Category Archives: School Kids

5 Tips for Students Fasting

By Mona Ismaeil

girl-998988_960_720

Ramadan is just around the corner and with still a month of school to go, Ramadan joins us at a crucial time of the school year. Our children are the future of our Deen and it is essential we keep them excited, motivated and passionate about the practices of our Faith. At the same time, it is incredibly important to encourage education as a way of pushing our Ummah forward to more greatness.

Early mornings, attending classes, worksheets and exams are still business as usual. Here are some tips to help our students master it all.

  1. Inform: Inform teachers, advisors and fellow students of Ramadan. When others know, they can offer our students support. Also, by letting others know, our students can feel empowered.
  2. Diet: It is essential that our students have the fuel to get through the long days. Although it is hard to wake your child up for Suhoor, please do so! As an incentive to them to get up, prepare meals they enjoy eating that will give them good energy for the day to come.
  3. Support/Encouragement: It is very difficult to be the only child in the class fasting or one of just a handful. Be sure to offer your little one the greatest amount of support and encouragement possible. Remind them continuously that what they are doing is a big thing and you are proud of them.  Try different reward systems and trackers to help them see how many days they have successfully fasted.
  4. Be flexible: For young children below the age of maturity (puberty), encourage them to abide by the practice but still give them space for mistakes, accidents and just being children. School is a hard job and children get hungry and thirsty.  Although they are fasting, leave a small snack in their backpacks in case of emergency. By emergency, I mean they ran so hard during gym class that they feel dizzy and sick.  Remember there will be days when fasting just isn’t a good idea.  For example: big exam days, big presentations or generally stressful days.
  5. Educate: Children are much more inclined to do things when they understand why they are doing it. Explain to your children why we fast during Ramadan. Share with them some health benefits too as a bonus!

These children are the future of our Ummah. Inshallah with your support and guidance your children will be righteous Muslims.

About the Author

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a witty 3 year old girl and a sweet newborn boy. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

Ramadan Crafts and Activities

By Maryam Kidwai

art-supplies-1324034_960_720

Ramadan is right around the corner and I can hardly believe it. The holy month is a time of spirituality, solitude, socialization and a time to feast on savoury delights with friends and family. One of my goals every Ramadan is to indulge a little more in our religious traditions and become a better Muslim in some way. To this end, I also like to involve my kids in the festivities and try to bring them closer to our religion. I find involving them in arts and crafts an excellent way to educate them about the importance of this holy month.

So I have been on a pursuit to identify some fun activities that I can do with my kids this year. Thankfully, there is no dearth of ideas online so the challenge is really to choose the most practical and constructive ones. Below, I have listed some fun crafts and activities that teach something relevant about our beliefs and that are simple enough to do.

http://goodtreemontessori.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/gooddeedscalendar.jpg?w=300&h=232

Good deeds: Create a calendar or a jar of good deeds that children can do every day. The deeds can be as simple as being kind, helping out around the house or hugging a sibling. Check out these links for some great ideas:

Baked goodies: Bake cookies in the shape of stars and crescents. You can also bake mini cupcakes and frost them with stars or toppers that read “Ramadan Kareem.” Some people prefer the idea of dates – whatever you choose, put it together in a beautiful package and share the goodies with your neighbors, colleagues, friends etc. You may also attach a note to explain the significance of the month and the reason behind our fasts.

 

Ramadan journal: Keeping a Ramadan journal is a great way to set goals and keep track of achievements each day. You can keep it simple by using a notebook and a pen or feel free to try some options from the list below:

 

Mason jar lanterns: Mason jars are all the rage these days. So why not make lanterns out of them.

Make beautiful mason jar lanterns with glass paint and gold puffy paint. Use glass paint to paint the inside of the jar. For the outside, use gold in whatever design you like. To add decorative details, you can glue pearls or twine. For easy hanging, add loops of fine-gauge wire. Light them up and your candles are ready to enjoy indoors or out.

