Parents what’s wrong with you!??


Excellent parenting tips from Nouman Ali Khan.. he talks about the mistakes that parents make which leads to extremely bad relationships between them and their teenaged childred. He emphasises that all that children crave when they are young 2, 3, 4 ,5 years old is the parents attention and approval. If we ignore them, consider them to be hinderences in our rest times, hobbies and interests.. they will shove us away when we are old!

For fathers! Your job begins when you GO HOME..be a father spend time with your children! After coming back home from a long day at work…its not vacation time!

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Homeschooling the ‘not so still’


Bismillah

Kids watching a lady bird they found in the balcony

Young kids 2 -6 year olds are very restless, have very low attention spans and get very very easily distracted. I am talking about majority of the kids this age, there are,however always a few exceptions. So  HOW to homeschool such kids.

This was one the major issue which I faced and was the only factor stopping me from taking the homeschooling plunge.

At home, my daughter  hardly stays still, is very easily distracted, talks ALOT,would speak to complete strangers who came into the house.. electrician.. plumber, would confidently speak and ask questions from complete strangers in shops, clinics and every where she went…she would throws things, tears up books at times,  she couldn’t stand any poster/ paper etc put up on walls, fridge magnets never stayed on the fridge, toys and books never on the shelf..in one word.. everything would be on the floor.( Alhamdulilah some of it has changed now)

But when she went to school for four months… Viola!she turned into a  totally miss goody two shoes, listening,obeying and following instructions, she was reserved, calm and quiet and hardly spoke..she was considered under confident.

So why this completely opposite personality in school and at home? I was perplexed. John Holts book How Children Fail and How Children learn made me realize the fear factor of schools, which I realized, must be greatly amplified for kids soo young. As Saffiyah…a 12 year old homeschooler who recently began her homeschool points out

“I found myself more afraid of teachers than my mother, because my mother’s just so familiar while they’re almost like strangers telling you what to do.”

So when a 12 year old could be more afraid of her teacher ..how much fear would be in the hearts of a young little 2.5 year old! Just imagine..sending them to school would be cruel!

When I was unable to make my daughter sit still, grab her attention and make her do her school workbook , coloring inside the shape, remembering numbers etc I was upset and asked other mothers and did a lot of research on the net and this is what I have realized.

Young kids don’t need a rigid routine nor a fixed set curriculum, they need not be  taught how to add, read or write  and this article hits the nail on the head! More over, our deen ..which provides us instruction in every area of life,guides us regarding teaching the Salah to children, that it should be started at the age of 7 . There is also a saying attributed to Ali (r) [I couldn’t find a reference] that :

Play with your child the first 7 years, Discipline Your Child the next 7 years and then Befriend your child the following 7 years.

So according to our deen, the first seven years are for play and fun without a rigid routine/curriculum or forced teaching of complex things. However, most schools these days take in children at the age of 2.5 and subject them to forced routine of waking up early,travelling to school, being punctual, even when they are unwell (flu, fever, cold) which is likeley to be most of the time! then by the age of four they are expected to read, do math or other complex stuff.

Interestingly in this article titled ‘Much to Early’, the author argues that very young children need  not be tutored to understand  complex things, because children are only able to do ‘concrete operations’ such as multiplication, addition subtraction at the age of six or seven and reading is a much more complex process than arithmetic, so forcing them to recall alphabets which are merely abstract symbols is like placing a tough burden on them. Surprisingly in these articles a behavioural and developmental Pediatrician explains that the brain only gets ready for reading between the age of 4-7 years! she explains the physiological reasons why we should not be teaching pre-school children to write, read, and spell at such an early age as it will create learning problems in the future.

Teaching Our Children to Read, Write and Spell – Part I :The Proprioceptive System,

Teaching Our Children to Read,Write and Spell – Part II

Lilipoh: Teaching Our Children

Teaching Academics in Pre School and Kindergarten

All of the above articles  really are a MUST read as it gives us the underlying reason for not ‘schooling’ children at such a young age.

