Evaluation and reflection in home-education.

Bismillah,

SubhanAllah, it feels like ages ago since I last posted. And it feels like there is so much to write about. Our home-education journey is going well, alhamdulillah. The children I was teaching alongside my girls have now gone to pubic school and they are trying flexi-schooling. From what I have heard, that is going well, mashaAllah.

I did consider flexi-schooling for the girls but after much thought and consultation with family and other home-edders, we decided to continue educating them at home, inshaAllah. I do believe the hours spent at home are more effective as children finish structured/supervised learning in less than 2 hours and we have the whole day ahead to cook, clean, bake, read and play together.

I was reflecting a lot recently on our current home-education structure and what needs to be prioritized. I think talking to some home-edders with older children, reading some articles on play-based learning, the importance of not to start formal education till age 7 and milestones for different age groups- made me to stop and think. Also, there was an Islamic Parenting conference at Leeds Grand Mosque the weekend before Eid. MashaAllah, the course was so informative and inspiring. It made me think and adapt even more flexible, less structured, task-based way of teaching and doing things. Alhamdulillah.

I have been thinking on reviewing and re-evaluating the following steps inshaAllah

•Aims and objectives-the objectives of teaching/educating
•Content- lesson plans, methods and materials
•Organization- implementation, techniques
•Evaluation- review, feedback and reflection
I think as home-edder we constantly need to take time out to review and reflect our actions and home-edding structures and techniques. We have agreed with another home-edding mom to provide each other the  “reviewing and reflecting”  consultation service every two weeks inshaAllah. So, I am hoping the feedback we receive from each other will help us both improve, inshaAllah.
What are my aims and objectives of home-edding?
•Raise standards of achievement by offering my children an excellent learning experience
•Develop their character and instil Islamic values through Qur’an and hadith
•Bring the love of learning Islam into their life through interactive teaching methods
So, ultimately, I want my children to love Allah azza wa jaal and live by His will so they can attain good in this world and in the HereAfter, inshaAllah. Now, what are the steps that will help me to achieve this goal?
Firstly, constantly seek knowledge and improve my own relationship with Allah azza wa jaal. If I can not make learning compulsory on myself, I can not develop the love of learning in my children. They should see me: reading books, reading Qur’an daily, praying salah on time, practice the sunnah of the prophet saw in our household etc.
Secondly, what subjects am I currently teaching?
I was teaching Maths, English, Geography, Science, Islamic Studies, Tajweed, Qur’an Hifdh and Arabic language.
I have decided to make Qur’an Hifdh compulsory– we have to do it daily. And May Allah help us, it takes a huge amount of time and energy from all of us.
3 Priority subjects- Tajweed, Arabic Language and Islamic Studies.
Tajweed– usually done alongside our Qur’an hifdh sessions. So far, we have only used the traditional method of listen/repeat for tajweed. I listen to their recitation and make oral corrections when they pronounce the sound wrong. We have not introduced any of the tajweed rules (idgham, iqlab etc). To be honest, I am not confident myself as I have learned how to read Qur’an mainly by listening to sheikh and sisters’ reciting. Wherever I was not sure, I would go back and listen to sheikh’s recitation or stop and ask a sister when she is reciting etc. So, this is the same method I have used with children. Listening and oral correction of pronunciation. We also use the Ahsanul Qawaid book.
Arabic Language- I am using Gateway 1 with Safiyya and Gateway 2 with Sumayya. We also use Madinah Arabic 1 along with its supplementary materials. MashaAllah, both are doing well.
Islamic Studies– mixture of books and materials from the web. We have done About Me, My Five Senses, My Body, Seasons and Hajj theme packs from A Muslim Child is Born. MashaAllah, as usual sis um an Numan has put together such nice set of activities within Islamic framework and touch. We just loved all theme packs, alhamdulillah. We read tafseer of the surahs from Juzu Amma on Fridays. Read Islamic Story books, I have purchased some more from Islamic Foundation recently. We read and review the Tasheelul Aqaid and Hadith books. But it is mainly what practises we-parents reinforce at home that counts most towards their Islamic Studies understanding, inshaAllah. So, again, we parents and elders of the household should constantly reflect and review our own actions inshaAllah.
English- lots of reading together. Sumayya does lots of independent reading and Safiyya does guided reading. And I am still not planning to teach grammar/spelling until they are 7 years old. The conference I attended reassured so many things I have been thinking and reflecting on. And one of them was not to start any kind of formal education that might put child under pressure until 7. And focus more on life-skills and completing the tasks etc when home-edding.
To all mothers I say this from experience, I have not taught my children (currently aged 5 and 4)  any writing skills. All we did was tracing letters and writing as in holding the pen and do correct formation of letters independently. MashAllah, from what we can see our children do a lot of writing in different genres. They write stories- with correct sequencing of events that has beginning, middle and end. And in Sumayya’s case (currently aged 5), she makes full sentences in her stories, puts the intonation marks correctly, almost no spelling mistakes. I give all the credit to READING a lot as they both spend at least an hour a day just with books. So, if we want to improve their language skills then I think we should keep reading aloud to them from young age, reading together as they grow older and encourage independent reading the love of books from age 6-7 onwards. One way of doing this is, of course, by providing them with good-quality LIVING BOOKS. Regular trips to local libraries and purchasing more Islamic story books for home use will do the job inshaAllah.
So, our English lessons is so flexible, not-structured at all, based just on reading and fruitful discussions.
Math- Reviewing and reinforcing some of the concepts in MEP Year 1 with Sumayya. Reviewing numbers 10-20, colours, shapes, and some math concepts from MEP Reception with Safiyya. 1-2 a week, depending as and when we get time
We have given up the use of textbooks or any more formal learning on Geography, Science, History. We will do project-based practical things around the house, as and when we come across in books and on the net. Almost daily, they want to make something out of cardboard box, yoghurt pots, plant something etc. Recently, Sumayya made a perfume. She read the idea in one of the books we have. She got the empty jam jar, washed and dried. She collected different kinds of flower petals inside, alhamdulillah we have such variety of flowers in the garden. She put some water, closed the lid and left it for several days. When we opened the jar, the smell was so awesome. I almost could not believe as I only saw the final product and was very impressed by romantic smell of her perfume. She kept it and used it as perfume for several days.
And yesterday she put soil in small flower pot, again collected some fallen flower branches and “planted” them in her own way and brought it in to me. We left it in the garden.
Then she made a bird’s nest from box and put it in one of the bush’s in our front garden. She still loves birds and feeding them gives her such a joy.
Safiyya, too, is very creative and caring. She plays with strings, large beads, flash cards. But her favourite toy is Ibrahim. They play so nicely together and mashaAllah, Safiyya is so caring. She always acts like his little mommy, mashAllah.
Ibrahim (currently aged 16 months) is the smartest of all, lol. SubhanAllah, the minute he sees his sisters with books he gets some of his own books and sits down reading. He follows the script with his tiny-little-chubby fingers and pretends to be reading. He makes like a reading voice which makes us all laugh. When he sees his sisters writing, he gets pen and paper, starts scribbling. He can hold the pen correctly, to our astonishment. We all think he is just growing too quick and learning by just copying his sisters. He scribbles a lot on his legs, arms, knees too. He can point to all of his body-parts when we ask him. He can follow all the instructions/actions we ask him to do such as: Close the door, sit down, stand up, bring me a book, bring me a ball, raise your hand, put your feet down, bring me a toy etc.
He does animal voices for most animals like cat, dog, duck, mouse etc. When reading a book, he copies the actions of characters in pictures. If a bear is crying on certain page, he makes a sad face. If a bird is smiling on the next page he makes a happy face. He feeds himself, explains very well what he wants. He can say a lot of the words in his own vocabulary use: dad, grandma, bread, water, apple, melon, book, socks. And, finally, he understands almost anything we say to him, subhanAllah. Or, perhaps we understand him too well, lol.
He is so social and appears to be confident. We stayed for Eid breakfast at the masjid following the Eid prayer. He was lost in big hall several times because he wanders off, tries to talk to people, sit in their lap, physically turn their faces towards him with his hands if they are not looking and not concerned at all where mommy was or grandma was. He loves going outside, visiting neighbours and new people in our house.
Anyway, this was my reflection post reviewing aims/objectives and content of teaching/subjects. I will do another one on organization and evaluation inshaAllah when I get time. Hope you benefit from it and if you do then please share it, inshaAllah.
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Summery week

