Homeschool Chat with Gentle Art of Learning

Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without being taught to us…. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much of what is remembered , is irrelevant. ” Russell Ackoff

Today’s homeschool chat brings you the lovely Janine Kellar-Vasiliou, a Muslim homeschooling mother of four children from the UK. Janine follows currently an eclectic method of home education, following the teachings of Charlotte Mason , Montessori and incorporating a peaceful parenting approach to learning. She can be found on Instagram @gentle.art_of_learning ,where she shares snippets of their homeschool journey and she also has her own blog http://gentleartoflearning.co.uk/ .

1.Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children.

Salaam alaykum. I’m Janine, aged 33 and a UK home educating mother of four.  I’m passionate about all things creative, Islamic parenting, and self- improvement books. I love educational wooden toys, organising spaces, home decor, and trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

I’m a British born Revert to Islam, born in Kent raised between Kent and South East London.

Born to a British mother and British, half Greek and Italian father. From a fairly non religious background, and now Gratefully Muslim, Alhamdulillah, for the last 9 years. Married to a British, mixed raced, half Trinidadian Muslim revert. My husband is a big support for me and the sole provider in our home. 

Once I got married, I Left my current job, to travel across the world to Saudi, Jeddah, where we experienced 4 memorable years together, both working as teachers and where I gave birth to two of my now four children. After my second child was born, we arranged to return home as we realised the UK offered a-lot more opportunities for raising our children how we envisioned. The main reasons being surrounded by family and nature, two things that lacked abroad. We also wanted to be able to share the love of the deen, give dawah and lead by example to those we love. . I now have Four beautiful children, 2 boys and two girls. Oldest boy being 6.5yrs, youngest boy being 14months. My girls are 4.5 and 3.5 years old.

I Never grew up ever considering home education as an option. I Was schooled, all the way up from daycare to uni and enjoyed it for the best part, apart from anxiety over exams and maths. My husband went to a Grammar school, and felt he wasted a lot of time. We both naturally agreed pretty soon after becoming parents that homeschooling was best for our lifestyles and the children’s future. We haven’t looked back since. However, I do say we are always open minded to change.

2.What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

The key reasons behind our decisions were;

* freedom to parent and teach how we wanted without answering to anyone and having the freedom to get up and go on holiday or travel whenever we saw fit.

* Being able to raise our children on the Deen, to put Allah first in all we do, and to create a stable, loving home for them where they are lead by example. 

* to give them the opportunity to express themselves as born persons, to have child led experiences that are natural and not forced upon them, to nurture and develop their independence in a safe environment. 

* to not have them confide to a school sit down, don’t speak, setting, where we couldn’t monitor what they were subjected to and to nurture a love of learning in a homely, safe, environment. 

* to allow them to interact with all ages and peers and have the confidence to speak, relate and find common ground. To be able to up-stand a good moral character and give back to the community.

Theres many more reasons but these stand out and were the main important core values for our family.

3.What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

A typical day, well most days aren’t the same with young children and so I have to be flexible in this and also take into account any appointments, trips, outside activities etc.

Usually our days start off with my morning routine at 6am but it often changes with time. 

Currently I workout at home, two days doing something simple like planks and 3 days I Follow a workout plan. Shower and dress, then pray fajr and read Qur’an, check my planner and usually make a cuppa, unless it’s a real struggle then I hit the coffee. If I have time I’ll also add in a quick wash down of the sinks and clean toilets. ( As I hate cleaning bathrooms so try to stay on top of it). The kids are usually awake then anytime between 7-7.30am and are demanding breakfast. We have habits in place for our morning routines and the chores where the kids will check their tokens for the day and follow them. (I hope to have a blogpost out on this very soon inshAllah, since habits are something I have been working on with the children and myself.)

Once the kids are all dressed and done with their age appropriate chores (ie. making beds) then we sit down together for breakfast.

Our breakfast usually consists of either porridge, fruits and yogurt, Alpen, homemade bread, or Eggs, avocado, salad, and I rotate this out. We try to start our day as healthy as possible. We are also working on adding in more green juices, since I now have a ninja blender and since the kids have gone fussy again at dinner times.

Somewhere between this, I’ll load the dishwasher and put the washing machine on.

We usually start schooling around 9, 9.30 God-willing, after a quick breakfast clean up. It’s easier to do it straight after breakfast because I then don’t have to rally them all together. I stick on our nasheed playlist or Qur’an, sometimes we light a candle, burn oils etc and set the scene for the day. I will get the kids setup with some maths work or Phonics/handwriting etc depending, but it’s always the core subjects first. So if nothing else gets achieved that day, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. Meanwhile, my 3year old is always happy to join in, but if she’s been playing I won’t interrupt her or may just give her colouring or wipeable boards to do, which she loves. Then I will go and feed the baby and get him down for his nap. I can then come back and give my full attention. This is where we do our bulk of our studies, stopping in-between for brunch and lunch. ( Because my kids always want to eat and we study in the kitchen). Usually I’ll add in our morning Basket, where we do Qur’an memorisation, flashcards and read aloud’s mainly. This way I get to read to them and eat snacks aswel and everyone is happy.

We then stop for free – play, if my son still needs to read to me, I’ll do this with him on the sofa (though he’s starting to do this independently now that he’s older) and then I tell them I have chores to do, calls to make, and that I need my quiet time. Afternoons are then free for outdoors activities, or taken up by cooking, if I haven’t done it the day before which my eldest loves to help me with. We also do themed projects and crafts on the days when I have less of my own chores to do, otherwise I’ll set them up with an activity to play with. We then have a manic tidy around and my husband is usually home around 5pm, where we will have dinner altogether at the table. My husband will usually finish of his work in the office, then will play with the kids. We all wind down together before I get them ready for our bedtime routine. 

We read to them every night, my husband will usually read to my eldest some Islamic story of the battles or something with a good moral or positive mindset, at the moment I think it’s called A warrior Child and so my son does a workout routine in his room before bed (not my choice). I then bath and put the baby down to sleep and then give the kitchen a once over before I can get a cuppa and chill around 8pm. I’m usually shattered and in bed by 10.30/11pm.

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

Being fairly new to homeschooling, I have a lot to learn. You may be a fly on the wall looking in and see days that appear to be more ‘Montessori’ based learning as I love introducing practical life skills whenever I can. We may have an ‘unschooled’ approach one day if we’ve all woke up late and are feeling poorly. Routine may of gone out the window and so we might be having a non- structured learning day, sometimes it’s just nice to just go with the flow. But reading through Charlotte Mason’s book’s have taught me that is it best to have a philosophy and a method that backs up how we live out our educational life. Something that ‘Karen Andreola’ goes on to talk about in her book ‘A Charlotte Mason’s companion.’ This book helped me immensely when starting out and I often refer back to it. Charlotte Mason’s teaching resonates with me, my families values, spiritually and non spiritually. We have gone as far as adapting our own school Motto based on Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, because I believe in her teachings so much. Of course, our Deen comes first in all we do, and the ways of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammed SAW. I still adapt things to our surroundings and input an eclectic approach at times, as we never stop learning and changing as our children grow, we grow too. In homeschooling we have to be flexible and I think that goes for how we teach, what we teach and when we teach. But for now, I can happily say we use Charlotte Mason’s teachings. I’ve learnt the meaning of habits, routine and consistency. It’s a continuous battle, mind you, but the days when everything flows and the atmosphere is right and the children are engaged and everyone is relaxed and vibing of off my energy. Those are the days I love, and those are the days of homeschooling that I remember why we are doing it and why I choose Charlotte Mason’s methods. 

5.What do you love the most about home schooling ?

I Feel immensely blessed to wake up and seeing the smiles on my children’s faces and knowing that I don’t have to rush to go to work or take them to school.That we can just get up and go and pack our bags for a trip pretty much whenever we feel like it and don’t have to answer to anyone. 

I love those little moments ‘aha moments’ when the kids tell you about something they have learnt or seek interest in, and I love witnessing the wonder and owe that children possess. 

I love being around them and witnessing them grow and not have that guilt feeling like I’m not there for them as much as I’d like. Those moments when you can teach life skills and watch habits form. Cooking together or just reading on the sofa when were all feeling poorly.

I love the freedom it brings, when being in control of what we teach and often switching it up, adapting to our changing life, whether that be at home or on the road. Allowing the children to have an input and choose child lead interests to study. Most of all, I love the fact home education allows children to be children and that I get to enjoy those life experiences alongside them.

6. Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ? 

Yes, having young children and different ages, I’ve always wanted to make life easier for myself by having everyone together in one space and to create that close net family unit, I really feel it’s what homeschooling is all  about. So for me, Morning time/ circle time has always been a big part of how I teach, whether one child engages more, or takes something different from it or is doing something totally different to what I’m reading, by being together they are take in something and gaining and benefiting by being exposed to it. 

I’ve done circle times in the past, where I’d love to do sing songs, hand gestures, finger puppets, nursery rhythms, read alouds, somewhat nursery like , but since I have a baby lately we have gone back to the table as it’s easier. At one stage, I stopped morning baskets In the mornings for awhile, I cut it out completely, because I felt we were taking too much time over it and not getting the core work done which was giving me anxiety, so I stopped, then I missed it too much. I think we have found a balance that works for us now, where we do our core subjects first, then with the morning basket we will cover any flashcards memorisation, Nasheeds, Qur’an, date/weather, poetry, read alouds and character building.  The kids really enjoy it and they can learn so much in this time period, by doing a little, but consistently. I love to switch it up and add in maps, flag work, Arabic and other things to memorise. I tend to switch it up every 12weeks.( Blogpost coming soon on this for more details)

7.What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ? 

