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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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.

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.

News news news….

Assalamu alaykum,

We have so much news after our silence that prolonged over 2 months. Wierd, but I do not miss blogging though I believe it is a good opportunity for self-reflection in our home education. Naturally, we have a lot of news to share.

The kids are doing well, all three are developing mentally and spiritually alhamdulillah.

The first kind of big news is that I have started working since last October. It has now been 3 months and alhamdulillah Allah has made settling back to work so easy for me. An opportunity knocked the door and I grabbed it.

I work as Head of Education at Raising Explorers , an out of school Learning Academy. Coincidentally, we just happen to have very similar names but the organization was set up and name was chosen before I came to work. We are open Monday to Friday 4:30pm-8pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am-4pm, teaching children both academic and Islamic subjects. So, we offer classes in Tajweed/Qur’an, Arabic language, Islamic Studies as well as Maths, English, Science. We also offer recreation facilities, namely 2 games rooms equipped for that purpose.

I teach Islamic classes to 4-6 year olds, and English to older students. My job also involves the whole responsibility for what takes place in classrooms- designing/producing documents relating to curriculum development, syllabus design, classroom management, behaviour policy and then overlooking implementation of those policies and procedures in the classrooms.

Second, due to the arrival of cold weather, we were unable to keep the big house warm enough for all of us. So, we moved back to our 3 bed house back in December. Though our girls were much happy to be reunited with their old friends from neighbouring houses, they missed the massive gardens where they spent a lot of happy times. Especially climbing trees and doing lots of nature-exploring with various plants the garden hosted. SubhanAllah, how it was so nice and big and how I miss that garden too (not the house itself). But, deeply, I am so much happier in our smaller house where it is cosy and warm. So, we had to endure another round of packing, unpacking, settling etc. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it so easy for us this time.

I registered both of my girls for Islamic classes during the week at Raising Explorers. So, I usually take them with me to work. Safiyya is in my class. Although Sumayya is not yet 6, she attends Year 2 classes as she is a lot more advanced than most students in my class. Alhamdulillah, it took at least one of my fears with regards to “socializing” away since they get to do a lot of group work, pair work and general play with other children. The advantage for me is I work there which means I am always watching them. The children are all Muslims (we have non-Muslims attending academic subjects only) and the atmosphere is Islamic. Since they started attending classes at Raising Explorers last October, our home-ed journey took somewhat very relaxed and even more play-based tone. So, what do we do at home?

They get their daily structured/formal Tajweed/Qur’an, Arabic language and Islamic studies intake at Raising Explorers (RE). We do lots of practical activities at home.

First, the three of them PLAY a lot. They have been spending so much time with legos, both wooden and foam building blocks, small animal figurines I bought from ELC ages ago etc and use their imagination to such an extent that it amazes us. Naturally, Ibrahim copies his sisters in whatever they do and developed his motor-skills a lot with the use of those small objects/toys playing with his sisters. They are getting so creative that they started independently making stuff without my supervision. They decide to make a horse from cardboard, or candle holder from orange peels (Sumayya has read it in the book), or an owl from paper etc and get on with it based on their imagination. They know where to get cardboard, scissors, glue etc so when they have proposal for a project and present me their long-list needed items, I say go and get them from this and that cupboard. So, given the time and resources, their creativity is coming along.

They read a lot of books. 80% of books they read is in English. Last month I purchased 3 children’s novels for Sumayya. She took about 2 weeks to finish all three, they were about 200-250 pages each. Safiyya can read most words in stand-alone form but still has not read one whole book from beginning to end. I wonder sometimes at her reading: she chooses a book, opens a random page and reads 2-3 words and then in this manner goes backwards and forwards. But then, she is like that with everything else too. She wants to do things differently….it is hard to describe her care-free and relaxed nature. (The only time she is under pressure is when she is hungry lol)

Occasionally AbuSumayya reads to them one of their Arabic stories or I read to them one of their Russian books. I started reading very popular Russian stories about Doctor Aybolit at bed time. I read a chapter a day, translate and then do quick vocab check on animals (doctor treats animals and all stories in the book revolves around different types of animals). They love it. We read Uzbek books too but mainly fact-based information books. We do not have very engaging Uzbek story books collection yet.

We do Qur’an hifdh revision only. With Sumayya we revise 1/4 of Juzz Amma a day and she reads 1-2 pages from the Qur’an in her class. She started reading Qur’an from back to the front as she was familiar with many surahs in 29th Juzz and found it easier reading that way. Safiyya memorized surah Tiyn. She knows 15-16 surahs of by heart altogether and older students at RE find it really interesting. Most have limited themselves with 4 Quls, as they say themselves and never found motives to memorize more. Unfortunately, we dont listen to Qur’an as often as we did, or indeed, as long as we did in the past. We have to resume this, even though they are not memorizing much.

Writing, again they do a lot of writing activities independently, outside my supervision. Usually one of their role-play games require writing, such as writing prescription (doctor-doctor game), writing shopping list (mother and daughter game) or doing register (teacher-teacher game). Sumayya does not write as many stories as she used to do. But, she still writes a lot of letters to her aunties, uncles, grandma and grandpa back home. Even little Ibrahim has been trying to write the past 2 weeks, he has such a good grab of pen/pencils though does no meaningful writing yet.

