Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homeschooling: Where and How to Start (Part 2)

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته


How do you start?

Now that we've talked about a good starting point being the point where your child demonstrated they need more guided and/or direct instruction we can explore "how" you might choose to start. 
  1. The first thing when starting any and all endevours is to have the correct intention insha'Allaah. Our goal insha'Allaah, is to, for the sake of Allaah, raise our children to be Muslims who understand and practice Islaam according to how the Salaf-as-Salih understood and practiced it.
    عن أمـيـر المؤمنـين أبي حـفص عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه ، قال : سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عـليه وسلم يـقـول:

    ( إنـما الأعـمـال بالنيات وإنـمـا لكـل امـرئ ما نـوى . فمن كـانت هجرته إلى الله ورسولـه فهجرتـه إلى الله ورسـوله ومن كانت هجرته لـدنيا يصـيبها أو امرأة ينكحها فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه ).

    رواه إمام المحد ثين أبـو عـبـد الله محمد بن إسماعـيل بن ابراهـيـم بن المغـيره بن بـرد زبه البخاري الجعـفي،[رقم:1] وابـو الحسـيـن مسلم بن الحجاج بن مـسلم القـشـيري الـنيسـابـوري [رقم :1907] رضي الله عنهما في صحيحيهما اللذين هما أصح الكتب المصنفه.
    On the authority of Ameer ul-Mu'mineen (the Commander of the Faithful), Aboo Hafs `Umar ibn al-Khattaab radiAllaahu anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam say:

    "Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have only that which he intended. Thus he whose migration (Hijrah to Madeenah from Makkah) was for Allaah and His Messenger, his migration was for Allaah and His Messenger, and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he migrated." {Bukhari and Muslim}
  2. After conducting and reviewing the results of the assessment, sit down and think about your child and what you would like to accomplish with him/her. Think about the time frame you wish to accomplish this in. Be realistic and be flexible. Consider your child's learning style. Is he very energetic? Then perhaps, flashcards and worksheets may not work well for either one of you. They might bore him and his lack of interest may frustrate you. Try hands on learning with him. Let him move if this is the way he takes in information best. There will be times that he needs to sit and do something but make these times brief and not too frequent. This is not to say let him run wild and unencumbered, disturbing others around him and being excessively loud. This means if he learns by moving and has the energy to compliment this method of learning, teach him with activities that require and encourage movement.
  3. The step just mentioned is leading you into developing and drafting a long range plan for your homeschool. The questions you will begin asking yourself: "What do I want my daughter to know in 10 months time?", "Are there certain things I want to teach her in certain months (i.e. Ramadan, Hajj, Eid, etc.)?", "Are there certain things that seem to be related and I can teach them together in a theme (i.e. Eid, Sunnah, Bid'ah)"? All of these questions will lead you to organizing your thoughts and putting them on paper. This is the beginning of your long range plan for your child. Once you have written your thoughts out (rough draft), consider the following: a). does your province/state require that you keep records and/or report your child's progress to them? b). does your province/state require that you follow the provincial curriculum established by the Ministry of Education (or Board of Education in the states, if I am not mistaken)? c). are you going to be following a pre-written curriculum? If you intend to use a pre-written curriculum and/or your province requires you follow theirs, now is the time to take it out and begin matching your goals/expectations with the goals and expectations outlined in the curriculum you will use (modifying when needed - add in Ramadan, subtract the music strand for example). If you intend to write and follow your own curriculum, check to make sure that you cover the major expectations that pre-written curricula have outlined (i.e. make sure you teach your child the shapes, colours, the essential things that children need to know insha'Allaah). See a sample of what children in JK (Junior Kindergarten - is that considered pre-school in the states?) are expected to learn prior to moving to Kindergarten here and view the Kindergarten expectations here insha'Allaah.  
  4. As you are looking at your provincial (or state) curriculum, keep in mind that you do not have to teach each expectation in the order it is presented. Take time to look/read through it, notice topics that are similar and can be taught in tandem (i.e. together).
  5. Doing a long range plan is a step worth taking (and not skipping). By seeing the school year in front of you, the long range plan will serve as your map; your guide. It can help you stay on track and if you happen to get off track, this plan can help to center yourself again and help you regain your bearings. A long range plan is not a detailed plan but a very general one and is not set in stone - if you need to change,modify,delete or add things to it...do so. The long range plan helps you answer the question, "When will I teach certain things to my child?".
  6. If you were to look at the Month of September, for example, you can ask yourself certain questions like:

    a). Are there any Islaamic holidays in this month?
    b). What is the weather like in this month? What season is it?
    c). What commonly happens in this month?

