As we move into the New Year, I always recommend that during this time of transition, homeschooling families should take some time to reflect on the successes and failures of the previous year, the lessons learnt, and set some new intentions before pushing ahead into the New Year.
During this time, before beginning your next homeschool term, seek clarity and direction for your family by getting quiet,turning inward, making dua, and asking yourself some very important questions.
WATCH THIS VIDEO
Watch this YouTube video, when I went LIVE on my Facebook and Instagram accounts, and chatted with you about preparing your homeschool for the New Year, and talked you through the questions listed below.
Seek Clarity for your Homeschool
1) What was my favourite homeschool memory of last year?
2) What was my most painful homeschool memory of last year?
3) If you were to summarise the last year homeschooling in one word what would it be?
4) What areas were really successful?
5) What areas/people/topics/activities drained me? What drained the kids?
6) Where can I get help?
7)What can I cut out?
8) Where can we grow, further develop in our homeschool?
9)What areas don’t allign with my homeschool/family vision?
10) What positive change(s) can I implement going forward into the next year?
There are far better things ahead than we ever left behind.
I hope that this video and the questions I’ve posed will help you find the clarity you need moving forward, and help you to live a life with your family that aligns with your values.
If you would like to share the answers to any, or all of the questions above, I would love to hear them! Please leave them for me in the comments below.
Peace and Love,
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It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.
Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.
Monday 2nd October
This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!
Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”
We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.
Tuesday 3rd October
The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!
We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.
For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!
Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.
It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.
We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.
The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.
Thursday 5th October
Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.
We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!
After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.
Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!
Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.
There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!
I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.
Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)
My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!
After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!
Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!
We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.
We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.
How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!
I think the theme of the last few weeks should be how to homeschool when nothing goes to plan!
We were just starting to get into a rhythm and a good homeschool routine, when flu hit and then an un-planned road trip really challenged our schedule.
Monday 18th September
I was sick today! With a terrible fever and flu, we kept it really simple today with maths on the computer, reading practice and some Quran.
The kids were still unwell too, so they finished off an activity from their Toucan Box and made this awesome Dinosaur egg with plaster of Paris. We love our monthlyToucan box. You can read a review I wrote about it HERE.
The boys struggled a little ( a lot) following the plot of the play. I am thinking of encorporating peg dolls or some props to help them to narrate the plays. It is not the language that they find hard, but the complex story lines! We’ll find a way insha’Allah.
After reading about the Battle of Hastings from Our Island Story we stopped school for the day and tried to get better!
Wednesday 20th September
After two days being stuck indoors, I was itching to get out!
After a little morning school, we went to a nearby park and get some fresh air. I had been reading in Home Education Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason about the importance she placed on breathing in “outdoor” air compared to “indoor” air, and so I felt inspired to follow her advice!
Thursday 21st September
By now the kids were well enough to go to their home-ed classes and were able to go swimming and to their Seerah class.
Those long drives to classes were my saving grace! We look our iPad and listened Understood Betsy on Audible on the way there and back. If you remember in my last blog post, I said the boys were not enjoying that book AT ALL! Well they seem to really like the Audiobook. Alhumdulillah!
I was so impressed with how responsive they were to the audiobook, that I used up all my free credits with Audible to get almost all the books we will be using this year with the Ambleside online curriculum.
If you haven’t tried Audible before, they are a publisher and distributor of the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks and spoken word content. There is a30-Day FREE TRIALavailable at the moment if you’d like to try it with your family.
In the evening, we sang French songs with our cookies and milk!
Friday 22nd September
Although I was still not feeling well, there was no way we were missing out on nature study! I love it too much!
We headed off the our nearby park for our usual nature walk, but within minutes of reaching there, the heavens opened! It was raining so hard we had to run back to the car and eat our picnic there! Whilst we were eating we listened to an excellent CD,A Guide to British Garden Birds., until the rain stopped.
Once back home, we painted our blackbirds using water colours, and the children spent the remainder of the day with their grandparents.
The boys worked on the next chapter in their Islamic Studies books. My 7 year-old read about Life after Death using theSafar Year 3 book, and my 5 year-old learnt about how to use the toilet and keep clean using the Year 1 books.
Sunday 24th – Tuesday 26th
My in-laws are visiting at the moment, so we decided to make the most of our flexible schedule and take them toAlton towers. This kids enjoyed spending time with their grnadparents and they loved going on all the rides!
With it being a weekday, there were no queues! I have never been to a theme park where you didn’t have to queue up for anything! It was brilliant for the young kids.
My daughter got to meet Postman Mat (which she is still talking about), and the boys got to go on some faster roller-coasters. They’re now planning how they can build their own roller coaster at home out of Lego! Whilst there,we stayed in a hotel within the resort for a few days and came back Tuesday afternoon.
It is worth noting that Alton Towers, and all Merlin attractions, do offer a home-educator discount, but you will have to prove you home school with a letter from the LEA.
