relationship with his father was somewhat tumultous during the early years, time has seen it mend. Here, Patrick's dad with his wife and grandchild, Mervin.Although relationship with his father was somewhat tumultous during the early years, time has seen it mend. Here, Patrick’s dad with his wife and grandchild, Mervin.

If there’s one thing that Patrick, the third of five siblings, is determined to do, it’s to give his sons everything he never had from his own father, growing up.

Tears well in his kindly eyes as he travels back in time to offer me a glimpse into his childhood.

“What I’ve done — and am doing — with my children is the opposite to what my dad did with me,” he exclaims, voice breaking as he wipes a tear that has accidentally escaped.

His gaze travelling to the window, he continues: “We were just the typical traditional Chinese family with a father who hardly spoke. I remember the only interaction we had was when we showed him our report cards. We were closer to our mother.”

Desperately trying to control his emotions, Patrick mumbles: “There was no such thing as a man-to-man talk with my father. It was just so… different.

“I craved that connection but never got it. Yes, he gave us our education and supported us financially… but the emotional connection? That’s why I vowed to myself that my children would not go through what I did or ever want for anything.”

His sons have grown up with a father who has been hugely prevalent in their lives.

Sports day, report card day, school registration day, graduation day… Patrick has ensured that he’s been present. “I’m proud to say I can hang out with my sons — and their friends. We can go drinking together and travelling. In fact, we enjoy each other’s company.”

The sound of the door swinging open prompts us both to turn. It’s Mervin, bespectacled and smiling broadly. He throws a jaunty wave in our direction before disappearing behind the counter to supervise proceedings.

Grinning, Patrick, whose formative years were spent in Kelantan and Pahang, muses: “Come to think of it, Mervin is a reflection of me when I was younger. Adrian is closer in nature to my wife. When Mervin and I are at loggerheads with each other, I can usually understand where he’s coming from. And we actually make amends pretty swiftly. I guess we just look hard on the outside, but are actually pretty soft inside.”

Any big dreams for your sons, I ask, furtively scanning the cafe as it begins to heave with a raucous lunch time crowd. Lips pursed, Patrick contemplates the question.

“I’ve learnt that no matter what you decide to do in life, you need to give it your best. I don’t mind what paths my sons choose. I was shocked when Mervin, who’d just graduated with a Masters, told me he wanted to become a barista. But all I said to him was, ‘Fine, try it and see if you like it. Just give your best.”

 Patrick is proud of the success his son, Mervin is enjoying with his passion.Patrick is proud of the success his son, Mervin is enjoying with his passion.

Voice low, Patrick confides: “I’m sentimental when it comes to this. Actually, it was also my dream to own a cafe when I was younger. But it was just that — a dream. And now Mervin says to me, ‘Dad, I’m living your dream.’ Perhaps one day Rinse can grow further and be our legacy. Maybe Mervin can tell his kids that he did this with their grandfather. That’d be great!”

Any advice for young fathers out there? Downing the last trickle of my coffee, I wait expectantly for Patrick’s reply. Again, the brows furrow. “Life is short,” he answers solemnly. “If you don’t spend time with your children, you’ll regret it one day. Don’t say I’m busy now, I’ll be with you later. Don’t.”

Concluding, Patrick, whose proudest moment was seeing Mervin graduate with a Masters, shares: “My wife sacrificed her high-flying career and for 15 years she looked after our growing sons. We decided we’d just make the best of what we had. And we’ve never regretted it.”

By Intan Maizura Ahmad Kamal.

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Parents must help prepare kids for return to school

Friday, June 12th, 2020
Teachers preparing a classroom for the reopening of schools in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.  PIC COURTESY OF  SEKOLAH BERASRAMA PENUH INTEGRASI  GOMBAK Teachers preparing a classroom for the reopening of schools in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PIC COURTESY OF SEKOLAH BERASRAMA PENUH INTEGRASI GOMBAK

KUALA LUMPUR: Teachers have called on parents to play their part in preparing their children for their return to school on June 24.

They believed that with more than half the curriculum yet to be covered in the remaining school year, it would require a concerted effort by all parties to ensure that the schoolchildren’s interests are taken care of.

Congress of Unions of Teachers in the Malaysian Education Service secretary-general Mohd Said Hussin said schoolchildren could be mentally and physically ready to continue the curriculum with the help of their parents.

“It has been three months since they last received guidance from their teachers physically. They will now have to enter a different situation.

“They don’t have much time left to complete this year’s curriculum before the year-end exams.

“As such, parents need to help their children focus and prepare them for the exams,” he said.

West Malaysia Religious Teachers National Union president Muhd Fadhli Jusoh addressed the doubts some parents and schoolchildren might have on the safety aspects of reopening schools.

