Planting trees and book review 2

Bismillah,

We have been quite busy in the garden recently. A couple of weeks ago we all went to one of the biggest garden centres in our area and bought an apple tree, pear tree, some strawberry plants and flowers. We had been waiting for the weather to get a little better and finally last weekend we planted out fruit trees; made a patch for our strawberries and flowers and planted them too! Now, let’s just hope the wind does not blow them away (it is too windy where we live on top of the hill)

Children spend a lot of time outdoors- I mean a lot. They do so much digging and exploring- it makes me crazy sometimes to keep up with all their adventures and bug hunts. We have jars filled with all sorts of garden findings all around the kitchen. Our garden has so many holes thanks to their digging. Things are upside down but I am hoping to spend more time this summer to supervise my kids’ gardening adventures (rather than leaving it up to them)

They also read a lot of books about birds, insects, how to grow plants etc. We have the following books in our asset: British Birds, How to Grow Houseplants and Crafts From Nature. They read and use the books independently.

These days we don’t have a routine as such, since we have changed the course of action towards Unschooling approach. This happened almost naturally with the birth of Ibrahim followed by Saida. Our typical day looks like this: I have got to make them a breakfast in the mornings which takes me 30 mins up to an hour (We dont have cereals and almost daily have big breakfast cooked from scratch). They wake up around 7-7:30am, have a piece of fruit and off they go to play or read books. We all have breakfast between 9-10am. Then after breakfast we all read Qur’an. Thereafter they go off to play either in the garden or indoors. Some days we read 1-2 books after Qur’an and talk about the characters.

I have got to start cooking lunch, tidying the house, feeding and bathing the baby in between and tending to their 101 needs in the middle of all my jobs. So, I thank God for Unschooling and leave everything up to kids until they come and ask me to teach them something lol. By teaching I mean the scheduled hours of teaching how I used to do in the past: I used to make the girls sit down between 10am-12pm and go through Qur’an, Arabic, Maths, English and Science. Of course, not all subjects in one day but still they would be on the table either doing a planned activity or going through the worksheets/workbooks. Now we do Maths, English and Science in a structured way just once a week. As long as we keep up with Qur’an, both reading and hifdh, I am happy with what they are doing currently.

Every family’s circumstances are different and these circumstances are changing all the time. I don’t regret what I did back then, I thought it was the best education I could provide for them. If I tried to keep up with the same approach/routine/schedule now I know it would leave me frustrated all the time. I think it would make everyone unhappy as baby and Ibrahim would be interfering all the time. Other things like taking Ibrahim to the toilet, sitting Saida in the potty, fold and put away washed clothes, peeling an apple for one and cutting some cucumbers for another- are so time consuming and constant. So, I am happy with what I have got at the moment and grateful for the blessing of Unschooling. It almost seems like a natural thing for me as if this should happen with all the children.

Reading and memorizing Qur’an. Both the girls can read Qur’an now, mashaAllah. Sumayya is mainly maintaining hifdh of Juzz Amma. Her memorization is so slow and I dont have time to sit down with her more than 40mins a day- during which time we do 20 mins revision and 20 mins reading. She reads 5-6 ayahs from surah Baqarah daily and I just give feedback on her pronunciation by verbally correcting her and explaining the tajweed rules where possible. Safiyya can read the surahs she has memorized. We do wordsearch on surahs An-Nas-to-Ad-Duha. She can find the word I ask her within any surah she has memorized. She is currently memorizing surah Layl and Shams. She reads from Qaida as well. Ibrahim has memorized 5 surahs and knows a lot of odd verses from other surahs his sisters memorized.

English. They mainly read books and write their own things: sometimes an apology letter to me when they upset me, sometimes a letter to a friend, sometimes an entry in their diary, sometimes a to do list for the next day. We try to keep it as practical as possible. I don’t ask them to write any particular thing. Safiyya and Ibrahim do activities on Starfalls and Oxford Owl in both English and Math. Recently, we have been watching the stories here.

Maths/Science- I am researching buying a certain structured, fairly balanced and practical curriculum for next year. We might continue with MEPS for Maths, though quite a few sisters suggested Singapore Maths is better. We will see inshaAllah. If we decide to switch to Singapore Maths, I might as well combine it with Singapore Science. (If you want to buy the Singapore Maths in the UK, Ichthus Resources provide them at slightly cheaper price than the other supply companies)

Book Review.