 

Screen time: Kids these days love their iPads/tablets. So why not incorporate some religious learning during their screen time. There are several child appropriate lectures on YouTube that you can watch together. You may also download some of these apps:

Sadaqah jar: Make a sadaqah jar out of cardboard, an empty pasta sauce jar or a pringles can. Decorate it to give it a holy vibe and encourage your children to donate frequently and also collect from family and friends. I find this a good way to reinforce the importance of giving, sharing and kindness. It will help teach them compassion for the less fortunate, which is an essential component of our religion. The collected donations can then be given away at your local masjid.

 

Quran time: If your kids are old enough, try learning a new surah with them. There are plenty of short surahs to choose from. You can also read stories from the Quran about our prophets, stories of the sahabah and hadith from the prophet’s life.

Prayer rug bookmarks: Make prayer rug bookmarks using simple items like felt fabric, puffy paint and glue. You can go to the moon with ideas on colors and designs.

 

Ramadan calendar: Indeed, one of the joys of Ramadan is the anticipation of Eid. You can create a calendar as a way to keep track of your fasts and also to countdown to Eid. Here is a link with some ideas:

 

Candy balloons: Ask your kids to choose candy and sweet treats and fill the balloons. Blow up 30 balloons for 30 days. Pop a balloon every night after iftar and enjoy the treats. You may want to save the best treats for the last 10 days/balloons.

Ramadan is primarily about prayer and worship. It is perhaps the most sacred month for Muslims and it is our responsibility to make the most of the blessings this month brings and at the same time celebrate in all its glory. As someone who grew up in Saudi Arabia, I definitely miss the atmosphere and the enthusiasm with which we welcome Ramadan in Muslim-majority nations. My daughter loves all the decorations and the general vibe during the Christmas/holiday season. She always asks why we don’t decorate our house and why we don’t put up a Christmas tree. While I am not fundamentally opposed to the idea, I do believe that we should celebrate our festivals with all the excitement and glamour that we can, if not more. So this year, I would like to decorate our house some more and I really want to put up lights outside. Something about lights brings out a festive vibe. There are some great ideas for decorating your home. Check out these for some inspiration:

Back home in the Middle East and in the subcontinent, there is tremendous excitement around Ramadan/Eid and I don’t want my kids to miss out. I have bold ambitions but I sure hope I am able to pass on the excitement and the spark of Ramadan to my kids.

 About the Author

Maryam Kidwai is a mother to two beautiful girls. She works as a Marketing Communications professional in the financial services sector. Maryam is passionate about women’s rights and empowerment and volunteers at several organizations across GTA. She loves to travel fearlessly, meet new people and entertain. She has entrepreneurial ambitions and wild ideas. Maryam wants to be a renowned author of many books and dreams of building a little she-shed in her backyard where she can curl up with a book to enjoy the gorgeous sun and the short-lived Toronto summers.

The Noble Call Of Teaching

By Aruj Sipra

The noble call of teaching

Teaching is one of the oldest and noblest services to the society in any culture. It’s also a process to prepare the next generation of skilled professionals and workers like engineers, doctors, educators, legislators and good citizens.

Being a teacher myself, I can say that teaching enlightens both parties, student as well as the teacher. Not only the students learn but the teacher also learns the lessons of life from students.

I started my teaching career right after graduating, as a way to start earning and the thought of getting my paycheque kept me going though I would say, it was not an easy ride. I was and still am fond of little children but at a distance so having a class of 20 children under the ages of three years old was pretty hard especially when you are young and naive yourself. There were many cries, grunting and kicking and to make matters worse, at times, I was the only teacher in the classroom. I survived against all odds because I had in me, one of the most important powerful teaching tool, patience.  A teacher’s patience is the heart of students’ long-term learning and skills.

Teaching isn’t for everyone, but if you love being around children, then it’s one of the noblest professions. You should have patience and to make it easier, have a pretty good sense of humour. Many times I have noticed children say the funniest things and I laugh with them. I feel much better because my students see me as a happy person.

