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.

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Best educational toys for toddlers

Bismillah,

We had visitors over the weekend and a friend offered to take the girls for sleepover. So, I agreed and off they went. However, little I was looking everywhere for his sisters. He kept asking for them and was going nearly mental lol. So,Monday morning, first time in a long long time, I had to sit down and keep him occupied. We have played few of their hands-on toys to revise/learn some numeracy and literacy skills. So, I have decided to write a review for some of the best toys worth investing, in my opinion. I say in my opinion because this is purely based on our own experience. My kids loved these toys, spent hours with them and learnt a lot through playing them. So, here is my list of 6.

1. The Alphabet wooden blocks. Perfect for little hands to grab. You can use these in a number of ways to teach both the Arabic and English alphabet. It also has numbers on the other two sides. We usually make an Alphabet train by putting the blocks in the right Alphabetical order. Or mix up and ask a child to identify a particular letter you have been learning that week. Here is the link to this resource. I have bought ours when big S was born. After nearly 7 years of being used by 3 kids, it still has plenty of life left for baby S to enjoy when she is older inshaAllah

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2. The shapes wooden blocks. This is especially good for hand-eye coordination, to teach both the shapes and the colours. All my kids loved this. The one we had was from Asda Living store but this is easily available in ELC and ToysRus or online shops. This has 15 shaped wooden blocks, perfect for little toddler hands.

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3. Foam blocks. These are quite chunky in size but has been such a hit. Excellent to make any construction using varied shaped foam blocks, review shapes/colours whilst building things. Excellent to encourage creativity and hand-eye coordination. I got two large packs in car boot when big S was a baby. All 3 children still play with these daily

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4. Wooden blocks and pieces for constructing castles, houses, farms and just about anything you can imagine. These we bought recently after all the constructive materials have been such a hit in our household. My children love playing with legos, foam blocks, wooden blocks. We keep all of these in a large plastic box so they are all mixed up. They spend at least 2 hours a day playing with them. We had these wooden blocks with a trolley from ELC, again bought when big S was a baby. Since they play all the blocks really well and they play them a lot, we have decided to buy them a new addition to their constructive box. Like I said, it has been a hit since the pack had unusual items and pieces.

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This is what their houses look like when nearly finished. But, they keep changing and adding things forever.

5. A pack of animal figurine collection from ELC. We had mini wild animals and farm animals. Ooo, these are their favourite toys. They do a lot of role-play using these. They build a farm and put the farm animals on the farm. Or they build a house for a gazelle and pretend it is hiding from a lion etc. Awesome awesome recourse to encourage imagination, creativity, to teach the names of animals, the food chain (predator, prey) etc etc

6. Knob wooden puzzles. We these ones: Arabic alphabet, English alphabet, Arabic numbers, English numbers, Animals+Shapes. Again, these are good for fine motor-skills as child is required to hold it with 2-3 fingertips and hand-eye coordination. I bought the Arabic alphabet and Arabic number wooden puzzles from Emaan productions. The rest are easily available online or in kiddies’ shops. (Something very similar to these but not exactly the same. Any knob wooden puzzle with less image is fine. I prefer not to have the English transliteration under the Arabic letters btw)

All of these are worthwhile investment as Ibrahim is using them after his two elder sisters and they are perfectly fine for baby S to enjoy next year inshaAllah.

Play

Bismillah,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Puppy Gets Stuck” by Sue Mongredien

“Little Lost Hedgehog” by Jill Hucklesby

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

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

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

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

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.