I have recently ordered a number of new Islamic books for the kids. Here is the short review.

  1. The meaning of the Holy Qur’an for School Children– an absolute must have book by Yahiya Emerick for every household. This is the best children’s tafseer book I have come across. Previously, I thought Ad-Duha mini tafseer books were really good mashaAllah. But, this book offers a number of advantages: It is simple, easy to understand and yet provides all the background information, history and story behind every ayah revealed. It uses powerful, elegant and effective vocabulary throughout with simple lessons to take away from each verse. It has got little illustrations to make it more attractive and suitable for all children between the ages of 7-16 year old to read independently. You can read it out to the younger ones and discuss the meanings together. I often read it for my own self and found it so so beneficial mashaAllah.
  2. Teaching Kids The Holy Qur’an: Surah 18, The Cave– another excellent book to add to your library. It contains all 4 major stories from surah Kahf. Mezba Uddin Mahtab used lego bricks and other toys to recreate the stories in a very engaging detail. When I read about the author and read his book here, I absolutely fell in love. When we got the delivery, this was Sumayya’s first pick and she read through all 144 pages in a couple of hours.
  3. 1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts From Muslim Civilization– just an interesting fact book to inspire and empower your Muslim children if they like to explore or find out more about world famous inventions and facts.
  4. Travelling Man- The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford. I always loved history and my kids do too. This is beautifully illustrated and written about the greatest traveler in Muslim history. This is a short autobiography of Ibn Battuta and his adventures in Mecca, India and China, about the people he met and befriended, the sultans he worked under, the rebels he was caught by and his ultimate survival throughout his travels 1325-1354. We all found this very interesting and loved the illustrations.
  5. Arabic Through The Qur’an– by Alan Jones. I want to study this book myself and later teach to kids. Aside from being the very latest Arabic grammar written by an academic, one of the special features of the book is its exclusive use in its vocabulary of Qur’an rather than modern Arabic. The main purpose of our study of the Arabic language is so that we can read and understand the Qur’an in its original language. I have decided awhile ago that I will be learning at least 2 vocabulary from Qur’an a day and this book is perfect because it teaches both basic grammar as well as the Qur’anic vocabulary.
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Russian school and British gymnastics

Bismillah,

We have lately adopted more of Unschooling Approach to home-ed. Alhamdulillah we do English 2 times a week, Maths 2 times a week, Qur’an daily, Arabic 3-4 times a week. There is no timing, when and how long the lessons last depends on their mood and aptitude.

Hifdh/Qur’an Reading. Sumayya still reads tons of books a week. I am seriously thinking of cutting down on her reading hours as she is again having meltdowns when it comes to Qur’an time. She has forgotten some of the surahs she has memorized previously. Incident today gave me a final push to reach a deal with her; we have agreed every day after breakfast she goes back to her room to revise 2-3 pages I set as a task and come back down when ready to read to me off by heart. We are also reading 5 ayahs a day from surah Baqara and have read 4 pages of it so far.

Safiyya and Ibrahim do their Hifdh every morning without a problem, mashaAllah. Safiyya can read the surahs she has memorized and still on Nurani Qaida too. Ibrahim has memorized surah Fatiha and the last 3 surahs from the back (Nas, Falaq, Ikhlas). But we have to prompt the beginning of each ayah sometimes. We all use the same method: Listen and repeat.

Arabic. Alhamdulillah, Sumayya can read, write and understand a little bit. She has built on the vocab and some grammar with Gateway to Arabic Book 2. We practise handwriting too, though I decided it is not so necessary at this age. I think the main focus should be understanding from reading, hence building on vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Safiyya can read, tries to copywrite and learns vocab.

Maths. We have not done MEPs in 3 months now. Sumayya attends Maths classes at RE once a week and I do follow up class at home on what has been taught  once a week. Alhamdulillah for this opportunity and a blessing as I feel the burden of teaching Maths has been taken away. But again, I dont think this is enough once she is past 7 and should definitely be doing more at home.