Pre-school is also one of the most rewarding and fun grades to teach. Everything is new and exciting to these students. They love to sing and play games and really can learn to work together and treat each other with a great deal of kindness.

A positive feedback, simple words like“good job” or  “excellent” may not mean much to us but they mean the whole world to students. Publicly praise positive behaviour and show your students that you are celebrating their achievements as well.

The hardest part of being in this position is when parents don’t back you. If you have kids throwing punches, you simply can’t have it. And the parents will sometimes come in and make a hundred excuses; it’s not their child, it’s not their fault. When you don’t get support to correct problems, it’s disappointing.

I am often asked by the parents, “What are the best ways parents can help teachers and that teachers can help parents?” My answer, The Child-Parent-Teacher Triangle method which was developed by Dr Maria Montessori.

The three best ways parents can help teachers:

  1. Be involved in your child’s education – show them that you care and create a positive ‘triangle’ relationship between yourself, your child and your child’s teacher.
  2. Educate yourself on the current trends in education – how is your child’s teacher educating your child. Times change and so does the way we teach. As a parent it is your job to come to grips with the new ways of learning, to best support and guide your child through their learning journey.
  3. Send them to school happy – give your child a hug before they walk out the door and you head off to work. Look them in the eye and tell them how much you love them, how proud of them you are and boost their confidence every day. They will be more secure and ready to start a positive day of learning.

The three best ways teachers can help parents:

  1. Communicate – it is the key to success and keeping parents involved in their child’s education is critical. Don’t wait until parent conferences to let them know that their child is falling behind. Email them, call them or talk to them at the gate – keep them involved!
  2. Educate them – bring them in for professional development – teach them how you teach Math or English – support their learning as it is just as important as their child’s. They have to support learning at home.
  3. Be positive – send a note home or an email to let them know the amazing things their child is doing. Make no exceptions, do this for EVERY child. The smallest thing, can make the biggest difference!

There is always a leg-up personality in every successful person’s life. In most of the cases you will find, it is either one of their teacher or one of the grandparent that helped them how to ride and control reins of life. Aristotle said, “Those who educate the children are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”

About the author:

Aruj Sipra is the community manager at MuslimMoms.ca, a teacher who absolutely loves her job and derives true joy from interacting with little ones.

 

20 Lessons I Learned in 20 Years of Parenting

By Rahila Ovais

20 Lessons I Learned in 20 Years of Parenting

Ever had a job where you had no previous experience or training; didn’t come with an instruction manual, and people’s lives were at stake? Well that’s parenting!  Here are some of the lessons I have learned while on the job.

  1. If you are not going crazy, you are not doing it right.

  2. Never argue with your husband in front of the kids. Remember you and your husband are a team. When it comes to parenting, you are only strong if you work with each other.

  3. Schedule regular date nights with your husband to keep your sanity.

  4. Whatever you do, never ever compare your kids with other kids. Also important is to never compare your parenting style with other parents. We are all being our best and doing the best we can for our families.

  5. Your kids are not a reflection of you. You will parent each child the same way yet they will all still grow up to their own personality; cherish that.

  6. No secrets and no lies should be the standard.

  7. Set certain expectations in stone.  In my home, it was important for me that the kids learn Salah and Quran before any other extracurricular activities. My parents won’t even let me have breakfast until I prayed two rakats of Fajar no matter what time I woke up.

  8. A family that prays together stays together.

  9. Take lots of pictures of your kids when they are young. You will be glad you did that when you are old.

  10. Insanity is hereditary; you get it from your kids

  11. Be friendly with your kids but you don’t have to be their best friend.  You job is to be a parent first.

  12. Spend the first ten years of parenting establishing your authority because if you don’t those next ten years will really suck.

