“Homeschool Bravely” by Jamie Erikson ( Book Review)

I am super pleased with myself ( if I may write/say so lol) because we are half way through the month of January and I have managed to read two books so far. This really never happens! I really want this year to concentrate a bit more on my blog too and write more reviews on here rather than Instagram.

One of my January reads was Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erikson.

Quiet the voices of “not good enough” and step courageously into guilt-free homeschooling

Many homeschool parents have a long-term relationship with self-doubt. “Did I make the right decision?” “Could someone else do this better?” “Am I robbing my kids of something by not sending them to ‘regular school’?”

What if there’s a better way?

Not a 3-step technique or a shiny, new curriculum, but a change in perspective that transforms the way you plan, teach, and homeschool?

Homeschool Bravely teaches you to see homeschooling as a calling, helps you overthrow the tyranny of impossible expectations, and guides you through the common bumps in the road, including how to:

  • juggle school and parenting with toddlers at home
  • teach a struggling learner
  • plan with the end in mind
  • accept your own limitations without feeling guilty
  • stay the course even in the face of criticism

Reclaim your hope, renew your purpose, and transform your homeschool. Because the truth is: God will use every part of your homeschool, even your fears, faults, and failures, to weave good plans for your kids.

“Jamie Erikson taught elementary school before becoming a mother . When her first child turned five, she made the decision to homeschool her daughter. Four more children followed and she homeschools all five. Jamie is the founder of the Unlikely Homeschool and a popular education blogger. “

One of the first things , I want to mention is that this is Christian homeschooling guide. If you are not a follower of the Christian faith ( such as myself), but believe in God, you will find quite a lot of similarities and in my opinion find the book useful. There were a few pages here and there that I skipped as I did not find them applicable. If you are a secular homeschooler, I think it is really important to know that there are scripture references throughout the book and mentioning of God, as Jamie Erickson weaves her faith through every aspect of homeschooling that she addresses

Having said all of that , let’s start with the review. “Homeschool Bravely” is divided into three Parts

Part 1- The FearFear will be a threat whenever you set out to pursue a desire that means something to you. ” Emily Freeman.

I really enjoyed this part. Jamie gives her wisdom on how to have anxiety free homeschool. Let’s face it, whether you are new to homeschooling or have been homeschooling for many years, we are all prone to fears and worries , in regards to whether we are failing our children by taking this unconventional and less trodden path- Home Schooling. Jamie reminds us that ” the real challenge is finding your own vision and passion and then firmly grabbing hold so the shaky days don’t break you !”

I really loved reading the chapter “Watch your own Dice “. Jamie writes beautifully on the dangers of social-media-fueled pressure , that can feel particularly pronounced in the realm of homeschooling and the danger of comparison.

When you begin to homeschool, you might start out rolling your own dice with intensity, but then you get distracted and take your eyes off whats right in front of you. You look at how everyone else is homeschooling- you see their picturesque success and assume that if you just followed their magic formula, your homeschool would turn out exactly like theirs. You invest in yet another pricey new curricculum you can’t afford beacuse that one blog post has you beliveing the shlevs of books you already own just wont cut it… My homeschool is not supposed to look like yours and yours isnt supposed to look like mine .”

Part 2 – The Struggle

For every little part of your child’s lifeyou try to own and fix for them , you are taking away something from the work snf worth of God in their lives ” September Mccarthy

I found this part really very useful and practical. Erikson looks at the importance if establishing routines for your family, how to foster togetherness and encourage personal responsibility in your children Her Chapter ” Struggling to teach a struggler ” would be really beneficial for anyone who has a struggling learner ( whether they are home educated or not ) . She reminds us that ” Education is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Just keep moving forward ” I enjoyed the section on documenting improvement through recorded reading and on the importance of including other non traditional passion driven extras in our homeschools, and not just concentrating on the the 3 Rs- going beyond Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic.

I absolutely loved the chapter on ” Little People and Big Messes “- lots of advice in there on how to include your toddler in your homeschool and how to create a Tot School . Jamie gives lots of Handwork activities for your toddler depending on how old they are. The activities are split in ages 1-2, 2-3,3-4,4-5. She reminds us once again that the toddler years are temporary and to remember that ” homeschool means everyone in the home plays a special part in the grand plan. “

We all know how difficult it can be to homeschool your older children , when you have a toddler in the mix, who also craves your attention all the times and has his needs and wants. Jamie emphasises that during this struggle-filled season , parents should consider trying a more interest led education , through strewing or project based learning. She gives a great list of simple ideas and activities that you can suggest to your child in order to sneak learning into even the craziest of days.

