Reflections

LIVE Broadcasts | Episodes 1-6 |

LIVE Muslim homeschool chat

Assalaamu alaykum! Hi friends!

If you’ve missed the recent LIVE broadcasts that I’ve been hosting every week on Instagram and Facebook, HERE THEY ARE!

Grab yourself a cup of chai, get comfy and enjoy! 🙌


Episode #1: Finding Confidence in Homeschooling

Episode #2: How Super-mums do it ALL! + FREE Planner

Episode #3: Preschool Learning at Home + FREE Early Years Guide 

Episode #4: Time Management and Productivity 

Episode #5: Motherhood Getting you down? …Try THIS!

Episode #6: Live Q&As Session


The next broadcast will be on Sunday 30th December 10am GMT, insha’Allah.
The title of that discussion will be,
“I’m just a mum, is that enough?” 🤔💝
I hope I’ll see you there!

LIVE Muslim homeschool chat

Peace and Love,

Living history curriculum islamic

Raising Children on Words | Literature-Based Homeschooling

road through the woods rudyard kipling

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.

road through the woods rudyard kipling

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.

Tucked upon the first bookcase were two gems; the first of which was an old copy of Enid Blyton’s “The Enchanted Wood published in the 1960’s. The second was Discovering Poetry: Vol 4 Freshfields,” a collection of nature poetry collected by E. W. Parker.

In addition to these, my youngest son carried home a hardback copy of Stories from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne as 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.

Road through the woods

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

road through the woods 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.

raise children on words dr gemma elizabeth

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

My Journey Towards Slow-Living | Homeschool Reflections

slow living homeschool reflections

Last night, when the little ones were asleep, and it was just me and him in the living room, my eldest son turned to me and said,

” You’re like your old self again Mummy…You’re knitting.”

I could have cried.

He’s right. I am starting to feel like my old self again; that silly, impulsive, fun-loving girl, that girl that thought and cared deeply about everything, that girl who loved practical jokes and being goofy!

slow living homeschool reflections

But she got  pushed aside so I could become responsible and capable; to be a “better” mum and wife; or a least in the same way everyone else seems to be.

But instead of becoming more capable, I just became hurried. Instead of cherishing those special moments with my family, I hurried them onto the next one without taking the time to experience it; without truly living it. In an effort to be perfect, I forgot to be present.

As my old self re-emerges, my relationships with those around me is growing. I’m no longer just functioning as a wife and a mum, but I’m learning to connect on a deeper level and be vulnerable again with those I love.

What happened to cause this change?

Simply, I’m slowing down.

Instead of striving towards doing more, I’m seeking out quiet. Less distraction, less disruption and more time to reconnect with those I love the most. Instead of trying to fill every “empty” space and time slot in my life, I am embracing the silence. Instead of doing more and more, I’m doing less but with more meaning and more heart.

And so to dear boy, my old self said back, ” Yes,” I told him, “I’m back.”

If. like me, you have been feeling frantic and frazzled for too long; if you are exhausted with the pace of the life you have created for yourself; if you miss your old care-free self and those relationships of those you love, then perhaps you too need to slow down.

 

“It’s about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.

It’s about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving.

It’s about about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.”

– Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect.

If this seems completely irrelevant  to your life, then I’m happy for you…I really am.

But I wish someone had told me long ago, before I wasted all those years, that what you seek is not achieved or found by hustling and busyness; rather, it lies in the silence within you.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

Advice to Ambitious Mothers: Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016

Can we have it all? 
Can we be devoted mothers, beloved wives
and have a career of our own? 
How do Muslim businesswomen manage to
juggle all their responsibilities?
It was an honour, to be invited to the Muslim Lifestyle Expo
2016
as an on of their Official Bloggers. I had planned to scour the MLE arena,
looking for innovative new toys or books that my readers would be interested
in. 