    If we look at those three questions alone we will come up with a plethora of things we can teach in this month alone. 

    - Islaamic holidays? No
    - The weather: Autumn/Fall is coming. Teach about this season. This season has activities that span the curriculum: math, science, literacy, social studies, art, gym, etc. Try to integrate your activities (i.e. link them to each other. If you are going to do a Fall theme for September, make your math activities about Fall somehow. Let the children use leaves to learn addition.) When teaching science, you can teach about hibernation and migration as this is the time when animals begin preparing to do these things.
    - September is when many children return to school from the summer break. Transportation themes fit well here because children go to and from school using a mode of transportation.

    Your goal here is to try to teach subjects/material when they are most relevant. It is easy to teach about Fall in September because children can go outside and experience it hands on. It would be much more difficult to teach about Autumn in the Summer and may seem irrelevant to children due to the contradiction in weather and the natural world around them.

  7. Another aspect of "what to teach my child and when do I teach it" that must be kept in mind is your child's developmental stage. By reading pre-written curricula, you can see when certain topics are generally introduced to children. For children under the age of 4, you may wish to consult texts (and your child's pediatrician) for information about what your child is able to do at certain stages. This milestone chart is a good example. Knowing what your child is capable of doing (emotionally, physically and mentally) , helps you search for and design developmentally appropriate activities for your child(ren) with the help of Allaah.
  8. Now that you know "what" you'd like to teach your child and you know what he/she already knows, you need to look at your long range plan and ask yourself what materials you will need to teach these ideas/concepts. What books might you want to use as resources that you can go to when you need ideas and information? What materials do you feel will be useful to help you child learn these concepts (i.e. blocks, chalk, crayons, games, etc.)? Do not worry too much about the curriculum just yet, that will come insha'Allaah. Now you want to get your thoughts organized so you can map out your homeschooling journey insha'Allaah.
  9. Knowing what you want to teach helps you know what you will need but there are certain things that seem to be standard in classrooms and homes (depending on the age of your child(ren):
    1. non-toxic glue
    2. construction paper
    3. non-toxic paint
    4. wooden blocks
    5. child scissors
    6. crayons and markers
  10. And when you come to your lesson planning stage, the materials you will need will show themselves insha'Allaah. As you are writing your lesson plan, you will begin to see that you cannot teach your child about the passage of time without a calendar. So you will then be led to acquire a calendar that includes the days of the week, the months of the year, etc. We'll talk of lesson plans and curricula later insha'Allaah *smile* but this point supports the desirability of writing lesson plans (ahead of time). A lesson plan helps you avoid certain pit-falls that can lead to a frustrating lesson for both parent and child. If you start an art activity and then realize in the middle that you are missing and essential component and your child cannot complete the project without it, your child may be disappointed and their frustration may transfer to you. Things such as this can also disrupt the learning process. If the child was focused on the activity, although we cannot "see" it, their mind was piecing things together and making connections. If our lesson goes awry because we are missing materials, that focus and concentration is broken. A maddening search of the house for a missing resource/material is also a concentration breaker. Lesson plans take time but it is time well spent insha'Allaah. Try your best not to skip them. But again, I am jumping ahead *smile*.
  11. Part of deciding what materials you will need also leads into another topic: "With so many pre-made materials available, how do you even begin to organize it and then make it coherent so that you can teach your child effectively?" This is a question that I personally enjoy hearing because it reveals the parent's strong drive to give their child the absolute best! Parents may feel flooded by all that is available on the Internet and they search and search trying to find the best for their child and this is a great and wonderful thing insha'Allaah. Try this: after you have drafted your long range lesson/curriculum plan and you know what topics/subjects you want to teach in each month, and you have decided the method of learning that best suites your child, ask yourself what is the minimum you will need to teach that topic to your child and he/she will have fun learning it. Will one workbook and one hands-on activity plus some art be effective? If so, find the minimum that you need. Refine your Google search skills and bookmark sites that you feel have materials that don't require a lot of planning on your part, and are fun for children (and of course Islaamically appropriate). Once you've found a few sites that you feel have what you need, create folders on your computer for each subject and when you download your resources, download them to the appropriate folder right away. This way when you need math, you simply open your math folder and look for what you need insha'Allaah. You will want to have a selection of sites so that you can vary your child's learning experience.