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, with all the back-to-school mood out in streets and shops, we also have started our official Year 1 with Sumayya and Reception year with Safiyya. Thanks to nice weather, the 1st week of home-schooling was really successful for us. We did all our studying out in the garden all week. Alhamdulillah, what a difference the sunshine makes to our lives, truly a blessing from God.

 

The subjects we are covering this year are: Qur’an reading, Qur’an hifdh, Tafseer, Prophets’ Stories/Islamic Studies, Arabic language, Maths, Geography, Science and Literacy (reading with Safiyya and mainly composing +writing for Sumayya)

We have so many books and resources at home that we have not been able to use or finish. I have bought some lovely resources over the years that we didn’t have a chance to use or finish. InshaAllah we will be using them and plus lots of other supplementary resources from various websites.

Sumayya can read the Qur’an and we continue using Ahsanul Qawaid with both the girls. We listen to Qur’an and the surahs we are trying to memorize daily, read from mus’haf and listen+repeat after sheikh for 30 mins each day. Our hifdh is very slow these days and I have let them skip some days the past 2 weeks. They have been out all day playing in the garden and I have been reluctant to call them as we don’t always get such sunny weather. When they finally come in, they are just so tired and unwilling to sit and do hifdh. But, we were able to resume our hifdh session today, alhamdulillah.