Maths, they both finished 2 maths workbooks each very casually. Sumayya is confident in addition/substraction. She can add/subtract 2 digit numbers. I fear she has forgotten much of mental math activity she did in MEP YEAR1. We have to revise it sometime as I have not taught any new mental math topic since finishing the programme 3-4 months ago. In fact, I have not been able to teach any maths formally, i.e on a more structured format. They loved the workbooks and finished them by themselves. They would complete 2 pages a day and I checked the answers whilst cooking or doing some other jobs etc. Safiyya, mashaAllah, is doing basic addition/subtraction with smaller numbers (0-5) and often using her fingers. MashaAllah, she is very confident in maths these days.

Arabic, Sumayya is learning from Gateway to Arabic 2 and Madinah Arabic 1. Safiyya is learning how to read with Gateway to Arabic 1, Arabic handwriting book 2 (from Goodword books). Both of their Arabic is limited to Arabic classes at RE. We don’t do anything extra at home.

Islamic Studies, reading and talking. We read and reread prophets’s stories or other Islamic story books. I ask them to narrate for reading comprehension or do quick Q&A. We talk a lot about Islamic topics, subjects, heroes, places etc. And doing things together like reading Qur’an, occasionally praying together, making wudu, doing some charity work etc helps a lot.

Another good news is concerning Ibrahim. He started talking about a month ago and has been amusing us with his funny speech ever since. His sisters find his way of talking so funny as he pronounces words in such cute manner. He demands to be read even more. Sometimes with hours on end grandma sits and reads to him. He has been writing everywhere. He tries to help us clean when me and his sisters start tidying/cleaning the house. He loves outside and does not mind the cold at all. SubhanAllah, I just can not believe how fast he has grown. The only thing is, I think he misses us when we go to work. We come home around 8 pm by which time he will be asleep. So, I and the girls say goodbye to him at 4pm daily, only to see him the next morning. But, he spends the whole day running after his sisters and copying them in every thing they do. Alhamdulillah, it is so good they have each other to play with and to learn together. I can see it more now how and why only children differ from children who grow up with siblings….

My plans are to do more literacy/numeracy with all 3 at home. Ibrahim started learning phonics. I intend to do more guided-reading with Safiyya, more narration for Sumayya’s reading comprehension, dictation for spelling and story/letter writing for her grammar and creative writing. And we have  resume MEP programme with the girls, revise Year 1 for now inshaAllah.

May Allah make things easy for us.

Mental math

Bismillah
Towards the end of MEP Year one, the book introduces lots of math activities to develop mental math. Alhamdulilah Allah has made it relatively easy for children to understand two math formulas.

1. The first formula they have learnt if a+b=c then a=c-b and b=c-a
We do lots of problem solving using this formula. So I say we have 14 apples altogether. If I have 8 how many do you have? Sumayya easily works out the answer is 6. Sometimes I say write all the possible addition sums for number X, i.e number 15. So, they write 8+7; 6+9; 15+0 etc.

2. The second formula is If a+b+c=d then a=d-(c+b) ; b= d-(a+c); and c=d-(a+b)
Again we do lots of problem solving activities where children are required to apply this formula. For example: Sumayya, Inaya and Marjaan has 15 dolls altogether. Sumayya has 4 and Inaya has 7. How many dolls does Marjaan have? To solve the problem they use the above formula a+4+7=15; a=15- (4+7); a=15-11 a=4

Or, they do maths exercises where they are asked to complete the table so the addition sum in each column would equal to 15. In general, we are still strengthening a lot of the concepts taught in MEPs YEAR 1. mashaAllah, so far I am happy with the programme and children seem to be used with the type of activities presented there.

  • They can now work with different types of tables and time tables
  • They understand the concept of measuring. We use different types of measuring units when measuring different things. Litre/ml for measuring liquid, metre/cm for measuring length, kg/lb for measuring weight and hour/minute for measuring time.
  • They did hands-on activities for measuring liquid using jars, measuring weight using kitchen scales, measuring length using rulers and problem solving activities using clock
  • Counting by 2’s, by 3’s, by 4’s and by 5’s till 100. This is really important to develop mental maths
  • Working on countdown by 2’s, by 3’s, by 4’s and by 5’s from 100 till 0. This is still a bit challenging so we keep practising
  • They can work out most addition/subtraction sums with numbers 0-20 mentally. For example, Sumayya uses no math manipulatives or fingers to work out 15+9. She counts up 9 numbers from 15 in her head and tells me the answer is 24.

I think we will start using MEP YEAR 2 soon. I have looked at some Math Workbooks at local WHSmith and online. I found them much too easy for the age group they were originally designed for. I do think MEPs is much more challenging and if not broken up by a parent can be too much for a child. Looking back I can tell Year 1 was definately difficult work for Sumayya. She started Year 1 when she just turned 5 and we were able to finish it within 6-7 months. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it easy for her later and she actually started enjoying it more. So, we will continue with MEP YEAR 2 and do of our own supplementary materials/activities on the side inshaAllah.