Homeschool planning is a big part of knowing how to start homeschooling.
In episode 25 of the Raising Mums podcast, I discuss how homeschool planning can give you freedom and flexibility. How, if done well, homeschool planning can give homeschool mums peace of mind, and confidence in the plans they have laid out.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!
I also spend some time introducing and taking questions about our online homeschooling course Launch Your Homeschool.
Homeschool planning is key if you want to know how to start homeschooling well.
Launch your Homeschoolis an online course designed to help Muslim families who want to start homeschooling. It will guide you as you navigate and design your own path home-education. Built upon a foundation of Islamic values, and the framework of the Charlotte Mason Philosophy, I’ll be there supporting you step-by-step!
I strongly believe that there is no one-size-fits-all curriculum for homeschooling. So in this program, I give you the tools you need to find your own way, based upon your values, your unique children, and your family dynamics.
A large part of learning how to start homeschooling is the planning. That’s why I’ve dedicated several modules in the course to Homeschool planning and time management; so that you can begin your homeschooling journey positively and with confidence.
I also go into detail about common mistakes homeschoolers make in their first year so you can avoid them!
The aim is for everyone who enrols in the Launch Your Homeschool course to go from feeling overwhelmed, unsure and confused; to confident, excited and well prepared for coming homeschool year.
Sign up for our FREE Resources Library!
You’ll get access to HUNDREDS of FREE Educational Resources to use with your family!
We know first hand how little time mothers have to study when their children are young. For this reason I have kept the lessons short, around 20 minutes, but packed with value, so that you can watch them during nap-time or while you have your morning coffee. Everything is pre-recorded, and you have lifetime access, so you can go back and rewatch any of the lessons whenever you want.
In addition to video lessons, you’ll get access to a buzzing private student community on Facebook, all the homeschool planning material you’ll need to plan out your year AND 4 LIVE Q&A sessions with me!
Enrolment closes Sunday 19th July 2020, at 11.59pm GMT.
Are you thinking homeschooling your family? Here are a list of books that you’ll want to read to help you make that big decision.
If you’re thinking about homeschooling your children, the first place you’ll want to go, for reliable and complete information, are books.
From my experience, families who are considering home education for their children, often feel overwhelmed with books that are heavy on detail or educational philosophy.
Instead, what I’d recommend is that you read books that paint a picture of what homeschooling could look like for you. Rather than bogging you down in details, the books I recommend allow you to draw inspiration and take ideas that suit your family dynamic and belief system.
Primarily the books I’ve included in this list of books to read when you’re considering homeschooling, are memoirs of homeschooling families (real and fictitious) and a few others with a similar approach.
This blog-post contains affiliate links. For more information, please read the Disclaimer.
Books to Read when you’re Considering Homeschooling
Ross Mountney is an ex-teacher from the U.K., who many years ago left the mainstream educational system to home educate her two daughters. In this memoir of their homeschool experience together, Ross Mountney shows the reader what homeschooling really looks like! It’s moving, hilarious and forces the reader to question what education can look like.
A Funny Kind of Education is one of the first books I ever read about home-education and is the one that inspired me to truly consider beginning our homeschooling journey.
Over the years, there is one book that I come back to again and again. That book is“Mere Motherhood”by Cindy Rollins
Cindy Rollins began her homeschooling journey in U.S.A. in the 1980’s, and 9 children later (yes…that’s 8 boys!) she tells us all about her family’s experience home-educating.
The book is written so honestly, and with such a heart-felt message, that you can’t help but fall in love with their story. The author, after decades of homeschooling and facing the ups-and-downs of life, gives the reader perspective and consider what homeschooling could mean to them in the long-run.
If you’re looking for a book to show you what a true education is meant to be, then you’ll want to read For the Children’s Sakeby Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
After years of research and personal experience, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote this beautiful book. Based around principles set out by Charlotte Mason, the author forces the reader to consider what is education, and how can we provide that in our home.
Some sections of this book contain Christian rhetoric, and readers of other faiths may choose to skip over those parts.
This is the book that inspired me to begin learning more about the Charlotte Mason philosophy, and is the book I always recommend to families who want to know more about the CM method without being inundated with the finer details.
Pocketful of Pinecones is a fictitious account of a homeschooling family, which was written to inspire mothers through hard times. Karen Andreola, the author, is an experienced homeschooler herself, and pours into this story the lessons she learnt along the way.