Wednesday 27th September
After getting back from out trip, I decided to spend the remainder to the week catching up on what we missed last week. Initally the morning was spent doing the usual daily workl; Quran, Maths and Reading. My 7 year-old son startedThe Bears on Hemlock Mountainwhich he seems to be enjoying.
Then the boys remembered that their Seerah teacher had asked them to make a list of 5 good things they wanted to do/acheive this new Islamic year. Their lists included things like learn to swim, read more Quran, be better to my mum! My 5 year-old son wanted to type his list up on the computer and here he is mashAllah!
Thursday 28th September
Today we went seemed to spend most of the day in the car! After a little “morning school”, travelling to the boys’ swimming class and Seerah class took up a large part of the day.
We used this time once again to listen to audiobooks, listening to Parables from Nature using Audible.
It was lovely to have some sunny weather today though. However, as all you mums know, sunny weather means catching up on laundry! After being sick, and going away for the weekend, and the endless rain we’ve been having, there was a lot of washing to do! By the end of the day I had 4 or 5 loads of clean laundry to fold/iron and put away(…eugh), but seeing that empty laundry basket was satisfying.
Friday 29th September
Fridays are our favourite day! We spent the morning walking in nearby woodland. We spotted a squirrel with a sweet chesnut in his mouth. When we followed him we found the tree and hundreds of sweet shestnuts on the floor! The boys decided to collect as many as they could carry to take home for the squirrels in our garden!
In the afternoon, the boys planted some of the sweet chestnuts in the garden and left loads out for the squirrels.
They added a green/blue blackbird egg to their nature notebooks and had a class at home with their French tutor. The rest of the day was spent helping to cook dinner. They made chicken curry and rice mashAllah!
So it has been a “higgledy-piggledy” week. We are one week behind in schedule set out by Ambleside online, so instead of beginning week 5 we will beginning week 4.
I’m not really concerned at all if I’m honest! Instead of taking 36 weeks to compete the year, we will take 37.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our week.
What do you do when your children get sick?
Do you prioritise any subjects and try to get something done?
Take a peek into our homeschool week! In this blog post, I am excited to share snippets of our week!
This week was officially our 2nd week of using the homeschool curriculum Ambleside online. So far, I have found using a set curriculum strangely liberating!
Up until this point, I have always enjoyed piecing together my out curriculum. However, with my work online and myhomeschool shopgrowing, I wanted to find something that took the pressure of me a little. So far, Ambleside online’s curriculum is doing just that!
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Monday 11th September
Monday usually means recovering from a busy weekend! This Monday we kept things simple with morning school, Quran class and then a trip to the park. Today was also the first time we read fromA Child’s History of the World and we loved it!
Tuesday 12th September
Tuesdays are usually busy day for us, and this Tuesday was no exception!
With swimming, French AND wrestling classes all on one day, we struggled to do all the subjects that I had planned.
The boys had fun today adding to theirBook of the Centuries. We added in the historical figures Harun al-Rashid, Charlemagne and King Harold II . We also managed to start reading Understood Betsy, but my boys were not impressed! I will keep persevering!
In the afternoon, the boys went for Quran classes and Muslim scouts.
They have learn so much about Rabbits and the rest of the rabbit family from the two chapters we have read. The stories are rally engaging and are a wonderful way to introduce children to biology and natural history.
We are currently in the middle of landscaping the garden, but with the torrential rains and storms we’ve had all week, nothing has been done for awhile! But the kids are enjoying the mud!
Friday 15th September
On Fridays the books are put away and we go outdoors!
This morning was spent exploring nearby woodland.
We didn’t have any kind of agenda today except that I asked them to find a leaf to take home to paint into their nature journals.
I had a go too and it was so relaxing! I’m very keen to add to my nature journal again!
Unfortunately, because we were having too much fun in the woods, and because I forgot to bring my watch, we got home too late to go to Friday prayers at the mosque. Astaghfirullah. Next week I will be better prepared insha’Allah.
In the afternoon, after their French class, the children spent time with their grandparents!
Today, whilst out for our walk, I was struck with gratitude; how fortunate I am to be spending my days with my children and walking outdoors in the beautiful British countryside today.
In the thick of it, sometimes forget how blessed I am but being outside reminded me of how lucky I truly am. It forces me to slow down and reflect. There is something about the light in a forest, the way is peeks through the canopy and illuminates pockets of the woodland floor, that always strikes me. There so much to learn from being still and observing creation.
This week with Ambleside online has gone very well. Although we have fallen slightly behind in our reading of Understood Betsy and Poetry, I am confident we can easily catch up insha’Allah. The only thing left to do this weekend is work through the next chapter in our Islamic studies books.
I have really enjoyed sharing our week with you, and I hope you enjoying reading about it!
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments below and I will try to answer them as best I can.
