Archive for the ‘getting started’ Category

…and a new start
homeschool last year

An Important distinction I made recently and lesson learned was to put Aqeedah and Quran first, academics second. I don’t just mean schedule-wise like lessons on religion first or Quranic memorization in the morning before academic subjects are covered I mean philosophically, practically and mentally first. Of course with learning everything is connected and can be experienced together but that’s a whole ‘nother post;)

Days I awake alert, pray, and began the day cheerfully reviewing our lesson plans and my to do list, the day goes smoothly, is productive and I accomplish the goals i set for myself and my children’s learning or activities for that day.

I realized for quite a while now those days are infrequent and in the past. Lately I felt little was accomplished and that our whole household was dragging through the day, starting later and later, not getting into the swing of things till the afternoon. I became frustrated meals were no longer on time or in a reasonable period (breakfast before 11, lunch before 3) I was annoyed their chores weren’t done, I had return to nagging and criticizing and by ‘asr, only a couple lessons had been finished.

That overwhelmed feeling became worse and worse: the house wasn’t the way I wanted it, the kids were starting the day too late, we weren’t getting enough done, in my opinion. And no, I’m not going to say the common revelation that unschoolers have was that we needed to slow down, de-school, have less schedule or structure or enjoy nature. Thank God, I have realized a lot of these and my children have shown me the error of my way that my idealized picture of a schoolroom complete with textbooks, desks and posters replicated in our house did not appeal to them nor yield much result. I mean, they go in there to get supplies or grab a book and read on the small, comfy IKEA couch or perhaps even play with our cockatiel but sitting at the antique desk I bought and letting me “teach” them…..no.

The word that comes to my mind is liberation. Once I was able to ‘let go’ of all the common, erroneous ideas of education and release my faulty way of thinking, my children and I were so much happier. Really, I am not trying to copy the word of the title from one of the most appreciated  and well written books in the history of education*…it is just the perfect word. To know something is to know it’s opposite and the opposite of liberation would be in my mind, slavery.

My mind was held captive to the idea that learning must be represented as a schoolroom in my house and that was the only way my children would learn. Silly, because that was not the way i was raised but it was how i was ‘schooled’.

Back to my original point, realizing the tone in our home had shifted from following interests, open discussions, and harmony to one of drudgery. That nice flow and balance we had that comes when you’re free to learn or pursue what you want, when you want, while still setting goals was gone.  Being carefree and the lightness in our chests but still feeling our time was well spent, meaningful…the positive charge exiting in our home was absent.

So I decided to forget worrying about the lesson plan and announced we would start the day by reading or memorizing Quran. It made a difference immediately. It wasn’t just in the kids attitudes and what they finished, it was MY mentality and demeanor changed. After all, the feeling in the home usually reflects the mom. I mean, the husband can set the tone and he is the leader but the mother is the the love, the example and the teacher.

What a relief! It’s not that I took charge and we got the house in order, or that our prayers were on time, but that I felt confident that if I put God first, everything would be all right. It goes without saying of course, the importance of fajr prayer offered at it’s prescribed time.
Once I began having them work on their surah memorization or having a short halaqa discussion, I stopped feeling that weight becoming heavier throughout the day; that familiar, nagging worry ceased. I knew if we began our school day right, in worship and remembrance of Him, subhana wa ta’ala, my children would learn whatever academics essential for their future.

When I experienced that certainty, that comfort, I relaxed, the scowl on my face replaced by a smile, and the light-heartedness returned. I rediscovered just the simple joy of being with my kids. Once again i felt the liberation.
Instead of dragging through the day, with that feeling of defeat by dinnertime, I was relishing each moment with my kids. New thoughts, more reflections, revelations how history, science and current news were all connected and explained through Quran and hadeeth, were easily discovered and shared among us. maa shaa Allah. There was less arguing, more play and camaraderie, and more wonder in the world around us.

I mentioned to my teenage daughter what a pleasure she was to be around lately “I’m glad you noticed,” she retorted. I didn’t take offense, in fact the opposite. I could tell by her tone she appreciated my words but was hurt. I had betrayed her. After the long journey of discovery and realization that culminated in allowing her the freedom to learn on her own I had backtracked and returned to ‘do this, do that’… ‘why haven’t you…..

I do believe children should obey but I also believe adults should apologize to children when they are in the wrong and I try to do that. My wrong had been returning to the negative, hostile mom from the past instead of the positive, encouraging, and relaxed one as I was after my ‘enlightenment’. Instead of my usual need to make this into a lesson, with a minimum statement (lecture) responding to her, “I’m glad you noticed” I remained silent and just ‘took it’. I think that meant more to her than any admittance or promises I could have made. and Allah knows best.

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When i’m interested in anything, i research by reading a book on it or reading online. Usually, I read MANY books, other people’s opinions, experiences and reviews, and anything i can get my hands on, so to speak.

I have always been interested in homeschooling. However, what drove me to do it full-time in the beginning was not teaching my own children at home, but a friend’s. She had three boys whose father did not want them in school but she herself could not teach them. I read many books on home education, on many topics. I joined homeschool organizations, online groups, went to seminars on teaching reading and spelling, as well as attending homeschool book fairs and conferences. However, one of the most helpful pieces of advice I got was from a book on homeschooling. It seemed so simple and obvious, yet i had never really clarified it myself: What were my personal goals for home educating? 

I think everyone knows the reasons why they don’t want their children in public or private school, or DO want them home educated, most even have a list of all the benefits of homeschooling in their mind. But i had yet to really write down the goals for my children’s education. While these are different for everyone, you cannot really work toward anything without a mission plan and a final goal in mind. In Islam, this is known as our niyyat, or intention.

These are the goals for my children’s education:

1. To develop a love of ilm (knowledge) and become lifelong learners.

2. To be literate and able to communicate well through speech and writing, in Arabic and English with knowledge of Latin and Greek roots. To memorize part if not all of the Quran in Arabic, as well as du’a and hadeeth. 

3. To learn life skills, such as computer literacy, cooking, nutrition, health, transportation, hobbies and Arithmetic.

4. To discover their interests, passions, and abilities using them to better themselves and be contributions to society.

5. To know their Creator, Allah, to know the correct Aqeedah, to learn and practice their deen Islam, and all that it requires from manners and good character to fiqh and the prayer.

The goal for our education as an adult or teaching our children is an education that enables us to live in this world (dunya) while preparing us for the hereafter(akhirah). We ask Allah to give us beneficial ilm and protect us from that which does not benefit and give us success in this life and the next, Ameen.  