It’s written as the diary of one mother’s year of teaching her children at home, with a focus on nature study.
It’s a deligthful book to read, and will help readers to better understand their role as a homeschooling mother, as well as give some insight into what a Charlotte Mason homeschool day might look like.
This list would not be complete without something from the legend that was John Taylor Gatto.
If you have ever struggled to justify home education to yourself, or others, this book will help. From years of working in education, and his extensive research, Dumbing Us Down outlines many deeply rooted problems in mainstream education.
This book is eye-opening and will soften the heart even the biggest cynic to homeschooling!
I hope this has helped those of you who were unsure where to begin with their homeschooling research. Memoirs and personal accounts provide insight and inspiration, as well as information on “how-to” do it!
If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below.
Peace and Love,
P.s. Did you know I have a PODCAST, where I answer a lot of your questions about homeschooling? Make sure you check it out!
Sign up for our FREE Resources Library!
You’ll get access to HUNDREDS of FREE Educational Resources to use with your family!
How do we teach our kids to read? It can be overwhelming to even think about it!
I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you to a reading programme that is simple for parents to follow at home. The Reading Eggsbook packs are fun, will engage your children’s imagination, and are highly effective!
We all want our children to read more, and enjoy the rich world of reading books brings! The best way to nurture this enthusiasm for reading in your home, is to start their experience with books in a positive way.
If they enjoy the process of learning to read, they will be eager to pick up books themselves to read in their own time.
That is why I believe the Reading Eggs programme is so effective. I have used their online platform for many years with my elder children. Today, I excited to introduce you to their range of books.
Reinforce learning with fun phonics games using their Flashcards.
You’ll Love Reading Eggs Books if…
-You want to provide your children with a solid foundation in literacy.
-You’re a really busy mum, and you are looking for something that is easy to implement and that your children can do a large part of independently.
-Your children enjoy colourful and visually stimulating books.
-You have children aged 3-6, who are just beginning to read.
Using the book sets from Reading Eggs, alongside the online platform, provides a complete learning programme to teach your kids to read. Through this programme your children will learn phonics, sight words, and develop a deep love for reading. insha’Allah.
This week, I was on the Our Muslim Homeschool Facebook and Instagram page answering your questions LIVE!
I answer questions about:
Healthy meal ideas
After school activities at home
Teaching children about the Islamic Heros
Coping with mess
This blogpost contains affiliate links. Please see disclaimer for more information.
In this LIVE broadcast, I also made a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT. If you don’t want to spoil the suprise, stop scrolling and watch the video now!
So, here’s the news….
Firstly, these LIVE weekly shows have been given a new name, “Raising Mums”. I chose this name as it reflected my ambition for this show….
A live weekly broadcast that inspires mums to live with purpose and intention, to raise their children mindfully, and empowers mothers everywhere to own their lives and to thrive doing it!
Dr Gemma Elizabeth – Raising Mums
And even BIGGER NEWS!….you can now listen to Raising Mums as a podcast!
Yes, that’s right! Wherever you listen to your podcasts, you can head over there now, and Subscribe to Raising Mums!
You can listen to these broadcasts whilst you’re commuting to work, cleaning the house, working out, or driving the car! The great thing about podcasts, is that you can “grow on the go”, and learning whilst doing other things! Perfect for busy mums…right?!?!
Please had over to iTunes, Apple podcasts and Spotify, and leave a review for “Raising Mums” so other mums, like you, can find it!
You can also simply play the podcast directly from my website! Try it now…
This episode marks the end of Season 1 of Raising Mums. It’s been an incredible few months, and I’m so grateful for all the lessons I’ve learnt during this time and the people I’ve come to know through it.
I’ll be back Sunday 24th March 2019 at 10am GMT on Facebook and Instagram LIVE for the launch of Season 2. insha’Allah
I’ve got some great content planned for you! I hope I’ll see you then!
Peace and Love,
Dr Gemma Elizabeth
Never Miss a Video…
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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.
Ramadan is coming! Mothers everywhere are trying to find a way to create a meaningful and worthwhile Ramadan experience for their children. But honestly, it can be a little overwhelming! I’m here to tell you that you can create lasting and beautiful memories of Ramadan for your children with these easy and simple activities!