  13. It is your circus and those are your monkeys, take responsibility.

  14. Kids do not remember what you taught them; they will remember what you are.

  15. If you want to grab your kids’ attention just try sitting comfortably and open a chocolate bar.

  16. Being a mother means developing “the look” that stops misbehaviour in its tracks.

  17. Don’t confuse “what works” with “what is right”.

  18. Actions speak louder than words. Enough said.

  19. You will learn a lot about yourself when you become a parent. For example how can you go through an entire day with only two hours of sleep.

  20. Don’t waste time trying to be a perfect parent raising perfect kid; love, nurture, cherish and happily live the time you have together.

 

About the Author: 

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

How (NOT) to Teach Your Children to Play Ludo

By Rahila Ovais

IMG_2975

I am sure all moms from South Asia are pretty familiar with the board game Ludo; the beloved family amusement in life before internet and computers. It was our favorite entertainment during  summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights; where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move. For those of you who don’t know what Ludo is please refer to the game rules here.

Over this past winter break in an effort to keep the kids entertained with a new activity every day and after ruling out Scrabble and Taboo, we decided to have a game of Ludo one night with my kids; MJ 19 years old, MJ2 13 years old and DJ who is 5 years old. You all can probably already imagine how the night went given the ages of the players.

As per the rules, the one who rolls the highest number on the dice goes first and you need to roll a six to get your pieces out of their giant square boxes. Well lo and behold, the little one rolls a six, talk about beginner’s luck!  Not just one six but three times! At this point MJ2 claims DJ must have a trick up his sleeves to be able to roll out sixes every time; she is now determined to find that out by hook or crook. After several cheating attempts she gets her way. Meanwhile MJ still hasn’t been able to roll a single six! She claims that she does not cheat like MJ2.  This in turn makes MJ2 furious and an argument takes place which requires referee intervention. (Kindly note: a normal Ludo game does not require a referee) MJ makes MJ2 lose a turn as payback for cheating; there is another argument and intervention where DJ then draws a map on a paper outlining the order of each player’s turns.

Another rule of the game is you must take out one of the opponent’s pieces in order to enter the pathway to your corresponding “Home”. You can do this by landing on top of an opponent’s piece.  The piece that is taken out goes back to the corresponding player’s giant square box and the player has to roll another six to get it out. For example, if you roll a four and your opponent’s piece is 4 squares in front of you then that piece goes back in.  Again DJ having beginner’s luck is able to keep taking his sister’s pieces out! In fact at one point, he rolls a four and MJ2’s piece is one square ahead of him and he insists that the piece needs to be taken out as it is in his way!  MJ loses her patience at this point. This time, along with intervention there is a lot of begging and babying to get them to continue to play.

By this time the beginner’s luck for DJ has worn off and MJ2 rolls the dice where now she can take his piece out.  DJ does not accept it, claiming she can make one of her other pieces go and leave his alone; MJ2 insists she has to take his piece out to enable her to go “home”. (Rule: if you cannot take out an opponent’s piece before reaching your corresponding “Home” section and you have no other moves available, you will have to go through the entire board again).  We are all at the height of frustrations, trying to explain the rules to a 5 year old and 13 year old (over their yelling and screaming, between fits of laughter). MJ and MJ2 still argue about the rules and little DJ pitching in where he could.  Emotions running high and voices even higher to the point where nani has to interrupt her prayers and come back to intervene.

 In the end, DJ having his patience maxed out, simply messes up all the pieces on the board, claiming the win as he was the only one who had all his pieces out (while all others had only one or two or no pieces out); a full ten minutes of entertainment!

I couldn’t help but reminisce this is exactly how the games used to turn out when we used to play during our summer breaks, family sleepovers or power outages through long winter nights where everyone is an expert on the rules of the game, always bending the rules to favor their own move.  What mattered most in the end was the laughter over ice cream with chocolate sauce after refusing to speak to each other for two hours.

About the Author

Rahila Ovais is a mother to four ranging from 20 to 5 years old. She’s called Jeddah, KSA, where she was born and Karachi, Pakistan, where she was brought up, her homes before moving to Toronto twenty years ago. She is also a very opinionated person who has a hard time keeping her thoughts to herself. You can follow her on Facebook: HijabiMommy.