Now, while the goals for raising and educating children are different for everyone, for Muslims who follow the Quran and Sunnah, it should all have the same basic fundamentals. It could be summed up in one statement, a verse from our Lord:

And I (Allah) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship me (Alone).(Al Quran 51:56)

If I were to teach anyone the essence of our belief, I would use these two hadeeth, which every Muslim should know.

Both of these are collected in the famous An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadeeth, hadeeth number 2 and 3:

On the authority of Omar, who said, ” One day while we were sitting with the messenger of Allah there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the prophet. Resting his knees against his and placing the palms of his hands on his thighs, he said: “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam”. The messenger of Allah said: “Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, to perform the prayers, to pay the zakat, to fast in Ramadhan, and to make the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so.”  He said:”You have spoken rightly”, and we were amazed at him asking him and saying that he had spoken rightly. He said: “Then tell me about Imaan “He said:”It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and to believe in divine destiny, both the good and the evil thereof.” He said:”You have spoken rightly”. He said: ” Then tell me about Ihsan”   He said: “It is to worship Allah as though you are seeing Him, and while you see Him not yet truly He sees you”. He said: “Then tell me about the Hour”. He said: “The one questioned about it knows no better than the questioner.” He said: “Then tell me about its signs.” He said: “That the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress and that you will see the barefooted, naked, destitute herdsman competing in constructing lofty buildings.” Then he took himself off and I stayed for a time. Then he said: “O Omar, do you know who the questioner was?” I said: “Allah and His messenger know best”. He said: “He was (the angel) Jebreel (Gabriel), who came to you to teach you your religion”    related by Muslim

On the authority of Ibn Omar, the son of Omar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with both, who said : I heard the messenger of Allah say :

“Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, performing the prayers, paying the zakat, making the pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.”  related by Bukhari and Muslim

The first hadeeth actually includes the second, however, the first statement after, “Tell me about Islam” is considered the five pillars of Islam and the second, “Tell me about Imaan” is our Aqeedah. These are the six articles of faith.

In addition to memorizing Quran, these two hadeeth should be a top priority for teaching your child because these are the fundamentals of our Belief. 

For my children, I asked them, “What is Imaan?” The response : To believe in Allah, His books, His Angels, His messengers, the Day of Judgement and Qadr. Then i asked them, “What is Islam?” and they answered accordingly.

In addition to the Shahada, these two hadeeth were the very first pieces of ilm I taught my children. I remember having dd memorize this when she was three, she easily memorized it. This is why we take advantage of the parrot stage, when they memorize everything easily and soak it up. When they are older, they will start to understand and put it together.

What is most important in teaching my children are not my feelings or ideas but that which Allah, subhanna wa ta’ala holds me responsible for Himself, and this is stated in His Book. As a Muslim, it is my responsibility to teach my children about their Lord and the responsibilities to Him as His servant. All other knowledge is secondary. There are many things I wish my children to learn but knowledge of our Creator is the priority and I will be asked if I fulfilled my task on the day of Judgement. May Allah increase me in knowledge and grant me patience.

Lastly, actions are by intention so it is important to purify your intentions in regards to the education you hope to give to your child. Do you want your child to excel because you didn’t, or to show him off? Do you want him to memorize the Quran so people will know he is Hafeez? Do you want your child to become a doctor because of pressure from your family or because it’s common? What are your personal reasons for what you want him to learn and do with his life? Evaluate your goals and reasons and make sure they are purely for the pleasure of Allah. This is advice to myself as well!


Say: Lo! my worship and my sacrifice and my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the Worlds. He hath no partner. This am I commanded, and I am first of those who surrender (unto Him). (Al Quran 6:162-3)

May Allah forgive me if i said anything wrong He is perfect and the mistakes are from me.

Please correct any mistakes by me with comments. Added ideas or suggestions are welcome. May Allah guide us to the straight path.

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When you have a child, you naturally begin teaching them even before they begin talking or walking. In the medieval past, the Trivium was taught as mainly three subjects: grammar, logic and rhetoric but perhaps the reason the classical method has experienced a revival is because it transcends all time and people because, it roughly corresponds with the progressing development of the child’s brain and skills. Another reason i feel Classical education has become popular is because our modern school system in America sucks, for lack of a better word. Ok, i can use other words, many longer 😉 A beautiful short video illustrating why children fail in school: http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/animalschool/animalschool.swf

 I won’t even delve into problems with schools but i will list three main issues i have with government-funded schools. Children are not instructed in a way that makes them lifelong learners or encourages thinking but are simply taught to get the right answer and sometimes that answer isn’t even correct according to others but it is to the textbook publishers. Education here is largely approached as one- size- fits- all where individual talents are not recognized or developed and weaker areas are ignored while grades are given when the child doesn’t truly understand the subject or content. The grade earned is not accurate compared to what the child learned. In other words, there is no mastery only satisfactory or sufficient enough to go on to the next concept or grade while in reality there are many “holes” and no true understanding of the subject. Finally, values standards and morals are no longer expected or being taught in schools. I am not talking about religion, i am talking about a child learning they are not the center of the universe and how to behave and interact with others. i learned teaching dd, the latter is defined as a course in “citizenship” and was required as part of the curricula in Texas and some other states.

Citizenship is loosely taught in kindergarten as “Social Studies”. You know that book, All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten, yeah values that’s what i mean. In Islam we call it Adaab and Akhlaq: manners and character. Our public schools have no real character development.

 I know some would say that character development and teaching values is the parents job, but there needs to be consistency between school and home for the child to excel. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s this wasn’t a problem because school teachers had most of the same attitudes and values the parents did. I’m not staying ALL of their ideas were good* but accountability for your actions and academic excellence was emphasized. With modern society and largely the breakup of the family, babies and small children are away from their home. Children are away from their mothers in daycare or preschool and this has created students who are unattached, uncompassionate, with behavioral problems as well as speech, reading and math delays. It is not only the breakup of the family or mothers working but the lack of values and morals in society now in general. The new generations motto” ITS ALL ABOUT ME”.

According to the WTM, the first stage is preschool or first grade till about fourth grade. Logic begins at either fifth or sixth grade depending on the student’s abilities and is generally considered now to be “middle school”, six through eighth grade. Some schools start “middle school” at fifth grade. The logic stage begins to ask how and why, connecting and understanding what they learned or memorized in the grammar stage. Rhetoric begins when the student uses all the information they have learned from the grammar and logic stage to express what they have learned through writing, speaking and even debate. Being able to communicate throughly, eloquently and ready for college level work is the goal of the Rhetoric stage. For more information about the Trivium stages and classical method read an excerpt from The Well Trained Mind here http://highereducation-mama4x.blogspot.com/p/wtm.html Also i enjoyed reading her blog, it’s a good overview the WTM for those who haven’t read the book or for beginners.

