Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Stand Your Ground!!

Mini rant alert!! Don't say you haven't been warned!

This will be a short post.

I just wanted to say a quick word on Standing Our Ground as home educators. I don't just mean in terms of defending home education to naysayers, critics or skeptics. 

No, I mean with other homeschoolers! 

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the diversity, both in terms of those who homeschool and ways to homeschool. There are so many different approaches that there simply doesn't have to be a "box" to fit into. There is no "box".

So please tell me why some of my fellow home educators are so condescending?! Why is home education individual as long as I do it your way? 

If I choose to un-school, why do I get "Well that's ok until they have to really learn something". Yet if I'm structured or semi-structured do I hear "Never mind dear we all started that way, then I saw the light"

How patronizing!  My way doesn't have to look like yours and I would never be so arrogant as to assume that my way is better than yours. Different strokes for different folks.

So please dear homeschool mum, Stand Your Ground!! Don't allow so called "veterans" to tell you what you're doing or the way you're choosing to do it is wrong. 

Everything evolves and changes but stand firm in the decisions that you have made that fit your family. Afterall, isn't that one of the main reasons we home educate?

Goodbye and Stand Firm


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Space.... The Final Frontier!!!

So we are officially at the end of our month long Solar System project! She still has two more weeks of the same topic at her weekly Homeschool Coop but we are pretty much done.

Enough words. Here's the pictures, much better than anything I have to say.

Quality is not great but hopefully you can still get the general idea.

Alongside the wall display and model, she also completed a note-booking page for each planet and one for the Sun.

Bambina thoroughly enjoyed this topic, she is currently running around singing her "planets" song so definately a hit.

There is SO much out there to make the study of the Solar System a no-brainer for us busy and slightly harassed mums! It couldn't be simpler and imho, its a perfect topic for the beginning of a "school year".

So dust off your apce ship and Blast Off!!!


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Im Still Here.....

Just a superquick note of apology. I am still here and have been meaning to blog but.......
We've been super busy getting back into the groove of homeschool and all the extra curricula activities Bambina does.

I will be back in full effect very soon I promise.

Many thanks for your patience


Friday, 7 September 2012

Our First Week Back

Thank Goodness It's Friday!!!

We made it. Our first week back after the Summer holidays is over. And we survived! Lol

Although we homeschool year round with breaks and holidays scattered throughout on a rough 6 week "on" to 1 week "off" rota, the summer holidays and the month of Ramadhan are all very quiet, relaxed times for us. So Monday 3rd September marked the beginning of our new homeschooling year. Of us getting back into "gear".

As Bambina would have been entering Year 1 (Kindergarten) if she had stayed in private school, we made a big fuss of her on Monday morning. I rustled up some pancakes with maple syrup and home made strawberry compote (Bambinas favourite breakfast). I even attempted to make a 1.

She also received a badge and certificate to "officially" enter her into Year One. As we were looking after her older cousins for the morning, she had company for her special breakfast and had a great time showing them her "learning-turning area" as she calls it. They played for a while, did a bit of face painting and then Superman took her cousins for a drive so we could settle down to some work.

Our topic this month is The Solar System. Bambina started her day watching a Magic School Bus episode on YouTube. See the link here
After that we dived right in and got on with it! We are doing our usual combination of LapBook inserts and Notebooking pages, as well as reading lots if books on the subject and using the internet for research.

On Wednesday we had our first field trip to LegoLand Windsor as a family. It was so lovely to have Superman with us this time. Normally he is much too busy saving the world! We had an amazing day and were blessed with perfect weather. This little break right in the first week was really useful as it lightened up the atmosphere and kept us in holiday mode that little bit longer. Definately a trick to remember for next year. Bambinas behaviour was just perfect all week as she was on such a high anticipating and then remembering her exciting day.

The rest of the week has sped by. Bambina attended her first session at our local Home-Education Supplementary School. She will be attending once a week to take part in themed group activities in a relaxed "school" environment with a qualified primary teacher. It so happens the teacher has decided to do Space too so Bambina is really excited and now thinks I have special powers (not going to disabuse her yet but it was pure coincidence). She had a lovely time and met up with other homeschoolers she knows.

