New academic year- new beginning 2016-2017.

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, the new academic year has been very productive so far. Despite the fact that we have had a new addition to our family- baby Sara!!! We have been blessed with a daughter who is a month old already.
Since I am full time stay at home mom again, all kids are being home-ed (no Arabic school this year). We are trying to catch up with the British curriculum as much as we can. Sumayya is doing Year 4/5 syllabus and Safiyya is doing Year 3/4 material. I have also started teaching Ibrahim this year- he is ever so happy to be doing more structured/formal work with his sisters. He is learning phonics, dolch words and basic addition/subtraction at the moment.

Routine

As I always emphasize, the most important thing in any home-ed family is the routine. Once you establish routine, certain things become habitual and we as mothers don’t have to nag our children to complete their daily tasks.

For example, last year when I was working full time, we didn’t have any home-ed routine. I was trying to fit in little bit of work here and there but nothing on a regular basis. As such I always used to nag Sumayya to do Maths. As most of you know, she has a strong disliking towards Maths and used to have emotional meltdowns. Every little maths worksheet used to take ages to complete. I spent long hours lecturing her on the importance of Maths……it was exhausting.

Alhamdulillah, however much she hates it, we now do Maths daily and I don’t have to ask her to do it. After we came back from England, we made a timetable for the new academic year and stuck to it for 4 weeks. It has just become a habit now. So this is our home-ed routine now.

  1. Wake up and have breakfast.
  2. Immediately after breakfast, they make wudu and read 2 pages of Quran
  3. The girls have to do 2 pages of their Maths books daily. Safiyya is currently doing Countdown Grade 3, Sumayya is doing Countdown Grade 4. Unless they are starting a new topic or stuck on a problem, my help is not needed. I spent most of this time with Ibrahim, doing phonics, reading and writing, addition and subtraction with numbers 0-10.

نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪countdown maths grade 3‬‏نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪countdown maths grade 4‬‏

4. English.
Ibrahim is learning how to read at the moment. I bought him a few phonics books, set of flashcards and lots of books. He has memorized most of the books but that is fine. He has learnt to spell most CVCs and does copywork for handwriting daily. We do some phonics, reading comprehension where I read outloud the story and he has to answer the questions, and dictation of CVCs for spelling. He is doing really well alhamdulillah. We do very short lessons, 5-10 minutes of each activity and we always stop as soon as I notice he is getting bored or tired of doing the same thing. I never insist to finish anything with him. If he asks to stop in the middle of something, I always agree and leave it to the next day.

Safiyya is currently working through the Year 3/4 syllabus I made for her. We incorporate Writing With Ease Level 3 (complete writing programme incorporating punctuation, spelling, reading comprehension), Full Language Lessons Level 2 (mainly grammar with reading comprehension) and various worksheets from the web.
Sumayya has just started Complete English for Secondary 1. It contains 3 books, study book, workbook, writing and grammar practice book.

نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪complete english for cambridge secondary one‬‏نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪complete english for cambridge secondary one‬‏نتيجة بحث الصور عن ‪complete english for cambridge secondary one writing and grammar‬‏

We usually study between 10am-1pm, with breaks at various points. Alhamdulillah, the girls can both study independently and require very little help. I spend very little time teaching them, mostly just supervising to make sure they are on task.

5. Usually between 1-2pm we have lunch, pray dohr and play a little.

6. Hifz revision/Play. Alhamdulillah they are going to Tahfeez from Asr to Magreb daily. So after dohr they have to revise and memorize their given ayahs by a teacher at Tahfeez school.
7. They go to tahfeez 3:30-5:30pm.

8. When they return from Tahfeez school around 6pm, we have a family dinner. After dinner they usually get to watch something for an hour or so.

9. Play time- they play for a couple of hours in the evenings.

10. They go to bed around 10pm daily.

Alhamdulillah, in between tending to one hundred needs of each child, breastfeeding, changing nappies and washing bums, we have so far been able to stick to our new home-ed routine and had a very productive start to the year!!! Alhamdulillah.

