I have gotten a few requests as to my well-being because I haven’t posted in quite a while.* InshaAllah that will be changing for it is my intention to post weekly at a minimum now. One reason i shall be more consistent is because…..drum roll please…..i am starting all over again homeschooling my youngest child, my son. He is six years old and starting “first grade”.
From now on i will use “ds” standing for dear son when referring to him. I apologise for being gone so long but i hope to make up for it by continuing to record, describe and document our progress starting with first grade and fifth/sixth grade for my dd using the steps laid out in The Well Trained Mind. InshaAllah also we’ll be using First Language Lessons, Story of the World, Writing with Ease and various books I’ve collected in twenty years all while implementing Islam and the sunnah, the example of Prophet Muhammad, salla lahu alahi wa salam. Tarbiyyah is the Arabic word for bringing up and self improvement. In particular that of raising up a child, instilling in him knowledge, more importantly the correct knowledge and skills to succeed in this life and the hereafter; the dunya and akhirah.
The goal of this blog is to chronicle how i use the Well Trained Mind and other publications while substituting or supplementing Islamic lessons and resources. For instance, in First Language Lessons level 1&2 there are many short stories and passages such as Aesop’s fables or poems to read to the child or the child has to narrate or copy. i replace some of these with short islamic poems or famous Islamic cultural stories. i may recommend or suggest appropriate books, other avenues or explanations such as when covering Homer’s the Odyssey or Iliad or Greek mythology.
I will give an example of substitutions i use Islamically with The Well Trained Mind. In laying the basis for your child, pre-school to about grade 4, memorization, narration, copying and dictation are emphasized roughly in that order, as their brain and skills develop. Summarizing is to come later when the child is able. We started following the Well Trained Mind when my daughter was about seven. When the child can write without difficulty, it suggested copying from great writer’s books or essays that have complex sentences, the Bible, or other publications. When dd was seven or eight, following the WTM directions i had her copy from the Noble Quran. It had a lot of long, advanced words because of the depth of Arabic translated to English and that edition used some plain English and some old English. I had her copy ayaat on the creation of the universe and Adam and depending on the English translation of the Quran, there can be some complex sentence structures! I also had her copy passages from The History of Civilization: The Age of Faith, volume IV by Will Durant. In the future for both elementary (Parrot stage) and middle(Logic) on this blog i will illustrate and record how I blend Islamic ideals and lessons with The Well Trained Mind and other sources. This is my goal inshAllah.
The reason for the title of my post is there have been MANY changes in our lives and that was why I have been absent from blogging. We lost a family member and moved twice but what i was most saddened about were the decisions i had to make. One hard decision i came to was sending my daughter, then age ten, to school. This was her choice and she had made is very difficult to teach her for a long time. At the time, she was the main child I was homeschooling and wanting to use the Classical Method with and her brother was barely starting to read so I didn’t feel like i had anything to blog about on THIS subject anyway, haha.
It is very important when learning, that you have a positive attitude. Despite my efforts and i am not perfect by any means, dd (dear daughter) refused to allow me to teach her anymore; becoming sullen, negative and impossible to please. I finally concluded that not only was she not learning, that the extent i wanted her to learn was not currently important to her as well as she was just plain unhappy. I know what an unhappy childhood is like and i didn’t want her to feel that way nor did i want her to remember her childhood as being sad or angry when those years are supposed to be magical and imaginative. Anyhow, we had some success using Texas Virtual Academy, a public charter school online that uses the k12 curriculum. There are many things i like about k12 and many advantages but i will talk about that later.
