News news news….

Assalamu alaykum,

We have so much news after our silence that prolonged over 2 months. Wierd, but I do not miss blogging though I believe it is a good opportunity for self-reflection in our home education. Naturally, we have a lot of news to share.

The kids are doing well, all three are developing mentally and spiritually alhamdulillah.

The first kind of big news is that I have started working since last October. It has now been 3 months and alhamdulillah Allah has made settling back to work so easy for me. An opportunity knocked the door and I grabbed it.

I work as Head of Education at Raising Explorers , an out of school Learning Academy. Coincidentally, we just happen to have very similar names but the organization was set up and name was chosen before I came to work. We are open Monday to Friday 4:30pm-8pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am-4pm, teaching children both academic and Islamic subjects. So, we offer classes in Tajweed/Qur’an, Arabic language, Islamic Studies as well as Maths, English, Science. We also offer recreation facilities, namely 2 games rooms equipped for that purpose.

I teach Islamic classes to 4-6 year olds, and English to older students. My job also involves the whole responsibility for what takes place in classrooms- designing/producing documents relating to curriculum development, syllabus design, classroom management, behaviour policy and then overlooking implementation of those policies and procedures in the classrooms.

Second, due to the arrival of cold weather, we were unable to keep the big house warm enough for all of us. So, we moved back to our 3 bed house back in December. Though our girls were much happy to be reunited with their old friends from neighbouring houses, they missed the massive gardens where they spent a lot of happy times. Especially climbing trees and doing lots of nature-exploring with various plants the garden hosted. SubhanAllah, how it was so nice and big and how I miss that garden too (not the house itself). But, deeply, I am so much happier in our smaller house where it is cosy and warm. So, we had to endure another round of packing, unpacking, settling etc. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it so easy for us this time.

I registered both of my girls for Islamic classes during the week at Raising Explorers. So, I usually take them with me to work. Safiyya is in my class. Although Sumayya is not yet 6, she attends Year 2 classes as she is a lot more advanced than most students in my class. Alhamdulillah, it took at least one of my fears with regards to “socializing” away since they get to do a lot of group work, pair work and general play with other children. The advantage for me is I work there which means I am always watching them. The children are all Muslims (we have non-Muslims attending academic subjects only) and the atmosphere is Islamic. Since they started attending classes at Raising Explorers last October, our home-ed journey took somewhat very relaxed and even more play-based tone. So, what do we do at home?

They get their daily structured/formal Tajweed/Qur’an, Arabic language and Islamic studies intake at Raising Explorers (RE). We do lots of practical activities at home.

First, the three of them PLAY a lot. They have been spending so much time with legos, both wooden and foam building blocks, small animal figurines I bought from ELC ages ago etc and use their imagination to such an extent that it amazes us. Naturally, Ibrahim copies his sisters in whatever they do and developed his motor-skills a lot with the use of those small objects/toys playing with his sisters. They are getting so creative that they started independently making stuff without my supervision. They decide to make a horse from cardboard, or candle holder from orange peels (Sumayya has read it in the book), or an owl from paper etc and get on with it based on their imagination. They know where to get cardboard, scissors, glue etc so when they have proposal for a project and present me their long-list needed items, I say go and get them from this and that cupboard. So, given the time and resources, their creativity is coming along.

They read a lot of books. 80% of books they read is in English. Last month I purchased 3 children’s novels for Sumayya. She took about 2 weeks to finish all three, they were about 200-250 pages each. Safiyya can read most words in stand-alone form but still has not read one whole book from beginning to end. I wonder sometimes at her reading: she chooses a book, opens a random page and reads 2-3 words and then in this manner goes backwards and forwards. But then, she is like that with everything else too. She wants to do things differently….it is hard to describe her care-free and relaxed nature. (The only time she is under pressure is when she is hungry lol)

Occasionally AbuSumayya reads to them one of their Arabic stories or I read to them one of their Russian books. I started reading very popular Russian stories about Doctor Aybolit at bed time. I read a chapter a day, translate and then do quick vocab check on animals (doctor treats animals and all stories in the book revolves around different types of animals). They love it. We read Uzbek books too but mainly fact-based information books. We do not have very engaging Uzbek story books collection yet.