Praying for all our home-ed friends for a very productive year full of bonding and connecting. Happy Homeschooling and Happy Teaching my sisters.

Ramadan Battle

Bismillah,

What have we been up to since the 15th April 2014? Well, a lot, really. But, first of all, let me wish all of you a Happy Belated Ramadan Kareem!!! May Allah enable us all to really change and improve ourselves for the better this Ramadan amin.

Home-educating is going well. We do almost nothing structured with regards to academic subject on a day-to-day basis. Both big and little S attend Maths, English and Science classes once a week at Raising Explorers (where I work) and they go to madrassah there Tues-Fri afternoons 4:30-6:30pm. So, what do we do at home?

Gardening

We have done a lot of gardening this Spring/Summer 2014. We have planted strawberry plants early in Spring and they were all growing so well. They all had 5-6 fruits each but the slugs started eating the leaves. My neighbor suggested I put some salt on all plants which had a disastrous ending, the fruits and leaves dried up. They have all grown out by now but  no homegrown strawberries for us this year. InshaAllah, I am hoping the plants would double by next year and we will have some fruits.

We have also planted an apple tree and a pear tree. They both blossomed well but we have got no pears for this year. Alhamdulillah, we have plenty of apples and we can not wait to bake an apple pie with those.

Pear tree

Apple tree

Strawberry plants

Strawberry plants

Trips and Outings

We have been going on a lot more trips lately since the arrival of my parents. We want to show them around as much as possible. We have been to quite a lot of local parks, including:

Roberts park in Saltaire; Roundhay Park in Leeds, Chellow Dene Reservoir, Ogden Waters, and of course our local Lister park. I have made a list of few other free places to go after Ramadan inshaAllah: St. Ives Park in Bingley, Shibden Park in Halifax, Stockeld Park, Cliffe Castle in Keighley, Bolling Hall, Bolton Abbey and Manor House. I am trying to make use of all free museums, galleries and parks as the costs can easily add up when multiplied x8 in the family lol. We may take them all to Yorkshire Wildlife centre for Eid

My mummy at Chellow Dene

Arabic and Qur’an

We have not been doing much Arabic language at home except what she learns at Raising Explorers. We revise the surahs of the Juzz Amma they have memorized and Sumayya reads half a page of Qur’an daily. Safiyya has just started reading too, mashaAllah but no pressure. She reads when she wants to. Having attened Tajweed classes recently, I have just started explaining the Tajweed rules to big S recently. Up until now, she has learnt how to read by listening only and kind of figured out most rules (without knowing the names such as Idghaam, Izhaar, Iqlaab etc). 1-2 daily they pray with me, again no pressure, hence not very regular. As big S turned 7 this year, I should be encouraging her more inshaAllah.

Russian progress

Alhamdulillah, big S  has been going to Russian 3 times a week. She goes to Russian class organized for the children of local Russian families on Monday afternoons. Then WEd/Fri mornings she goes to her tutor’s house for 2 hours. She can now read, write and speak a little bit of Russian. She can talk about most topics including her family, likes/dislikes, animals, fruit/veg, about her house, about her grandparents and weather etc. They do little bit of grammar but mainly conversational Russian as I want her to be able to speak and understand first. She has learnt so much vocab and can use them well. Alhamdulillah. There is also a farm next to her tutor’s house. So, we have been going 1-2 times a week to feed the horses, see llamas, donkeys and a pony.

Kids trying to feed horses

Islamic Studies and Self-Evaluation

All of us have to work on our manners, especially myself as I have to model the exemplary behavior for them. This thought has been troubling me so much lately. My confession yesterday was “I have always known that children learn by example. They are the best imitators, regardless of weather you do a good thing or a bad thing, they will try and copy the adults around them. Seems like I have known it theoretically up until this point. So, I have recently discovered that before fixing everyone else around me, especially my poor kids, I should first fix myself. As an adult and as a mother of 4 home-educated kids I see some major flaws in my own character. I can lecture my children about what is good and right thing to do but the children mirror and project my own faults which is scary. I am almost always battling with my own self and questioning “am I doing the right thing/wrong thing” and worry a lot about my children’s character too. But, like I said, I came to the conclusion that as long as I work hard to try and fix my own problems, inshaAllah Allah will take care of my children and how they are going to turn out as a person. The battle with the self continues….May Allah give all mothers out there an immense amount of patience and make parenting easy for us and give us a good ending. Amin ya Rabb!!!