Winter; Lost and Found

By Aaisha Zafar Islam

Lost-and-found

We waited and waited for Winter to announce it arrival till the end of December last year. However much we like to complain about the weather, snow, wind chill and snow storms, truth is we do miss our Canadian winters. The first snow of the season made a late entry this season, at least in the GTA, well after Boxing Day. Basically we are saying that winter went AWOL in Ontario, till El Nino sent the first storm our way. It’s predicted to be a mild winter this year. However you can catch up on your weather report on other places, today we bring you a list of things lost and found in winter.

Lost:

Winter wear

Snow gear, mitts, hats, scarves and snow pants. Are you one of those moms who has to inventory their child as soon as he returns from school? It doesn’t matter how many snow mitts I stock up on, my son will lose his things at school. Before the winter break he had managed to lose two toques, two pairs of mitts and a couple of sweaters. Trips to the school Lost and Found were not fruitful. It wasn’t winter proper till early December here, so I sent him to school with a mismatched pair, both for the right hand. I am hoping the awkwardness of it all instills in him a modicum of responsibility towards his things. When he was younger I would crochet a three way string; one attached to his winter hat, the other two to his mitts. The base of this trifecta was then sewn onto his snow jacket. I thought it was quite a fool-proof arrangement till he came home one day with a huge gaping rip in his jacket were the strings were sewn, mitts and hat missing. School yard play’s gotten rough lately!

Topping our list of things lost in the winter is accessories you buy for your child to keep him warm. Always have spares handy, even for snow pants and boots. Last year my son got off his school bus sans his snow pants, it was the dead of winter and I near but fainted at the sight of him alighting dishabille.

Daylight and cheer

Grey overcast skies, we all miss the sun come winter. And when it does come out, it is such a half-hearted attempt at being sunny you want to tell him to go back right away! A lack of sunshine means a definite loss of sunny demeanours. People who are usually chirpy tend to get easily irritable.

Sleep

Come winter all I want to do is sleep. If it were up to me I’d burrow myself deep into the blanket and not wake up till the groundhog comes out and announces an early spring. Becoming a mother has changed that. I get no off days, a full night’s sleep is a distant memory as are the thoughts of running a warm bath. So, sleep, already a distant memory goes completely AWOL, at least in the mom world.

Monies

Winter is also the time for crazy sales. We may not celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas and the likes but we certainly get into the Holiday spirit and spend away more merrily than the health of our bank accounts allow. Yes, I understand there are major deals to be scored and discounts that are too good to be missed, but stocking up at the same time instead of spacing them out through the year can make a significant dent on one’s budget. True story.

Found

Not all is lost during cold weather. One of my annual favourites is excess pounds on my person, my true friends that come a-visiting every year. When you find your inner sloth and are less likely to move and more often than not found lounging in front of the TV in your most comfortable PJ’s digging into a bowl of your favourite snack, don’t blame the scales when they creep up. There’s a reason weight loss is high on everyone’s New Year Resolutions list; new year, turning a new leaf and getting more active, we set goals for ourselves. Some we meet, some we fail at. Another thing we find in abundance at the end of the year is resolve, again the end of another year in our lives makes us take stock of what we’ve  been up to and promise to be a better (and leaner) versions of ourselves in the coming year.

 

How has your winter been so far? What have you lost and found through this season?

About the Author:

Aaisha Zafar Islam is the Executive Editor of MuslimMoms.ca, every winter she visits her childhood fantasy of being a frog and the ability to hibernate the chilly weather away. No luck thus far.

