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Saturday, 27 June 2015

What is HOMESCHOOLING?

A Guide to what Home Education is, could be and definitely is not!


Home education is on the rise! However many people in the UK still do not realise that homeschooling is an valid and legal option for the education of their children. Many naively think they know what it is, but they really don't! In this article I will outline what home education is, what it could be and what it definitely is not!



To homeschool in the UK is an extraordinary thing!  In 2007, it was estimated that only 34,000 students are being home educated in the UK [1]. Whilst it is almost certain that this figure has increased since then, compared to the massive home-ed movement in the United States, where there were 1,770,000 children being educated at home in 2013 [2], homeschooling in this country is still in its infancy.

I get so many messages and emails from Muslim women, who are considering homeschooling, but have been 'put off' by misconceptions and false ideas of what it entails, often assuming that it would be much harder than it truly is. So to discover what homeschooling really is, we will begin this article by looking at what it is NOT and those things that 'put people off'!


To homeschool you have to….

Recreate school at home

This is something that almost all new homeeducators do at the beginning, calling upon their memories of school and how ‘teaching’ was done.  Whilst this may work for some, it is definitely not a requirement. You do not need to structure your day like that at school, stand at the front of the class lecturing, create a classroom in your home, and you don’t even need to follow the National Curriculum [3]. If you want to mimic the school environment you can, but if you want to do your ‘own thing’ with your children, you are free to do so. Remember, you chose not to not send your child to school for a reason, so think twice before you turn your home into one.

Homeschooling Getting Started

Be a teacher

There is a preconceived notion among many that only a teacher knows how to teach ‘properly.’ 

Think about this.

Whilst a teacher may know how to manage a class of thirty-five kids without it descending into anarchy, who knows your child better? Who knows how she learns best? Who knows what motivates her and what she is interested in? Who would put that child’s interest above and beyond her own?
You, as a parent, can be the best and only teacher your child will ever need. Of course, it will require a little effort on your part, but it certainly doesn’t mean you need to go out and start a teacher training course!

Stay at home all the time

Certainly, in my situation, nothing could be further from the truth. Home educators seem to have this uncanny ability to make anything and everything a ‘learning opportunity!’ You do not need to be sitting at a desk with a textbook to be learning. In fact sometimes the best and most lasting lessons are those seen and done in the ‘real world.’

Furthermore, because you are in control of how you plan the ‘school day’, you can take educational trips whenever you want. If the sun is shining you can pack up your Maths books and take them to the park, or instead of learning about coastal processes and wave erosion from a dry textbook, you can pack up the car and head to the beach. What better way to learn about the natural world, than to experience it first hand; a trip to the woods, a walk in the countryside. The world is your classroom!

Homeschooling on the go

Depending where you live in the country, there are also many sporting and musical groups for children of all ages that homeschoolers can make the most of, and many of these are free.

Since you are working one-to-one whith your child, the material you need to study each day takes considerably less time that if they were at school. At school they have to share the teacher’s attention with thirty other students, waste time with assemblies, standing in lines, and other 'busy work'. All of which are not for the benefit of the individual student, but rather for ‘classroom management.’ So, with all this extra free time, there is plenty of opportunity to go out and about, visiting National trust properties, going rock climbing, learning to swim and pursue any other interest or talent  your child may have.

Have a gifted child


Yes it is true, some homeschooled children are geniuses! And yes, homeschooled children do perform better in standardised tests, often working at least one year above their school peers [4], but not all home educated kids are geniuses. Most, in terms of their IQ at least, are pretty ‘normal.’

Have a stupid or delinquent child

Some people, particularly those of an older generation, will make the assumption that you homeschool because your child got expelled from school for bad grades or bad behaviour. I cannot deny, that this may be the case for a few families, but like I said before, most homeschooled children are pretty ‘normal.’

Be a highly religious/ new-age type

A growing number of families who practice their faith, whatever that may be, are choosing to home educate due to concerns over the moral upbringing school offers, or fails to offer, their children and the potential harm the school environment could do to their character and faith. In the UK a large proportion of homeschoolers are from religious families. However there has been a massive increase in numbers who have no particular religious affiliation, many of whom are professional middle-class families, disenchanted by the education that mainstream schools offer.

You need to be wealthy

Nothing could further from the truth. In fact most homeschooling families are living off one-income, whilst the other parent stays home full-time.