I’ve always been a visual learner and creative person from a young age, I studied in Graphic Design, so anything arty, crafting projects, handicrafts, I love it all. I think it’s important to incorporate art and design into most subjects as it makes for more fun to be had. I also love nature studies, because it’s my children’s favourite. They enjoy drawing and colouring and exploring nature outdoors and studying creepy crawlers. I also love the fact I get to do nature and seasonal displays for them to enjoy at home and bring some nature inside.

History and Geography might have been one of my most anxious subjects to start, just because I thought they were so vast and I didn’t learn anything in school myself, so have very little knowledge on them but I actually love the fact I get to learn alongside with my children. The older I get the more I love learning about history and find It fascinating. Maths and languages are not my speciality, so that’s where my husband comes in, he’s great in these areas. I’m not put off by a challenge but I would get a tutor if need be. Funny enough English,I’m not too good at either, (you might be able to tell) plus I’m such a slow reader, always have been, but I do enjoy it, and love read aloud time with the children. I’ve also really enjoyed teaching them to read and seeing the progression in them.

In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn’ Phil Collins

I can’t believe it was Phil Collins that quoted this but I love it because whatever your strengths and weaknesses, you learn alongside your children and most importantly, your children teach you some of the greatest life lessons  there are to learn.

8.What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children?

Honestly, there are many challenges. Lack of confidence, lack of patience, that self doubt within, is a constant battle, especially to be consistent, I use that word a lot because, being disciplined within ourself is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome but having the ‘Will’ and ‘why’ I am doing this, helps push through the day and strive instead of just to‘ get by’. Usually I wonder if they went to school would I have a cleaner, tidier home, with less in it and plenty more free time for self care and valuable personal space, but these concerns and doubts outweigh all the blessings that raising my children bring, in these formative years. I constantly remind myself on the blessings we have been given and I try to tell myself that everything I do, is firstly to seek the reward of my Lord and second to create a loving home and calm atmosphere, to nature that love of learning.

My son loves to do hands of activities, stem work, maths, experiments and finding stuff out but he gets distracted easily and doesn’t enjoy handwriting and copy-work much. It can be hard at times also when your trying to teach more than one child and he gets involved and try to tell them the answers, but all these things I see as very minor obstacles and things I need to overcome gradually.

I guess the biggest challenge which most home educators would agree is never quite feeling that balance of being on top of chores and homeschool it’s a constant battle and one I’m still working at. I feel I’m often a great homeschooler and parent or a great housewife doing both definitely isn’t easy, it’s often a struggle. However, any time it gets to a point when I’m not enjoying it or giving them my best self, I take a break and re -evaluate everything. Overall , I’m very passionate about home education otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it and give my children the best of me. When I’m learning with them and see them happy, I Come alive and we feed of that energy, it really is a beautiful thing.

9.How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc?

Since I have a 14month old that I breastfeed still,  I don’t get the best nights sleep always but I try my best to make time for a morning routine. I’ve realised the important of these quiet moments alone before the kids rise. This usually starts at 6 am. I Admit since my kids are still young, I don’t really have any hobbies or outside activities I do on a regular, just for me, but evening and weekends are sacred time for me. My kids are in bed, lights out by 7.30 pm every night without fail. Usually by then I am too tired to hoover, clean the kitchen etc but I try to have a 15 min power through room tidy, do the dishwasher, bf and put the baby down for the night, pray Isha and then chill. That could mean study time with the hubby, an early night and a book in bed, or a cuppa and Ertugrul.lol. Weekends, we enjoy time as a family and Sunday morning is when we take a family stroll with the kids outdoors, then I get meal prepping and planning done for the week ahead. Sundays and Friday nights are the only times we allow kids to watch tv, (unless its HS related) My husband and I, take this hour on Sunday to either get some individual tasks done or plan the week together and re- evaluate. Although this isn’t self- care time it’s valuable time for me to re-charge for a new week ahead, without the kids distracting me. We try to make time for regular monthly date nights out and if I Ask my husband he will usually take the kids out for a couple of hours to give me a break. Nevertheless these times are usually taken up by seeing to the baby, doing chores mainly folding laundry whilst drinking a cuppa and watching some home renovation program, Qur’an lecture, self help video or audible. I love spending time in nature like most people. It has an amazing calming effect, I also find this for when I’m in a creative place, doing some type of handicraft, or planning homeschooling and shopping for resources. haha. I love to take hot showers and find I get most my creative ideas flowing either in the morning or last thing at night (the later can drive my husband potty, with my overflowing mind). I am planning on getting some more independence and me time once i’m driving though. I plan to take a Qur’an class for myself InshAllah this new year.

I think it’s important to add, If I feel like I’m gonna burst at times,(which happens) I always reach out for help, whether it be outside help, my husband taking more responsibilities to take some load off, family taking the kids for a night, It’s important as a homeschooling mum to find those breaks in-between and make time for yourself, if you need a day off homeschooling to re-charge, I take it and I don’t feel guilty about it. I’d rather come back fresh and ready to start as my children feed of off my energy and I set the tone for the family. When I’m stressed out, I have to take a break.

10.Book list

Here are some treasured books, that I often refer to and that make up the bulk of our homeschool;

I am the seed that grew the tree – National Trust – poems collection

A child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson 

A Picnic of Poems In Allahs Green Garden – Dawud Wharnsby

Map book by Alexandria Mizielinska

99 Names of Allah – Chickpea press

Safar – Islamic Studies Textbooks and workbooks

The Moral Compass – William J. Bennett

Nature Anatomy – Julia Rothman

Handbook of Nature Study

Some other books I’d recommend include; 

Nurturing Eeman in children. Dr Aisha Hamdan. 

The whole Brain Child and Parenting from the inside out – Dr. Daniel J.Siegel

Current audible reading – Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman and 

Invaluable laws of Growth – John C Maxwell.

11.How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

Thankfully, I come from a loving supportive family, Alhamdulillah. On both mine and my husbands side. We don’t have a strong support network in the sense we are the only current Muslims in our family, and my mother lives far from us, which can be hard at times but we do have the support and that’s the main thing. They may not understand all we do, but they are eager to learn more. My mother is a teacher herself so she often shares her experiences with me and offers her advice. Sure I’ve had many different opinions thrown at me, from a schooling perspective and the famous ‘socialising’ questions. I’ve had many debated conversations and lovely question sessions on why we choose to homeschool, but like I said I’m passionate about it so I’m always happy to talk about it and also try to be respectful of others who can’t or choose not to homeschool.If anything I have found it’s only brought a good interest into home education and a different perspective. 

12.Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years time ?

My husband and I, have taken the time to write in detail all our core values, Moto’s, rules, expectations and how to implement them. I really recommend this to anyone home educating, to have a clear vision of where your going and what you expect together, so you know your both on the same page. Of course Allah is the best of planners. But like the saying goes, ‘Trust Allah and tie your camel.’ 

We have many personal visions for the future, some of the main ones being as self sustainable as possible. Giving the children as many life experiences as possible with as much travelling as we can. Hopefully on the road around Europe. God-willing. I want them to see the world and have hands on experiences, write books, do charitable events, climb mountains, work on character building and implementing the sunnah of our Beloved Prophet SAW in our everyday life. I see us still home educating in which my children will then be almost 12, 9, 8, and 6 and able to attend a lot more outdoor classes and activities. I would pray that in 5 years time my husband’s business would allow for more time to work online or from home where he could have more of an active role in joint educating and more freedom to travel.

13.What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

It would be hard to home educate without both of you in agreement on schooling and parenting, so work out your core values and goals before you start. Of course this doesn’t mean that single parents can’t do this just as well on their own. I know many that excel and are super mums, nowadays, you can get helpful government aid and support. Currently in the UK, you don’t have to register but if you choose to, I have heard they have offer extra support and some people don’t find this invasive. I choose not to, but at least the option is available to us, so research what would work best for your family. 

Many people often worry about the costs of homeschooling, but to be honest I believe truly anyone can homeschool, it’s about being smart. You can get so many resources online nowadays, books from libraries or can be ordered in, amazon and eBay sell second hand, charity stores, Facebook etc for resources. Yes it may take more effort on your part, but if your someone that mainly wants to ‘unschool’ say, instead of following set curriculum, then this may be a cheaper option to consider. 

I would suggest to anyone considering home education to do your research. I watched a few good homeschooling documentaries on YouTube at the start and read some books by the likes of John Holt, and John Taylor Gatholt to name a few. I looked into many different philosophies, their history and took note on what resonated with me and what didn’t. So I had a clear idea and vision of what I wanted and what I didn’t want for my family. Of course too much information can also be overwhelming, the best thing to not overthink it and just start. Via simple trial and error. 

‘We all fail- it’s how we get back up that determines our success.’

I really found help with the likes of ‘Ourmuslimhomeschool’, ‘Jady A’ on YouTube, ‘Simply Charlotte Mason’ and ‘Missmodernmason’ to name a few. Take a few pointers and resources from people that inspire you, use their methods if it helps until you get on your own feet, then adapt it to your own personal, family’s needs, as in home education you must to be flexible and no home or home school will look exactly the same. 