Any psychologist or parent will tell you that in the beginning years the child copies by word and action whatever he/she sees. This is the parrot stage, the “grammar” stage in the Trivium. When the child grows older, about age nine or ten they start to make connections, compartmentalize and rationalize the information they have learned. They become a thinking being. I know that in Judaism the age of understanding and becoming responsible for one’s actions is twelve or thirteen, which is based on the Torah or Old Testament. Muslims are told in the Quran at age ten the child must start praying. In Islam it is puberty around the age of ten the child is accountable for their actions but it depends on the level of mental maturity and physical development. Recently I found out age fifteen is the latest age for accountability if no other signs of puberty are present. i will look up the scholar that said this.

I have three children. My daughter, my first baby, is now eighteen. She will be starting college soon and wanted to stay in Texas when we moved out of state.  My other girl dear daughter age eleven,(dd) is now starting uncharted waters: the middle stage of the Trivium, the logic stage. The baby of the family my son, (ds) is considered in first grade now and he is six years old but will be seven after September. i am starting over again using the WTM but he has memorized many chapters of the Quran in Arabic and some dua between age three and six, as well as beginning reading and math. He has been begging me to let him lead the prayer but i said no not until he is seven but i realized he is already seven because we follow the lunar calender. The lunar calender is shorter by about two weeks I think, so technically he is seven. Muslims are commanded to have their children pray at age ten so it is important to remember at age nine they may already be ten thus it is obligatory for them to make salat.  

I enrolled my son in an online school in our state that uses the k12 curriculum. Check it out with sample lessons at www.k12.com I don’t recommend it for everybody because it is highly accountable and time-consuming. When i taught my dd with it in Texas, we spend at least five to six hours a day on instruction. K12 is designed for the first grades until grade four or so to be dependant on the parent while after fourth and fifth when the child’s computer skills are sharp and reading is easy they are supposed to be more independently learning. By high school the student is expected to be fully independent, while only coming to the parent for a few questions or to keep track of progress, which is easily done online. Dd is ONLY an independent reader, everything else she has to be nudged or nagged, lol. Eventually, the Texas k12 program was like pulling teeth but she did love online classes which they held for math and other subjects especially for kids needing help. If you could not attend at that time, you could watch a recorded class later, it was really neat.

Anyway, k12 can be good for some home educators but it’s not for everybody, it’s very thorough and covers subjects and topics you may not want to, or want to go a different route, or you may not agree with their interpretation. You also have to move at the class pace and can fall behind if the child doesn’t understand or wants to delve deeper.

I did feel World History was pretty un-biased and i liked the approach. unfortunately dd does not enjoy History the way I do but i’m gettin her there 😉 I absolutely LOVED the way k12 teaches spelling. More on that later.

K12 divides Language Arts into four areas: Grammar, Writing, Spelling and Reading (Literature). Of course, k12 Reading is the same as schools: snippets of great folktales and books with comprehension questions and other activities afterward, something I don’t like and the authors of The Well Trained Mind are against. Even as a child i preferred to read novels and talk about it in class verses excerpts and tedious worksheets. Dd starting loosing her luster and her favorite subject became a chore. Later, i will write a post about their reading list as well as their approach to spelling, similar to a seminar I attended on teaching spelling.

Years ago, i also discovered Sequential Spelling another awesome, common sense approach to spelling. It is particularly succesful with dyslexic children and adults or others with learning disabilities. For more info, visit  http://www.avko.org/sequentialspelling.html

In addition to phonics, i am a fan of the most common words in the English language or the Dolch site words because they appear most frequently in what we read and they do not follow typical rules, so the child cannot sound them out. If the child can master these, it would be a great benefit to their skill and speed in reading. There are many lists and sites online with the Dolch list or you can search most common words English language. I have some of my favorites saved on a disk, i will add that later. Here is a free sample from the sequential spelling site of 220 Dolch words check it out, it’s really neat how they cover them:  http://www.avko.org/Samples/650/650%202.16.50-90.pdf

So, we are waiting for ds’s first grade k12 curriculum to arrive. In the meantime, I helped him increase his reading and arithmetic. I also started him with the Ancients for History. Currently he is able to read short vowel words, most common sight words and words with silent ‘e’. Even though he was nowhere near his sisters verbal skills age one and up, suddenly he started making logical connections they never did at his age. While his sisters always exceeded what was in What to Expect the First Year guidelines, he was speech delayed and in all other areas from birth to almost three AT LEVEL or average. I felt bad then because they were so advanced at each stage compared to him I thought he wouldn’t be as bright as his sisters. I was surprised when he started making statements that were far beyond a child’s comprehension at his age and making logical connections. I wish i could remember one he made before. The other day when I reviewed the multiplication tables with dd, he shouted out the answer not because he memorized it but because he counted it in his head, something his sister was never able to grasp at age six! We tested him several times and even dd was surprised and proud of him. I will take that over her being annoyed at him anytime!

I am testing and recognizing his strengths so I can further develop his strengths while increasing his abilities in weaker areas. I feel so many children’s strengths are not recognized or fully developed whether artistic, linguistic, mathematically or in humanities. I wasn’t trying to rhyme i swear sometimes my thoughts come out like that. We started the first couple lessons in First Language lessons, which he almost immediately memorized after i repeated the definition of a noun and grew restless after five minutes. Actually, i’m sure I have told him what a noun is and that’s why he was impatient.lol. I read online the first book, levels one and two is very repetitive while the second, levels three and four speeds up considerably. This is true so with dd i had skipped ahead once she understood the lesson. With my son, it is even more important to move on once he ‘gets it’ because he grows bored and likes to be active. Although none would describe his sister as introverted, she can read for hours. i hope he can do this one day!

I meant to start this post with what i did so far with ds and dd. Ds, beginning the grammar stage, new for him, again for me and logic with dd but my thoughts and writing grew too long so i will write a separate post and continue an overview of what we did in the next  post, God willing. 