Whilst I am the first to admit that I have an unhealthy addiction to all things ‘educational’ and must be Amazon’s best customer, none of these things essential to provide your child with a wholesome, well-rounded education.There are so many curriculum, books, computer programmes, educational toys, craft kits etc. that are marketed at mums and dads like us. Remember, most of them are money making ventures, and whilst there may be some merit in their products, they are NOT necessary for your homeschool.

All you really needs are pens, paper, a library card and maybe an internet connection. As the children get older you can borrow and swap books with other homeschoolers, and even share teaching responsibility (called a co-op) for certain subjects with other mums. It is not the money you have that determines how well your child does, but the time that you give him.

Homeschool quote

What is homeschooling then?


It is anything you want it to be! That’s the great thing about this form of education. You can make it into whatever you wish. You can cater to your family and child's needs and interests. You can adapt it to your own education philosophy or integrate your religious teachings into everyday classes. If you choose to create a traditional classroom in your dining room, you can. If you want to provide Montessori resources, you can. Many people travel the world, whilst  their children learn on the go.  Some prioritise religious teachings, whilst others organise their day to allow their children time to excel in sporting or musical talents. Others choose unschooling or project-based learning or classical education. (Don’t worry if you don’t know what all these terms mean…you soon will! What matters is that you want to homeschool and you are taking the first-steps.)

The key thing here is that homeschooling can be whatever you WANT it and NEED it to be.

Next in this series of articles:

PART 2:
'Homeschooling: Is it really for me? The ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of home education.'

To make sure you don't miss the next in the series, please Subscribe to my blog, or follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

If you have any specific questions, please leave them for me in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them insha'Allah. Thanks for reading!

Peace and Love.



References:

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Ramadan Decorations: Lanterns

Ramadan Decorations Lanterns

Lanterns are an festive way to decorate your home during Ramadan and to prepare your home for Eid. They are very easy to make and something that even the youngest children can help with.

Materials


  • A4 foil card
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Sequins(optional)
  • PVA glue (optional)

How to make it

1. Turn the foil card horizontally, and cut a strip 1/2" from the end.
Ramadan decorations

2. Using a pencil, lightly draw a line 1"  from on the top and another 1" from the bottom of the card.
Ramadan decorations

3. Take the larger piece of card, turn it vertically, and fold it in half.

Ramadan decorations

4. Then cut into the card, starting at the folded edge, all the way up to the pencil line. You will need to make between 12-14 cuts, each about 1/2" apart.

Ramadan decorations

Ramadan decorations


5. Now its the fun part! Unfold your card and decorate. We used sequins and glue. If your children are younger you could use stickers.
Making Ramadan decorations


6. Once the glue has dried, hold the card horizontally in your hands and curve it round. Holding the edges of the card together, use your stapler to secure it. Then take the small strip of card you cut off in step 1, and staple this to the top of the lantern to act as a handle.
Ramadan decoations


7. Push down a little on the top of the lantern to make it 'fan' out.

You lantern is now ready to hang and decorate your home for Eid and Ramadan.


Ramadan decorations

Ramadan decorations

Ramadan decorations


I would love to see photos of the lanterns you make with your children. Please share them with me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

Please keep us in your duaas.

Peace and love.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Ramadan Advent Calendar

This advent calendar is so easy and quick to make. It is a great addition to your Ramadan decorations and is a fun way to get you children excited about the blessed month.

We fill our advent calendar with halal sweets, and allow the children to open them up just before we go to our daily Ramadan class. You could also put a little note inside, indicating a new activity or game that you will be doing that day, or even a little toy.

If you don't want to make the envelopes, you can buy them premade, and just decorate them. Its super easy, so why not give it a go!

Materials

  • String/Ribbon
  • 3 sheets of good-quality gift wrap
  • Number stickers
  • 30 clothes pegs
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil
  • FREE TEMPLATE
  • Goodies to put inside!
Make  a Ramadan Advent Calendar

How to make it

  1. Using your FREE TEMPLATE, draw the outline of the envelope on the back of a sheet of gift wrap. You will need to draw the around the template 10 times on each sheet.
  2.  Cut out the envelope outlines. You should have 30 in all.
  3. Fold the envelopes and apply glue to the tabs to hold them in place.
  4. Stick number stickers on the front of the envelopes.
  5. Fill envelopes with 'goodies.'
  6. Hang string and attach envelopes with clothes pegs. 

ENJOY! Have fun with it!

