Weekend School

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we have started our Raising Sahabas weekend programme in Riyadh. This year we have Year 3/4 group and Year 4/5 group and studying core subjects Maths, English and Science according to British Curriculum. I will be posting weekly updates here inshaAllah as much as I can.

Week one.

English

  • LO- Reading Comprehension in a story poem. Children read the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear and answered questions. We did short dictation for spelling and studied Adjectives. Year 4/5 group studied comparatives and the use of adjectives in a descriptive writing. They had worksheets to complete in pairs and when they finished they did peer-checking (marked each other’s work) Each group had a list of nouns. In pairs, they had to list as many adjectives as they can think of for each noun. We also covered how synonym adjectives used together to create more effect (i.e tiny little puppy)

Maths

  • Problem Solving. I found this really good resource online full of problem-solving activities. Each lesson we start with circle time where they have to solve 2-3 problems in groups. So the problems they had to solve last weekend
    1. Count the number of squares in this shape. Most answered 4 but the answer is 5. Second, move two of the sticks to make 6 number of squares. Only two sticks and two moves allowed.

solution

I gave them out cards numbered 1-9 and they had to be divided into three groups in such a way that the total sum adds up to 15 in each group. MashaAllah, they solved this problem in two different ways.

Third task was to guess the number. It is an odd number between 0-50, has 2 digits, the difference between the numbers 1 and the total sum of 2 digits is 5. MashaAllah, one student guessed the number 23 straight away.
Then we did geometry. Year 3/4 group worked on identifying the line of symmetry in different shapes. Year 4/5 group learning about regular and irregular polygons; measuring angles and finding the missing angle in any given shape.

Science

We learnt about circuits and they enjoyed building circuits. They read through the information, followed the instructions and worked on various projects making parallel and series circuits using a bulb, an alarm, a fan etc.

Alhamdulillah, kids had so much fun building circuits. Looking forward to next week!

Russian school and British gymnastics

Bismillah,

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

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

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

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

Safiyya can read, tries to copywrite and learns vocab.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back to home-school 2013

Bismillah,

This is my very late post on our back-to-school life.

The thing is, I have not been able to do much planning for this academic year. With the birth of a baby in the summer holidays; followed by Ramadan (I was fasting as well as fully breastfeeding the baby); followed by me going back to work; followed by preparations for Hajj (inshaAllah we are off to Hajj in 2 weeks) there just seems to be not enough time to plan and teach everything I want to. So the bad news is that we are not as organized for this year. However, the good news is that I am totally loving it! LOL

We tend to go more towards unschooling approach, taking each day at a time, trying to follow the flow of life, let the kids dictate what they want to do each day and follow their lead. The number of articles I have been reading and the past few months experience teaching and working with parents have somewhat made me more relaxed towards my children’s daily routine. The fact that big S is still not yet fully 7 contributes to this fact of me “chilling out”and “taking things easy”. I keep telling myself that we will start our more regimented/schedule based lessons when they are older. I will be spending more time “teaching on the table” at least after a child turns 7. Of course, I am still teaching all day long on the go, very informal kind of teaching where I have to answer their 101 questions on various topics. Sometimes I just say to them “Go and do your own research on google” lol. And they just love it since they get to use the laptop.

Anyway, we plan and Allah plans and in the end He knows best. Here is what I have planned and what they have been doing this school year so far.

English– Big S is always reading. We are all concerned that she is reading too much and missing on some life-skills she could be learning. Sometimes she spends 6-7 hours in her room reading whereas her little sister spends just as much time helping me around the house by tidying up, polishing, arranging the books neatly on shelves, arranging everything in cupboards around the kitchen, peeling and washing the vegetables I need for today’s cooking etc.

I am trying to get Sumayya to narrate more and Alhamdulillah she is just coming out of her shell. She still does not acquire the skills to narrate the stories she has read in nice chronological order of events, using rich vocabulary to get consistent, smooth flow of events happened in the story. But at this point I am happy with what she can do in narration.

Her composition skills are just coming along and we still practise story-writing. I give a topic to write a story or the first 1-2 sentences and ask her to finish off the story. She writes short stories quite comfortably. I correct her spelling and grammar mistakes. It always strucks me how little grammar or spelling mistakes she makes, even though I have never taught her any grammar and we have never followed any spelling programmes. Alhamdulillah, the magic of reading a lot!

