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I’ll be back LIVE again next week, Sunday 19th January 2020 at 10am GMT, with another episode of Raising Mums on my Facebook and Instagram accounts insha’Allah.
Next week we’ll be discussing…
Homeschooling during Pregnancy!
I hope I’ll see you there!
Peace and Love,
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As a Muslim homeschooling family, I wanted to create a curriculum that aligns with our values, and helps us to live a life together that we love and that I am passionate about..
Using the Charlotte Mason philosophy to guide my decisions, I have designed a homeschool curriculum that nurtures my children’s love for learning, ignites their innate curiosity, and empowers me as their teacher and mother to teach with confidence and joy.
Inspired by Charlotte Mason, I have tried to bring God to the heart of every subject, and connect everything with our creator.
This blog-post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.
I needed a curriculum that made me excited to wake up in the morning! I needed a curriculum that would touch the hearts of my children! I needed a curriculum that I couldn’t wait to learn from myself!
But I couldn’t find one out there! So, with the help and inspiration of many other Charlotte Mason resources, I put a curriculum together myself.
And here it friends, for you all to enjoy and, I hope, benefit from! insha’Allah
My eldest son is 8 years-old, and my youngest son is 6 years-old. Please assume that the resources outlined below are used by both boys, unless indicated by a (8) or (6) in brackets. However, as the boys use most of the materials together, please consider this curriculum suitable for children in 1st-3rd grade, year 2-4 in the UK.
And I’ve made a little video to go along with this blogpost too. ENJOY!
If you’d like to see the curriculum we used last year, when the boys were 7 and 5,CLICK HERE!
Language Arts / English
Our study of English is based around reading, copying and narrating back high-quality literature and poetry. We have chosen, as recommended by Charlotte Mason, to delay the study of grammar and spelling until our children are at least 9 years-old.
We make out own handwriting sheets on Worksheet Works using excerpts from books we are reading, poetry or ahadith. It’s a wonderful free resource!
These are books that I plan to read-aloud to the children, in addition to other subjects. We may use Audible to listen to some of them in audiobook form.
We do not follow a specific reading curriculum. The children are not forced to read any particular book, but rather are given a choice and then are required to read aloud to me 2-3 times a week. They also have 20 minutes free-reading in the afternoon, where they can read whatever they want…even car magazines! I hope that this relaxed approach will encourage them to develop a love of reading, rather than it becoming a chore and only a “school subject”.
If any concepts requires further reinforcement I will use other online resources. A favourite of mine is Math Mammoth.
My boys attend Arabic, Quran and Seerah classes outside of the home. However, we also do incorporate many Islamic sciences into out homeschool schedule, as well as trying to refer back to our creator or deeper lessons whenever they arise in our school day.
We also look at Seerah, the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) which I have included in our History curriculum. For seerah, we use Muhammad by Martin Lings
Nature study forms the foundation of our scientific learning. Through the study of nature I hope the children will learn to observe, records and question what they see around them. More formal science lessons will start when they are older insha’Allah.
Our focus this coming year will be Trees, and Star and Planets, although we will learn about other things things that interest them along the way too!
We are taking a very relaxed stance on artwork this year, allowing the children more freedom to draw and create in ways that excite them. For this, we will use Pinterest or Youtube for ideas or tutorials.
History is one of my favourite subjects to teach in our homeschool, especially Islamic history! I am very excited to share with you our Living History curriculum choices for the coming homeschool year!
Download our FREE Homeschool History Reading Plan, and you can read these beautiful books along with our family! (More information is at the end of this blog-post.)
Further research of the Charlotte Mason method of education has led me to many delightful discoveries; one of which is her method of teaching history through living books and biographies. This coming school year, I will be using this methodology to teach my two young boys, ages 6 and 8, more about later Medieval times in Britain and the Islamic world. Towards the middle of the year, we hope to start learning about the Tudors.
This blog-post may include affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer for more information.
If you’re interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching History: CLICK HERE
I have collected together an assortment of beautiful books that we will use this year; some we will read together as a family, and others are independent reading for my eight year-old. This curriculum also incorporates Islamic History.
If you would like to use this curriculum in your homeschool as well, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog post, and you can download our Homeschool History Reading Plan for FREE!