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

 “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240

This applies with home education too, things will not always be prefect, start implementing a few things regularly and add to it slowly as you grow in confidence and as your family adapts. InshAllah

And lastly, don’t doubt yourself, I mean we all do it, myself included but don’t let that be the reason to hold you back!

Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No Excuses.” Kobe Bryant

14.Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?

This a great question, one that isn’t easy to answer. 

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn’ Benjamin Franklin

This quote struck me when I was thinking about this question and visualising. As a parent, if I could only give my children a few life skills in life that they could remember me by, it would be firstly, to Put Allah first in all they do. 

To see us parents, as the role models and to embody Taqwah ( fear of Allah) and Tawakkal of Allah ( Trust in Allah) in all they do. Secondly, I want them to master self- control and to be confident, Optimistic and positive beings. We believe as parents, in today’s ever fast changing society, that character and strong ethics are the most important life skill and wisdom, we can teach our children. Above any facts in learning, if they are able to have inner strength and be in touch with their emotions, then they can be adaptable to any life situations and hopefully thrive. God-willing. 

My vision for them would be, to have them look back, and say that they respect and appreciate all we did for them. That they embody Iman and a strong moral character. That they see myself and my husband as role models and look up to us and would want similar for their children. That they didn’t feel like they missed out on any life experiences and have lifelong friends and a love of the Deen.  

That they had many great happy memories of their childhood and places they have visited. 

That have developed worldly knowledge through experiencing many different life challenges from a young age, and because of their confidence and knowledge they are able to apply it in any situation and therefore play an active role in the Muslim community, with charitable work.

I Would love for them to say their childhood was full of the outdoors, literature, fun and an overall love of learning. That they were able to make clear choices in life and are confident assertive individuals. I Hope that they will be proud of me as a mother and see me as a happy, loving and nurturing parent and Muslim role model, and feel that they are able to confide in us for anything. I want to be remembered as a mother that could have fun, laugh and joke with them and not be remembered as a constant nag or helicopter parent. I hope that they would say I was just, respectful of them as born persons and that we as parents gave them independence yet they still had firm boundaries, rules and routines in place to guide them.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Eva for arranging this home ed network and for inviting me to be a part of it, I have enjoyed answering these questions and pray they will be of benefit to some and an encouragement that with baby steps and consistency, we can raise our children with confidence and ease. Insh Allah. 

“Upon death, man’s deeds will stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and a pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously prays to Allah, for the souls of his parents” (Muslim).

May Allah make our intentions pure, and good deeds, the best of deeds and may our children be a source of continuous rewards for us in the hereafter. Ameen.

Homeschool Chat with Little Homeschool on Prairie

” As teachers, parents and caregivers, we become not scientists with microscope and laboratory, but naturalists, who observe life and nature within its element- plain air (outdoors)-like the modern day ethnographer observing children in real life to see how and why they learn as they do.” Jack Beckman

Today’s homeschool chat is with Tasha , a former Elementary teacher and a homeschooling mother of 6 children, who resides in Canada. She can be found on Instagram (@little_homeschool_on_prairie). Tasha also has her own blog http://www.littlehop.ca , where she shares snippets from their homeschool journey as well as creating lots of free printables.

1.Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children

Alahamdullilah we have 6 children – 5 boys and 1 girl. They are all fairly close in age (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12) and they are the best of friends! We live on a farm in the prairies of Canada. We raise sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks. We also have dogs, a cat, and a rabbit! My husband and I were both born and raised in Canada. I reverted to Islam in my early 20s after attending a Bible college, alhamdullilah.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?

I was previously an elementary teacher and always knew in my heart I would homeschool my children if possible. I witnessed several incidents with my students in the public school system that made me cringe – behaviours, attitudes, bullying and so on. I also couldn’t wrap my head around the amount of wasted time that was spent on discipline and other nonsense. When we had our children, we knew that we wanted to spend our days together as family. We wanted them to learn what we felt was important. We didn’t want them to spend long hours away from home learning what they were told to learn. We wanted to be able to incorporate religious studies into our every day. We wanted our children to maintain the bond between each other. We wanted to provide a home and environment that nurtured nature. We wanted them to be motivated to learn by cultivating an environment that embraced various learning styles. And ultimately we wanted to provide an environment that would create a strong connection between our children and their Creator.

3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

We follow a fairly structured day because we have farm chores to be done, so because our animals are on a routine, we have to be as well. Our children thrive on routine so we do maintain a schedule for them (although, some days we need to adjust accordingly for various reasons). This is the benefit of homeschooling. We begin our morning with ‘Morning Time’. This is when we spend a small chunk of time altogether. We then move into ‘Morning Rotations’. The children all work on math, copywork/narration/dictation exercises. The younger ones are using a copywork loop schedule so each day they are experimenting with different forms of writing (classical literature, poetry, hadith, Quran, and novel/easy reader). The older boys are using Fix-it-Grammar for their copywork/narration portion. The younger children finish the morning rotation with Arabic and Quran. The older boys finish with Science. In the afternoon, the older boys have their Quran/Arabic while the younger children have their ‘Afternoon Loop’. This loop is very short and usually consists of a science read aloud and a math read aloud or a quick map drill. The older boys also finish the day with an ‘Afternoon Loop’ that consists of either: history notebooking, map drill, poetry study, writing from pictures, or nature study (it depends on the day but we rotate through those in our loop). We end their day with an Islamic history read aloud. We take advantage of the afternoon by engaging in handiwork, outside time, and farm chores!

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

I would say for several years I was very much an eclectic homeschooler; taking away things from all different styles. However, more recently I have taken more interest in Charlotte Mason homeschooling. I have been reading extensively in this area and feel that in many ways, this is a great fit for our family.

5. What do you love the most about home schooling ?

There are too many things to list! We love the flexibility. We can take holidays when it works for our family. For example, during our Eid celebration we take a mini break. We can wrap up our school year when it works for us. On the farm, spring is a very busy time so we wrap up by the end of April. This also allows us to maximize our summer since we have a very short summer season. We love the close family bond we have and that we spend our time learning together.

6. Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

Yes! The children listen to a read aloud chosen by me (typically a classic novel). We also cover a moral story or hadith at this time. There are a few selected works that I have been utilizing in this area. We like to engage in discussions on the novels and the moral story of the day. It usually takes us about 20 minutes before we head into morning rotations.

7. What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

Language Arts and History I enjoy the most. We often incorporate a fun element to these subjects by using lots of literature and project-based learning (art projects, handicrafts etc). Personally, my least favourite is higher level math. It’s just not a subject I feel passionate about.

8. What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

#1- Patience. Some days will be tougher than others. #2) Selflessness. I have to be realistic when it comes to goal setting for myself. I definitely would like to accomplish more in terms of reading and memorization but at the same time I have to be realistic. I would love to have an immaculate home all the time, but it’s just not a realistic expectation. I make the most of the situation and we work as a team to stay on top of things the best we can. This is my biggest challenge.

9. How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

I try my best to wake up before the children so I can get in a bit of reading, memorization, or other things I enjoy. Once our school day is complete, I try my best to squeeze in some exercise prior to supper. Our children follow a bedtime schedule, so the evenings are open for self-care and quiet time. Weekends are more “me” time. I make it a priority to make the most of Friday nights and Saturdays. Daytime is usually catching up on organization and cleaning. Evenings are usually spent together as a family.

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

Over the years I have enjoyed reading homeschooling books focused on various homeschooling styles. I have enjoyed Read Aloud Revival, The Well Trained Mind, any of John Holt’s reads, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (Cathy Duffy), Homeschooling 101 (Confessions of a Homeschooler, Free Range Learning, Dumbing us Down. More recently I read ‘Teaching from Rest’. This book hit so many key points for me – I REALLY enjoyed this one! I’m currently reading ‘The Charlotte Mason Companion” which I’m truly enjoying. I’m also reading ‘The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum’ which might prove to be a fairly good resource to have on hand.

11.How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

We have been pretty blessed in this way. Our friends and family have been very supportive of our choice to homeschool. I have been asked several times why we homeschool and my response is always the same. I am upfront and honest about why we made this decision and I always explain the benefits we have seen from homeschooling. Often the social aspect is a concern for those opposed to homeschooling. I always explain that our children are no different than children in school. They are participating in extracurricular activities. They are involved with real world social skills throughout their day – grocery shopping, mailing letters, interacting with the librarian and so on. These are real life social skills they are engaged in almost every day! Homeschooling is a growing trend and our children can access many activities with fellow homeschooling families.

12) Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

Well , because we have such a range of ages, we plan to continue on this homeschool journey. Our younger children will continue with parent-directed, which allows us to create their homeschool program. Our eldest will be in high school at that point. We haven’t quite figured out what route we will take for high school. We may just continue in this way or allow him to take some courses through distance learning.

13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

I would encourage parents to educate themselves with various homeschool styles to see what might work well for their family. I would encourage them to read books and blogs and websites that offer support to homeschoolers. Have a support system in place whether physical or online. Social media groups are a great start! Don’t feel shy to ask fellow homeschoolers for help. Many homeschoolers are happy to provide feedback when it comes to curriculum suggestions, routines and schedules etc.

14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?

We want our children to look back and say that their educational experience was positive. They enjoyed learning and evolving together as a family. They have fond memories of their school experience.

Our experiences shape the people we become. We hope (inshaAllah – God willing) that we have planted the seeds by instilling a love for our Deen (religion and all that it encompasses) and a desire to always strive towards the right path. This was our ultimate goal when we chose to homeschool.