Part 3 -The Solution

Our society has made an idol of getting things done, making that our top cultural priority. But instead of asking , “Am I doing enough ?” why not ask , ” Am I doing what’s mine ?”

In this Part, Jamie reminds us that truly the world is our classroom and we should not restrict our children’s work only in the homeschool room ( if you have one ), because “a classroom can inadvertently shape a lazy learner. If his learning always happens in a certain space , as a certain time , and with certain tools, your child will begin to think that learning can only ever happen that way. “

Jamie also gives ten discussion questions for any book , that you can have with your child. One of my favourite parts of this book was the chapter ” It’s Homeschool, Not Homeschool at Home. Erickson reminds that by fastening your success to your children’s , you are giving yourself far too much credit and far too much blame. ” In assuming, you are the key ingredient in the recipe for success , you are implying that you have to be an expert at absolutely everything in order to impart all of that everything to your child,lest he end up with an irreparable gap in his education “.

At the end of the book, there are two Appendices -Appendix A will be brilliant for anyone who is considering home education . Jamie includes over 15 questions to ask before you start homeschooling. In Appendix B, there is a list of homeschool book recommendations for further reading. As Charlotte Mason wrote : ” education is an atmosphere, discipline and life”. As with any vocational calling, to homeschool well, you need to engross yourself in it, ” continually learning, honing your craft, and gathering the necessary tool to help you build a sturdy foundation. “

The book also contains lots of uplifting quotes from other inspirational homeschooling authors and bloggers such as Pam Barnhill, Jamie Martin, Jessica Smart, Julie Bogart and many more. Overall, ” Homeschool Bravely is encouraging, uplifting and inspiring. It is like sitting down with a homeschooling friend and having share her wisdom and courage to you as you visit. As Jessica Smart says: “the books is brimming with fresh, doable ideas to transform bad days, occupy toddlers and refresh your mama soul!””

Homeschool Bravely ” by Jamie Erickson can be bought from Amazon- https://amzn.to/2FSwdEM ( affiliated link)

The Confident Homeschooler : How to thrive in the Day- to -Day by Pam Barnhill ( Book Review)

My first read of the New Year, was a homeschooling book – surprise, surprise !!! I Discovered Pam Barnhill a year ago while reading Sarah Mackenzie’s book ” The Read Aloud Family”. And since then , I have been reading a lot of her content ( on her blog ), as well as reading her Book ” Better Together ” ( a must read if you want some morning basket inspiration ).Better Together: Strengthen Your Family, Simplify Your Homeschool, and Savor the Subjects that Matter Most can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/2NrGDj0 ( affiliated link )

Pam Barnhill is a mom and former secondary teacher. When she’s not homeschooling her three kids, she can be found helping and encouraging homeschool moms at pambarnhill.com. She is the host of Your Morning Basket, a podcast devoted to helping families contemplate truth, goodness, and beauty in Morning Time, and The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast where she interviews homeschooling parents, providing a peek into their days. She lives with her husband, children, and a passel of dogs in beautiful Alabama.

End of last year, I found out, while searching on Amazon, that Pam Barnhill has written another book , called the Confident Homeschooler: How to thrive in the day to day “. I was not able to get it as a Paperback , so it had to be on Kindle. It is free at the moment if you have a Kindle membership.

I have to say I am not the biggest fan of Kindle- I am very old school and juts love reading a physical book, but I did not mind reading this on Kindle and I think part of the reason was because it was a short read ( only 22 pages ).

So here is my review, if you are looking for something new to read this Year:

“Stop making homeschooling more difficult than it has to be.

As a homeschool mom there is a good chance that you are your own worst enemy. Unrealistic expectations, your public school past, and worry combine to sabotage the peace in your homeschool day.

In order to take charge of your efforts and your results, you needs ideas that allow you to step outside your old paradigms. This ebook presents five simple ones that will do just that.

• The single shift that will maximize learning in your homeschool.
• The most important, and most overlooked, step to homeschooling successfully.
• Two simple ideas that will create smooth-running days… for good.

