I have meant to share some of my thoughts re new school year/planning and it was meant to be today, alhamdulillah. At sister’s circle on last Sunday we were discussing and sharing one thing that we learned from this Ramadan. For myself it was LIVING IN THE MOMENT. SubhanAllah, what does it actually mean, living in the moment?
Firstly, for me it meant grabbing every little opportunity that presented itself and increase my good deeds. I have often admired sisters who completed the Qur’an so-and-so many times in Ramadan or who have been able to do x-and-z much nafl prayers. Perphaps, I have not been able to do much but in our daily lives opportunities for little deeds always present itself to all of us and it is how we interact with those opportunities that really matters. So, I have learnt to consistently do those “little things” for the sake of Allah alone. I am trying to kill my expectations of people and expect nothing in return for those little things that Allah has enabled me to do. Yesterday has passed. I should not wish to have done things differently. Tomorrow is future, I should not spend long hours planning as Allah alone knows what actually happens tomorrow. But, what am I doing today? Right now? Am I using all the resources/means at hand to reap the reward in the HereAfter? What is stopping me reading Qur’an right now? Prioritize everything in our daily life and do everything with the right intention so we can turn them all into ibadah inshaAllah.
Secondly, living in the moment have also meant being able to say YES as often as I can to my kids. When they ask me to read them a book, even in the middle of my busiest day, I have been able to sit down and read to them. When they want to do some baking, help me with cooking or painting with acorns- I have been able to ask myself “Right, what is stopping me from saying YES. Is it something really important or my own laziness?” When they want to get changed and have all sorts of dress-up games at bed times just to prolong their bedtime- I just let them. Why to rush them, why to have rigid rules, why to be in bed exactly by same hour every night? Why not take each night as it comes and do those spontaneous fun things and increase our bonding? Especially since they have no school in the mornings. I am so grateful they do not go to school. I just find the whole idea of being out of house by certain hour in the mornings and doing the school-run is so stressful. There might come a time where I need to put the kids into school, wallahu Alam. Allah knows best how long we will be able to home-school but until that moment arrives why not just relax cosy evenings with plenty of reading, talking and discussions. So, they have no set bed time these days, it differs from day to day and we have been able to do so many extra-curricular fun things together.
Yesterday morning I asked Sumayya to do some copywork. She did half and said she would do the rest later. She wanted to do some spelling on Scribble (board game). I said ok, I knew she would do it later or I can remind her. But, if I was still previous ME and not “living in the moment” kind of mom, I would have demanded she finishes one thing before she moves on to the other. Even if she badly wants to play that Scribble game at that moment. And later that afternoon, not only she finished her copywork, she also did so much more writing than required because she wanted to.
The same thing happened when we sat down to do hifdh. I usually ask her to recite 5 of the longer surahs from Juzz Amma for review and move on to practise new surah. She read surah Tariq, A’la and Ghashiya (3 in total) and decided to review more later. Again, previous ME would have started lecturing her on the spot, reminding the rewards in HereAfter or even bribing her with sweets and things to finish all 5 surahs for review and practise new surah to memorize there and then. But instead I said “As you wish but you HAVE to do more hifdh later”. She was much happy and said “Please remind me if I forget it, mommy. If I forget I might become a liar”. I was happy she said it and later she recited more than 5 surahs to review.
So, I learnt that we should let children take the lead. They do not have to learn in the same order of subjects as we arrange them. We seem to have taken relaxed and flexible way of teaching and doing things and I feel children are taking the lead and been able to learn so much more on their own initiative. They are literally teaching themselves so many things, alhamdulillah. I have taken the back seat and provide materials and resources for their ideas/projects but mainly they come up with some kind of idea and they implement it with whatever resources I provide them with.
Living in the moment also meant to say NO to life’s distractions and strive for frugality and simplicity in our lives. I try not to use my phone, laptop, FB in their presence. How often have we said NO to our children just because we were sat in front of our laptops? Just because we were reading some news? Just because we were reading what people were up to on FB? Or we prolong some other important issues (like salah) and we procrastinate by surfing the net? I try not to be seen using the laptop in front of children for I fear kids copy this behaviour and grow up thinking all important talk/conversation takes place virtually and you can ignore the person sitting in front of you? (I have literally experienced this with some gatherings at university where most sisters pull out their phones out of pockets and would be busy socializing on FB whereas the room is full of with real human-beings, subhanAllah. I mean quite literally, maybe I have done that same thing somewhere….maybe. May Allah rectify our shortcomings)
We are studying 4-5 subjects each day. I plan and arrange worksheets/books/other materials the day before. We do a lot of spontaneous activities too when they come up with ideas and suggestions. I do not push to finish whatever I had planned and if we miss out on 1-2 of the planned subjects- that is fine too. We always have the next day inshaAllah. I would like to grasp the moment and do the things they really want to do. The order of subjects vary daily. We do numeracy (maths) and literacy (reading/writing/spelling etc) daily. We do Arabic, Geography, Science every other day. We are doing a lot more practical, hands-on activities like making things together, painting, experimenting etc. The whole teaching hours last around 2-2.5 hours and usually take place between 11am-2pm in the mornings.They are still under the age of 7 and I have come to believe too young for rigid scheduled learning. Ever since I adopted this kind of approach I can see how much more interest they are showing to learn. I think they develop the joy of learning more when I let them be creative and learn through projects they suggest. And, honestly, I have experienced they are getting more creative.