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.
img_3368

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.

img_3336

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.

img_3540-2

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/

Please note that this post contains affiliated links.

Learning Spanish can be fun – WordUnited ” Write and Wipe ” Flashcards Kits Review

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
Nelson Mandela

I come from a country that places a lot of emphasis on learning a foreign language. When I was 8 years old , my parents enrolled me in an English class for two hours once a week and two years later I started learning German too. I have always loved being able to speak other languages. When I was in University, I decided for the duration of my three years there, to take Spanish as one of my modules, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It truly is a blessing knowing another language and you never know when it will become useful. As Frank Smith says “Language is not a genetic gift, it is a social gift. Learning a new language is becoming a member of the club – the community of speakers of that language.”

Now as I mother myself, I place a lot of emphasis on my children being able to speak another foreign language. I decided to go with Spanish, as it is the second most common language with an estimated 442 million speakers and as it is a phonetic language ,it is also relatively easy to learn. My children have been having private Spanish lessons for nearly two years , once a week with a native Spanish tutor which have been extremely beneficial.

I am also always on the lookout for products that will help my children with improving their Spanish Skills. I was recently asked by WordUnited to review some of their ‘Learning Spanish for kids resources .

They offer great quality children’s educational toys, books and learning resources. From alphabet toys to number toys, “we believe that learning can be a fun experience and provide a vast collection of kids learning toys, including nursery resources and primary resources, to support this, with a selection of resource categories that promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. We unite learning with playing and stock a large variety resources to cater for every need. We aim to inspire educational play by providing a wide range of kids’ learning toys to choose from for children up to 11 years of age. “

I first heard about Wordunited three years ago and I decided to buy their  Actions in Spanish ” Write and Wipe” Flashcards Kit, as it was the first time I have seen a product like this. I was also very impressed with the whole design and the quality of the cards.

I found the Spanish Flashcards really beneficial and more importantly my children really enjoyed them, so I was more than happy to review the other two sets in the series, that were gifted to me- – Numbers in Spanish, and  Colours and Shapes in Spanish  .There are 4 sets in total in these series: The Spanish AlphabetNumbers in SpanishColours and Shapes in Spanish and Actions in Spanish.  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.

The  Numbers in Spanish “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 . 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. I love the fact they have included little arrows on each flashcard that show how to write the strokes in the correct order.

The cards are 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 in the car or while waiting for an activity. My 6 year old has used them a few times outside while waiting for her siblings to finish their swimming class.

The Colours and Shapes in Spanish is another great “Write and Wipe” Kit. This fantastic kit will help your child to recognise a wide range of colours in Spanish including gold and silver. They will also be able to trace and draw 2D shapes and recognise 3D shapes in Spanish. My 6 year old really enjoyed doing these and she has learned a few other shapes which she did not know before.

I also asked my children’s Spanish tutor about her opinion on the Spanish “Write and Wipe” Flashcards Kit Sets. Ms Noelia Sanchez Blanco says enthusiastically : ” Wow, I love the design of these cards! I like that they come in a box, which is very sturdy and I love the size of the cards- there is so much space to write. This is the first time I have seen cards like these. ” When asked , if this is a product that she will use in her lessons, she gave a resounding ” YES !”

The ‘Spanish 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/write-wipe-spanish-pack-flashcards/. The Word United flashcards are available also in English, Arabic, French and German; teaching the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and actions in each of these languages.

There is also a fantastic and varied selection of Spanish resources on their website , ranging from books, dictionaries , toys and games, that will make Learning Spanish for kids fun. In addition there are lots of worksheets for children to practice reading and writing in Spanish. You can download and print worksheets in Spanish for free here. Do have a look at their Free Resources Hub , where you can also find free resources for English, Maths , languages including German, Arabic and French, geography, science and history , arts and crafts and many resources for children with special needs.

Learning a language can sometimes be a challenging and frustrating experience. However, Wordunited have truly created enjoyable and at the same educational products that will make learning a foreign language a breeze !