The topic of Columbus, an how to teach it, is a difficult dillema for many parents, as the horrific atrocities committed upon the native people of America are ignored by most historical accounts in children’s books. This is an excellent article to help you navigate this issue with your children.
Independent Reading/ Biographies (Ages 8+)
We hope that my son will read as many of these books as he can over the whole year, reading for only 10 minutes interdependently from them each school day.
Please note: I have not yet pre-read all of these books, but I plan too insha’Allah. I would always advise you to pre-read anything that your child will be reading independently.
So this is our plan for the coming year for History, insha’Allah.
History Curriculum: Islamic and European History
If you would like to read along with us, I have planned out the first term (12 weeks) of family reading, which you can DOWNLOAD HERE: Homeschool History Reading Plan.
As I mentioned above, this is a continuation of last year’s study of the medieval times, and so the British history component begins with Henry V (1413).
I do not plan out my son’s independent reading, but instead allow him to select a book from the list above, and read from it for 10 minutes daily. This approach could also work for your family.
To use the reading schedule, simply reading down the list the in order; beginning from the top and working your way down to the bottom. Each square correlates with the number of readings/sittings it will take to complete the chapter; e.g. 2 squares indicates that it will probably take 2 sittings to read through that particular chapter. You can even use this as a checklist if you like, and tick off each reading as you complete it.
The chapter names are written in the left-hand column, and the colour of the box indicates the which book it is from. There is a “key” to help make this clearer. If you need any further help with this reading schedule, please leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help insha’Allah.
Are you struggling to choose a Homeschool History curriculum? There are so many different curricula and living books available, that choosing the right “fit” can become quickly overwhelming!
In this blog-post I’ll be reviewing three of the most popular Homeschool History curricula, that we have personal experience with, to help you decide what would be best for your children. I’ll also be discussing why the study of History is so important in a child’s education.
This blog-post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.
Why Study History
In this modern educational culture, we have come to view History as a supplemental subject; a subject that is done merely to enrich the more “important” disciplines. However I would argue, as Charlotte Mason did over a hundred years ago, that history is “vital part of education.” (Vol. 6, p.169).
Understanding the events and people of the past, can help us to understand our own reality, and place in this world. The study of history exposes our children to worthy ideas, foreign worlds, people of noble character, and can act as an antithesis to the misguidance and trappings of modernity. It helps children to see what virtue looks like, through their imagination, and begins to train their powers of reasoning.
“…a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles where by he will hereafter judge of the behavior of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation.”
-Vol. 1 p.279
History, when taught by the principles set out by Charlotte Mason, enocurages children to relate to those unlike them; to humanize people from other nations and distant times.
“If he comes to think…that the people of some other land were, at one tome, at any rate, better than we, why, so much the better for him.”
History has far more to offer our children that just the memorization of facts and dates. It can help to shape they character and guide the way they think.
Like many, I was taught history using a dry textbook followed by comprehension questions. These questions tested my ability to pick facts out of the text, but did not develop my person in any way. I consider the many years I spent sitting in those history lessons time wasted; little information was retained, no ideas imbued, and any interest I once had for history quashed. The great thoughts and personalities of history remained hidden from me until I began to learn alongside my children using the Charlotte Mason method.
Charlotte Mason History
Charlotte Mason advised us to take our time with history; to dwell on those time and people who inspire our children, instead of rushing through in the effrot to cover “everything”.
“Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period.” -Vol. 1, p.280
She also recommend the use of living books to teach history, specifically mentioning “Our Island Story” by H. E. Marshall (Vol. 6, p.169) as the main text in the first two years (Form 1B and 1A), as well as reading well-written biographies of historical figures from Form 1A onwards.
Alternatively, many homeschooling families choose to use The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer as their main text or sole history curriculum. Another option is A Child’s History of the World by V. M. Hillyer.
Homeschool History Options
The Story of the World, Our Island Story and A Child’s History of the World are the three most popular choices of homeschool history curriculum.
This blog post aims to compare these three popular homeschool history texts, and highlight their strengths, weakness, and differences.