 

20 Confessions from a Mom of … FIVE!

By Khaula Mazhar

heart-hands_23-2147510531

Motherhood is not easy. It is not easy to be mom of one nor is it easy to be mom of five. There is however, a certain number of children where it becomes easier to let go and just roll with it, mainly because you have no choice and  learned that stressing isn’t going to get anything done. I put that number at three. With kid number three, you wonder why you ever worried about maintaining lego-less floors or taking a shower. Whoever is walking on the floor should watch out for himself and baby powder is essentially dry shampoo for moms who haven’t had the luxury of a shower for days on end.

I confess I am that mom, I feel  no shame admitting this. Shame went out the window with the birth of middle child, and with the birth of twin 1 and twin 2  last bits of sanity joined my sense of propriety.  Those are now long gone, and I don’t regret it one bit. If anything life becomes easier when you lose your mind, insanity does have a touch of genius to it. Besides that, for some mysterious reason crazy, shameless mom is way cooler than well organized, prim and proper, perfect mom.

My advice plus confessions to you as a “been there, done that and have survived so far mom” are as follows (BOGO in shopspeak):

1. Your first child will always be the lab rat. Stop feeling guilty about it, you are doing the best you can. What’s the worst that can happen? Never mind, don’t answer that.

2. Your second child was born to whine, it’s a default of being second. Do not be blackmailed by that whining, know that they are just as guilty as their elder sibling. Cotton dipped in olive oil make for good ear plugs if the howling gets too loud. Also keeps your ears clean, and well you know how long it’s been since you last showered, so yeah.

3. We all forget middle child. They end up being the best of the lot, so don’t sweat it. However if you drop them off at their friend’s, it would be a good idea to pick them up, preferably on the same day. Or… eventually. But hey we all need a break sometimes right?

4. I have thrown belongings out the front door when not picked up after I asked several times.

5. I still have baby powder in the house, even though no kid is under the age of eight. Baby powder can be used for unwashed hair, sweaty kids who refuse to shower, inside of smelly joggers, to sprinkle over the liquidy gunk and hairballs the cat coughed up, freshen up a kid after they throw up etc etc. Baby powder is pure magic.

6. There were some clothing items that kid 1 through 5 wore. Yes I believe in hand me downs.

7. I have fallen asleep with three small kids in my lap/arms. You should condition yourself to sleep in any situation, no mercy for the fussy sleepers.

8. I turn leftovers into “fresh” dinners. You should too, and never let anyone know you used leftovers!

9. I let the kids have cake for breakfast once. I slept in. No guilt at all, we were all happy.

10. Should such a situation arise, I will let them have cake for breakfast again.

11. If you forget to wash gym clothes, just throw them in the dryer with fabric softener sheets and hope for the best. Also works with kids’ underwear. Just don’t tell them you forgot to wash the clothes.

12. I reuse my fabric softener sheets. Several times.

13. I always have a secret stash of chocolate just for me.

14. I guard that stash like a dragon.

15. My purse contains every child’s belongings and none of my own.

16. I can quote anything from “My Little Pony.”

17. Plastic bags are a good way to catch vomit in a moving car. Always have a good supply.

18. The bathroom is the first place they look for you, try hiding in the garage instead.  It’ll buy you at least seven minutes alone.

19. Don’t go on Pinterest, those are all LIES! No one can do all that! It is just another Big Pharma tactic to make you take anti-depressants!

20. Love those little buggers, smother them with kisses and hugs, enjoy every second of this time with them, it goes too fast! Don’t regret any thing!

What confessions do you have?

About the Author

Khaula Mazhar, author of Mama Loves Me, has written for Dawn Pakistan and now bestows her wisdom upon the world at her blog. Last time she counted she had five kids, however the vast amount of laundry has given her doubts. This is a cause of constant distraction as she tries to finish writing the next NYT best-seller.

Taking Children Out of School- Pro’s and Con’s

By Mona Ismaeil

let-s-fly--fly-away_23-2147515827

Winter (Christmas Break) comes at such a great time for Airlines but such an inopportune time for the average traveler. While children are conveniently out of school and most companies are giving time off, hotels as well as airlines and any travel related company are making you pay for those conveniences! Many families try to take their winter vacations a little earlier or a bit later to outsmart those corporate savages! Before, you get too excited thinking you’ve pulled a fast one, think about how this will affect the education of your children.

