Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School: "Homeschooling" infants and young toddlers - Where to begin?

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Recently, several sisters have asked about how to homeschool infants and young toddlers. More specifically, where do you start and how do you know what activities to do with your young child.  

The guidelines you will find in this post are by no means hard and fast rules but are merely suggestions.

With infants and young toddlers education begins from day 1. What does this "education" look like? Starting with infants, it may look like this:
  • Observing the sunnah of welcoming the new born child
  • From day one establish a time/place that you read Quran aloud to your child (short suwar - pl. of surah) - or whatever you and baby are comfortable with. Be aware of baby's tired times and more active times and pick a time when he/she is alert. Try to make this Quran reading time occur around the same time every single day insha'Allaah but do your reading with baby when he/she is not occupied with another task. 
  • From day one (birth) read the athkar to your child. You can find them here in Arabic, in English here and here in several other languages.
  • When you pray, place your child in a spot were he/she can see and/or hear the salat.
  • Talk to and with your infant/toddler frequently. Praise Allaah frequently so that your child hears this (i.e. Subhana'Allaah, Alhamdulillaah, Allaahu Akbar).  
  • Name objects in his/her environment. Pick him/her up or when he/she is near you, tell your child what you are doing. Explain the steps you will do to complete the task you are engaged in (i.e. I am going to bake some cookies insha'Allaah. First I will need a large bowl to mix all of the ingredients. Next, I will assemble the ingredients. I will need flour, eggs, sugar, milk. etc.). 
  • Be familiar with the milestones for your child's age group and be familiar with what children at his/her age are typically able to do by the Permission of Allaah. This will greatly assist you when deciding on what you want to teach your child and when (i.e. at what stage).
  • Decide upon what skills you would like your child to learn and begin with a long range plan.
  • Once decided upon, draft weekly plans that briefly outline the type of activities you wish to complete with your infant. The activities may be short in duration and as your child's concentration and ability to focus develops you will notice the duration of the activities may increase. But do not be surprised if your infant focuses on an object for far longer than you expect and when/if this happens, do not break the infant's concentration and do not interrupt. Allow the infant to focus for as long as he/she wishes.
Here is a sample of what an infants weekly plan might look like.

Click on the image for a larger view insha'Allaah

As you can see, the hours between each activity allow for baby's nap, feeding, and bath times. Your goal is to be as consistent as possible and to decide what you would like to do with your child, when you would like to do it and to verify that the activity is within your child's developmental capabilities insha'Allaah. And a plan such as the example above does not need to be typed out. Something written and placed on the refrigerator will do the job just as well insha'Allaah.