To help you further, I’ve made this Youtube video showing the books themselves, and discussing some of this details further. WATCH THIS VIDEO:
The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer is one of the most popular homeschool history curricula on the market. It was written to follow the classical educational model, however many CM families also use it.
The complete series consists of four volumes, which cover history chronologically from Ancient times through to the Modern age.
In previous years we have worked through Volume 1 (Ancient times), which covers world history from 7000B.C. to the Fall of Rome. However, for reasons I will explain later, we chose not to move onto Volume 2 – Medieval Times.
Each chapter is 3-4 pages long (A5), with plentiful black-and-white illusatrations and maps throughout. It is written in a conversational style, which appeals to many children, as it is easy to understand and is generally very entertaining.
The books do include Biblical stories and mythology. There has also been some concern voiced about the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad in Volume 2. I have not read this volume myself, so I cannot comment on the specifics.
Although the author makes a concerted effort to cover the history of many nations, it is still very much euro-centric world view, and so many families may feel the need to supplement this curriculum.
There are also optional Activity books available to go along with the main text. For every chapter in the main text, the activity book contains cross-references in encyclopedias, additional reading, extensive recommendations for audio-books and literature. The activity books also contain reproducible maps and coloring pages, as well as lists of crafts projects.
Our experience of using The Story of the World Vol. 1 was mixed. The children seemed to enjoy it, and found it fun and easy to understand, which was perfect for our first year homeschooling. It also gave me an idea of how to teach history in a home-setting, which was a very valuable lesson.
Unfortunately, the conversational, modern writing style did not encourage those “juicy” conversations that other living books can encourage.
I also found that the children had retained very little from the text a few days after the lesson. I also found the fast-paced nature of the book very frustrating, as the author has tried to cover so much history in just one book. Whilst I understand the thought-process behind that, I found that my children and I were not given the chance to form connections and relations with the material.
In hind-sight I could have slowed our progress down, and taken two years over the book, instead of one, adding in additional reading and other living books. However, as a new homeschool mum, I lacked the confidence to step away from the authors recommendations.
However, having spoken to many other homeschooling families, it seems that this is exactly what others have done; using The Story of the World as their “spine” and supplementing with their own resources and literature.
I feel that The Story of the World is a fantastic resource for teaching homeschool history. It is ideal for those who are uncomfortable teaching the subject and need some guidance, those new to home-education, or families who feel more confident reading modern English.
Personally, I would not class The Story of the World as a living book, as it did not inspire my children to great ideas, or spark interesting conversations. It is also not a book that I would pick up and read for fun, unlike other some other history books, that I will discuss later in this series.
The Story of the World is the perfect “middle-ground” for those interested in stepping away from the “textbook-workbook model” of teaching, but who are not yet comfortable or interested in using living books.
Our Island Story the primary history text recommended by Charlotte Mason in Volume 1 for forms 1B and 1A (children under 9 years-old).
This beautifully written book tells the story of Britain in chronological order from pre-history through to Queen Victoria. Each chapter is approximately 3-4 pages long and focuses on a historical figure, their story, moral character and contribution to the history of Britain.
The book also contains some poetry and Shakespeare quotes which could be used for further study and memorisation. There are also a few beautifully hand-painted illustrations in some chapters for the reader to enjoy. There is also list of Kings ad Queens at the beginning of the book, which could be useful when constructing your timeline or Book of the Centuries.
Unlike The Story of the World, there are no maps, and no accompanying activity books. If your children enjoys crafts and hands-on activities, you may choose to find these activities yourself.
The book is written in an older English, with richer language than most modern history books. It may take some time for children to get used to this language if the are not already accustomed to it.
It is written from an English (not British) Christian world view, and this should be born in mind when discussing the Crusades and other such conquests within and around the UK.
Due to its world-view, and the fact it only covers the history of Britain, you may wish to supplement this book with additional reading.
We stopped using this book after six months as my son was finding the language difficult to understand and narrate from. However, I feel this book has a lot to offer and I hope to re-introduce it into their homeschool history curriculum sometime in the future.
Overall, I found this book excited the children’s imagination and filled their young minds with worthy ideas and beautiful stories. I would happily read this book myself for enjoyment and my own self-education!