Advice to Ambitious Muslim Women: Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016

 

However, in addition to the incredible products I saw there, what moved me
the most, was speaking to the Muslim businesswomen. I was intrigued how they
managed to run a business, take care of their home, the needs of their husband
and children and themselves. I wanted to know, what motivated them when they
started the business and what keeps them going?
I met so many incredibly strong and ambitious Muslim women at the MLE, and
I want to share their story and the advice they gave me here.
To see my vlog of the Muslim Lifestyle Expo, and hear from these women yourselves,WATCH THIS VIDEO:

Advice to Ambitious Mothers: Muslim Lifestyle Expo

The organisers of the MLE announced that more than 60% of
exhibitors were women
. Many of these women had children and were running their
business from home.

 

 

Here are just a few of the inspiring women I met there:

Nazia Nasreen: Ibraheem Toy House

When I arrived, I knew exactly who I wanted to meet first;
Nazia Nasreen, the Founder and CEO of Ibraheem Toy House!
Ibraheem Toy House is
the U.K.’s first and largest online Islamic Toy Store.
Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 : Ibraheem Toy House

 

Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 : Ibraheem Toy House
Nazia began her business at home when her children were very
young. Having begun with only 4 products and a Facebook page, she now, only 2
years later, sells more than 200 products from her website, has international clientele,
and was recently featured in the Times, Business Quarterly, and the Guardian.
When I spoke to Nazia about what advice she would give
mothers, who want to start a business she said,
“Go for it! Don’t think that starting your own business
means that you wont be a good mum….You’re actually setting a really good
example for your children because you are showing them that you can get good
things in life by working hard.”
 
Muslim Lifestyle Expo: Ibraheem Toy House
 
 
Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 : Ibraheem Toy House

 

Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 : Ibraheem Toy House
 
To hear the rest of this interview, WATCH THE VIDEO!

Sabah Nazir: Islamic Moments

Sabah Nazir, the founder of Islamic Moments, began her business in 2004 selling mainstream greeting
cards; and then later venturing into Islamic products.

Her company, sells a range of
Islamic greeting cards, Eid and Ramadan décor, and stationary. They recently
launched a line of beautiful mugs for Muslim homes, and an Arab-inspired
fragrance collection.

 

Muslim Lifestyle Expo: Islamic Moments

 

Muslim Lifestyle Expo: Islamic Moments

 

Sabah’s advice to mums who want to start a business from
home was,
“Time-management is the key to everything! Be super, super organised…Believe
in Allah and insha’Allah things will be right.”
To hear more from Sabah, WATCH THIS VIDEO!

The Sweet Board

The wonderful thing about the MLE, is that you get
introduced to amazing products and services that you never knew existed!
Sister Saadia, managing director of The Sweet Board, runs her confectionery business from home.
She said,
“It has always been a hobby of mine to do party favours…and
now its expanded!
Her stand was so beautifuly presented mashAllah! To see it yourselfe and hear more from Saadia, WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Zukreat Nazar – AOM Cosmetics

If you don’t know who Zukreat is…where have you been?!?!?
Zukreat Nazar, is the Founder and CEO of Artist of Makeup Cosmetics, and has a
Youtube following of more than 300K and Instagram following of more than 570K!
Muslim Lifestyle Expo: Zukreat Artist of Makeup

 

She was part of a panel of Muslim business women, talking about how they started their businesses, what their motivation was, and how they juggle their many responsibilities.
Zukreat said,
“ If you’re planning to have a business, have
good people around you to give you confidence….If you have a passion for
something, and you feel you’re good at it, just pursue it!”
For more advice from Zukreat, WATCH THIS VIDEO

Zanib Mian

– Author and Founding Director of Muslim Children’s
Books and Sweet Apple Publishers