Safiyya can now read short story books. But, the truth is she does not enjoy reading. It is a struggle for her to finish even one book from beginning till end. I remember at her age Sumayya would read as many as 10 such books a day. But then again, Safiyya has excellent narration skills. She mostly analyses the illustrations and comes up with her own story. And she tells me any story so nicely. Her imagination is just awesome and she is way too creative for her age. Alhamdulillah.

We wont do any official writing with her but she is always writing me letters, making cards with messages inside, drawing pictures and writing captions etc. Again, I am happy with her literacy skills at this point.

Ibrahim has been going to Raising Explorers with us since August. Alhamdulillah, he is very social even though he has very limited vocab in English language. He communicates mainly in Uzbek and still learning English. We will start the phonics when I think he is ready. He tries to write when his sisters are writing and has good hand-eye coordination.

Maths- Big S finished MEPs Year 1 and we have mainly been revising the topics. I have to say that this is very challenging Maths programme for both of us. I have tried to teach some of the things inside to other kids at work and most of them were blown away. I have reviewed some other Maths programmes recently, namely Singapore Maths, Kumon Maths and in the end decided to stick to MEPs for a number of reasons (explaining them would require another post). So, inshaAllah we shall proceed onto MEPs YEAR 2 with big S next week.

Little S did MEPs Year 1 up to number rounds up to 10. She is very good in Maths. Indeed kids come with different packages of skills. Sumayya is good at English/literacy and a bit weaker in Maths. Safiyya is weak in English but good at Maths. So, alhamdulillah she will continue with MEPs Year 1 (although she is officially reception kid in the UK for this academic year)

We have just started learning shapes, colours, numbers 0-10 with Ibrahim. We use shape sorters, coloured foam and wooden building blocks, flashcards, coloured stacking cups to learn those. (He is now 2 btw)

Science- nothing formal, no workbooks, no special programmes, except watching and observing things/movements around us and learning about them.

Qur’an– my aim for this Year for big S is start reading the Qur’an cover-to-cover from back to front inshaAllah. We still mainly focus on hifdh and I ask her to read a random page or  a random surah here and there. She can read alhamdulillah. Still using Madinah Arabic Book 1 in Arabic.

Little S is still on hifdh. She has a long way to finish Juzz Amma inshaAllah. She can read a stand alone words from various surahs but can not read on mus’haf as reading is not her thing. Still using Gateway to Arabic Book 1 in Arabic.

Islamic Studies- again very much hands-on approach. We talk, discuss, explain all Islamic concepts, rituals, practices all day long; we try to pray together; we try to read Qur’an daily; we try to say all our daily duas; make dhikr and dua etc. We read books and stories. They both won an Islamic activity book each at Raising Explorers Eid party recently and have been trying to complete them.

Sumayya was awarded as one of the best achieving students in her class. She is half way through this book

Safiyya won this book in the Qur’an competition for her age group

InshaAllah, Sumayya will start attending Maths/English/Science classes at Raising Explorers from next Saturday. She will be attending an hour of each class on Saturdays only, a total of 3 hours, Safiyya is too young to attend those classes yet. We will carry on at home.

My rough scheduling is that I am aiming to have at least 4 hours of Maths a week with each child, 4 hours of Qur’an, 3 hours of English inshaAllah.

Play

Bismillah,

Enjoying a quiet afternoon all by myself I thought I might as well post. Alhamdulillah, it has been nice outside today. Husband took big S and little I swimming. Little S has not been feeling well the past 2-3 days with on-off temperature and cough. So she had to stay behind. After a little bit of cry she quickly fell asleep on the sofa.

We have generally enjoyed quite a few sunny days over the past two weeks. As such, children have been spending a great deal of time outside, playing, planting, digging, cycling, watering flowers, collecting bugs and getting up to all sort of messy things.

One big news since I last posted is that big S has taught herself how to cycle on big bicycle. She had really old bike which her dad got her in car boot last year. She was riding it so much and poor thing broke. We got her a new bike 2 weeks ago. MashaAllah, we have been going to Lister park 2-3 times a week to cycle. Usually kids cycle and I just go for long walks. Now it is time we buy a new bike for little S as she still uses her old toddler bike. She grew out of it ages ago…. needs to pass it on to little I.