I was planning to buy Ad-duha mini tafseer books for them but then changed my mind. I read them from the translation of the Qur’an in Uzbek on Friday mornings. So, Friday morning I asked Safiyya to read me all the surahs she has memorized. After each surah, I read to her the meaning in Uzbek and explained what Allah azza wa jaal told us in that surah. She was so interested and asked so many questions, mashaAllah. And Sumayya demanded that I read to her the Uzbek translation of some of the longer surahs she has memorized. I read and explained the meaning of surah Tariq, Ghashiya, Fajr, A’laa to her and she loved it too. So, I thought, since I have the tafseer of Qur’an in Uzbek, I continue reading from the book I have at hand. Although it is not children’s tafseer, we can sit down and I can explain and answer their questions in as much detail as I can. We continue in this manner on Friday mornings until a change is required (they may get bored by monotonous/repetitive way of learning or they may not, Allah knows best and time shows)

Arabic- we have been reviewing and revising a lot of the vocab we have learned in the past. Safiyya is revising numbers, shapes and colours. Sumayya is trying to finish off her book my 100 words from the Qur’an. She does copywork for Arabic handwriting nearly daily. And dad reads to them lots of stories in Arabic. They haven’t watched anything lately in Arabic for listening comprehension.

 

Maths. In line with MEP Year 1, we are still learning equations re pure maths and doing lots of real-life problem-solving re use of money, calendar, clock etc. We make things together and use it in our problem-solving sessions. Last week we made a clock and I just ask questions from top of my head, questions like “I had to be at the bank at 10 am. The bus got late and it was 11.30 am when I got to the bank. How late was I?” and ask them use the hands of the clock and their brain to find out the answer. Or I tell them Sumayya was born in 2007 and Safiyya in 2008, so how older Sumayya is than Safiyya? Last week we played lots of shopping game to get their grips on money and calculations of coins. I bought ELC shopping game from a local charity shop a long time ago. MashaAllah, it has come in so handy now. So, usually someone is a shop keeper and they fought so much over being shop keeper. And shop keeper chooses a spot for her shop and arranges all the products and items in the shop. I and Safiyya come in to buy and we buy a pencil and a notebook. Shopkeeper values her own products. So, she says “9p for a pencil and 15p for a notebook please” I say, “how much altogether?” She says “24pence please” and I give her 25 pence so she has to return me 1pence. This shopping game has been really popular in our household lately, we played it with real fruits, vegs and other real items instead of cards.

Geography. Trying to finish off Evan-Moor Geography workbook. Last week learned about compass, 4 main directions, mapping (map symbols, map key). I find the book so engaging mashaAllah. For example, it asks kids to draw map symbols for certain things (library, lake, school etc) and make their own map using sample above etc. I feel I have learnt a lot about mapping too and Sumayya has been so busy mapping our house, garden, her bedroom etc. They also made their own compass, very basic one.

 

 

Science. Again, trying to finish off our Evan-Moor Science workbook. We covered shadows and dissolving last week. They learnt that when an object blocks the light- it makes a shadow. Shadows have been used to tell the time in the past because people used the sun and their shadows to find out salah times. We tested the shadows of different objects in the sun- a teddy, a spoon by holding them against the sunlight and did the activities in the book.

 

They did the experiment on dissolving one morning using water, salt, red paint and oil. They had to make a guess what dissolves and what doesnt, do the experiment and write a follow-up report. Alhamdulillah, it was a huge hit and they wanted to do it again and again.

 

 

 

 

So, at the end they wrote salt dissolved, paint dissolved but the oil did not get dissolved in water. It formed bubbles and stood on top.

This week they are learning about growth and change. More on this later inshaAllah.

Finally, they did All about Me book by Umm an Numan.  We only printed this off and they were able to finish it off all by themselves in a day. They were so eager to finish it and they keep asking me to print some more. Here are few sample pages from Safiyya’s book.

 

Safiyya’s reading and writing have really improved the past 2 weeks. She is now reading well mashaAllah and shows a lot more interest when we do things together. She will be 4 this October and I remember Sumayya too started reading just before she turned 4.

We were so happy to read Sumayya’s All About Me book when she finished. On the page where she was supposed to write her birthday, she did put the date and year, but also wrote “I dont have my birthday because Muslims dont celebrate their birthdays”. On another page there was a question on what is your most favourite book after Qur’an? She wrote real-life Islamic stories. She wrote “I want to be an author and illustrator, but I dont write pretend stories I write real-life Islamic stories”. We were so proud to read her statements, mashaAllah. May Allah keep all our children on the straight path till the end.

Growing kids

Bismillah,

We have been so busy, as usual, alhamdulillah. I might have told before that we live socially very demanding life- alhamdulillah. I always try to keep in close relationship with other muslim families we got to know over the past years, especially some of them have children around the same age as ours. I don’t want kids to miss out on “socializing” aspect, plus it gives them a chance to practise their English (as we only speak Uzbek at home). Sisters along with babies and toddlers and older siblings in and out of our house, we can feel the sense of belonging, the sense of community alhamdulillah. It is such a blessing to be surrounded in such company and our children always remind each other of Allah swt as. We really enjoy listening to their conversations whenever we get a chance. May Allah continue this friendship and protect and preserve our children for us and us for them.

I started teaching another 7 year old girl, alhamdulillah. So, there are usually 4-5 of them in our classroom (my two girls, 6 year old twins-a boy and a girl and 7 year old girl). Safiyya doesnt always stay with us, as she finds some of the activities too challenging. Whenever she distracts the class I send her out. Otherwise, she is always at the background and I try to provide some fidgety things- beads, sticks, pipe cleaners to keep her busy.

