For a long time now I have been thinking to write on how to help our children to memorize Qur’an better. I wanted to refresh my thoughts on the topic as well as reminding myself and my sisters of some of the things I have read/heard/experimented to aid child’s memorization skills. Here are some tips I have come up with.
1. We should clarify our intentions. Are we helping our children to memorize Qur’an for Allah’s sake or do we want to show off with them? We might often ask our children to recite a surah in big gatherings and if they do so we pride ourselves on their achievements. While I think there is nothing wrong with being proud of their hard work, the same time we also have to check our intentions: Am I raising a child to prove his/her abilities to a group of people or for the sake of Allah? If our intention is clear, it is perfectly fine if a child doesnt want to recite a surah in front of family friends/relatives when asked to do so. The fact that he/she has memorized and Allah is aware of our attempts should be enough for us. (Planned Qur’an circles are exception)
2. Make Qur’an memorization sessions a family habit. I was speaking to one of the moms whose daughter comes to our house on Fridays for little girls’ islamic circle. “My child finds it so hard to memorize an ayah?”, she said. “How about yourself?” I asked. “Do you find it hard or easy?”. Well, the answer is she doesnt memorize any new surah or an ayah from the Qur’an. And I myself only recently resumed my self-memorization class after reading a passage in one of the books I am currently reading. It made me think… How can we impose this task on a child if we dont make the effort ourselves? It is said that before giving dawah on something, you first have to act on what you advice. First, make it a habit for yourself and then preach others do the same. Only then your dawah will have a greater impact on people around you. If we- adults of the household- make the effort to learn a new ayah/surah from the Qur’an on a daily basis, our children find it more easier to do the same. There was a time when I just started teaching Sumayya Qur’an, I would sit down and learn my own surah while she did hers. This has helped me to realize how hard it is to learn something in a foreign language by heart. So, I would be more tolerant if children made mistakes whilst reciting, more patient if they keep getting confused between two ayah. Who am I to demand perfectness in memorizing and reciting from little ones if I am not perfect myself?
3. Listen to Qur’an as much as possible throughout the day. This should be actively listening, not engaging in a different activity while Qur’an is playing in the background. We are better off with arranging two Qur’an listening sessions for the duration of 20-30 minutes. You can choose times that suits your family best. We always listen to Qur’an first thing in the morning for about 20 minutes. Kids listen to some surahs from Juz Amma while I prepare breakfast for them, plus during breakfast. It gives me the feeling that “even if the rest of the day goes unproductive for whatever reasons, at least we already had something useful out of the way”. Indeed, it gives the best start to our day and as such before 9 am in the morning I already feel the day has been accomplished lol. Alhamdulillah. Then, I used to play Qur’an again at bed time. This, too, I am trying to resume currently as we have not been doing this for some time now.
4. Be equipped with useful technology. A dear sister gave me a digital Qur’an as a wedding gift when I got married. Small in size, portable, run on rechargable batteries and the whole of Qur’an recited by sheikh Shuraim and Sudais, this has been of great help for all the family to make progress. For the sake of children, I always forward and play from surah 78, An-Naba and it continues till 114, An-Nas. We can listen to it upstairs or downstairs, in the car or it can easly be placed in my pockets when we go for a walk. This way I am not carrying laptop or CD player with loud speakers everywhere. Also, another sister gave me Minshawi’s Child Repeat of Juzu Amma, especially recorded for children to use in memorizing the last Juz. I am sure this can be found on the net. The CD can be played whilst travelling in the car or at home. On youtube, we often listen to the following recitations especially done to help those who are trying to memorize Juzu Amma. Each surah is repeated 4-5 times in one single video, lasting about 8-10minutes, without much bakcground distractions (pictures etc). If I am cooking, tidying or cleaning and want to get it done quickly without kids’ help, I always play the surah they are memorizing at that moment and get on with my jobs.
