Monthly Archives: February 2010

Patience

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Been some time since I last posted, or so it seems…

Mother in law arrived on Friday and took over the kitchen (no complaints on my part – lol). When you’re not used to having someone else live with you, it definitely takes getting used to. MashaAllah, she isn’t a difficult mother in law so I really cannot complain. She is trying to adapt to our lifestyle which I appreciate. Alhamdulillah.

She kept asking R when she is going to school. In Algeria, they start going to school around the age of 6 and R is almost 5 1/2 years old, so she expected her to be attending school already. My husband explained to her that I homeschool which she was surprised at (even though I have been homeschooling for the past few years). When we explained our reasons, she thought it was a good thing – just something different that she isn’t used to. She probably isn’t too shocked after all her son moved to the UK and then married a non-Algerian revert so I guess she expects us to live very differently.

I’ve taken it quite easy with the home ed. Just Quran, reading, spelling, grammar and math daily. All other times are spent how R wishes to spend it. We’ve been out a lot which I’m not really used to (so far – every day!), but my mother in law wants to see London.

Taking her to different places (nothing spectacular – sometimes just a major supermarket) has made me realise how fortunate we are, living in the UK. Many things we take for granted that others do not have – subhanaAllah.

It truly is a blessing having her here. Aside from the fact that I get to eat nice Algerian food, I learn a lot from her. Mostly, her patience. I am not the most patient person – anyone that knows me well will tell you that. And I am just amazed at the sabr and good character that she has mashaAllah. We place so much emphasis on external matters of the deen and yet you find that a simple woman who has spent over 40 years looking after her house, husband and 6 children (and is still doing so for two of my grown up brother in laws) has such outstanding character. I often find that we here in the UK have a lot to learn from others.

As for pregnancy, am playing the waiting game. Have had a few ‘scares’ but am still here as ‘2’. Feeling anxious, nervous and excited and just at that stage where I WANT IT OUT! LOL!

I have also laid out some sort of home ed plan as to what I would like to cover once I can return back to normal after taking time out to adjust to baby. I have included some toddler activities for Z as I feel that he needs a bit of my time. So, after the baby, ummihomeschoolsme will be covering toddler activities and R’s usual Home Ed routine. Z’s activities will not be ‘formal’, but I just want to ensure that I do something fun with him every day. I have seen quite a few other home edders who take time out to spend with their toddlers as a home edding family and I like the idea of this, so I have made a list of lots of fun activities and can’t wait to get started with him.

In the last few days, it is amazing the amount of Algerian and Arabic Z has picked up. He is saying many more words now. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean the workbooks will be coming out. Not at all. I just feel that he needs his time with ummi too.

InshaAllah the next post will be me saying that baby is out – lol! Please remember me in your duas.

Keeping it real!

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Last few days has been about tidying up the house, arranging a few last minute things before mother in law’s arrival on Friday inshaAllah. We asked her to come a bit earlier as my braxton hicks are getting stronger!

R has spent the last few days playing with her brother, reading, doing some arts and crafts, watching animal park and playing on iboard! She loves iboard!

Today, we were invited by a sister who also home educates and another sister who also home educates was there with her kids. The conversation we had led me to think loads and loads about loads of things! lol I truly enjoyed their company and actually haven’t enjoyed sisters company like that in a long time. I don’t know if it is because they were both reverts like myself and we share the passion of Home Ed, but I really felt like I could relate to a lot of what they were saying.

Our topics of conversation took me back to why I had become Muslim in the first place. That was almost 11 years ago. I cringe at some of the things I have said, done and felt over these years. May Allah forgive me. But it made me think about the REASONS why I had become a Muslim. It was all so simple back then. I became a Muslim because I believed in a Creator. I believed in all of the Prophets and Messengers that He sent down to earth. I believed in His Word.  And somehow the simplicity of all of that which tamed this once wild horse has slowly been lost along the way. And that makes me feel incredibly sad.

The message of doing good to others, of worshipping Allah with SINCERITY which used to make me cry back then got hijacked by what I thought was important: ‘difference of opinion’ ‘different groups’ and ‘sisters issues’ etc.

What struck me about one particular sister today was the fact that she has maintained her identity even though she almost lost it for the same reasons. I think that takes courage. Why? Because too many reverts tend to think they need to kill themselves off upon entering Islam. I don’t know about other parts of the world, but there seems to be a  certain ‘talk’, a certain ‘hijab’, a certain ‘walk’ that everyone needs to adopt to be admitted into the ‘correct’ circle! What a fascade! I appreciated these sisters company, because they were who they were. End of. And to me, that just showed how sincere they were. As one of them put it, sincerity is something that is so rare not just amongst Muslims but also amongst non-muslims.

