Posted by Abu Abdurahman | 2 Comments
One of our followers asked:
Asalamu Alaikum Warahmatullaahi Wabarakaatuh!!!
I have been going through some of the articles on your blog and FB page & masha’Allah & JZK for sharing. I will get to the point real quick: I AM CLUELESS & WAAAAAAAAAY BEHIND!!!
I have an almost 5yrs old son Abdulraheem (June 25th bday)
and Ahmed 3yrs old (Jan 2 bday)
In 1 month we (between my husband & I) taught them upto Fiil…Abdulraheem retained it and Ahmed has practically forgotten all of it. We never expected Ahmed to learn it because he refused to sit through any session but hung around and picked up every part anyways alhamdulillah.
I am a stay @ home mom, who is confused about what exactly to teach my kids & how. I have a Chemistry degree but that doesn’t help much in this department at this stage.
I’ve collected soooooooooooo much information it makes my head spin.
I’m doubting my capability to pull this (homeschooling) off.
I want to teach them Qur’an, Arabic, English all around academics, Somali (originally from there & spoken at home) but I don’t know how. I don’t know if I can or should do it all or how I can incorporate all.
I read to my kids consistently everyday at least an hour, spread out. I’m using “Why Johnny Can’t Read” to help with teaching my son to read.
Basically I need STUCTURE, a SCHEDULE, & Guidance.
JZK for any direction you can give me.
May Allah reward you for your kind words. As for being clueless, the fact that you care enough to take your children’s educational experience into your own hands shows that you are far ahead of the pack. And your oldest son being 5 this is not a problem at all. This is the age at which he would be getting ready to enter a school anyway. The fact that you have started something will show its positive effects later on.
Searching for too much information is actually part of the problem. It can be overwhelming when you first start. Most homeschooling parents I would gather would say that the first year was the most difficult. You do not know exactly where to start, or how to start, so most of us rush to the internet, and the internet is loaded with everything you need, unfortunately most of it is hidden in a mass of materials that you do not need, or are downright a waste of time. Having someone you can go to for assistance is an excellent start, and we’re flattered that you chose us to give you advice. Alhamdulillah there is also the forum on Facebook called Islamic Homeschool and Education where you can get other perspectives. There are also many sisters who are writing on their own blogs sharing their own experience that we can learn from. Furthermore there are homeschool groups in different areas that meet up from time to time, go on trips together, trade resources and materials. You may even find another homeschooling family in your local masjid, so it would be worth looking around.
As for your ability to homeschool, you can do it for sure. It should be easier than getting your Chemistry degree minus the bill. Many times people assume that the teacher at a public school is more qualified to teach your child. Anyone with a college degree who then went into the workforce will know that they learned 90% of what they needed for the job, on the job. Consider yourself hired; you’re the new homeroom teacher for your children. Have confidence in yourself; ask Allah for help and insa’Allah you can do it.
We learn to walk through steps, not by running. You need to decide on a program and start, but it needs to be small at first and focused until you develop the routine with your children. My advice is to start with Quran, Reading, and Math. Too many subjects are not necessary. Everything is built upon these three subjects anyway. Your primary source for both Arabic and Islamic sciences is the Quran. All material sciences combine reading and mathematics. At this point you are in need of getting started. You need to get into a schedule and rhythm, then after you’ve been moving along you can add other things. Even if you started at 6 years old my assumption is that by 8 he’d have already passed his peers if you are consistent. So at this point just get some subjects going that you can focus on and be consistent with. Don’t worry about being behind. You’re not in race with anyone, and feeling as such will only put pressure on yourself and your child, which will be detrimental to their progress.
It’s excellent that your husband is helping you with Quran. If he can help with other subjects this will give your child an advantage. If you are doing different languages have your husband speak to them in one language and you speak to them in the other. From our research and experience, this is the most effective way to raise a child fluently in two languages. If you have relatives around you may be able to have them maintain Somali for example and then you can split Arabic and English between you and your husband. Whatever you choose it should be consistent. I speak to my children in Arabic and teach them reading and Islamic studies in Arabic, while my wife speaks to my children in English and teaches them Reading, Math, and the Sciences in English. Sometimes we cross over to help each other out but we mostly stick to our original roles. We both teach Quran.