Hifdh. Alhamdulillah we have hifdh revision session nearly every day. I use the Qur’an tracker charts for both girls. When they feel demotivated, we talk and discuss how Allah elevates their status in the HereAfter with each new surah they learn. Sometimes we read the English/Uzbek translation. Alhamdulillah, it helps.

Arabic. Mainly revising what we have learnt before. We still focus on topic-based vocabulary. Use Arabic HandWriting Book and worksheets for handwriting, Madinah Arabic Book 1 for vocab and grammar.

Islamic Studies. Reading lots of Islamic story books, prophets’ stories, seerah stories and have a follow-up discussion. I try to develop their oral expression; they can answer the questions, explain the Islamic concepts learned, illustrate the Islamic concepts learned with real-life examples from their own daily life and experience. We pray together once a day; usually asr prayer these days. Review how to make wudu, what to say when dua cards, a box of manners cards 2-3 times a week. MashaAllah they always remember their duas when entering/leaving bathroom, entering/leaving the house, before/after a meal, going up/coming down the stairs etc. They often remind us and have taught little I a number of duas. For example, he always says “Allahu Akbar” going up the stairs and “SubhanAllah” coming down the stairs.

Maths. Big S is finishing her Maths workbook. She still struggles with some problem solving and mental maths concepts presented towards the end of MEP Year 1. These are mainly working with calendar, clock/timings, speed and measuring different things etc. Little S is doing MEP Year 1 too and currently finished working on operations up to number 9. She is really good in Maths and I generally do not push her as much as I used to do her elder sister. Sometimes she does a page, sometimes 2 pages and sometimes refuses to do maths. So, we just revise and review old maths concepts like shapes, colours, numbers up to 20, repeating patterns, counting by 2’s.

English. As usual, we all spend a great deal of time reading books. We go to the library every Saturday morning. Children take part in story time followed by an activity. We take out between 20-30 books each week (took out 20 books yesterday). Little S’s reading improved but I can see she is not a bookworm like her sister. She enjoys being read to but doesn’t read more than one book at a time by herself.

Her sister, on the other hand, refuses to do anything until she finishes all 20 books in one go. I had to ask her 10+ times to have her lunch and then keep reminding 20+ times to put all the books away whilst eating. I remember my mum used to get annoyed when one of us kids sat down for dinner with a book in our hands. She would get so angry if we kept reading whilst eating….And I used to think “what is it to you mom, as far as I have my dinner, with or without a book, what difference does it make to you” etc. But, honestly, I find it so annoying as a mother now. Every time I see big S with a book on dinner table, I am like “Go now and do not come back until you put that book away”. I must be ageing….

Chapter Books. Big S enjoyed reading the following chapter books last week.

“Puppy Gets Stuck” by Sue Mongredien

“Little Lost Hedgehog” by Jill Hucklesby

Writing. Following Ch. Mason’s narration method, we do not use any “Learn How to Write” workbooks or programs for composition, spelling and general writing. Alhamdulillah, their writing skill is developing naturally. Their typical daily writing activities include:

  • Writing letters to their friends, to me, to grandma, to grandparents back home
  • Shopping lists
  • Writing captions for the pictures they have drawn by themselves
  • Writing short stories by themselves
  • Rewriting the stories they have read

Little I is always copying his sisters. He tries to write and draw. When it comes to reading, he is just like big S. He can sit down and read books for hours. He is always after me, dad and grandma trying to get one of us sit down and read for him. We were watching a really interesting documentary about African Cats with kids yesterday afternoon. He quickly got bored, even though it was so interesting and made for children by Disney Channel. But, he absolutely loves books and does not seem to get bored with books. He is good at narrating and retelling the events too. He talks so well in full sentences, alhamdulillah. He has learnt some English phrases thanks to my neighbours and often uses them when we have visitors. He likes playing with legos, foam and wooden building blocks and his animal collection.

If anything we have been doing most lately, it is The Play. Like I said, due to nice weather outside, they have been playing so much. Our daily homeschool session does not last more than an hour. I try to vary the subjects and types of activities we do daily. But, I have just realized recently how much a child can learn by playing, by using her own initiative and imagination, by exploring things on her own. I often wonder why I used to worry so much about big S when we first initially started. All those concerns seem to have faded away and I am becoming less and less reluctant to send her to school even when she is older. I pray when the time comes, Allah will guide and help us to make the right decision. But for now, we are all happy with the progress and learning at home.