This blog post is sponsored by theMiraj Stories App, who allowed my family full access to the app and compensated me for my time.
For many mothers, the lead up to Ramadan can be a little stressful. Whilst we are excited at the prospect of entering this blessed month, it can also be a time of worry and anxiety: Will I be able to fast? Will I have enough energy to take care of my children? Will I be able to cope?
On top of all of this, we are bombarded with images of Ramadan preparation on social media; amazing women who have hand-crafted beautiful decorations, Ramadan calendars, purchased baskets full of new books and toys for the month, cleaned their home top-to-bottom and already bought their Eid gifts!
For women, like me, who have not done many (or any) of these things it can be a little demoralizing. Before Ramadan even begins, you are left feeling like you’ve failed already.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you haven’t. Although this type of Ramadan preparation is useful and/or beautiful, it is not essential. You do not need to do any of those things to create a meaningful and worthwhile Ramadan experience for your children.
All you really need, is to be happy and present with your children during this coming month. Yes, you heard me! You only need to be happy and present with your children!
When you are joyful, and your fill your home with your positive energy, you are creating a joyful atmosphere within your home. When you are happy, they are happy.
Instead of over-exerting yourself with complicated crafts and children’s activities, I want you to instead start a new tradition. This Ramadan, I want your children to remember that joyful atmosphere; when mummy is always there, with us, smiling; a time when she sat with us more, listened to us more, told us stories and played with us. These are the things that will leave them with a positive experience of Ramadan.
That is a happy Ramadan. That is the Ramadan tradition you want to create in your home.
And that is what its blog post is all about – Simple, easy activities that you can do with your children during Ramadan. These activities will not tire you whilst you’re fasting, they’re free (or cheap), and they can easily be done with things you already have in your home.
Instead of focusing on the final product, as most children’s activities seem to, these activities are centered around building connections with your children; creating deeper bonds and greater meaning to your family’s inner life.
Easy and Free Ramadan Activities
Ramadan is a perfect time for children to learn more about the Quran, memorise it and read it. But I want you to step away from the preconceived ideas you hold about what the study of Quran should look like. I want you, this Ramadan, to make it fun!
By playing simple games as a family, your child will want to read and memorise more Quran than ever before!
An example of such a game would have all players sitting in a circle, reading the same Surah. Each person takes a turn to read one ayat. When you the person reading says a certain word, or letter, or tajweed rule, the other players have to stand up! Alternatively, if its appropriate, you children could act out action when they hear in in a Surah, like “read” or “say”.
These kinds of games will have you children excited by the Quran, learning more Arabic, Tajweed and memorising as they play. To see how we play these games,WATCH THIS VIDEO!
Be Household Partners
Fasting can take it toll on parents physically, making household tasks difficult at times. During Ramadan, encourage your children take on certain roles within the household. Instead of telling them that they “Have to do something now because you’re tired”, tell them that you are going to “let them help this month now that they older and more responsible.” The language we use is so powerful.
Although some children might complain a little (or a lot) at first, if presented to them well, these new roles will have them feeling valued and respected. Although they may not seem like much fun, these roles actually help to create feelings of belonging and validation in a child’s psyche.
If you can, chose activities that you will do together, such as cooking or cleaning up after a meal. By working together to prepare the food or tidy up, children will learn that they are an important part of the team. However tasks that they do completely independently are also valuable as they will help to boost their confidence.
Why not allow them to chose the menu for iftar from your cookery books, or have them make the rice or bread everyday. Although learning these skills is valuable, what is even more worthwhile, is the lesson that they’re learning: that you trust them with this task, and that you value them and their contribution.
Examples of household task could include:
Preparing, serving or clean up after meals
Washing, folding, or putting away laundry
Tidying up toys at the end of the day, hoovering or dusting
They’ll remember that Ramadan is a time when the family all pulls together and helps one another. Isn’t that such a perfect lesson for this blessed month?
You can watch how we implement a household partnership in THIS VIDEO.
Ramadan Toy Rotation
Although it can be lovely to buy new toys and books for Ramadan, to present to your children on the first day, many people are not in a situation where they can do that.
Instead, I would encourage you to implement a toy/book rotation system in your home. Before Ramadan begins, put some of the children’s toys out of sight (we hide ours in the attic). Then, when you bring them back out again on the first day of Ramadan, the children will be so excited. If you have enough toys, you could do a weekly rotation, putting away and bringing out “new” toys from your attic every week.
