A few days ago I received Grade 1, 2 and 3 of a new Islamic curriculum by the ICO (International Curricula Organisation). There has been quite a bit of excitement about this Islamic curriculum which runs from grade 1 (age 6-7) all the way through to grade 6 (age 11-12).
For each grade (or year for us UKers!), there are two Student’s textbooks (part 1 and part 2) and two activity books (part 1 and part 2). So, that’s four books in total per grade/year (this excludes the teacher’s manuals which can be bought separately).
So, educatingmuslims.com kindly sent me grade 1, 2 and 3 to sample and thus this review. Upon receiving the package and opening it, my daughter became excited when she saw the colourful attractive front covers. I had to hold her back from starting to use them immediately!
When I had some time to myself, I browsed through the books for grade 1. It seems that each grade covers 5 main areas:
Quran and its sciences
Seerah and Islamic History
Morals and Manners
Memorisation of juz amma is also taught in grade 1-3 as well as explanations of the surahs that are being memorised and activities based on those surahs. I suspect that grades 4-6 covers the hifdh of juz tabbarak.
The curriculum uses the spiral approach. This means that the children revisit the above areas in each year/grade and study/learn about it in greater depth each year.
Okay, now on to what I thought of the ‘meat’ of the curriculum! The student books are colour printed and the Islamic knowledge that is delivered in the student books is written to a level whereby the child can actually read it on their own. I like this as the child practices literacy skills and it also encourages independent study. The student books are broken down into units and each unit begins with the text followed by activities. The activity book follows the same sequence of the student textbook and offers further activities.
As I was flicking through the books for grade 1, the activities varied. There were wordsearches, painting activities, fill in the blanks, discussions, memorisation, copywork, colouring activities, making games and much more.
Each activity is based on the Islamic concepts that are being taught and the activities are fun and simple for the child to complete independently. Looking through grade 1, I do think younger children can also complete the activities and that perhaps ages 6-7 would actually find it a little easy to complete. But this depends on the ability and level of each child.
I wanted to see what the older years had to offer and so I browsed through grades 2 and 3 and immediately noticed that there was quite a bit of a ‘jump’ in the level of the activities. For example, in unit 1 of grade 2, the child is now required to find a specific ayah in the Quran and copy it in Arabic and English. There are also more comprehension based activities. In the activity book for grade 2, the activities are well designed and encourage the child to really think deeply about what they have learned. For example, children are asked to close their eyes in the grade 2 activity book and imagine that it is the day of judgment. They are asked to discuss their feelings with the rest of the group. This would be an excellent activity to conduct in the form of a family halaqa. Also in grade 2, children are asked to write down three ways in which a boy can purify his heart.
In grade 3, children are now writing reports and essay style answers to questions but the activities are still designed in a way which is interesting and fun. Examples are imitating a Quraan reciter to improve in tilaawah, a presentation about the first man to accept Islam, drawing a map of Makkah Al-Mukarramah and Jabal an-Noor – marking the distance, working out how long it would take to climb the mountain (seems like a math lesson to me!)
What really appealed to me about this curriculum was the spiral approach that it adopts. In Unit 2 in grade 1, children learn about the shahaadah. In Unit 2 in grade 2, they are still learning about the shahaadah but in greater depth. And this continues right the way through the entire curriculum. I can see that by learning in this way, a child will not forget the concepts that are taught, because everything is covered again but in more detail year by year.
I also found myself planning add-on activities or unit studies or lapbooks that we could do in other subject areas which would be linked to the main curriculum. As a homeschooler who doesn’t yet follow a pre-made science or geography curriculum, I could see myself teaching my children these other subjects based on this Islamic curriculum. This actually made me feel quite excited as I now had a structure for other subjects which would always be linked back to Islam! Brilliant! I’ll give you a few examples of my ideas as I browsed through grade 1:
Pillars of Islam unit is taught with a picture of a tree and its branches are the pillars – I thought that we could then go off and do a science lesson or project on trees, photosynthesis, trees in their seasons etc.
Allah’s creation unit actually covers the creation of Allah by discussing living and non-living things. Again, we could then spend some time covering this science topic.
Unit 6, which is an introduction to history discusses family history. I had ideas of our family trees, unit studies on the different countries I and my husband come from – the food that is eaten there, the climate, the flags of the countries, muslim and non-muslim ratio etc.
My only ‘issues’ with the curriculum is that it would have been nice if the images of Allah’s creation in the books could have been defaced seeing that it is an Islamic curriculum. Also, the books are designed for use in schools, so sometimes you find activities asking the children to discuss something with their partner or to listen to the ‘teacher’ read something etc. But these are small issues and activities such as these would actually encourage beneficial discussion between siblings and children with their parents in home educating families.
Overall, I am quite impressed with the curriculum. It is great that I don’t have to plan all of this myself and this is a huge bonus for any sister who knows the demands of family and homeschooling life in general! I initially wondered whether the children would be completing colouring activities all the way through. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that the activities in grade 3 were engaging, thorough and challenged the children in their literacy skills and tests them in their Islamic knowledge, understanding but most importantly application in every day life. And this is what I liked most about the curriculum. The children are encouraged to implement what they learn whether they are at home or outside in public. And is this not what our deen is all about? I would definitely recommend buying this curriculum for your children whether they are home educated or go to school. The curriculum is sold per individual grade or you can buy grades 1-3 (years 2-4 on the website) or grade 4-6 (years 5-7). Or the entire curriculum can be bought. Alhamdulillah, www.educatingmuslims.com have arranged a small discount for those of us who are home educating. The discount is a small one as the company is quite small. If you visit the website and upon checkout enter the code: islamichomeeducation (or alternatively call educatingmuslim.com and tell them the code), it will give you £5 off any purchase you make.
I hope this review was helpful for you all and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a message on the blog