Islamic Books for Children

Bismillah,

So, your child can read. She is reading books. I suppose after children start reading and have developed the joy of reading, the most important task for parents is to provide them with good books. Books that help them to broaden their horizons; Books that help them to understand the world; Books that help them to differentiate between what is good and what is bad; Books that help them to shape a morally responsible character; Books that promote virtue and discourage vice.

Alhamdulillah, there are many Islamic story books out there than ever before. I would not say we get lots of choice or we always get the quality we want. Nevertheless, the market is developing and with each year behind, we can see more and more Islamic story books aimed at Muslim children of all ages.

Here is my long awaited book review for some of the books we have purchased awhile ago. Alhamdulillah, children have learned so much through these books.

1. A Concise Children’s Encyclopedia of Islam– big S is very much into encyclopaedic books at the moment. I would especially recommend this for children between the ages of 7-10 as they get to read about various phases of Islamic history, Muslim countries, inventions made by Muslims scholars, Islamic rituals and much more. Very interesting to read and beautiful illustrations (with no eyes)

2. Room 101 and Other Stories– I was very much impressed with this book. It is definitely a MUST have book for each Muslim household. Stories were originally written in Arabic by Dr. Ahmad Bassam Saeh, later translated into English by Dr. Imran Alawiye. There are twelve stories altogether, written both in Arabic and English (half a page in English, half a page in Arabic). A great tool for those children who need to practise their Arabic reading and vocab through stories. The book is made using great quality paper, hardcover and contains beautiful illustrations. Each story is so relevant and appealing to today’s society.  Children are encouraged to draw their own conclusions through characters’ behaviour and actions. They learn through each story that whenever a bad/evil is committed there will be a consequence to meet; Whenever good is done there will be a reward to reap; The head of all good deeds is the obedience to Allah swt. Big S (who will be 6 next week inshaAllah) loves this book and reads it every night. Little S (4 year old now) loves to be read as this is too difficult for her to read by herself.

3. Stories of the Prophets– again this book was written originally in Arabic by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, translated into English much later. This is ideal for more older children between the ages of 9-12, as it uses text only and no illustrations. It presents the lives of major prophets’ sent by Allah in more greater depth, using Qur’anic and hadeeth references. It is very informative, yet simple and easy to understand for children 7+. Ideal to be used as textbook in class, at home or school etc. It helps a child to understand all prophets’ mission through perceptive observations. Highly recommended

4. Allah and Me- Learning to Live Allah’s Way, teaches that a Muslim does everything for Allah. The book helps to form a strong faith in “Allah knows what is best for us”. The stories are short, simple and easy to understand. There is a Q&A and task based activity after each story. So, you can invite a child to have a follow up discussion after each story to find out what Allah expects from children, what He likes, what He dislikes etc. I find this book very practical as we often refer to one of its stories during the day. The stories are appealing and relevant to most children’s daily life. Allah and Me discusses some Islamic virtues/rituals which we should practise in our daily life in order to live according to Allah’s will. A perfect book to link child’s every action to Allah; to introduce a healthy dose of love of Allah and fear of Allah. (Illustrations are okay)

5. The story of Muhammad saw in Madina– simple and concise introduction to seerah for slightly older children, I would say 6+. Our 6 year old really enjoyed reading it all by herself. Great book to be read to children 4+. Excellent quality paper and excellent illustrations. Stories contain informative explanations and vivid descriptions.

6. These are set of story books published by The Islamic Foundation. We have had them for awhile now. I would say big S grew out of them but they are perfect catch for small S, so ideal for children between 4-6.

Hilmy the Hippo series, 5 books with excellent content and illustrations in this set titled: Hilmy the Hippo learns to Share; Hilmy the Hippo learns to be Grateful, Hilmy the Hippo learns about Death; Hilmy the Hippo learns about Vanity, Hilmy the Hippo learns not to Lie. 

I Can series, 4 board books with awesome illustrations in this set: I Can Read Qur’an Anywhere, I Can Wear Hijab Anywhere, I Can Make Dua Anywhere, I Can Say Bismillah Anywhere.