  12. Try always to prepare the materials for each lesson ahead of time. You are a teacher. Come to your lesson prepared and ready to teach. No matter the age, when the time comes for homeschooling, you should be ready. There should be little or nothing for you to cut out and/or assemble. This will help you teach calmly, effectively and confidently insha'Allaah. This way your focus will be on your child(ren) and you both will enjoy the lesson. If possible, do any art activity that is new to you before you teach/present it to your child. This allows you to know what parts may be difficult or if there is potential for the lesson to go in directions you would really not prefer it go.
  13. The last point (is your coffee cold? gone? *smile*): how long should each lesson take?
    1. Kindergarten = total homeschooling time should not exceed 30 minutes (for all subjects)
    2. Preschool = each lesson can be between 3-5 minutes in length and should be as hands-on as possible (depending on your child's learning style) insha'Allaah. It may be a good idea to try to keep this "formal learning" to about 15 minutes total each day you do your homeschooling...waallaahu a'lam.
    3. But...each child is different. If you notice that your child is very engaged in an activity and it's been 15 minutes and their focus is still strong....leave them with the activity. Do not interrupt unless absolutely necessary.If you find that you will have to interrupt, try to give your child advanced warning (i.e. Fatima, in about 5 minutes insha'Allaah we have to start cleaning up because we have a doctors appointment).
    4. You do not need to try to stretch your homeschooling day to match the length of a traditional school day. You may wish to try to homeschool around the same time each day as this structure and consistency is important for children but the amount of time it will take you to teach a curriculum is flexible when homeschooling. If you don't finish the theme when you originally planned, you can keep going. There is nothing that says your curriculum must be completed within 180 days. Of course, you do not want to stay on one topic too long so that your child's interest does not wane.
  14. Okay, another last point...so number 12 was the penultimate last point *smile*. Homeschooling allows you the freedom to break the traditional classroom mold. Learning at this age occurs all throughout the day. Every interaction a child has teaches them something. You can teach math to your toddler when you are cooking. When you are getting him/her ready for bed. Allaahu a'lam how many children have learned to count because mother and/or father always counted the buttons on their clothes as they dressed them. Transportation does not need to be taught with a book. When you go outside your child sees modes of transportation all around him/her. Talk about them. Discuss them/compare and contrast them. What colour are they? (math) Is the sound they make loud or soft (science), Do they travel fast or slow (science), How do people in other countries travel from place to place? With cars, horses, donkeys? (social studies), etc. If you have plants in your home, this is a science lab all by itself masha'Allaah! Reading aloud to your child each and every day teaches reading/pre-literacy skills and so much more. Learning at this age does not need to take place at the table. It does not need to take place every day at 8:30 am if you don't wish it to be that way. Learning at this age (Birth to 5) takes place all day, every day. Your manners with your child and with others teaches akhlaq. You reading the Quraan each day and reflecting upon it teaches your child Quraan. Allaahu a'lam how many children have memorized a surah before the adult just by hearing it every day as the parent was learning it. Allaahu a'lam how early children know the steps of as- salat because they witness it every day in their home (the same for wudu). I believe my point here is: Trust yourself. Believe in your ability to teach your child. Make dua' and tawakaal. Take the asbab and tawakaal. As I stated in the first post in this series, rare is the child who comes to a teacher a blank slate. They learn so much at home before they even get to our classrooms. And who is at home? Father, Mother, older sister, older brother, Grandfather, Grandmother, etc. This being the case, trust your ability to teach your child...you have been doing it since your child was born. May Allaah reward you and grant you the ability to teach your child knowledge that pleases Him and may He grant you success. 
Next post in this series: It will depend on any questions/comments. Are there questions that I did not answer in this post that you would like to have information about?

9 comments:

  1. Bismillaah

    As Salaamu Alaikum!

    Subhana'Allaah this was very helpful. I learned this week that having your materials before hand is soooo important and also like you stated trying new material out first before you present it...this week I know for sure how true this is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Assalaamu Alaikum sis,

    Masha Allaah very nice and useful article. Now I have one question. We do all this, asses our child, draw a lesson plan, get all the resources ready and do as planned now on the very first day the child just refuses to do anything and everything is a big flop, this continues the second day and third day. What do we do?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Waalaikum assalam wa rahmatullaah

    @ Umm Suhailah: Jazakillaahu khayr dear sis for your comment. Yes, this is very important and saves from stress many times.

    @Umm Maimoonah: if what you described happens, then this should not be a cause for distress. There are many factors that may contribute to this scenario. Leave the activities for a while and approach them again later in the day. Have the materials/activity reading and invite the child to the area to work with you. If they still refuse then respect their choice.

