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 .
You also find them on Twitter and Instagram.
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,
Balkis28/08/2019 at 6:09 am (4 years ago)
Asalamulaykum ma’am, have been following your articles for sometimes now really enlightened jazakillahukhayra.
However I have a challenge of HOW BEST TO HIMESCHOOL MY 3+ SON. some said teach sounds first others will say letters. Any help will really be appreciated ma’am. How do I go about either ways
Gemma Somauroo29/09/2019 at 1:34 pm (3 years ago)
In my humble opinion, the best thing you can do for a 3 year-old is give them time to play freely outdoor, spend time together so they can imitate your example, reading to them and play together. If you really want to begin academic work, teach them through games and songs. Don’t expect your lessons to last more than 5 minutes or for that child to sit still during them! Most of all, enjoy your 3 year old! Its a wonderful age 🙂
Nadia10/01/2021 at 5:03 pm (2 years ago)
Asalaamu Alaykum sister,
Excellent post jazakallahu khairan! Please can you give some recommendations for good children’s fiction as well as stories of the prophets for my 3 year old.