So parents of such young children should ‘chill’ and relax and not worry if their child is not reading or counting or adding or even if they dont know their alphabets. Just have fun with them, play games and do things they like doing. If they don’t color inside the shape…give them blank sheets to color where ever they wish, they want to color the sky red.. let them..they dont want to read…leave them alone..they dont want to count..leave them alone, let them be kids. Every child develops at a different pace, they each learn to flip over, crawl and walk at their own pace, the parent needs to find out when their child is ready for structured learning of complex things, try it out and if you find our child anxious, more restless and not enjoying the activity.. leave it and do what they enjoy doing. There is joy in learning, not jitters. I am going to quote three very important paras from this paediatrician.

Children can’t learn and neurological pathways can’t form as easily when children’s nervous systems are experiencing stress. Forcing children to write, read, and spell, and giving them “standardized” tests before they are developmentally ready, will stress their nervous systems. Furthermore, children will dislike reading and will not want to go to school. If we insist on pushing writing, reading and spelling before the children’s minds are ready, we will continue to create an epidemic of behavior and learning difficulties, especially in our boys.

Activities like imaginary play, climbing, running, jumping, hopping, skipping, walking the balance beam, playing circle games, singing, playing catch, doing meaningful chores, painting, coloring, playing hand-clapping games, doing string games, and finger knitting will strengthen their minds for learning. Children need these healthy, harmonious, rhythmic, and noncompetitive movements to develop their brains. For it is the movements of their body that create the pathways in their mind for reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, and creative thinking. (Susan Johnson,M.D, Teaching Our Children)

Children who are ready to read and write should be able to pay attention and sit still in a chair for 20 minutes (without needing to wiggle or sit on their feet or wrap their feet around the legs of the chair). They should easily be able to balance on 1 foot with their arms stretched out in front of them (palms facing up) with both eyes open and then closed for 10 seconds and not lose their balance. They should be able to easily walk heel to toe on a balance beam. They should be able to reproduce patterns of abstract lines and curves (eg. numbers and letters) on a piece of paper with a pencil when someone draws these numbers and letters on their backs with a finger.

If children can’t do these tasks easily then they haven’t integrated their vestibular and proprioceptive (sensory-motor) systems, and they will have difficulty sitting still, listening, focusing their eyes, focusing their attention, and remembering their numbers and letters in the classroom.(Susan Johnson,M.D, Teaching Academics in Kindergarten)

So test your children based on the above given physical actions. If they are able to do these activities, it means their brain is developed enough to start reading, writing, spelling and math, then you can start these complext activities with them, if not… let them play!

Further Reading:

BBC – Is five too soon to start school?

Re-discovered research says early school starting age ‘harms children’

Delay School entry until six, researchers urge

Home is where the school is

I stopped to watch my little girl busy playing in her room…


Something I came across in a forwarded email which really touched me. Need to set my priorities right!

 

I stopped to watch my little girl busy playing in her room. In one hand was a plastic phone; in the other a toy broom. I listened as she was speaking to her make believe little friend And I’ll never forget the words she said, even though it was pretend.

She said, “Salma’s in the corner cuz she’s not been very good. She didn’t listen to a word I said or do the things she should.” In the corner I saw her baby doll all dressed in lace and pink. It was obvious she’d been put there to sit alone and think.

My daughter continued her “conversation,” as I sat down on the floor. She said, “I’m all fed up, I just don’t know what to do with her anymore? She whines whenever I have to work and wants to play games, too. She never lets me do the things that I just have to do?

She tries to help me with the dishes, but her arms just cannot reach… And she doesn’t know how to fold towels. I don’t have the time to teach. I have a lot of work to do and a big house to keep clean. I don’t have the time to sit and play — don’t you know what I mean?”

And that day I thought a lot about making some changes in my life; As I listened to her innocent words that cut me like a knife. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to what I hold most dear. I’d been caught up in responsibilities that increased throughout the year.

