How to structure/organize your day so that you can fit all your needs/duties in?
MashAllah I always find it interesting how other (homeschool) mothers organize their days, with some having as many as 9 children. SubhanAllah. I love reading about how their days go by, what they do and how moms can manage. Is it not so interesting to find out how they manage to home educate their children and learn some tips? Here is how we do it. I try to plan things around salah.
So, we start the day by praying fajr. Since they wake up so early we usually pray fajr together, followed by dhikr and dua. Alhamdulillah I don’t have to nag them to pray fajr together, it is an established habit. Dhuhr and Asr are optional – I encourage them to join but they can be busy doing their own things. Then again at maghrib we mostly pray together followed by dhikr and dua. It is such a blessing to listen to their duas – they keep asking various interesting things each time and come up with unique statements. I have to record this sometime inshaAllah :).
I get them to practise all their daily adiya – dua entering/leaving a house, entering/leaving toilet, before/after eating, before sleeping and after waking up, we try to say Rabbi Zidni Ilma at our circle times. Alhamdulillah, they both know all their daily duas by heart and often remind me to say them too!
After fajr+dhikr+dua (takes around 15 minutes) we sit down and do our daily Qur’an revision session. Safiyya recites all 8 short surahs she has memorized. Sumayya has to recite 3 longer surahs (i.e Fajr, Inshiqaq, Buruj) and 3 shorter surahs (i.e Asr, Tiyn, Qadr) or 5 average ones (Bayyina, A’la, Qoria, Tariq etc). Then they have breakfast listening to new surahs they are learning. Even when Sumayya was attendiing public school we could manage fajr+dhikr+dua+Qur’an before 8:30 am easily. If we were running out of time we would do shorter dhikr and dua and recite only short surahs. I think moms who send their children to public school but want to do more at home may want to establish this habit of early morning Qur’an session following fajr with child/children. The whole package lasts up to around 40 minutes with us.
Morning session: After Qur’an revision, they have breakfast whilst listening to Qur’an. And we do one Islamic Studies from the following subjects – aqeeda, fiqh, seerah, prophets’ stories and Arabic. I try to alternate but we usually do anything I could have found beforehand and planned for next day. Recently we have been doing more prophets’ stories, good/bad deeds, angels Kiraman Katebin and some seerah sessions. Nothing rigid and regimental, you can do anything Islamic you can get your hands on.
How long does the sessions last? It depends on child’s learning style. We have 15 minutes of circle time before each subject to review previous lessons. New lesson may last 30 minutes. So each lesson lasts around 40 minutes altogether. I think mothers know their children best and usually can decide what works better for them. For Sumayya I may plan 1-2 things and she enjoys learning them in greater depth. She can focus for a longer time and does lots of self-studying. I just observe her and may direct her as and when needed by answering her questions etc. For Safiyya I have to plan 3-4 quick, fun, hands on activities. She doesn’t like sitting for longer than 5-10 minutes. She likes shape sorters, popsicles, beads. She absolutely loves cutting and pasting. She loves playing with placticine. So I will have to plan activities using more hands on approach instead of long worksheets. She likes doing Starfall phonics activities and printables.
Do they get time to play? Of course, alhamdulillah. So, we get Qur’an and Islamic Studies out of the way before 10 am in the morning. Then they have plenty of time to play/learn until dhuhr. I try to encourage them to do lots of self-study when I am busy cleaning, cooking, washing, baking, or looking after Ibrahim. They do their online studying, about 30 minutes daily. Sumayya reads books from Oxford Owl and does the interactive follow up activities online. Alhamdulillah she is currently reading books in 5-6 age range. But she reads even longer books at home. (For example today at bedtime she read Fawzia Gilani’s “Cindrella – an Islamic Tale”. It was so so long but she was determined to finish it. I love this book, gifted to us by aunty Nilufar at Eid. JazakAllah Nilufar for such an awesome book, a true treasure for any muslim household with girls).
Safiyya does interactive phonics activities from starfalls and completes the printables.
Or I may take a couple of things out of their literacy and numeracy boxes such as jigsaw/wooden puzzles, shape sorters, aquadraw writing mat with stencils, maps, flashcards, matching/sequencing cards etc and leave them on the table in the lounge. They play pretend school game. This is my favourite family game where one of the girls pretend to be a teacher and plays my role by asking questions and tries to teach the other. It’s so funny and motivates them to willingly revise and learn. We also try to incorporate some socializing and outdoor play time after our morning session and before the afternoon session (usually after dhuhr). These may include visiting the neighbours (that is if we have baked/cooked something nice, visiting the local playground, driving to bigger park, playing in the garden or visiting the local library etc).
How many subjects to cover a day? Again it depends how kids behave. But Qur’an and one Islamic Studies lesson is a must every day. There are days I get relaxed, I mean too relaxed. But as far as I stick to Qur’an and one Islamic lesson a day I don’t feel I am letting kids down. On average day we do 4 subjects, 1. Quran 2. Islamic Studies and 2 of the academics from: math/numeracy, literacy (reading/writing/spelling), geography and science. We do one 40 minute lesson after dhuhr and one after asr salah. Currently Safiyya is doing more literacy/numeracy activities and Sumayya is more interested in science/geography. With lots of breaks in between lesson they don’t feel too burdened and bored. And I try to get their focus back on with fun circle time activities related to each subject.
What part of the day is best to arrange a lesson? Again depends on your lifestyle. Based on my own experience, I would say it is always good to get Qur’an out of the way in the mornings, straight after fajr whilst everyone’s mind is fresh and rested. Back home in our childhood, if we – children had anything to memorize for one of our subjects, my parents, especially my dad, would encourage us to learn by heart early in the morning. My mom would wake us up as early as 4 or 5 am to do our memorization task (math time tables, but mostly a poem, a classic long poems for our literature lessons). Observe your child and notice what learning style he/she has. I think 3-4 lessons a day is average. Train kids to do some self-studying with lots of home-made, store-bought resources. Use online resources for those “unschooling” moments inshaAllah.
One way of getting organized for each subject is arranging a box full of readily available materials/resources/activities to be used at circle times. This is our literacy box full of materials (puzzles, flashcards, alphabet frieze etc) to be used to improve literacy.
Numeracy box full of math manipulatives. Sometimes we use wooden/foam building blocks, legos at math circle time.
Islamic Box full of materials to be used at Islamic Studies circle time. Inside: what to say when Dua Cards, Companion Cards, Box of manners, Qur’an opposites puzzles from Learning Roots. Underneath all other home-made wudu/salah/dua related activities.