Reading to your kids consistently every day is excellent may Allah reward you. Insha’Allah this will instill a love of reading and literature in them. Make books available in abundance at home for them, in different subjects, fiction, non-fiction Our children are constantly reading and even fall asleep with their books. We have a list of books that we use for bedtime stories and read to our children every night. We used different books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to Classic Starts. As for getting your child to read I have never heard of Why Johnny can’t read, but if it is working for you than stick with it. If it isn’t then I would suggest using Teach your child to read in a 100 easy lesson. My wife loved it and it made things a lot easier.
First and foremost we all need to ask Allah to guide us and our children and to make this process for his sake and that he makes it easy for us. As for structure, start with the following
Reading: Alphabet flash cards, and then move onto 100 easy lessons to start
Math: Count everything from the bites at meal time to the steps on the stairs, use number flash cards just like the alphabet, once you’ve got the hang of that use Singapore Math Kindergarten early bird mathematics, you only need the textbook without teachers manual or work book as it is self-explanatory and sufficient.
Quran: Check out our post on Teaching your Child Quran II and it should give you some ideas.
I would not do more than this to start, especially if you are on your own. Yes you want to make sure that you cover everything and insha’Allah you will, but you need to build consistency and this may be a bit of a shock to the child going from play to sit down and read with mom. If it is too much you will do more harm than good, and set yourself back making it easier for you to want to give up.
Now you might get confused as you see some other people are using other programs, they didn’t like 100 easy lessons, and they preferred Saxon math over Singapore Math, and there are many curriculums out there. No curriculum is perfect, and different people found different things worked for them, but in the end the most highly recommended books are just as good as the others, so long as you don’t think that just buying the books is going to make your child figure it out by themselves. Getting caught up in reviews can be a time kill. Look to what’s been proven and tested by others, it will at least help you start, and if you find something better you can always switch once you have got the routine going. If you spend too much time doing reviews, and asking around, you’ll get burnt out because there are so many books and everyone has an opinion good and bad. It is like amazon, you are most certainly sure to find people who dreaded books on the best sellers list. At the end of the day none of them are the Quran, pick a widely agreed upon book and try to stick to it.
It’s important in the beginning that you chose these books and stick with them. One of the difficulties in starting homeschooling is we either think we do not need these books, or we do not feel the money is worth it. Yes you can find things on your own and be a DIY cut and paste syllabus homeschooler, but I do not think it is a wise way to start out especially when you are going to have to face the bumpiness of the first year. Also surfing the net for your daily lessons is going to kill a lot of time. Having a book to follow will save you time and a lot of stress. You can always find and add supplementary material. We wasted weeks looking for things, trying to create our own programs, in Arabic, Math, Science, and by God it was a relief when we found the programs we did. Now that our schedule is running smoothly it allows us to add new subjects and be a little bit more creative with our learning program, whereas in the beginning stages, had we continued the other way we may have given up.
Two things that have helped us, are one having a set curriculum, and two having a weekly timetable. When we did not have the right resources, it was very difficult, and a lot of time was wasted, likewise when there was no timetable, I found certain subjects were neglected and I was lax. We made up a weekly schedule of the subjects that would be studied each day of the week. This has made an immense difference because I feel like we get so much accomplished as I have a checklist of all that needs to be done for the day. Since we went about things this way I feel like they have accomplished so much in such a short span of time in all subjects.
There is one last thing to remember and that is that this process is difficult. It is not easy it will take time, work, and a lot of patience. The most difficult part is the beginning. I am sure that you can read a lot of blogs, and websites with information about success stories. You can see people bragging about how their kid has memorized the periodic table at age 6, but remember… not everyone is open about the difficult side. Be it for personal reasons, or just shyness, not everyone is going to tell you about the days that they lose their patience get angry. You may look even at our blog and think that we are having a breeze, but the truth is that we have tough days. So don’t think that it does not come without its difficulties. But rest assured most of them are in the beginning and then as you go along new problems will arise but you will have come accustomed to dealing with them and avoiding them insha’Allah. The prophet peace be upon him said if you are going to rely on anything then rely on Allah. Make sure that you are always asking Him for help and guidance and to make your children righteous believers.
I hope this helps. We’re not experts by any means and everyone’s situation is different, but we are more than happy to share our perspectives with our brothers and sisters. Sometimes we ourselves need to ask others for advice. I hope my answer was beneficial and if you ever have further question please feel free to ask.
May Allah reward you and your husband for your efforts.