We always start with dhikr and make dua that Allah gives us all beneficial knowledge. They read 2-3 surahs each and a page from Ahsanul Qawaid daily. At the moment they are doing copywork from Ahsanul Qawaid, they copy 8-10 high frequency words from the Qur’an. Alhamdulillah, they are improving. We usually pray dhohr together.

Literacy. I use a lot of Islamic literature for our literacy activities. At story time we always choose one non Islamic and one Islamic story book to read. I read some pages and let kids read a page each in turn. I let Safiyya read some short words that she knows how to read. MashaAllah, she can read most 3 letter words. And she is more interested in books than ever before. Following the story time, I ask them do some copywork for their English handwriting. They usually copy the dua of a particular prophet from the story we read or ayah from the Qur’an or a hadith where the story is derived from. Alhamdulillah, I think copywriting the powerful messages sent through the Qur’an and Hadith will help them to understand the moral of the story better.

When we read the story of Hud a.s they copied the message Hud a.s delivered to His people.

And I also do a spelling check using the words from the story. Usually I choose between 6-8 words from the story and ask children to write those words without looking at the book. I will just say them outloud and they have to write the words down and number them. I check at the end if they have correct spelling. Then they have to copy the words in which they have made a spelling mistake.

This is the spelling test I did based on the book called The Way to Jannah by Learning Roots.

We also read the story of Ayyub a.s and kids copied his dua.

Sometimes when we read a story I ask them to summarise the story in 5-6 sentences, basically narration but very short narration. When I ask them to narrate they keep going on and on lol. Alhamdulillah, they have got really good memory so they keep telling me every detail. And we have a short dictation based on the story. I read out the sentences and they have to write down without looking at each other. MashaAllah, Sumayya’s spelling is the best in the group though she needs to improve her handwriting. So, this is an example of our dictation based on one of the stories we read about a little girl called Jane.

These are examples of Sumayya’s Arabic handwriting.

These are the kinds of activities we do regarding numeracy. Alhamdulillah, as they grow older it is becoming easier for me as they do lots of self-studying. I am enjoying teaching more and more.

Numeracy/Maths.

We have been continuing with MEP Year 1 with math. Alhamdulillah, I like this programme so much, math concepts introduced like a building blocks and slow pace. It is moving towards logical thinking and mental math now. Other children in the group use their fingers or math manipulatives and Sumayya said today “Before I used my fingers now I use just my own brain” lol. Alhamdulillah, she is excelling in math.

For example, I ask them to write an addition sum for the number 5, using any of the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And she wrote all the options such as 0+5=5; 1+4=5; 2+3=5; 3+2=5; 4+1=5 and finally 5+0=5. We do lots of equation based problem-solving such as you have 4 how many more shall I give you to make it 7. Or, I say Marjaan has 2 more than 3 apples but Sumayya has 3 less than 8. So, who has more? And she quickly said we have the same amount, calculating things in her head. Other kids do simple additions and subtractions really well but struggle a little bit when it comes to equation or problem solving. Anyway, I am really happy with MEP books and programme and inshaAllah continue using it.

Here are some sample pages of the MEP workbooks.

Safiyya was initially doing MEP Year 1 but she finds it really difficult now and so I have just been reviewing numbers 0-20, counting 0-20, Arabic numbers 0-10, colours and shapes in English/Uzbek/Arabic in addition to very basic addition. She is not yet ready to do subtractions and generally we use lots of math manipulatives with her. I have got the below poster from rahmah homeschool and thought it would be nice to have it on her bedroom wall and go over it every day before bed time inshaAllah.

We are also continuing with K12 reader programme to improve her handwriting and reading. Alhamdulillah, she finds these worksheets easy and enjoys them.

Geography

We do map drilling and use the globe every time we read a story. When we read the story of Musa a.s I ask them to show me Egypt from the map, and draw pretend line where he has travelled, find river Nile where his mother put him as a baby in the basket. When we read the story of Hud a.s they found out he was from Yemen and found Yemen on the globe. Prophet Ayyub a.s was from Syria and they found Syria. And I ask simple questions such as “Is Arabia on the east or west of Red Sea?” “Is Makkah on the north or south of Yemen?” And alhamdulillah they can answer well looking at the globe. They noted that lots of prophets was from Egypt, Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria  and surrounding area and asked me which prophet came from England. I didnt know any prophet from England so I said I dont know but Allah knows. Alhamdulillah, very curious children lol.

This is our Good Deeds Tree that hangs on our classroom wall. Whoever collects the most number of flowers every 4 weeks will get a prize inshaAllah.

And we mostly cook together with my girls. It gives me a chance to practise some of their vocab in Arabic. I keep asking for names of vegetables and fruits and some kitchen tools in Arabic and Sumayya answers while Safiyya mostly copies what she says. But, inshaAllah, she must be internalizing and learning.

Anyway, we have made a new dish yesterday called Maqlooba from an Arab cuisine. We tried it 1st time at our friend’s house in London 2 weeks ago. We all liked it. Me, Safiyya and Sumayya found the recipe on youtube and watched it a couple of times. And we made it together. They were very curious about this new dish. Alhamdulillah it was so yummy, the whole family enjoyed it, including little Ibrahim.