I don’t know why I feel so burdened, so pressured these days with mothering duties and responsibilities…I have terrible mood swings at times and end up feeling so guilty for having shouted at kids…I am always asking for more patience in my duas as I am quick to criticize my kids. How do you deal with your inner critique that sets up the standards so high for your kids? I am finding it so hard to just let it go. Alhamdulillah, slowly but surely I am working more on myself rather than kids and feel moving in the right direction. I am praying to have a better week ahead inshaAllah: less yelling, less shouting, less correcting, less critique; more encouragement, more peaceful, more connecting and more praise.

General Home-Ed Review

Alhamdulillah, I am happy where we are at. Like I said, at this point in life we are focusing much more on character-building rather than in any form of structured academic lessons. Above all, I would want myself and my children have a good personality. I just want to be good inshaAllah…

Once again Ramadan Mubarak my dear sisters and wishing you all to have the best Ramadan yet!!!

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.

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.

Children and Languages

Bismillah,

We have often heard stories about multi-lingual children who can speak 3-4 or even more languages simultaneously and each very fluently.  I watched this video awhile ago and was so inspired. Indeed, the language faculty of any human being is made to learn any language naturally given the fact he/she is exposed to that language from young age. Children have capacity to learn as many languages as parents choose them to expose to. They do not have to make extra effort to learn a 2nd or 3rd language the way that many adults struggle to learn a foreign language. I have a friend who can speak, read and write in 5 different languages; she has mastered all five so successfully. I can think of many Uzbeks in the UK who are fluent in at least 3 languages- Uzbek, Russian and English.

Anyway, I really hope our children grow up as being multi-lingual. They learn Uzbek, English, Arabic and Russian. I just wanted to update briefly on our approach teaching each of these languages.

Uzbek is everyone’s first language at home. We have always had “No English” policy at home in the hope that they grow up bi-lingual (Uzbek/English) from childhood. Alhamdulillah, they are very fluent in Uzbek. Sumayya can read many Uzbek books we have got at home (these are in Latin script). And occasionally we do write passages in Uzbek. It is our main means of communication between all family members so naturally they can speak in Uzbek very expressively and at times eloquently. Hence Uzbek language uses the same Latin alphabet, they can read and write if we continue in this manner inshaAllah. I have not taught how to read in Uzbek but once they master the English alphabet they can easily read any Uzbek books as it is pretty straightforward (Uzbek is very straightforward phonetical language, unlike English). The only thing they find difficult to understand when reading Uzbek stories is the Vocabulary. Our children’s Uzbek vocabulary is limited to kind of spoken Uzbek and do not always understand the literary synonyms of many words used in books. This is partly due to 1) We do not have good collection of Uzbek story books that we can read often 2) We hardly every watch children’s TV programme or a cartoon in Uzbek. They are just not easily available.

English is everyone else’s first language outside our household. As we live in an English speaking country, they are exposed to the language the minute we leave the house. It is the main means of communication amongst our friends and social groups. So they pick up spoken English naturally. They have learned how to read and write and currently English is their main means of communication in writing. They try to write poems, stories, letters and little passages in English. They read a lot of books in English and watch educational cartoons, movies or documentaries made for children. I have no concerns at all for their English, even though they do not go to school. Most textbooks/workbooks/supplementary materials and worksheets I use in our homeschooling are made in English. So, they are taught both in English and Uzbek but carry out their written tasks in English.