I met Zanib Mian on the Ibraheem Toy House stand, where she came to do a book signing and read from her book “Migo and Ali”.
What
struck me most about Zanib, were her manners mashAllah. She is so polite and
humble, despite her many achievements, and is very approachable and easy to talk to.
Muslim Lifestyle Expo Zanib Mian
Sweet Apple Publishers was set up in 2004 to truly represent
the world we live in with diverse characters taking the main roles in their books.
Her second publishing house, Muslim Children’s Books, publishes books with the
aim to inspire a love of Allah in young children’s hearts, through vibrant
illustrations, quirky wording and a sprinkling of humour!
Zanib Mian - Muslim Lifestyle Expo
Coming away from the event, I felt almost euphoric! It was
as if my eyes had been opened to so many possibilities!
Perhaps it is possible
for a mother to pursue her dreams and ambitions, and still manage all her other
responsibilities. Perhaps it’s not just those untouchable “superwomen” who can
do it…maybe I could do it…maybe you could too!
I have heard many people speak about business in a negative
light; it is just chasing the dunya (the temporal world), and it is for people who are only
interested in money.
However what motivated the inspiring women I met couldn’t
have been further from that! Their motivation was not amassing money (although that
was a perk!), but rather it was to make a positive impact on the world, and help
people in someway.
Ultimately, these lofty intentions have turned running their businesses
into a form of worship. May Allah accept their efforts and reward their
intentions.
Our Muslim Homeschool - Muslim Lifestyle Expo
I cannot wait for the next Muslim Lifestyle Show! The atmosphere was amazing, and we all left the event feeling positive and proud to be Muslim! I hope I’ll see you all at the next event 🙂
What do you think about mother’s running a business? 
Do you think women can
juggle it all, or is it an unnecessary pressure that modern women put upon
themselves? 
Are you a stay-at-home mum who works from home? How to manage
everything?
Or are you choosing to wait until your children are older before you begin?
Lets have a discussion in the comments below! (Keep it
polite please! )
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In need of your duaas.
Peace and Love xx

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Homeschool Planning: Part 1

Reflecting and Evaluating Last Year

It is that wonderful time of the year! Surrounded by a mountain of home-education books and homeschool curriculum, I get to plan next year’s homeschool… and I love it! 
I think all homeschool mums out there can understand the excitement of new curriculum and new plans with “This year is going to be different,” ringing in our ears. 
Homeschool planning

However before I jump in and get too excited, I realised it was important to really reflect on last year before I make the same mistakes again. 
To reflect on what went well….and what did not! 
I would advise every homeschool mum to do this. 
Don’t get carried away and start planning next year, no matter how tempting, until you have evaluated last year. 
I would recommend you get the kids involved too. Ask them what did they enjoyed learning about, and what did they dislike. 
I have learnt so much from this little exercise; not just about my homeschool, but also about the way my children learn and about the way I function too. What is important to me and my happiness?
Here is my reflection and evaluation of last year:

Evaluation of our Homeschool 2015/2016

In 2015/2016 I was homeschooling two boys: a 5-6year old (K5 in U.S. or Year 1 in the U.K.) and a 3-4years-old (Preschool). This blog-post will focus on my elder son, as the youngest did very little structured schooling this year.

Child’s Learning Style

Self-Directed Learner


I realised that my eldest son is highly self-motivated and my interference in his learning can actually hinder his progress! He only needs to be given the resources and gentle prompts , and he will learn on his own. He learns and retains the most from his own reading.The best thing about this self-directed approach is that it encourages his love of learning and allows him to take control of his own education. 

However…he is only 6! So I have to find a balance next year, allowing him more time and control in his education, whilst at the same time making sure he has a firm foundation in the basics. 
Facts, facts, facts

He LOVES facts and figures, and has recently developed an interest in science. So this coming year I need to encourage this interest and develop a really engaging sciecne curriculum for him, that will cover things he is interested in, as well as introduce him to new concepts. 
As we are starting history this year, I need to find a way to utilise his love of facts, in our history lessons. 

Need for structure


Although he enjoys learning independantly, he also benefits from having routine and structure in the day. It is important to him to know what to expect that day, and what is coming the next. This coming year, I have bought him his own academic diary, in which I will write out the lesson plans briefly, so he knows what is coming. 
I struggled this year in establishing consistent routines. This is something that I NEED to address this year for his sake. insha’Allah.
Needs fun and silly too!

Because of his personality, it is easy for me to forget that he is only 6 years-old and enjoys doing silly things too! This coming year, I want to incorporate more fun activities and experiments into his curriculum.  