Eventually with the k12 Texas curriculum she became unresponsive and was falling behind in Math but mainly just did not want to learn the extent of the material, in particular, Texas History. I know I detested Texas History when i was in school. I found out later that Texas is one of the few states that requires you learn about…your home state. lol. I realized later also, when we kind of accidentally fell into unschooling that she just was not ready to get certain aspects of the Arithmetic at her grade level. After quitting TXVA, i decided that since her reading level was eight grade (since 3rd but then she was in 5th) she had a fantastic vocabulary and good grasp of spelling and no interest in History of any sort, that we would focus on Math and i would let her read books and novels the rest of the time. She is an avid reader and adores it, like me. Science was covered by hiking, bike riding to pond, nature and woods by our house and me talking about it constantly 😉 This seemed to work for a while but most importantly she finally memorized her multiplication, managed long division, got ‘grade level’. I accomplished what 3 schools had not, al hamdulilah. Finally though, she got burned out with being home and wanted to go to school everyday with other kids. She purely wanted to be social, she had no other reason for wanting to go to school as she was able to read all she wanted and learn anything at home.
I chose a well-respected, academically rigorous college prep charter school. They did not even have sports and PE only three times a week. One advantage to her going there was an assignment to write a novel in English. I was really impressed with her ideas and ingenuity and the final product of the book. However, her attitude about going to school changed when a pretest determined she would fail the math part of the TAKS and they were requiring her to attend Saturday tutoring till noon and after school that wouldn’t allow her home until five pm. My daughter is very headstrong. She was reluctant to leave, she liked the teachers and friends, non-Muslim girls who she knew were a good influence and even young Muslimahs who wore hijaab (scarf) but when they explained to her tutoring was mandatory, her mind was made up to leave.
I know many would say that I should have made her stick it out but truthfully I don’t believe children should be at school that long nor should it engulf their lives unless their homelife is abusive. I also believe that family time and bonding is just as important as an education, which you will eventually get anyway. This i was starting to realize after homeschool conferences and meeting many unschoolers. Except for learning disabilities and other issues, most children learn to read on their own and pick up most life skills they need without formal or institutional instruction. *Gasp* i know the contradiction of saying this on a WTM and classical schooling blog but there is no reason we shouldn’t strive for excellence within ourselves or our children when it comes to learning. Again, while it is possible to achieve a minimum or satisfactory level of education without systematic instruction from a parent or school, why not put extra effort to truly master or reach ones’s highest potential in different subjects and areas? I believe the way of following the Trivium is sound but i don’t believe in every child or student having to keep up with a set of by grade “standards” or that a child who learned to read by age three has an advantage or will most certainly surpass a child who doesn’t read till age ten. I have seen many delayed readers even as late as twelve increase their proficiency exponentially, like the speed of light!
So, after online school and attending a charter school, it was back home again but there was little time before Summer break began. I am against my daughter being in school the coming year but it is what she wants. In the meantime, i am still starting logic with her and going over creation of the universe, Adam, the Prophets and Ancient History in order as much as I know. There is a timeline in the Well Trained Mind with Abraham and Moses listed, of course an estimate, a ‘guess’. We know that age of the Earth according to the Bible does not agree with Science but in the Quran there is total agreement with Astronomy, Anatomy, Biology, meteorology, Physiology and more. I swear, i was not trying to list that alphabetically it just came out that way! lol
*Sigh* Since last post we have had many new wonders: new adventures; mainly with pets, bugs and nature, a new state, Georgia, new house, almost a new life. My son is really starting to ask questions and love learning. Each day i marvel at the things i can teach him. I just wish he would stay still and not be so loud! Starting over again when i have used the WTM in the past with dd, i have some experience and a new perspective. I am more relaxed and confident. There is no rush. We are enjoying the process not just heading for the finish line. We are living in the glory and miracle of the moment, not focusing on the end result. There are so many things God has shown us, for us to contemplate, explore and understand. I think before homeschooling my first, i may have missed some of the moments. Last year and now I don’t think we are missing those moments as much. Spotting a single sun beam shining through the clouds in the distance, marveling at the huge spider’s web reaching three feet across the top of our balcony, watched still and quiet, barely breathing as we peered through the blinds at the male cardinal eating breadcrumbs from our porch and laughing when the very tall road runner smacked into our back door, confused and still trying to come through while a lizard hung from his mouth.
Homeschooling my son now full time and my daughter after school, weekends and vacations, i can’t wait to embark on this journey of learning again and i hope to take you all with me.
*p.s. THANK YOU :p