But now my attitude has changed, because, in my heart, I realize… I’ve seen the world in a different light through my little darling’s eyes. So, let the cobwebs have the corners and the dustbunnies rule the floor, I’m not going to worry about keeping up with them anymore.

I’m going to fill the house with memories of a child and her mother… For we are granted only one childhood, and we will never get another.

Schools Kill Creativity!


 

This made so much sense and gave me lots of encouragement to start homeschooling my daughter. There is one thing that I noted in my daughter which now makes sense to me. After four months of schooling when I met her teacher, she told me that she needs to work on quantity..  i.e. she could not count objects correctly, but when i tested her at home asking her to give me 4 tomatoes.. or to tell me how many fingers i had up.. she told me correctly! but when i gave her the  school workbook to count the pictures of bees… she went  one .. four..five.. eight! :S DUH.. what happened.. it was only after reading holts book did i realize what was hapenning.

This is what schools do to a child numb their brain…as John Holt says:

For children, the central business of school is not learning, whatever this
vague word means; it is getting these daily tasks done, or at least out of the
way, with a minimum of effort and unpleasantness. Each task is an end in
itself. The children don’t care how they dispose of it. If they can get it out of
the way by doing it, they will do it; if experience has taught them that this
does not work very well, they will turn to other means, illegitimate means,
that wholly defeat whatever purpose the task giver may have had in mind.
With a workbook in front of her…her mind said this is school.. hence the wrong answers, which is why homeschooling is the way Alhamdulilah.

 

Seeing snoww


Finally made the trip to Muree and A saw snow for the first time! Even though it was March, there was still quite a bit of snow.. though it was dirty and very slushy! …She was super excited to see it and when she touched it she exclaimed mama its cold and wet!

Phenomic Awareness.. the missing step


A is able to recognize some letters but I felt that she was not able to link the sounds to real objects. She knew a is for apple but it was from memory, she has a very sharp memory MashaAllah and usually memorizes a lot of things without  much effort. She did not  understand that apple began with the sound ‘a’. I realized this when she was unable to do her worksheets and mostly when she was unable to proceed to the third lesson on reading eggs. I was quite worried. Then I read on K5 that Phenomic awareness was  a pre-requisite to reading, even BEFORE knowing Phonics. I tried to do the phenomic awarenessi lesson on k5 with A, but she just did not understand. Then I read on a website.. a simple game to play.. begins with game.. just a simple verbal game. You just take an object and say.. orange begins with O O O Orange.. Ball begins with  B B B Ball.. and so on. Two days of playing this game .. Alhamdulilah she finally understood the link between the letters and the words!

We played begins with game today again and afterwords read Jolly Stories. It was my good luck that I found this book in really good condition at a second hand book shop and got it for Rs.100 only! less than a pound, where as the new book costs Rs. 1000+

She enjoys this book alot and usually gets stuck on the  ’n’ page. For some reason she is intrigued by the ‘dark’ night scenes . in mostly all the books. she recognizes s a t and n howvere she is still a little confused between m and n. She also confuses b with d.. butI havent really serioslly done any of these letters with her, so InshaAllah she will improve.

Today she did lesson 3, 4 and 5   on reading eggs MashaAllah with just a teeny weeny help from me. She is not very quick with the mouse pad and it takes a lot of time and needs A LOT of patience, which she usually doesn’t  have.. but with a lot of support and encouragement and YOU CAN DO IT attitude she did it by herself. MashaAllah.

“I like Allaah.. mama.”


The main focus of my homeschooling is instilling a love for Allah in my children.Today when she said  ’ I like Allah.. mama’ this made me soo happy Alhamdulilah and once when I scolded her for a major disaster, she said crying… mujhay Allah paass jana hai! I want to go to Allah! SubhanAllah. Today while listening to the story of Ibrahim alayh salam at bed time, she also asked me if Allah is in the Kaabah because that is Allah’s house, she already know that Allah is up above the heavens on His Arsh, so i just explained to her that Allah is not in the Kabah, its the direction we pray in. It a masjid and all masjids are houses of Allah because we worship Allah there!