Homeschool planning

It is also important for him to blow off steam! He needs to run, jump, do ‘kung-fu’ moves, just like any little boy! So this year, I have to schedule in outdoor/free time every day….without fail!

Short Lessons


My recent discovery of the Charlotte-Mason approach to homeschooling had me trying shorter lessons with my son. 

These worked very effectively as he knew that he had only a short amount of time to learn/do the material and he really focused during this time. In my head, because of my experience at mainstream schools, I thought that a lesson ‘needed’ to be around 40 minutes long….but why should it be! Who says it has to be! 

When you are working one-on-one, shorter lessons are actually very effective. This coming year, I will be shortening lesson times in all areas. 

My Needs

This last year has been massive for me, in terms of self-knowledge and feelings of self-worth! One of the things that I realised about myself, is the need to be creative!
Homeschool planning

This coming year, I hope to utilise my creativity to create an awesome science curriculum for my son, and well as doing some great crafts to go along with out history and Islamic studies. 
I’ve also realised that I am a control-freak! I need to relinquish this control over my son’s learning, and allow him to dictate the pace and content of at least some areas of study. It’s going to be hard!

Stop Worrying

He’s doing ok! Alhumdulillah! Socially, academically, emotionally…he’s fine! mashAllah.
Part of being a homeschool mum…nay….part of being a mother period, is that we worry and we fill our thoughts with guilt. “What if I hadn’t done that…” or “Maybe I should have done it like so-and-so”. I realised that I shouldn’t compare my child, my home or my homeschooling to anyone else. It does nothing but fill you with guilt or helplessness. 

Allah does not judge you by other people’s standards. He only asks you to do your best with the tools he has given you. 

Alhumdulillah we are doing well, and I pray it continues.

External Teachers

There is often a feeling amongst some home-educators that if you are using a tutor or sending your child to classes, your not really homeschooling “properly”! Of course, this is nonsense. There is no “proper” way to homeschool. 

Homeschooling planning

My son seems to really enjoy the variety that external teachers brings to his education. He attends a number of co-op classes, which he seems to be doing very well in. I have also found private tutors to help with languages (not my strength), and he loves those classes. So my feelings are that perhaps I should continue with these classes, and perhaps even find classes outside the home. 

So you see, this short exercise in reflection, that took only 10 minutes to think through, has brought me so much clarity for next year’s plan, and stopping me from repeating the same mistakes. If you are homeschooling your children, I would highly recommend that you do this too!

Are you starting to plan your next year of home-education? 
How do you start the planning process? 
What worked well for you last year, and what changes will you be making this coming year? 


Id love to hear from you! 
Please share with me in the comments below 🙂

In Part 2 (COMING SOON), I will go into details about how I plan out our school year, and the books and resources I use, as well as my planner and all that ‘good stuff’!!!

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For a daily look into our homeschooling day follow me on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.


In need of your duaas.

Peace and Love

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New Homeschool Mum…Don’t Give Up!

The transition into home education can be a difficult one. Many families struggle when they first start homeschooling, especially with time management.


“How can I get all the cleaning, cooking, and do everything else, as well as teach my children?
I just never seem to be able to get on top of things?
I just don’t have the time to do it all.” 





Home education does not suit every family, but before you give up homeschooling, here are a few tips that I have learnt to help a struggling homeschool mum:

1. Look for the Wisdom

The difficulties you face in your home, with your children, are no less of a trial or test than the difficulties people face at work. Acknowledge that your problems are real problems, worthy of your concern and find comfort in the fact that Allah tests those he loves.

It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:
“The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people, He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His Pleasure; but whoever is discontent with that earns His Wrath.” (al-Tirmidhi – 2396)

If you are finding difficulties in your homeschool, begin by making duaa and praying Istikaraah.

2. Get Organised

Write to-do lists, get a homeschool planner, organise your homeschool material in whatever way works for your family. Not only will these things help you to get more done, but they will also help you to realise how much you are already achieving. This feeling of accomplishment and purpose should not be taken lightly. Everyone needs to feel that they are being productive and achieving something in their day.

