Planting trees and book review 2

Bismillah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Review.

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

  1. The meaning of the Holy Qur’an for School Children– an absolute must have book by Yahiya Emerick for every household. This is the best children’s tafseer book I have come across. Previously, I thought Ad-Duha mini tafseer books were really good mashaAllah. But, this book offers a number of advantages: It is simple, easy to understand and yet provides all the background information, history and story behind every ayah revealed. It uses powerful, elegant and effective vocabulary throughout with simple lessons to take away from each verse. It has got little illustrations to make it more attractive and suitable for all children between the ages of 7-16 year old to read independently. You can read it out to the younger ones and discuss the meanings together. I often read it for my own self and found it so so beneficial mashaAllah.
  2. Teaching Kids The Holy Qur’an: Surah 18, The Cave– another excellent book to add to your library. It contains all 4 major stories from surah Kahf. Mezba Uddin Mahtab used lego bricks and other toys to recreate the stories in a very engaging detail. When I read about the author and read his book here, I absolutely fell in love. When we got the delivery, this was Sumayya’s first pick and she read through all 144 pages in a couple of hours.
  3. 1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts From Muslim Civilization– just an interesting fact book to inspire and empower your Muslim children if they like to explore or find out more about world famous inventions and facts.
  4. Travelling Man- The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford. I always loved history and my kids do too. This is beautifully illustrated and written about the greatest traveler in Muslim history. This is a short autobiography of Ibn Battuta and his adventures in Mecca, India and China, about the people he met and befriended, the sultans he worked under, the rebels he was caught by and his ultimate survival throughout his travels 1325-1354. We all found this very interesting and loved the illustrations.
  5. Arabic Through The Qur’an– by Alan Jones. I want to study this book myself and later teach to kids. Aside from being the very latest Arabic grammar written by an academic, one of the special features of the book is its exclusive use in its vocabulary of Qur’an rather than modern Arabic. The main purpose of our study of the Arabic language is so that we can read and understand the Qur’an in its original language. I have decided awhile ago that I will be learning at least 2 vocabulary from Qur’an a day and this book is perfect because it teaches both basic grammar as well as the Qur’anic vocabulary.
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10 Creative Play ideas for kids 0-7

Bismillah,

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Positive Islamic Parenting Reminders

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we had our next Islamic Parenting class today attended by 16 mothers. It went really well mashaAllah where everyone shared their tips and experiences on how to help our children with memorizing the Qur’an. If you would like the handouts and the power point presentation from today’s session to be emailed to you please comment on this post with your email address inshaAllah. I will not stop in detail as I have posted previously here and here on hifdh.

We talked a lot about parenting through positive reinforcement today. I had a handout which summarizes ten reminders to be read each morning by parents, especially mothers who are quite busy tending to the needs of a number of children. I don’t remember where I got them originally. But I have got it printed and stuck to my fridge and read from time to time, to remind myself on positive and effective parenting. So, here goes the list.

  1. I am raising my child to be a successful khalifah of Allah, who will help create a truly Islamic World.
  2. Today I will try my best to know and understand all the influences upon my child’s development.
  3. Today I will try my best to help my child understand the power of negative influences to take him/her away from Allah, and the power of positive influences to take him/her to Allah.
  4. Today I will try my best to shield my child from the power of the negative influences.
  5. Today I will try my best to enhance/increase the power of the positive influences on my child to take him/her to Allah.
  6. Today I will try my best to notice some positive things my child does or says, and tell him/her how much those things are appreciated by me and by Allah.
  7. Today I will try my best to say nothing negative to my child. Even if I have to correct my child’s wrong behaviour I will try my best to find some positive way to do so.
  8. Today I will love my child unconditionally, but I will try my best to express that love at times which are most beneficial to my child.
  9. Today I will try my best to be an example of a good and right human being/Muslim for my child.
  10. Today I will pray for Allah’s help that I can be a good parent for my child.

How easy it sounds and how difficult to implement those things in our everyday life. For example, I really struggle to understand what motivates my 4.5 year old daughter to misbehave and I struggle to correct her wrongdoing in positive way.

How about you? Do you find you often discipline your child through negative reinforcement like commenting on their misbehaviour or wrongdoing? Do you resort to force or use physical punishment? Do we as parents put emphasis on achievement and show appreciation of their well behaviour often enough? When we keep commenting on their misbehaviour what becomes of their self-value? Do you worry that “naughty” or “troublemaker” or “loser” might become their self-perception?