English. The same old way- reading lots of books and follow up discussion with Q&A. We practise story-telling sometimes where I ask them to narrate a story off memory to me. Sumayya still reads a lot. She read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in just around 4 hours (though I dont think the content was appropriate for her age as she could not differentiate if it was real life story due to world war 1, which was a fact but then how come wardrobe can be so big to host kingdom? Children at this age do not get fantasy and it is best to delay any such books). Then on the weekend we watched the film, only half of it as it was too long. We are going to watch the next half on Saturday inshaAllah. Meanwhile she is rereading the book. She takes on a lot of writing porjects on herself simply for pleasure: writing letters, writing stories/poems, making posters etc.

Safiyya reads shorter story books but needs encouragement to read. I do guided reading even though she can read on her own. I was wrong to assume that once a child learns how to read, their reading interest will just take off and they will be flying with so many books daily. Safiyya is more interested in helping me around the house mashaAllah. She does so much tidying up, polishing and general cleaning. Everyone is always shouting out her name in our household “Safiyya, get me this. Safiyya, get me that. Safiyya, take this upstairs. Safiyya, take this downstairs”. I find it difficult when she is not around *smile*

Russian School and British Gymnastics. They have been attending gymnastics and Russian school on Mondays. MashAllah, it is the girls only session at gymnastics where they have learned a lot in just 3 weeks. They enjoy it a lot and we sometimes watch Olympics gymnastics videos and attempt to do some basic movements.

Russian school is going great too. Finally, after so many months I have enrolled them and Alhamdulillah, I am so glad I did. Although Safiyya is not much interested, it still benefits her to be in that environment where everyone speaks Russian. Sumayya, on the other hand, has picked up so much. She can read, write and understand a little bit. She has memorized poems in Russian, learnt the colours, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, fruit and vegetable names in Russian. She can say few odd words in conversational Russian and always eager to finish her homeworks on time.

At times I come so close to giving up the idea of homeschooling simply because of sibling fighting and rivalry in the house. Sumayya is always arguing with Safiyya, Safiyya is always fighting with Ibrahim and Ibrahim is always jealous of baby Saida. At times dealing and judging between them is just too much, especially if they start complaining that “I am not being fair. I am taking so-and-so’s side because I love him/her more”. I am sure this is nothing new to mothers who have multiple children within short age gap. I think of the peaceful days where I can have 5-6 hours all to “myself” without kids. But then comes the painful thought of sending them to school and I start putting the pros and cons of home-ed and public school on two sides of my scales. And then I say “Have some sabr and these days will pass”. I am having more of these thoughts lately and praying Allah will guide me to what is good.

10 Creative Play ideas for kids 0-7

Bismillah,

Are you stuck for ideas to keep your children entertained and occupied on rainy days? Or perhaps you want to spend the school holidays in a more meaningful play which gives you a chance to bond closely with your child? I planned to write this post well before the holidays but as it happens so, it was meant to be published today. With few more days of remaining holidays, try some of these creative play activities with your children for hours of fun and bonding. No planning required and really does not take hours of preparation. You can stretch each one of these for hours if kids are still enjoying or keep as short as 5 minutes. Either way, it is fun, engaging and interactive for both you and your child.

1. Junk Modelling. We have a box where Safiyya collects all the packaging from everything and anything: cereal boxes, milk bottles, onion net bags etc. And although she makes things daily, occasionally we all sit together with our junk box, glue sticks, scissors and cello tape and everyone makes their own stuff. You can  your child in conversation: what are you making, how are you going to make it, why are you making etc? Good for oral development, verbal expression and logical thinking

 

2. Sensory Play session. Ok, this one is a bit messy but nevertheless doable. When we are out and about, my kids always collect things from nature: acorns, leaves, conkers, sticks, stones, marbles, flowers etc. Again, they keep these in their own plastic bags. They know they have to dry off leaves and flowers first before placing them in a plastic bag. That moment when you are so brave to embrace the mess and have some fun with kids, get these bags out, put some water, flour, paint, gluesticks, some Asian stick spices such as cinnamon sticks etc on the table and children will happily take the lead. This is their most favourite activity.

