Monthly Archives: November 2013

Do it your way!

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I had a conversation with a dear friend yesterday who expressed feeling somewhat overwhelmed with home ed and the demands of being a home ed mum aswell as other responsibilities.

We spoke at length and I advised her to take a step back like I did a few months ago and really look at what she wants for HER family. No two home ed families are the same. Each journey is unique. One home ed family may be a very arty family. Another might be more into computer based learning. One might have decided to scrap academics in favour for hifdh for a few years. Another might be very academically focused. There’s no one right way to home ed. It very much depends on the parents, children, their learning environment and their current life circumstances.

A family with 4+ children will home ed differently to a family who have 1 or 2 children. A family who have a baby will be in a different situation to a family who have teenage children. Etc etc

So, it’s important to look at YOUR family and your situation and think about what is important for you as a family and home ed that way. Make resource choices YOUR way, subject choices YOUR way, ways of learning which suit YOUR children.

When we home ed OUR way, that’s when we really begin to enjoy the journey. I think a lot of home ed mothers feel stressed when they try to imitate the way someone else home eds or try to be a certain home ed family that they’re not. It causes so much stress for the mother. Make it easy on yourself.

Four words. Do it your way!

Today has been..

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..different.

Starting with the positive – yesterday Z went on his first visit alone to HIS friend’s house (ie without his siblings or me!)MashaAllah Z has really taken to her son. We had arranged this about 10 days ago and he was counting down the days. I went to pick him up after a few hours and he was really happy to have visited his very own friend. He seems to be wanting more and more time with ‘his friends’ these days. I think he’s slowly leaving that ‘very youngish’ age where his parents and siblings were enough. What I realised, was how important it is that I provide the same opportunities for all my children and not just my first born.

I had a full day of home ed planned today which completely went out of the window as I had to rush baby S to the hospital. Sadly, the situation has not been resolved, and if she is showing the same symptoms tomorrow, I am going to have to take her back to the hospital and demand some tests. I feel so frustrated with these hospitals!

To end on a positive note, this time last year, I was enduring the pangs of labour…yes, I cannot believe it – baby S is going to be 1 years old tomorrow inshaAllah subhanAllah! I really don’t know where this year has gone.

So, a little about baby S – she’s spoilt by all mashaAllah. We all love her to bits mashaAllah tabarakAllah. She loves Arabic anasheed. She stood alone in the middle of the room for the longest time ever today much to the delight of her siblings. She can say Ummaa (Ummi),   -ish (points to the fish), uh oh (when something happens), and today she said another new word – ‘dog’! We couldn’t believe it. She actually pointed to a dog in a baby book that R reads to her about 5 times a day and said ‘dog’ and then kept on saying it whilst pointing which had us in fits of laughter.

It was a nice end to a bit of a stressful day. I’m quite worried about her health subhanAllah. Please make dua for my little baby S – that Allah protects her and grants her good health. Ameen.

 

Y wrote his first word and read his first book!

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I apologise if some of the posts I write seem irrelevant. I sometimes write posts more for myself as a record.

Y had a few firsts! He’s 3 years old 8 months old and loves drawing and writing. He’s constantly with his magic board or a piece of paper and pencil.

He was busy drawing a few days ago and called me to come see what he just drew. I expected to see a picture or some numbers as he’s forever writing numbers. He had written his first word all by himself and it was. ..

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I was so touched!

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Zuzu is reading the Bob books to me. And I thought I would try the first Bob book with Y as he knows all of his phonics. He has expressed in the past that he wants to try and read to me too just like zuzu does but I said no. To my surprise he was able to read the first one mashaAllah. He wanted to read more but I don’t want to put any pressure on him as he’s still so young. I see so many similarities between R and Y. But I’ve learnt through my experience with R to just let him be and progress organically with certain things.

Wind project

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We’ve been learning about Wind this month. It’s been so much easier learning altogether rather than do different projects. Just requires me to look at different age  appropriate activities.

We still have another week learning about wind and I have a few more activities lined up for them.

But this is what we’ve done so far. ..

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R wrote a descriptive piece using each letter of the word wind. I encouraged her to use her senses as she wrote the piece. Not sure if you can see what she wrote, it says:

Whistling gracefully on lovely gentle days. And blowing fiercely through angry stormy times.

Invisible and delicate, it can shatter into a dangerous storm.

Not visible to the eye but can be heard by the ear in sounds of whoosh and whoo.

Dark and dareful in a storm, destroys everything in a hurricane. Swirling round in a tornado.’

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She built a windmill using a Thames and kosmos kit called wind power 2.0
A few months ago, I and a few sisters ordered some Thames and kosmos kits as the price is so much cheaper when you buy in bulk. The prices are more than 50% cheaper! I’m so glad I arranged the order as the kits are fantastic mashaAllah and a good investment as the other kids will inshaAllah use them too.