And now it's Friday! Golly it has all gone so quickly! Reflecting on how our first week progressed I have realised a few things;

1) I was expecting too much from Bambina in terms of written work. As she explained to me tearfully one morning. So I have adjusted my expectations and we have agreed that she will do some writing and I will do the rest or we will print it off the internet (ie; planets research). This was an eye opener for me and after the initial disappointment that she had been brought to tears in the first week, Bad mother!  I realised that now is actually the best time for these problems to be ironed out. So now we are doing more discussion, art, cutting & pasting and I am writing a few bits for her as she dictates. She is actually doing more writing than she realises (I'm sneaking it in!). Lets see how long I get away with that! Smile

2) I had under-estimated how much work Bambina can get through. On Tuesday we got an unusually early start and by 10.43am I was searching for more work to give her! Whoa! When did this happen?! It seems over the holidays, she has turned into Speedy Gonzales (remember the little cartoon mouse?). Before the summer we were doing approximately 3 subjects a day between 10am-1pm with two small breaks. At first I toyed with the idea of doing Numeracy and Literacy every day instead of 3 days a week each, but I don't want to overload her and I am aware that all her extra curricula activities start next week, so for now I am just going to slightly increase the workload for the three subjects rather than introduce more.

3) Bambina is happiest when she knows exactly what is expected of her. We homeschool up to lunch time. Right from the get go she wants to know what we need to do to be "finished". Last year I was a little upset by this as I thought it meant she couldn't wait to get away from homeschool and perhaps even me! Now though I realise that its more of a combination of the normal child-like desire to get back to the real "work" of playing and it gives her a sense of security and control. She doesnt have to wonder, she knows. She is very much like me in that respect and I understand thats its OK.

So in conclusion, I feel blessed that our first week went relatively smoothly. Please God we are on the right road to have a great and productive homeschooling year.

How did your first week go? Let me know. I pray every day is better than the day before but not as good as the one to come for us all!

God Bless


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How I Organise My.......Housework

Welcome to Week 2 of my How I Organise My...... series.

This week I will be focusing on that old bugbear, the housework.

Let me say from the outset here, I am not a woman with a natural disposition to cleaning. The picture above is definately not my idea of a great way to spend an afternoon. LOL. Another admission I need to make is... we employ a cleaner! Shock, Horror, Bad Homemaker!! I know, but its a luxury I need. I have a lovely lady come in for 3 hours twice a month.

So what do I do in between her visits? Well at first I was doing the kitchen essentials (counters and floors etc) daily, the washing weekly and everything else when it got too bad and I couldn't deal with it. Gasp! I know...

However, since we've been homeschooling and I  am in the home more, I have been working towards developing a routine based around the "Do a little every day" premise. I figured that my personality was not bent towards "blitz" cleaning and as the lovely lady does a deep clean when she comes, my job is really  "maintenance" .

So I typed up a quick list divided into days (except Sunday because...purleese!). Then I put a few chores in each day that spread what I need done across the week. My rota looks like this;

OK, its very basic I know, but really that's what I need to do for our little home and our little family. I am sure I could do more and I know I'm spoiled in having a helper, but long may it last! lol.

What I have found so great about this is that along with a little general tidying of toys, loose papers, clothes, etc daily, I am whizzing through my daily chores and the house is soooo much neater/cleaner! I do not have a house hubby (although Superman will lend a hand if asked, I generally choose to just get on with it as I'm the homemaker) and although our daughter has one main job (folding wash cloths), she is only five so I'm not keen on overloading her with chores. So it's down to me (and my lovely cleaning lady of course!! heehee). With this new rota I am finding it pretty stress free.

Perhaps a rota like this might work for you? Perhaps you have a much better, more efficient way of managing your housework? Please share either way.

I'm off to hoover upstairs now. See it works. Smile

Thanks for reading and see you next week for How I Organise My...... Homeschool "Classroom".

This has been linked to HipHomeSchoolHop over at Hip HomeSchool Moms.

Friday, 31 August 2012

The End is Nigh....of Summer Holidays

Are they leaves or lesson plans falling on my head?
I saw this cartoon and thought how apt it is for how I am feeling as we leave the last days of our Summer and move at breakneck speed towards the first day of our official first (full) academic year of official homeschooling on Monday! Phew that was a mouthful.