I would also recommend a basket of toys that is only allowed to be used during “quiet time”, and you’ll need to be quite strict about that! In my home, I hope to establish a “quiet time” in the late afternoon, when I start to feel tired and get headaches. Then I know, with this special basket of toys to entertain them, I’ll get some time to rest.
The great thing about restricting access to toys, and creating rotations, is that you do not need to buy anything, rather you are just making the most of what you already have.
Children’s Prayer Corner
Once again, show your children that you respect them and their spiritual nature, by giving them their own prayer corner.
Turn a corner of your home into an inviting space for them to prayer. You can do this without the need to purchase anything. Use existing prayer mats or rugs in the corner. If you have it, use something to partially partition the space off, like a short bookcase, screen, or large basket, to physical separate the prayer space from the rest of the room.
Once again, as we talked about a household partnership, within their prayer corner the children should have roles. Let them decide who will be the Imam, who will call the Athaan, and who will keep the space tidy. Perhaps you will want to rotate the roles between them. Depending on the age of your children, they probably wont pray all the prayers, but aim for at least one each day for younger children. And I encourage you to join them in that space sometimes, but make sure you ask their permission first!
A similar idea that you may have seen online is setting up an itikaaf tent for the last ten days of Ramadan. In a simple play-tent, put out the children’s Islamic books, tasbeehs and anything else they may need, and give them the freedom to use that space as they see fit.
Use Digital Resources
There are an abundance of online resources and apps that are available on the market today. Many of them are free, or very inexpensive. I am of the opinion, that in moderation and supervision, screen-time can provide great benefits to your children.
The app primarily aims to teach children Arabic, Quranic stories and Islamic morals.
A Free version of the app is available, but for all the features you would need to purchase it. It is available on for Apple and Android users. When you first launch the app, you are given the option of using it “Music-free” or “With music.”
It’s difficult to put an age range on this app, because it has something for children of every age!
Children of all ages will enjoy listening to the audiobooks, which are what made Miraj Stories (also called Miraj Audio) famous many years ago, and you can see why! They are undoubtedly the best producer of Islamic audiobooks on the market. The stories themselves are beautifully written, but the narration itself makes them captivating! We are currently listening to the story of “Ibrahim and the Fire” and it’s quickly becoming a family favourite!
Younger children will love the interactive books, where children take part in the story as it unfolds, and learn Arabic along the way! We are using the Arabic letter books with my 3 year-old daughter. Firstly the child traces over the letter, and then watches a short animated story centred around that letter. It’s adorable! There are also interactive books that teach children about the prayer and some of the 99 Names of Allah.
The video stories are delightful, the characters utterly charming, and they will have your kids laughing and learning so much as the go. These short videos are a great halal alternative to YouTube and similar apps.
The Miraj Stories app also gives you access to a range of picture books called the “Stories from the Quran.” These stories are narrated for you with lovely sound effects, but personally I prefer to turn the sound off and read them aloud to my children on the sofa or cuddled up in bed! In fact, your older children could even read the stories themselves. Either way, there as so much ways you could use these picture books in your home.
It is clear that the people behind the Miraj Islamic Stories app value children, and respect them, so much so that they have produced an incredibly high quality product for them. There’s nothing cheesy or tacky about this product!
It’s all about providing children with the best there is to offer. The illustrations and animations are beautifully hand-drawn, the interactive element is cleverly thought out, and the audio books are exceptionally well written and narrated.
The whole app has been considered extremely well, and it is obvious from using it, that no expense has been spared in its development. It truly is the best of its kind.
It’s time to find out what we’ve been enjoying in Our Muslim Homeschool this month!
Welcome back friends! This month I’m excited to share a lot a wonderful books and educational resources that we’ve discovered!
There is also a GIVEAWAY this month. If you’d like to enter ,scroll down to the bottom of this post and enter via the Rafflecopter widget.
Dont forget to watch the accompanying YouTube video, to get a closer look at all the products mentioned in this blogpost.
WATCH THIS VIDEO:
January Homeschool Favourites
Life of Fred Math
I know what you’re thinking …”Not another Maths curriculum Gemma?!?!”
LOL!….I can’t help myself!