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This particular windmill creates electricity and a bulb lights up without any electricity supply. This led to a discussion about how windmills are used to produce electricity for homes etc. We learnt about the science involved and how it works.

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With the boys, we read books about Wind and had a bit of fun blowing different objects around using a straw. We also watched some videos of tornados and hurricanes which amazed the boys.

The above windmill also charges rechargeable batteries. Managed to find rechargeable batteries in the pound shop! So R is planning on conducting that experiment. Let’s see if it works!

A sister has arranged a trip to a local windmill in January inshaAllah so that will tie up this project nicely inshaAllah.
I’ll post up some more of what we’ve done next week inshaAllah.

How we learn English

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Bit of a longish description of how we learn English and some pics of stuff the kids have been up to in their English lessons. ..

We formally study English three times a week. I say ‘formally’ because we are a book loving family and most of our English studies occur informally.

R

Each time we study English, R completes 1 page of joined up handwriting practice. She now writes in joined up handwriting. She’s amazed that it is faster than print. I give her a spelling test using a reception to year 6 pdf I found online which includes age appropriate spelling tests.

She then completes another activity for English. This month, this is working through Galore Park. Next month we will be taking a break from that and instead work on a specific English topic for the month.

I read to R almost daily. At the moment I’m reading this book to her. …

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Aside from her independent reading I’ve also asked her to start reading to me again. She’s currently reading this to me. ..

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I’m trying to ensure the books we read to each other are Islamic books as read aloud times are beautiful bonding moments. What is better to bond over than islamic books?! It’s nice because we often discuss what we’re reading which leads onto questions, opinions and how we can act upon what we’ve read. I highly recommend read alouds. It isn’t just for little ones.

Z

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For zuzu. .. he also does English three times a week. Each day for English, he will do one page of handwriting, one spelling test using the same pdf I use for R. He reads 1 book to me – currently the Bob books, completes 1 page from this Scholfield and Sims workbook…

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He then completes a fun hands on activity related to our current monthly topic for English.

Y

Y does exactly the same as zuzu but is not reading yet so does not read to me. And is working through a different workbook.

I also read aloud to the boys a lot as I feel it helps them with their own reading. I’m currently reading The 7 habits of happy kids to them and lots of books they randomly bring me to read to them.

Some of the hands on activities they’ve done recently.

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Can’t remember if I posted this. Boys running to different letters spread all over the floor.

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Matching uppercase and lowercase letters.

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Q tip painting to teach uppercase and lowercase letters using a cotton bud and paint. We then made it into a book.

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More matching uppercase and lowercase using letter stamps.  I’m sure you can tell what one of our English topics was this month!

The kids also use Reading Eggs, Reading Eggspress, Starfall and Spellodrome.

What do you do in your English lessons?

Dua challenge

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There are some Muslims who without fail will always say their morning and evening adhkar. There are others who cannot simply pray the fardh salah. They must pray the 12 rawatib. And others cannot leave or enter the home without saying the relevant dua.

All of the above feel out of place should they miss any of the above. They feel like something is missing and almost perform the above as though they were obligatory acts of ibadah.

As a revert, sadly, those who were around me during those early few weeks and months did not show me the importance of adopting the above. And so trying to get into the ‘habit’ of never missing some of the above acts of worship have been an uphill struggle. It’s taken me many years to reach a point where some of them become habitual… others I still need to push myself that bit more.

With children, especially when they’re young, are like sponges. They are clean slates and what we engrave on them will inshaAllah always remain.

This is why I feel it is essential that whilst they’re young that they get into the habit of doing certain things so that when they’re adults it is so second nature they do it without thinking. My hope is that by working on developing these habits that they will be a means of ajr for them when they are adults.

So I’ve begun to think of ways to get them into these habits. We’re working on getting into the habits of saying our situational duas.

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As adults we choose to do acts of ibadah because we want reward and we want Allah to love us and be pleased with us. For very young children, it is difficult for them to have the same motivation.

So I sat with the children and spoke about the importance of saying our situational duas. I told them that all of us need to get into the habit of saying our duas. So the challenge is to remember to say the duas we already know, to remind one another to say them, to learn new ones and to help one another in learning them. For every dua they say, they get to choose a sweet. For the boys I further explained that just as I’m rewarding them, Allah rewards us with hasanat and stores them for us. And we’ll see all the stored hasanat in Jannah inshaAllah.

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As a reminder, I created the above poster as a reminder for them and replaced certain dua posters in different positions around the house. Some posters have been up for years so changing the position slightly has made them take more notice.

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They made bags to store their sweets and the dua  challenge jar is placed on our main table to serve as a motivation.
This past week they’ve really gone for it mashaAllah and they’ve been saying most of their duas and learning new ones. But what has been so nice to see is them encouraging and reminding each other mashaAllah.