Much like the man in the picture, us homeschoolers can feel like we are "buried" under leaves. Only ours are leaves of paper. From notebooks, curricula, text books, downloads and so much more. It can seem a little overwhelming.

Take heart dear home-schoolling mums (and dads), you have done all the prep, you have bought the books, you have researched the styles and the methodologies. You have written and rewritten your schedule, you have typed up your lesson plans. You have done all you  can.

So as I peek out from under the pile of "leaves",  knowing that the Almighty Creator has led me to this point and will not abandon me now,  I offer you the same comfort.

You have prepared, now PRAY and then step out on FAITH!

Happy New Homeschooling Year to all my fellow home educators out there. May God be with us all


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

How I Organise My..... New Series

The idea for this blog started out as a "How I Organise my Homeschool" kind of thing. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually I am a person who thrives on, nay requires, being organised in all aspects of my life. So this little mini-series was born.

                                     HOW I ORGANISE MY...........

Over the next few weeks I will be covering topics such as;

- Planning
- Housework (Cooking /Cleaning, etc)
- Curriculum
- Homeschool Supplies
- Bambinas School/Artwork
- "Classroom" area
- Working from home

To start off with I think a quick disclaimer is in order. I am by no means the most organised, disciplined, SuperMum out there. This series is about what I have found that helps me in my constant desire to become more organised and thus more effective.

My hope is that in sharing my successes and failures, someone out there in blogland might find something that can be of use to them. Or at the very least help them avoid pitfalls!

So, today I will be focusing on my new love (don't tell Superman), and that is...drum roll please.....

My "hats" organiser. No not one of these...
                      One of these...
OK, so not terribly exciting but thanks to bloggers such as Danielle over at Domestic Serenity , who graciously shared the way she organises, I was inspired to invest in a 5-subject notebook. My one has tabs for each section where I can change the labels (this is really useful as the organiser develops and/or needs change). Currently I have divided it into;- Home-Education                - Household
- Blog                                    - Work 
I haven't thought of the fifth one yet. I call it my "hats" organiser because as a wife, mother, homeschooler, blogger, student, business owner, etc, I have many, many hats.

There is also a nifty pocket for loose sheets of paper and a ruler at the front. All for £2 from Asda (UK equivalent of Walmart - in fact owned by them). Result!

I really wanted a month to month calendar in mine so I printed a great one from Donna Young , I printed enough to take me to August 2013, and placed these in a plastic sleeve and stapled the sleeve to the front of my organiser.I like this because at the end of each month I can just change to a fresh sheet and write in what I need to remember for the month to come.

I then went through each section and made lists/notes on important things such as;

Home-Education; Subjects, Extra-curricular activities, Budgeting, Outgoings, Expenses, Field Trip ideas
Household; Monthly Bills, Meal Planning, Cleaning, Medicines, Vitamins & Supplements
Blog: Blog post ideas, Linky Party/Hop dates, Passwords, etc

It is still a work in progress and I'm adding to it as I see the need. I refer to my organiser a lot and everyone in the house knows its a "no-go zone" unless permission has been received.

Although I have only been using this organiser for the last month, I can already see the benefits in my daily life. I know where everything is. There is no more "Where did I put that list?" Superman knows where to put something he needs typed/sent etc. It gives me a place to put all my "hats" until I need one of them. It gives me a focus I didn't feel before. I realise now that I can be semi-organised in lots of different places and still feel generally disorganised. By putting everything in one place I am giving myself a jumping off point and a place to come back to.

I seriously encourage anyone reading this to try developing an organiser that fits your individual needs. There is no format, be creative and make it work for you.

I hope this has been helpful and that you will join me as this series develops.

Happy organising.

This is being linked to The Hip Homeschool Hop over at HipHomeschoolMoms. Hop on over.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

If Wishes Were Horses......Beggars Would Ride

 Ever spent a couple of hours on the internet looking at beautiful million pound homes? Or trailed round the shops looking wistfully at designer brands?

Or are you a simpler soul whose wishes run more along the lines of "I wish I were a little bit taller..."?

As I sit here contemplating my wish list, I hear my mums voice telling me "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride", a refrain I heard not infrequently in my youth.