A Child’s History of the World was written by V. M. Hillyer, the late Head Master of the Calvert School, Baltimore. Focusing on the stories of historical figures, it covers World History from pre-history all the way through to the Cold War. Although written in conversational, modern English, the language is rich and engaging.
There are black-and-white illustrations and maps scattered throughout the book. The chapters are approximately 4-5 pages long. There is no accompanying activity book, and so parents may wish to supplement with other material.
We primarily used the Audiobook version from Audible. The narrator was very entertaining and read the book beautifully. I would highly recommend it!
Although the author writes from a Western worldview, I felt that he was respectful to other faiths and people, a fact that may have been noted by the people behind the Ambleside online and Bookshark curriculum who have included it in their elementary years history curricula.
Through his writing, the author also highlights and raising questions about good character and morals throughout.
Please note, this book does contain Biblical stories and mythology. Also, as it is attempting to cover a large period of time in one volume, many important historical events are not included or are skimmed over. As the parent, you may wish to add in additional reading.
The book itself is paperback, self-published and not as attractive as the other homeschool history curricula mentioned. Despite this, A Child’s History of the World is an engaging introduction to world history for children aged 5-9 years old and well worth your consideration.
These are the main three homeschool history curricula that you will see mentioned in literature-based, Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschools.
However, as I have hinted towards, there are many more options! In the next blog post and Youtube video, I will be discussing some alternative books and methods that we use to teach history in our homeschool.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you found these reviews helpful.
Don’t forget to WATCH THE VIDEO, and if you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments below.
Picture study is one of the easiest components of a Charlotte Mason education to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. You do not need to know anything yourself about art, or art history. I repeat …You do NOT need to know ANYTHING about art or art history to begin. All you need is knowledge of the method and a few worthy resources.
Why is Picture Study important?
In today’s society, the importance of the arts has been superseded by STEM and the other sciences. We have lost touch with the great artistic masters of past. Now, the masses only see fragments, distorted reproductions of the original genius of these men and women. For most of us, the only exposure we get to great art might be a coffee shop using the Mona Lisa in it’s logo, or a travel advert for Japan using a work of art by Hokusai.
Many of us will have heard of Leonardo Da Vinci, or Claude Monet, and will have seen their art used in advertisements on billboards and the TV, but have little to draw upon from our own education.
Just as the great works of literature give us glimpses in the the mighty thoughts of the world’s great authors, so too picture study can give us insight into the ideas and minds of those artists. It puts children in touch with worthy ideas and inspires them with something more than modern life can offer.
” We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at a single picture.” – Charlotte Mason
Picture study offers our children a store of images in their mind, to balance out the media’s influence and attempt to monopolize their senses.
Picture study also:
Improves a child’s power of observation
Develop a sense of beauty
Connects them with an artist of a piece of art
Helps them to form opinion about art and their own taste in it
Encourages them to draw and be creative themselves
How to do Picture Study
From the ages of 6 to 15 Charlotte Mason recommended that children become acquainted with at least thirty of the world’s most famous artists.
I have filmed a short video, showing glimpses into our own Picture study lesson, in the hope that it will make what is written here clearer.
WATCH THIS VIDEO!
First begin by choosing the artist you wish them to study. In our first year, we began with Leonardo Da Vinci as it was easy to find the resources we needed, and I was slightly familiar with his work.
However, please remember, you do not need to know ANYTHING about the artist before you begin. In fact, it will only add to your enjoyment of this subject, as you find yourself learning alongside the children.
Examples of artists to study include:
Leonardo Da Vinci
The next step is to find six works of art by that artist for that school term, and studying three different artists per year.
Display one of those pieces in front of your children, and ask them to look at it closely, in silence. Allow them plenty of time to, not only absorb it, but to think and ponder over it. Then, when they are finished, hide the art from them and ask them to describe it.
Try your best not to prompt them with leading questions, like “What colour was her dress?” or “What was the weather like?” Just simply say, ” Tell me about it.” They will almost certainly not remember everything, but they don’t need to. By narrating in this way, they are performing a much higher thought process; of observing, processing, recalling and articulating those thoughts in their own words.
If you prompt too much, you are in danger of having your children become dependent on your questions, like we often see in school comprehension worksheets and multiple choice questions. Allow your children to think for themselves.
