Friday, 30 November 2012

I know, I know...

My posts are getting even fewer and further between [if that is possible] but life and no home education going on leaves me with little outside of the mundane to write about.  I may have to change the main topic of the blog to cover life as a parent in general or something similar.

Progress since the last blog...  a very lovely, caring and wonderful sister had, despite my attempt at feigning normality, noticed that I was still functioning at well below par even though I only had Scout at home and made it possible for him to attend an Islamic school too mashaAllah; may Allah ta'ala reward her with success in this life and the next, ameen.  And then my wonderful sister offered to help out financially on a monthy basis so that he could continue his studies at the school - subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, the power of Allah never ceases to amaze me; He can make anything possible.  This is extra fantastic because although Scout is very intelligent mashaAllah I knew he wouldn't cope with the teaching methods used in the school that the other children attend.  He is much more of a visual, spacial learner and needs the freedom to explore subjects in his own way and, alhamdulillah, the school he attends is based on the Montessori approach [which you may remember I did explore myself a while back] which suits him down to the ground and he is loving it.  A few of his friends are there too which also helps ;)

It's a long shot from Montessori's vision of a Farm School for Adolescents but he is given encouragement and space to manage his own learning outside of the classroom and they have independant learning time too.  Unusually for a small school they also have lab space and they seem to do quite a few experiments, which he really enjoys.  All students have access to online tutoring and lessons and a Wikipage dedicated to Biology lessons - they are sitting their Biology GCSE in May inshaAllah.  There have been a few issues but all in all I am really pleased with the way that he is developing, he has only been there for 2 weeks so he still needs to settle into the management of the learning he has to do at home but that will come inshaAllah.

So, what am I doing with all this free time?  Well, I don't get that much free time - about 3 hours a day - but I do get to the women only swim on a Wednesday, madressa and a weekly majlis alhamdulillah!  And you would be surprised how much that 3 hours can do for your health and state of mind mashaAllah.  The house is also a lot tidier mashaAllah and I may be able to get some extra space once I sort throught the home ed. resources I no longer need.  But mostly I'm concentrating on getting better and back to good health so that I can at least get my 3 little ones back to home educating inshaAllah.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Crafting with the kiddies!

During this week we have also done lots of art and craft, here are a couple of thier projects that are worth sharing inshaAllah:

You may remember Daisy started this bag from kit eons ago, well it's finally finished.  It was so easy for her to sew as the felt type material was so think and the holes were pre-punched so it was difficult to go wrong. She absolutely loved doing it and is chuffed with the results.  I have been trying to find more kits like this but haven't seen one anywhere.

All together complete with bling
We also found this old storage board in a charity shop and decided to alter it.  Everyone had a hand in this one and it did get a bit messy but it was great fun. The kids learned lots of new techniques and all put their own ideas into how it should look... which involved using lots of my paper flower stash!

Not sure what we will use this for... perhaps storing cards with ideas for those 'bored' moments and other activity type stuff.
Daisy was also tasked with making a musical instrument for Beavers for one of her badges... it was difficult to steer her away from all the string/wind instruments and she didn't want to do a drum as everyone else was doing a drum so we ended up making the trust old maracas out of out of date rice and lentils [everyone gives me their out of date stuff as they know we use them for art etc lol].

After she sellotaped the cups together she glued on torn scraps of wrapping paper [pink of course] with a PVA glue and water mix to decorate it.
Let's see what next week brings as they return to school :o|

Friday, 12 October 2012

Brave Writer Discount

For those of you that may be interested in puchasing the Brave Writer program the chaps at Homeschoolers Buyers Co-op have a 50% off deal that expires on the 31 October 2012 - so go on over and check it out.  Join up if you haven't already you can get some great deals.

Back yard fossils!

So today the kids decided that they were feeling much better so after Jumah prayer Crush and Daisy raised an expedition to the garden to '...dig for fossils...' and what d'ya know, they found some too!