3. Play dough and Plasticine. No need to explain. All three of my children between the ages of 2.5-7 enjoy this for hours. Meanwhile, I can just get on with my own work. This activity requires the least supervision, unless you have really small child who may want to put it into his mouth. But Ibrahim has been playing as long as I remember and not once I caught him with a playdough in his mouth. But then again, his sisters are always there to help and watch him.

4. Display boards. Ask your child/children to make a display board for their own bedroom on a topic chosen by you or by themselves. If you have printed out the pictures and reminder words already, you can provide these and children will cut out, stick to a board and decorate. However, it is quite fun and allows children to use their own initiative even when you have not prepared anything. Just brainstorm the ideas for a theme/topic, agree on one mutually and give them the basic resources, cardboard box, colours, pencils, paint, coloured papers, scissors and pen. Sometimes just an A4 paper and pen would do too. They have to make a display board and hang on bedroom wall. You can change it monthly, bi-monthly etc.

5. Colouring/Painting/Drawing- no child can ever get bored of painting, right? The same in our household. They paint 3-4 times a week while colouring and drawing for hours is a daily thing.

6. Themed stamp sets/ Stencil sets. We have always had different stencil sets on different themes and kids always loved using them. I have recently bought a farm themed stamp set which has been a huge hit. Even I sit down stamping different characters and then colouring them in to make a farmyard or a house etc. I am planning on buying more stamp sets.

7. Constructive play session with wooden blocks/legos/foam blocks/jumbo threads etc. My children’s all time favourite as they never get tired of playing with these. Each time the box is out they invent a new game, alhamdulillah.

8. Story making and storytelling. You can have a set of pictures cut out of catalogs, newspapers and magazines. A child needs to make a sentence holding each picture at a time and the next sentence has to relate to the first. So, in a way, you are inventing a story about a set of random pictures taken from random places. Use their own pictures from when they were little to add a bit more fun. Excellent tool to develop creative writing skills as they will improve their composing and narration.

9. Indoor picnic. You have planned to take the kids out to the park or for a walk later but it keeps raining. Never mind, have an indoor picnic near the fire in your front room. Make it a teddy bear’s picnic just by inviting few of the kids’ favourite toys to an indoor picnic.

10. Role-play involving adults of the household. Sometimes when I am right in the middle of something very very urgent or important, such as baking breads for the coming week etc, Safiyya wants my attention and keeps winging. I have learned to quickly turn it into a role-play session where she becomes a mommy and I am her obedient daughter. I act as a daughter trying to help mom in baking and looking after the house. I try to display all the qualities I would like to see in her. Meanwhile, I am getting on with my work. This is only imaginary and involves a lot of talking on adults’ part. You may not always be up to it, but better than listening a child’s winging. This has worked on numerous occasions but sometimes children just want a cuddle. In that case, just sit down and give them a cuddle.

 

Teaching life skills and the first poem

Bismillah,

Well, first thing is first, big S is writing poems now. I don’t think it is particularly her hobby, interest or passion. And Allah knows best, I might be wrong… One day I just casually mentioned that some of her friends have been writing a poem and read 2 poems written by her friends to her. She wanted to prove that she could do it too and straight after got a pen and paper. And ten minutes later this poem was born. MashaAllah, I was well pleased and chuffed.

Books books are the best
They really put my brain to the test
After a good book I like to rest
Snuggled up in bed with a book on my chest
Then I fall asleep and have a nice dream
When I wake up how real it seems
That’s why I love books so much much
They really have that special touch.

We have been learning some life skills lately, mainly to do with character building. We have watched some of the My Life series on BBC to learn more about the difficulties and challenges disabled children go through in their lives. Last week they watched the film about Helen Keller called the Miracle Worker. Then we did some follow up activities.