If your child is not used to narration, and is struggling to recall it or articulate his thoughts, then let him see the painting as he narrates. It is difficult skill to develop, so take it slow and try to keep the atmosphere joyful.
For older children, you can allow them to sketch from memory what they saw if they would like to.
The next step is to display that piece of art somewhere in your home so that the children can see it frequently through out their day.
The following week, repeat the process with the SAME piece of art. You will hopefully find that your children have more to say!
It can be helpful to tell the children a little about the artist or the painting before you begin. If the painting is about a story, it can be helpful to tell your children this story before you begin the picture study. Likewise, knowing a little more about the artist they are studying, will help them to form connections with him/her. Knowing more about the mind behind the art will encourage your children to look more closely at the work itself.
After 2 weeks, switch to another piece art by that same artist. In so doing, your child will some to know at least 6 of the artist’s works each term. That’s an incredible achievement!
Picture Study Resources
For the art prints themselves, I would always recommend getting the largest prints you can find and display easily.
Postcards and images in art textbooks are often too small for multiple children to see at once, and inevitably loose the finer details.
We personally use wall calendars of a specific artist. These tend to be much cheaper than books, the prints are a good size, and they are easy to display on our kitchen wall. Here are a few examples of some we have used:
Children’s artist biographies can also be found at the library, but I would strongly recommend pre-reading these so you can omit the less-wholesome parts of the artist’s lives that young children do not need to know about. However, it may be worthwhile older children knowing the full picture, as these parts of their lives will have inevitably influenced their art, and will make for meaningful discussions with you.
Here are a few artist biographies, in the form of living books, that we have enjoyed with our young children:
From the age of fourteen, art history is incorporated into the Charlotte Mason curriculum, where children learn how the artist worldview would have influenced their art.
The picture study lessons will take no more that 10-15 minutes a week, but the influence that they have will be lifelong. To be able to store “a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of [their] imagination” is a worthy endeavor.
We recently wrapped up our nature study unit on wild mammals, and I realized that it may be useful to share some of the living books we used for it in our homeschool.
We follow the nature study rotation set out by Ambleside Online and it is these books that make up the nature lore, tales and nature study components of that Charlotte Mason education.
For more information on our Homeschool Curriculum Choices, CLICK HERE.
This blog-post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see our Disclaimer.
To get a better feel for, and to see inside, these beautiful living books, watch the video below. It’s always useful to see inside children’s books before you purchase, so please take the time to watch this video.
These delightful living books are a collection of stories featuring wild animals from the British Isles. The stories capture the child’s imagination and interest, whilst also teaching them important information about the species’ habitat, behaviour and other natural history.
There are three books in this series, and they cover wild animals from all the major animal kingdoms; including mammals, birds, reptiles,fish and amphibians. These books are suitable for children aged 5-8 years old.
This charming living books narrate the story on one specific species per book. They are aimed at older children, aged 8 -12 years old. Through their study, children will become intimately acquainted with the animal, and associated species, and it’s natural history.
This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclaimerfor more information.
Understood Betsy Review
“Understood Betsy” is the story of a nervous orphaned girl who is forced to move from her comfortable life in the city, to live on a farm with relatives she has never met.
It deals with some difficult topics, like death, illness, abuse, poverty, in a gentle and sensitive way that will not upset young children. This book has sparked so many worthwhile conversations with my kids as we listened to it in the car.
As we went on this journey with Betsy, I was taught so much about what being a good parent means, and how to let go of control and trust in your children. It taught us the different ways to show love within a family and how to have integrity and good character in tough times…and so much more!
I don’t usually cry in movies or from books, but I cried almost every time we listened to this one..much to the amusement of my boys!
Truly a sign of great children’s book is that it can be enjoyed by adults, as well you children.
Use Audible in your Homeschool
We listened to this amazing work of Children’s literature as an Audiobook on Audible. If you sign up to their 30 day Free-Trial, you can get your first book for FREE; and you can even cancel the trial anytime!
We love using Audiobooks in our homeschool, especially when we are driving the kids around to all their activities. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of our time in the car and learn on the go!
However, for those of your who would prefer theactual book, this is it!
We have just completed another term of nature study in our homeschool; this time focusing on British birds. Nature study is one of our most-loved subjects and part of our Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum.