Finally we bought Ibrahim his 1st pair of shoes today. It was such a mission lol because his feet are so chubby. We got them measured in Clarks and his size was no less than 5 I. His sisters had size 5 H as 1st shoes so his feet must be even chubbier. Anyway, the guy said they wont do any shoes in size 5 I, 5 H was the biggest width they could provide and alhamdulillah we found a pair that fit his chubby feet. He is so much into books, just like his sisters, mashaAllah. He walks really fast now. He loves spending time outside, always asking us to take him out by holding one of us by hand and walking toward the door lol. He mimics and imitates most nursery rhymes, his favourite is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Wind the Bobbin Up. He loves when we sing it together and does the actions so well. We all call him sheikh lol. Potty training is going well, hope he will be fully out of nappy by 18 months inshaAllah.

Ibrahim loves playing with his sisters. They play run and catch, hide and seek and a ball. It has been a good couple of weeks since he started playing football. He doesnt play other babiesh ball games, but kicks the ball and runs after it. He is just so hilarious as he is so short and chubby running after football half of his size. He only turned 1 on Sunday but already plays football, mashaAllah. May Allah protect and preserve all our children and make them among the pious Muslims amin.

Post party

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, indeed all praise is due to Allah who has enabled us to organize a fabulous Qur’an party. And massive JazakAllah khayr to all sisters who helped me with cooking and cleaning. It was the best party we have hosted so far- everyone had so much fun. We had a bouncy castle on the day so kids had so much fun following their perfomance. We also played lots of party games with kids- they all loved it. Unfortunately, I didnt take any pictures on the day. These are some of the things we did on the day.

Qur’an posters- Children has a poster each hanging around their neck and one at a time came up the stage and told the audience what they have learnt about the Qur’an.

There were 9 kids who participated in the perfomance. Each coloured and decorated their own posters, then put two holes and tied a string at both sides to hold it around their necks.

Then they made this banner together. I got large piece of paper and wrote the words and they painted it.

They have also made the story of Nuh a.s poster as they were performing it on the day.

And a glimpse view from the stage. The picture is taken post party after I already took the banner and some other decoration items off the walls. But you can see the whole view of the poster of the story of Nuh a.s

For the performance, I told the story about a group of muslim boys and muslima girls who did lots of good deeds. And as I told the number of good deeds (learning Arabic language, praying salah, learning the Qur’an etc), they were performing the relevant nasheeds and actions at the background. Alhamdulillah it all went so nicely and everyone liked it so much : D

Also we asked 3 questions at the end: 1. What is the 1st surah in the Qur’an (the opening chapter)? And can you read it please? 2. What was the first ayah to be revealed and read it please? 3. What was the name of the angel who brought down the Qur’an to prophet Muhammad saw? And 3 girls won the prizes, mashaAllah.

And of course aunties got Sumayya and Safiyya lots of presents, including some really nice books and educational resources. May Allah reward them and accept their hasanah inshaAllah.

Abu Sumayya subscribed to Little Explorers magazine for the girls. We received the last 2 issues and alhamdulillah it is such a cool magazine for all little muslim/muslimah out there. I find it very engaging. Sumayya can read it all by herself but doesnt always want to do the activities inside. She was fascinated to find out that the size of Jebreel a.s would feel the space between heaven and earth and he alayhissalam had as many as 600 wings. She was asking me questions like “Mommy, would Jebreel a.s one wing fit into this room or bigger?”

Arabic. We have been reviewing vocab and books from Arabic come first. Sumayya can read them and tries to copywrite the sentences inside.

With Safiyya we do identifying the beginning and ending sound in Arabic words inside the books. For example, pointing to the word basal (onion) I ask her “what is the beginning sound in basal? write it down please”. She says “Baa” and writes it down. Another game we play is I shout out a word and she has to shout out the opposite. So, I say “naar” and she says “jannah”, I say “mushrik” she says “muslim” etc. Alhamdulillah, she is learning new words and though she is very lazy when it comes to handwriting, slowly slowly she is improving.

Sumayya finished her Scribe book and alhamdulillah has improved her Arabic handwriting. But, like Safiyya, she doesnt like or enjoy writing in Arabic so very often I almost have to force her so that she practices and doesnt forget.

Reading. Sumayya has been reading a lot of chapter books. We went to the library yesterday and took out so many lovely books. She has spent almost an entire day reading except where we did some baking and prayed dhohr together. I will soon do another post on reading and selecting chapter books for young readers. And I took many nice living books for Safiyya too, I thought she would be able to read them by herself as they are really easy. But she is too impatient to sit still and finish reading a whole book. She quickly looks through the pictures, reads odd words here and there and done. SubhanAllah, I hope and pray this will change with time.

Sumayya is learning how to use a dictionary these days. She reads texts well above her age and comes across lots of unknown vocab. She is always asking me what a certain word means and I always explain in great details with examples. I thought I would teach her how to use a dictionary, at least introduce her to dictionary so she can use it when I am not there. I gave her a text. She is familiar with the story but the text has been made a bit complicated. I asked her to underline all the words she doesnt know in the text which she did.