These are some books on Allah which I have been reading out to her and these days she is obsessed with the story of Ibrahim (as). She listens to it from me at bed time and also intently watches the story of Ibrahim (as) Zaky DVD. She also says that she wants to be Allah’s friend, just like Ibrahim (as)

Winter Season Activity


I have been telling A about winters, showing her trees and leaves and grass and explaining how its cold so we need to wear warm clothes.  Since these days she is too much into pasting I decided to do winter season pasting activity with her. I just printed out clipart of winter and she pasted away.

Since it doesn’t snow here, I explained to her what snow is and it snows in Murree and then we also saw vidoes of kids playing in the snow, making snow man and skating and skiing etc. She really wanted to make a snow man and said she wants to go to Murree! Then we also did a paper doll and dressed her up in winter clothes. A was quite excited about the paper doll..but she wanted to glue the clothes on the doll as well!! hehee then I explained to her how we will keep changing the dolls clothes. The clothes still kept coming off though, so im thinking of using paper clips to keep them in place.

We also did coloring in winter printouts. Howe ver I seem to be doing most of the coloring as A just doesn’t have the patience to complete the picture. Just a few scribbles and she is ready to go the ‘next’ page!  One way I have learned to tackle this is to not give her a coloring book or  more than one sheet! There is however improvement in her coloring. First she used to pick one color and color all with the same and now she is Alhamdulilah picking and choosing colors! Coloring has to be done when H is sleeping or is kept busy with aboo in the other room otherwise he also wants to color in the SAME page and loves to scribble on the walls!

If things work out we will InshaAllah visit Murree and see snow for real!

 

Week 1: Islamic Pre School Curriculum


For A who just turned 3 in January, I have been trying to follow the Islamic Pre School Curriculum updated by Umm Maimoonah, originally designed by Umm Ibrahim atTalibideen Jr. May Allah reward these sisters who did all the hardwork! Special thanks toUmmi Subhana for introducing me to it and encouraging me and supporting me in my homeschooling journey!

However, because of H and A’s moody temprament, we are doing things completely unstructured. Mostly  I just am not able to  read up/organize and print out.Plus H just does not let me use the laptop as he just wants to bang on the keyboard and I have a million other house chores and cooking and making the kids EAT.. .. its like im trying to make them EAT all day long….when I do get time and when H is sleeping I sit down with A and  do some activity. So following is what we have done from Week 1, yes it took us quite some time!

  • A already knows Who is Allah and Where is Allah. We just practised in Arabic. We have a lot of discussions about Allah. We also listened to a Nasheed Allahu Rabbi from Kids Land, she memorized it quickly and I found her humming it while playing :-) I usually just play the Nasheeds from Kids Land while the kids are playing and A just starts humming along!
  • We did the mini book Who is Allah from A Muslim Child i born. I spoke while she colored. She does not know how to read or write, she just scribbles and is really impatient while coloring, she just wants to go next next page! Sigh.. i don’t know how to handle this.
  • She painted in the name Allah in arabic.
  • She wanted to paste, so I just came up with different things for her to paste.
  • She also did writing exercise on her wipe clean Writing book. She loved it and regulary did this for 3/4 days.
  • We also started the scrap book on 99 Names of Allah.
  • She already knows Surah Ikhlas. I am just trying to improve her Tajweed (Pronunciation) so that she recites it properly without mistake. I used Juz30 Software for repeating each verse a number of times and looping the Surah as well. Juz30 software is excellent for memorization. She would sometimes repeat after it while playing and at times she would come and stand in front of the laptop and see each verse as it is displayed on screen.
  • Ever since she turned 3, she is playing on her quite a lot and especially loves to sit in a carboard box and play pretend.. boat. She puts all her stuffed animals in it too.. I think she is mimicking the story of Nuh alayhis salam (Noah) Little H, bothers her alot and keeping taking her toys out and wanting to get in or out!


