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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

QM

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.
QM

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;

WHY WE HOMESCHOOL

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

A NEW BEGINNING!!!


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.

WELCOME