Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The only way is up!

So much seems to have happened in the last few days, so I will start at the very beginning missing out all the really boring stuff inshaAllah.

We have a sister that comes to the house on Sundays to teach me and the kids Quran and Tajweed, this is her 2nd week and things are going great. She is so patient and very good with the kids; using flash cards, singing nasheeds and even saves time to chat with them about their interests; this week they told her all about their dad and taught her some Turkish words mashaAllah.

On Mondays we have a joint teaching session with two other families to study Geography, Science and Art. This week we played bingo using flash cards downloaded from Ordinance Survey with map symbols on them and designed our own 'map symbols' - although I am not sure A's 'Keep away from the battle between the Deceptacons and Autobots" symbol really counted. We made pictures using shapes for art, even the mums enjoyed that one, but not as much as last week when we made bookmarks using straight, zig zag, wavy and curved lines and then layered and glued them making these really effective bookmarks (see picture above). We are working from How to Teach Art to Children for our art sessions and they seem to be going well so far. For science, we continued our study on plants; we went through photosynthesis and did an experiement to show how water travels up to the leaves from the roots and another to demonstrate how the plant cells become flaccid when deprived of water (yes, that's what happening when we forget to water our plants), we also looked at the make up of the plant cell. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids love to learn about the natural world and I pray that it will bring them closer to Allah (swt) InshaAllah. I can't wait until next week when we get to make edible plant and animal cells in sandwich bags. Yummy! I plan and teach for this subject and have decided that we are all going to do a lap book for this topic - I hope the children will all enjoy it InshaAllah.

Today, apart from maths and english, we made skeletons and talked about the skeletal system - totally unplanned, but thats home education for ya! We got the pattern for the model from The Giant Science Resource Book; one of my better buys! The model had a chest that opened up to show the lungs and heart and a skull that swung up to reveal the brain and eyes... the kids thought it was so cool. We ended up having a conversation about how Allah put the heart in such a protective place and that we should also protect our hearts by doing good deeds, keeping away from bad speech and memorising/reading the Holy Quran.

On the parenting front things are definately looking up! It is amazing how quickly the children adapt and respond to new situations. In the last few days I have been trying not to respond to any whinging or moaning, I can't say that it has been easy and there is still room for improvement but it's greatly improved! They even sat better (I think) during our joint teaching sessions. It's so hard not to give in when your feeling tired but it's really worth the effort inshaAllah. I also feel that the kids are really benefitting from being taught by other people it has really helped with their adab (manners) and their concentration. It is also helpful for them to see other children doing their work without any problems and that it's not just their ogre of a mum that makes them work sooooo hard. I feel it has also shown them that although they are very intelligent and more advanced than their friends in some areas they have lots to learn from their friends in others. It has been a very humbling experience for them and inshaAllah they can use these experiences to help them grow as people and mu'mins (believers).

Well a productive few days I think, lets hope we can continue in this way inshaAllah; please make dua.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Teeny Tiny Baby Steps......

Well today was a mini success I think, although it didn't go quite to plan. Everyone woke up really late so I was chasing my tail all morning and we didn't get to start lessons until after lunch (which was a new Biriyani recipe I was trying out and managed to burn!). So much for early mornings and bright new starts!

Kids are reacting to the new plans as expected but we did get straight down to work this morning and got our maths and english done. 'B' noticed he was almost at the end of his math workbook and decided to do an extra three lessons just to get it finished.............. I felt so sorry for him when he noticed an extra lesson tucked away at the back, oh well can't have everything. We even managed to fit in our Arabic practice.

'A' has been my biggest challenge today pushing the boundaries all the way.... the others seem to be relishing the extra time with mum and enjoying their extra work. I want to do so much more interesting stuff with them but feel we need to get the basic Math and English done first. I have tried it the other way round before but they welshed on the deal........oh hum!

Well, I'm off for an early night so that I can wake up all bright and early for our next baby step tomorrow inshaAllah.

Friday, 23 May 2008

New beginnings.....

Well, here we are at a new beginning for us as a family and in our home schooling.

You see, I have been ill for a few years and our home life and home education has suffered quite a bit... the extent of which is only just beginning to become apparent to me! But, Alhamdulillah I am now almost back to normal and things are about to change! I thought this would be a good medium for us to log our journey back to normality; our progress, achievements and pitfalls along the way and share our new journey into home education.

The kids got away with lots of stuff when I was ill in terms of their education and discipline..... The whole family slipped into bad habits because of the stress and our relationships have suffered, there was no structure or routine in our daily lives or the childrens' education. The whole family needs to be reigned in; new rules laid down and new routines implemented and it's not going to be easy! I sense there may be a rebellion from the smaller members of the family but DH is abroad at the moment so it's a fantastic opportunity to implement change. Once we are all settled in a routine I hope, InshaAllah, that DH will slip into the new us quite easily on his return.

I have decided to adopt a semi-structured approch to our schooling which doesn't seem to be going down too well at the moment, but hey! It looks something like this:

Islamic Studies
We have just started using a series of teaching books from the 'Islamic Education Organisation of Southern Africa'. They are a brilliant series of books and we do a different subject each day. The books are: Tahdhib (Islamic Manners); Hifz; Fiqh & Islamic Teachings; Ahadith and Islamic History (starting with the seerah of our Beloved Prophet sallalahu alaihe wassalaam). Alhamduillah, we have a teacher that comes to the house to teach Quran and Tajweed to both me and the children. I am currently learning Arabic language which I plan to teach the children myself once they are reading fluently, in the meantime I am just introducing new vocabularly words to the the children as they come up.

We do English every day using the Nelson Thorne English series. A friend introduced me to this series and it's great, it also means that I don't have to plan which is always a bonus. Each lesson builds on the last lesson and the amount and level of work increases as they work through the books. The structure of the lessons are a) story with comprehension, b) spelling and c) writing sentences. Any new concepts i.e. 'nouns', 'anyonyms' etc are explained as they come up. 'A' does one of these sections each day. It can be a bit repetitious so I am planning to introduce another aspect once we get into a routine inshaAllah. 'B' is working through 'How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons' on a daily basis that also incorporates some handwriting practice. Two younger ones are working through the Jolly Phonics programme.

For math we do daily exercises using the CPG Math Workout Books with some verbal drills for times tables etc. If the children are stuck on anything I will prepare practice sheets and we will do more work on that topic until they understand fully and then move back on to the books. I do use lots of hands-on stuff i.e. Unifix cubes, coins, buttons etc for math as they find it easier to grasp new concepts once they can physically move, count or stack it etc.

Science, geography & art
My boys love science mashaAllah. We do a joint lesson for science, along with geography and art, with two other families on a Monday. However, as they love science soooo much I am also planning to do a project based science topic with them using the lap book approach.

We don't study history as a separate subject but just tend to include it as part of our lapbook projects as either a timeline or relevant person.

Design & Technology
D&T will not be a weekly lesson but as the kids just love it I hope to include maybe bi-weekly lessons inshaAllah. DS1 has done some great things with cams so far and it's pretty easy so much so that even I feel even my 5yr old could do it.

Well that's about it folks! These are my plans for the next few months inshaAllah along with a new disciplinary approach adapted from Raising Godly Tomatoes I am hoping to be 'cooking on gas' - as they say - very soon.

Watch this space!