You can use any color gift wrap, coloured paper or stickers to create the look you want.

Give it a try! I would love to see how you've decorated yours.
Please share your photos with me and my followers on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Islamic Calendar for Children

Children’s Islamic Calendar


We love using an Islamic calendar in our homeschool. Teaching the Islamic months is an important part of any Muslim homeschool, and we use ours during "Calendar Time" in the morning.

I have been looking online for an interactive calendar for the kids with inter-changeable Islamic months, lunar cycle and prayer times. 

However after many months of searching, I couldn’t find anything that I felt was suitable. So I decided to make my own and share it with you! 

It includes days, Islamic months, Year (AH), the lunar phase and the 5 prayers times

It is so easy to make! You definitely don’t need to be ‘crafty.’

We use this calendar as part of our ‘calendar time’ in our homeschool day. After Quranic memorisation in the morning, the children work on this calendar and their Gregorian calendar. 

It is a great way to introduce small kids to the Islamic months, the lunar phases and prayer times, as well early years numeracy. We use it to discuss the significance of certain months in Islam, as well as a countdown to Ramadan!


Below are the instructions for how to make your own Islamic Calendar including a FREE download 

I would love to see how yours look and how you decorate them. Please share you pics on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MyIslamicCalendar, or leave a link in the comments below.

My Islamic Calendar


Materials Needed:

  • A3 coloured card (1 sheet) – I used navy blue to match my Gregorian calendar
  • Laminator and laminating pouches
  • Patterned ribbon or card (optional)
  • Strong adhesive glue
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • FREE Printable Pages. Click HERE to download.
  • Coloured card (two different colours) – for the hands of the clocks
  • Paper fasteners (x5)
  • Velcro/Hook & Loop self-adhesive dots (13mm)
  • Small pin



  1. Cut and glue the patterned ribbon or card around the edge of the A3 card to make a decorative border (optional). 
  2. Cut out everything from the Free Printable Pages
  3. Arrange the cut-outs on the A3 card.
  4. Using your glue stick, glue on the ‘My Islamic Calendar’, ‘Date’, ‘Month’, ‘Year’, ‘Lunar Phase’, ‘Fajr’, ‘Dhuhr’, ‘Asr’, ‘Maghrib’, ‘Isha’ tabs.
  5. Laminate the remaining cut-outs.
  6. Using your strong adhesive glue, glue the blank white rectangles/squares that you have laminated onto the A3 card. These will act as a background to each inter-changeable section. Leave to dry according to your glue’s instructions. My glue required me to leave for 24h.
  7. Stick the Velcro dots onto the back of the numbers, months, years, lunar phases. Stick the Velcro dots onto the front of the blank laminated rectangles/squares on your calendar. Note: you will need two Velcro dots in the ‘date’ section, and one in the other sections.
  8. Now its time to work on the clocks. Using your coloured card, cut out 5 long clock hands in one colour, and 5 short clock hands in another colour.
  9. Position the clock faces on the A3 card below each prayer name. Using a pin, pierce a hole in the centre of each clock face, and through into the card below. Thread the clock hands onto the paper fastener. Then use your this paper fastener, to go through the small holes, securing the clock to the card.


Your calendar should now be ready to use!

The calendar in this download has straight title text. After playing around with it, I felt it looked better. However, if you would prefer 'My Islamic Calendar' to be curved, please leave me a comment below, and I will upload another printable insha'Allah.


We keep all our extra pieces in envelopes next to the calendar; one envelope for the numbers and lunar phases (things that change frequently) and one envelope for the months and years. By keeping them in two envelopes, it makes it easier for the kids to find what they need. You could also use little baskets or attach separate pouches to the calendar itself.

I would love to see how yours look and how you decorate them. Please share you pics on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MyIslamicCalendar, or leave a link in the comments below.

Please remember us in your duaas,



Peace and Love x

Friday, 12 June 2015

Making an alphabet caterpillar

This homeschooling activity was inspired by the book 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' by Eric Carle. This preschool activity helps with letter recognition, putting the letters in the correct order, sequencing, as well as letting the lil' ones be creative and have some fun.
Alphabet Caterpillar
Alphabet Caterpillar

How to Make An Alphabet Caterpillar


Begin by having you child draw around a circular object, like a cup, to create at least 27 circles. We used lots of different coloured paper, to make it more interesting.
Tracing a circle
Tracing around a cup

Then either cut the circles out yourself, or let him/her have a go. In my case I did most of the cutting myself as Dino-boy is still a little young.