We do Qur’an hifdh revision only. With Sumayya we revise 1/4 of Juzz Amma a day and she reads 1-2 pages from the Qur’an in her class. She started reading Qur’an from back to the front as she was familiar with many surahs in 29th Juzz and found it easier reading that way. Safiyya memorized surah Tiyn. She knows 15-16 surahs of by heart altogether and older students at RE find it really interesting. Most have limited themselves with 4 Quls, as they say themselves and never found motives to memorize more. Unfortunately, we dont listen to Qur’an as often as we did, or indeed, as long as we did in the past. We have to resume this, even though they are not memorizing much.

Writing, again they do a lot of writing activities independently, outside my supervision. Usually one of their role-play games require writing, such as writing prescription (doctor-doctor game), writing shopping list (mother and daughter game) or doing register (teacher-teacher game). Sumayya does not write as many stories as she used to do. But, she still writes a lot of letters to her aunties, uncles, grandma and grandpa back home. Even little Ibrahim has been trying to write the past 2 weeks, he has such a good grab of pen/pencils though does no meaningful writing yet.

Maths, they both finished 2 maths workbooks each very casually. Sumayya is confident in addition/substraction. She can add/subtract 2 digit numbers. I fear she has forgotten much of mental math activity she did in MEP YEAR1. We have to revise it sometime as I have not taught any new mental math topic since finishing the programme 3-4 months ago. In fact, I have not been able to teach any maths formally, i.e on a more structured format. They loved the workbooks and finished them by themselves. They would complete 2 pages a day and I checked the answers whilst cooking or doing some other jobs etc. Safiyya, mashaAllah, is doing basic addition/subtraction with smaller numbers (0-5) and often using her fingers. MashaAllah, she is very confident in maths these days.

Arabic, Sumayya is learning from Gateway to Arabic 2 and Madinah Arabic 1. Safiyya is learning how to read with Gateway to Arabic 1, Arabic handwriting book 2 (from Goodword books). Both of their Arabic is limited to Arabic classes at RE. We don’t do anything extra at home.

Islamic Studies, reading and talking. We read and reread prophets’s stories or other Islamic story books. I ask them to narrate for reading comprehension or do quick Q&A. We talk a lot about Islamic topics, subjects, heroes, places etc. And doing things together like reading Qur’an, occasionally praying together, making wudu, doing some charity work etc helps a lot.

Another good news is concerning Ibrahim. He started talking about a month ago and has been amusing us with his funny speech ever since. His sisters find his way of talking so funny as he pronounces words in such cute manner. He demands to be read even more. Sometimes with hours on end grandma sits and reads to him. He has been writing everywhere. He tries to help us clean when me and his sisters start tidying/cleaning the house. He loves outside and does not mind the cold at all. SubhanAllah, I just can not believe how fast he has grown. The only thing is, I think he misses us when we go to work. We come home around 8 pm by which time he will be asleep. So, I and the girls say goodbye to him at 4pm daily, only to see him the next morning. But, he spends the whole day running after his sisters and copying them in every thing they do. Alhamdulillah, it is so good they have each other to play with and to learn together. I can see it more now how and why only children differ from children who grow up with siblings….

My plans are to do more literacy/numeracy with all 3 at home. Ibrahim started learning phonics. I intend to do more guided-reading with Safiyya, more narration for Sumayya’s reading comprehension, dictation for spelling and story/letter writing for her grammar and creative writing. And we have  resume MEP programme with the girls, revise Year 1 for now inshaAllah.

May Allah make things easy for us.

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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.

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.

Eid Mubarak!!!

Bismillah,

 

Eid Mubarak my dear sisters. Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum- May Allah accept our humble efforts of worshipping Him, our siyaam and qiyaam and all the other good deeds we may have done for His pleasure only. SubhanAllah, one can feel how time if flying by especially in Ramadan. It only feels like yesterday, the day we started fasting and today we are already celebrating Eid ul Fitr of 2012. Another Ramadan is gone, another Eid is gone- may we become someone who is better in spirit and soul until the next one inshaAllah.