*Such as, children should be seen and not heard

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dd reading to her brother (ds)

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


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Ok. I don’t normally do this or believe in using other people’s articles, but I HAD to repost this and the only reason besides it has the PERFECT title and from the author’s words it’s like she’s my twin, is because it has been posted a few times, is easily found and I providing the original link. uhh…did ya get that? it’s 4 o clock in the morning for me. :0  Lisa Russell is a writer and educator and has her own blog at  http://lisarussell.org/blog/    God willing I will be posting two more helpful posts shortly as well as further explanation and example of how we build and sustain Islamic knowledge with the Classical Method, WTM, even K12, as well as through teaching Social Studies and Spelling. I am really excited how DD has been coming along with our new curriculum and how easily I am connecting and supplementing it with a comprehensive base of Islamic History, Seerah, Aqeedah, and Adaab. All praise is due to God. What we have been doing is truly Tarbiyyah as well as one form of “unschooling” at it’s best.

posted May 5, 2009 6:16 PM by Michelle Kretzschmar SAHERO

 No Thank You, We Don’t Believe in Socialization

By Lisa Russel ©2000 Lisa Russell Used with Permission

 I can’t believe I am writing an article about socialization, the word makes my skin crawl. As homeschoolers, we are often accosted by people who assume that since we’re homeschooling, our kids won’t be “socialized.” The word has become such a catch phrase that it has entirely lost any meaning. The first time I heard the word, I was attending a Catholic day school as a first grader. Having been a “reader” for almost 2 years, I found the phonics and reading lessons to be incredibly boring. Luckily the girl behind me felt the same way, and when we were done with our silly little worksheets, we would chat back and forth. I’ve never known two 6 yr. olds who could maintain a quiet conversation, so naturally a ruler-carrying nun interrupted us with a few strong raps on our desk. We were both asked to stay in at recess, and sit quietly in our desks for the entire 25 minutes, because “We are not here to socialize, young ladies.” Those words were repeated over and over throughout my education, by just about every teacher I’ve ever had. If we’re not there to socialize, then why were we there? I learned to read at home. If I finished my work early (which I always did,) could I have gone home? If I were already familiar with the subject matter, would I have been excused from class that day? If schools weren’t made for socializing, then why on earth would anyone assume that homeschoolers were missing out? As a society full of people whose childhood’s were spent waiting anxiously for recess time, and trying desperately to “socialize” with the kids in class; It is often difficult for people to have an image of a child whose social life is NOT based on school buddies. Do you ever remember sitting in class, and wanting desperately to speak to your friend? It’s kind of hard to concentrate on the lessons when you’re bouncing around trying not to talk. Have you ever had a teacher who rearranged the seats every now and then, to prevent talking, splitting up friends and “talking corners.” Were you ever caught passing notes in class? Now–flash forward to “real life.” Imagine the following scenes: Your employer is auditing the Inter-Office Email system and comes across a personal note between you and a coworker. You are required to stand at the podium in the next sales meeting to read it aloud to your coworkers. The Police knock on your door, and announce that because you and your neighbor have gotten so close, they’re separating you. You must move your home and your belongings to the other side of town, and you may only meet at public places on weekends. You’re sitting at a booth waiting for a coworker to arrive for a scheduled lunch date. Suddenly a member of upper management sits down across from you and demands your credit cards. When your friend arrives, you just order water and claim you’re not hungry, since he stole your lunch money. You’re applying for a job and in an unconventional hiring practice, you are made to line up with other applicants, and wait patiently while representatives from two competing companies take their pick from the lineup. You’re taking your parents out for an anniversary dinner. After you find a table, a waiter tells you that seniors have a separate dining room, lest they “corrupt” the younger members of society. You go to the grocery store only to find that since you are 32 years old you must shop at the store for 32 year olds. It’s 8 miles away and they don’t sell meat because the manager is a vegetarian, but your birthday is coming up and soon you’ll be able to shop at the store for 33 yr. olds. You’d like to learn about Aviation History. You go to the library and check out a book on the subject only to be given a list of “other subjects” that you must read about before you are permitted to check out the aviation book. You’re having a hard time finding what you need in the local department store. The saleslady explains that each item is arranged alphabetically in the store, so instead of having a section for shoes, you will find the men’s shoes in between the maternity clothes and the mirrors. Your Cable Company announces that anyone wishing to watch the Superbowl this year must log on a certain number of hours watching the Discovery Channel before they can be permitted to watch the game. You apply for a job only to be told that this job is for 29 year olds. Since you’re 32, you’ll have to stay with your level. In a group project, your boss decides to pair you up with the person you don’t “click” with. His hope is that you’ll get learn to get along with each other, regardless of how the project turns out. These absurd examples were created to point out how absolutely ridiculous the idea of “socializing” in schools is. Many people had a friend who they stayed friends with all through grammar school-WHY? Because their names were alphabetically similar, and they always ended up in line with each other. As an adult, have you ever made friends with someone simply because your names were similar? How long would such a friendship last and how meaningful would it be, providing you had nothing else in common? People often use the bully as an example of why it’s so important to let kids “socialize” at school. If that’s so important, then the bully needs to go to JAIL after a few months, because self-respecting society simply doesn’t put up with that, nor should my 6 yr. old. Sure, there are crappy people in the world, but the world does a much better job of taking care of these things. A bullying brat in the first grade will still be a bullying brat