A Caring Neighbour– A Caring Neighbour

Our Grandad– 

 

 

Cindrella- an Islamic Tale- Cinderella - An Islamic TaleFinally, the set of books about “Know How’s” by Writeway Publications for younger children. These are not story books but lists a number of things about How To Be a Good Muslim on various topics with beautiful illustrations on each page. There are 4 books in this set titled  How To Eat and Drink; How To Be A Good Child; and How To Be Safe; How To Keep Clean. These have been little S’s favourite books recently and little I loves them too.

Alhamdulillah, we have been so far very pleased with our purchase of Islamic books for children. I have to admit that they are a bit expensive sometimes. But, we can not purchase them in charity shops, most libraries in the UK do not provide great variety of Islamic story books for Muslim children and these books are definitely not available in car boot sales. So, we have no choice but to buy them sometimes. InshaAllah, it is a good investment in shaping our children’s character. I can see this especially in big S since she reads these books all the time and then questions me on certain aspects of our life in order to understand more; or certain actions of book characters to make out the conclusion.

Winter is back

Bismillah,

We have had really cold weather over the past couple of weeks. Children started playing out in the garden daily for a couple of hours in mid February. But the weather has been so down again after the 8th of March, on which date we had our big uzbek sumalak party in Manchester. It was so boiling hot on that Saturday the 8th of March 2013. We were thinking of doing the BBQ out in the garden the following weekend. But, subhanAllah, it has been snowing on and off since that date. The temperature is usually below zero outside. We have not been able to finish off our planting project in the garden. Today, after 2 days of non-stop snowing it was about knee high. My husband took kids to local library yesterday. They got stuck in snow and had to be rescued (by me). May Allah keep everyone safe amin.

Homeschooling is very much continuing, alhamdulillah.

Big S.

We do English 2-3 times a week. We do Charlotte Mason style dictation for her spelling once a week. Alhamdulillah, her spelling is excellent. I still need to teach her a lot of punctuation marks though. We try to get her talk about the books she reads. However, she is less and less willing to narrate the story. She just tells us what the story is about in 1-2 sentences. I noticed when she reads books in English and asked to narrate in Uzbek, her brain finds it difficult to do language-switch. It is at this point she gets frustrated because she does not know much of vocabulary in Uzbek in order for her to tell the story fluently. She mixes up a lot of English words to narrate the story. So, I have started to focus on her narrative skills in the English language only. And we usually do written narration as she prefers it to write down rather than to do it orally. Alhamdulillah, she loves writing. I printed out a set of reading comprehension cards. Each card states a question such as Who is the main character? What is the main character like? Which season does the story take place? Are there any sad/funny parts? Which part is your favourite? Would you recommend it to a friend and why? So, she chooses a book to read to me. We discuss the book a little. Then I hold one card at a time. She reads the question and writes the answer down. It helps with grammar/spelling/reading comprehension as she is trying to make her own full sentences, learning to use the correct tense and summarizing the story in the right order etc. Finally, she is practising cursive writing with a workbook. She is not too keen at the moment but she does try.

Maths. She is revising the last 20 pages of MEP YEAR 1. I did look into Kumon Math and other Math workbooks but preferred MEP to all of them. Maybe because we have got used to this programme. It is challenging enough for her and it is not straightforward like Kumon Math. For example, in MEP Year 1, she has learned

  • addition and subtraction using numbers 0-20
  • introduction to multiplication/division,
  • the use of calendar (days of the week, months of the year and how they rotate, how to find a certain date and see which day of the week it will be etc)
  • Lots of problem solving
  • The use of money (coins and notes etc)
  • Odd/Even numbers, 1 digit, 2 digit, 3 digit numbers, units etc
  • Mental maths- how to add/subtract 2 digit numbers mentally, counting by 3’s, 4’s, 5s, 6’s etc

Generally speaking, I am very pleased with what the programme offers and inshaAllah intend to continue with it. I do not want to start MEP Year 2 as I thought it could be too challenging for her current level. Like I said, we have resumed our maths classes after a long break and want to revise MEP Year 1 thoroughly inshaAllah.

Science. She is currently on another KS2 Science workbook learning about shadows, reflection and light. I will update in more detail when she finishes her book inshaAllah.