It doesn’t get more exciting for your children than this…Eid Party Ideas for kids! Eid is a time to come together with loved ones and celebrate the Blessings in our lives. These fun times are memories that our children will hold onto for years to come.
Children’s Eid party’s do not need to be expensive or extravagent to be enjoyed by your kids. In this blog post we will give you ideas and inspiration, whatever your budget may be.
Here are our 5 great ideas for your children’s Eid party!
3D Eid Gift Wrap
As if your kids weren’t excited enough about getting their Eid presents, why not decorate the wrapping paper with this 3D gold mosque motif!
Photo Credit: MarthaStewart.com
For full instructions on how to create this beautiful design on your gifts, CLICK HERE.
Eid Dessert Table
If cakes and desserts don’t get your kids excited, I don’t know what will! Make the dessert table the centre-piece of your home this Eid! Fill it with sweet treats, cakes and a few healthy options too.
This photo is from Eid Al-Fitr at my home last year. As you can see, it didn’t take up a lot of space, but it looked wonderful!
We decided to go for a gold, black and white colour scheme, and picked up on these colours in the desserts themselves. The decorations were purchases from Silver Lining.
We included vanilla cupcakes decorated with stars, fruit skewers of black grapes, pineapple, raspberries and melon, as well a watermelon cut into Ramadan themed shapes!
Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.
Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.
Charlotte Mason says:
The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.
~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316
Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?
We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.
What are handicrafts?
Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.
Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:
Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
Practice fine motor skills
Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older
How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.
She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.
At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment
Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.
You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.
Simple sewing projects
Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.
The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.
Knit or crochet
I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.
If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.
Yarn or fabric dyeing
Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!
There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.
Advice for starting with handicrafts
While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.
Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.
And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?
Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.
Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.
What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?
Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Last weekend we traveled down to London with the children to visit the historical sites and museums.
For almost 6 months, we have been meaning to take the kids to London for a field trip, and last weekend we finally did it!!!
I remember visiting the amazing museums and historical sites as a child with my mum. Maybe it’s jut nostalgia, but I wanted my children to have the same feelings of awe and also feel inspired as I was when I was young.
It took about 4 hours to drive down from the North-West and reach our hotel near Kew Gardens.
Before we tackled the museums, there was something much more important that we needed to address….our stomachs!!!
The first place we visited was Southall for some GOOD CURRY! We went to Mirch Masala and the food was delicious! After dinner, I visited a lovely Islamic book shop called Al-Jannahbookstore, and purchased a few goodies…but you’ll have to wait for my next favourites Youtube video to see them!
After a good night’s sleep, we set out to central London by car. I have always been intimidated by driving in central London, however my husband makes it look easy! mashAllah. Thank goodness he was with me!
The Natural History Museum
This was the one place that my children insisted we visit because of their extensive collection of dinosaur fossils. Even as a “grown-up”, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the size of their collection.
The kids particularly enjoyed the robotic T-Rex!
We even found the place where Andy’s famous time-travelling clock should have been!
(You know, from CBeebies TV show “Andy’s Dinosaur adventure”!)
It’s time to go an a Dinosaur Adventure!
In addition to the dinosaurs, we visited the section about Marine
life. The room with the life-size blue whale was incredible!
Then we went to the Volcanoes & Earthquake section. This was my eldest son’s favourite part. It is lay out really well, with loads of hands-on learning experiences. There is even one room that you can stand in and experience a simulated earthquake!
My boys were so inspired by this part of the museum, that we are going to incorporate earthquakes and volcanoes into our science this term insha’Allah.
On the drive back to the hotel, we drove through Westminster and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. However, as the kids were tired, instead of stopping to look around, we decided it was best to head back to the hotel.
After another trip to Southall for dinner, we went back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
The next day we visited the British museum.
The British Museum
Honestly, I could spend a week in this museum!
I go nuts for Ancient history, and this museum is full of exhibits and artifacts from every ancient civilisation you can imagine!
It is my happy place!
However this time we only had a morning to spend here so we went straight for the ancient Egypt section.
In our history curriculum, we have spent the last 3 months focusing on Ancient Egypt. It was so nice for the children to see the historical artifacts in real life. The section was very crowded, and seemed really popular with tourists, but we managed to see a lot of fascinating things.
I love the British museum, and I’m already planning our next visit!
Before leaving, we sat and enjoyed some hot chips, whilst admiring the incredible architecture outside.
Travelling around central London with kids can be difficult. One of the best things I can advise is plan ahead; plan your nappy bag, plan your route, plan where you will have lunch, pack snacks…plan plan plan! Also, try not to be over ambitious with what you hope to achieve in the day. Personally, I do not expect to visit more than one place a day, and anything extra is a nice bonus!
He looks like I feel after a day out in London with the kids! 😉
(Mauritian Dodo from the Natural History Museum)
Have you ever taken your children on an educational trip around London?
We are planning to visit London again in the next few months. Where would you recommend we go next time we visit?
I would love to hear your ideas and advice for travelling with kids.