Pros: 

  • EXPERIENCES EXPERIENCES EXPERIENCES: Not to say laying poolside drinking as many virgin margaritas as you can isn’t a fantastic way to spend your vacation; it is; but opting for a trip with some sites, history, and culture is a better choice. Children can learn a great deal by travelling. We open their eyes to a world that most text books can’t do justice.
  • Family Time: This is very important. Time well spent as a family is vital for the emotional and psychological development of children. Our lives are chaotic and often the only time we get with our children after school, work and extracurricular activities is just a meal here and there. Getting downtime to laugh, tell stories and make memories is priceless!
  • Seeing the World Through New Eyes: Children experience the world very differently than we do. Travelling together can teach both parents and children a whole lot.

 Cons:

  • Missed Important Exams: Timing is important. Leaving school close to the end of semesters or report card terms can being detrimental to your child’s education.
  • Falling Behind on Curriculum: With lots to learn and just barely enough time, every moment in the classroom is vital. Depending on the length of time of your trip, students can miss a great deal of instruction as well as the activities and projects that go along with it.
  • Change of Routine: When in school, students get into a good routine. A steady routine that includes school, studying and extra-curricular activities. While on vacation those routines change and for some students it takes some time to get back on track once the vacation is over.
  • Extra Pressure Afterwards: With any time missed, assignments, projects and assessments will pile up. Students will still be expected to complete those assessments and learn the material. This can put more pressure on them as well as you and the teacher.

 Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Timing: Choose your travel time carefully. Like mentioned before, it is important to plan your trips around significant assessments, report cards, parent-teacher interviews, etc. It is ideal of course to plan trips to coincide with given holidays or long weekends.
  • Length of time: There is a big difference between being gone for a week and being gone for a month.
  • Age/Grade: Younger students will generally be affected less than older students.
  • Ability: This is probably the most important thing to consider. You need to be honest with the fact that some students should not be missing in class instruction. As much as we may want to take that trip if our children are unable to handle the pressure of being out of school, then we need to put their best interest first.
  • Teacher’s Input: Ask your child’s teacher their opinion about your travel plans. They know best when it comes to what your children need from an academic perspective.

Wherever you go, enjoy every moment with your family. Travelling with children can be tough but incredibly rewarding! It’s about that moment when they say: “Mama, remember when we went_________ and saw________?” That is just priceless!  Safe travels!

What are your thoughts about taking children out of school? What are your experiences?

 

About the Author:

Mona Ismaeil is  the Associate Editor Muslimmoms.ca. She is also an elementary  teacher turned blogger and writer. Mona is the proud owner of Modern Hejab and stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl. She loves to travel and see all the world has to offer with her family.

 

 

 

 

Saving for the Education of Your Child Made Easy

By Erum Zehra

South Asian-WinWin-Banner-300x250-v3 Final

As mothers, the education of our children is one of our primary concerns. We aspire to give them the best education possible. Fortunately, living in a country like Canada has made this task easy where free education is provided in public schools until high school. After graduating from high school, our children want to join colleges or universities for higher education. This can prove to be very expensive for low income families. Most families with school going children start saving for their college education quite early, to ensure they have enough money to equip their children with higher education.

RESP and CLB

Government of Canada provides assistance in saving for higher education of your children through RESP (Registered Education Savings Plans) and CLB (Canada Learning Bond). An RESP is an educations savings account registered with the Government of Canada. You need to open an account with a bank or credit union, or through a certified financial planner or a group plan dealer. These institutions, planners and dealers are known as “RESP providers.” For more information on RESP please visit: http://www.smartsaver.org/pdf/RESP_English.pdf

The Canada Learning Bond consists of an initial amount of $500 offered by the Government of Canada to help you start saving for your child’s education after high school. Your child could get $100 every year until he or she turns 15 years old to a maximum of $2,000. Your child is eligible for the Canada Learning Bond if:

• he or she was born after December 31, 2003; and

• you receive the National Child Benefit Supplement under the Canada Child Tax Benefit (also known as the family allowance).