Qur’an hifdh. Alhamdulillah, we have been able to do a lot of muraajah the past 2 weeks. Every day I ask her to recite 4-5 surah off by heart which she does. Then she chooses 1-2 surah to read from Quran for her tajweed. Alhamdulillah, it is going well so far. I pray Allah makes it regular as we seem to be going through the phase where we do Quran regularly and progress a lot. Then once we drop it we just go into looong break after which we struggle to restart our Quran/Tajweed lessons.

Arabic. She is still continuing with her Madinah Arabic Book 1 and Gateway to Arabic Book 2. She is memorizing lots of vocab, practise handwriting and her Arabic reading improved a lot, mashaAllah.

Small S. Alhamdulilah, she has been able to teach herself how to read. She is now reading books aimed at young readers. We do not do anything except reading together with her. She does practise her writing with workbooks. At this stage, I do not want to push her for anything that she does not show interest. So, whenever she wants to practise her handwriting, I will just pass a worksheet with tracing words or a workbook. She seems to be very good at maths. I am surprised at most things she can do as I did not teach her the way I taught her sister. Maybe she has picked up from her big sister when I was not around. She can count 0-20 and then countdown 20-0. She does additions/subtractions with numbers 0-10 and she is so good at it. She does how many more/how many less activities, like how many more 7 than 5. For which she would have to do 7-5=2. So, the answer is 2 more. All these I don’t remember teaching her. I remember teaching this concept of how many more/how many less to big S and I so remember the frustration we both went through. Every time I asked big S how many more 7 than 5, she would simply say 7 more. Maybe she was too young..wallahu a’lam. Anyway, to me it seems little S grabs most maths concept easily. Even if she does not have a bank of concentration and feels very fidgety during lessons. She is learning lots of topic based vocabs in Arabic and currently finishing off Gateway to Arabic Book 1. Alhamdulillah, she started reading in Arabic awhile ago and improving. This is one of the simple exercises I do with her which she likes. I usually write down 8-10 words that she has learned in Arabic. I write these words without short vowels. For example, I write the q-l-m jointly for the word qolam (pen). Then I read out each word at a time and ask her to put the missing vowels (fatha/damma/kasra). She loves this game and it helped her to read more fluently. She is still on surah Tiyn on Quran Hifdh. She has finished memorizing this surah but at the moment I only do revision with her too. They both listen to Qur’an before bed time for about 30-40 mins (they fall asleep listening to Juzz 30 or Juzz 29 playing in digital Qur’an in their bedroom)

Little I. He has been up to so much lately. He is very much into books, just like his sisters. He is always making one of us read to him and loves joining in, copying the actions of the animals on pages (from illustration). He has started talking properly about 2-3 weeks ago. He is talking so fluently now. He can make sentences and can talk in full sentences, just like adults. Generally speaking, he started to walk, eat, hold a pen and write and talk a lot earlier. We all think it is because he has 2 older sisters from whom he can copy. He has learned a lot of nursery rhymes and starts joining in when his sisters sing for him. His favourite is classic Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Baa Baa Black Sheep. He loves Five Little Monkeys jumping on the bed, too. He is potty trained thanks to grandma. He loves drawing and often asks us to draw him a monkey.  He plays plasticine daily; making different shapes using the cutters. He loves shape sorters. He can name star, circle, triangle and square when we point and ask him “Which shape is this?”. He loves solving the knob wooden puzzles, playing with his legos and making tall towers with stacking cups. He is learning Arabic alphabet with Alif-Baa-Taa wooden blocks. He can count till 10. He has learned names of few colours. Like I said, I have not been able to spend much 1:1 time with him. But, he is always at the background when I am teaching his sisters and copying whatever they do. When we sit down to read Qur’an and do hifdh, he tries to listen and repeat after his sisters. He tries to say surah Ikhlas and Masad off by heart. Of course he just imitates the sounds. His sisters are teaching him everything (sometimes some naughty things too, like how to make bubbles in cup whilst drinking water or screaming or jumping off the sofa)

Anyway, it is late now and I shall be off to bed. Do let me know of my spelling/grammar mistakes as at this point I can not be asked to proofread or edit. Praying for a positive attitude for all parents out there and finish off with this inshaAllah.