Watch this for some Homeschool Organization tips:

If you do not feel organised now, take a week off school. Use the time to get everything ordered and planned out in a way that will make your homeschool run more smoothly. Then you can start again the following week on a more positive note.

3. Lower Your Expectations

What? Did I read that right?
Yes, you did!

I know this may sound harsh, but you have to lower your expectations, especially if you are just starting to homeschool, or if you have small children at home. You cannot expect your house to be as clean or your meals to be a spectacular (mine never were….mediocre at best!) as they were before you began to home educate your children.

Every ‘lesson does not need to be perfectly planned and executed. Many children retain more from self-directed, not teacher led, learning.  By adjusting your teaching style, you are allowing your children time to ‘discover’ things themselves and re-igniting the love of learning that they lost in school.

You are only human and you have the same 24 hours that the rest of us have. As soon as you  LET GO and stop putting pressure on yourself, the better you will feel and the happier you and your family be insha’Allah.

Just to clarify…I’m not saying you should live in squalor and let your children run wild! However, give yourself a break! Your homemaking and your school days will improve as your time management does.

4. Give Yourself Time

It takes time to adjust, establish new routines and to find your ‘groove.’ It also takes time for children to get used to the new routines.

Try to move gently, with patience, into this new phase in your life. Everything does not need to come together all at once. Give yourself the grace to make mistakes. Just learn from them …and move on.

Thank you so much for visiting us here at Our Muslim Homeschool! 

What do you think?

Should we lower our standards and just allow time to fix everything? 
How much time should be allow before we give up and send our kids back to school? 
How do you organise your homeschool?

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below 🙂



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In need of your duaas.
Peace and Love.

Peace and Love.

Dear Busy Mum,

A little advice from my heart to yours.

After a week
of teething and difficult nights, I decided this morning to go out for a solitary
coffee. No kids, no husband, just me and my books!
Advice for busy homeschool mums
I’d be lying
if I said that I didn’t feel overwhelmed sometimes. Being with the three kids
EVERY DAY…ALL DAY is draining. Some days it’s the mess that gets to me, others it’s
the fighting, but usually it’s the noise that can get too much.
Don’t get me
wrong, my kids aren’t badly behaved (well…no more than the average kid). In
fact, I think they’re wonderful. They bring me so much joy! But we all need a
break every now and then!
As I was
walking down the road, to get to the café near my house, it was like seeing my
street in a completely new way! It was so nice to actually experience THAT
moment.
So often, as
a mum, you are busy checking you have everything for everyone, checking you
haven’t lost one of the kids, making sure everyone has been to the toilet,
eaten enough, as well as throwing in the occasional ‘educational’ tit-bit, that
you just don’t even have time to look around. There’s no time to Stop…Breathe…and
SEE what’s around you.
It was incredible
just looking at the people walking past, blissfully unaware of how ‘lucky’ they
are; not because they don’t have children … No, No, No! Lucky because that have
THIS MOMENT! So precious. So fleeting. If only they would Stop….Breathe…REFLECT!
“Verily!
In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and
day there are indeed ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs,
revelations, etc.) for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of
Allah standing, sitting and lying down on their sides and contemplate the
(wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth (with the thought):
“Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose! Glory to thee! Give
us salvation from the penalty of the fire.”” Q3:190-1.
Whether
we have children to fill our time, or jobs, or academic studies, or whatever our
worries are, remember, Dear Busy Mum, this life is just here to occupy us. The
Dunya is here to give us our provisions, and to distract us from our true
purpose…Allah.
I
am as guilty as you, perhaps even more guilty, of forgetting my Lord and
busying myself too much with my ‘life.’

Dear
Busy Mum
, stop rushing…stop thinking… stop…STOP!
Look at what is around you…BREATHE….REFLECT….ALHUMDULILLAH!
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Thank you for visiting our blog! Come again soon!

Please remember us in your duaas.
Peace and Love.

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