Homeschool Chat with Ink and Blossom Homeschool

” Our children are children for such a small season of life. Let their laughter ring out, their imaginations soar, their feet stomp in puddles, their hands clap for joy. Too soon they will grow up and out of their youthful exuberance and zest and settle into the life and routine of adulthood”. L.R.Knost

Today’s homeschool Chat brings you Raeesa , a homeschooling mum of one from Birmingham, UK. She can be found on Instagram @inkandblossom_homeschool, where she shares snippets of her homeschooling journey .

1 Bio / Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children 

My name is Raeesa. I joined instagram exactly a year ago as @inkandblossom_homeschool. I was born and raised in Sheffield and I absolutely love the North of England! I studied English Language and Linguistics at undergraduate level and then went on to do my Masters in Applied Linguistics with TESOL.  I love crime and mystery and at one stage I wanted to become a forensic linguist – but in the end I got a a job at the University of Sheffield teaching modules in Academic Reading and Writing and Critical Reading!

I worked for around three years before getting married and moved to Aberdeen. This was a completely new and unique experience for both my husband and I as we didn’t know anyone there and had no family nearby. Alahmdulilah after a year Allah planned for us to move much closer to our families and we now live in Birmingham. We currently have one son aged 3.


2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

I have always known I wanted to home educate from a young age. I actually remember the day I was sat in secondary school in a lesson where I just felt so disconnected, thinking to myself; ‘I don’t want my children to feel like this, I want to homeschool’. My main reason is probably the opportunity to prioritise real life, connection and broad experiences rather than the bulk of all day every day being standardised academic work.  I love that home educated children can learn in so many diverse environments, can spend so much time outdoors and benefit from lots of practical life activities without anything getting in the way of studies!  Another big motivation for me is being able to incorporate Islam into our daily life and routines. I don’t want Islam to be a ‘subject’; something studied after school or on the weekend (as many of us experienced it!). I am passionate that my children live their deen and experience it in fun, captivating ways from a young age.

3. What does a “typical”  home school day look like for your family ?

At the moment because my son is young, many mornings we make use of groups  (forest school, our own club with friends, library sessions) and then we fill the rest of the day at home. This involves lots of free play, cooking together and of course reading reading and more reading!My husband tends to do things with our son on certain evenings and weekends (eg swimming and other sports) which I feel is so important to develop the bond between them as he works full time during the week.
4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

So far (0-3) we have used a lot of Montessori principles in our home but I also love what I have seen from unschooling and Charlotte Mason home educators so I expect we will be very eclectic in our future years!

5. What do you love the most about home schooling ?

The chance to be together!

Yes this can also be challenging and intense at times, but I am so grateful that I have been able to spend the early years with my son experiencing so many lovely things, facing challenges together and learning from each other Alhamdulilah.  I truly feel like I have learnt more from my son rather than the other way around. The blessing of being able to spend time with children is really valuable subhan’Allah. To sit in the company of a child who shows curiosity, fascination and joy at things we as adults become used to and dont think twice about has definitely sparked my own passions for teaching and discovering more about the world!

Additionally, I love having the freedom to follow the interests and pace of the child, it is great to be able to develop a topic they have become fascinated with, or to really support a new skill they are showing.
I also value that we have been able to lay as Islamic foundation and insha’Allah nurture a love of Allah and the Prophet (saw) in the early years. Of course this can be done with children who attend nursery and school too but for us the freedom of time has meant we can really focus on creating a routine involving Quran, dua, stories and even starting our own group (Discovery Club) which we hope will be a long term weekly gathering where we strengthen our children’s love of Islam and connection to the prophets. 

6. Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ? 

Yes we do! We have a morning basket routine which was inspired by @ourmuslimhomeschool. I love what this has done for us as family. We start the day reading together, remembering Allah and Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and playing a little game. It really helps to connect us for the rest of the day! (I have a post on my Instagram feed detailing exactly what is in our basket!)

7. What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ? 

I love History and English (probably not surprising for a Linguist!). I don’t really enjoy maths and physics but I think this is due to my own experiences as a child. I am looking forward to approaching these subjects differently with my own children and insha’Allah making them enjoying and relatable!
I also really love taking aspects of Islam and making them accessible for younger children. I make lots of props to tell stories and we have done crafts based on Quranic lessons, all of which I have found very rewarding Alhamdulilah!

8. What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Looking after myself. Mothers can become lost in their roles; being mum, teacher, housekeeper etc. I have had to try hard and be very conscious about trying to keep things in my life that are just for me in order to feel truly fulfilled. I think this is so important if we want to homeschool and parent in the best way we can.
I also feel it is easy to become lost or overwhelmed as a home-educator as there is such a vast amount of information and social media content on this subject, it can be easy to fall into comparison and self doubt. This may be more common in the early years (the stage I am currently in) but I am definitely glad I invested in coaching and courses that have helped me gain clarity and confidence as a new homeschooler!


9. How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

I have at least one evening a week that is just for myself. I used to spend the time socialising but then decided to take on a one year Diploma so now I go to university once a week. I love this completely different change of scenery and the opportunity to do something academically stimulating Alhamdulilah. I also recently started the Couch to 5K challenge and have enjoyed becoming a little fitter!

My husband and I also try to take opportunities to do things together when our families are around. This could be as simple as going for a coffee, but it is so important to stay connected and maintain a healthy marriage!


10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

‘Hold on to Your Kids’ by Gabor Mate- I love love love this book! whilst it is not strictly ‘home-ed’ many of the reasons I homeschool are covered in this book. ‘The Well Trained Mind’ is another great one. Also ‘How to Survive Homeschooling – A Self-Care Guide for Moms Who Lovingly Do Way Too Much’ by Brooke Benoit. I read this early on and I am so glad that I did! 

11. How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
So far Alhamdulilah we haven’t had too many negative comments, but I think some people haven’t completely grasped that we plan to home educate long term! I have heard people saying to my son he will be going to school when he is older which I always find odd! Right now I just remind him if he brings it up that some children go to school and some do their learning at home and outside of school. I tend not to let other people’s comments affect me too deeply and insha’Allah I will be able to maintain this approach if and when we face any comments regarding our schooling decisions. 


12. Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

Insha’Allah in five years , I would love to feel much more confident in my home education rhythm (as it is early days right now!). Also a big thing for me is establishing a network with like-minded home ed mums in order to avoid being isolated or overwhelmed on this journey. This is something myself and some other homeschooling mums at the start of their journeys are working on establishing here in Birmingham, we recently had our first social and it was lovely to connect with like-minded mums offline! We are making dua Allah places lots of baraqah in our efforts!


13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

I would say if you are serious about it – give it a go! As long as the reasons are yours (and your husband’s) own and there’s no pressure from elsewhere, there is really no harm in trying it out. It is definitely daunting for anyone at the start of their home education journey but if it doesn’t work out there are other options…and if it does it may be one of the best decisions of your life insha’Allah! It is just important to be clear about your intentions, know your ‘why’ and try to avoid comparison to other home educating families from the start!


14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?

I would like my children to remember their homeschool years with warmth. I want them to have memories of the fun, exciting and interesting experiences we embarked upon together. I would love for them to feel that they had the independence and opportunities to pursue their passions, and that they always had support and guidance from their parents inshA’allah. 

Homeschool Chat with Breanna Rein

“Children, even when very young, have the capacity for inventive thought and decisive action. They have worthwhile ideas. They make perceptive connections. They’re individuals from the start: a unique bundle of interests, talents, and preferences. They have something to contribute. They want to be a part of things. It’s up to us to give them the opportunity to express their creativity, explore widely, and connect with their own meaningful work.” Lori McWilliam Pickert

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Breanna Rein (@dirtyfeetandmessyhair), a homeschooling mother of two children who lives in Nebraska, USA. Breanna is also a very talented full time photographer and you can find some of her work on https://www.rein-photography.com/

1)Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children 

My name is Breanna Rein. I am married to my husband William, we have been together since 2008. Right after high school, we moved to Nebraska from Virginia.Kind of random, but we made this our home ever since. I am a full time Photographer and part time seamstress. I have two kids, Camden Brynn (7) and Laiken Jameson (2). My husband works 4 days and then if off 4 days, so we get a ton of family time. He is a big time hunter and we also have a ton of reptiles.


2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?

We had just gone through a half year of preschool and the morning routine was just plain awful. It was never a good morning. There was rushing and yelling and mom guilt and just all of it. When the time came to sign Camden up for kindergarten…I physically couldn’t do it. I just felt a really strong pull to keep her home, it’s not really explainable until it happens to you. And so we did and now we are on year 2!

3)What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

Kindergarten was A LOT easier for us (not because it’s a lesser learning curve) but because Laiken wasn’t as mobile as she is now. We have a lot less ‘alone’ time than we did when we first began. Laiken wants to be involved in everything and while it sounds amazing…it’s not. It’s more or less her tearing everything up, basically being a toddler version of King Kong onto everything that has to do with our studies. So, how our learning revolves around naps and leaving the house when we can get a sitter or staying up later than everyone else to be alone when the house is quiet. In the morning, we make coffee and go for a walk…ideally. This doesn’t happen every day. We live in Western Nebraska and it is cold and windy a lot. During the winter, we’re staying in a lot. But, when we go get our walk in…our day goes a lot smoother because we got our ‘wiggles’ out. Then Camden and her sister just play a majority of the day. Tues-Thurs Camden has piano, jiu-jitsu and class at our local zoo, so those 3 days are our main focus of study as well. When Laiken does nap, we try to get through one lesson in our ‘The Good and The Beautiful’ literature book and also read one short story from our reader book from the same curriculum. If for whatever reason we weren’t able to do that during the day, often Cam and myself will stay up past everyone else and do those things when the house is quiet. We’ve always been night owls, it’s just how we function. 