What has this got to do with home ed you might be asking. Well, it made me think about the way in which I raise my children. The importance of teaching the TRUE meaning of Islam. I remember an incident years ago. A sister was laughing about how her 6 year old daughter had told her teacher that something she had said was an innovation. The sister laughed as she recounted the incident because her daughter had said it so matter of factly and quite rudely. She felt proud. I wasn’t impressed at all by this. What was going through my mind was that this little girl was very rude to an adult and anyhow the issue was a difference of opinion!

What are we teaching children? But most importantly, how are we teaching our children. Is the deen just about memorizing Quran, wearing the hijab and thobe at a young age and nothing else? If so, then we are only raising our children to practice the deen superficially! I do think that my home ed needs to place more importance on the true beauties of the deen that attracted me to it 11 years ago. And unfortunately that was minus most of the rubbish I have seen over the last 11 years.

Another thing on my mind is the issue of community. Whilst I am trying my hardest to raise my children upon Quran and sunnah with a deep attachment to their Lord, I do not want to raise children who do not know how to mix with children of other faiths. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for everything and there are certain people I would not want my kids to mix around until a certain age. But surely, another important part of raising our children and home educating for that matter, is so that they become the beacons of society – especially if that society is a non-muslim one.

I see too many home educators secluding their children too much. And I guess I was one of them. There is one particular sister that comes to mind who I admire incredibly. Her children are able to interact well with muslims and non-muslims alike. They have a confidence about them and are mashaAllah the type you can really see making a difference in society inshaAllah. May Allah make them just that. Ameen.

What do I want in the long run? I wish for my children to be lights in a society plagued with problems. But how can they be such lights if there is always this ‘non-muslim/muslim’ divide. Again, the importance of teaching the truth from falsehood is very important, but I think teaching compassion for humanity is also very important. I find that the Muslim community here in London is a bit of a farce. I feel that we need to build on that again and what better way, than to do that with our children. Our children need to see us as adults visit one another for the sake of Allah, laugh together, have fun togther, cry and share with one another. They need to see us give food to our non-muslim neighbours. They need to see us respect another person not just if that person is a Muslim, but because that person is a human being.

You see, I’ve come to the conclusion that Home Ed is much more than just workbooks. It is instilling vital values within our children. Values that they will only learn from us. And sometimes, you need a reality check from sisters who are ‘keeping it real’.

Shaytaan and Home Ed

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Shaytan really takes advantage of homeschoolers. When you jump into something different, such as teaching your own children, you become susceptible to his attacks of doubt and fear. Unsure of your abilities, you second-guess your decisions and desperately look for affirmation and direction. Added to those doubts are questionning remarks and comments from those who don’t homeschool, and soon you begin to think, “I could really mess up my children’s lives if I do this wrong!” The multiple battlefronts of spiritual, emotional, and physical attack call for us to turn to Allah (Swt) for reinforcement. Only by turning to Him for strength, wisdom, and power can we fight the fears that Shaytan is trying to plant in our minds and hearts.

Are you tired of Shaytan’s attacks? Does it seem like when you find victory over one fear another one develops? I wish I could tell you things will get better, but that might not be the case. The battles will probably remain. You see, if Shaytan can’t keep your family from believing and worshipping Allah, his next goal is to keep your family from living for Allah. If you’re feeling weary today, run to The Greatest and beseech Him for his help. Ask Allah to empower you to face every fear. For when we turn to Allah, we can overcome the whisperings of shaytaan and continue with our homeschooling duties for His Sake.

Renewed Intentions

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Last night, I was on a bit of a ‘downer’.I felt like I wasn’t giving my kids their rights, wondered how long I could do this Home Ed thing for, and just felt GUILTY as a mother. We all go through it, don’t we? I seem to be going through it every other day at the moment. Maybe its my hormones, I don’t know.

Called another home educating sister for advice and she was completely understanding as usual, mashaAllah! One of the first things she said was: “I really don’t think this is the time to be making any rash decisions, do you?” I laughed in response agreeing with her. 36 weeks pregnant is definitely not the time to be making life changing decisions. We discussed what it was that we wanted for our children, why we thought these things were important. And I guess by talking to her, I renewed my reasons in wanting to homeschool. A

Aside from the fact that I feel that the education system in the UK is failing our children academically and morally, I want my children to grow up as unique individuals. I don’t feel that they will get this in school. I want them to have unique passions and interests and not just merely follow the latest fad. I want my children to have a deep attachment to Allah (Swt). I want them to learn right and wrong from us. I’m not stating here that I am the best example for my children, as I have many flaws. But I feel that my husband and I are the best ‘first reference points’ for our children because I know what we believe and what we ourselves our aspiring to and what we want for our children. I want my children to have a very deep attachment to the Quran. I don’t believe that this can really occur after a 9-3 schedule at school. I want my children to grow up as good Muslims, not just ones who pray and fast. But Muslims who are REAL Muslims and you can see this in their every day interaction. I want my kids to look back as adults and recount wonderful memories of their time at home, learning, loving and living. I believe that the childhood we give to a child is the adult that they will become. But naturally this cannot come without the guidance of Allah.