Here is an example of the typical development of children birth to 12 months old (keep in mind that children develop at different rates):
  • weight: 10-18 pounds
  • length: 23-27 inches
  • sleeps about 6 hours before waking during the night
  • averages 14-17 hours of sleep daily
  • lifts head and chest when lying on stomach
  • holds both eyes in a fixed position
  • follows a moving object or person with eyes
  • grasps rattle or finger
  • wiggles and kicks with arms and legs
  • rolls over (stomach to back)
  • sits with support
  • cries (with tears) to communicate pain, fear, discomfort, or loneliness
  • babbles or coos
  • loves to be touched and held close
  • responds to a shaking rattle or bell
  • returns a smile
  • responds to peak-a-boo games
  • explores objects with mouth
  • plays with fingers, hands, toes
  • reacts to sound of voice, rattle, bell
  • turns head toward bright colors and lights
  • recognizes bottle or breast
  • weight: 14-23 pounds
  • length: 25-30 inches
  • first teeth begin to appear
  • drools, mouths and chews on objects
  • needs at least 3-4 feedings per day
  • reaches for cup or spoon when being fed
  • drinks from a cup with help
  • enjoys some finely-chopped solid foods
  • closes mouth firmly or turns head when no longer hungry
  • may sleep 11-13 hours at night although this varies greatly
  • needs 2-3 naps during the day
  • develops a rhythm for feeding, eliminating, sleeping, and being awake
  • true eye color is established
  • rolls from back to stomach and stomach to back
  • sits alone without support and holds head erect
  • raises up on arms and knees into crawling position; rocks back and forth, but may not move forward
  • uses finger and thumb to pick up an object
  • transfers objects from one hand to the other
  • hair growth begins to cover head
  • cries in different ways to say he is hurt, wet, hungry, or lonely
  • makes noises to voice displeasure or satisfaction
  • recognizes and looks for familiar voices and sounds
  • learns by using senses like smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing
  • focuses eyes on small objects and reaches for them
  • looks for ball rolled out of sight
  • searches for toys hidden under a blanket, basket, or container
  • explores objects by touching, shaking, banging, and mouthing
  • babbles expressively as if talking
  • enjoys dropping objects over edge of chair or crib
  • responds to own name
  • shows fear of falling off high places such as table or stairs
  • spends a great deal of time watching and observing
  • responds differently to strangers and family members
  • imitates sounds, actions, and facial expressions made by others
  • shows distress if toy is taken away
  • squeals, laughs, babbles, smiles in response
  • likes to be tickled and touched
  • smiles at own reflection in mirror
  • raises arms as a sign to be held
  • recognizes family member names
  • responds to distress of others by showing distress or crying
  • shows mild to severe anxiety at separation from parent
  • weight: 17-27 pounds
  • length: 27-32 inches
  • sleeps 11-13 hours at night
  • some babies will stop taking a morning nap; others will continue both morning and afternoon naps
  • begins to refuse bottle or weans self from breast during day
  • needs 3 meals a day with 2 snacks in between
  • enjoys drinking from a cup
  • begins to eat finger foods
  • continues to explore everything by mouth
  • enjoys opening and closing cabinet doors
  • crawls well
  • pulls self to a standing position
  • stands alone holding onto furniture for support
  • walks holding onto furniture or with adult help
  • says first word
  • says da-da and ma-ma or equivalent
  • bounces     
  • interested in picture books
  • pays attention to conversations
  • claps hands, waves bye, if prompted
  • likes to place objects inside one another
  • imitates adult actions such as drinking from a cup, talking on phone
  • responds to name
  • likes to watch self in mirror
  • expresses fear or anxiety toward strangers
  • wants caregiver or parent to be in constant sight
  • offers toys or objects to others but expects them to be returned
  • may become attached to a favorite toy or blanket
  • pushes away something he does not want


  • Help infants develop a sense of trust and security by responding to their cries. Feeling secure encourages infants to try new things. Be consistent so that they will know what to expect.
  • Place babies in new places and new positions so that they can see you and others from different angles.
  • Hold and cuddle infants when feeding them. Even infants who hold their own bottle need to be held. Being held and cuddled frequently is
    extremely important in the development of baby's sense of self-worth and security. Holding and cuddling a baby is also a great stress releaser
    for an adult. Do not prop infants drinking from a bottle as it may cause choking.
  • Respect a baby's natural schedule. Most babies will settle into a regular routine for eating, sleeping, and soiling their diapers, but the
    schedule will vary depending on the baby. Some babies need to eat more frequently than some others. Some will sleep more and take longer naps.
  • Baby-proof everything! Store toxic substances such as dishwasher detergent, make-up, paint, or medicine up high. Put safety latches on
    cabinets and covers on electrical outlets. Lower crib mattresses so that older infants can't fall over the rail. Cover sharp corners of tables or shelves that infants might bump into.
  • Expose babies to bright colors and a variety of objects to look at. Pictures, moving objects, brightly colored or contrasting color toys attract infants.
  • Provide interesting objects for infants to feel, touch, mouth, and explore. Square nylon scarves, cold metal bowls, plastic measuring cups,
    large wooden spoons, and wet washcloths are favorite household toys. Keep easy-to-swallow objects out of infant's reach. Babies should not be
    allowed to play with anything smaller than a half dollar (about 1-1/4 inch).
  • Provide opportunities for infants to smell different smells. Lemon, vanilla, and apple juice are wonderful kitchen smells. Babies also enjoy smelling tree bark, dirt, grass, and other natural things.
  • Expose older babies to a variety of tastes and temperatures in food. Offer cold sherbet, warm oatmeal, mashed peaches, and chopped cooked carrots.
  • Help babies develop a sense of movement and balance by gently bouncing, swaying, swooping, and swinging with them.
  • Talk to infants. Face infants when talking to them so they can see you and smile with you. Talk about what you are doing, familiar objects, or
    people. You may even want to babble back or echo sounds your baby makes much as you would in a regular conversation. Even though an infant cannot understand everything you say, he will be learning many words that will form the basis for language later on.
  • Read to infants. Babies enjoy cuddling on a caregiver's lap, looking at colorful picture books, and hearing the rhythm of their voice. With
    time they begin to understand that words have meaning and can be used to identify objects.
  • Encourage older infants to feed themselves by offering pieces of banana and soft bread sticks. Give babies a spoon with some mashed
    potatoes or other sticky food, and let them practice eating with a spoon. Yes, it will be messy! Be patient. Learning this skill takes lots of practice.
  • Play peek-a-boo. Hide your face behind a blanket and then peek out at the baby. Older babies will learn to do this themselves and will enjoy this game for a long time.
  • Give babies the freedom to move around. Young infants enjoy being on their backs so that they can kick, wiggle, and look around. Older
    infants need space and time to practice crawling, creeping, pulling up, and walking. Spending too much time in a walker, playpen, or infant swing may inhibit the development of these important skills.
  • Stay with infants when someone new is around. Encourage strangers to approach slowly. Introduce an infant by name, and let him explore someone new in the safety of your presence.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Oesterreich, L. (1995). Ages & stages - newborn to 1 year. In L. Oesterreich, B. Holt, & S. Karas, Iowa family child care handbook [Pm 1541] (pp. 192-196). Ames, IA: Iowa State University Extension.