We also use the following website to follow the print whilst listening. Kids can follow the arabic print, top-to-bottom, right-to-left and recognize the high-frequency words within the Qur’an (such as thumma, kalla etc)http://www.quranexplorer.com/Quran/Default.aspx
5. Kids learn quickly but then they easily forget as well. I have heard stories of kids memorizing lots of surahs when young but then they forget as they grow older. We all have to be patient and consistent with our efforts. I always try to remind myself “whatever I want to teach my children I should take small steps at a time but be consistent”. Everything is easily done when we establish it as a daily routine, when we make it a habit. It is only the initial period that we may find hard to adjust and adapt. In addition, we should be committed. Even if you are a really busy mom trying to juggle between study, work, raising good children and running a household, there should be a time for Qur’an in your daily life. Try to spare 5-10 minutes initially, maybe with one morning “active listening” sessions. Trust me, it makes you feel content with your day before you even begin your day, inshaAllah.
6. As children learn more surah, keep revising the old ones as well as memorizing the new ones inshaAllah. This will surely slow down the learning process as it takes time and effort to keep the old surah in child’s memory. Previously our girls had to recite 5-6 of the old surahs in one go, our revision sessions lasting about 40 minutes with both mommy and kids getting tired, bored and frustrated in the process. A sister suggested I should break this revision sessions up. And alhamdulillah this has worked out so well. Now, I invite them to recite 2-3 surahs after each salah, or sometimes even one, depending on their mood and our time. Safiyya has memorized 7 of the short surahs from the back plus Al Fatiha. So, she recites some of this in the morning, some in the afternoon. As these are really short, it doesnt take much time. Sumayya (mashAllah) has memorized till surah Takweer. (She has 4 more surahs to finish Juzu Amma and I hope she will be able to memorize the whole of Juzu Amma till her 5th birthday next April). With her, we have to alternate short and long surah. I have to make sure she gets to recite a different surah each day so that she doesnt forget all the 34 surahs she has memorized so far.7. Motivation. In Montessori, Charlotte Mason and other methods of educating a child, it is said that an activity should be done solely for its own purpose. An activity should be an enjoyable thing in itself that you dont give a child artificial things such as candies/stickers to accomplish it. Well, how do you encourage and motivate 3 year olds to memorize Qur’an without candies, stickers or special treats? I have no idea how, subhanAllah lol. In the past, I have tried all sorts of verbal encouragements such as “When you recite a Qur’an, the angel on your right shoulder marks it as a good deed in your book of Illiyun” (both Sumayya and Safiyya have good understanding of good/bad deeds and angels writing down their good/bad actions, Kiroman/Katebeen), “If you recite Qur’an, it will be easy for you to enter Jannah”, “This is what Allah likes and I will be really happy too” “Your dad and grandma will be happy too” and mention their progress to daddy and grandma in their presence etc. But these verbal encouragements dont work all the time. So, against Montessori and Charlotte’s teachings, I use both stickers and candies. And Alhamdulillah this works well. And I let them watch an educational cartoon when they are good at reciting. This one is the best treat as we never had TV and they love watching things. We watch Luntik series in Russian, Crawfard the Cat series in English and varies different cartoons in Uzbek (there arent many, unfortunately).
So, I think we have been using “memorizing by listening and repeating” method. In conclusion, we should go back and purify our intentions to learn the Qur’an and teach our children. We should memorize a new ayah/surah first in order for our children to do the same. We should give both verbal and non verbal encouragements to motivate their progress. We should listen to recitation by great sheikhs daily. Get a few CDs ready to be used at home/in the car, MP3 players, smart phones, utilize all the technology available at hand. And make dua Allah makes this journey easy for us and for our children. Let us do whatever we can, however small it might be, and tavakkul in Allah.I hope you find this note useful, inshaAllah. I would love to learn about your tips as well. what methods of memorizing do you follow? what sheikhs do you listen to most? what are some of the online resources do you use?Please share your tips below. May Allah reward you all.