So is it wrong to have a wish list? Does it show ingratitude for what we have been blessed with? Whilst I strongly believe that we should all spend some part of every day reflecting on the blessings we have received, here are some reasons I also believe strongly in having your personal wish list.

1) Something to aspire to; Keep it realistic but don't be afraid to dream!

2) A way of knowing where/who you want to be; Sometimes our wishes are really a manifestation of the
    kind of person or lifestyle we would like to be/have. Once this is know, it can be acted upon

3) Sets a "minimum expectancy"; Sometimes it is good to have a minimum standard for things, below which
    you simply will not go. This is especially true for relationships

4) Gives direction; If you wish to be a Doctor, there is no point studying mechanical engineering!

5) Sometimes wishing leads to reflection; When you wish, you may end up reflecting on the blessings you
    already have. Maybe you actually won't need a wish list

There are many more reasons why a wish list may be useful. Perhaps you could start a wishlist and see where it takes you?

Get on the horse!!!


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Scrap-Lap Book?!! What?


To save space, and let me be honest because its easier, I have decided to "Scrap-Lap Book".

OK so this  may not become the hottest new craze in Home Education with its strange hybrid title, and I am sure I'm not the first to think of it, but it "does what it says on the packet". smile

Let me explain. Lapbooks generally look like this;

This is a great and extremely popular method of recording and demonstrating what a child learns during a Unit Study. For me though it always seemed like an awful lot of preparation. Also I was concerned about the storage issue.

I could foresee a shelf groaning under the weight of Lapbooks! Another issue is that Bambina is only 5, so she isn't really producing an awful lot of written work yet. This is absolutely fine but it means that our Lapbooks could possibly end up being filled with printed text from the internet or my writing (horror!).

My solution was to buy these scrapbooks from Amazon (I spend far too much money with them!) for £2.
 We are now using these to stick our Unit Study "products" in, we still use Lapbook inserts, but instead of lots of separates, we have a collection of topics in each book.Like below



So far this is working great. The first scrapbook is looking quite cohesive due to Bambinas current interest in Countries of the World. Will I still like it as much once it becomes a patchwork quilt of topics? Hmmm, we shall see.

So what do you think about "Scrap-Lap Booking"? Let me know.....


Sunday, 19 August 2012


                           To All My Fellow Muslims! 
                   May Allah Grant Us Forgiveness and 
                     Fill Us With Love For Humanity.


Friday, 17 August 2012

China Unit Study - Part 2

Following on from my last post about Bambinas China Unit Study this week, I thought I would post some pictures as we bring the topic to a close. She enjoyed this one thoroughly as it was much more crafty. The Chinese children cut outs are from Activity Village as are the China Map and the handprint dragon. Loving this site right now!

I got the China Lapbook from Homeschool share , an indispensable free resource. OK I'm shutting up now to let Bambinas work speak for itself. Hope you're inspired to try a China unit with your children, we had a blast.


At the time of posting we had not yet made the Moon Cakes from DLTK so please forgive my use of their picture.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

China Unit Study

Hi there,

July and August are quiet months for us. Instead of her normal schedule of activities, we just focus on topics that Bambina has shown interest in.

As stated in a previous post, we have a laminated sheet on the fridge where she can write any topic she has an interest in. The understanding is that once she sees it has been rubbed off by me then the topic is prepared and we will do it soon.

Recently I put a world map  up on the wall and it sparked a flurry of countries on her list. Last week we did India, which to be fair wasn't great, probably due to how overtired I was due to work commitments. So I am determined that this week China will be more fun.

Whilst looking for Chinese themed craft ideas I came across this on the Activity Village website Handprint Dragon. I printed off the template (head, head ruff, tail & feet) glued them onto card and we covered the parts in shiny silver paper and red tissue paper, then added googly eyes.

Then we got busy handpainting for the body.
Once they had dried and been cut out, we assembled our dragon.
We are also using the China Lapbook from Homeschool Share and library books on the country and its culture. We have been having lots of fun with this unit. Watch out for our version of Chinese Moon Cakes on Friday!


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Things That Go BUMP! In The Night

Bambina is scared of the dark and of toys coming alive. Not unusual I am sure for her age, but it got me thinking.....