In the homeschooling circles, I have been hearing about Life of Fred Math for a long time. It is well known within homeschooling circles as an unconventional method of approaching maths. Life of Fred Math teaches maths in a narrative form, with humorous story line and a distinct lack of practice questions!
It is unlike any other maths book you’ve ever seen!
I’m not sure what it was that finally prompted me to order it, but I’m so glad that I did!
My son absolutely loves. When ask him, “What maths book shall we do today?” he always says, “Life of Fred!”
Despite a minimal amount of practice questions and worksheets, the mathematical principles we are covering seem to be sticking in my son’s mind. He loves how each chapter incorporates lots of other interesting facts and information (not always Maths related) and how the maths is put into real-life context.
We have the levels “Apples”, “Jelly-Beans” and “Icecream.” To decide which book is best for your child, visit the Life of Fred website.
For more information about Life of Fred Math, you can visit their website by CLICKING HERE.
Life of Fred can be difficult to find in the UK. I purchased mine from Conquest Books. They are the largest supplier of Homeschool curriculum in the UK, and have loads of other useful curriculum for homeschoolers. To visit there website CLICK HERE.
We have been using this sticker chart from MuslimStickers.com to establish a good morning routine with the children. My family have been using the Islamic Behaviour Chart for 4 weeks now, and the change in my kid’s behaviour in the morning has been phenomenal! No more sluggish and sleepy boys!
No, they’re ready long before I am!
Having a good morning routine is so important, even as adults, to having a productive day. I have seen that when we are slow to start school in the morning, we never get as much done and the children are less enthusiastic.This reward system has helped us all get ready for the day and begin school by 9am insha’Allah.
You could use this sticker chart in so many ways! When you recieve it, it is almost completely blank and you can customise it as you wish.
Receiving this book was such a blessing to our home and to our family.
Young Explorers’ Adventures in Makkah is the story of a family’s trip to Mecca for Ummrah. In addition to talking about Hajj and Ummrah, the book also relates their travels around many of the historic sites in the area.
Many of you are aware, that the authorities in Saudi are slowly demolishing and covering up sites of Islamic historical significance. Whatever their reasons, there is a risk that knowledge of these places with be lost from the general public.
This wonderful book, shows you where many of these sites can be found. It locates the house of Khadijah (ra) and what it looked like inside. It tells you about the birth place of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and where it can be found. More than half of the book is dedicated to sites around Mecca that hold an importance with the Seerah and our Islamic heritage.
Often, when you come across a book about Hajj and Ummrah it will fall into one of two categories. Either it will be very factual, listing what is fard and sunnah etc., but may be a little “dry”. Alternatively, you may find a story book which, although it is very pleasant to read, it provides little information to teach the children from.
This book falls somewhere between the two. Children are captivated by the emotive story-line that runs thoroughout, whilst also learning from the wealth of information it offers about the pilgrimages and the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (saw).
If you are interested in purchasing this book for your family, it is available from Amazon (USA) Amazon(UK) and Wordery.com
I have been aware for sometime that mainstream bath products contain potentially harmful ingredients. Using natural and/or organic products on my children puts my mind at ease.
What a delight it was to be introduced to Tiny Twinkle Products on Instagram who produce Organic, Natural and HALAL bath products for children.
The products contain only natural ingredients, and gentle on my children’s skin. They are all labelled with the “halal” sign, and (very importantly…) they smell incredible!!!
The products in their range retail between £7.50-£18.
The business is run by a Ruhana, a primary school teacher and new mum. When I asked her to tell me a little about herself and why she started her business, she said:
“About a year ago I found out I was pregnant. This was a happy and overwhelming experience as I would become a mother for the first time. During my pregnancy I started making a list of what I’d need to get for my new arrival. I asked other mothers about their recommendations. I then heard about Johnsons baby products having cancer related chemicals and thought I don’t want to put chemical based products on my baby. So I started researching. I first made my own nappy balm with all natural organic ingredients. After my daughter was born I started using this on her, and noticed that she got no nappy rash at all. My husband was also impressed and told me to start a business selling organic baby products. Some friends and family had asked about these products as there was a gap in the market for purely organic halal baby products, so I started creating my own brand called ‘Tiny Twinkle’. Alhamdulillah, since starting, the response has been amazing. ”
If you are looking a range of halal, natural bath products for kids, I would recommend Tiny Twinkle.