Next ask you child you put glue the circles down in a particular order (Blue, green, red, blue, green, red etc.). I was amazed at how excited Dino-boy got by this exercise. It was wonderful to see.
Gluing the circles in a sequence
Adding the eyes

Then draw on /stick on the eyes. We had some foam eyes left over from another craft pack, so we used them. It gave our caterpillar a rather menacing  look!

Then I asked Dino-boy to stick some alphabet stickers onto the caterpillar's body, in order. In hindsight, it may have worked better if the stickers were stick on first, before each circle was glued down. However, both achieve the same learning outcome. If you child is older, you cold have them write out the letters on each circle.
Sticking on the letters...

Next, we drew on the legs. Technically a caterpillar has only 6 legs, so I guess ours is more like a millipede!
Draw on the legs...
Our Very Hungry MILLIPEDE!


Then we added some grass and a sun, and got a bit creative! 

Peace and Love 

Teaching the Arabic Alphabet to Preschool Children

Teaching the Arabic alphabet to Muslim children in the West is often done after the English alphabet, as a second language. Despite this, there are so many way we have found to make learning Arabic fun and enjoyable for your preschoolers. Below I have listed my favorite resources and activities to help all Muslim kids learn the Arabic alphabet and have fun doing it. These recommendations are primarily for young children (under 4s) but could be used for any child new to the language.
Arabic for preschoolers

  1. Montessori cards
As I was beginning to discover the Montessori method of education  and browsing through the plethora of information online, I stumbled across a great website, ‘Noor Janan Homeschool’. In amongst her free printables, I found these lovely Arabic Letter Cards. After printing and laminating them, we have used them a multitude of ways. I ask Dino boy to name the letter, or to pair with matching letter, put them in order or we play a memory game with them.
Arabic Montessori Cards



  1.     Playdough
On the same website (Noor Janan Homeschool) there are Arabic playdough cards, where you  mould the playdough into the shape of the letter on the card. Dino boy was not interested in these, so after laminating them, we now use them as colouring in sheets, and simply wipe clean after. As he is colouring in, we talk about the letter, its sound, words that begin with this letter or what its shape reminds us of.
Playdough Arabic Letters


  1. Telling a story
I came across this method on Youtube on the safida34 channel where you tell a story with the letter. For example with Ba, Ta and Tha:
“Ba, Ta and Tha are three boats. One sunny day, they decided to go out on the seas and catch some fish. Ba was not a very good fishing boat, and he left his fish in the water (Where the fish are representing the dots on the letters). Ta did very well mashAllah and caught two fish and Tha, who had the longest fishing rod (sticking your tongue out to make the sound of the letter) caught three fish.”
  1. Puzzles
We have been fortunate to receive a few puzzles, wooden and card, of the Arabic letters. These are available from amazon and many Islamic bookstores. I use these when I want to kids to do some Arabic, but they are not in the mood for anything ‘heavy.’

Arabic alphabet puzzle

  1. Islamic Playground
This website Islamic Playground is a recent discovery of mine. Although I do try to limit screen time for my kids, there are occasions when they deserve a treat! There are two lovely games on this site
-          Drag and match game where the player has to match the letters and as they do it the letters sound is played.
-          A journey through the Arabic alphabet. The player has to walk along the letter and as they reach an obstacle on the path they will be asked an ‘Islamic’ question to get past. Although this one does require mum or dad’s help, it is well worth it.

  1. Painting
Sometimes the simplest things work the best! Either write out the letters yourself, or ask you child to, and then paint them . Simple but it holds their concentration!

  1. Workbook
The website  rahmahmuslimhomeschool  has a wonderful workbook for ages 3+ to help your child recognise and begin writing the letters. Dinoboy LOVES this. I’ve put it in a ‘grown-up’ folder for him which only adds to his excitement!

Arabic alphabet workbook



8. Youtube
There are many songs and videos on Youtube to help you child become more familiar with the sounds and shapes of the letters. These are our favourites:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI3oBB_n1AU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dQ3lizkjuE
The main thing that I always need to remind myself of is, that at this young age, it should be fun. Make it light, frivolous, smile and make happy memories!

Teach your children Arabic


I would love to hear how you have taught your little ones the Arabic alphabet. Please leave a comment in the box below.
Please remember us in your duaas.
Peace and Love.