We have been so busy this Ramadan subhanAllah. We have hosted few iftaari gatherings in our house, attended as much as ten family iftaar dinners elsewhere. I think it was the 1st year for our girls to experience Ramadan practically- their efforts to fast, attending taraweeh prayers at the mosque and of course Ramadan camp where we learnt much about Ramadan, Fasting and Eid ul Fitr through practical workshops and hands on activities.

I have been much too busy to blog.  Re Ramadan camp, in Week 3 we learnt about Laylatul Qadr and and in Week 4 we learnt about Zakat al Fitr and Eid al Fitr in detail. We made lapbooks and bulletin boards (of which I still havent taken any pictures).

The girls have also finished Ramadan activity pack 1 from Smart Ark– mashAllah it was such a nice set of activities that kept them busy every day. We have continued our homeschooling in the mornings with variety of activities re numeracy and literacy.

Sumayya is always reading and writing, as usual. MashaAllah, I can see her character emerging and sometimes I can see bits of me in her subhanAllah. She is writing stories and illustrating them, training to be an author inshaAllah. We still use narration for reading comprehension but she is doing more written narration of most of the stories she reads by herself. I can’t believe how good her spelling is- she hardly ever makes a spelling mistakes. Some days we read a story at circle time- all children read a page each. Then we discuss the story and I do spelling test or dictation based on the story and mashaAllah she does really well. And when she decides to narrate the story in writing- she uses the correct grammar. It is almost like someone has taught her lots of grammar and spelling, mashaAllah. She still has some punctuation mistakes like full stops, commas etc. She also did lots of handwriting using Ramadan Copywork from TJ. MashaAllah, we both learnt so much from these 30 ayah/ahadith about Ramadan and fasting. She would read, copywrite the work and we would discuss the meaning daily.

Safiyya is trying to improve her handwriting too, she did some copywork with her sister but usually I have to push her a lot. I am taking things very easy and slow with her as she is very creative and imaginative but not so eager to do “academic work” lol. InshaAllah I am trying to say “yes” to her as often as I can. My problem with her is she is always cutting and sticking…. and collecting yoghurt pots, milk bottles and all sorts of other things in the house- Allah knows how much mess she makes a day and she does things that could drive any mother nearly mental lol. But, I know it is me, not her and this is what upsets me. The fact that I can not be patient enough, tolerant enough, and understanding enough with my growing young child….this is what upsets me. She is only turning 4 and yet I expect her to behave the same as her older sister….So, it is me, not SHE, who needs to change approaches and styles inshaAllah. I have been thinking a lot about her recently and I think 3 hour preschool thing in the afternoons would do her some good inshaAllah….

We finally finished MEPs Year 1 Practise Book b, so Year 1 is officially done. The past few weeks we learnt about calendar and money. They loved learning how to use a calendar. I ask them questions such as which month comes after which month, shortest month, longest months, winter/summer months. Also I ask them to circle a certain date on various different calendars (i. e find 10 January 2007) and find out which day of the week it was (i.e Mon, Tues, Wed). They have learnt shortened version of all months and weekdays. We also revised our knowledge of seasons and how times change in winter/summer (it gets dark quicker in winter etc). They had so much fun learning about how to use calendar- something practical and also a life skill…well kind of *smile*

Another skill they learnt is how to calculate the value of coins and how to use money in general. Again, I would give them a set of coins and ask them to find out who has got the most amount in value. They practised subtractions and additions using real pennies and 5 pence, 10 pence,20 pence coins. We played various different shopping games and there were some problem-solving activities provided in the book. Alhamdulillah, I am really happy for Sumayya’s mental math and problem-solving skills. MashaAllah, may Allah make it better and put into good use inshaAllah. She is quick at grasping the concept and thinking/analysing the problem.

With Safiyya, we still do counting 0-20 and basic addition with numbers 0-10. She is reading baby board books independently and joins in to read some words at circle time stories. I just let her lead when I sit with her and whatever she does I try to suggest few things and do lots of play-based activities. I hope someone of her age will soon join our homeschool and inshaAllah she can actually play with someone of her age without complaining…..