He called on teachers to be courageous and set an example in braving the new normal.

“It is important that the teachers lead the way and inspire confidence in schoolchildren and parents.

“If we are brave enough to face the situation, everyone can do it as well,” he said.

Peninsular Malaysia National Union of College Graduate Teachers president Sahibul Bahrin Ahmad urged teachers to focus on the Teaching and Learning Programme (PdP).

Failure to do so, he said, could see teachers face difficulty in completing the curriculum.

“They need to assign tasks focusing only on the PdP.

“Teachers should also carry out lesson plans based on the remaining days of the 2020 schooling period.

“Don’t be distracted by other co-curricular activities, such as research and unrelated outside programmes,” he said.

Association of Vocational and Technical Education Teachers of Malaysia president Razak
Md Radzali said the priority among technical and vocational training and education (TVET) schools would be on social distancing.

He said as TVET lessons involve lots of skills training, the schools would reduce the number of students per classroom to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection.

“Normally, a classroom would consist of between 20 and 35 students, subject to the availability of equipment.

“During this period, however, we will limit it to no more than 20 students per classroom to ensure social distancing is practised.”

Priority, he said, would be given to students who are about to take examinations, such as the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, Malaysian Vocational Certificate, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia and international equivalent examinations.

By Esther Landau.

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Most parents disagree with reopening of preschools

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
KOTA KINABALU: Most parents in Sabah appear to disagree with the Federal Government’s move to consider allowing nurseries and kindergartens to operate during the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that the Government was aware of the complaints raised by certain parents regarding their childcare issues.

He said the matter would be discussed during the next ministerial meeting.

A random survey conducted by The Borneo Post revealed that most of the parents in the state were not ready to send their kids back to nurseries and kindergartens although many of them are still paying full fees.

Jessie Ho, a mother of five, said the reopening of childcare centres would be tantamount to creating a mass gathering.

“I strongly disagree because this can be considered as a mass gathering. There are those who may have been infected by the virus and may not even know it as they don’t show any symptoms.

“It is better to be safe than sorry,” said Jessie, who works in the private sector.

She said that she would refrain from sending any of her children to school throughout this pandemic period.


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Tips for parents to deal with stress during MCO

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
Parenting is alatready an onerous task without being confined at home. -Pic for illustrations purposes only Parenting is alatready an onerous task without being confined at home. -Pic for illustrations purposes only

LETTERS: While the Movement Control Order (MCO) is highly laudable and a necessary move in this perilous time, one important but easily-overlooked issue arising from protracted home confinement is the psychological challenges on parents’ mental well-being.

Though some rules will soon be relaxed, for parents, the MCO is highly distressing. Parenting is already an onerous task without being confined at home. For working parents, work-family conflict is already a perennial issue as parents struggle to balance the competing demands of work and family obligations.

Most parents are at wits’ end dealing with overloaded demands of caring for children, family, marriage and work, plus with Ramadan just beginning.

The following tips might help parents cope with work and family obligations during the MCO.

Firstly, be forthcoming. It is important that working parents be forthcoming with employers about setting up realistic expectations for them as they work from home. Be transparent about the fact that you are juggling the needs of your family as well.

It is equally important to communicate with the co-parent (it might be a wife, a husband or other family member helping out at home) on the distribution of work at home. A shared responsibility will definitely lessen one’s burden.

Second, establish routine. Many parenting experts have highlighted the need to establish a routine for children as they struggle in a structured environment. Try creating a daily schedule that works for you – it need not be rigid. As long as everyone’s awake at a certain hour, eat meals at a certain time and have some activities throughout the day.

Third, take intermittent breaks You may also feel pressured to prove to your colleagues and employer that you are still productive, albeit being at home. However, it is vital that you do not overextend yourself. Taking intermittent breaks throughout the day will help you feel refreshed. Take a nap when you need to.

Some screen time for children might be inevitable. Under normal circumstances, it is highly recommended that children’s screen time is limited. Relaxing the limit of screen time is inevitable and realistic in the current situation. However, steering the children to fun learning websites can turn the extra screen time to useful activities instead.

Fourth, limit social media exposure. Though children might get some extra screen time, parents, on the other hand, are encouraged to limit their exposure to social media. Uncertainty over the coronavirus’ daily developments has everyone anxious. Minimising your exposure to social media might be a good thing to do now.

Fifth, engage in fun activities with the family. Before the MCO, many parents lamented the lack of quality time with family due to work commitments. Now, families get extra spare time together. Engage in activities that everyone might enjoy such as watching movies, listening to music, reading, playing games, cooking, baking and exercising.

As a society, we focus on physical measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which undeniably is necessary. However, we should not forget to protect the mental wellbeing of parents in these trying times.