in the 6th grade. He will still be picking on the same kids year after year after year, unless he moves to a new town. How long would the average adult put up with a bully? Personally, as an adult, I have only come across one grown up bully. I choose not to be around this miserable woman. So do many other people. THAT is real life. If she were a coworker, I would find a different job. If she worked at a business I patronized- not only would I refrain from doing business with that company, I would write a letter to the bully, her manager, the owner and the main office. A kid in a classroom has no way to emotionally protect themselves against such a person. I would never expect my kids to put up with bad treatment from a bully in the name of “toughening them up.” For what? So they can be submissive wimps when they grow up too? So they can “ignore” their miserable bosses and abusive spouses? In real life, if an employer discovered that an employee was harassing the other staff members, that employee could be fired (pending the 90 day evaluation) or relocated. In real life, if you are so dreadfully harassed by a coworker you can seek legal recourse independently. In a classroom, the teacher and other children are often powerless. The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to me as learning nutrition from a grocery store. As Homeschoolers, the world is our classroom. We interact with people of all ages, sexes and backgrounds. We talk to and learn from everyone who strikes our interest. We use good manners in our home and I’m always pleased when others comment on the manners my children have picked up. I believe good manners to be an important social skill. Respecting common areas is also of value to us. We often carry a grocery bag with us on walks, in case we find trash that needs to be discarded. When we’re waiting at a bus stop, if there is trash on the ground, we make a point to carry it onto the bus and discard of it properly. Once, while waiting at a bus stop-we saw a grown man drop his popsicle wrapper on the ground. He was 2 feet from a trash can-my daughter looked up at me with eyes as big as saucers. I told her (out loud) “It must have blown out of his and from that little wind, because no-one would throw trash on the ground on purpose. I’m sure when he’s done with his popsicle, he will pick it up and throw it away correctly- otherwise, we can take care of it so we don’t have an ugly world.” He did pick it up, rather sheepishly. I can’t imagine expecting my children to have a respect for the cleanliness of common areas in an environment where bathroom walls are covered in graffiti and trees are scratched with symbols of “love” of all things. Another social skill we strive to teach our children is that all people are created equal. I can’t imagine doing that in an environment where physically disadvantaged children are segregated into a “special” classroom. Or even children who speak a different language at home. They are segregated and forced to learn English, while never acknowledging the unique culture they were raised in, and not enabling the other students to learn FROM them. Learning, in school, comes from the books and teachers. We will learn Spanish from a BOOK, not from a Spanish-speaking student; and not until 7th grade. I have never felt it would be beneficial to stick my 6-yr. old in a room full of other 6-yr. olds. I believe God created a world full of people of all ages and sexes to insure that the younger ones and older ones learn from each other. A few years ago, we were living thousands of miles from any older family members, so I brought my kids (then 5 and 2) to an assisted living facility, so they could interact with the elderly. Staff members told us that many of the older people would wake up every day and ask if we would be visiting soon. We always went on Wednesdays. My daughters learned some old show tunes while one of the men played piano, and the others would sing along. If I didn’t have to chase my 2-yr. old around, I would have had plenty of women ready to share the art of crocheting with me (something I’ve always wanted to learn.) If a friend was too sick to come out of their room during our visit, we would often spend a few minutes in their room. I always let them give the kids whatever cookies they had baked for them, and I ended up cleaning a few of the apartments while we visited, simply because I would have done the same for my own Grandmother. Every room had pictures from my kids posted on their refrigerators. We called this “Visiting the Grandmas and Grandpas” and my daughters both (almost 2 years later) have fond memories of our visits. I’m sure that if we were still visiting there, my unborn child would have a thousand handmade blankets and booties to keep him warm all winter. I don’t remember any such experiences in my entire School life, although I do remember being a bit afraid of old people if they were too wrinkly or weak looking. I never really knew anyone over 60. I never sped down the hall on someone’s wheelchair lap, squealing as we popped wheelies and screeched around corners. I never got to hear stories about what life was like before indoor plumbing and electricity, from the point of view of a woman with Alzheimer’s, who might believe she was still 5 years old, talking with my daughter as if she were a friend. I never got to help a 90 yr. old woman keep her arm steady while she painted a picture. And I never watched a room full of “grandma’s” waiting for me by the window, because we were 15 minutes late. On a recent visit to an Art allery, we noticed a man walking back and forth, carrying framed artwork from is old pickup truck. I asked my 6 yr. old if she thought he might be the artist. We both agreed that was a possibility, and after a little pep-talk to overcome her stage fright, she approached him and asked. He was the artist, and he was bringing in his work to be evaluated by the curator. We all sat down and he explained some of his techniques and listened to her opinions about which piece she liked best. He told about how he enjoyed art when he was 6 and would “sell” pictures to family and friends. He recounted how he felt while creating a few of the pieces, and how each one has special meaning to him. He even let her know how nervous he was to show them to the curator and how he hoped she found them as interesting as we did. As he was called into the office, a group of thirty-four 3rd graders filed past, ever so quietly, while their teacher explained each piece on the walls. The children were so quiet and well behaved. They didn’t seem to mind moving on from one picture to the next (The problem with homeschoolers is they tend to linger on things they enjoy). They didn’t seem to have any questions or comments (Maybe they’ll discuss that later in class). And they never got a chance to meet the gentleman in the pickup truck. I hope my kids aren’t missing out on any “socialization.”