First, I blindfolded the girls. They were so giddy and found it very strange. I cut on a plate some fruits and vegetables, namely: lemon, cucumber, pear, apple, tomatoes, banana. I gave them a piece of paper and a pen. I held up one piece of fruit/veg at a time and they had to smell each piece of fruit or veg. Using their sense of smell they both had to try and guess what the fruit/veg was. If they can’t guess it by smelling, then I put the fruit or veg in their mouth. After eating they had to write down the name of that fruit/veg on their piece of paper quietly, without shouting out the answer. That was so much fun for them. Little S has absolutely brilliant sense of smell. She could guess everything straight away by just smelling, even things like cucumber, tomatoes etc that has little smell. Big S could only guess after eating. But they both enjoyed writing the names of fruits/veggies blindfoldedly.  After the activity was over, they had a good laugh looking at their writing. We revised fruit/veg names in Arabic. Then I gave them one question “What is different in the life of a girl who can not see?” to write at least 3 sentence long answer. MashaAllah, they thought and came up with good thought-provoking answers.

Yesterday we watched the film again together since they asked for it. I could not watch it with them last week. I was able to explain how we should not discriminate against children with disabilities; how it is a test from Allah through which Allah will purify them; if those disable people remain patient then Allah will compensate for them in the HereAfter; how an illness can be a blessing sometimes. Again, we discussed Helen’s manners and why she acted in a way she did. Then we did follow up activity again.

First activity we did was on team-building. I folded up the girls’ left hands. They were given paper, straws and cello-tape. Using just their right hands, they were asked to make a bridge with paper, straw and cello-tape in 10 minutes. Big S does not like doing anything under time pressure. It really de-motivates her. Anyway, they took longer but nevertheless were able to work together to cut the tape, one holding the straw, one sticking etc. I kept saying if you argue on what to do next you will take forever. So, you both have to agree on something quickly, take one job each and do it. They both wanted to cut and were unable to cut single-handedly so one had to hold the tape and the other cut etc. Alhamdulillah, it was nice activity to make them work together.

Then I folded their right hands and they had to draw an object I shouted out with a left hand. Another fun activity as they have never used left hand to draw/write/paint etc and were finding it funny. Then they did some painting too.

And finally, they have learnt how to fill out a simple form. Being able to complete forms is one of the essential skills as this is something that they would need to do many times in the future. So, we had old child registration forms for RE which I gave a copy each and asked them to fill out. It was only a page long and very simple form. They read the sections: Child’s details, Parent’s details; Emergency contact details. They completed the forms and loved putting down their signatures at the bottom lol. In the process of writing they memorized my mobile number and email and revised our full home address.

So, we have been focusing on life-skills the past 2 weeks. I can’t help but think of doing less and less structured learning and doing more and more practical and hands-on activities together. Just like any other mom, I want them to enjoy learning. In order to accomplish this goal, I need to provide them with a set of activities that are appealing to their age and interest. Being able to finish 10 pages of worksheets and 1 unit of workbook does mean nothing to me at the moment. The point is that, what impact is that time spent doing worksheets leaving in their brain? What is the real outcome? Have they learnt anything worthwhile that would help them in the long run? That would help them to develop themselves? Watching this TED clip made me think all of this all over again

Hackschooling

Best educational toys for toddlers

Bismillah,

We had visitors over the weekend and a friend offered to take the girls for sleepover. So, I agreed and off they went. However, little I was looking everywhere for his sisters. He kept asking for them and was going nearly mental lol. So,Monday morning, first time in a long long time, I had to sit down and keep him occupied. We have played few of their hands-on toys to revise/learn some numeracy and literacy skills. So, I have decided to write a review for some of the best toys worth investing, in my opinion. I say in my opinion because this is purely based on our own experience. My kids loved these toys, spent hours with them and learnt a lot through playing them. So, here is my list of 6.

1. The Alphabet wooden blocks. Perfect for little hands to grab. You can use these in a number of ways to teach both the Arabic and English alphabet. It also has numbers on the other two sides. We usually make an Alphabet train by putting the blocks in the right Alphabetical order. Or mix up and ask a child to identify a particular letter you have been learning that week. Here is the link to this resource. I have bought ours when big S was born. After nearly 7 years of being used by 3 kids, it still has plenty of life left for baby S to enjoy when she is older inshaAllah

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2. The shapes wooden blocks. This is especially good for hand-eye coordination, to teach both the shapes and the colours. All my kids loved this. The one we had was from Asda Living store but this is easily available in ELC and ToysRus or online shops. This has 15 shaped wooden blocks, perfect for little toddler hands.