All very common but the intrepid explorers were filled with excitement nevertheless. Here are some pictures of a few that they found:

a very worn ammonite - a marine invertebrate related to the squid, octopus and cuttlefish family which apparently became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period [about the same time as the dinosaur].  In medieval Europe it was thought that they were petrified coiled snakes and were called Snakestones in England.  Apparently ammonites found in Nepal are thought by the Hindu's to be a concrete manifestation on of of their gods [astagfirullah; how does this make sense?]

ammonite... this one is much clearer
There's that ammonite again but not sure what the others are (if they are fossils at all; but I'm not going to burst any bubbles until I know for sure LOL)

absolutely zillions of Devils Toenails [Gryphaea], these were oyster type animals that lived from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous period.  They are very common in the UK and apparently it was believed that carrying one of these around could prevent rheumatism.

Daisy has been looking through her Beaver Handbook and has decided that she is going to work very hard to get all of her badges.  She is of the opinion that if she does a small project/presentation on her finds she may be able to submit it for a badge.  So that's on her 'to do list' for next week inshaAllah; I'll let you know how she gets on!

A brief return to HE!

The kids have been at school now for four weeks alhamdulillah and I must say that life is really busy with them at school and I'm not quite sure that I like that.  We always seem to be rushing about too.  Rushing to school, back home, to madressa, home to eat and then out again in the evenings for their other activities.  I miss them such a lot, we don't seem to get much quality time together anymore and it's not quite the rest I was hoping that I would get either alhamdulillah.  BUT... it has been good to see them learning even if it's not in the way that I would like them to.

I am a little worried that their zest for learning might begin to fade under the weight of so many worksheets, homework and 'the curriculum' so I will be keeping my beady eye on them.  They have already expressed a wish to be home schooled again and I would just love to dash in on my white charger and rescue them from the 'system' however hubby wants them to stay where they are.

That's a turn up for the books.  He's usually a 'whatever you think is best' kind of man when it comes to their education so I have a suspicion that it may be more for the benefit face within his community than anything else [his friends son has just gone off to university to be a solicitor with a whole stack of A's grades behind him and hubby has been wondering if our children '...could be solicitors if they wanted...'] but Allah ta'ala knows best.  Not sure what to do now... more istikharra and patience I suppose.

Anyway, the kids have been off most of this week [yay!] with a virus [boo!] so we have been busy and have really enjoyed just being together, snotty or not!  Despite being ill we have still been...

using the maths balance for solving maths problems...
exploring weight using the scales..

... writing stories and poems in great abundance
They have also been colouring pictures... dogs, castles, warriors, knights, Warhammer knights, foxes, houses etc... the printer has been on overdrive lol.  The kids were also inspired to write using tips from a program that a friend introduced me to called Brave Writer.  It's developed by an author who believes that English classes do not teach us how to enjoy writing which leads to blank faces when children are asked to write about something [among other things].  I have only grasped a tiny bit of this program from what I read at my friends as I am waiting to purchase my own copy so can't expand on it any more at the moment.  I'm really excited about this and from the little bit I introduced this week and their response I think it would be especially beneficial for Sprite as he already 'hates' writing because of his issues... more on this program in later posts inshaAllah.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Not at school

So we spent the first Friday that the kids had off from school in the park.  We were supposed to take a picnic but after making packed lunches all week I couldn't face making another sandwich so we had lunch at the park cafe instead.  They played for hours and spent quite a bit of time in the sandpit... the little ones made a fort..

 and the big ones planned strategic manouvers based on specific scenarios that they took turns to make up...

 Daisy made dessert when we got home.  She planned what she was going to make, drew her shopping list and then went shopping with Crush to get all her ingredients and this is what we had... 
Strawberries in a melted ice cream sauce with ice cream, raspberry sauce and chocolate.  The melted ice cream certainly gave it a unique flavour that I'm not sure I want to try again lol.
 Then on Sunday we went to the centenary celebrations of the Leicester AERO (flying) club.  It was a blissfully warm day and very enjoyable although the kids were disappointed to have missed out on the free flights as they got booked up so quickly each time.

