House Rules


This Ramadan I wanted to focus on good behaviour and the Quran. For the Good Behaviour I made some simple basic house rules  for every day reminder. I wanted positive reinforcement and not a bad behaviour list…I used symbols to illustrate the good behaviour since Aaminah is just beginning to read and can not read a lot of text. I  printed and stuck them to a house shaped construction paper. The text in blue is the mafhoom of hadiths or ayahs. Since ramadan is coming up, it will give us ample opportunities to practice.

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I cut out the rules and Aaminah put the glue and all this while I explained to her what we were doing. I explained what is Darul ul Islam.. a house of peace a house of Salam, where everyone is happy and peaceful and lives according to the teaching of Islam. Dar ul Taqwa – house of Allah conciousness –  a house where we are aware that Allah is always watching us. Darul Quran – A house of Quran.. where we read, listen and live by the Quran.. so on and so forth. Then went on to explain each rule. I am making a seperate ‘bad behavior chart’ which will illustrate the bad behaviour which will not be tolerated in this house.

This is not just a reminder for the children , but for me as well.. to remember to be kind and forgiving when the kids wreck up the house! 🙂

If you would like to use these in your home, here is a pdf file for you to print out. Please use and share and remember me in your duas.

House Rules

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Bob books are here!


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However much to my dismay,Aaminh is still not very keen to read and kept asking me to read out the book to her.she read a few words from a few pages,but not much interested in reading the whole book. I am not going to force her as I don’t want her to ‘hate’ reading and i don’t want her to use her sight memory as well.

When we push young children to read and they only have access to their right hemisphere for reading, we create learning problems for them in the future.

Read about the dangers of forcing children to read .. before their brain is fully developed..here

More reading


I Have been trying to do various reading activities with aminah but she does not seem to be  too interested in reading and at times deliberately reads wrong . I KNOW she can read and has read many words but at times she just goes crazy and reads even the letters wrong. We tried to do movable alphabets an copying words but after two words she was tuned out. Maybe i should go very slow or just leave her alone for the time being.

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However her Arabic progress is going good Alhamdulilah and while playing with smartmax she made various Arabic letters..

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Homeschooling Milestone: Beginning to Read!


Yesterday was a miracle day alhamdulilah. Aminah was playing her reading game on the tablet   in which she always guessed the 3 letter word which she had to match with a picture,  but yesterday i realized that she was not guessing  but was selecting using the ending sound. She would get it right if there was no similar ending sound but would get it wrong if there were words with the same ending sound.eg for cat picture if there was cat and bat.  I took over to explain the beginning sound and lo and behold she got  how to blend two letters Alhamdulilah.

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After playing the game for a while, we did some reading , I wrote two letter words  on paper

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and we  did some reading . MashaAllah she got it! It was a breakthrough day for me. She still loses her focus and starts doing her  own writing as you can see her doodles and her  jeem as we are also doing Arabic, but its okay and I don’t push her if she does not want to do something.  So we probably did this for may be just a minute or two and then she we went off doing her own coloring etc.

Today we did some more reading on the blackboard and she was able to read two letter words such as on off go an at etc etc.  However at times she is still confused if she should read from left to right or right to left.
Later during the day we read level Pk of the Emaan reading series and she read the simple  words in the book such as  see funIMAG1558 IMAG1559

and then we moved on to three letter word picture match puzzle by jolly phonics! MashaAllah she got most of them correct except for mug and pin.

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It is such a wonderful day for me and I am extremely happy. It may mean nothing to parents whose children can read, but for me its a huge milestone in homeschooling. Even though she has been recognizing alphabets since she was 2.5 but she just was not able to get the concept of blending. So I totally quit trying to teach her to read, specifically because I did not want her to use her short term memory for reading and because of the many other reasons which I wrote in this blog post.  ‘Homeschooling the not so still’. The only thing we were doing was read aloud. We read almost  every day,various kinds of books, simple ones to downright high level ones – which i knew she was not understanding much, but she still insisted me to read those to her. Currently I began teaching her Arabic letters and their sounds and doing some Arabic vocabulary. Also formally began the Qaida and  memorizing the Quran. This is what we were focusing on these days and lo and behold she began to read

Anyways, she turned 4 in Januray and still no sign of understanding blending or  her trying to read and I began to have doubts and fears of my ability to homeschool successfully. I though she was going to stay illiterate and would eventually have to be put into a school. And behold in two days time she has began to read 3 letter words – which is exactly what her peers in school are doing. I asked a friend whose daughter attends school and is Aaminah’s age and she is also doing three letter words. So even though I DID NOT  do anything to teach her how to read – any activity or exercise or worksheets but MashaAllah she is reading and is not behind – which I had thought might be the case since I am homeschooling and not doing much!

Alhamdulilah.