What is the best way for us as parents to deak with her fears? Is there something we can do make her feel more secure?
At night, she prefers that I stay with her until she falls asleep. Initially I resisted this for fear of setting a pattern that I couldn't break in the future, but then it occurred to me. Was it really a problem? Did it really take anything away from me to take a few minutes to snuggle? Afterall, all that's waiting for me is washing up or folding laundry.
In all our efforts to have children who "self-settle",  go to bed at exactly 7pm every night and stay in their own bed until 7am (by the way is that even possible?), have we forgotten that these are little people with fears, hopes and questions? Are we losing a golden opportunity to truly connect with our children? In our rush to get back downstairs to all those tasks we've left until the children are "out of the way", do we miss out on hearing those fears, hopes and questions that are floating around in their minds just before they fall asleep?
Our bedtime routine now looks like this; after all the necessary ablutions and nightime prayer, I read to her and then we snuggle and talk until she drops off. This twilight snuggle time is when I get to hear what is really going on with Bambina and provides me with the chance to dispel fears, encourage hopes and answer questions.
All of this has gone a long way to making Bambina feel more secure. Yes there is still laundry to be folded, washing to be done and all the rest of it but none of those things are going anywhere. Bambinas childhood on the other hand is racing away. All too soon she won't even want me in her room!
So with a little adjustment in my priorities, bedtimes have become easy.
3am in the morning however is another matter! Oh well, it's a work in progress!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Bookworms in Da House!!!

Book Worm alert!! We've been over run!

We absolutely LOVE read-alouds here. Bambina will ask me to read to her sometimes two or three times a day. She especially enjoys being read to whilst she eats her breakfast and lunch. This often means my food goes cold but it is worth it for the look of joy on her face as she listens.

Although I am happy to read pretty much anything she brings me, and I give her free reign at the library (within reason). I also strive to ensure that we have a piece of Classic or Modern Classic literature on hand. I am a total "convert" to the idea that good quality literature is a must for any young child and that it is important to read this to them not just wait until they can read to themselves. I feel that Classic (or Modern Classic) literature opens the mind and broadens knowledge (language skills, vocabulary, history, world view, etc) in a way that what I call "Pop-Lit" can not.

Don't get me wrong we read our share of "pop-lit" but I don't expect her to really gain anything from it, and I have definitely seen the difference in Bambina's attention span, enjoyment level and story retention when reading classics. I have also noted an increase in her vocabulary which is obviously age-related but I also think may be related to the kind of vocabulary she is hearing. We always stop to discuss a word she hasn't heard before and see how we can use it in a sentence. Charlotte's Web was amazing for this. She would ask "what does ..... .mean?"just before Wilbur did in the story!

Thanks to several blogs I have read, I now give Bambina a few simple comprehension exercises after each Classic/Modern Classic read-aloud. We discuss what she liked or didn't about the story, answer questions, draw pictures and do related crafts. The pictures above are the books we have read so far. I'm not sure which one we will read next. maybe "Stuart Little" or "James & The Giant Peach"? Hmmmm....bookworm strikes again!

This is being linked up to this weeks Hip Homeschool Hop

Happy Hopping


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Mixing it up

I'm sitting here doing some planning. I know, obsessive.

Anyway it occurs to me that Bambina is really getting into writing down ideas of things she would be interested in learning about on her "Things I Want To Learn About" sheet which lives on the fridge (gotta love that laminator!).

So having given her the opportunity to have input in her curriculum I now have to incorporate it into my forward planning don't I? Aaggghh

 So far in our homeschooling journey I have been planning monthly themes or Unit Studies as far in advance as possible so that from one month to the next themes are ready to go.

This works great for me but for two reasons it may not be whats best for Bambina. One reason is that if I prepare them all ahead she has no input and just gets thematic "ready meals", and the other reason is she may have forgotten or lost interest in what she wrote down on her sheet if I take too long to slot it into my planning.

 Catch 22

I may have thought of a solution. In a bit of a light-bulb moment I thought why not do both?! "My" topic, planned within an inch of its life for three weeks of a month and then a topic that Bambina has recently put on her sheet for the fourth week.

For example; in September I am planning to do the Solar System, studying each planet and note-booking about them. Complete with the mandatory model. But instead of doing this for 4 weeks, I crunch it down a bit, and complete it in 3. Then for the last week of September we go to her sheet for inspiration. Of course I will be looking to prepare just a little if I can, I'm not great at the "seat of the pants" stuff, can you tell?

