Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, my dear brothers and sisters.
Below is my reply to a friend who is having difficulties with her class of 9 year olds at school. As best as possible, I’ve given the Khalifah Method approach as the solution to her problem.
As I understand from what was said earlier, you have behavior problems with the Year 3 students in your school. Let’s look at some points.
- They are the oldest in the school so their attitude towards the younger students probably is a little arrogant and ‘I-know-it-all’.
- They are 9 years old, at an age where you start to see them testing the boundaries i.e. questioning, rebelling against rules, just to see if they can get away with it.
- They are learning to establish their own identity; beginning to see themselves as a separate individual from their other friends.
The influence these kids have on the other children are immense; they will be looked up to by the younger children so it’s imperative that they become ‘qudwah’ or good example for the others otherwise you will find the younger students following the behavior that the older ones set and this will lead to bigger problems.
So, here are a few suggestions and solutions on what can be done to counter this problem.
- Talk to them. Explain why being a khalifah of Allah is so important (existing state of world/society) and how they can change the world (toward a fully and truly Islamic world) by just remembering they are khalifah of Allah and every action they make, every word they say makes a difference.
- Encourage them (to remember to behave as a khalifah all the time) through the rewards/ consequences they will receive.
- Allah Almighty loves those who do their best to be good/clean/hardworking/respectful etc. NB You must give examples of the behavior you want them to have. ‘Good’ in their mind might be based on secular materialistic standards.
- Everyone will look up to them as an example of what a khalifah of Allah is.
- They will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride when they fulfill their khalifah responsibilities. NB You must teach the children khalifah responsibilities first otherwise how will the children know what they are doing is making a difference.
3. Teach your teacher/ adults involved in the day-to-day activities at school to be comfortable asking the children for help e.g. ‘Please help me carry these books’. (when I arrive at school in the mornings, the students jostle one another to carry my things, even my handbag! I’m a little embarrassed, actually…)
4. Create an environment of prevention, instead of cure. Look around you. What are the possible factors causing the students to behave wrongly and eliminate those factors. You will find that the task to manage the students’ behavior becomes easier. NB You and the teachers should not become stressed out while involved in the process. If it is stressful, again, look around you and see what needs to be done. Example: Are the students noisy when they come into school? Are their shoes lying around all over the place? Invest in shoe racks. Have a teacher (smiling) greeting the children as they come in the morning and (gently) remind the students if they are too noisy. Do you realise the suggestion for teachers is the longest..? The hard work falls on the teachers and adults, I’m afraid. You cannot shift everything onto the students.
After you have done all of the above (and that’s just not all of it-please come up with your own solutions to fit the situation at your school), don’t expect things will change overnight; plan this course of action over a few weeks/ months. The benefit of allowing the shaping process to takes it’s time is knowing any changes that occur are long term. And that’s the goal of this program, creating the Transforming Generation.
You will need to create a consistent schedule of rewards and consequences to be given to the students as they achieve the expected behavior or they fail (by their own choice) to behave. Everyone involved must be firm and consistent otherwise you will find the students taking advantage of this gap and it will be harder to get them back into the mindset/program.
I have a ‘last resort solution’ for when all else fails but I will not be giving this to you yet, because it is a shortcut solution. It works but involves the dignity of the students which should be protected as much as possible. So, please keep me updated and when all else fails (say, after 2 months…?) then, let me know and I’ll email it to you.
Please believe in your students; they are the Transforming Generation. Help them be AWARE of their khalifah potential, create an environment of CHANGE for them and EMPOWER them with opportunities to fulfill their role as khalifah of Allah.
May Allah Almighty give you strength, guidance and patience to fulfill your role as khalifah of Allah, my dear.