Homeschooling Pre Schoolers – Beginners Guide


Bismillah

This was a reply to a sister who asked about  guide to books for homeschooling her 4 year old daughter. I hope many will find this useful InshaAllah

First of all I want you to read this post about schooling very young children which I wrote. I highly recommend that you read all the articles that I have mentioned in this post. Homeschooling the not so still
First test your daughter to see if her proprioceptive sytem is developed or not based on articles in the link above..if it is, her brain is developed for complex activities like reading,writing,spelling n maths, then you start these, using the montessori method. If its not, then let her play n do lots of outdoor activities and read aloud to her.
I would suggest that you buy lots of reading material and read aloud to her:
Islamic Material:
  • The Emaan Reading series of Bilal Philips. Buy ALL the levels. Pre K to Level 6. Would you believe that my 3.9 year old daughter enjoys the read aloud of Level 5 books and insists on me reading Level 6! They are available from AFAQ.  I got the whole series for around 7000  Rs. http://www.afaq.edu.pk/home.php
  • Buy Islamic story books from Goodword and Darussalam.
  • Visit Dawah books in Khadda Market,Karachi  and buy other Islamic story books by international publishers.
  • I found Allah the creator and Hilmy the Hippo series beautifully narrated with an interesting story line that keeps the childrens interest. Some books by them are available at dawah Books.
  • You can also follow this Islamic Curriculum designed by a Muslim homeschooling mom.
  • You can buy really great products from Smart Ark and Learning Roots and Mini Mumin However, they are not available anywhere in Pakistan unfortunatley ( some titles may be available at Dawah books). So you will have to order online.
  • English:
  • You can use Jolly Phonics to teach Phonics grammar etc. You can buy their products from the ELC/Mothercare shop at ZamZama.
  • Buy Moveable Alphabets, Magnetic Alphabets, White board, black board & magnetic board
  •  Buy lots of used story books from Sunday Bazaar and read aloud.
  • Use Montessori methods for teaching writing, such as sand papers, writing on suji/rice etc. If she is not interested in reading or writing, please do not force her,test her brain development as mentioned earlier.
  • There are lots of online reading programs like Reading Eggs. I tried the trial version but realized my daughter was then always wanting to hog the laptop! So I would not recommend online programs because they can be addictive and not very healthy for kids to be in front of the computer screen for so long. But its upto you.
Arabic:
  • Get Arabic books from Goodword and Darussalam from the Darussalam and Al Balagh book shop in Karachi.
  • Download Arabic Nasheeds for kids so they get used to hearing Arabic and learn the accent/pronunciation. Look for Salma nasheeds,nasheeds by mishary rashid etc.
  • Visit http://kids.islamweb.net/ and make her watch the stories of Prophets and other things on this Arabic only website.
  • visit http://amuslimchildisborn.blogspot.com/ for Arabic arts and crafts and a lot more homeschooling ideas.

Little Astronomers


Last night I woke at around 1:30 to attend to Aaminah and then I realized that the laundry was still on the clothes line on the roof!  In Islamabad the weather can turn around in seconds and afierce windstorms and rain has surprised us many many times, so i ran up to the roof to get the clothes and I was awestruck by the beautiful dark night sky and the stars shining brightly. I love the winter sky because its usually full of many things to explore and see. I saw a very bright star and realized it was a planet. I have been soo out of touch of the sky charts that I didn’t know which one it was.. probably Venus or Saturn. I suddenly had the urge to take out my scope, but realized that it was still packed. I had not even unpacked it after our move to Islamabad and I really missed the amazing time I had with it. I decided to unpack it the next morning.

So today I set up the scope and we watched the moon right before sunset. This was the first time Aaminah was able to actually see through the eye piece!  She said.. its a ball and then she said.. yeh moon jaisa lag raha hai (This looks like the moon)! Surprising she also said I want to see Mars! I was quite astonished as I had not mentioned anything about Mars!

She still has difficulty keeping one eye closed and I had to cover one of her eye with my hand so she could peek into the eye piece! I think it would be too difficult for her to spot the little planets in the eye piece. Little Huz was also very keen on looking through the scope, though he couldn’t figure out what in the world was going on!  He kept trying to fidget with the scope…err which I didn’t like much. Can’t wait for my little astronomers to grow up so we can have load of fun star gazing and looking at the beautiful night sky, the most amazing creation of Allah Subhana Watala!

Related Posts:

sKy WaTchER

First Light

Lord of the rings – Saturn

Jumpin Jupiter

Duas for Ramadan


Dua when sighting new moon

Dua before and after eating

Dua when breaking the fast

Print and paste on cardstock to make a wall hanging or a paste on to card and fold to make a table card.

 

Annoying kid behaviour.. the real explanation


Fidgeting, biting, chewing,touching others and walls, clumsy behaviour, lack of attention and focus are all signs of an undeveloped Proprioceptive system. This video explains it beautifully. I feel terrible for getting annoyed and sometimes yelling at some of such behaviour in my daughter! May Allah forgive me and make me a better parent.

Rajab And Mairaj


A very good presentation on the facts about the Month of Rajab, the rituals like fasting,Umrah, Koonday and the worship of the 27th of Rajab and the Mairaj Event.

Rajab and Mairaj Flash Presentation

Lecture by Dr.Farhat Hashmi

رجب اور شب معراج Rajab & The Night of Ascension Mp3 file

Download Urdu Pamphlet

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!

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!