I’ve even withheld from giving them sweets as rewards for a few days to see if they’d still say their duas and masha’Allah they did.

It’s also been good for me to get back into saying certain ones.

I think I’ll carry on with this until the sweetie jar is empty and then hopefully they’ll have got into the habit.

Dissecting owl pellets

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Our home ed group ordered owl pellets. Although R has dissected owl pellets before she still thoroughly enjoyed the activity. It was zuzu’s first time and he found it. ..’interesting’.

They were all given owl pellets and began to dissect them and identified which bones of which animals were eaten by the owls. Some owls had even eaten pieces of fabric print!

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For those who may not know, owls cannot digest the bones of any animals they eat and so they basically vomit a ball called a pellet which contains the bones of the animals they’ve eaten.

Y also had a turn too but found it too dirty and smelly. He’s my ‘ocd clean’ child!!

Both R and I were both surprised that you could even order owl pellets. A sister ordered them from France mashaAllah.

Choosing Good Friends

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I’m sure we’re all aware of the hadith that a person is upon the religion of his friend.

I think some home edders are a bit naive in thinking that home ed children are all of good character because they’re at home. Far from it. We still need to be on top of our children’s characters.

Sadly I came across an incident a few weeks ago about something R said to another girl at one of her activities. It’s the first time I’ve come across her being unkind to someone else. I was naturally very upset. When I questioned R about it she didn’t realise the impact of her words. And burst out crying. She was so sorry but it was a good lesson for her and since then she keeps asking me whether something she has said seems offensive so I’m happy that she’s more aware of her words.

I want my children to be good friends to others and for them to have good friends.

I’ve realised that if I want my children to display good characteristics it has to start with me. If I’m rude they’ll be rude. And that scares me. My gosh I have so many bad characteristics and the older I get the more difficult it is to change. This reminds me as to how important it is to cultivate good characteristics within my children when they are young, me being a good role model and the importance of them having friends who will remind them to uphold good characteristics and vice versa.

I had a discussion with R today. I told her whilst friends are important, she doesn’t need many friends. .. only a good few ones. I reminded her that she must always choose her friends wisely and that how she behaves towards others is what she will get in return.

Through these discussions I’m realising so much about myself. We so desperately want our kids to be great Muslims, with exemplary characters… but what about us?

As someone who was very needy of friends as a teenager, I don’t want my children to feel a desperate need to have friends but at the same time I want them to have a few really good ones that help them grow as people and as believers.

I no longer feel that need for friends anymore. And I’m quite content with the few good ones I rarely see but help me grow as a person. I just pray that my children have positive people around them as they grow and that I too am able to change myself.

This home ed journey is very much a learning path for me too…

Recent maths

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R

Previously, I was simply following the order of the textbook we were using for math but I found that R found it boring and I don’t want her to hate math like I did at school. So we no longer follow the textbook order or only use a textbook.

For this year, I’ve separated the year into monthly math topics. Then each week I choose different resources to teach that concept. Sometimes she’ll do some exercises from the core book we’re using (Galore Park) and I’m trying to use other resources too.

For example, at the moment she’s learning about negative numbers. We looked at a physical number line and watched this video:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2FI1bjm9UG8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D2FI1bjm9UG8

We then discussed temperatures on a thermometer and after that she did a few exercises on negative numbers. I’m currently in love with Anchor charts from the US as a tool for learning. So she’ll be designing one for herself about negative numbers and the rules for adding and subtracting negative numbers.

Each day R has math I start off by giving her some mental math exercises as I feel she needs to keep on top of certain math concepts aswell as getting those brain cells working!

We tend to wrap up math with some time on Mathletics.

Zuzu and Y

For the boys we’re currently working on learning numbers 1 to 30, recognising them, writing them, counting from 1 to 30 in 1s, 2s, 5s and 10s. We’re also going to look at greater than and less than and some basic fractions work.

We’ve been learning the teens using the montessori materials…Here’s how. …

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We use the montessori units and tens wooden cards and number beads. As I only have one number 10 card we use the teen number wipe off cards too.

I start off by showing the boys the number 10 card and then recap that one row of gold beads is 10.

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I then take one of the unit cards like number 2 in the above picture and place it over the unit zero on the number 10 card and say ‘ten and two is 12’. This is so they understand that the teen numbers have a base of ten and a unit number. I then made number 12 using the montessori number beads and placed it next to the card.

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Once I showed them a few, I put everything back and they independently repeated the above for each number.

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Rather than simply teach them the number through recognition, this helps them to understand place value.

Once they’ve completed all the numbers, I then do a random test such as ‘put your right hand on number 14, give me number 18, what number comes after 12’.

I can only do one son at a time so whilst one is doing a hands on activity like the above one with me the other is using Mathletics.

I find that my boys need hands on methods to learn new things and the montessori method is perfect for this.