Re Qur’an hifdh Sumayya is learning surah Qiyamah and Safiyya is memorizing surah Zalzala. We talked a lot more about meanings/tafseer of ayah/surahs during Ramadan. I am hoping to buy ad Duha tafseer books for them inshaAllah. They are so interested to learn more about Allah swt and Jannah. InshaAllah, we will restart learning the 99 names of Allah and tafseer of smaller surahs more seriously now. They always keep asking me questions about Allah azza wa jal and Jannah, I figured out whatever we do during the day the subject of our conversations always lead to these two topics.

One day I said to Safiyya “You are always hungry” which is true lol. Every 30 minutes she keeps asking for food. She eats very little and very often. And she said

-“Allah is never hungry”
-I said “Yes true”.
-Allah never eats
-That’s right. Allah is free from all needs
-So, Allah is always fasting mommy?
-No, Allah doesnt fast because He does not need to fast….and here she was arguing with me
-But if He is never hungry and never eats then it must be He is fasting, mommy, yeah?

One day I read them the story of Sulayman a.s and Bilqis. How a queen had a beautiful throne but Sulayman alayhissalam’s jinn brought it to the prophet within blink of an eye. It was so beautiful etc then whilst discussing we were talking about Allah swt’s throne. And she asked me if Allah was sitting on his throne at that very moment. I said I don’t know. And she was asking me lots of other questions like whether Allah lives in Jannah or whether He swt moves etc. I genuinely can not answer some of their questions and really feel the need to study more about Aqidah and all the knowledge regarding HerAfter myself….inshaAllah. And Sumayya always rewrites some of the stories she has read with an Islamic twist, like she names the girl Aminah etc

They both are so creative, always making things and always coming up with really interesting ideas. Usually I don’t teach on Fridays. So, they take a notepad and pens/pencils and go out to *explore* the garden in which they spent at least 2-3 hours a day playing lol. They collect twigs, leaves, flowers, pull out the weeds, write some interesting notes in their notepad. They day before Eid I was busy in the kitchen and I send them out. Sumayya did maths work on her own, she wrote counting by 3s and by 5s. Then she wrote odd/even numbers 0-20, wrote some random addition and subtraction sums to herself to solve etc. Then she explored the weather- she said. She listed all sorts of weather conditions: windy, cloudy, sunny, rainy, snowy and ticked cloudy (it was like a chart). Then she wrote the ground was wet and therefore they would have to wear something long sleeved for Eid lol. It was nice cute chart with her writing and ticks. And she has made so many presents for her dad for when he returned from i’tikaaf. Every day she would spent good couple of hours writing letters to her father and making various different gifts/presents (again I never took pictures of these but inshaAllah intend to as we have still got the collection lol)

All-in-all, busy Ramadan for us. May the Controller of the Hearts make our souls firm and obedient in our deen amin.

 

Character building with the Qur’an

Bismillah,

I cant believe how fast the days are flying by and it is only 16 or so days left till Ramadan. SubhanAllah…

I would like to update on the hifdh of Qur’an inshaAllah.

We try to listen to the Qur’an a couple of times a day. We do the revision session as usual once a day when I ask the girls both read me 5 random surahs I choose off their memory. Safiyya is memorizing surah Zalzala at the moment and Sumayya is just reviewing Juzz Amma. She can read a lot of the surahs in the next Juzz but has not yet started memorizing. She keeps reading surah Mursalat after our Qur’an revision session. She listens to a new surah a few times and she can read it from mus”haf on her own mashaAllah.

A lot of the moms complain to me how hard it is to sit their children and make them listen and repeat when it comes to memorizing the Quran.

Q: How can I motivate my child to memorize the Qur’an?

This was my answer:

1. We- the moms have to make the effort to memorize new surah alongside with our children. They should see us listening to the surah we want to memorize, repeat after the sheikh, read that surah at least a couple of times a day outloud. When we set that example, they will be motivated to copy us inshaAllah.