4)What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

If I most had to describe our style, it would be unschooling. We do a lot of living over here, more living than formal learning….100%


5)What do you love the most about home schooling?

I love the freedom. I don’t want to ask some authority if my family can go on a trip, in fear of missing too much ‘school’. This is OUR life, not anyone else’s. 


6)Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

Our morning time is either walks or art, often coloring or watercolor painting.


7)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ? 

We love art as a whole family…definitely art is a fave. I don’t enjoy literature because Camden doesn’t like to be forced to read. The more I’ve let off, the better she has gotten learning how to read.

8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Time management is hard, that’s my only goal this year is to really hone on on what we are doing. It’s difficult have a toddler around, feels like I’m putting out a fire all the time.

9)How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

After hours, Camden benefits from a quiet house too. And I imagine in years to come, it’ll of course get easier as Laiken gets older. But night time is just out time and its how we both recharge.


10)What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

“Homeschool Bravely” is my favorite 100%, so much of that book I felt was just written about us. At first, you doubt yourself so, so much. So much guilt. So much ‘are they missing out’. You will not feel that way after reading that book.


11)How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

I’ve never ever been one to care what people have to say how we live our life. They do not pay my bills or feed my kids. Worry about yourself. I literally just do not care. My kids are smart and thriving. 


12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

I do not really know. Would I like to do this forever? Yes. Camden’s wants might change though. I would never keep her home if she wanted to go to public school. I’m taking it one year at a time.

13)What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

Do not buy this and this and this and this. Just simplify. Play A LOT. Kids need play. They are more calm, they process better. The good and the beautiful is such a blessing, it’s so simple and I could confidently toss everything else we ever bought and just focus on that curriculum. Listen to your kid, don’t place blame on yourself for their shortcomings, they’ll bloom when it’s their time…no matter what subject they struggle with. Believe in them!


14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?

That I so much enjoyed having them home with me. I never wanted to be without them for 8 hours…5x a week. That seems like torture for me…and them. That I loved our time together and all the experiences and adventures we had as a family unit.

10 Tips on How To Have a Successful Read Aloud Time

As a busy mother, I often find it difficult to connect with each of my children in a way that will stand the test of time. You may probably think that by homeducating my children, and spending so many hours a day with them, connection will be the least of my problems. But the reality is that, same like any other parent out there, especially more so mothers, there is a whole household to tend to, food to make as well as the millions snacks, laundry to be folded and so much more. Life can truly feel constantly rushed and overfull.

However, one of the things that I have been doing for a few years that has helped me in bonding with my children even more , has been Read Alouds. I first heard about read alouds from a few classical homeschooling blogs, that I used to diligently follow a few years ago. So, what is a read aloud, you may ask. Whether you home educate or not, most likely you have certainly had this during your childhood- either at bed time when your mum/dad most likely read you a story or during school time, when your teacher would have gathered you all during circle time to read you a book.

From the time my children were babies I read aloud to them. We always had some sort of a basket of board books that we read throughout the day, some even have bite marks. It truly started their love of reading from an early age. We don’t do read alouds just at bed time- in fact most of time they happen either on our rug in our playroom or in our living room , while being all cosy on the sofas with blankets and pillows .

Our ” Read Alouds ” sessions have been through a lot of transformation, always changing and evolving, But one thing is for sure, I have always tried to do them , even if it is just ten minutes.

Last year, I read one of the most inspirational books on read alouds – ” The Read-Aloud Family” by Sarah Mackenzie and needless to say I was even more inspired and more determined to keep on having our Read Aloud sessions.  As Sarah says : ” Reading aloud with our kids is indeed the best use of our time and energy as parents. It is more important than just about anything else we can do… These moments will live on in our children’s hearts even when our kids no longer live in our homes. These are moments we will never regret. “

There are so many benefits on reading aloud to your children- from establishing stronger connections to your kids even later in life when they are adults ,increased vocabulary and highly sophisticated language patterns, greater attention spans and listening abilities, associating reading for pleasure and so many more lifelong benefits . Research suggests that , “Adults who report being read to often as children are more likely to love reading as adults. Children who are read to regularly are more likely to report high incomes and academic success in adulthood”.

I am sharing below a few tips that I have learned from the Read Aloud Family Book and have been a game changer in how I have been doing them with my children :

  1. Do not stop reading for your children as soon as they can read for themselves– This is probably one of the biggest mistakes that we as parents can make. With read alouds, you can choose a book higher than your child’s level , which he/she may not have necessarily chosen to read because he may have been put off by the long phrases and sentences. Continue reading to them even if they are in secondary school. If you want to raise a reader, do not rely on your child’s school. In his Book 2 ” Raising Kids who read”, Dr Daniel Willingham writes ” It is up to the parents to create and atmosphere where a child’s life can flourish “
  2. Read alouds do not have to be at bedtime– As mentioned above, we personally do a lot of our read alouds in the morning straight after breakfast and sometimes even during breakfast or while having lunch. They can be done at any time of the day. For school children especially , read alouds can be a great way to connect to your child before they head off to school. I often find my kids can be quite tired in the evening, so hence the main reason why I try to do them during the day.
  3. Read alouds are not meant to be quiet with your children sitting still– in fact this is probably one of the biggest myths. There are so many studies that show ” that for many children, actively engaging with their hands helps them listen better. Give them something to do with their hands and their brains are suddenly free to focus and learn. ” Your children can be drawing , colouring, painting, knitting, even making cartwheels ( that’s what one of my children loves doing ). Interestingly, Dr Gurian mentions., that ” for some kids, information can go deeper into their brains when the child physically moves around
  4. Read alouds do not have to last 1 hour– it can be as little as ten minutes and let’s face it , we can all find a spare ten minutes. If you read for ten minutes, not even every day, but every other day, this equals to 35 minutes per week ! What’s important to remember, as Sarah Mackenzie says is ” You just need to do a little bit of it over a long stretch of time. It all adds up “. And it certainly does !
  5. Use various means of reading forms– you don’t have to always read to your children. Remember, audiobooks count too and in fact this way you will be able to include even more reading aloud than you could do otherwise. My children are big fans of audio books – we have an Audible subscription, as well as borrowing audio books from the library too.
  6. Choose different style of books– they don’t always have to be classics and this is really important to remember. Do not limit your children to certain books . As Sarah writes ” Light books count. Hard books count. Current bestsellers count. Classics count. They all have their place in the tapestry of a child’s reading life.
  7. Do not have an idyllic vision of how read alouds should take place – I will certainly tell you how our read alouds look like- more or less 90% of the time Loud, Messy and Noisy. There is honestly nothing peaceful or idyllic- someone is either arguing because they do not want to sit on that particular chair or kicking another sibling’s leg under the table.
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But as Sarah says ” Even when it is noisy , messy and more chaotic that you would like it to be, it works. Even when kids are grumbling, complaining and don’t seem to be listening, it works. When we read alouds to our kids, in spite of the fact that it looks much different from our initial vision, we are stepping out in faith…. When idealistic visions pop into your head, when you find yourself thinking  about that Instagram post by mom, whose kids appear perfectly content to listen to her read a classic for hours, stop yourself. Shut down the idealistic visions, because when you are reading aloud, even when it looks imperfect, you are going all in. And you will never regret it. It is worth it, because it looks like living and loving and going all in. “

8. A read aloud lifestyle is not going to happen by accident- we as parents, whether you home educate or no, have to be intentional in making read alouds part of our family life.

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9 ) Have an intentional and/or organic conversation with your children – once you finish your book, why not talk about it and discuss some of the things that you loved or may be hated about the book. Do not make it a test- resist the urge to do a comprehension work on every book that you have read to your child and trying to test if they have understood it. Try an easygoing and friendly approach. As Sarah reminds us beautifully: ” We want our homes to be more like a cozy book club environment and less like a formal experience . Make asking questions and having conversations as frequent and natural as asking your kids how their day went. Do not worry too much about whether their answers are profound. Instead, focus on helping your child develop a habit of asking questions.

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10 ) Enjoy Read Alouds– Read aloud time is not meant to be stressful or something t be ticked off the list. Do it because it brings you and your children joy . If you aren’t enjoying a particular book, ditch it and start a new one. Remember, that the most important thing is to cultivate in your children a deep love of stories, so even when you are gone , they are still reading and they have those fond memories of you reading aloud to them, for them perhaps may be to do this one day with their own children too ?

I hope you found these tips helpful. I really cannot recommend enough ” The Read aloud family ” by Sarah Mackenzie, whether you home educate or not, you will certainly find it so insightful and helpful. So this year’s World Book Day, instead of spending money on a children’s outfit, that they will mots likely wear once, why don’t you invest in your family by learning more on how to create a Read Aloud environment. As Sarah says ” It’s never too late to begin reading aloud. Wherever you are, whatever age your kids might be, today is the best day to start reading with your children .”

This post is in collaboration with a few other inspirational bloggers, as part of a blog hop for World Book Day, who are all sharing various aspects of reading- book recommendations , as well as tips. So, do have have a read at their tips, reviews and advice:

Please note that this post contains affiliated links.