Insha'Allaah, the next email will touch upon homeschooling infants and young toddlers that are between 6 and 15 months old or if there is somethings else that you had hoped to be covered in this post, please leave a comment and if possible, this post will be updated or another supplementary post will be added insha'Allaah. 


  1. Umm Yusuf from ItalySeptember 6, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Barak Allahu fiki sister for this useful post, I enjoyed it very much. Could you possibly cover the age group 18-36 months also? I would need some tips and idea for my 22 month old girl, who's having some delay in speaking. I thank you very much for this precious blog: I love the choice of topics and the Islamic focus of your articles. Please keep up the work, and may Allah reward you greatly for it.

  2. Assalamu aliakum wa rahmatullaah

    Wa feki barak Allaah dear sis Umm Yusuf. It may be possible to cover up to 22-25 months insha'Allaah, however, specific delays in speaking would best be attended to by an individual who specializes in this area.

    Sis, if you can email me, I may be able to refer you to a site that you may find helpful insha'Allaah.

    Jazakillaahu Khayr

  3. Assalamu aliakum wa rahmatullaah
    dear sis i really enjoyed ur post very much .this is very helpfull for my niece .my son is 26months old wat u advice for his daily routine for homeschooling . Please keep up the work, and may Allah reward you greatly for it.

  4. Assalamu aliakum wa rahmatullaah
    Dear sis...i really love to read your every post and grab the tip you stated in your post...very useful and helpful
    Before than this i try so msny time to find preschool curriculum for my dear son
    But mostly found in curriculum based on bible
    Alhumdulillah i came across to your post and found that the right path to teach my ds about islam and other discripline simultaneously

    May Allah reward you for your great attemp and help for other muslim family
    That can get advantage for your post and resources,
    Keep working sis

    1. Waalaikum assalam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh,

      Jazakillaahu khayr dear sis Phenomenie for your comment and kind words. Indeed, all of the praise is due to Allaah Alone and all of the good is from Him.

      Insha'Allaah, the posts on the blog assist you and your dear son. May Allaah reward you for your efforts and work.

  5. Dear Sist, assalaammu'alaykum warrahmatullaah wabarakatuh!

    MashaAllah, I love your blog! *smile*
    I am a first-time mom of a five-mo baby, and have been interested in Montessori way.
    I came across your blog and found out many useful materials for my baby development either using Montessori tools or other. They are great as they are in accordance with Islam, Alhamdulillah! *smile*

    Thank you for sharing! Barakallaahufiik, jazakumullaah khairan katsira! *smile*

    1. Waalaikum assalam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh,

      Jazakillaahu khayr dear sis Eki Listya Rini for comment. Alhamdulillaah that you have found resources here that you feel may help you.

      You are most welcome for the sharing *smile* - it is for the sake of Allaah. May He accept our efforts and work and place them on our scale of good deeds on Yaumul Qiyaamah....ameen.

  6. jazaki allahu khayran sister very good mashallah may allah reward u


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