©2000 Lisa Russell Used with Permission Lisa Russell; A Gen X homeschooling mom, writer, wife, daydreamer, U.S. traveler, hiker, poet, artist, web designer, and whatever else suits the moment. Lisa Russell can be contacted at: http://www.lisarussell.net or: lisa@lisarussell.net

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This post is an answer to questions I was asked from a Muslim mother who wanted to begin homeschooling her child using the Well Trained Mind method/ Classical education. There were a few other points I wanted to make in addition to adding some insightful quotes to elaborate on a couple things I wrote from books I have read. I will look that up, inshaAllah and edit it soon, so please come back. I feel my advice is better when I quote the source, who may word it much better than me 🙂
ANSWER  : You know, I truly feel that parents are almost always better suited to teach their children then teachers in schools. There are of course, some exceptions such as an abusive parent or one who does not at all wish to teach their child. The latter would probably not have a positive impact on their child’s education and may even damage or stunt that child’s ability to learn or love learning. However for the capable and willing parent, homeschooling is certainly a wonderful and viable option than being taught in public school.
 Teacher’s training is not really about knowledge and wisdom they acquire and pass on to their students; but time, lesson management and how to handle many children at once. I had also joined some teacher groups online and if you read what really goes on in schools and what they say you would never want to subject your child to that! Also, it’s always a “one size fits all” approach to educating school children. To illustrate that point I recommend you watch this very short, excellent film called “Animal school” I liked it so much I even ordered the book and gave it to my local Islamic school –
www.raisingsmallsouls.com and click on the little box for the film in the middle.
I am going to go look at my bookshelf and write you back on some recommended articles or books on homeschooling but what really got me thinking is what you said about can you really give your child a good education and do better than the “best” schools. That is the first subject Jessie Wise covers in her book, The Well Trained Mind.
I pulled my daughter out of kindergarten after a few months and taught her to read in two weeks while by the end of the school year, most of her class could not read yet. I started the day in the morning, structured and intending as many hours as “real” school. It didnt take long to realize that 1) my daughter wouldn’t stand for that much instruction, nor cooperate and 2) she could learn in less than four hours a day what took eight hours to days of “real” school instruction.
This is because most of the time in school is spent in line, switching classes, going to the bathroom, lunch, break, recess and “busy time” where the teacher just gives the class “busy work” to keep them occupied so she can grade papers or plan the next lesson.
I really believe that a child will be most successful in learning by following what interests them and having some encouragement, guidance and structure from the parent in that area. (This is sometimes called “child led” or Unschooling.)
I was so rigid in the beginning, trying to make “school” at home. Sakina is very strong willed and always has been and she knows what she wants and doesn’t like. We fell into a pattern of learning 2 or 3 hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon or evening. That worked best for her. Now that she is older and her attention span longer we would definitely do most of the work during the day before four.
Honestly, if you feel the regular stuff you are doing with her now, like people have suggested is not enough, start her on memorizing Quran. That is what the WTM talks about in the elementary years, they are in the “parrot” stage and will copy and memorize everything and the time to memorize grammar and math rules and poems at it’s best. The book says even if they don’t understand what they are memorizing, they will draw upon it later and understand it more.
Does she know daily du’a? The ones for going in the bathroom, leaving and entering the house and beginning to eat? Those are short, easy things for her to learn that are not only important but invaluable. Allah and his prophet, salla lahu alahi wa salam told us the many rewards and protection from sin and shaytaan by remembering Him. We do this by saying the du’a in all situations and learning the du’a of the prophets, in the Quran.
I would start her with the story of the Creation. Read her stories on it and you said your daughter could read and write some, I would have her practice her writing at least 5 to 15 minutes a day. If you want to get her started more than what you’re doing now, she should be able to write because the WTM by grade 2 and especially 3 starts them copying passages. I had my Sakina copy passages on Creation and then the prophets, in order and other persons in history. There is a series called the Story of Civilization at the library and subhannaAllah one day I found a used one The Age of Faith for sale at the local used bookstore and I had her copy short passages from there.  
Asking me about starting to homeschool made me think of another important first step to homeschooling your child: deciding what your goal is and what you hope to accomplish by educating your child at home.  I read that when you set out to homeschool, the first thing you should do is decide what you want your child to gain and learn and what are your goals and your focus? Islamically, this is called “intention” and we know “actions are by intention”
For instance, some people actually take their kids out of school because they don’t want then saying the pledge of allegiance or be taught about God in any way because they are atheists and want their children to have no other influence but this belief. We, on the other hand, do want our children to know their Lord and want to arm them with the correct knowledge and belief so that they cannot just make a life on earth or earn a living but prepare themselves for the day of judgment and the afterlife.
So, think to yourself: What are your goals for your child? what do you hope to accomplish in homeschooling your daughter? Some parents simply want their child to memorize the whole Quran. Even though you may want her to have an “excellent” education you also need to consider your child’s interests, temperment and character. Study the sunnah of our Prophet and how he treated and related to children. There is a lot of psychology in Islam! After you yourself have learned more of the Prophet’s (saws) behavior, action, and advice towards children you implement that in raising your child.
Lastly i want to say i am not perfect, I have made mistakes and I’m no expert on teaching children. I do have and have read many book and do have experience teaching others and my own children. I do not nearly have the patience I used to, may Allah forgive me. I had so much energy when I was younger! But I try to remember that there are few things that will benefit my scale after I die and one of them is having righteous children that will pray for me after i die. Even though I know that I have failed in many things, I try to improve my own self and give my children the correct aqeedah and love of learning. This is a trust that Allah has given me and my responsibility to raise them as Muslims. All else and other “ilm” (knowledge) besides that is secondary.
I will look up helpful articles I have saved and my favorite books. Off the top of my head two REALLY helpful and insightful were by the teacher Ron Clark. One book was The Essential 55 and the other had an eleven in it. Read the “11” one first and it’s much shorter. I will add more books to this list of beneficial books on teaching and parenting later, inshaAllah.  Oh, and everything I read said not to go out and buy too many books but that’s what i did. I really had too many and went overboard especially when i was homeschooling my friend’s three boys. Research, research and choose carefully what you buy and plan or you’ll be overwhelmed! END
To everyone who reads this : O my brother and sisters, may Allah guide us and be with us and may we give our children the correct aqeedah and the tools to succeed in this life and the akhirah! I hope some of what I said has helped. May Allah forgive me if I said anything wrong.

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Greetings, ” IN THE BEGINNING”

Omigosh I have been so busy, mashaAllah, I wasnt able to write the very next day when I wanted to.  And Allah is the best of Planners. Even though my blog will be about following The Well Trained Mind, we are i guess i reluctantly agree, “eclectic” homeschoolers meaning we take from several different methods. I do believe that the book The Well Trained Mind is superiour* when it comes to breaking down exactly what to do in relation to the plan of study and recommendation of books till an early age when the child is ready for college courses from home through distance education or even attending classes on campus, which is less usual but does happen. It also lays the foundation and advise for day to day plans for the homeschooler as well and is written so that children whose parents still have them in public or private school can augment their education making it more well rounded, in my opinion.

InshaAllah MY course with my child(ren) will not just give them a solid foundation of ‘ilm (knowledge) through following and implementing the Well Trained Mind, but most importantly will inshaAllah (God willing) mold them into the best person they could possibly be-inside and out, while remembering their Lord at all times, making them strong, helpful, thoughtful, well rounded individuals that are a contribution to society, a light to their friends and future collegues, a benefit to their community, respectful of their elders, parents, brothers and sisters in blood and in the religion. Finally, the ideas and lessons I have laid out for my child(ren) will benfit themselves- spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally and enable them to know that they may be part of a community in which their actions affect others but as Muslims they will be preparing themselves for those questions that the angels will ask them as they wait in the grave and finally, when the horn is blown and they will be risen and stand on the longest day when there is no shade.  The Day of Judgment.  Munkar and Nakir are the angels who will ask those three questions and their heart will answer, not their tongue. Frightening but true. “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is true and good” The Bible Theolossians. The proof for these statements I have made are in the Quran and if there is any doubt as to their veracity, visit the links on the side of my page and you will be convinced, although it is Allah (alone) who guides. My father raised me with a love of science and proving all things. He claimed to be an athiest, but I told him he was an agnostic because he believed in a “higher power” but did not belong to any religion with a specific set of beliefs.  The reason he still believed in a higher power is because he DID know so much about religions, history, the universe and science-especially how everything in science made sense, it followed rules even though they were not seen. He was so logical in his thinking, everything had to make sense to him. He used to show me his college textbooks and by the age of ten, I had read every book in our house. Anyway, he showed me that in evolution even that had not been proven, he showed me a diagram where there was broken link, a leap of the “skeletons” found when there was a huge time period unaccounted for and not continuing on the same line. Now I know after reading the Quran, there were groups of mankind that were so sinful, that God turned them into Apes. I will provide the verse when I look it up inshaAllah.

Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Algebra, Earth Science shoot my father, come to think of it, taught me most of this stuff not school! These subjects all made sense and he knew that logically, they could not just come into being by themselves or that it had “always been” that the sun, planets in their orbits fixed, and everything had to be planned by something beyond us, an all powerful God Who never tires and is the all-knowing Omnipotent. He believed deep down. It was his arrogance and laziness that kept him from acknowledging his Lord.

And when the unbeliever’s body is being taken away, he cries, “Woe is to me! Where are they taking me?” Al Quran.