• Ideas for creating a schedule that works for you instead of you working for it.
• How to take charge of those pesky mornings that often get you off track.

In the end, you’ll be able to create a homeschool for your family that brings you confidence, peace, and kids who learn. “

There are 4 chapters in this book:

Chapter 1 “Don’t work harder than your kids”- this was a gem, absolutely loved reading this one. Pam reminds us that it should not be only us putting effort and finding amazing projects to do with our children. Instead allocate responsibility and allow your children to put effort too in their own studies. As Barnhill writes, ” allow your children ,especially those 8 and above, to create their own questions, games and acctivities. “

Chapter 2 ” Be True to your… family”– this chapter is all about your homeschool vision and it is really very thought prvoking. Pam reminds us to look towards the end goal too and ask ourselves, in 20 years down the line, what do we want our children to say about their homeschool experience and about you as a homeschool mum.am

Chapter 3- “Eliminate decision fatigue “- I found this chapter really very interesting and useful. Pam explains what decision fatigue is and how we can reduce it. I loved her recommendation on using spiral notebooks for student checklists, especially good for older children, aged 8 and above.

Chapter 4 ” Love your Schedule”- This is a really very practical Chapter and it looks at the various schooling schedules that you can have, whether it is year round homescholing or alighning your acdemic year with the calendar year.

Chapter 5 -” Make the most of your mornings“- this is a short chapter on morning time and tips on how to be consistent.

Overall, this is a great little guide on home education. If you are new to homeschooling or someone who just wants their homeschool to run smoother ( don’t we all ), you would truly find this book super helpful. It is jam packed with so many useful tips, practical advice, links to many other blog posts and articles. I only wished it was longer!!

The Confident Homeschooler: How to Thrive in the Day-to-Day can be bought from Amazonhttps://amzn.to/2QTPH2n. ( Affiliated link )

Best Of Let’s Learn Mama 2019

Photo by Masaru Suzuki on Pexels.com

What a year 2019 has been! 2019 was the year that I finally decided to pluck up the courage and start my own blog. Without exaggeration, I have been contemplating starting a blog for over an ENTIRE DECADE , ever since my eldest was born , but I never did. I guess it was not meant to be for me. But I am a true believer in that things happen, when God wants them to happen. So here I am with my own little “baby” and my own little space , my own corner of this online world for me to write. If I am entirely honest, I wish I wrote more last year, but I am still happy with what I achieved .

My big obstacle to blogging more has been truly finding the physical time to do this. Juggling motherhood , domestic duties and homeschooling my five children , it is diffciult to find the time to write. I often try to blog when my children are asleep, but most of the time I am so tired, especially if I have had an early start ( think 6 am and interrupted sleep- my nearly 2 year old still wakes up ), that I end up just browsing on Instgram for 30 min before going to bed myself. But I am trying to change this and I intend to blog a bit more this year 2020. Do not want to make some big promises to myself though hahaha.

So , to celebrate the end of an amazing year, I would like to share my top five posts of 2019 with you. Here they are :

1 )Homeschool Chat with Sarah Javedin 2019 I decided to start The Homeschool Chat series , in which homeducators /unschoolers from various nationalities, race, religion answered questions related to the way they home educate. The main intention behind these series was to give those who do not homeschool and or those who are interested in home education, but not sure where to start , a little glimpse into the beautiful world of homeschooling. I did two seasons of the homeschool Chat series last year and there will be new ones in 2020 too, which I hope you also find inspirational and beneficial.The most read interview from these series was with the lovely Sarah, a homeschooling mama of three children and an author from the UK. You can read my interview with her here- https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/06/25/home-school-chat-with-sarah-javed/

2) 12 Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha books for children – Throughout the years,  I have always found it a struggle to find books on Hajj and Eid ul -Adha. There are so many more books for Ramadan in comparison to the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah. However, I made it a bit of a mission for myself to find more books related to Hajj in 2019. So this blog post will give you a selection of the various books. I have separated them in two sections – books on Hajj and books on Eid-ul Adha.  You can read my blog post here-https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/07/28/12-hajj-and-eid-ul-adha-books-for-children/