2. We should make the effort to make the Qur’an a living/applicable thing in our lives. We try to talk about Qur’an as much as possible in our household. When we ask children to do something or to become something we should always try to reference it from the Qur’an. For example, when we ask them to be kind, we can remind that Allah has asked the believer to be kind in the Qur’an (you can search and find specific ayah for older children). When we see older siblings making little ones upset we often ask them to say sorry. Again, we should always remind that when we hurt someone we should first ask forgiveness of that person then we should seek forgiveness of Allah swt. When we ask them to be gentle, sharing, humble and not to show off- all these things can be referenced from the Qur’an. We should make our children understand from young age that it is not we who want them to behave in certain way but it is Allah the Almighty, who created all of us from nothing and gave us everything we need- He wants us to become and behave that way and He told us so in the Qur’an. These character building statements with Qur’anic backing can be explained on the go all day long. We don’t need to sit children down to explain these. Make use of time during school run or whilst cooking and trigger some conversation about what Allah azza wa jal told us in the Qur’an. When kids don’t listen to me I always say “Allah said in the Qur’an “Worship me and obey your parents”. So, if you want Allah to be happy with you you can do as I said “.

3. One of the things my girls ask every time we make dua is going to the highest level of Jannah, inshaAllah. Whenever they feel reluctant to do the Qur’an hifdh- I ask them “So, how are you going to go to the highest level of Jannah without learning much of the Qur’an. Remember, Allah loves those who learn and live the Qur’an. So, Allah is watching you now to see if you can do it or not”. MashaAllah this works perfectly well with Sumayya as she is getting older she has more understanding of things relating to HereAfter.

4. Treats- we have no TV but we use watching some educational cartoons on youtube as a treat for learning/memorizing the Qur’an. For those who have/watch TV- it should be limited and used as a treat only. We can use Qur’an charts- where a child collects a star for each new surah learnt and parents can buy something for every 10 stars. The prize can be a real simple toy or some educational resource, a book etc. Something useful. We can also give them sweets and candies for new surah learnt. We have always restricted sweet things in our family diet (and really I dont have a sweet tooth. I can not each store bought chocolates, candies, choc-chip biscuits etc) So, what our girls receive is usually something very little- it could be 1/4 of a twix bar and they are over the moon lol. But I say to them, chocolates/sweets are unhealthy in this world only. But, in Jannah, everything is healthy. They can have as many lolly pops and chocolates as they wish for and it never affects their teeth or tummy. I say “Even if you dont feel like eating a meal and have 10 lollies a day, still your teeth don’t go black. Because everything is pure in Jannah and nothing makes you poorly there”. They love it when I talk like this about Jannah, alhamdulillah. Also, we can organize Qur’an parties when they memorize a certain juzz or a number of surahs. We also organize trips for our girls for memorizing the Qur’an and alhamdulillah they look forward to trips and try to memorize quickly.

5. Keep listening to Qur’an as many times during the day as possible. Whilst travelling in the car, whilst cooking a meal, whilst having breakfast etc. Most people have smart phones these days and some really cool apps. So, we can utilize the technology we have at hand and make use of every spare minute we have inshaAllah. If we get our children’s ear used to the sounds of the Qur’an recitation, they should not feel as reluctant when it comes to memorizing. It is completely foreign language to children, they don’t read, write, speak or even hear the Arabic language. So, we can imagine how hard it must be for them to memorize something in a language that their ears never heard of. I think it helps to train their ears by listening to the recitation of Qur’an from as young as newborn babies (or even in pregnancy).

6. We have “It is Qur’an time with mommy” every day. We all should make it a habit inshaAllah.  Time is crucial factor both for  parents and children. We parents should be able to choose a time that works for both inshaAllah and revise all the surahs they have memorized so far. We can make them read or listen/repeat the surah they are on at least 3 times (depending which method is being used. Older children memorize by reading a surah many times but younger ones memorize by listening and repeating. Personally, I prefer listen/repeat method as it is traditional and you are more likely to get the sounds right). Anyway, when we establish “Qur’an time with mommy” as a habit, then we don’t need to drag them/ nag them or spend long time trying to make them sit and do the hifdh. Establishing a habit in itself is an automatic motivation inshaAllah.