For more information about their range, and to place an order, visit them on Instagramand Facebook.
It’s Giveway time!!!
This January I am so happy to be able to share SIX of my favourites with one of you! It’s MASSIVE!!!
I will be giving away:
– I’m So Angry by Sarah Javed – (RRP: £5.99)
– Young Adventure in Makkah – (RRP: £10.05)
– 1 Islamic Behaviour Chart – (RRP: 4.99)
– 3 Products from Tiny Twinkle (including the Nappy Balm, Mild Shampoo and Whipped Lotion) – (RRP: £29.50)
The January 2017 Favourites Giveaway will run from Friday 27th January at 12AM, until Friday 3rd February at 12AM GMT.
The giveaway is open Internationally.
All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.
Please aware that if entering from overseas, you may be liable to pay customs tax (or the equivalent), so please check beforehand.
You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (click HERE is you would like to know more about Rafflecopter).
I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email.
The winner has 24 hours to respond, otherwise I will have to select another winner.
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!
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
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!
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.
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
am as guilty as you, perhaps even more guilty, of forgetting my Lord and
busying myself too much with my ‘life.’
Do you like the idea of homeschooling, but are not sure what
it will entail? What does home education really mean in a practical real life
situation? How do I know if it will be right for us?
This article will highlight some of the pros and cons of
homeschooling so you can make an informed decision.
You will need to decide personally how important each
positive or negative is to you. This will depend on your character, your
situation and your child. Homeschooling is a fantastic option, but it is not
for everyone. I hope this article helps you to decide if it is for you.
Home education gives you almost complete control over WHAT
your child is learning and HOW they are learning it. It also means parents can control what your child is exposed to: friends, books, music, peer
pressure, bullying, religious teaching to name a few.
Whilst there is some truth in the argument that children
need to learn the social skills to deal with these negative things, there is a lot of
harm that can be done to a child, particularly to his character, when exposed
to them on a daily basis.
Homeschooling allows you to schedule school around you family’s needs, and not schedule the
family needs around school.
For us this means we rarely do formal school on a Friday as it is
our Sabbath. Instead, that time is spent reading Islamic children’s books,
doing an Islamic craft, or something like that. When they are older, we will use that time to go to the mosque for Jummah too insha’Allah.
As a home educator, you have complete flexibility over what
you are teaching you child. You can add in subject that they wouldn’t be
learning at school (e.g. Arabic) and disregard those subjects you find
inappropriate (e.g. sex education).
If the curriculum you buy is not working
for your child, you can switch to another one in the middle of the year. Or if
he is not understanding a concept well, you can go back and revisit it. If your
child is gifted in a topic, you can provide her with more challenging material
that she would not get at school.
Home schooling also give children the opportunity to pursue
their talents that would otherwise be difficult if they were at school 6-8
hours a day. If you child is a talented tennis player, you can fit his school
work in around his sports lessons. The same can be said for any talent or
interest that your kid may have.
You can book holidays in ‘term-time’ and benefit from
cheaper rates! You can stop and start school whenever you need to, as long as
your child learning is not interrupted too much. For example, over Ramadan, we
do very little formal schooling, but will make up for lost time over the
Better exam results
It has been shown in studies in the US that children who are
home educated performed better on standardized testing, than those in
mainstream education .
One reason for this is you are providing you child with
one-to-one tuition for every subject, every day, rather than sharing the
attention of the teacher with thirty-five other kids. You will be tailoring the
way to teach each subject to the unique way your child learns. You will be
pushing him when he finds something easy, and going back when a concept is not
understood. So its hardly surprising really that home-educated kids are doing
Spending all that time together, and sharing all those
memories inevitably brings a family closer together, especially the bond
No school runs!
I know this sounds silly, but listen!
Imagine allowing your children to wake up whenever they
naturally get up, having a relaxed breakfast, and not having to ‘rush rush
rush’ to get everyone ready and out the door! No waiting in traffic, no
stressing about uniforms, or thinking about packed lunches, washing sports
kits, remembering book bags or signing forms. Instead mornings are just…EASY!
This is the big one that everyone fears! Instead of handing
over the responsibility for your child’s education to a group of strangers, YOU
are completely responsible. If they don’t do well academically or personally, the responsibility is on you.