My day teaching Sakina

We had a great day. As usual, we (humans) plan things or have a set course in mind and then something else entirely occurs. Our “homeschooling” day (it’s summer and all but we’re always learning) was surprisingly child led. Another name for this type of learning is called child-directed.  HOwever, if I could use one word to describe today’s homeschooling it would be “Unschooling” This is the idea that children, if left on their own without any formal plan of study WILL still learn to read and learn about Science, Math and History in their own time and have a general knowledge of all subjects. Of course, that is if the child is “normal” or “gifted” Some children do have learning diabilities but thsi does not mean that they cannot learn or that they are less intellegent in any way. They just learn differently and I know several methods that can help such children. NOt only have I read about different disorders such as ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and others, I have taught children with such behavioral and thought patterns. I feel it is extremely important NOT to label a child, ESPECIALLY when they can hear you! Children rise to the expectations you set. More on that later. In regars to teaching “disabled” children (they are not, really ) the BEST spelling course I have seen HANDS DOWN is called sequential spelling. The site used to be called avco and it had a lot of freebies such as the first few lessons so you could see how it worked and it really makes sense, you can teach a child or adult to spell on middle school and above level at the same time and at an early age. HOwever, they changed it and you cannot acutally SEE the words. I am sure if an internet search is done, it can be seen before deciding to purchase. Here is the link  http://www.avko.org/sequentialspelling.html  one of the founder’s of the programs amazing site  http://donpotter.net/ed.htm . I found another program for reading at the book store thank God, called  Alpha-Phonics. This one was also co-authored by Don Potter. It is a bit tedious but if you go from from to back your child will be able to read beyond a second grade level and most likely spell well, too. And ALlah knows best.

 I later was reading some homeschooling books or publications and they recomendeed the same program for reading, that it was an excellent program. It is, but they stated the cost was about $30 and i looked on my book and that was the original cost but I had gotten it for $5.00! So one should always carouse used book stores and thrift stores. I cannot tell you how many treasures I found from an old bookstore or small vintage shop underneath the street or in a small shopping strip. The library is everyone agrees, possibly the greatest free source for homeschoolers with magazines like Time : http://www.eduhound.com/ but my library in particular sells used books something like semi-annually and has open hours in the basement where the adult books are only $2.00, the children’s books all .50 cents and the magazines and national geographics like, 20 cents! Everything is arranged according to the dewy decimal system so it’s really neat that I can look up a book on my library’s website, then check to see if it’s in the basement. Sometimes when I learn of a particular teacher;s book on theory, good bestsellers, see recommendations for literature or whatnot i check it out on Amazon and read the description as well as the customer comments. These are REALLY helpful. I eve go to barns and noble I know a lot of us hate big business companies where it’s all about the bottom line, but honestly you can order almost ANYTHING from Barnes and Noble and they will order a book for you and you can come see it you dont even have to buy it. This is helpful for me because I like to see something before I buy it and even on Amazon sometimes you can see a few pages of the book you are searched or are interested in. I get the educator’s discount at B&N and it’s twenty percent. In addition to their sales and coupons/specials they e mail out, one can make a killing with discounts.   Another awesome resource is scholastic book sales. Don;t waste your time buying from yur child’s school or a distributor. Go to their site and sign up as a teacher or homechooler and you can receive notices of sales and discount coupons but best of all, you can WORK at the warehouse during the time when they have sales up to five times a year and they will pay you ten dollars an hour towards books! I havent done this yet, but I moved over here by where thier huge warehouse is. I just realized that! Anyway, I havent done this yet, it was my goal last time but time passed but it would’ve come in habdy when my oldest wanted that new vampire bestseller! It was like, over twenty bucks!

On that note, believeit or not I got The Well Trained Mind for a mere $2.00 at my local library bookstore. I had been looking for this book for two years I am not exagerating. I lived in three different cities within the same 60-80 mile range and went to every used bookstore in each city, a total of seven bookstores AND NEVER found The Well Trained Mind. Evidentally, no one gets rid of this book once they buy it! ( I know its on e bay and amazon I am just super cheap) I used to say, “My favorite four letter word is: FREE !

Sakina’s attitude was very positive today because we just had fun. HOwever she still learned because everything she said I found a way to loop it back to science, creation (people and animals) and physical education. Im a poet and I didnt knowit! I always wanted to put my bint (daughter) in gymnastics because I was and several other reasons. My husband wants her in Karate or some other form of martial arts/defense. You would assume it is the typical reasons, girls are in gymnastics; boys and men like martial arts. That is not the case in our bayt (home). wanted my daughter in gymnastics not just because I was but for the reason that I see the huge potential she has. I was good in gymnastics, very flexible from a young age and strong but I was afraid of the balence beam. When I had my second daughter, I realized I had not been all that strong. When she was eighteen months old, had only started walking at eleven months, she did the most horrifying thing that I didnt realize it’s significance until later. I had taken her to the park and she was climbing this half moon monkey bar thing, you know it got higher and higher, leveled off in the middle, then went down again. The structure was about six feet wide and four feet tall. I was standing next to her when suddenly, she let go! She swung her legs through the space between the bars while still holding on with her little arms. My daughter was really petite for her age and all my children were chubby as babies, then leaned out, steadily growing up on the five percent line. (My mother is 105 pounds and five foot one) Anyway, she was small so it looked even more bizarre, lol. So, she still hangs there, not uttering a cry, swinging back and forth, until she dropped. I was close enough to get her, but I think I was in shock. Later, when she was three years old, I was taking out the trash in my duplex/apartments and there was a wall made out of huge beige bricks about five feet high sorrounding the trash dumpster. She scaled that wall like spiderman, with no shoes and pulled herself on top, then proceeded to walk along the line of the wall, which was quite wide because they were not normal size bricks usually found in houses. She had NO FEAR. I was amazed. NOt only was she NOT scared, she could lift her own body weight! When I was in gymnastics, it was between the ages of seven and nine, somewhere in that time frame, I don’t remember. No, I think I WAS ten, well at least when I quit. I lived in the country and my mom would bring me, an hour drive so all the kids there didn’t attend school with me but I made friends with a few of them. Incidentally, one of the girls on my team advanced and actually made it to the olympics. Anyhow, one of my friends had fallen, not at OUR gym, but at her school down the street-while on the balance beam. She had this HUGE bluish-purple bruise on the inside of her leg. She told me how extremely painful it had been when it happened. Boys may hurt, but it hurts us too! So, I was even more terrified of the balance beam and could not overcome that even though I was great at bounce floor and coming along in uneven bars. (I was real weird about those I actually liked not wearing gloves, getting blisters, then tearing them from repetetive practice on the bars.-Explains why my 8 yr old daughter scratched her mosquito bites till they bleed!) SO, getting back to my piont, I recognized my daughter’s ability and potential. And sucess is with Allah, glory be to Him. Also, my daughter’s father had been very strong, we used to make my oldest daughter laugh when she was seven by me laying on top of him, making my body stiff while he bench pressed me! (He was in the first airborne army division) So, it made sense that my second child was so strong because her father was. Even though I held first place once and second many times for the president’s challange for the chin hold-amount of time (like four minutes al hamdulilah) I could NEVER life my own body weight like doing the pull ups (chin ups). Some years, I could do ONE !  Obviously and Allah knows best, my daughter got her skill from her father. This is why in Islaam, in our book the Quran it says not to cut off the blood ties that this is a major sin. This is because the child will not be understood as well and Allah knows best the reason. In our book it is forbidden for us to adopt and change the last name of the child.