Then I gave her a children’s illustrated dictionary, I got it awhile ago in 2nd hand shop for some pennies. Explained that words come in alphabetical order and alhamdulillah she found a couple of word by herself and we looked up the rest together and discussed the meanings of those words she underlined.

Extra curricular activities. As usual, we get on with Qur’an hifdh, Qur’an reading and Arabic in the mornings. Then they get to watch something useful. Then we do short numeracy and literacy activities. We finish all our “formal” homeschool seesions between 10-12am daily. But, alhamdulillah do lots of informal learning on the go all day long. We did baking twice this week, one on Monday and another today. Alhamdulillah we all love baking together and it keeps them busy for ages. I enjoy discussing things with them whilst baking, asking them questions or telling them stories of when I was a child etc.

We have also been out and about to see friends these past few days. We went to see sis Rizwana on Monday afternoon. My husband took us all to the park on Tuesday. We went to see aunty Robina and the girls’ twin friends on Wednesday and went for a walk later in the afternoon. We went to visit another Uzbek family in this town yesterday. Every day they get out to visit someone and we have at least 1 visitor daily too. I honestly think they get to do a lot more socializing being at home.

Gardening and Baking and much more

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah finally we have been able to get some gardening done over the weekend.

I was ill for a couple of days last week so we all had 2-3 fun unschooling days where kids spent lots of time playing outside; doing literacy activities on starfalls and reading eggs; reading books and watching educational cartoons. I had much needed rest and finished the book I was reading “The Brothers Karamazov” by F. Dostoyevsky. I could spend the whole post writing a review on that book lol, but I wont. All I say is this, the author always amazes me with his characters, description of events and leaves me in awe and inspiration. A lot to reflect…

Usually I teach some other children on Saturdays. But I was teaching during the week due to school holidays last week and we have been rehearsing the children’s show to be played on Sumayya and Safiyya’s Qur’an party this Saturday inshaAllah. Kids will be performing some nasheeds about salah, telling us what they learnt about Qur’an and finally perform the story of Nuh a.s. They are all so excited about the event. Last week we made the poster of the story of Nuh a.s. Children all have lines to memorize and they chose to be either one of the Muslims who supported Nuh a.s or an animal. Sumayya is going to be a bunny rabbit and Safiyya is going to be a butterfly. We got their costumes yesterday, alhamdulillah. This week we will be making Qur’an posters to tell some fun facts about the Qur’an. I will share the pictures next week inshaAllah. I am teaching a group of 8 kids tomorrow and on Friday and inshaAllah their performance is around 2pm on Saturday. We are expecting some 60 people including both women and children. I am so thrilled, may Allah bless it inshaAllah.

We had our next Islamic Parenting circle last Saturday and it was about how to help a child memorize the Qur’an. Alhamdulillah it was useful to share tips and advice with other moms. I went to Being Me sisters conference in Manchester on Sunday. Alhamdulillah I got to see and listen to sisters Zohra Sarwari and Kafaya Abdussalam live. There were some other speakers whom I havent heard of before as well. MashaAllah sheikh Alaa Elsayed was really good. I had a good day to fill up my spiritual tank and came home calm and relaxed about wordly matters. Alhamdulillah.

And finally, my big news is we spent the whole Monday gardening. We cut the grass, cut some tress, pruning, planting some seeds and flowers etc. Alhamdulillah the girls took so much interest in gardening, they are always asking me which plants are weeds to be uprooted and which plants are planted so to be left etc. We had weeds growing all over the garden so had so much to do. We planted some gladiolus bulbs 2-3 weeks ago and mashaAllah they are coming out so nicely. And we also dug and made a patch to grow herbs. Today we planted basil, chives, coriander and parsley. I got girls both a watering can each and they are always busy watering our flowers and trees. I just can not wait till our herbs grow and we reap the harvest lol. Honestly so excited. I was planning to get some sunflower seeds, sweetcorn ad tomatoes too but the seeds were so expensive where I bought them. I need to find some cheap place to buy vegetable seeds. Sumayya cut the apples and took the apple seeds out and planted them as well. I am not actually sure if they will grow or not but she was so kin.

We baked apple pie and biscuits today and mashaAllah they always have a part to do. I believe they will learn just as much from observing too but I always give them their own tasks.

Ibrahim is walking and talking a lot more now. He loves outside in the garden and always pulling our hands towards the door or pointing that direction where we go out, subhanAllah. He listens to Qur’an with his sisters, reads books, plays with his toys, goes on the  swing, watches his own nursery rhymes on youtube etc. He often has a runny nose and one of the newest things he learnt is how to blow his own nose. If we give him a clean tissue paper and ask him to clean his nose, he actually puts it on his nose, blows his nose and wipes it away. I don’t know why but we all find it so so amusing. He is there, barely walking, cant talk but blowing his nose on a tissue paper just like adults. Usually small children hate when adults wipe their nose but he seems to love it and he often poses for his nose to be cleaned by one of us. He is also saying few more words in Uzbek.