Replica of a WWII Doodlebug
Replica of a Lancaster or Spitfire [depending on which one of the kids you spoke to].

Lots of helicopters to look at.
Kids had an interesting chat to the glider pilot who explained how the glider flew and how to pilot it

A restored WWII Lancaster plane that did an amazing fly by right over the heads of the crowd.
Playing with the 'blues and twos' in the police vehicle.
We went to the fun day as Lego has expressed an interest in becoming a pilot for quite a while now and we did have a lovely day.  The best bit was that the boys got to chat to some really interesting characters including old pilots both private and from the RAF... it was really strange listening to Lego chat to a retired RAF pilot about the qualities of Hurricane planes [or it is jets] that the gentleman used to fly. 

The kids did lots of recapping at school last week and as it's not 'full time' I have had to supplement a lot of their learning with further explainations; especially for Sprite as he has trouble remembering what he has done during the day because of his dyslexia.  He is not enjoying his time at the academy as much as the younger two and has been feeling ill quite a bit... I think that this may be a masking technique because he is finding it difficult to deal with his dyslexia as at other times he is so enthusiastic about what he had been doing.  So we are having to give him quite a lot support at the moment but we are hoping he will settle in soon.

Daisy and Crush come home every afternoon amazed at everything they have learned... like we have never done it before! Hmmpf...

Now that it's getting a bit colder I am planning to start a project with them to do on their 'day off'.  I want to teach them about the human body; I have been planning this for a while and have lots of fun, hands on, learning activities for them to do so hopefully they won't see it as even more 'school work'.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Strange things happen at sea....

and on land too! For the last 6 months or so I have been feeling really tired, physically and mentally. It's mostly because of all the running around I have to do and my hypothyroidism; I am apparently, still supposed to be taking it easy but after being almost house bound for more years than I care to remember I can't seem to be able to slow down. It feels like defeat. Or a step backwards. Apart from that with 4 children (5 including my husband) it's difficult to slow down isn't it? Anyway, during Ramadan, having at least acknowledged an issue with my health and the impact it had on the family, especially the children's education and my deen, I made lots of dua (supplication) asking for help in this particular area. I was thinking along the lines of more energy, more time, a house move, some inspiration to be able to organise myself  Fly Lady style and remain healthy too.  I wasn't sure what I wanted or needed; only Allah ta'ala would be aware of that so I left it in His hands.

Then, out of the blue, the children got a place in a new local Islamic School on a flexi-school basis.  The school is managed by the children's old tutor.  Knowing about my health issues she phoned to let me know about their new venture as she thought it might be beneficial for us.  At the same time Allah ta'ala made the finances available for the kids to go.  How could I refuse?  I nearly did? I really, really dislike everything about school, even Islamic ones, but a friend pointed out that it would take the stress of educating the children away (apart from Lego who still studies at home with me as he is too old to go) and give me some time to rest.  So, two weeks after the phone call they have completed a week and so far are really enjoying it mashaAllah.  They go for 4 days a week from 8.45am-1.30pm; they start and finish the day with dhikr and pray the mid day prayer together before coming home.  They do Math, English, Science and ICT daily for the first 3 days and then on the last day, instead of Science and ICT they do PE and either Art & Craft, History or Geography.

Sprite is a 50/50 about going but I feel that's because of his dyslexia; the other two are loving it.  I am still a little uneasy about sending them and my heart drops every time I see worksheets in their bags.  However, at least this way I can continue doing what I want to do with them without stressing so much about it all. I can also rest much more. It also means that I can concentrate more on helping Sprite with the issues around his dyslexia God willing.  It means, inshaAllah, that I can have more time to focus on them when they are at home.

This week I have really missed my children being around. I have missed being a part of their learning. I miss seeing that little sparkle they get in their eye when they 'get' something, or have done something that they really enjoyed. I miss watching them discover. But this isn't about me, it's about them.  So while they are enjoying it I shall stand back and let them continue.  I do, however, harbour a hope that I will be able to take them out and home educate them completely again soon.  We will have to wait and see.