Parental health and well-being depend on support and resources from the workplace, family, and community.


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Use time at home to teach life skills

Sunday, March 22nd, 2020

Teach children life skills, like doing laundry, instead of just focusing on their academic achievements. – File photo

EQUIP and teach children life skills during the movement control order (MCO).

Educationists are urging parents to be proactive in ensuring their children aren’t only focusing on revising their academics while schools are closed.

Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said it’s vital to train children to be self-reliant.

“Education isn’t only about scoring perfect grades, it’s about learning life skills to produce holistic children.

“Unfortunately, very little of this is taught in schools.

“The MCO has made people realise the necessity of preparing their children to be self-reliant and to not always be dependent on their parents, ” said the former National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general.

Prof Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu said parents’ are worried that their children would lag behind in school as the country’s education system is exam-oriented.

As a result, social skills aren’t given much attention.

“This MCO is an opportunity for parents to educate them on other value added skills.

“Parents have to be creative as education should produce an all-rounded individual.

“These extra skills will enrich the individual for their holistic development, ” he said.

Mother of two Christine Rowland held a family meeting on Monday to plan activities for her daughters aged 16 and 19.

Some of them include duties to wash, dry, fold and iron their own clothes, help prepare meals and learn to cook, home exercises, family reading time and gardening.

“My girls don’t know how to iron, how bad is that?

“I hope some good habits and skills will come out of this ‘stayhomecation’, ” she said.

The interior design consultant wants her daughters to learn time management so that they can balance their academic revision with day-to-day duties, survival skills for when they live on their own, independence and logical and practical skills.

A mother of triplets who only wants to be known as Chin, is teaching her teenage sons basic skills such as cooking and spring cleaning.

Teach children the importance of hygiene, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said.

“This can include keeping their room and bathroom clean.

“It can be extended to caring for items that the family enjoy together such as the house and the garden while learning to grow herbs or plants, and washing the family car.”

Now that parents are their children’s teachers, it’s time to be effective ones, Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said.

Do not take the “easy way out” by allowing children to be glued to their computer screens for online games and movies, he said.

“Apart from doing academic exercises, play board games like scrabble and chess, experiment with science projects and also gardening.

“These games and activities allow children to develop their imagination, creativity, increase family bonding and stimulate growth, both physically and intellectually.”

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin warned that should the MCO intended to break the chain of Covid-19 infection not succeed, the MCO could be extended beyond March 31.


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NST Leader: New dimension of parental responsibility

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019
The time has come for Malaysia to consider a new dimension of parental responsibility. -Pic source: Google Images.

THE NST Leader, in May, had advocated for parental guidance as a constant to monitor children, especially in today’s cyber world.

The trigger then was the 16-year-old girl who committed suicide after a poll on her Instagram showed that her “friends” were in favour of it.

On Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said a “diversion programme” to address social ills among children would be implemented next month — an alternative approach to handle child offenders without them having to go through the justice system.

Details are not yet forthcoming, but narratives available say “diversion” refers to a range of practices to divert an accused child away from formal court procedures and towards a more constructive and positive solution

Based on principles of restorative justice, it “requires offenders to accept responsibility for the crime, make amends for their misdeeds, and hence, initiate a healing process for themselves, their families, the victims and the community”.

The objective — give a child offender a second chance through diversion or intervention. Among the benefits are it is a more appropriate and constructive response than confinement, and a more productive way of addressing and preventing future delinquency.

Studies have shown that diversion is less costly and can promote community engagement and social cohesion.

Diversion is not uncommon. In the United States and the United Kingdom, diversion is not limited to children. In Atlanta, Georgia, in 2011, a single mother who was charged with felony theft underwent pretrial intervention, or “diversion”.

After 12 weeks of classes and 24 hours of community service, her case was dismissed and criminal record expunged. She could start life anew. It was a big break for her. In England and Wales, diversion from formal criminal proceedings in the youth court is usually only available if an admission to an offence is made.

This proactive step by the government focuses on caring for, nurturing and rehabilitating troubled youths. It may just be the panacea to help them. However, diversion is for children who have committed a crime. How do we prevent those who have not? Children are the responsibility of adults.

If not parents, then their guardians. A child cannot be left to fend for himself. It is an obligation on adults under whatever system of order a community subscribes to. Diversion, therefore, should not be seen as the whole solution to the problem of juvenile delinquency.

A crime, no matter how small, is still a crime. There is still need for some form of punishment. At the heart of it are delinquent parents or guardians.

Parents or guardians must always be held liable. Parental guidance means participation and interest in a child’s life. A family should be “talkative”. Aloof is not commendable parenting. Children can be reasoned with. For instance, reading the right literature is basic to growing a thinking family.

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