Homeschool Chat with Ula

” We owe it to ourselves and our families to pull energy-creators into our lives. It is not selfish, it is not off topic, it is not a distraction, it is not time consuming. In fact, if you home educate, you have a moral obligation to keep growing for your own sake. You are your children’s primary role model of what it means to be an adult. Your kids need to see you Be an adult in your own right (apart from parenting), so they know to what they aspire. Yes, they will want to parent ( most likely), but each of us has a unique contribution to make as an adult outside the family too….. You deserve to live your adult life in addition to home educating and spouse-ing. In fact, you must. It’s how you stock your emotional tank and your mental resources to help you be all those people who clutter your head with their perfections. If you are giving what you do not have, go get some.” Julie Bogart , excerpt from ” A gracious Space”

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Ula from @when2became4plus1 or @inquisitiveminds. She is a mother to twin girls and a toddler. She is a Lebanese British and graduated in BA Hons in International Politics and Journalism. At the end of last year she and her friend and fellow homeschooler Griffi created Inquisitive minds. Inquisitive Minds is a weekly session we run in East London, it is a Project Based Learning for 5-10 year olds. They are currently working towards setting a more permanent space to run our sessions. For more information about what they do or questions please feel free to message them on Facebook.

1)Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children 
I am a mother of 3 girls. Twins aged 7 and a 2 year old toddler.

2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?


I knew I would homeschool before I married or had children. Various reasons including own school experience, that eventually solidified my decision over the years. Some of the most important reasons were, 1) Religious, 2) The system as a whole/what children are been taught 3) The ability  to spend time with my children, as well as the flexibility homeschool gives.

3)What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
Since the birth of my twins I have used the same routine which slowly has adapted into our homeschool life.
Breakfast.
Study time
Lunch
Outdoor/Free play
Quran/Arabic study.
Read stories.
Dinner time
Bed time

Once a week Forest school 
Once a week we hold a themed session me and a friend run (Inquisitiveminds).
Once a week we try to go on a trip to a Museum or place of interest. 

4)What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

Semi-structured, Project based learning, I do take inspiration from other school of thoughts. Montessori for early years learning.Charlotte Mason for Nature studies.

5)What do you love the most about home schooling?
Spending time with my children.

6)Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time? 
Yes.

7)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ? 

Favourite- Islamic studies/Humanities. Least- Writing and grammar.  

8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
Having alone time especially last year grieving and having to continue.

9)How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
Leave the kids with their Dad so I can have my own study time once a week or when possible. When the kids sleep I use that time to read, watch or pamper myself. 

10)What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
I will only give the one although I have benefited from several-Project-based homeschooling: mentoring self directed learners by Lori Pickeret. 


11)How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

I have learned to accept that not everyone will agree with decisions we make in life it isn’t easy when you are not doing the “standard”. Life has taught me to rely on myself, if I want things to happen I have to make it happen and accept that that may be alone. If after explaining to others you want/need their support and they still can’t show up there isn’t much you can do. It should not have to be this way but it sadly is sometimes. Both my parents have passed away so I have no one but my husband to rely on if I need a break. I am grateful to my siblings for helping out where possible and all the homeschool mamas who have been supportive through advise or even helping me with the pram when we go out.


12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
I hope we will be travelling to all the places we read about. My daughter’s would like to follow in the steps of Philleas Fogg and travel the world. I hope we can achieve that by then. I also hope the girls will be much better in their reading and writing and in shaa Allah they will have memorised the Quran. 

13)What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
Trust yourself, set out goals of what you hope to achieve and go easy on yourself there are more than enough people who will doubt you and your decision, persist. If you have help use it. To a Muslim I would say put your trust in Allah, make duaa always and renew your intentions there will be days you have doubts make sure you have a list of all the reasons why you chose this path. 

14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?
I hope they feel they were loved and supported along their journey.  I hope they feel equipped,  have the right tools and skills ready to navigate through life. I hope that they feel we made the right decision for them and that home education gave but took little from their educational experience.  

Arabic “Write and Wipe” Flaschcard Kits from WordUnited- Review

One of the foreign languages that we as a family have been learning for a few years is Arabic, due to its connections to our faith. I have personally found Arabic quite difficult to learn in comparison to English, German and Spanish. I used to take Arabic lessons on my own with a private tuitor but as more children were added to our family, sadly I had to stop them. However, in the last 2 years I am slowly trying to go back into Arabic and I have been doing this alongside my eldest three children.

I am also always on the lookout for Arabic resources, books and various products that will help my children learn to read / speak and write this beautiful language. Without exaggeration, I spend most of our homeschool budget on Arabic resources, double more than what I spend on English or Maths. My eldest two (10.5 and 9 ) have been going for three years to a local Saturday Arabic school and in addition they have been having private one to one Arabic tuition with a lovely Syrian tuitor.

I also try to support my children as much as I can at home too and as we home educate, we do have a bit more time in general to dedicate to the language.

I was recently asked by WordUnited to review their Arabic “Write and Wipe” Flachcards. We have already used ( and still using) their Spanish Flashcards , which have been a great addition to our homeschool . You can read my review on them here- Learning Spanish can be fun .

There are 4 sets in total in these series:  Numbers in ArabicColours & Shapes in Arabic ,  Actions in Arabic  and the Arabic Alphabet flashcard kits. Each Kit comes complete with 2 pens (red and blue) with removable erasers an instruction booklet, multilingual translation and sound stickers, and smiley stickers to reward your children. I was kindly sent the first three kits, except the Alphabet one.

The  Numbers in Arabic “Write and Wipe ” Kit contains the flashcards with numbers from 0 to 20 and then 10x to 100 . Your child will be able to write/trace not only the numerals but also the words , which is really important too.They are great as they promote not only writing but also reading in Arabic too . I liked that the text on the flashcards was clear with minimal distractions, which is very vital as it truly helps the child to focus. One side of the card is for the writing and on the other side , there is an engaging real life photo. Each flashcard contains arrows that show how to write the strokes in the correct order. My 6 year old daughter is learning numbers at her Saturday Arabic School and these cards have truly helped her in being able to count in Arabic. I have also found this set useful for myself too .

The Colours and Shapes in Arabic is another great “Write and Wipe” Kit. This fantastic kit will help your child to recognise a wide range of colours in Arabic including gold and silver. My 6 year old is learning colours this year as well and she has really enjoyed writing and tracing on the flashcards.

The Actions in Arabic is also a fantastic ” Write and Wipe” kit. It contains 29 of the most oft used action words in Arabic such as to drink. read, listen, sleep and many more. This has been used by my 10 year old daughter , who is studying past tense in Arabic this year and these flashcards have truly been a great aid.

What I abolsutely love about these cards is that they are truly well made- very sturdy and a great size too with lots of space to write . My children thoroughly enjoy writing on these Flashcards and they often do them independently too. The cards are also brilliant for visual learners and are for children aged 3 and above . They can also be used by teachers in their classrooms as they do support the National Curriculum. Even if you yourself, do not know the pronunciation of a particular word, WordUnited have clearly thought about this too and have also included a link on their website , where you can listen to the sounds of the words in this kit. What I absolutely love about these cards, is the fact that they come in a very sturdy box and your child can do them while being in the car too.

The Arabic Flashcards Kits come in a very sturdy and durable box and at the moment they are sold for £6.99 , instead of £9.99, which is a fantastic price.Alternatively, you can buy all 4 Kits for £20.00 https://wordunited.com/product-category/languages-cultures/arabic/?filter=yes&page_no=3 The Word United flashcards are available also in English, Spanish French and German; teaching the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and actions in each of these languages.

There is also an incredibly varied selection of Arabic resources on their website , ranging from books ( including their Let’s Read Arabic series ), bilingual dictionaries , puzzles and games, that will make Arabic learning for kids fun and enjoyable. WordUnited also has a great selection of worksheets that you can download and print free of charge here. Do have a look at their fantastic and huge Free Resources Hub , where you can also find free resources for English, Maths , languages including German, Spanish and French, geography, science and history , arts and crafts and many resources for children with special needs.

Overall my children thoroughly enjoyed using the Arabic “Write and Wipe”Flascards and they have truly been a great addition to our Homeschool.

This blog post has been written in collaboration with WordUnited, who gifted me their write-and-wipe flashcards and compensated me for my time.

Homeschool Chat with Esther Lewis

“Let your children be children. Let your teens struggle to emerge . Let yourself off the hook . You do not own the world a model family. You don’t have to get it right. Neither do your kids. Everyone gets better at growing up over time- including you ,the parent. Be the one who stands for kindness in your family. Your gentleness will be remembered long after homeschooling is over and your children have gone on to live their adult lives. ” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat brings you the lovely Esther, who lives by the sea in Cornwall and spends most of her time with her 4 children and husband (when he’s not working). She loves to crochet and recently set up a small business selling crocheted sheepskin slippers:

@ashandewe https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AshandEwe

As a family they really love the outdoors, being in the sea and they also attempt to keep an allotment. They all love Jesus and aspire to travel more and visit various family and friends overseas.

1.Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children

My husband and I live in Cornwall with our 4 children ages 10, 9, 5 and 2. We all love adventures, nature and being outside as much as possible.

2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

We love the freedom that it allows our family and the opportunity to spend so much time together. My eldest 2 tried a year in school after being home educated for a year and then as a family we considered the pros and cons of both and we all chose home education. I’m glad that they had a positive experience of school and still chose home education.