Below, I have listed all the resources we love and have found useful in the study of birds; including living books,beautiful children’s literature for all ages, reference books, preschool picture books, our treasured nature journal supplies and more!
This blog post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.
Make sure you WATCH THIS VIDEO to get a closer look at these resources and take a peek inside the books!
This is the diary of a naturalist who rescued an abandoned owlet from the woods and hand-reared it at home. This true story also features tips on how to keep your own nature journal and original black-and-white photos.
This book has been such an asset to us these past few months. We have used it to sketch the birds from into our nature journals. For each bird you are given a variety of large high-quality photos and plenty of information.
This lovely little book is our trusty guide to identifying birds when we are on nature walks. It is small enough to carry with us, with just enough information to help us identify any new birds we see.
This book from Usborne focuses on birds from many different habitats. It discusses many aspects of their behaviour, life cycle, indientifaction and some myths and legnends! The illustrations are beautiful too!
There is nothing quite so heart-warming as seeing tiny birds, of many coours and varieties, flock your garden, to eat the seeds you put out. They even develop a routine so you know what time each bird will arrive at your feeders that day!
Birds feeders, if placed close enough to your windows, can even be a way to do nature study on those days you cannot leave the house.
Your local park or woodland is a fantastic resource for you and your family. Get outdoors and explore the nature to see these incredible birds first-hand.
Your example and enthusiasm for nature study will influence you children far more than any book ever could. If you, as a parent, enjoy learning about birds and take part in nature journalling yourself, you children will be eager to follow your example. And besides, you might actually learn something…right?!!?
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comment below.
The power of words, their ability to turn hearts and move men should never be underestimated.
In fact, it has become one of the few truths that I stand by: that words can change the world.
One of the greatest proofs of this are the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims, along with Jews and Christians, are called the “people of the book” and it is through the Divine words of revelation that God chose to guide us; words that forever changed the world.
“It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book (Quran), confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (Quran) (of judgment between right and wrong).” – Holy Quran 3:3
This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer for more information.
Words, in their ever varied and beautiful forms, also make up the backbone of our literature-based homeschool. It is by the craftsmanship of the many great authors we read, that my children gain knowledge and are inspired to learn.
Through the words of others, they are taught what it means to be human; the good, the bad and everything in between.
The beauty of well crafted words sometimes catches me off guard, as if placed in my path for a reason; to remind me, teach me or just to make me smile when I need it the most.
One such occasion was when we were visiting a local park. Despite having been to the same park for years, it was only on this visit that I noticed a small second-hand bookshop hidden above the ice-cream parlour. After the ice-creams were enjoyed, we all ventured up the narrow wooden staircase in the lofted roof. Tucked up under the eaves were hundreds of second-hand books, neatly arranged on old mismatched bookcases. The delight of finding this “secret” treasure-trove was not lost on my children, who quickly set about scouring the shelves looking for “the” book for them.
In addition to these, my youngest son carried home a hardback copy of Stories from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milneas though it was the most precious thing in the world.
Back home, over a cup of tea, I opened the poetry book and the first poem that met my eyes made my heart flutter. I can’t make out if it was a pang of recollection from a distant childhood memory, or simply the power of the poem’s vivid imagery.
This is the poem I read,
The Way Through the Woods
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.
By Rudyard Kipling
I read it over and over again, and it made me smile.
Words can do that; they can bring joy and delight when before there was none.
Then I read it to my kids. With their eyes closed and the room quiet, they felt it too. They told me about, “The lost road,” and “The horses hooves,” and they talked together about how roads were different in the olden days. They got it. They saw it in the minds and they felt the words.
Together we enjoyed those words, written many years ago by a man we never knew. Those words brought us closer. That poem is now something we share, like an inside joke or a happy memory.
By exposing my children to these great authors and poets, who are masters of their craft, I hope that my children will one day be able to yield the power found within words and use it for a noble purpose insha’Allah.
One day, when they are grown, and they hear the words of that poem again, it will trigger something within them and make their hearts flutter as they remember; and then perhaps they will pass these words onto their children.
Words connect us, they move us, and so too can they shape us. That is why I raise my children upon the best of them.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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 .