Reception

How to “Homeschool” Young Children | Beyond the Academics

how to homeschool young children

Homeschooling young children in the early years is so much more than reading, writing and maths!

When you consider the education of children under six years-old, there are many worthwhile areas to focus on, not just academics.

I am frequently asked the question ,“What should I be doing with my 3/4/5 years old child?”, and this blog-post I will do my best to answer that question for you.

homeschoo young children

This blog post has been written in collaboration with WordUnited who kindly gifted my family their products and compensated me for my time. Please see Disclaimer for more information.

For an introduction from me on this very important topic,

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Before the age of 7, many experts agree that the child’s mind and spirit is not ready for formal education. However, that does not mean we do nothing at all!

The mind, the heart and the soul of the child are still within our stewardship as parents.

In the Islamic tradition, Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A.) advises us,

“Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).”

Through play, and gentle teaching, young children can be taught many important lessons; lessons that will benefit both their intellect and their spiritual essence.

Although academic subjects have their place in a child’s education, the focus with young children should be on the preservation of their faith, and establishing the foundations necessary for them to grow into righteous and highly moral human beings.

Nurture good morals and spiritual growth

Young children are the the greatest of mimics and they will copy your example. Many people talk about how becoming a parent has been the catalyst for a change within themselves; how they became more practicing in their religion because their children are now watching EVERYTHING they do!

Allow your children to witness you praying, reading Quran, attending classes and let them take part. Try to surround your children with good role-models whenever possible; both young and old.

Another powerful method of encouraging good morals in our children is by using stories; particularly about great and noble people from the past. These stories permeate into the child’s consciousness in a more powerful way than at any other time in their live’s, and will become part o their moral compass in the future.  Not only can this include the Stories the Prophets (R.A.), but  good children’s fiction has a lot to offer too.

children reaidng

Follow their interests

When children are young they seem to be interested in everything! They can become fascinated by the shells at the beach, the bugs in the garden, the vehicles they see on the road, the list goes on and on!

Whatever their interest is, grasp hold of it and pursue it! Read more about it together, create activities around that interest and organize field trips. Not only will your children relish the opportunity to learn more about something they love, but it’s a great way to show them that their passions matter to you and boost their self-confidence.

Establish good habits and routines

Establishing good habits and routines within the home is vital to save you much frustration and heart-ache as they grow older.

Whilst they are young, teach your children good manners and establish routines within the house that will benefit you all in later years.

Examples include good personal hygiene, cleaning up after themselves, no whining or bickering; anything that could lead you to frustration in the future is best dealt with whilst they are young, through loving an gentle means.

“A child must not be left to his human nature.” Vol. 1 p. 102 – Charlotte Mason

” …the child who is not being constantly raised to a higher and higher platform will sink to a lower and lower.” Vol. 1 p. 103 – Charlotte Mason

Spend time outdoors

Try to allow your children to spend some time everyday outdoors in natural environments. Allow them to explore and play freely for as long as you can spare.

Not only is being outside good for their physical health, but also for their spiritual and mental well-being. A child who spends his time collecting rocks, building dens, identifying birds, and such like, will have a mind full of wholesome interests; so full that there will be little room for less desirable interests, such as TV and video games.

“…a love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour.” – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p.71

nature study

Make the most of their memory

In these early years, young children have the most incredible capacity to memorize almost anything with seemingly little effort. Use this time to encourage your children to memorize the Quran. There is no need to have any structured lessons, unless they seem to enjoy it. Instead, just allow them to listen to the Quran in the home whilst they are playing or eating their breakfast, whilst travelling in the car or as they fall asleep. This is such a simple and effective way for young children to learn the Quran, and will set them up well for more formal study in years to come.

The early years are also the best time to learn a foreign language. If you would like to learn more about how to do that, CLICK HERE to read how to do it!

Prepare for formal schooling

The age you begin to prepare them for more structured school-work is up to you. In our home it has been different for each child depending on their development.

Before they start formal schooling you may want to teach them the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and how to write and read simple words.

For this we have enjoyed using the Write-and-Wipe flashcards from WordUnited. There are a variety of sets available including the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and actions!

flashcards wordunited flashcards wordunited

Each card shows the word or letter of the alphabet, along with a beautiful high quality photo on one side; whilst on the other side the word or letter is written out, followed by a tracing and hand-writing exercise. I really appreciate how well-made these cards are and I am sure they will last us for many years insha’Allah. All the flash-cards are kept in a magnetically closing box, along with two wipe-able board pens.

These beautiful flashcards introduce children to the alphabet, numbers and simple words, and also give your children the opportunity to learn to write and read in a relaxed and fun manner.

homeschooling young children homeschooling young children

In addition to English, The Word United flashcards are also available in Arabic, French, Spanish and German. To read about how we have used these cards to teach Foreign Language in our homeschool, CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in purchasing the Write-and-Wipe flashcards for your family, visit their website (www.wordunited.com), or visit the Word United Amazon Store .

You also find them on Twitter and Instagram.

how to homeschool young children

Educating young children is so much more than reading, writing and maths; it’s about nurturing their whole beings in alignment with their natural development.

If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments section below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

How to Teach your Four year old to Read…if they want to!

How to teach your 4 year old to read

Learning to read is one of the most important skills our children will ever learn, yet as parents, most of us have no idea how to begin!

Keep reading and I will walk you through the 3 simple steps and show you how to teach your 4 year old to read!

How to teach your 4 year old to read. Resources, books, online programmes and tips to help your 4 year old learn to read.

This blogpost contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.