3 )What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

After breakfast and seeing Daddy off to work (which always involves hanging out the window shouting “see ya later alligator…”) we do some wake up exercise together such as timed running races in the garden, Simon says, cosmic kids or dancing.

We then have what we call circle time, which generally involves singing a worship song together, reading a chapter of the bible (whilst the younger ones thread beads, build towers etc to keep them occupied) and praying, before chatting about our hopes and plans for the day.

We then have table time, which is our formal learning time. Our curriculum this year is based around The Chronicles of Narnia so I read a chapter aloud whilst the children do related copy work and drawing. We generally then grab a hot drink and snack and carry on with perhaps a history book, biography, artist study or whatever it is. At some point in the day the children do their own maths chapter from Life of Fred, or use Khan Academy maths.

Lunch is a shared effort and they have time outside before ‘quiet time’ which is an attempt to allow everyone a time in the day to spend on their own – usually reading or Lego. I’ll catch up on my crochet orders in this time usually.

Afternoons are unstructured but if we are having a home day then the children will often choose to complete a project or activity. We will often be out meeting friends at the beach or park before swimming lessons / hockey / Cubs / climbing or home!

4)What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

I take a lot of inspiration from Charlotte Mason and I would say that we are semi structured in our approach. We love routine and structure but at the same time don’t want to be a slave to it and therefore like to mix things up regularly! In the past we have used Exploring Nature With Children as well as The Good And The Beautiful and will continue to mix and match curriculums as suited.
This year I’m following a Curriculum from The Peaceful Press and have found its the perfect balance for our family at this time.

5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?

I love the freedom it brings alongside the countless quality moments I get to spend with my children, watching them being themselves.

6 )Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

Yes and I’d say it’s the most important part of our formal time. The children enjoy it and we have precious conversations in that time.

7 )What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

I love teaching history. I feel wrong saying teaching as really I’m learning the subject alongside my children. It was my least favourite subject in school but my children love it and therefore I do too now. We dip in and out of Story of The World – which is fantastic, learning history chronologically is an eye opener. And our current daily curriculum is looking at European history.

I’d say maths brings the most struggle. It’s a subject that my husband and I both enjoy but there’s often a resistance from the children as they don’t like to be ‘told’. Life of Fred and Khan academy have been really great though.

8 )What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Probably finding balance. It would be impossible to plan every day to meet the needs of four different ages and 2 genders (not to mention my own needs). So there are always compromises and at least one child who has to lump it for a while. We try to overcome this by planning in quality time with each child. In the summer we go on mini wild camping adventures with one child at a time. During the week it might just be that I take one child to do the food shopping with me. Our family’s needs are constantly evolving and we have to regularly reassess how we do things.

9 )How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

In the midst of the day if we are home I try and encourage quiet time so I might get 2 minutes to myself to breathe and sneak a piece of chocolate… in the summer/ lighter months I try and have a sea swim at least once a week before or after work. In the winter it’s harder as I like to be outside but it’s dark outside of work hours. Setting up my crochet business last year has given me reason to spend time by myself. My husband will sometimes have the children one day so I can work and I’ll usually tie in a coastal walk and swim or coffee.

10 )What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

I really love reading Sally Clarkson’s books and listening to her podcasts. They are both encouraging to me as a mother and home educator.

11 )How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

We try not to debate the issue too much with doubters but just allow people to see how we do things and that the children are still alive and kicking. Time helps.

12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

5 years will bring us to GCSE age for my older 2. I’m hoping before then we’ll have done a good dose of travel and adventure. I’d like the children to have the option of studying for exams or courses when they feel ready, whether before or after the usual age. I love that home education allows that and courses can be well spread out. I’ve not explored all the options for exams yet as I’d like to see what direction the children are each heading before committing to one way of doing things.

13 )What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

I’d say try to trust that they’re learning each day and relax into it and have fun. If they are leaving the school system I recommend a time of deschooling before considering styles or curriculums. If they are starting from the beginning I’d say keep enjoying living life and going on adventures – formal school doesn’t need to start until much later.

14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?

I’d hope that they’d say something like home schooling made them who they are (as in it allowed them to be themselves) and I’d hope that they’ll look back with fond memories of all the fun things we did.

Homeschool Chat with Iman Blogs

Connect to your children. The academics matter, but they follow. Your children’s happiness and safe, supportive relationship with you come first. Believe it or not, your children are happiest when they believe you are delighted by them.Julie Bogart, The Brave Learner: Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning, and Life

Today’s homeschool chat brings you the lovely Iman , who is a working mum of three, passionate about organised living, Islamic parenting, home education, productivity and sustainable living. She shares inspiration for organising small spaces, motivation to declutter, planning prompts for your week and ideas for meal prep and weekly meal plans. Her little space on the internet – www.andthenshesaid.com – shows you how little changes can add up to huge results. Iman can also be found on Instagram @imanblogs.

1 )Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
We’re a family of 5 – we have three children, two girls and a boy. They are 6, 5 and 8 months old masha’Allah tabarakAllah.

2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

Our main reason was to give them the opportunity to learn and grow at their own pace – we wanted them to be able to pursue their interests and passions. Faith is important to us, so we also wanted to be able to weave Islam into all aspects of our learning.


3) What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

We start our day with our morning basket that involves a read aloud, a mindfulness exercise, Qur’an review and Qa’idah work, reading a hadith and some dhikr. We will also review a du’a we are learning. This is followed by a game or a puzzle that we work on together. In the summer, this is exclusively outdoors and the children are often riding their bikes or we play a ball game.


We take a break after this and the children play either together or independently – my daughter is often colouring or drawing, and my son is creating something with Lego, whilst I put the baby down for a nap. I then use that time to do whatever needs to be done around the house as a priority and/ or make a start on prepping for lunch/ dinner. Once those are out of the way, we’ll come back together to work on a project – whatever interests them, we have a few books and pick experiments/ paper projects based on what their interests – do some copywork, work through their workbooks, do a level on Reading Eggs/ Mathseeds, or sometimes just read through various topic books we have or our latest library finds. Math manipulatives, alphabets, flash cards etc are all accessible so most days I follow their lead and work with whatever they’ve pulled out. I find they’re happiest when they’re working on something they’ve initiated and not something I’m forcing.
We frequently have audio books playing/ Qur’an, and they dip in and out of books, play etc so various questions will come up during the day and there are always opportunities to learn. They have activities in the afternoons – Jiu Jitsu, swimming and gymnastics – so often see their friends then. We’re new to the area we currently live in and haven’t met lots of people yet but we do our best to factor in play dates as frequently as possible, and visit places, attend events near us that they’re interested in.


4)What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
I’m not quite sure how to classify us to be honest, and I’m not sure I want to as I worry it would lead to then feeling the need to stick with that particular methodology. I just do what works for the children and I’d say we have a loose structure, the only thing that is very structured is Qur’an revision and memorisation.


5 )What do you love the most about home schooling ?
I love being able to help them spend more time learning about something they are interested in. It makes for easier learning if the subject they are interested in is used as a tool – add in model dinosaurs and addition and subtraction is fun. Grab an interactive book about Tyrannosaurus Rex and reading becomes attractive. Ask them to describe a velociraptor and they’re suddenly writing with no complaint! I’ve also learned a ridiculous amount in the process and it has revived my love for reading and learning too!


6) Do you morning time/ symposium / circle time ?
We do, yes. I find that it’s a great way to get us all going in the morning and for younger children, it’s a good time to go over what day it is, the month, etc. We’re able to weave in Arabic and Islam by also saying what the day of the week is in Arabic and what the current Islamic month is.

7)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
English/ Biology/ language based topics are my favourites. Maths has to be my least favourite – I believed (was told in school) that I wasn’t good at it and so have this ingrained now and just think I’m bad with numbers so of course I fumble,get anxious about whether I’m doing it right/ teaching it right because I don’t want them to have the same experience I did and it’s also important particularly for Maths that the foundation is strong.


8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
Whilst I love having the additional time to bond with my children, it is not easy to be around young children all the time especially in the season of life I’m in. Things like doctor’s appointments, haircuts, salon visits etc are all put off or cancelled constantly because we don’t have childcare and sometimes even if you do show up with them to an appointment, there seem to be lots of questions about why they aren’t at school!


9)How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
I am terrible at this, but I’ve found waking up earlier even if it’s just 25 – 30 minutes earlier than the older children, to shower, pray, read some Qur’an and adhkar and squeeze in a few pages of a book or some exercise/ stretching, really helps. I’ve also stopped feeling like we need to be ‘doing’ things all the time and like I’m supposed to be responsible for wonderful experiences and adventures every day and I just sit down with a book at some point in the day and let them get on with playing or if it’s a particularly chaotic day, let them have screen time whilst I sit in some quiet.


10) What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
I love Julie Bogart’s work, I also read all four volumes of the Fitra Journal before we started and found the stories and the advice within invaluable! I’m currently finishing The Read Aloud Family and I’ve gained so much from it! I’ve got several others on my wish list to read in 2020 and I’m excited to learn from all of them!


11)How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
Alhamdullilah I genuinely haven’t had much of this. I do think some people seem surprised/ apprehensive about the choice we’ve made, but I’ve learnt that it’s not my job to explain myself/ convince them that this is right for us. When they interact with our children, they’ll be able to see that for themselves. I do get questions when we’re out and about during term time, but the children usually answer those with ‘We’re homeschooled!’ very enthusiastically!