Perhaps this is a bit "have your cake and eat it" but..... I like cake! So I think we will try it for September and see what happens. Wish me luck.

Any of you already doing this? Wanna join me? Or do you think think I'm barmy? I'd love to hear from you.


Tuesday, 31 July 2012

10 Things About Me.....

Since I have just joined the "Top 10" Tuesday link up over at http://www.manylittleblessings.com, I thought I would begin with the obvious....ME!

1) I have been happily married to my very own Superman for 12 years this September. Praise God

2) I (we) have one beautiful little girl who is the joy of my soul. I am forever grateful to the Almighty for her

3) I am a revert to Islam who wishes there were less division and more dialogue between the major religions of the world

4) I absolutely loooove baking. Bread and cakes mostly

5) Strangely my pastry making skills are.....mediocre. Lol

6) My lovely hubby, daughter and I spend alot of time laughing! The neighbours must think we are nuts

7) We currently live between two countries, one of them being the UK

8) I wish I could sew using a machine, but they don't like me so it's a needle and thread all the way

9) We are in our first year of official Homeschooling and Loving It!

10) My favourite colours are blue and grey

Phew, that was not so bad afterall.

God Bless


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I feel like I have been talking alot on here, unavoidable really as I play catch up. So I thought I'd lighten it up a bit with some pictures.
Yesterday Bambina asked to make clay. Of course I launched into homeschool mama mode and began a lengthy explination on where clay comes from and how we can't make it but people dig it out of the ground and we can buy it. She interrupted me mid-flow with "but mama, we made some before remember? We put salt in it?"
Aaaah the penny dropped, she meant salt dough! Doh. So red faced I trundled off to make some and this is what we came up with, a load of animals for a zoo. They were in the oven most of the day and this morning we painted a base coat on each one. Later on we added details and here they are.
If you are interested, the recipe for salt dough is; 240g flour, 300g salt and 240ml water. Enjoy

P.S.  I am adding this onto this weeks TGIF Linky Party over at Living Life Intentionally so pop on over and get inspired!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Proof is in the......Planning?