Personally, I think even if your child was at school, you
are still entirely responsible. The day you had your baby, the day Allah
entrusted that soul into your care, was when you became responsible and
accountable for the education of your child.
Homeschooling your children will almost always require one
parent to put their career on hold. Therefore is usually means that home
educating families have to live off one-income alone.
Since homeschooling is almost completely unheard of in the
UK, most people are either confused or shocked when you say that the kids are
homeschooled. Most will make the assumption that you are depriving your kids in
But sometimes people will surprise you with positive
comments like, ‘Aren’t your kids lucky!’ Or ‘I wish we’d thought of that!’
The kids are ALWAYS
Of course, most of the time, I view this are a good thing. I
love their company. Homeschooling would be a very difficult thing if I did not.
But there are days, that all mums go through, when you just ‘need a break.’ But
when you homeschool, there is no break from the kids…..EVER!
There are times when it can be emotionally very draining, and it is not uncommon for mum’s to suffer from ‘burnout’ if they don’t take steps to avoid it.
Your house will never
So if the kids are always home, then it follows that it will
always be a mess! That, in addition to the fact that, you will have to find
space for all the extra books, science experiments, art supplies, and all other
manner of ‘educational resources’ that will inevitably end up littering every
available surface. Your home will never be a show home, but it will be filled
with memories that are (in my opinion) worth so much more.
Keep kids active
It will be your responsibility to make sure the kids stay
fit and healthy. At school children do sports at least three times a week and
run around in breaks etc. If they are not attending school, you need to find
ways to keep them active. Choose something that your child enjoys. Don’t force
them to do a sport they dislike, just because their peers at school are doing
it. Think outside the box. Hiking, skating, rock climbing are just as good
forms of exercise as any organised sport.
Even if you have a very relaxed take on home education, you
will still need to have some level of organisation and planning. Personally, I
like to have the year planned out in general terms, and then plan in detail just
one month ahead of time.
Planning out what subjects you will cover and how you will
‘teach’ these subjects does not need to be complicated. For those overwhelmed
by all the choices, or concerned that they won’t cover ‘everything they need
to,’ should consider a boxed curriculum. These are more expensive, but contain
all the texts you need for every subject, all the worksheets and even a
timetable to follow. There are numerous websites and books available, most from
USA, that outline what should be covered and when. I will cover my recommendations
the next post in the series.
You have to ‘find’
friends/ social opportunities
If you yourself are very shy or suffer with social anxiety,
this may find this aspect of homeschooling difficult. You will need to ‘get out
there’ to give your children opportunities to meet new people and make friends.
But consider this negative point to also be a positive one.
You can encourage friendships for your child that you feel may benefit him, and
limit friendships with kids who might be a ‘bad influence.’ If done well and
with thought, your child will know how to interact comfortably with children of
all ages, races and different backgrounds to their own. Something that no
school can offer.
Homeschooling can be more expensive than sending you child
to school. You will need to buy things that ordinarily he would get for free at
However, there are curriculum choices for every budget and
if you spend wisely, it doesn’t need to break the bank. Just remember that
peer-pressure itself can be very expensive and think of all the money you’ll be
saving by not having to buy the lastest toy, shoes, clothes, video game or
mobile phone for your child. Or going to every classmate’s birthday party,
class Christmas presents and other school events.
There are so many free resources online, as well as
homeschooling communities that sell things second-hand once their child has
finished with them. So don’t be put off by the cost of homeeducation, it can be
done to within your budget.
You may be asked for a home visit from an LEA official or
school nurse, or be asked to provide some kind of written information. I would
recommend dealing with these authorities with a touch of caution, and do your
research on what information you need to give them by law, and what you do not.
If you decide to put your child into school at a later date,
you may find it difficult to get them a place in the ‘best’ schools.
You also need to consider University. Universities in the UK
do accept homeschooled kids, but it will require you as a parent, to correspond
directly with the university early on, to find out what records need to be kept
and what other requirements they may have. Like with all things in homeshooling,
the responsibility is with you and it just requires a little more planning. You
may want to consider sending you kid to a university in the United States, where
colleges are more familiar with home education and some actually now prefer
home educated students .
So now you’ve heard the truth. You know the main advantages
and disadvantages of homeschooling and I hope this helps you to make a decision
on whether to home educate your child.