12 )Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
Insha’Allah I hope that we still are on this journey (l’m always conscious of the fact that we are blessed to be able to make this choice, many households require two incomes making it impossible for one parent to stay home) and that our children are thriving, genuinely love learning and that I learn from the process and I’m able to doubt myself/ my efforts less, and trust that they are getting everything they need. I also pray insha’Allah that the children have progressed significantly in their hifdh and their knowledge of Arabic by this time.


13 )What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
Don’t overthink it. We get so caught up in the how and when and what curriculum and which method that it can be seriously off putting. Don’t buy all the things – you don’t need them. They’ll sit on shelves gathering dust, giving you anxiety. Your children need very little – don’t be pushed into thinking they need lots. All they need I would say, is plenty of access to books to begin with. You can learn SO much simply by reading. Make du’a – ask Allah to place barakah in your journey, to keep your intentions pure, and your focus on what is going in in YOUR home with YOUR children and not the mum on Instagram with shelves full of learning resources and montessori materials. Your children will be just fine because they have you.


14 )Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?
20 years from now insha’Allah, I’ll have a 26 year old, a 25 year old and a 20 year old. I would hope they cherished and enjoyed the experience so much that they want the same for their own children. I would hope that they say that they have fond memories of reading, baking, field trips, play dates, us bickering over tidying, and long car rides with me trying to answer all their questions. I would hope they are pursuing their dreams and passions and have deep, unwavering love for Allah and Islam as a result of what we are trying to nurture in our home right now. May Allah make this a reality for us all!14

Calmer , Easier, Happier Books by Noel Janis -Norton – Book Reviews

One of my favourite parenting authors from last year was Noel Janis-Norton. She is a learning and behaviour specialist with over 45 years’ experience in Britain and United States as a head teacher, special needs advisor, consultant, lecturer, parenting coach , speaker and of course author too , helping parents and teachers learn effective  techniques  that result in more confident and motivated children both at home and in the classroom.

Noël is a regular speaker at conferences and has been featured on television and radio programmes and in newspaper and magazine articles. Many of her books have been translated into other languages.

For many years Noël has been fascinated by how to help children learn to do their best and be their best. Her parenting and teaching programmes were developed through study and research, and also through her own experiences as a mother, foster parent, grandparent and teacher. She is a keen observer of exactly what parents and teachers do, how they do it, and what the results are, both short and long term.

“As the founder and director of ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching’, a global not-for-profit consultancy and training organisation, she is internationally renowned. The ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier’ method is a practical, solution-focused approach that helps parents and teachers address and resolve typical and atypical issues of children and teens. Noël’s distinctive methods show parents how to improve family life and also guide teachers to bring out the best in their pupils.

Parents and teachers from around the world love the positive, firm and consistent approach that Noël explains in her books, in her parenting and teaching programmes, on the ‘Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting and Teaching’ website, on her Facebook page and on her YouTube channel. All of the resources that Noël shares are a refreshing mixture of common sense about children, extensive knowledge of child development, and expertise in specific difficulties with learning and behaviour. “

She has written four books – Calmer, Easier Happier Parenting , Calmer , Easier , Happier Homework , Calmer , Easier Happier Boys and Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time.

Below you will find a short review of each book, except the one for homework, as my children do not go to school, so I didn’t feel it was relevant to me. All her books are for parents of children aged 3-13.

1) Calmer, Easier, Happier Boys: The revolutionary programme that transforms family life

” In Calmer Easier Happier Boys, parenting expert Noel Janis-Norton explains simple strategies for the unique challenges of raising motivated, cooperative and confident boys. Using the foolproof techniques Noel has developed over many years of working with families, parents can get back in charge. Living with boys can become calmer, easier and happier.

This useful and highly readable book tackles:
Self-reliance and common sense
– Concentration and impulse control
– Defiance, disrespect or aggression
– Social skills and peer relationships
– Dependency on electronics
– Homework and academic success
– Empathy and consideration for others
– Helping around the home

This book is full of practical advice and various techniques which can be, in my opinion , used both for boys and girls.  Norton looks at the main concerns usually associated with boys , such as too much energy, including restlessness, short attention span, immature impulse control/social skills/fine motor skills etc and gives strategies ( one of which is the Descriptive praise) on how to improve co operation, politeness, self reliance, ways to reduce physical aggression, complaining and arguing. I have myself been using her Descriptive Praise and I can honestly say that it has improved the way I parent my children, not just only my boys , but also my girls. Norton gives as well an incredible insight  into the importance of special time, ideas as well on what to do during that time and how to use special time to teach and train important values, habits and skills.  The book also looks at how to make homework and home learning more enjoyable and productive and ways to improve literacy and thinking skills.  It is a must read for any parent, both mums and dads. Calmer, Easier , Happier boys can be bought from Amazon- https://amzn.to/2TQDDRc

2)Calmer Easier Happier Screen Time

” Do you constantly find yourself battling to stop your kids spending hours in front of a screen? Whether it’s a tv, an ipad, a pc or a playstation children are spending more and more time absorbed in the digital world and for most parents it’s a cause for concern.
The most frequent question parenting expert Noel Janis Norton is asked by desperate parents is how to limit and manage screen time. Parents know their children became aggressive and stressed after prolonged time on an electronic device, and they know that it limits their child’s willingness to do other activities, yet they are at a loss of what to do about it.

In Calmer Easier Happier Screen Time, Noel adapts her proven parenting strategies to this most complex of areas. Using the latest scientific research to show just how addictive the digital world can be for the developing brain of a child, she using the calmer, easier, happier techniques to help parents wean their children away from their electronic devices and get back in charge “

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and in my opinion, it is one of the best books on screen time, that promotes balance and not extremes. The book is divided into three sections:

Section 1 looks at why parents need to get back in charge, the four screen issues, the negative effects of screen time and why it can be so addictive.

Section 2 – Norton gives suggestions and various techniques on how to get back in charge of the electronics in your home. She puts emphasis on using screen time as a reward and gives ideas on how to introduce the plan to your child.

Section 3 – you will learn how Norton’s stratagies ( such as descriptive praise and reflective listening ) will make the new screen habits easier to establish.

This is truly a concise and practical book which looks not only at the research into the effects that screen usage (in all its forms – gaming, TV, social media) have on children, but also the practical steps to take to get back in charge. This book gives not just a theoretical model, but it’s a “real “ guide into how you as a parent can get in charge of your child’s screen time . I found the book very insightful and overall , it was a really great and easy read .

3)Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting: The Revolutionary Programme That Transforms Family Life

Finally, a revolutionary programme that gives you simple steps to take the daily battles out of parenting. These strategies resolve one of parents’ biggest frustrations: getting your children to listen and do what you ask, the first time you ask. When children are at their best, it is easy to get along with them and enjoy them. However, when they are defiant, argumentative or disrespectful, it is easy to get wound up, to argue back, threaten, nag or shout. If this sounds like the situation in your home too much of the time, then Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting is for you. When you use these strategies, not only will your children become more cooperative, but also more confident, self-reliant and considerate. Learning new skills like Preparing for Success, Descriptive Praise and the Never Ask Twice method can transform your relationship with your child in a short space of time and help bring the joy back into family life.

Full of examples and real stories from parents, this book gives you clear step-by-step guidance to achieve Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting. These strategies work!

This is one very thick book for sure, it is over 400 pages along !!!! The book is divided into two sections:

Section 1 looks at various strategies for creating that calmer, easier and happier family life. Norton first examines the reasons as to what makes modern parenting so stressful and what we can all do about it. and how we can transform even the most frustrating aspects of parenting. In the section, she looks at the tools and various strategies that we as parents can use, such as descriptive praise , reflective listening ( how to minimise whingeing and misbehaviour by defusing frustration. anger and anxiety. Norton also writes about the “never ask twice ” rule . which is basically a six step method, created by her, that teaches children to do what you ask the first time you ask.

Section 2

In this section Norton explains how using the core strategies in the first section can improve various aspects in our lives such as- getting ready in the mornings, mealtimes, sibling relationships, screen time, homework, tidying up, household chores and how to improve willingness, playing independently and bedtimes and sleep.

The book is also jam packed with lots of interviews of families and how they used the techniques mentioned by Norton to improve the family dynamics.

What I love about this book is that there is no punishment, shaming or belittlement as is the case sadly with many parenting books these days. The examples of how children might react to the techniques are very realistic too. Norton gives simple and clear strategies for easier (not perfect!) parenting .I absolutely love the fact that the techniques treat children as human beings with specific emotional needs, rather than ignoring them .The author stresses throughout the book that none of these are immediate solutions, but will make life easier, calmer and better over time of consistent use. This is truly a great book to refer too and though it isn’t the one and only book you should have about parenting, it definitely should be part of your top 20 books on how to parent in a gentle, affectionate way toward raising cooperative, independent kids.

This post is in collaboration with a few other inspirational bloggers , who are also reviewing some fantastic books.

Muslim Mummy has written a review on a great children’s book . Have a read here – http://www.muslimmummies.com/2020/02/book-review-imagine-by-shoohada-khanom/

Umm Afraz Muhammed has written a review on the book Big Little Steps: A Woman’s Guide to Finding a Balanced Lifestyle and a Glowing Heart in Islamhttps://ummafrazblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/17/big-little-steps-by-mathilde-loujayne/

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