Homeschooling through storytelling


The bulk of my home-schooling is currently going on through story telling, as A lovess them! She is captivated by stories which  I mostly tell her at bed time and afternoon naptime. I keep the stories short and interesting and try to put in as much emotions into them as I can. Within a short span of time, within a month she has become familiar with quite a few Islamic figures. The  Islamic stories which I am telling her these days are as follows:

  • Story of Creation
  • Story of Prophet Adam (as)
  • Story of Shaitan – the bad Jinn
  • Story of Nooh (as)
  • Story of Yunus (as)
  • Story of Ibrahim (as)
  • Story of Musa & Firaun (as)
  • Story of Birth of Muhammad (s) and few facts about his life
  • Story of Cave of Hira.
  • Story of Al Isra Wal Mairaj
  • Discussion on Jannah

She also has a few story books on the above mentioned stories, but I find the stories not written very nicely so as to captivate the young mind. She mostly skims through these books looking at pictures and asking me lots and lots of questions. The other day she asked  her father.. “aboo app mujhay Masjid ul Aqsa laijaingay??” Aboo will you take me to Masjid e Aqsa! … this just proves how much children retain from stories and how much it affects them and how they want to re enact the stories they listen to. 🙂

How I stopped my three year old from scribbling on walls!


The first challenge of my homeschooling journey was to stop A from scribbling on the walls, floor and furniture because were were renting… I had been trying to make her stop writing on the walls and other places since she was 1, but nothing seemed to work! I explained, I punished, I ignored.. i tried everything, but the second I turned my head she would be at it! Dadis and Nanis houses are a testimony to that! ahh and don’t ask how Mr.Mamoo would be angry to find scribbles on his sofa and walls! The only solution I found was to not give her anything to write with. Her crayons, pens, markers everything was kept hidden…but this greatly affected her learning to write skills and I realized that not giving her crayons or markers was not the solution. Then I found this book, Parenting through story telling and then I made up stories of a boy and a girl, how the girl would make beautiful drawings and paintings and was appreciated by all and how the boy would always write /paint on the walls…i did this for about a month and in the end always associated my daughter with the good girl..and Alhamdulilah it seemed to have worked
BUT…my 1 year old son is now at it and no storytelling would work at such a young age! The minute he gets his hands on a pen or a pencil he is at the walls…so much for a clean house .. AHHH
Once Upon a time..Parenting through storytelling by Hoda Beshir
It can be downloaded from here

Edit

The Homeschooling journey begins…


Bismillah

Ok, so finally I have taken the homeschooling plunge! With two young ones,daughter  A 3 years  and son  H 1.3 years old , homeschooling seems like an uphill task.

A attended school for around five months in Karachi and then we moved to Islamabad and it was when I moved here and attended a homeschoolers meet up  that I decided to give homeschooling a try, for atleast one year and see how things turn up.

There are many reasons why I feel homeschooling is best for A at the time being and there are certain things which I realized only after her school started and that led me to eventually opt for homeschooling.

Firstly, I felt terrible for sending her to school to be looked after by strangers when she needed help for even basic things like using the toilet. I wondered how can an ‘aya’ look after my doll and clean her up properly just the way i would, no that was not possible. I was also more concerned about the tahara factor, because I would change her clothes if any  drops came on her clothes..but would an aya even bother? I don’t think so.

Secondly, she was the youngest in class and she seemed to be intimidated by other children. My noisy chirpy and over confident girl, who had no qualms talking to complete strangers on the street and greeting shop keepers, gardeners and other strangers she came acrooss, was very quiet and reserved in class.  She was not social at all in school and this is one thing which I am still not able to understand properly, why such a change of personality in school and at home!?? Because of her shyness, she did not speak much at all and it seemed that she did not know her stuff!