7. Aqeedah- we should keep working on their understanding of Aqeedah. We should establish the firm knowledge of Allah, the oneness of Allah and meanings of names of Allah swt. We should teach all the basic knowledge relating to HereAfter from a very young age and as they grow older learn in more details. Few things we have to develop strong awareness in children are: tawheed (all 3 aspects of tawheed) the pillars of imaan (belief in Allah, angels, prophets, books, the day of Judgement and Qadar). In general terms, this is what we always say to our children at home “We all have a book called Illiyun. We all have angels on our sides called Kiraman Katibeen. These angels write down our good deeds and bad deeds. Allah swt will count on the day of Judgement all our deeds to see which one is more. If we have lots of good deeds than Allah will reward us with Jannah inshaAllah”. As well as treating our children with trips, sweets or Qur’an parties from time to time, we should keep reminding them that the greatest reward is with Allah swt and in Jannah.

I was memorizing surah Qiyamah some time ago. As I memorized I was listening to the tafseer of the surah as well. I said to Sumayya “You know on the day of Judgement Allah will destroy everything. All the strong mountains will be flying in the sky. All the trees will be uprooted and strong tall building will crumble. Do you think it will be dark or clear on that day. That’s right, everywhere will be dark. But, the prophet saw said those who memorize and learn the Qur’an will have light on their face. So, if you learn and live the Qur’an, you can see where you are going. Everywhere will be dark but inshaAllah you can find your way” She was really impressed by this fact and also learning about the description of the day of Judgement. So, I thought developing their knowledge of the HereAfter would help them to feel motivated to learn the Qur’an.

8. Finally, we should all be making dua constantly that Allah swt makes this journey easy both for ourselves and our children. Allah is All Knowing, All Watching, All Seeing, The Controller of the Hearts and He can make anything possible. We are only asked to do what we can do inshaAllah.

Time is precious

Bismillah,

We all know that well rounded education involves doing as much extra-curricular and non-academic activities as learning academic subjects inside classroom. In fact, I would really stress the importance of the 1st one for the first 5-7 years of children’s lives. The thing they appreciate most is the time spent with them and not just around them.

Alhamdulillah, due to nice weather (well, on and off) we have been spending a lot of time outside playing and learning together. It is amazing how much you can do in a couple of hours with children. But also I learn so much about the scope of my children’s thinking and imagination. I love having conversations with them whilst we play. I was telling them how much I miss my mom and this is the conversation we had with Safiyya.
-I wish I was sat in that air plane flying to Uzbekistan. Because I miss my mommy, I said

-So, do you really love your mom then?, she asked

-Of course I love her. She carried me in her tummy. And then I came out. She fed me with her milk and gave me a bath. She cooked for me and bought me clothes and sent me to school. She read me nice stories at bed time.
-Did she go to hospital when you came out of her tummy (she cuts me short. I could tell she was thinking something)
-Yes, she did go to hospital to have me
-Did she cry then?
-I don’t know. I think she did.
-Oh, so grandma didn’t get a sticker for being brave then. Tell her not to cry next time, doctors will give her a nice sticker (lol advice from 3,5 year old to my 65 year old mom who resides back in Uzb)

There are so many things they just say so randomly and so casually that make us laugh, think, reflect and ponder.

So, anyway, I think all mothers can relate to what I am trying to say here. And this is what we did today in the garden, spent an entire afternoon doing nothing but just being there with my children at such precious moments as above. Alhamdulillah.