3) Top 10 Ramadan resources and activity books for children aged 6 and aboveThis blog post contains various free Ramadan and Islamic related resources , which I have found extremely beneficial for my children. They include a wide range from lapbooks, notebooks, Ramadan journals and much more. You can find my blog post here-https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/04/28/top-10-ramadan-resources-and-activity-books-for-children-aged-6-and-above/

4) My Top 20 Children’s Islamic Books for 2019- This year, without a shadow of doubt, I purchased the most children’s Islamic books that I have ever done in recent years. I think part of the reason is that unlike ten years ago, when there wasn’t that much on the market , now the publishing industry for Islamic books is truly booming. We are truly blessed and spoilt to have so many new and exciting titles coming up every year. This blog post contains a list of our favourite Children’s Islamic books that we read in 2019. I have tried to include books for various age ranges- 0-5, 5-9, 9-12, so hopefully there will be something that will cater for your children. To read the full blog post, click here- https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/12/21/my-top-20-childrens-islamic-books-for-2019/

5 )Homeschool Advice Part 1 This blog post is little compilation of all the 16 answers from the homeschool parents, that took part in the Homeschool Chat series Season 1, to the question : ” What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their child/children?” And if you know anyone , who is about to embark on their first year of home schooling and can do with a bit of re assurance and support , why not forward the link to them. I am sure they will be grateful to you ! Here is the blog post- https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/08/28/homeschool-advice-part-1/

So there you have it, my top five posts of 2019. I wanted to say a big ” Thank you ” to all of you who read my blog posts, for all the likes and comments . It has not been unnoticed and it is truly what keeps me going to write more. I hope you find my content in 2020 useful too and you follow me along this journey!

Discover the best posts from around the web!

This blog post is in collaboration with a few other lovely and inspirational bloggers

Multicultural Motherhoodhttp://www.multiculturalmotherhood.com/2020/01/best-of-multicultural-motherhood-2019.html

Muslim Mummyhttp://www.muslimmummies.com/2020/01/best-of-muslim-mummy-blog-2019/

Homeschool Advice Part 2

The second part of the Homeschool Chat series is over . 15 inspirational homeschooling parents from various walks of lives, religions and countries, took part in the second series. A big thank you to all of them for shedding light on what homeschooling means for them and how they do it. The interviews have been truly inspirational and full of so many tips, wisdom and advice. I hope you enjoyed reading them and found them beneficial just as much as I did.

To conclude these series, I decided to include the answers to all the 15 homeschooling parents to the question ” What do you love about homeschooling ? ” It was wonderful to see the different responses and motivations for the different parents and their reasons for home education. It has proven very inspirational and insightful and I hope it will help those who are already homeschooling and may be encourage those who want to home educate too.

1 )Hamida-Zee Um Aasiyah, -a Muslim mum of four (https://eezeehomeschool.wixsite.com/eezeehomeschooling) :

  • Learning together and being together!
  • Instilling in my children a love of learning. 
  • Freedom to customize education and give them a quality education. 
  • Making memories. 
  • Being able to provide healthy atmosphere. 
  •  Preserving and nurturing their innate innocence and curiosity.   

2) Reja, a homeschool mama of 4 children from the UK @razandrej , writes

There’s so much I love about it! It really is a pleasure (most days!) and a privilege to be able to spend so much time with my children. I love being around them to nurture them at a tender age and give them a solid Islamic foundation. We can integrate Islam into everything we do alhamdulillah; for example while studying the fall of Rome in History, we discussed what made some Roman leaders fail, and how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him ) was the best example of great leadership. If reading a novel which mentions orphans, we can discuss the Islamic approach to orphans and the reward for looking after them. Quranic ayahs and hadith can be intertwined into every aspect of our day, without Islam being imposed on the kids; this way it’s something natural for them, simply the way they live their life. The children are also memorising Quran alhamdulillah and so I love that homeschooling allows us to incorporate this into our daily routine.

I also love the fact that they can develop at their own pace without having to conform to any arbitrary school rules or standards. We don’t need to be seated at a desk with a pencil and paper to learn; instead we can explore topics like Vikings by having a Viking feast where we eat foods typical in that era, whilst reading Viking mythology and literature. Reading aloud to my children and bonding over books is probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of homeschooling for me.

