Homeschool

A glimpse of our homeschooling day, materials we use and our challenges

September 28, 2013

I can’t believe its been nearly a month since we started homeschooling.  Alhumdulilah it has been quite an experience so far, I still have so much to learn and improve on. The first week I felt like I was on top of the world. High energy, almost 95% cooperation from the kids, clean house, and cooked dinner. But then life happens like a kid gets sick, you get pregnancy related migraines that put you out for a few days, you forget to take the meat out to defrost, you forget to change out of your pajamas, and the list goes on. Now most would go on to think that it would have been easier to send the child to school, you’d have less kids to manage and you don’t have to stress about teaching them the lesson for the day. But for me I’ve felt the total opposite. I don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to nag my child to get out of bed for the 100th time, I don’t worry about the mounds of homework that needs to be due the next day, and that child of mine would actually be very helpful to watch the younger siblings for me if I’m not feeling to well that day. In the past month I have learned that homeschooling is actually less stressful to me and the children. We wake up at a reasonable time and are all well rested, we take our time to learn, we eat when we are hungry, we pray together, play together and we’re all more relaxed.

What do we do?

The kids and I are usually crawling out of bed around 8:30am. We do the whole morning routine and head to the kitchen for breakfast around 9:00am. Generally we are not strict on timing. We don’t rush but I will remind the kids to finish the task at hand if they are taking much longer than necessary. We usually make our way to our study area around 10:30am. My daughter is currently in first grade and I homeschool her first. In the beginning I sat with her through each step. As we get more accustomed to homeschooling she is feeling more comfortable and at times prefers doing work on her own after I teach her the material. Overall she has the freedom of being creative, taking her time, asking questions, making connections, and taking a few steps beyond the basics that are being taught, something that she was not able to do at school. I also homeschool my 3 1/2 years old son. I purchased a Kindergarten curriculum for him and he has been doing quite well with it. We do things from the curriculum about three days a week and the rest of the time he honestly sits with his sister while she is learning and ends up picking up quite a bit mashallah. And last but not least is my youngest who will be two in a matter of days inshallah. For him I have created some busy activities but he much prefers to follow his older brother around, empty out kitchen and bathroom cabinets and sit and go through some of his favorite books.  Yes the house looks like its been turned over by the end of the day, but if that’s what he likes to keep himself busy with while I homeschool so be it. After a few hours of working we take a lunch/prayer break and soon after I will try to take the boys to their room for a nap. While the boys nap is when my daughter and I get back to business and finish strong. Honestly if it was just her and I homeschooling, we’d be done in 3 hours max. But when you’re juggling so many other things and kids it ends up taking more time.

What educational material am I using?

I have been receiving quite a bit of questions asking me what resources I use to teach the kids. I remember when my daughter was born and after hearing of a friend who had planned to homeschool her kids I was very eager to do the same. To me it sounded like it would be so satisfying to teach your own kids and to witness their minds develop. I would be on the internet trying to research all kinds of things I could use to teach my child. From free printables to 100 million blogs with brilliant ideas, by the end my mind was mush. So for the preschool years I decided to focus on Islamic studies (arabic alphabet, short surahs, dues, basic fundamentals of Islam, etc.), reading, and basic knowledge like shapes, colors, letters and numbers. I ended up using a lot of things I already had at home and bought a few things to supplement my teaching (I’ll list materials below). As you may have read in previous posts my daughter attended school for Kindergarten and I am currently teaching her first grade material which I bought a curriculum for to avoid getting lost in the black hole of the internet. Below I have listed items I am currently using.

Pre-K (Currently no kids in this group)

Kindergarten (3 1/2 years old)

*Other Activities*

  • Clubs: Crafts Club and Arabic Fun Club
  • Sunday School
  • Once a week Library Day
  • Daily outdoor playtime

First Grade  (6 1/2 yrs old)

*Other Activities*

  • Clubs: Soccer
  • Sunday School
  • Once a week Library Day
  • Daily outdoor playtime

Challenges

So far some challenges I have faced are keeping my little toddler busy during the time I’m homeschooling. He is usually the first to wake up so I take this opportunity to spend some one on one time with him. We have breakfast together, play and read some books. This has worked out really well Alhumdulilah. Now I just have to come up with some activities that will win him over while I homeschool his two siblings. Another challenge has been just being tired from the pregnancy. It’s my last trimester and I’m just feeling extremely tired, achy and am having trouble sleeping more than my previous pregnancies. And lastly, I feel like I can improve on my meal planning. I manage to get dinner ready but I feel like if I plan my week ahead of time dinner time would be less stressful. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of meal planning for the longest time and have never been successful at it. I’m the type that will just get in the kitchen and cook with an idea of what I’ll be making. I think taking out an hour or so a week to sit down and plan will definitely be worth it. Also need to freeze some meals as backup and give my crockpot a try.