1. Played hide and seek

2. Prayed salah

3. Played quick run and catch

4. Jumped on the trampoline

5. I read them story books on the trampoline

6. We pretended we were building a tent using the space underneath the trampoline and were playing there

7. Rolled on the grass and sang songs

8. Watered the herbs we planted 2 weeks ago. We planted basil, coriander, parsley and chives. They are just coming out

9. Observed the honey bees on our flowers and talked about them

10. Picked up the fallen flowers and talked about their parts- this is stalk, this is petal, this is where the honey bees go in to collect nectar etc

11. Had a picnic with fruits and little bit of ice cream on the trampoline

12. Listened to Qur’an on my mobile whilst we were sat on the trampoline

13. The girls took turns to recite 5 surah each, I recorded them and we played back to watch how they did. They always love it mashaAllah

14. We were lying down watching the clouds in the sky and talking about how they moved. They spotted 3 air planes, and spotted one cloud looking like a shark

15. I said to them “I wish I was sat in that air plane flying to Uzbekistan. Because I miss my mommy” and told them stories of my childhood.

Alhamdulillah, we had really good 3 hours studying inside (in our classroom) in the morning. We had 2 kids (6 and 7 year old) to join our homeschool session today.

Structuring our homeschool lessons.

We always start with circle time where we do dhikr and make dua “Rabbi Zidni 3Ilma” following which I also ask kids what they would like to ask Allah swt. They always ask something relating to Jannah, MashaAllah. We keep talking about this concept and they know the best of everything (flowers, sweets, bouncy castles, clothes, castles, swimming pools) are in Jannah. Today, Sumayya said “I want to go to Jannah before anyone else”. And I said “Well, you have to be doing lots of good deeds before anyone else then” *smile*.

We did Qur’an hifdh revision- I ask each child to recite 3 random surahs I choose. They have to collect 3 ticks for reciting each surah nicely. And for each 3 ticks they get one flower with message “Excellent Qur’an recitation” to stick on our Good Deeds Tree that hangs on our classroom wall.

Qur’an reading- we continue reading 1-2 pages a day from Ahsanul Qawaid. Alhamdulillah, Safiyya is just starting to read and Sumayya can read very easily.

Arabic handwriting- I wrote down 5 Arabic words on blackboard and asked children to copy the words into their notebooks.

We all prayed 2 rakaah salah together. Again we make dhikr and dua at the end.

At story time I read them a short chapter book. It was Albert’s Raccoon by Karen Wallace. Well, it was a rather long story but they all loved it. And we discussed the content. “Things have ended nicely after all but Albert really should have listened to his mom and should let the raccoon go”- D commented lol. Well, a great read for young readers.

Spelling- We did some spelling using the words in the story. After I read them a story they have a look/read through the book themselves. I choose 5 random words from the story or sometimes 3 short sentences. I read them out and children have to write the words in their notebooks. Alhamdulillah, Sumayya’s spelling is so good. And I sound out the letters for Safiyya.

Then they had snacks and break where I quickly cooked lunch.

After break we did Reading, Reading comprehension and practiced cursive handwriting. I started using this program as Safiyya and other 2 kids at very early stage of reading. It is perfect for Safiyya’s level and she can actually read and writes by herself. I try not to use a lot of worksheets but sometimes they seem to love as they feel they are making a quick progress. But, also we can adjust and make this program a bit more appealing using the high-frequency words in our daily vocab (using words like salah, dhikr, dua, Ramadan, names of Islamic months, names of prophets, names of Allah swt on spelling lists etc) and do some arts/crafts to go with each worksheet (making a cat/painting a rat on 1st week). So, I think we can have fun lessons using a little bit of everything- some living books followed by some reading worksheets, narration+reading comprehension worksheets etc.

Math- I didn’t know MEP year 1 has a practice book 2. I thought we had finished it but I checked back and it appears Year 1 has 2 math practice books. So, we will continue with the 2nd book from Year 1 MEP program inshaAllah. And we did 2 pages today. We had a really long break with girls on math as I couldn’t find relevant materials but also was focusing on other subjects. They seem to have forgotten some of the things we had learnt previously- mainly equations and substractions. Proves the fact that children learn quickly but also forget quick when we don’t utilize that knowledge or don’t review it. So, we will be doing some math daily inshaAllah. Again I use some math manipulatives and hands on activities to go with MEP.

Alhamdulillah for another productive day. May Allah swt accept every little thing we do for His sake and make our tomorrow even better and more productive, ameen.

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.