For More information on CLB please visit: http://www.smartsaver.org/pdf/CLB_lgl_English.pdf

 SmartSAVER

SmartSAVER at http://smartsaver.org is a non profit community project which makes it easier for you to learn about RESPs and to get the Canada Learning Bond. They have teamed up with RESP providers across Canada that will help you get an RESP started for FREE: no enrolment fee, no annual fee and no contribution required.

How to Apply?

You can use their online application, Start My RESP, and apply for the Canada Learning Bond. Apply before Decemeber 31st for a chance to win $1000! A new winner is being selected every week, so the earlrlier you apply, the better your chances are of winning.

 

 

Children with Special Needs; Finding the Support You Need

By Nadia Ali

hand-painted-heart-with-handprints_23-2147514385

Immigrating to a new country can be a tough experience and more so when considering the needs of children with physical and developmental delays or disabilities. There are numerous programs and sources of funding available to improve the quality of life of disabled children however it is a tough experience to find all the resources available.

The first step would be to select a family doctor and get the child registered. Provide all past records and reports to the doctor. Depending on the disability / delay your child is experiencing, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for detailed testing and diagnosis. School-aged children with learning disabilities, speech impairment, ADHD, dyslexia, etc. who have had no diagnosis earlier, are identified by teachers when they struggle academically and referred to the school speech therapist or school psychologist for diagnosis.  

Funding programs vary between provinces; each province has different programs geared towards helping parents who have one or more children with disabilities. For example; in Ontario, the provincial programs are Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD), Special Services at Home (SSAH) and Provincial Assistive Devices Program (ADP). Application forms can be downloaded from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services website.

 

Children with delays / disabilities are also eligible to receive a monthly benefit in addition to Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) amount that parents receive for every child. In order to quality, a medical practitioner must certify on the prescribed form: Form 2201 – Disability Tax Credit Certificate (available on the CRA website) that the child has a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions. Ask your doctor to fill the form and send the completed signed form to your tax centre. CRA will determine whether or not you are eligible to receive the disability tax credit and the Child Disability Benefit. Both, physical as well as developmental, disabilities and delays are eligible. For July 2015 to June 2016, the CDB is approximately $2,695 per year ($224.58 per month) for each child who is eligible for the disability amount. This payment will come to you with your CCTB amount as a single check.

 

The Disability Amount Tax Credit (or the ‘Disability Amount’) is a non-refundable tax credit that can be transferred to a family member, who supplies some or all of the basic necessities of life such as food, shelter and clothing to the person. This credit provides tax relief for individuals who have a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions by providing a credit against payable.  This amount is not a physical payment, like the CDB, but is a tax credit that can be used to reduce your tax / increase your refund at the time of filing taxes.

The list of medical expenses you can claim at the time of filing taxes is very long and extensive, and also includes amounts you have spent for speech therapy, physical therapy, tutoring services, talking textbooks, devices or software to help your child’s learning, etc. Please keep all receipts and submit them to your the person who will be preparing your taxes at the time of filing  to determine which ones you can claim. For financial assistance with treatment and therapy as well as costs of assistive devices, there are several agencies that help parents who may find it difficult to make ends meet. President’s Choice Children’s Charity, Jennifer Ashleigh Children charity, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Easter Seals, etc. are all agencies that will provide funding for those in need to help with the cost of therapies. Proof of income and cost of therapy needs to be submitted along with application. Finally be sure to reach out to other mothers whom are in similar situations as you. There are many support groups for mothers. There are many activities and programs which can help get you out meeting new families and making new friends.

About the Author

Proud mom to a six year old boy, Nadia Ali has earlier worked with Ernst & Young as an auditor. She is now a tax professional at H&R Block and is looking forward to another busy tax season.