Arabic– is taught language for them as it is not spoken around them. They attend Arabic classes and plus teaching at home using books and materials from the web. My husband reads to them stories in Arabic and they watch lots of children’s cartoons and TV programmes in Arabic. Currently we use 2 textbooks- Madinah Arabic Reader 1, Gateway to Arabic 1 and 2. I do not stick to textbooks only as I try to vary the number of activities we do. It is good to use variety of books/materials/resources as children can easily get bored with monotonous set of exercises and activities that keep repeating when using a single textbook. Here is the list of websites I get our resources from for our Arabic language classes

TJ Arabic Studies

Learning Arabic

Arabic comes first

Yemeni Links

Madina Arabic

Rahmah Muslim Homeschool

Soft Arabic

36 Arabic Stories for Kids

A Muslim Child is born

Current progress.

Sumayya finished the first 5 lessons from Madinah Arabic book 1 and 8 lessons from Gateway to Arabic Book 2. She can read and write. She does copywork for her handwriting and we do spelling test with most 3-4 letter Arabic words she has learned off by heart. I am not quite sure how many words she has learned in Arabic, could be as many as 200. She knows most words (nouns) based on the following topics/themes: Family; Body Parts; Colours; Shapes; Animals; Fruits; Vegetables; Household Items; and the last time I checked she was learning descriptive adjectives in her Arabic classes.

Safiyya has just started reading. She uses Gateway to Arabic Book 1 and she is currently on page 24-25. We also use the flashcards to help her reading. She loves them. She uses Arabic Handwriting Book 2 for her handwriting as she has finished Arabic Handwriting Book 1 twice. She has learned most vocab words the same as her sister: Body Parts; Shapes; Colours; Animals; Fruits and Vegetables but does not know as many words as her sister.

They both have Arabic classes daily Monday- Thursday, alhamdulillah.

Russian- is taught language, just like Arabic. But, we do not teach it as often or as much as Arabic. They are exposed to language in a sense 1)They watch cartoons in Russian 2) Read lots of Russian books for children- short stories, fables, longer chapter books etc. Alhamdulillah, we have a lot of Russian books to read

Although I have found local Russian school, I was always reluctant as it runs on Saturdays. Saturday is mainly family day/socializing day for us. We have always got something planned for most Saturdays. If we are not going out then most likely we have visitors that day. Also, we go to the library on Saturday mornings where kids join in the story time followed by arts/crafts session. So, they have never been able to go to Russian school in Bradford.

I ordered some Russian teaching materials and books for beginners last year from Uzbekistan. We have started using them recently with Sumayya. Alhamdulillah, she has learned the Russian Alphabet very easily and has just started reading simple words (not books yet)

Russian Handwriting Book

Inside

We are using Azbuka and Bukvar to help Sumayya read and build on vocabulary.

Azbuka flashcards that she can read now and learn the words on them.

That is it for now. I hope to teach Russian more regularly in the future and Arabic more constructively inshaAllah.

Living in the moment…

 

Bismillah,

I have meant to share some of my thoughts re new school year/planning and it was meant to be today, alhamdulillah. At sister’s circle on last Sunday we were discussing and sharing one thing that we learned from this Ramadan. For myself it was LIVING IN THE MOMENT. SubhanAllah, what does it actually mean, living in the moment?

Firstly, for me it meant grabbing every little opportunity that presented itself and increase my good deeds. I have often admired sisters who completed the Qur’an so-and-so many times in Ramadan or who have been able to do x-and-z much nafl prayers. Perphaps, I have not been able to do much but in our daily lives opportunities for little deeds always present itself to all of us and it is how we interact with those opportunities that really matters. So, I have learnt to consistently do those “little things” for the sake of Allah alone. I am trying to kill my expectations of people and expect nothing in return for those little things that Allah has enabled me to do. Yesterday has passed. I should not wish to have done things differently. Tomorrow is future, I should not spend long hours planning as Allah alone knows what actually happens tomorrow. But, what am I doing today? Right now? Am I using all the resources/means at hand to reap the reward in the HereAfter? What is stopping me reading Qur’an right now? Prioritize everything in our daily life and do everything with the right intention so we can turn them all into ibadah inshaAllah.