I have a secret, do you want to know what it is?.....OK here goes.... I LOVE planning! There, it's out, I said it.
Sorry, are you disappointed? Not what you were expecting?
Well I do it's true. It think it's somethimg about the excitement of seeing something developed from idea to reality. From vision to a tangible outcome. So I guess I'm quite well suited to Home Education because I spend a good deal of my time planning and preparing. If you've found a way not to. Don't tell me. Heehee
Having decided to base our homeschooling around monthly themes, I promptly began planning. I started by deciding which subjects I was going to focus on. For us that meant core subjects of;
                          1) Literacy.      2) Numeracy.     3) Islamic Studies.    
I had originally included History & Geography on this list, but I quickly realised that for us a better fit is something I'm calling "Cultural Studies". More on that later. Alongside the 3 core subjects there's;
                         4) Science.       5) Project Work.    6) Arts & Crafts.
As Bambina is only 5, the content of each subject is a mixture of Reception (K5) and Year 1 (Grade 1). This has suited us due to the fact that in terms of Numeracy we had to back track quite a bit, but in Literacy and most of her other subjects she has been doing Year 1 work for a while. We use a combination of manipulatives, worksheets, the odd workbook and oodles of arts & crafts. We used workbooks more in the first month or so but we have realised that Bambina is a Visual/Kinesthetic learner so we introduce concepts via manipulatives, games, youtube, discussion, books, DVDs, art etc and we concretise learning using worksheets/workbooks. I use the National Curriculum to inform but not dictate what we are learning about.
Finally there are several extra curricula activities including; Arabic & Quran class, Rainbows ( aka GirlGuides) and Gymnastics. She will also be attending a Home Education Supplementary class one morning a week.
I can hear the gasps from here! Yes it seems alot when written down, but trust me in the five months we've been homeschooling there are still times when we have completed everything and have to think of something extra to do. So far this works for us. I try to stay flexible and constantly review/assess as we go along.
One of my greatest tools in terms of planning is an Android App called My Class Schedule by Sebastian Meyer. It's a free app and I use it every day. Although I pay no attention to the times down the side, it gives me a great colour coded visual of what we need to accomplish each day and where we need to go. I've tried to include a screenshot of the app to give an idea of layout. Alongside this I have a planning book which I've divided into themes. In each theme I have divided it further into subjects and that's where I make all my planning notes covering what I want to accomplish each month in each subject.
In my excitement I turned out the planning for four months worth of themed work before she'd even finished at the primary school! Heehee, I am nothing if not eager. So there I was with my daily timetable and colour coded theme folders, did it go exactly as I'd planned? Did it heck as like. First of all we went abroad for 4 weeks and ended up staying 3 months! As I hadn't brought all my carefully planned work with me, those same fantastically planned out, colour coded themed units in their pretty plastic folders are still where I put them in my draw. Aaah well, we will use them at some point.
We are still doing themes each month, we just haven't done the ones I so diligently planned yet! Sometimes we do "mini-units" which last a week, we might do this before starting a monthly topic or during times like Ramadan when our family's schedule is turned upside down. Which is now by the way. See my post on Ramadan.
These are based on the concept of "Delight-led Learning". This is just a cutesy way of saying we do what Bambina wants. How I interpret this for our homeschool may be quite different from others. I laminated a sheet called "Things I Want To Learn About" (sorry I can't remember where I downloaded it from) and stuck in on the fridge. Then I explained to Bambina that when she thought of things she'd like to learn about she could use a whiteboard marker and write them on the list. I made it clear that it wouldn't always be instant as some things take planning and sometimes we'll be in the middle of something else. So far she's asked for; Elephants (done), ice skating, India, China, Brazil, Horses, Cats and Dogs...... Stupid list. Lol
So far we have done one monthly themed unit on The Human Body, not one of the ones I had planned on doing but it was brilliant. I'll do a post showing some of her work soon. As it is Ramadan until mid-August, we will be using her suggestions as mini topics until then.
In conclusion, I have learnt a valuable lesson early on in this homeschooling lark. It is important to make plans and be organised, it really is. As long as you are ready to ditch your plan and follow Gods plan. An important lesson for life too methinks.

A Question of Style

Hi there,
It is one thing to say "hey guess what? We are homeschooling!" Its quite another to prepare to home educate. The first thing I did was utilise the internet ( I loooove Lady Google sooo much, mwaah) and my local library to do some heavy duty research. Notice a pattern with me yet? No? You will.
I knew right off the bat that I was no Radical Unschooler. Scratch that, I knew I wasn't even a Liberal Unschooler. I am as yet undecided whether this is because I am not brave enough or because its actually not that good an idea.....oops lost some readers there, did you feel them logging off in a huff? I'm sorry but for me unschooling is not an option. I completely agree that children will learn regardless of whether they receive "formal" education or not, the real question for me is whether a child can learn more with a little guidance and thus be better prepared to become whatever Allah (God) has destined for them to be? Why learn to read at 7 when you could learn to read earlier with a little help? Surely there are better things to be doing at 7?
Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that homeschooled children are able to play a pivotal role in designing the education they receive (more about that in future entries) and I try to incorporate this Delight-Led Learning as it is called, as much as possible.
So, if I wasn't going to unschool what style was I going to follow? It briefly crossed my mind to buy a complete homeschool curriculum but to be honest that's just not me. Not to mention the cost! That left styles like Traditional, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Classical Conversations, Waldorf, School from Home,....aaaah the list was getting too long.
The more I read the more I realised that I didn't actually want to focus solely on any one style, what that meant I wasn't sure until I came across the concept of "Eclectic" homeschooling. A genteel term for "A bit of this and a bit of that". This was perfect, the same recipe I use when I'm cooking. Heehee
Having settled my hat as it were, it was time to go deeper. How were we going to organise this eclecticism? What did it really mean in practical terms? After more delving into Blogland, that wonderful land full of unending treasures, I liked the idea of basing everything around monthly topics or Unit Studies. Effectively this meant that the core subjects would be included in the topic. For example "Spring"; writing about plants and animals, counting and measuring days/level of rainfall, etc. If you are interested in more on Unit Studies or any of the other styles I mentioned, see here www.homeschool.com
Now the style was decided it was time to get planning.