We do Qur’an hifdh daily with both the girls. Then review Arabic vocab, read books etc. They get to watch something on youtube immediately after this- usually in the mornings. In the afternoons we do some literacy/numeracy activities. Usually I ask Sumayya to read a book then I choose 5-6 words from the book and just say them outloud one after the other. Sumayya has to write them- this is something we do for her spelling. MashaAllah I do nothing official or constructive for her spelling but she just seems to know how to spell most words simply by reading a lot of books. I guess a lot of exposure to print/books helps her to remember how words are spelled/written. We do quick and random addition/substraction sums and review numbers.

Safiyya is doing a workbook on phonics/handwriting/spelling. She does a page each a day but to be honest she is not so keen on workbooks. So, if she is not willing I try not to force her. We just keep revising numbers, colors, shapes, phonics etc.

Generally speaking we all are doing fine and our homeschooling tactics are developing day by day lol. Girls are always asking questions on Aqeedah and I am always busy answering them or trying to find the right answer. Mentally it is very draining…it gets so tiring to settle their fights etc. But, alhamdulillah I should not complain too much. I realize how good my girls are when I see some other kids behaving lol.

I have some really good ideas and inshaAllah if Allah blesses them all I am hoping to make them happen soon. InshaAllah

Summer at last!!!

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah we have been thoroughly enjoying fine summery weather for the past week. It is so hot and we have been so busy trying to make most out of this weather. I let the kids spend a great deal of time out in the garden. Here is the list of things we do in the garden

1. Qur’an hifdh
2. Painting
3. Collecting different types of leaves and see who has the most diverse collection
4. Collecting twigs, grass, wild flowers and think of a quick arts/crafts project to do
5. Read books on the trampoline
6. Enjoy ice lollies, milk lollies and homemade juice/smoothies on the benches
7. Have circle time and picnic
8. Praying asr salah together out in the garden
9.  Lie down and observe the sky and different shapes of clouds
10. Water fight with garden hose

We do baking a couple of times a week as usual, mostly we bake traditional uzbek somsa and bread.

Last week we did lots of arts/crafts. We planted some flowers in big flower pots and have been learning more about flowers. We learned that flowers need sunshine and water to grow, their growing cycle (from seed to flower and back to seed etc) and we have labelled all the flower parts as well. This is the 1st flower they made. It was very easy and fun. Let kids draw 4 outlines of their own hands, draw the nails for petals and get children to number the nails/petals (to practice numbers Sumayya wrote numbers 0-20 and Safiyya 0-10), arrange and stick in flowery position, cut out a circle from construction paper for the middle part (they can write their own names in the middle), used pipe cleaner as a stem and tissue paper as a leaf.

The second flower was to learn the flowers’ living cycle and flower parts. 1. Ask a child to draw outline of a flower on hard stock paper. I drew one on board and they copied. 2. Cut out a circle for the middle, we used a construction paper. 3. Cut out a stem and leaf from construction paper or any harder coloured paper. 4. Use folded tissue papers to fill in the petals. 5. Ask a child to write a sentence about flowers. 6. Label the flower parts (flower, petals, stem, leaf, root) and ask children to write or copy the words in the correct places.

We have also included small folding book on one corner of the paper. I used 1/4 of A4 paper folded in 4. They got to design and decorate the cover as you can see above. When it is opened I asked children to draw a picture of seeds on 1st page and write the word Seed, draw picture of root on 2nd page and write the word. And When it is opened fully draw the picture of a flower, write the word and colour in (1st it opens horizontally and 2nd vertically and so it is taller on last opening)

Safiyya’s flower

Arabic. We read Arabic story books, review the vocab, watch the prophets’ stories in Arabic and practice handwriting daily. Alhamdulillah it has been going well.

Sumayya’s writing

Safiyya’s writing

Reading and handwriting. Sumayya has been enjoying plenty of chapter books. She has been reading one of the Geronimo Stilton series. She finds the language a bit hard to understand, it is full of humour and witty language. Something good for a change but I wouldn’t spend money on such a book lol. Usually I just use Charlotte Mason’s narration method for reading comprehension. I wanted to see how Sumayya does the worksheets on reading comprehension and printed some pages from Have Fun Teaching’s Grade 1 level. She found them all much too easy and I was once again convinced that continuously using worksheets is boring and doesnt actually put child’s mind in touch with ideas presented in text. If child is asked to narrate, however, she will have to use her own imagination and understanding capability and extract which bits of the story she remembers most etc. It gives us parents a clue on their use of words, imagination, ideas and what interests them most etc.

I found nice handwriting and spelling curriculum recently (the link is given in useful websites page). But I didnt have time to print and organize all the materials yet. We have been using this Reading and Copywork a sister compiled some time ago. I downloaded it from homeschool forum and using it just now with Sumayya.

There are hadiths and verses from the Qur’an, as well as nice short stories to read and reflect. After reading child is asked to copywrite 1-2 sentences from the story. Sumayya loves this book, alhamdulillah

We discussed the above hadith with Sumayya after she read it. It left her thinking deep, then she wrote You will be with the one you love. I love Allah and His Messenger. 

This one was a verse from the Qur’an “Verily the promise of Allah is true”. Then she wrote a letter to her dad underneath that says “I love my daddy. He reads Arabic books to me. He buys me an ice cream. He takes me to the park. I *love sign* dady”. I was meant to send this to Father of the month competition over at Abi Homeschools too, but never got around it subhanAllah.