Challenges and priorities

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we have been able to do a little bit more academic subjects since my last post on our home-school journey. As I told previously, I have been so relaxed and reluctant to do anything formal/structured for the past 3-4 months with children. SubhanAllah, things change and home-education is no exception. So, what did change

Firstly, I think my attitude towards homeschooling changed. I used to get depressed at the thought of long breaks from formal home-school or breaking children’s routine from normal learning hours (usually around 10am-12pm in the mornings). I was always so adamant to get the planned workload done for that day on that same day. I would be so disappointed if children refused to do any of the subjects and try to convince them to do it. I think the quote from Charlotte Mason “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life”  summarises my attitude change.

I have been trying to do “more connecting and less correcting” with children but I still struggle to make peace with Safiyya at all times. And this is the reason why

She is constantly asking me questions, sometimes just to annoy me- or so it seems to me. She is still mischievous and always up to mission- or so we perceive her at home. For example, she cuts the table cloth to make something out of it, she finishes the whole tooth paste in 2-3 days by trying to wash her teeth ten times a day, she blocks the bathroom sink with bits of cardboard boxes, she finishes toilet roll paper in one go- she does all these over again after we have repeatedly told her not to do these. Is this normal for any 4 year old? I do not know.

She gets inspired to “conduct a project” somewhere in the house (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom etc) and goes ahead without even asking me permission weather she is allowed to do the things she does. Usually, when she has gone quite for sometime we go and check on her. She leaves trails behind her, one can always tell where she has been. I can not help but tell her off, shout, smack etc and then left feeling guilty. I know it is not good to embarrass a child in front of others and it is against sunnah to punish her in public. But, unfortunately, this is what often happens with Safiyya. I am afraid it might damage her creativity or leave some undesired marks on her personality….Make dua Allah gives me patience to deal with this and all parenting challenges. I would welcome any tips on how to deal with this…..

Apart from the usual “creativity” projects, Safiyya has been showing more interest in reading. MashaAllah, we have just read one of Dr. Seuss books at bed time and she read some 20 pages with a lot of enthusiasm. I just have to be more patient and correct less when she makes some phonetic mistakes. She does not like to be corrected much (just like Sumayya) and gets discouraged if I keep correcting every mispronounced word. Again, may Allah give me patience. She has also done some pages from MEP Year 1. She found the activities so easy, to my surprise. One of the activities was to find out all the options for writing number 3 as an addition. She wrote all the following : 2+1; 1+2; 3+0; 0+3. I was so so happy. She is doing basic addition and subtraction with numbers 0-5 using her fingers. I do maths on demand with her. whenever she suggests.

Sumayya, has been doing some English too. The other day, I asked her to pick a favourite book which was Cactus Annie by Melanie Willamson. She read it to me out loud after which I asked her to narrate the story to me. She found it a little difficult to narrate smoothly and I did quick Q&A to check on her reading comprehension. She answered all my questions correctly using the exact the same words and lines from the book. She has memorized much of the text with one reading lol. I asked her to write a summary of the story which she did perfectly for her age. The next day she read another book and I did dictation with her for her spelling. I dictated 2 pages from the book which she had to write without looking at the book. We just have to work on punctuation (and it was the first time I explained things like comma, full stop, exclamation mark etc)

I did try to revise some maths topics and activities from MEP Year 1. She found many of the problem-solving and mental maths activities so hard. I could not believe she would be able to forget this much in 3-4 months. So, instead of being patient, I kept telling her off for “not using her brain well enough” (phrase we use a lot in Uzbek, not suitable for children, I know) and she completely lost confidence to do any maths. Now, every time I suggest maths she is so reluctant and comes up with excuses. I have to be more patient, take more time to explain the mental maths activities without showing my anger.

The thing is, as you all can see, I know exactly what to do in THEORY. So, when I write a blog post, I know exactly what to do. And another thing is, it is so difficult to practise in REALITY. I guess this is one of the great challenges of home-schooling- you know you have to be patient but can not always BE IT.

Anyway, I reminded myself that academic achievements are not a priority for us at the moment. Alhamdulillah, they are still so much more ahead of their peers at school. I know it because I am teaching children of various ages who attend various different public schools where we live (so I can compare). Also, I always get feedback from teachers at RE and alhamdulillah comparing to children of the same age, both girls are so much ahead. I do not want them to be scholars, but rather socially integrated and morally responsible individuals who try to please God with every action. And how much maths, geography, science are needed to achieve this?

Based on my own philosophy of education, I continue to relax (lol) and focus more on character building and instilling Islamic values, most of the time through engaging conversations whilst cuddling in the sofa.