Of course with everything new you start there is a lot of excitement and energy in the beginning and soon that energy levels off. It’s important for me to reflect on why I chose this path because in the end that is what will keep me motivated to continue to homeschool.

*Other Ramblings*

  • Planning ahead and being organized are two things that contribute to a successful homeschool experience
  • Had my monthly pre-natal checkup and it seems at 29 weeks I’m measuring 34cm. Midwife is sending me to get an ultrasound to make sure all is ok. Praying its nothing to worry about but the truth is I can’t help but worry.
  • Wishing Texas would have some crisp, cool fall weather, I always wish I was in my home state of Michigan during this season.
  • I feel like having pumpkin pie

 

Working, Praying, Napping

 

 

Food

It’s a Shakshuka kinda morning.

September 10, 2013

photo-9I woke up the other day to a near empty fridge. It was the weekend and I was in the mood to make something yummy for breakfast. I put my creative hat on and skimmed the pantry for anything I could work with. I found some cans of diced tomatoes in the pantry and some peppers and eggs in the fridge. Then I remembered a recipe a friend posted on my Facebook page when I put up a status asking friends to share some yummy vegetarian dishes. She had posted a recipe for shakshuka. What’s shakshuka you ask? I myself had the same question. I had absolutely no idea what it could be or what ingredients it may have. It’s a dish of poached eggs in a tomato sauce which consists of onions, peppers, cumin, with some feta sprinkled on top (my favorite part). I love it because it consists of ingredients most people have on hand so it’s a great last minute meal you can whip up for really any time of the day. My family has had it straight up with just a fork or with a side of toast or flatbread.

Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Homeschool

Where’s school?

September 8, 2013

I can’t believe almost two weeks have gone by since we started homeschooling! I have the urge to blog daily because I have soooo much information to share with you guys. I’m still trying to find a good time where I can sit and write, inshallah I’ll be more frequent soon. I’m a few posts behind on my homeschooling journey but inshallah I’ll catch up soon enough.

Months prior to homeschooling I had been reading a lot of blog posts suggesting to make your “school” in one particular area of the house and if you could to have a whole separate room for it. I totally agreed with what these blogs were saying and imagined trying to do that myself. Currently we are living in a two story townhouse with the master bedroom downstairs and a loft and kids bedrooms upstairs. It’s not the ideal setup for a growing family, but Alhumdulilah we’ve made it work.  We’re definitely looking forward and are excited to moving into our new home by the end of the year inshallah. Right now our choices for our learning area were either the upstairs loft or turning the dining area (which opens to the kitchen) into a school room. I immediately crossed upstairs loft off my list though that would have been the ideal place for school. I just couldn’t imagine myself being in my third trimester running up and down with the aches and pains I have been experiencing during this pregnancy. Next and only option seemed to be the kitchen dining area which I wasn’t in favor of either. Then I had the idea to have the setup in my bedroom, yes my bedroom. There was enough room to place a desk and a few bookshelves for all of our things. It would work because I’d homeschool Isra in the room while the boys played in the family room and ate in the kitchen, and we’d all be in the same area which would make it so much easier for me to keep an eye on everyone. I would later find out that my bed would actually become my comfy spot for my very aching back and where most of our reading lessons would take place :) . Honestly I could have never imagined being ok with having the homeschool stuff in my bedroom. I like everything having its own home and like things to look visually appealing and stylish. Maybe I’m more open to it because I know its a temporary setup until we move or maybe my priorities have changed and things that would have bothered be before no longer do, funny how things change.

 

CleanupWorking hard to make their learning area spectacular!

Anyhow the kids were super pumped to setup their area. They brought out the cleaning supplies and got to work. Then we got the help of Baba dearest who brought the bookshelves and desk downstairs. We opened up all of our new school supplies and gave everything a home. At the end things looked nice and organized and I was happy we were able to use furniture we already had at home.  Getting the kids involved helped them feel like they were a part of  this new adventure our family is taking on, not only are they students but also the ones who helped create their homeschool.

 

Final setupOur final setup 

Inshallah in the upcoming posts i’ll dive into our typical day as well as what learning tools we’ve been using.