Safiyya has been doing lots of phonics activities. Like I said, she is a bit lazy to read, finds it a bit hard to concentrate and join the phonics. But she is too quick to do phonics related activities. Maybe I should try flashcards with her again inshaAllah.

Matching words that start with the same letter sounds

Identify and circle the beginning sound of each word

Practice handwriting and numbers.

Numeracy. We try to reinforce the concepts presented in MEP Year 1 with lots of easy but fun activities with Sumayya. For example we play one less/one more; two less/two more game. First, I shout out 5 numbers. She has to write down in silent what number is one more than each of those I shouted out, and what number is one less than each of those. So, if I shout out the numbers 9, 45, 87, 79, 18 She would have to write down one less numbers: 8, 44, 86, 78, 17. Then she would have to write down one more numbers: 10, 46, 88, 80, 19. Then I shout out another 5 numbers but this time she would have to write down 2 more and 2 less numbers than those I shout out. I check at the end and count how many ticks she collects. Write down Excellent if no mistakes. Simple but fun and easy. We play this game using numbers 0-100 and Alhamdulillah she does so well. Planning to do 3 more/3 less and 5 more/5 less games next week inshaAllah.

We do some worksheets with Safiyya. We review her numbers 0-20, both recognition and handwriting. Alhamdulillah she does well. We do lots of counting activities with her, keep reinforcing shapes and colors too. She has learned shapes, colours, numbers in Arabic too.

Apart from those we have been trying to spend more time outdoor. Last week we went to City Park to enjoy the fountains, to Lister Park to enjoy the playground and we went for a walk to Chellow Dene Reservoir, pictured below.

We also enjoyed having my friend Vanessa over from Scotland for 2 days. It was so nice to see both girls spending good time with their aunty and bonding well. Alhamdulillah.

Fresh beginnings

Bismillah,

I said I have been reviewing lots of methods and materials re our home education. Alhamdulillah, we are having much more productive days, with the blessing of Allah swt.

Aqeedah. The past weeks we have been learning more about Tawheed– tawheed rooboobiyyah, tawheed uloohiyya and tawheed of names and attributes of Allah swt. We did the following workbooks and we also did Outside My World workbook from um an Numan.

We did this workbook about planets last year with Sumayya but I dont think she appreciated it much or understood it better. So we did it again mashaAllah. Though this time Safiyya didnt show much interest.

Arabic.Alhamdulillah, we get to do little bit of Arabic language daily. We read short stories, revise the vocab, practise the handwriting and watch the stories of prophets’ in Arabic language.

Safiyya’s writing worksheets includes tracing and copywork. Sumayya’s writing- She gets to do some matching and joining the letters type of activity worksheets. These were her homeworks from Arabic School. Alhamdulillah she can read words without fatha, damma, kasra and she can make out a word from individual letters.

Literacy. Alhamdulillah we managed to go to the library last Thursday after a long break. They got to choose lots of books from new arrivals. Our local library won some kind of big funding and keeps receiving lots of new books. They are all so lovely- I found many great examples of Aesop’s Fables. Each story was made an individual short story book with reading comprehension worksheets inside. We loved it. Sumayya has been reading her new books. We have also got 2 chapter books- one is Dora- which I didn’t really like but she insisted. It was actually nice set of 6 stories inside. The other one is about a girl who thought her parents were always nagging her. She went to a parent swap shop and tried all sorts of other parents but in the end thought her parents were the best, even if they nagged them all the time. Sumayya didn’t finish this one yet but I read it whilst still in the library and really liked the content, storyline and everything and suggested that she should choose it. She looked through and happily agreed. So we are doing lots of reading with both Sumayya and Safiyya. Sometimes Sumayya gets to do some reading comprehension worksheets but mainly oral narration of the story followed by discussion is very fruitful, mashaAllah. And Safiyya is trying to read and decided to do this spare workbook I got in sale sometime ago. MashAllah she can read the standalone words inside and fill in the missing phonics.

Creativity. We have been doing a lot more painting than before. Following our bug-hunting fun, we decided to make ladybirds one day. I think it is ladybirds breeding season as we found so many of them each time we went to the park.

We get to do baking at least a couple of times a week. Girls both love playdough and always make their own bread if I am making bread or whatever I am making. And they get to eat their own as well.

They play different kinds of pretend games and role-plays in the garden. Sometimes Safiyya plays the mommy, sometimes Sumayya plays the mommy. Or they both become aunty X and become friends and invite each other over for a meal etc. They have each got a designated area for a house lol.

Qur’an-hifdh. Sumayya mainly revising Juzu Amma. Safiyya is still memorizing Qoria. And we have been planning the Qur’an party for sometime in the end of May inshaAllah.

Qur’an reading. We practise from Ahsanul Qawaid daily. We also did Surah Maun wordbook from um an Numan. MashaAllah Sumayya reading well now. And Safiyya still hard to cooperate when it comes reading in Arabic.

When they dont know what to do they always come and ask me for a coloring page. I have big pile of Islamic coloring pages printed for use on days when we feel bored etc. Kids love coloring any time though, alhamdulillah. I will give link to some really nice Islamic coloring workbooks inshaAllah.