There was nothing really ‘Islamic’ being taught at the Nursery level, where as I realized that at such a young age, the memorization and absorption is the strongest, so why not teach our deen and make full use of these precious years? I realized that at very young ages home-schooled children were very aware of their deen MashaAllah! I was very much inspired by UmmiSubhana and UmmiMaimoonah. MasahAllah they have raised such able and such knowledgeable girls at such a young  age!

Then there were the school timings.A has been suffering from night terrors since as far as I can remember , probably 1.5 or 2 and due to this, taking a small nap in the afternoon was a must and she used to take a nap between 12 and 1:00, but due to the school timings from 9:30 – 1:00, her whole routine was disrupted and  it was too long for a 2.5 yr old. By the time she arrived back home by 1:40, changed and had lunch, she was so over exhausted that she just was unable to nap in the afternoon and the result of which was terrible night terrors and dreary mornings!

Last but not the least, even a Islamic school can not provide a truly Islamic environment, with children coming from different backgrounds and different levels of ‘islamic’ home environment, it really seems useless to send your child to an Islamic school where her class mates are discussing movies and TV and bollywood and singing songs.

The thing that really hit home were John Holts book: How Children Fail , which truly opened my eyes to see the flaws of the ‘schooling’ system and it gave a little explnation of how and why my daughter’s behavior changed in school.I would recommend every parent and every teacher to read his books!

These are just some of the reasons why I have decided to homeschool my daughter and see how it goes for at least a year. May Allah make this journey easy for me and my kids and I really want to keep checking my intention that I am doing this for the sake of Allah alone, to raise upright kids who would serve Allah’s deen and become my greatest source of sadqa e jariya. Ameen

Homeschooling rant


Assalamu Alaykum…Okay so I have not seriously blogged since ages and I can’t believe that I used to be such a regular blogger. Firstly I did not have time to blog..reason.. Motherhood! Some say that your life ends when your kids’ life starts! Hehe it surely does happen, but then soon after you life takes over a new leaf and a totally new life begins. Seriously no bachelor or bachelorette can EVER truly understand what it’s like to be a parent. It is ONLY after you have kids that you realize what being a parent truly means and the heaviest responsibility Allah has kept on your shoulders..of nurturing righteous muslims..

Children are a gift from Allah and they are an ‘amanah’. We have to raise them right on the true deen, so they are aware of their Creator and what living Islam truly means. That is why when my daughter turned 2.5, I searched and searched for a right ‘Islamic School’.l admitted her in ‘Reflections’, a good Islamic school in Karachi. But Allah had other plans for me..

No sooner had a month passed that I learned we had to move out of Karachi. We didn’t really have other options. so here I am , writing this post from Islamabad. Its a beautiful, peaceful city. Alhamdulilah Allah has blessed me with so much I can’t thank Him enough. I am truly loving it here. Everything is just perfect – just perfect ..for homeschooling.

I used to think that homeschooling was only for those muslim families living in the west with no options of Islamic schools, but I was surprised to know that there were homeschooling families in Pakistan Then i came acroand lots and lots of blogs of homeschooling muslim moms. SubhanAllah! I felt ashamed.. they were doing SO MUCH and their kids MashaAllah so advanced and learning everything right in the protective nest of their own home, especially their deen and truly loving everything.

Now we are in Islamabad…my daughter is out of school and I have decided to homeschool her.InshaAllah.

Homeschooling is not what I used to think or what most people think it is. It is not a school-at-home where the mom stands in front of the blackboard from 9-1 teaching. No, its a ‘dynamic’ learning environment and much much more. There is still a lot of reading, thinking, organizing and planning to do and decisions to make.. but InshaAllah may Allah make it easy for me to homeschool my children. It is a challenge.. no doubt it is, but it was the kids who made me ‘unemployed’..but Allah has ’employed’ me now for my own kids. What could be a better job than that!