Homeschool Chat with Liane Collins

We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions — if they have any — and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.”  John Holt

Today’s Homeschool Chat brings you Liane Collins , a mother of a two year old boy, from England. When I first approached Liane, she was a bit surprised that I asked her to participate because of the age of her son. As for me, one of the main reasons I messaged her about the series was because of the age of her son. It reminded me of my own start of home educating my eldest daughter. I knew from she was a newborn that me and my husband will home educate her. I have been blessed to live in a city with a huge homeschooling community, that welcomes parents of young children and babies, in homeschool meet ups. In fact, one of my first “official” homeschooling meeting was when my eldest was 6 months old, in a baby carrier. I think its extremely important for parents, who know that they want to home educate their child from the beginning, to have that opportunity and be welcomed by their homeschooling community, regardless of how old their child is.

Without a further ado, here is my interview with the lovely Liane, who can also be found on Instagram @devon_monti_mum.

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

My small family unit consists of myself, my husband and our 2 year old son Oliver. .We enjoy the outdoors, having fun and making memories together. Myself and our son have a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome, which is linked to sudden cardiac arrest, so we really like to make every day count as much as we possibly can. Our son is such a gentle soul, of course we get occasional hitting, slapping in moments where he is emotionally overwhelmed, but generally he is sensitive, caring, loving and so unbelievably affectionate. He is also cheeky, has a wicked sense of humour, a flare for risk and passion for exploring and being outside. Our family ‘bubble’ may be small, but it’s perfect for us.

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

We are choosing to home educate because we don’t believe in the mainstream school system. We feel it is outdated and no longer supports a child’s individual needs. We are also choosing to home educate because we want our son to have freedom to learn what HE chooses, rather than what is forced upon him by a governing body. Freedom is ultimately the biggest reason we are choosing to home educate. As I’ve said, we want him to learn topics and subjects that he is interested in, but also the freedom to just be him. Be able to move around when he wants, be able to eat when he wants, be able to go to the bathroom when he wants without having to ask permission. Some people say ‘but they need to learn all of this for real life’, but I argue that’s a lie. What if our children become athletes? They will need to be moving more than sitting. I cannot think of one job where you get in trouble if you leave your seat (maybe a pilot but as long as he has a co-pilot or autopilot we’re safe), where you have to wait to be told when you can eat (everyone has a snack draw at their desk at work surely) and where you have to raise your hand to ask permission to go to the toilet (if you do, please leave your job immediately). We also want family freedom. The ‘penalty fines’ for removing kids out of school during holidays is absolutely ridiculous! I will not be dictated to by some government person when I can take my family on holiday, nor will I be fined because of it. School’s simply do not have the facilities or funding to teach each child as they need to in order to get the most out of each child. Not all kids can learn sat down with a textbook or PowerPoint presentation. This is not the fault of teachers, it is the system. A system raising children not to question, to do as they are told and to learn that one day some ‘superior adult’ will tell them what they can and cannot do e.g. When they can take annual leave, when they can have a pay rise etc. I want to raise Oliver to question everything and challenge the status quo. He may end up working for someone and be told when he can have annual leave, but he equally may end up working for himself and I want him to know that he can be successful in life without being told what to do. However, having said all of the above, if he ever said to me “Mummy I want to go to school” I would absolutely let him go around schools, find one he likes and try it. He may love it and stay but equally he will always have the option for home education. A school is not the same as education. Education happens in a building called a school. Education also happens at home, in the woods, at the beach, in the work place, looking out the window. Education happens everywhere. School is just another place where you can receive an education if you choose to. We are simply choosing the woods, beach, moors and our home for Oliver to receive his education. 

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

At the moment, a lot of play, as our little boy is technically ‘pre-school’ age. We fill our days with play, experiences and time in nature. Whether that is a walk in the woods, a trip to the beach, a train ride, a trip to the zoo or trip to the local Trampoline park. I intend to keep our relaxed routine for quite sometime. Right now I find learning happens in the moment and in the environment he is surrounded by. For example, we were out for a walk in the evening and he noticed the moon, we then talked about the moon and the stars. Another example would be trains, Oliver can identify a diesel train, steam train, freight train and high speed train just because he’s watched them pass through stations or been on them. This has just come from his questions or acknowledgements which me and my husband try to answer and to help feed that inquisitiveness right now.

