Evaluation and reflection in home-education.

Bismillah,

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

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

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

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

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

Bismillah,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Eid ul Fitr 2012

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we hosted the Eid party last Saturday (25 July 2012) for all those children who attended the Ramadan camp. We did some Ramadan and Eid related activities with the children, played  some party games (pass the parcel and pinyana- i am not sure if this is correct spelling lol) They received their Eid giftbags (with Islamic books, sticker sets and halal sweets etc). And of course we all shared a yummy meal. Alhamdulillah, a sister from Morocco did a reminder for all on maintaining the spirit of Ramadan, which I thought was really good. We displayed some of the things children made during the camp for revision with children but also for all moms to see.

 

We got both the girls some books for Eid and they received some gifts from some of their khalas. A friend gave them a two sets of stitching doll kits- two matrushka dolls (Russian) and two kokeshi dolls (Japanese). MashaAllah, they really enjoyed stitching and putting all the pieces together. And they gave away all to their friends except one. They love giving out gifts, especially 3 year old Safiyya.

This was one of the books Safiyya got this Eid. Easy to read, beautifully illustrated published by Islamic Foundation in the UK. I found some really good books by this publisher.

After reading the story, we decided to make a masjid cut and paste activity.

Safiyya’s masjid. She learned about mimbar, mihrab, minaret, dome and has labelled them.

 

She has also tried to write “I am going to the masjid” at the back of her paper.

 

Sumayya’s masjid craft work. Again, she has labelled all the masjid parts, drew a path from her house to the masjid and wrote “I am going to the masjid”

 This is one of the books Sumayya received on Eid and where she got the idea to make a gift for me for Eid ul Adha. Excellent story…

 

And they received an Eid gift from a dear sister here. They were so happy to receive the post. They won in the giveaway but we said to them they received it because they have tried to do lots of good deeds this Ramadan and mashaAllah did well with the help of Allah swt.

 

These are some other books we purchased sometime go. They are not necessarily Islamic but with stories with Muslim characters. Alhamdulillah, we had very fruitful discussions based on these stories and jazakAllah khayr to sister who recommended them to us. 

 

 

 

 

Ahamdulillah for another busy and beautiful week with so much going on. We had a talk on Islamic parenting with some sisters today and I am really going with semi-structured way of teaching things. InshaAllah, will share my thoughts and plans soon.

 

 

A bedroom wall decoration and the best gift for Eid ul Adha….

Bismillah,

-Mommy, why are you praying now? It is not dhohr yet?
-I know, I missed fajr this morning and I am upset…..

There is this time in England, usually around May or so, where fajr falls really early and isha prayer is really late. This is when the incident and our conversation with Sumayya took place. Nearly a month after this, she was so busy “learning her deen”  and “increasing her faith” independently.

Anyway, it was in the last ten days of Ramadan. One day she came up to me and said,

-Mommy, I made a bedroom wall decoration for you. I have put it up on the wall in your bedroom. Please go and have a look.

I went and this is what I found stuck to the doors of the wardrobe. A piece of paper tied with a ribbon…

 

And it read “When you wake up always don’t miss a prayer inshaAllah. For every one in my family. InshaAllah you will not forget to pray in the morning Satan would do wee wee in your ear so.” LOL.

 

She has initiated writing Islamic stories, letters and reminders since the last ten days of Ramadan. Here she has made a pop-out book about a boy whose dad wanted to take him fishing but he wanted to go hunting instead…There was something in there about Eid ul Adha too

 

Story about Aisha “Once there was a girl. she was nice to everyone. her name was Aisha. She always thought inshaAllah she would go to Jannah. She made a lot of dua to got the highst levl of jannah. Allah except all of her dua cause she was gratefull as well. So Allah gave her the highst levl of jannah cause she said inshaAllah. So she said Alhamdulillah” in the end. This must be the story about herself. Every time I ask her to make dua she asks Allah to give her the highest level of Jannah as well as some other things. And I say to her we are never certain of things that will happen in the future. If we wish for something to happen we make dua and we say inshaAllah. Weather we get it or not we should always say Alhamdulillah and be grateful for what we have.

 

Ok, I finish with this. This was my early gift for Eid ul Adha, titled The best gift from Allah to mummy…. She didnt want to show me until Eid but I just had to see it.

 

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.

 

Growing kids

Bismillah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are examples of Sumayya’s Arabic handwriting.

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

Numeracy/Maths.

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

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

Here are some sample pages of the MEP workbooks.

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

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

Geography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.