And so my brief ‘I-can’t-do-this-I’m-going-to-put-them-into-school’ moment last night vanished and my intention was renewed once more.

And this very very beautiful article which I have just re read made me realise even more the importance of raising our children and the importance of home ed in my children’s lives. May Allah grant us all the tawfeeq to give our children what is best for them – dunya wa akhirah. Ameen.

Please do read the article – it is a superb-heart-felt read:

http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2010/01/10-successful-strategies-for-raising-children/

What’s in the box?

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My workbox tweak seems to be working well, alhamdulillah. It really is amazing how much work/activities (whatever you want to call it) the child can get done in a day using this system. I belong to the workboxes yahoo group for tips and advice as to what to put into the boxes, organisation etc and I think most of the Mums agree that this method leads to a lot of productivity.

I was supposed to fill her boxes last night, but I and a sister went to visit another sister who just had a baby all the way in North London and got back a bit late and then I was wacked! So, woke up this morning had breakfast, changed the kids, brushed teeth, washed etc and then let the kids play together for a bit. Whilst they were doing this, I filled R’s boxes for the day. Let me take you through her day today:

BOX 1: Quran – she reviewed three long surahs she has memorised, worked on a new one which she was tested on and read from the mushaf. She was very happy because she completed a new surah mashaAllah and put her sticker on her hifdh tree from muslimstickers.com

BOX 2: Islamic Studies – Still using the IQRA Seerah book. We read about why we love the Prophet (saw) and the trustworthy character that he had. She then completed a colouring-reading-comprehension activity.

BOX 3: English – Two lessons from First Language Lessons grammar book. Two lines of handwriting practice from hadith 1 of Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith.

BOX 4: Special – She made a present for her new penpal in Canada. The card was made on another day. She then had half an hour on http://www.iboard.co.uk which is now free to use! Yipee!

BOX 5:  Reading – I read to her – no guessing which book: Another short story from My Naughty Little Sisters.The reading log chart has proved a success. She can’t wait to finish her 5 chapter books. I was a little worried that chapter books might be too much of a big step for her. But mashaAllah, she read one chapter to me from this book and I only helped her with words she has never come across before. I tested her understanding of the story by pausing throughout the chapter to ask her a few questions. This was to make sure she was actually understanding the story! This is the book she is currently reading(after changing her mind numerous times):

BOX 6: One lesson from the MEP plus an activity. We have number-scrabble pieces. Put them in a bag. She closed her eyes and picked out two, wrote them down on the piece of paper and worked out the sums. (Got this idea from ummrashid). She seemed to enoy it.

BOX 7: Still sticking with our Earth, Sun and Moon project. We spent some time looking at a picture of the solar system and the order of the planets. We discussed their different colours, sizes, names and positions in relation to the sun. R then made a model of the solar system using a board, plastecine, toothpicks and a picture of the solar system. It was a little difficult getting the exact colours right as she was limited by the pound shop plastecine set! But it was a different way of learning about the different planets. She tried to get the sizes right. I then asked her different questions: which planet is the closest to the sun, which one is farthest away from the sun. What position is earth away from the sun etc etc.

By the way, the basketball represents the sun! lol

BOX 8: Arabic – writing practice and reading practice using the resources from altilmeedh.com. She also worked on her Arabic numbers – again, a cutting and pasting activity.

BOX 9: Special – Linked to our project at the moment. She made a Glue Earth. This is quite easy to make. All you need is what is below:

Tape the cling film over the picture of the earth to the table. Mix the PVA glue with the food colouring. And the child paints on the coloured glue to the cling film. You may need to do a few layers. Allow to dry and then the earth can be stuck to a window and you can see the light shine through. I’ll post a picture of it once it is dry inshaAllah.

She’s also been using these:

She made patterns and pictures with them. I then made this pattern for her and she had to copy and colour the picture into the book. One square on her maths paper represented one white cuisenaire rod.

The above suggestion is thanks to ummrashid again!

Right now, she’s watching an episode of Animal Park on bbc iplayer. She is constantly asking me to watch the next episode and follows the stories of the animals featured in the program.

And she’s off to her kickboxing class inshaAllah in a few hours. And that is what was in the boxes!