    Has this happened dear sis? Can you provide me a bit more details? Did it go on for 3 or more days? I ask because there are many things that can contribute to this scenario but without specifics it is difficult to pin-point a solution.

    jazakillaahu khayr

    ReplyDelete
  4. No sis, it has not happened with Maimoonah. I asked this questions because many sisters ask me, so I thought if I do pose it to you they will get a professional answer!!
    : )

    There are some times where Maimoonah says I do not want to do this or that, in that case I just leave it and no big fuss, after a day or two she will do it again without fussing. When she says no as you say I do respect her choice. Jazzakillaah Khayr Ukhtee

    ReplyDelete
  5. Barakallah Feekum Sister Umm An-Nu'man. I have been following along diligently so far lol. I have some concerns however. My son is 33mts old. After doing the assessment suggested above I found out (not surprisingly) that he is far ahead in most areas but lagging, needing encouragement in motor skills, and social/emotional development. For example he randomly identifies all ABC's, numbers, colors, and shapes, counts to 11, reads some words, writes some letters like H,L,U,C,T,t, recognizes his name. However Im still potty training, he still learning to dress and he socially and emotionally acts his age. Currently the bulk of his learning has been online programs like starfall and ABC mouse. So I wanted to ask you and anyone who wishes to respond:

    1. How do I teach him in an age appropriate way without him being bored?
    2. How do I transfer from online learning to hands on if he is not interested?

    Jazzakillaah Khayr
    Umm A.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Assalamu aliakum
    Wa feki barakallaah sis SAHM4Islam. masha'Allaah, you are being diligent and I am behind so far *smile*.

    Sis, at 33 months old, waallaahu a'lam but unless your son's pediatrician says otherwise, there is nothing to be concerned about with his potty training progress. Sometimes children come to preschool (4 years old) and are still not fully potty trained although this is one of the requirements of preschool. Children's bodies develop at different rates and unless you feel his is very behind, developmentally, you may not have anything to worry about...waallaahu a'lam.

    As far as learning to dress himself, this too does not spark concern. You have mentioned that his fine motor skills are still developing. Providing him with activities geared toward helping strengthen his pincer grasp (for example) may help for buttoning clothes and zipping zippers. You may wish to visit this link for further information on dressing/undressing: http://www.babycenter.com/0_milestone-chart-31-to-36-months_1496595.bc

    and here: http://www.babycenter.ca/toddler/development/milestonecharts/31to36months/

    You may also wish to look at this developmental checklist (keeping in mind that children develop at different rates/times): http://www.kidcentric.com/documents/Developmental-Checklist-Threes.pdf


    With regard to teaching him in an age appropriate way: the answer to that question may depend on what you would like to teach him. At this stage, paper and pencil, workbooks, etc. may be beyond his developmental stage/interest. Is it possible that you can give a few examples of what you are hoping to teach him insha'Allaah?

    For how to transfer from online learning to hands on learning if he is not interested: this can be done in everyday life activities. For example, when you are shopping or making a list for what foods you will need to buy. Invite him to help you, say the names of the items out loud as you write them and then ask him what letter that word starts with/what letter sound does that word start with.

    You may also wish to consider if he has absorbed the information from the online learning, he may not be interested in the repetition of learning it again. You may wish to consider moving him on to the next stage of learning (i.e. if he has learned the letters of the alphabet and can identify them on site move him to other literacy activities that expand on that knowledge).

    If I have not answered your questions please feel free to mention this.

    Jazakillaahu Khayr

    ReplyDelete
  7. assalaamu 'alaikum,

    subhanallah, i praise allah for finding your site *smile*
    i live in bogor-indonesia, and looking for islamic homeschooling "how-to" .. very happy to read your blog, and ask you permission for downloading the chart and others, but can I edited in indonesian language, without eliminating the source?

    thanks for making all the pdf files, barrakallu fiiki

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Waalaikum assalam wa rahmatullaah

      Jazakillaahu khayr dear sis and ahlan!

      Sis, please contact me directly (authorummannuman@gmail.com) so that we can discuss your request.

      Jazakillaahu khayr and again ahlan wa sahlan! Insha'Allaah, you enjoy and benefit from the site.

      Delete
  8. Salaam aleykum,

    How old are the children in kindergarten and preschool?
    My daughter is 3 years now and i dont know how long the lessons have to be.

    Umm Amira

    ReplyDelete

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