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

I will be picking and choosing really. Predominantly I’d say we will be unschooling. The appeal to me is the practical side of learning, getting hands on and taking excursions to see places. For example, if my son wants to learn about Stonehenge we will go there, rather than read from a text book. I will also be tuning into Montessori and Charlotte Mason for elements of our home school as well.

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

The ability to not rush. No 9 am school run, 3 pm pick up. No home work to dictate how we spend our evenings. No uniform to wash. Just the ability to be who we are, as we are, in our family. It really does come down to the freedom it gives us. Even now, there are no child minder runs anymore or nursery runs and there are days we don’t get dressed till 10 am! We can simply be. Again, I hear “but they need to learn to get ready so they won’t be late for work” 🙄🤦‍♀️ “He is two Susan! I’m sure somewhere in the next 16 years he will learn to dress himself, put on a tie and get to a place on time, but it doesn’t have to be whilst he is age 2”. I truly feel we have lost touch to our children that are right in front of us, we always want the next thing don’t we? From birth we want them to crawl, then we want them to eat, walk, talk, read, write, take SATs, pass SATs, get A’s blah, blah, blah. What are we doing? Oh my gosh your two year old isn’t holding a pencil yet (shock), that doesn’t mean he won’t get in to Oxford University. Oh my gosh your 7 year old struggles to tie his shoe laces (shock), that doesn’t mean he won’t become an Olympic runner. We need to stop thinking that our child’s achievements right now dictate their success 16,18,20 years down the line. It’s simply ridiculous. Our children are incredible right now. They are doing all they should be doing right now.

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

I have recently started to read about the ‘miracle morning’ and I have started to adapt this into our routine. Every morning now myself and my son have breakfast and we do a 10 minute yoga session. I then read for 5 minutes too.I like mornings to be as stress free as they can be if possible. 

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

This is a question I need to predict as I don’t see that I teach much right now. I’d say my favourite subject will be art and my least favourite possibly history because I’m aware that isn’t my strongest subject. I am terrible at remembering dates, it takes me more than a minute to recall my wedding anniversary date!

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

I am sure I will find challenging the demand to find work/groups that meets his needs and interests. Possibly, also the self doubts that I know that will creep in my head about if I’m good enough, have I made the right choice etc. But I will overcome these, lots of research on my part and a supportive family will get me by. 

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

My husband and I are a good team. I can tell him when I’m burning out and need help and he will step in to let me shower in peace or take Oliver out for an hour so I can read a book or do some cleaning.

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

I enjoy reading John Holts work and have more books in my amazon basket to read this year.

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

No one has openly told me they have issues with our choice to home educate. I am sure if it does come to light that I have people in my ‘circle’ that don’t approve I will try to educate them on my choice, but ultimately I won’t push anything on anyone. If they are uncomfortable with my choice, it isn’t my problem, it’s their’s which they need to work through.

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

Hopefully having fun and making lots of memories. I hope my son still chooses home education. I hope I have been strong enough to push past any doubts I may have had.

13)What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ? Believe in yourself. Be brave enough to go against the ‘norm’. Educate yourself, that is my biggest advice. Open your mind to see the current education system for what it truly is. Realise that you don’t have to be a teacher to teach and just take it one day at a time. There are no rules in home education, that’s the best part.

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

That he felt free. Free to learn what he wanted. Free to learn what he wanted for however long he wanted. That a curriculum or person didn’t dictate to him what he could and couldn’t learn. That he has learned to question everything around him. Ultimately, I want him to have enjoyed learning and love learning so he carries on learning and growing during adulthood.

English Comprehension KS2 BY Ilm Tuition- Book Review

I was kindly sent the English Comprehension KS2 Book One by Ilm Tuition in exchange for a review.However all thoughts and opinions are my own.

So What is Reading Comprehension ? “Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make connections between what they read and what they already know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read. ” As Ilm Tuiton says: “Reading Comprehension is an important skill to develop and can be transferred and used in all areas of learning. This series of comprehension exercises will help your child build vocabulary and deepen their understanding via inferencing, deduction and other related skills”.

Reading Comprehension is a big part of the British National Curriculum. Although, as a home educator, I am not obliged to follow it, I personally have been doing reading comprehension with my 10.5 year old daughter in a more formal way for just over year. If she were to be in school, she would be in Year 6.