Secondly, living in the moment have also meant being able to say YES as often as I can to my kids. When they ask me to read them a book, even in the middle of my busiest day, I have been able to sit down and read to them. When they want to do some baking, help me with cooking or painting with acorns- I have been able to ask myself “Right, what is stopping me from saying YES. Is it something really important or my own laziness?” When they want to get changed and have all sorts of dress-up games at bed times just to prolong their bedtime- I just let them. Why to rush them, why to have rigid rules, why to be in bed exactly by same hour every night? Why not take each night as it comes and do those spontaneous fun things and increase our bonding? Especially since they have no school in the mornings. I am so grateful they do not go to school. I just find the whole idea of being out of house by certain hour in the mornings and doing the school-run is so stressful. There might come a time where I need to put the kids into school, wallahu Alam. Allah knows best how long we will be able to home-school but until that moment arrives why not just relax cosy evenings with plenty of reading, talking and discussions. So, they have no set bed time these days, it differs from day to day and we have been able to do so many extra-curricular fun things together.

Yesterday morning I asked Sumayya to do some copywork. She did half and said she would do the rest later. She wanted to do some spelling on Scribble (board game). I said ok, I knew she would do it later or I can remind her. But, if I was still previous ME and not “living in the moment” kind of mom, I would have demanded she finishes one thing before she moves on to the other. Even if she badly wants to play that Scribble game at that moment. And later that afternoon, not only she finished her copywork, she also did so much more writing than required because she wanted to.

The same thing happened when we sat down to do hifdh. I usually ask her to recite 5 of the longer surahs from Juzz Amma for review and move on to practise new surah. She read surah Tariq, A’la and Ghashiya (3 in total) and decided to review more later. Again, previous ME would have started lecturing her on the spot, reminding the rewards in HereAfter or even bribing her with sweets and things to finish all 5 surahs for review and practise new surah to memorize there and then. But instead I said “As you wish but you HAVE to do more hifdh later”. She was much happy and said “Please remind me if I forget it, mommy. If I forget I might become a liar”. I was happy she said it and later she recited more than 5 surahs to review.

So, I learnt that we should let children take the lead. They do not have to learn in the same order of subjects as we arrange them. We seem to have taken relaxed and flexible way of teaching and doing things and I feel children are taking the lead and been able to learn so much more on their own initiative. They are literally teaching themselves so many things, alhamdulillah. I have taken the back seat and provide materials and resources for their ideas/projects but mainly they come up with some kind of idea and they implement it with whatever resources I provide them with.

Living in the moment also meant to say NO to life’s distractions and strive for frugality and simplicity in our lives. I try not to use my phone, laptop, FB in their presence. How often have we said NO to our children just because we were sat in front of our laptops? Just because we were reading some news? Just because we were reading what people were up to on FB? Or we prolong some other important issues (like salah) and we procrastinate by surfing the net? I try not to be seen using the laptop in front of children for I fear kids copy this behaviour and grow up thinking all important talk/conversation takes place virtually and you can ignore the person sitting in front of you? (I have literally experienced this with some gatherings at university where most sisters pull out their phones out of pockets and would be busy socializing on FB whereas the room is full of with real human-beings, subhanAllah. I mean quite literally, maybe I have done that same thing somewhere….maybe. May Allah rectify our shortcomings)

We are studying 4-5 subjects each day. I plan and arrange worksheets/books/other materials the day before. We do a lot of spontaneous activities too when they come up with ideas and suggestions. I do not push to finish whatever I had planned and if we miss out on 1-2 of the planned subjects- that is fine too. We always have the next day inshaAllah. I would like to grasp the moment and do the things they really want to do. The order of subjects vary daily. We do numeracy (maths) and literacy (reading/writing/spelling etc) daily. We do Arabic, Geography, Science every other day. We are doing a lot more practical, hands-on activities like making things together, painting, experimenting etc. The whole teaching hours last around 2-2.5 hours and usually take place between 11am-2pm in the mornings.They are still under the age of 7 and I have come to believe too young for rigid scheduled learning. Ever since I adopted this kind of approach I can see how much more interest they are showing to learn. I think they develop the joy of learning more when I let them be creative and learn through projects they suggest. And, honestly, I have experienced they are getting more creative.