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3. Foam blocks. These are quite chunky in size but has been such a hit. Excellent to make any construction using varied shaped foam blocks, review shapes/colours whilst building things. Excellent to encourage creativity and hand-eye coordination. I got two large packs in car boot when big S was a baby. All 3 children still play with these daily

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4. Wooden blocks and pieces for constructing castles, houses, farms and just about anything you can imagine. These we bought recently after all the constructive materials have been such a hit in our household. My children love playing with legos, foam blocks, wooden blocks. We keep all of these in a large plastic box so they are all mixed up. They spend at least 2 hours a day playing with them. We had these wooden blocks with a trolley from ELC, again bought when big S was a baby. Since they play all the blocks really well and they play them a lot, we have decided to buy them a new addition to their constructive box. Like I said, it has been a hit since the pack had unusual items and pieces.

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This is what their houses look like when nearly finished. But, they keep changing and adding things forever.

5. A pack of animal figurine collection from ELC. We had mini wild animals and farm animals. Ooo, these are their favourite toys. They do a lot of role-play using these. They build a farm and put the farm animals on the farm. Or they build a house for a gazelle and pretend it is hiding from a lion etc. Awesome awesome recourse to encourage imagination, creativity, to teach the names of animals, the food chain (predator, prey) etc etc

6. Knob wooden puzzles. We these ones: Arabic alphabet, English alphabet, Arabic numbers, English numbers, Animals+Shapes. Again, these are good for fine motor-skills as child is required to hold it with 2-3 fingertips and hand-eye coordination. I bought the Arabic alphabet and Arabic number wooden puzzles from Emaan productions. The rest are easily available online or in kiddies’ shops. (Something very similar to these but not exactly the same. Any knob wooden puzzle with less image is fine. I prefer not to have the English transliteration under the Arabic letters btw)

All of these are worthwhile investment as Ibrahim is using them after his two elder sisters and they are perfectly fine for baby S to enjoy next year inshaAllah.

Extra curricular activities

Bismillah,

I am searching for some extra curricular activities to enrol the kids. I took the girls swimming on Saturday. It was the first time we went after 5-6 months. We all loved it so much. I have realized how much we all missed being in the pool and swimming. I want to do it weekly but the costs are so high at where we go. Then I thought I have to search for some cheaper swimming classes for the girls, some martial art classes for the elder three, or send them to local scouts groups or something. As I have not found anything yet, we have all been watching some children performing gymnastics videos on youtube and trying to exercise at home.

The thing is, we go RE (Arabic, Tajweed, Islamic Studies) classes 4:30-6:30 Monday-Friday and I see them as being important as they get some classroom experience and socializing with peers. And because I actually teach there, it is convenient for me to take the kids with me. So, anything that we do has to be before 4pm Monday-Friday or the weekend. And that means if we choose to attend something Mon-Fri then we have to dismiss the homeschool hours during that day as to get in and out of the house with 4 children is not easy. And I feel once we are out, even if it is just for one hour the whole day is gone. So, I am still in two minds about it.

They go to local park to ride their bikes once a week and get to play in garden a lot. Would it be enough sports or outdoor activity for the week though? I do believe it is important to keep them active and teach them some sports, especially swimming (both sunnah and life-saving skill). Then, I am stuck between finding the appropriate class where I can take/drop off all three, at the same time on the same day. The age and gender difference do not help hey!!! What do you do then? I wonder what most homeschoolers do? I would hate being in and out of the house trying to drop off/pick up all 4 kids from different extra curricular things all the time.

What do you do with your children? What kind of sports classes do they attend after school? Does it really help them with their performance, health etc? If so in what ways and what do you recommend?

 

Hajj Break

English: A picture of people performing (circu...

English: A picture of people performing (circumambulating) the . This picture taken from the gate of Abdul Aziz seems to divide the Kaaba and the minarets into mirror images of one another.

Bismillah,

We have resumed the classes last Tuesday the 29th October 2013 after our 3 week long break due being away to perform Hajj (seperate post is due on this later inshaAllah).

Alhamdulillah, the girls are doing surprisingly well. I had expected them to forget few things, to have meltdowns and emotional moments when we start the more structured classes at home. However, they are pretty much on the ball with every subject.