We were nearly finishing the CGP KS2 English Comprehension year 6 Targeted Question book, when Ilm Tuition asked me to review their “English Comprehension KS2 book“. It could not have come at a more perfect time.

I really like the selection of texts. It contains some great classics such as ” The wind in the willows”, ” The Railway Children as well as modern examples ranging from fiction and non-fiction. There are ten texts in total.

Each comprehension text starts with a Cloze Exercise, in which the child has to fill in the blank spaces with the appropriate word, followed by a vocab and spelling exercise. The child has to read the text and write the words that they are unfamiliar with , learn the spelling and find the definition of the words. This is a great exercise for independent work and a great opportunity for your child to use a Dictionary. I often encourage this this with my children instead of using the phone and finding the meaning. There are around 9/10 exam – style questions for each comprehension text.

What I absolutely loved about the book is that unlike other comprehension books, the answer section doesn’t just give the answers but it shows how they arrived at them with evidence from the extracts. This is brilliant as well because it truly enables children to think and develop various strategies and techniques to figure out the meaning from the context rather than memorise.

I also liked the overall layout of the book- simple and easy to to use and follow. This is definitely a challenging and very well thought book. It is geared for children aged 9 and above and will certainly be a great support for any children, who are sitting the 11+, Common Entrance and SATs preparations.

English Comprehension KS2 Book can be bought from Amazon- https://amzn.to/2SvN8mz.

Please note that this post includes affiliated links.

Homeschool Chat with Amina Mohamed

Children are, by nature and from birth, very curious about the world around them, and very energetic, resourceful and competent in exploring it, finding out about it, and master it. In short, much more eager to learn, and much better at learning than most adults. ~ John Holt

Welcome to another Season of Homeschool Chat series over on my blog. Today’s interview is with Amina Mohamed, a mother to 4 little humans. She holds various qualifications, diplomas, degrees and a master. She enjoys learning and reading and her favorite past time is listening to lectures whilst sipping on coffee/tea. She is the second eldest of 8 children and “thus had to grow up before I could even enjoy my childhood. Alhamdulillah I learnt quite a lot taking care of my siblings and was able to transfer the skills coupled with my studies and experience to my own children. I enjoy being with my children as I look at them as my akhira investment. ” Amina Mohamed can be found on Instagram @thesixcards . She also has a blog https://knowledgefountainbooks.com/ .

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

My family consists of me and my husband and our four children. Our eldest is 8, then 5.5, 3.5 and a 2 year old. I do all the teaching and signing children up to extra curricular activities and my husband helps with the driving the children to places and planning surprise days out which I’m grateful for as the children learn so much from the outings.

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

When I was in college my mum gave birth to our youngest sibling. This sister of mine at age 2-3 was diagnosed with severe eczema. Her face was unrecognizable due to it. Me and my oldest sister would take great care in researching what we could do to help. As we were busy trying to care for her face, we realized our parents forgot to sign her up to nursery. We just naturally taught her at home as we got quite a lot of time off college, she became confident and was very wise in her thinking. She reasoned extremely well about her surroundings and engaged well with adults and children of all ages. We homeschooled her using whatever resources were available to us and by age 6 she was 2 years ahead of her peers. Sadly, our parents got a lot of negative talk from friends and they persuaded them that our sister will become anti-social! (Eye roll!) 

That experience taught me two things; one – to teach a child doesn’t require much resources and two – it’s possible! 

That was it – fast forward 10 years later and I’m holding my first born and I now have a PGCE and a Masters in education and have been teaching for 5 years in different schools and settings. I was determined to teach my own child as I felt it was extremely possible. My other reason for homeschooling is because I look to my children as an Amanah (trust from God) and I need to teach and guide them on certain matters that I feel only I am able to do a good job of. I’m their mother and I know them better than anyone. I have no issue with the school system and if my circumstance was to change, I wouldn’t mind putting them there but as for now I’d like to have my children close and grow with them and expose them to things I feel will add to their life experience. Homeschooling is for everyone but not everyone is able to homeschool. I see homeschooling as an extension of my parenting.

