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.

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Beginning reading Arabic

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, by the Mercy of Allah swt, Sumayya has started reading in Arabic. She can read the surahs she has memorized very fluently. I think she does read half from the memory and half from the print. She tries to read the surahs she has not memorized and doing so well.

We have started using the book called Ahsanul Qawaid for both Sumayya and Safiyya. I loved the book and the order/presentation of each lesson. The flow of lessons is so smooth, the lessons build on each other like building blocks and child starts reading on Lesson 4.

Safiyya knows the use of “fatha”, “damma” and “kasra” and knows they make “a”, “u” and “i” sounds but like I said she finds it hard to blend sounds. She is instead memorized the written form of words. She recognizes the word “Allah” for example in Arabic and always plays word-hunting games with 2-3 words when we do Qur’an memorizing sessions. She recites all the 12 surahs off by heart, then I open the last page and ask her to find certain words namely “Allah”, “Qul”, “Nas”. Usually it has to be one of the high-frequency words (a word that is repeated many times) on that page. Alhamdulillah she is really good at word hunting.

Sumayya can read in Arabic now. Sometimes I cant believe she has started reading in Arabic, subhanAllah. I mean it is not our 1st or 2nd, or even 3rd language. We dont speak it and we dont live in Arab-speaking country. Plus the fact that she is not even 5 years of age yet makes it hard for our family and friends to believe that she can read and write in English, Uzbek and Arabic. I am not saying she is a genius of some kind. No, but it only shows that if parents put a little bit of effort and be consistent, children can read and write in 3 completely different languages before they reach 5.  Anyway, here is the book we have started using.

  

We have just finished lesson 6 and proceeded onto learning the high-frequency words of the Qur’an. Sumayya reads them easily, as you can see on the left page words like Huva, Laka, Hiya etc. Safiyya tries to identify the beginning sound or find fath, damma, kasra etc.

Sumayya has finished her Arabic Handwriting Book given by Arabic School. She now copies 4-5 words from Ahsanul Qawaid or 1-2 sentences from her Uhibbu Deeni Book. So she is doing copywork to improve her Arabic handwriting. She has a lot to improve yet as she is still not very much interested in Arabic writing

    

Safiyya has Arabic Handwriting Book that she uses at Arabic school. She is also trying to write the stand-alone forms of Arabic letters independently.

  

I have also started using the names of Allah flashcards I made long time ago. Sumayya was still a baby when I made these. My original plan was to flash these to help her to learn how to read in Arabic. (to be used as flashcards as in Doman method). But, Alhamdulillah she can now read these easily and I can use these to teach Safiyya how to read in Arabic now. So, I take 10 cards out each week for Sumayya to read/talk about meaning and I flash them to Safiyya at circle times.

Qur’an centred activities

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah wonderful sister um an Numan over at A Muslim Child is Born  has put together word workbooks for small surahs from Juzu Amma. We have done surah Al Fatiha, surah Al Ikhlas and surah An Nas so far. Alhamdulillah the girls enjoyed it, so did I. It is perfect material to introduce children to learn how to blend Arabic sounds and to actually read the Qur’an in Arabic. The books provide variety of activities such as tracing, cut/paste, matching words from ayah, word hunting and sequencing the ayah in the right order of the surah etc.

Reading the ayah and finding the same word as in the box below. Sumayya could easily read ayah aloud and Safiyya can recognize the same word by sight only.

Cut and paste the words in the relevant boxes (matching the words to its shadow in the boxes). Again Sumayya was reading them aloud and Safiyya was doing the pasting by sight recognition.

Matching the words on the right to the words on the left

We played the following board game from surah Al Ikhlas . Alhamdulillah it was fun and engaging game for my 3 year old too.

We  usually do lots of word hunting with Sumayya on mushaf. I always ask her to count the number of ayah in a surah she recites, find the last ayah, or ayah Nx, find one of the high frequency words within that surah. Alhamdulillah she is able to follow the Arabic print with her fingers. Usually she recites better when she follows the print with her finger. I think when she sees the next letter (i.e wow with fatha- wa) it prompts the next ayah in her head and she doesnt pause or doesnt get stuck. If she is reciting solely off her memory without looking at mushaf, I will help her to remember the next ayah whenever she pauses. Usually she pauses because she gets confused with similar ayah that come in different surahs. For example, Surah Inshiqaq, Surah Intifar and Surah Takweer have lots of similar words and word combinations and thus I too get confused when reciting off my memory, subhanAllah, never mind the 5 year old.

So, because of the previous work on mus’haf, Sumayya found these too easy. And she keeps asking me to print her long surahs, like surah Al Fajr word workbook. She wants to do the same worksheets for her surahs. The girls have divided the surahs of Juzu Amma between themselves. It is Safiyya’s surahs from Nas to Takathur, and surahs from Qaria to Naba belong to Sumayya.

Below are some more sample pages. I encourage all mothers to try these word workbooks for introducing reading the Qur’an. Although Sumayya found them too easy, it was a good reinforcement for her to do. And it was a bit challenging for Safiyya . She can recognize words to match by sight, she can do letter hunting and she can do cut/paste activity easily. So, she is doing well re sight-recognition of words. But she can not blend them and couldnt read individual words aloud. So, it would be ideal to do these again when she is 4 inshaAllah.