We are doing Qur’an hifdh, Qur’an reading and Qur’an tafseer daily. I don’t plan anything for these. I ask them to recite 5 random surahs from Juzz Amma. Then Sumayya reads 1 surah daily from 29th Juzz. I ask Safiyya to read 1-2 short surahs from the back. Sumayya did have 1-2 meltdowns initially. But after I have told them my Hajj stories and how everyone makes so much effort to do more ibadah over there in Mecca, she was a bit more motivated. So, after hifdh and tajweed, I read them the meanings/translation of 1 surah from Juzz Amma daily using the Uzbek translation of meanings of the Qur’an. Sumayya really wants to read that Qur’an book which is in Cyrillic alphabet so she keeps asking me to teach her how to read Russian sooner so she can read the Uzbek translation of Qur’an we have at home. I intend to start teaching Russian again starting from next week. Ibrahim started memorizing the last 3 surahs, like officially lol. He has his own turn after I finish with the girls and we do some listen+repeat session with him.

Then we do Math daily using MEP Year1 for Safiyya and MEP Year2 for Sumayya. Again,I am surprised how they have been able to pick up from where we left without any difficulty. Alhamdulillah, either Allah has made things really easy for them (and me) or sometimes having a long/relaxing break would help to reinstate their knowledge. Anyhow, this hajj break did all of us so much good, Alhamdulillah.

Then we do English daily. I am trying to get Safiyya read more. We went to the library last week where I encouraged Safiyya to choose her own books so we can read it together at bedtime. She usually chooses her own books but this time I did point out that she would read them to me and I would help with the words she gets stuck. I don’t know how/why she doesn’t like reading even though she can read. I guess it is in her nature. She does tons of DIY jobs daily at home. She is more hands-on/practical person. Anyway, I am going to encourage her to read more. We have even started Evan-Moor Grade 1 Science book with her so she can practise her reading by reading the instructions inside, doing the experiments and writing reports (not necessarily story books). We have covered the first 4 lessons and she does not seem to appreciate it much. We will see how it goes inshaAllah.

Sumayya is mashaAllah doing well in English. We do word definitions (I give her a list of words to write down the meanings), spelling, book-writing and use a dictionary. Last week I gave her the resources and asked her to write a book on how Allah created this world and everything in it. So, she what she made looked like an information booklet with 4 pages. There are some pictures on each page and she wrote her own sentences like “Allah created angels from light. Allah created jin from smoke of fire. Then Allah created Adam a.s. etc etc”. She makes grammatically correct sentences. I am planning to use sister Imaan’s topic-based lapbooking projects with Sumayya inshaAllah.

We have managed to do 2 Arabic sessions. We have revised all the vocabulary with Safiyya on Body Parts, Colours, Shapes, Animals, Fruits+Vegetables. She can even read those words, alhamdulillah.

We are on lesson 5 in Madina Arabic Reader Book 1 with Sumayya. Again, we have revised the vocabulary of lessons 1-4, practised reading with exercises inside and I do little tests on vocab and reading. We are not putting any emphasis on Arabic handwriting at the moment.

Generally speaking, I am pleased with their progress the past 2 weeks. We still do all our learning between 10am-12pm in the mornings. They have got the whole afternoon to play and until 10am in the mornings. We leave for work at 4 pm where they have Tajweed, Arabic and Islamic Studies 4:30-6:30pm and Free/Fun Playtime with peers 6:30-7:30pm. They are tired by the time we come home usually around 7:45pm. So, we come home and have something to eat (something light as they have full meal just before we leave the house at 4pm). All three are usually in bed by 8:30pm. Sometimes I read them a bedtime story, sometimes I tell them one of my interesting Hajj stories off the top of my head, sometimes I leave the lights on for 10 minutes so they can read 1-2 of their own books borrowed from the library.

They did get to play in the garden a lot the past 10 days even though the weather has been cold. And their dad took them to local playground twice. They love it outdoors, just like any other child I think. Sumayya wants to ride her bike but I am not sure when she will get the chance. We got them some warm winter boots today. I have got to think some other ways of keeping them occupied outside teaching hours. InshaAllah we are going to start to go to swimming on Saturday. And I will try to find one other extra curricular thing to do during the week, biithnillah.