This article is written from my own experience. By the age of 4, my son was reading fluently. Now at 5 years-old, he can pick up almost any book, read it and enjoy it. At the moment he’s especially keen on our encyclopedia!

And that’s what it’s all about for me; opening up the world of books to them whenever they’re ready.

Whether you home educate, or your children go to school, these simple steps will help you to teach your 4 year old to read. insha’Allah.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Not all children are developmentally ready to read at 4 years-old.
PLEASE PLEASE don’t force a child who is not ready!!! It will do more harm than good!

However, if you’re child is ready and eager to learn to read, this article will show you how I did it, so you can ‘Teach YOUR Four year old to Read In 3 Easy Steps.’

1. Develop their Love of Books and Stories

If a child love books, the he will love to read.  If he loves to read, he will love to learn. Insha’Allah.  

This is by far the most important factor in teaching your child to read and if you take nothing else away from this article please take this…

A child who is self-motivated will learn to read, and learn any other skill that they want to learn, much quicker and more easily than a child who is not self-motivated.

Love books, love reading , love learning

If you have to force your child to read, it will be much harder for both of you, take longer, and may even cause your child to dislike reading altogether.   

So how can you encourage this self motivation?

There are several ways that you can nurture a passion for reading in your children.

– Read to your 4 year old

Set aside time everyday to regularly read aloud to your children. Make that time special for them. Cuddle up under a blanket by the fire, drink hot chocolate or just let her sit on your lap. She should look forward to that time with you. Make it magical. Give her your undivided attention, full of your love and affection, and read her incredible stories that will feed her imagination.

– Surround them with books

Fill your home with as many books as you can afford. There should be a small collection of books in every room for your children freely to look at.

If you have space, you may even make a little ‘reading nook’ for your home, a specially designated space, used only for reading and enjoying books.

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

However you decide to implement this principle, it will teach your child to give importance to books, and thereby give importance to learning and seeking knowledge.

– Take a regular field trips

Trips to libraries and other places of knowledge can show your kids that your family’s passion for reading is not in isolation, but there are many like minded people who share your enthusiasm. When they see other children excited by books, they will join in!

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

STEP 2: Turn Off the TV

If your television is on all day, the books will most likely be left on the shelves. Not only is TV highly addictive for small children, becoming a bad habit that is hard to break, but it will also teach them that the TV is important; and more worryingly, that what the TV says is important!

There are many benefits to turning off the TV, but the most relevant to this article is that it WILL cause your children to read more. I have seen it in my own home. With no other distractions, children will pick up the books you have put in each room and read for fun.

How to teach your 4 year-old to read! Books, resources, online games, tips and advice.

My children do have restricted daily screen-time, but I work hard to make sure that the TV and other devices are off for most of the day.

So, even if you can’t remove the television completely, try to at least restrict how much TV they watch. Limit the hours that the television is put on, and keep it off the rest of the time.

STEP 3: Buy the right books!

  If you feel your child is ready to start learning to read (often referred to as Reading Readiness) you will need to invest/borrow some books to help you to begin.  

The first thing you will need is a ‘Primer.’

We have used the Primer: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading  by Wise and Buffington

Another highly recommended alternative is

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

A primer teaches the rules of reading, beginning with the phonetic sounds of each letter. It then progressing to blending, through to difficult multi-syllabic words.

By the time your child finishes one of these primers, you can be completely confident that they can tackle any other book out there.
Although the books above are printed in the U.S. they are suitable for children in the U.K.

Once your child has learnt the sounds of the letters, they can also begin reading short books called ‘Easy Readers’, whilst continuing the later lessons in the primer.

For the early stages I would recommend the easy readers: Bob Books First!

Read With Biff, Chip And Kipper

Having progressed through one of these box sets you can move onto more challenging readers. There are many sets and curriculum available that you can follow if you wish.

My advice would be to choose books according to your child’s interests rather than following a rigid curriculum.

Whether its fairies, cars, horses or monsters, there are a multitude of easy readers available to buy online and borrow from the library.

Elementary Student Reading in Library

Do not worry that you are not completing every book in the series, or reading them in the correct order, because if you are working through a primer, then your child will not miss any of the ‘rules’ they need to know.

What is more important at this stage is that they continue to love reading and books, and the act of reading does not become a chore to them.

After the ‘Easy Reader’ stage they can read anything they want to, with some guidance from Mum!

Related: Day in the Life | What Homeschooling is REALLY LIKE!

Further Book Recommendations

For more comprehensive reading lists, ordered by age, ability and topic, I would recommend Honey for a Child’s Heart
 by Gladys Hunt.

If at any point your child seems to loose interest, just take a break for a few weeks.

Pinterest is full of fun activities for you to do with your child to improve her reading skills without opening up a book. She will be learning to read without realising it!

On those days when the kids are sick, or they just don’t want to cooperate, we love using Reading Eggs, an online reading programme full of games and songs.

Related: Full review of the Reading Eggs programme HERE!

At this young age it is vital that you remain flexible and take a relaxed approach to teaching reading. Make it enjoyable and have fun!

So that How to Teach your Four-year-old to READ in 3 Easy Steps!

Of all three steps it is step one, instilling a love for books, that is the most important.

Without it you will face a constant struggle with your child, in an effort make them cooperate and do something they have no desire to do. If they love books, they will want to read.

Please leave me a comment below and tell me how you are teaching your children to read. What resources have you used? What are some of your children’s favourite books?

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Please remember us in your duaas.    

Peace and Love.

how to teach your 4 year old to read