My husband doesnt want my daughter to be in gymnastics because he doesn’t want the whole world seeing her half-naked in competitions or the Olympics. Imagine. I mean, I see his point now. I was even telling Susie today (her nickname) that the girls who do gymnastics never grow tall and start developing much later. I told her how Mary Lou Retton had never grown taller than grandma, in fact she was only about four foot eleven inches. I couldn’t believe it i remembered Keri Strug’s name and searched youtube and we watched her nail that landing on her last try on a sprained ankle, winning the gold for herself and her country at the Olympics. I teared up, it was real silly of me. I told Sakina how great God is because Keri should have never won. She should have given up after she hurt her ankle the first time, that she could’ve made it much worse, beyond repair. ( I didnt word it like that exactly, she is eight) Sakina asks if she was hurt afterword I said, sure she had to go to the hospital and everything. But she was Ok, all praise to God. I told Sakina Allah is the best of planners and only He could have made that possible, that normally in gymnastics, they cannot vault again when they are hurt, it is too painful or damaging and they ESPECIALLY dont land PERFECTLY, no hop or anything. There is usually a hop, I know. Too much power from the body force flippin in motion, you know an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Anyhow I told Sakina that in fact, it is extremely rare for a gymnist to land perfectly after the vault, the way she did. It is unheard of for one to land solid, with a perfect landing and score when injured. i looped the “life” lesson into that, bringing everything back to our Creator and how perfect everything is. We talked about the four phases of matter today as well whie we were cooking and the steam was rising. (Gas) I asked her about the water we put into the ice trays, what phase it that? (Solid) In addition to cooking and “science” we learned some fractions and following directions by following the instructions on the box. She read the words, I praised her and corrected her pronunciation when needed.

Finally we also actually did some gymnastics in the living room and decided we would be dong that from now on. She asked if we could do gymnastics every day and I could be her coach and then we could “do school” five days a week. I said that was a good idea. So we worked it out on weekends or the days she picks to be off, working it around our schedule, she will do gymnastics/stretching mornings and later, her Language Arts using First Language Lessons, in additon to all the other stuff we are doing which I will post later inshaAllah. I worked it out that she is copying/dictation from “The Creation” on…till we come to the ancients. In order, like in the Well Trained MInd.  A few days ago I wrote a special, full page printed copy from the Quran on the Creation and “The Fall” and had her copy it, then went over it and filed it in her notebook. Sometimes we just do dictation and I check it. In the first few lessons of The First Language lessons, a poem is assigned.  I substituted a poem on the spider instead of the one of the caterpillar for her to memorize. It was called “The Little Spider” and we found it by doing a search online because i remembered a site I had gone to before of Muslim children’s poetry. I didnt find the particular site I was looking for, but I DID find a very good one, a great substitution. http://www.islam4kids.com/i4k/i4k.cfm?scn=poems&pm=poems/The_Little_Spider.htm    I chose the spider because the spider is important in our religion; it is spoken of in our book(Al Quran) as well as the hadeeth. We are not allowed to kill spiders unless they are poisinous and try to harm us. In addition, we aren’t allowed to kill bees either. In general, we are not allowed to kill any animals or insects nor be cruel to them unless we are to eat them and we are only allowed to eat certain things. We don’t eat pork. We cant eat anything like roadkill (seriously) or predatory animals such as a hawk. If I am wrong and someone is reading me, please correct me! The animal must be killed in a proper manner as to ease and lessen the suffering of the animal and we are forbidden fro cutting the head complety off. We also cannot maim, shoot or shock the animal. It’s jugular on one side, the windpipe, and then the vein on the other side must be cut quickly and we are commanded to sharpen our knife so that it is quick and painless as possible. We also have to calm the animal down and cannot have it hanging upside down (as with chickens) or mooing loudly because they are all in a line and seeing the other’s killed. We must not eat veal. The conditions it is kept in is haram (forbidden) to us Muslims. To keep a baby cow (calf) in a small stall so that it cannot lay down and live in the dark almost 24 hours a day so that it’s meat is tender and not bruised, only turning on the lights for it to eat–this is prohibited for us. It is a crime against the poor creature. In Islam, everything has rights and those rights must be respected. In our day and age is is common for the attitude of an individuals right to go and do as he or she pleases without concern for the repercussions of their actions—a person;’s personal “freedom” and “Liberty comes before society. This is very selfish in nature and not, actually natural. There is altrusim in nature. Anyway, in Islam society’s rights come before the individual’s. This concept is complety opposite to the “American” way and I’m sure to anyone who read this who is not Muslim, this concept is quite “foreign” But this is God’s law and He, subhanna wa ta’ala knows what is best for us. On that note I need to go, i really have to go to sleep. The clock on here is totally wrong, it says morning but it is very late at night/early morning for me. Everyone is asleep. I will continue more when I make time, inshaAllah. This page is not the final copy so forgive the errors or lack of evidences (proofs) from The Quran, hadeeth or other sources. I will add them later, inshaAllah. Salutations and I hope you are in the best of Iman(faith) and health.



**I have used Sequential Spelling. It is best for children who read at a beginning 4th grade level or better. Some homeschoolers use it with younger children or lower-level readers, splitting up each lesson into two parts. My personal take is that it can be frustrating if the reading level is not yet beginning 4th.

In my opinion, the program works best for older children who are very poor spellers, as it seems to teach visual subskills other spelling programs take for granted. It would not be a good program for “natural” spellers because the amount of repetition would be too boring.   Nancy

I agree with Nancy and personally think SRA Spelling Mastery is better to use for younger children. I’d go through Spelling Mastery C and then Spelling Through Morphographs through 6th or 7th grade and only start AVCO after that. There is a lot to teach in spelling that is not taught in AVKO alone.  Janis

*mashaAllah (it is as Allah decreed)

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