Humble beginnings


Alhamdulillah, by the grace of Allah, we have started our weekend home-school programme in Riyadh. It was so nice to work with a bunch of girls over the weekend. We worked hard and played hard too!

InshaAllah, I will be posting weekly updates on what we cover each weekend in Maths, English and Science.

This programme was designed after consultation with parents to meet the needs of our girls some of whom have never been to school (full time homeschoolers) whilst others attend full time Arabic school (homeschooled to supplement English curriculum). So, each add a different dynamic to our learning environment, alhamdulillah.


We are blending Oxford Primary’s Countdown Maths series with Mathematics Enhancement Programme (MEPs). We start with circle-time activity where I ask them some mental maths questions like:

  • Count till 100 in 10s, count till 1000 in 100s
  • Skip counting till 20 in 2s, till 30 in 3’s and till 50 in 5s (times table revision)
  • Countdown 50 to 0 in 5s, countdown 20 to 0, 100 to 10 in 10s
  • I shout out the number and ask the girls to identify Hundreds, Tens or Units (Identify Place value)
  • Give one problem solving activity that requires addition/subtraction (for younger group) “I bought a book with 10 riyal and a pencil with 8 riyal. How much money did I spend?” or “I bought a book for 10 riyal. I gave 50 riyal to the shopkeeper. How much change shall I get?”
  • Give one problem solving activity that requires multiplication/division (for elder group)

Then they each have a set of worksheets to do from MEPs. Each do their own work, we go over the answers together. Alhamdulillah, maths is pretty much straightforward. So we can do some group learning (mental maths and problem solving) and they can do their worksheets individually and at home.


We are using Writing With Ease and First Language Lesson (both by the authors of ‘The Well-Trained Mind’). I love these books for a number of reasons. First, they use classical techniques such as dictation, narration and picture study to develop child’s language ability. Second, they use authentic texts and passages from classic children’s literature. Children work with Living Books and thus learn some concepts deductively (they internalize the style and vocabulary). Third,  First Language Lesson is a complete grammar text whilst Writing With Ease is a complete writing programme. And they both compliment each other.

If you ever want Charlotte Mason method of teaching language in action, these are the books that follow her ideas and techniques (narration, picture study, dictation, copywork and especially the use of authentic and genuine text- these are all originally her ideas).

So, the focus of work this week was:

  • Proper nouns (months of the year)
  • Sentence writing (capitalization and full stop)
  • Reading comprehension: They read a passage from The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright and answered questions both orally and in written.
  • Introduction to poems: They read Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson and discussed the poem in groups.
  • Copywork: they all copied a poem about months of the year


We are following Oxford Primary’s Everyday Science. Alhamdulillah, I really like the gradual sequence of topics in the series and how everything in Science is linked to our everyday life. Everybody in the group seems to like Science. We covered the following topics:

  • Surroundings: Clean and Green
  • Living and non-living things (man made and natural)
  • Plants (plant life-cycle, photosynthesis, parts of plants and their functions, types of plants such as climbers, creepers, trees, herbs etc)
  • Plants as food (fruits, vegetables, pulses, grains- all come from plants. They all provide us with minerals and vitamins which are essential for our growth)

MashaAllah, they all knew so much about healthy eating. They were quick to tell me their experiences of healthy eating: one raises her own chickens and they lay fresh eggs for them daily, one tried to grow a watermelon and it is a creeper type of plant, one grows vegetables at home in pots, one grows herbs at home for cooking etc. Although they haven’t done any formal lessons, they already know a lot in Science, so the idea is just to encourage them to think more behind each action in everyday life. They will be moving to creating charts and database collection next week.

Fun Friday activity

We made smoothies and microwave cake in a mug. Massive JazakAllah khayr to a sister who kindly provided all the ingredients and her two daughters took the lead in the kitchen. They even explained to us why they would use almond flour and coconut flour as oppose to normal bleached flour (hint-hint-healthy eating choices). So our microwave mug cake went down so well with mango and strawberry smoothie.

Tips to reinforce learning at home:

  • Ask about different types of plants when you are out and about
  • Ask about living and non-living things around the house
  • Ask about photosynthesis (how plants turn carbon dioxide into oxygen)
  • Read any short story together and ask a child to narrate
  • Ask a child to copy the names of the months
  • Skip counting and countdown activities when driving in the car or cooking in the kitchen etc
  • The Railway Children– you may want to tell your children about the book and the author-Edith Nesbit- as we will be reading a passage from it next week inshaAllah.

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