getting down to the nitty gritty in november

all through november,
(yeah, i know it’s december already)
as the neighborhood trees changed kaleidoscopic colors
and finally made their solitary trips to the ground,
we’ve been getting back into the homeschool room on a regular basis,
a gradual change from our get-up-and-get-out modus operandi this past summer and into early autumn.

this november coincided with dhul-hijjah, the time of hajj.
we read several stories from my first quran storybook and tell me about hajj, both from goodword books.
we kept track of the hujjaj during their journey with our hajj maps from islamic bulletin boards.

theMan put on his ihram for the girls and told the a few his personal hajj stories.
we also made a model kaba from projects bricks, scrap black fabric, tape, gold paint, and a black stone.
the girls made tawaf and a pretend hajj in the living room with their dolls.

it’s such a blessing to be homeschooling.
let me tell you why:

i have the opportunity to witness radianceGirl exercise self discipline
when she voluntarily set a personal schedule and then sticks with it
without any encouragement or prodding from me.
she wakes up and reads a chapter or two from each of her books
— usually four —
and additionally reads a chapter or two each from her books after she makes her daily salat.
not too long ago, she told me she didn’t like to read.
now she devours books — in print and audio format — series after series.
another things she has taken up is journaling
and actually on a daily basis.
while i don’t correct her journal,
i do make mental notes on what we need to focus on in our language and grammar studies.

my oldest two are doing the book it program
and they manage to read about 10 chapter books or more each every month.
i don’t even count the picture books they go through, although i do keep a record.

i’ve been able to share my love of math and science with them
and hear them exclaim after finishing binomials or 4-digit multiplication
that “this is easy!” and “i love math!”
alHamdullilah, the montessori curriculum and tools have been helpful and effective in solidifying concepts and skills.

multiplication factors with the bead bars
making conclusions as a part of the scientific process
four-digit multiplication with bead frame

i’ve been witness to big sisters giving lessons to younger sisters,
even the baby, with patience and care.
for example, miracleGirl hadn’t been memorizing her phonetic alphabet,
so i resolved to let that go for a minute and focus on her beginning math skills.

writing tray with sandpaper letters
less than and greater than with number rods

a few months later, i resurrected some magnetic alphabets
that stick with the blue-consonants and red-vowels montessori theme
and stuck the “a”, “b” and “c” on the fridge.
i asked radianceGirl and mercyGirl to help me teach miracleGirl her letters.
so far we’ve gotten all the way through “o” with some great retention,
and they even use the montessori method,
first teaching her the letter sound (e.g. “this is ‘ah’.”, for the letter “a”),
then asking her to find a specific letter (e.g., “can you show me “ah”?),
and finally asking the sound of a specific letter (e.g., “what letter is this?”).
it gratifying to watch them take on that role, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.

radianceGirl has also taken it upon herself to help miracleGirl
trace the sandpaper numbers and then write them in a writing tray,
in addition to reviewing arabic letters.
less work for me!

big sis teaches a lesson with sandpaper numbers

in addition, they are improving on the skill of interrupting me while i’m working on a lesson with their sister.

they’re back to swim classes two times a week.
i can see their aquatic confidence growing.
radianceGirl is fast;
mercyGirl is very proficient;
and miracleGirl is putting her whole head in the water!
a big change from sitting at the side of the pool this summer,
being satisfied with a couple of half-way-done head bobs.

they are also back to their weekend arabic classes
and loving it.
i guess they don’t realize yet that they are going to “school” on the weekend
when most folks are just chillin!

they are getting more comfortable with performing
in bintu’s homeschool african dance class.

so i’m giving an overall view
and rambling a bit
just to make the point
that it feels sooooo good to be homeschooling these three now.

i’m putting this all on record so i can encourage myself
when i have “one of those days”.


9 thoughts on “getting down to the nitty gritty in november

    1. ambet, i believe you were referring to the writing tray which is usually used along with the sandpaper letters in helping children to learn letter sounds and shapes. it’s just a small tray filled with cornmeal, sand or the like — we use uncooked bulgar. once the child traces the sandpaper letter, then can attempt to write it in the tray. it engages the sense of touch more than a pencil per se. thanks for your comment.

  1. as salaamu alaykum!
    i was intro’d to your blog from a mutual FB friend, i have a ways to go before homeschooling and your blog makes me look forward to that time! 😉 your children are beautiful, masha’Allah. thanks for sharing what you do!

  2. I love it! When they are ready for Hajj they will know what to expect. I love what your doing with the girls. Sanaa is growing into a beautiful young lady and with patience 🙂 to assist her sisters. Alhamdulilah!

    God Bless you Kori

  3. Salam Sistr,
    MAshaAllah your work is very inspirational. I really want to teach my children the same way. I have two questions how ever,
    1. how do you plan your curriculums for your children.
    2. What do you do with the young ones while you are with the older ones, for example the one year one?
    Please help!

    1. was as wr wb,

      1. there are plenty of curricula available. you have to research it, get recommendations, and just choose one. or you can unschool and just use books, the web, field trips or whatever resource is available. i chose montessori, and based on the age and ability of my child, follow a general guideline in directing her learning.

      2. if i lived at 1 perfect avenue, i’d have a nanny to mind my baby when i work with the older ones, but i don’t live at that address. when my one year old can participate — like circle time or art — i allow her the opportunity. otherwise i try to engage her in her own age-appropriate activities, let her roam our homeschool (if she doesn’t cause too much destruction), give her a snack, put her down for a nap, or — as in most cases — i strap her to my back. it’s a juggling act, even when they are all of school age.

      check out any homeschooling book by linda dobson, like “the homeschooling book of answers“.

      i hope my responses at least send you in the correct direction.

  4. Hi, I’m a Christian Montessori religious educator working with Montessorians of other faiths on materials to introduce children ages 9+ to Islam and other world religions. Would you like to help us? Since you have the Montessori approach to children in place and are interested in sharing their faith this could be a good collaboration.

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