Getting Up To Speed

After saying that I would be blogging weekly, it occurred to me that since we have been homeschooling since late February it would be a good idea to do some entries regarding some of the normal homeschool bloggers stuff that seems to be mandatory.
Hence the following flurry of entries where I will be going through some of the background around why and how we homeschool. Lets get started;


Bambina attended a small Islamic nursery / primary school from the age of 3-5. She only went 3 days a week for 2 years and for us this was perfect! We both loved it, she was happy and so was I. Let me say at this point that our decision to home educate was NOT based on me and my husband being unhappy with the school itself. We are eternally grateful for finding the school and indebted to the teaching staff for the loving care Bambina received.

Having said that, it was when Bambina went full time into Reception that we noticed a marked difference in her self-confidence, energy levels, self-esteem, attitude to learning and level of work. And NONE of it was good!

On top of this she lost all confidence in her ability with numbers and I mean all. She was dissolving into tears every day after school, upset because she was getting things wrong in her numeracy work and was "behind" the other children. She was not even five yet (December baby)! Although we did communicate with the school that we felt there was undue pressure being placed on such young children, and I was trying to work with Bambina at home in the few precious moments we had together, nothing was improving.

We were especially upset to find out that the maths work we were being sent home as examples of her not performing well was Year 1 (grade 1) work!
This concerned me and Superman greatly, why were we paying for our child to be uneccessarily upset? We began having doubts....

All of this was compounded by the fact that Bambina and I were not enjoying our time apart. When I was expecting Bambina, we had discussed home education as our preferred option. However after having her I began to freak out about her being an only child and getting lonely. I hold my hands up here, it was all me. Superman let me know his preference was home education, but being the amazingly supportive man that he is, he acquiesed. It was fine when she was part time, we had four out of seven days a week to do everything we needed/wanted to do. We were "semi-homeschooling" if homeschool purists don't shoot me for saying so.

But what could we do? Reception aged children have to go to school don't they? Isn't home education tightly and exhaustively monitored? Would my only child become horribly unsocialised and a "loner" if we homeschooled? Was I qualified?

These were the questions milling around in my head until a dear dear sister friend and I had a life altering conversation one freezing January morning...

Blowing on our hands and stamping to keep warm, we stood on the corner of the road after dropping off our children and bemoaned the fact that we couldn't have the best of both worlds as we had when they were in nursery. Complaining bitterly that we missed our children and resented having to turn into screeching Sargeant Majors to get our poor little children to school every morning.

Suddenly we both had a lightbulb moment! A look was shared and the unmentionable was uttered...."Lets look into the options, perhaps a homeschool co-op or flexi-schooling?" There was light at the end of the tunnel. We went off and began to research, our husbands got used to their wives constantly being on the phone or messaging each other, and very quickly we came to the same decision. There are options and more importantly, we were going to use them. Within six weeks, Bambina was officially de-registered and we were on the cusp of a new era......

I hope that wasn't too long winded, but thats our story and we have never looked back. Just 5 months later and I can't imagine not homeschooling! Wow, surely "We plan and Allah (God) plans, and He is the best of planners" couldn't be more true! Praise God

See you soon

Friday, 27 July 2012


Greetings All, that is of course assuming there is anyone out there! LOL

I know it has been a crazy long time since I last posted. To be honest I was not convinced that I really had anything of worth to say that was not already being said. That thought well and truly stumped my creativity.

However we have had a major lifestyle change in our little family....We are HOMESCHOOLING now! And to borrow a phrase from a rather well known food (and I use the term lightly LOL) franchise... I'm LOVING it!

So as a dear friend said recently, perhaps now I have something solid to blog about. Which got me thinking. Perhaps I could use this space to chronicle our Home Education journey as well as write reviews on places, book, curriculum, activities etc that we have found useful....or not.

So here goes, this blogs focus will now be home education. I plan (and read "God Willing" in front of all of this) to blog weekly but we will see. I also plan to keep the other pages from before and add recipes, product and book reviews from my life outside Home education (yeah right!).

For those of you who are visiting for the first time. I am married (his name shall be Superman) with a 5 1/2 year old daughter (whom we will shall call Bambina for blogging purposes).

So strap in and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that is our (homeschooling) life.