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

We wake up for Fajr and then return to bed for a quick nap before waking again at 8am. Breakfast is served and we get on straight to revising our Surahs, learning a new ayah, reading the qaidah for my second child and setting up the legos or another hands on activities  for the younger two. The kids take mini breaks and we get on with spelling or reading, another mini break and it’s maths for 15-20 minutes. I usually finish teaching by 12/1 pm. I like to finish before dhuhr so we can spend that time cooking and cleaning up, catching up on read aloud or just playing. On some days I fit in painting or baking but most days the children have access to water paint and colors and lots of plain paper to do as they please. This is the ideal model, but most days we get Quran and Arabic and some maths and that’s it! Everyday is different but everyday has to have Quran!

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

With Islamic studies we are classical in that we memorize a lot of what we learn. As for normal studies we don’t have a particular method or idea that we follow. I’m quite open to whatever I find suits our family routine.

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

I’m not rushing around the clock. I take it easy, there’s always going to be time to learn. There’s no need for the rushing element that we find in schooling system and many organization. Children learn so much from just being around you. 

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

Morning time is always duahs recitation and Quran. We use to do circle time before the arrival of my rather energetic two year old, but at the moment it’s been paused.

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

I enjoy all subjects even mathematics , which I used to absolutely hate in school. I’m actually enjoying it as I’ve found ways to teach my children without pressuring them against the clock! I do enjoy teaching Quran the most and I’m most passionate about it but it can be hard most days as I sometimes forget my children are still young and fairly new on the journey. I have to recall how I viewed Quran when I was young so to take a step back, because the aim is to help them love to read for life.

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

I find preparing the materials and finding easy to follow resources challenging. When you have more than one child time is against you and are only left with squeezing in reading time and planning time when the baby is napping or when the kids have gone to bed. It’s really easy to just browse around all day and flick through different books and purchase too many books before you realize or find the one or two simple books to use. Alhamdulillah , we learn as time progresses but I must admit a lot of finance and time  is wasted and because of the amount of information there is online, it is so easy to get diverted and sucked into buying things you don’t need or will never use. 

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

Trying to really get a balance on this one, but for now when the kids are in bed I do as I please. To be honest my self care really consists of drinking a beverage in complete silence – I’m happy with that. When you home school – the house is full of energy and noise so if I’m able to sit and just be able to hear my own thoughts whilst drinking my coffee – I’m happy. On days like that I am very productive the next day because I would have had my cup refilled the night before. Other times I get the husband to take the kids out whilst I enjoy my own company, and other times spend it with friends who will allow for adult conversations to be had!

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

John Taylor Gato – ” Weapons of mass distraction ” 

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Bauer– allows me to plan or look at how to plan 

“Fun start “ by June Oberlander ( I like this book because I don’t have to think about ideas to do with my under 5, I just open the stage/age they are at and there’s a simple activity to do with them) 

“Language and thinking for young people ” BY Ruth Beechick – again another excellent resource filled book to use with under 5 

“Daring greatly “ –  Brene brown 

“Today is their name “ – Christoph Arnold

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

I’ll be very honest here, I don’t waste my time explaining anymore. Most of my family and relatives have never gone to school and have been traditionally taught (homeschooled style) and in the beginning they were cheering me on about homeschooling but now some have started hinting that the kids should go school for whatever reason. I listen and just kindly respond ‘inshallah, whatever Allah wills’. Alhamdulillah I have had very supportive friends so no problem there. 

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

I would hope to see my homeschooling journey become efficient and my children acquiring the foundations I set out during their early years. Because I follow the classical Islamic method of memorization I would hope that they can recall the information memorized and start putting it into action. Inshallah I pray we continue homeschooling and moving forward. 

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

Look at homeschooling as an extension of your parenting and you would be able to find some ease in the heavy task ahead. You are your child’s first role model and you are the best teacher because you know them better than anyone. Believe me, homeschooling ain’t easy but it’s worth it. You are gonna have horrible green monster days but you learn and the kids learn to. You are building relationships and creating memories. And the best of all… you can do the absolutely minimal and your child will still learn. Children are natural learners as you will come to find out. 

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

I want them to be able to appreciate the time, energy and sacrifice we (me and my husband) did for them. I would love to hear them thank me for the experience, skills and knowledge they had attained. I would be so happy to see them blossom into beautiful adults. 

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started