Finally, I really love that I’m able to learn alongside my kids. I grew up in Saudi Arabia where we didn’t really have much exposure to nature or art, so now doing things like nature study with my children is a totally new experience for me and I love it as much as they do! “

3) Habiba Anwar, (@eatwritebe) a  British homeschooling mama of 2 , residing in Pakistan. gives her reasons on what she loves about home education below :

I love that it allows me to spend so much time with my daughters, and the flexibility it gives us as family; flexibility not just to travel whenever we need to, but also on a day-to-day level: to wake up late and stay in our PJs, or to do our learning over a plate of dinner, or to do nothing at all if that’s what it seems is best for all of us that day! “

4) @silkroadkeepsakes, a Muslim mama of 4 , residing in Scotland – ” I love that I get to spend so much time with my children in their formative years. Home educating enables me to embed a love of learning into my children, without the added pressure of tests and homework.

5) Brooke Benoit @br00kebenoit- unschooling mama of 7 childres, residing in Morocco – “Mmmaybe having a very family-focused lifestyle. I don’t know how that would have been different if my children were in school, but I definitely love having access to each other all day even though sometimes that can be overwhelming. “

6) Hina Malik, @rainsbows_of_learning – a homeschooling mama of 4 from the UK- “I enjoy teaching varied subjects and I do like the challenge of creating activities for subjects that are also new to me. Some topics I haven’t covered since I was in school so its lovely to share fascinating information with my children through the activities I set up. “

7)   Leslie Monroe @besimplybetter- An American homeschool mama of 2 says :

Freedom.  That one word, means so much.  We have the freedom to adjust, relax, shift focus if we need to.  When husband takes a week off we don’t have to check with anyone’s schedule.  (We often take a vacation the week after Labor day….and we always have the place to ourselves.)  If we get sick we can rest, recharge and recover.  We get to choose the format and subjects that we like!

Time.  We enjoy the luxury of being responsible for how we spend our days.  We teach to mastery NOT to a clock.  If it takes longer to master a skill that’s fine.  (We have 18 years to get our kids college ready….to pass a college entry test they need to know how to write and essay and do some algebra…that’s it.) “

8) Umm Hajar @homeedder, a homeschooling mother of 2 from the UK writes : ” The one thing I love the most, is the fact that I have had the opportunity and continue to have the opportunity to spend time with my children. I firmly believe home educating has allowed me to really get to know these little people, and enabled me to watch them grow and develop. Being with them more has also meant we have a beautiful and strong bond MashaAllah. Home educating also means I can ensure they aren’t stressed by matters that shouldn’t bother them, or pressurised by exams and targets. “

9 Umm Affan , an Australian homeschooling mother of two children  https://www.instagram.com/the_odd_muslimah/ – ” The flexibility! And also no school runs because Allah knows I wouldn’t have been able to take that stress! Huge respect for those mamas.

10) Jessica @threerivershomestead – an American homeschool mom of 6 says – “What I love most about homeschooling is the way it unites our family. Other educational options can run the risk of fracturing the family unit, but home education seems to deepen both the parent-child bond and sibling bonds. Creating an environment , where my children feel like an essential part of the family unit and where we are working and making memories together builds character and a bond that will benefit them in so many ways as they grow. These are things the public school system cannot replicate. “

11 Hana, @gardensofarabic -a homeschooling mama of 5, who resides in Saudi Arabia says: “The fact that you can go at the pace of the child and not feel he needs to understand certain concepts at certain times or to be able to do certain skills at certain phases of his life just because everyone else is or because the curriculum dictates it. “

12) Sabah, @sabah.homeschool – a homeschooling mama of one girl – “ I love the quality time I spend with my daughter and I couldn’t imagine it any other way! I love being involved in her learning and getting to know her learning styles as we continue in this journey. “

13) Umm Ameerah, @bilingualhomeschooler – a homeschooling mother of two girls who resides in Saudi Arabia writes : ” The best thing about homeschooling is the flexibility and going at the pace of our children, knowing their strengths and weakness we can push or slow down as needed.

14 ) Shannen (@middlewaymom) , a homeschooling mother of 4 girls : ” What I absolutely love about home schooling and why I hold on to it even when it is extremely hard and I think I’m not doing a great job at it, is I love learning with my kids and I truly believe that my love of learning is a gift to them to see that learning does not end when you graduate. I joke sometimes that the one good thing I’ve done as a parent is instill the love of books in all my kids (I know I’ve done more than that, mashaAllah). It is just a part of our culture at home, and with homeschooling, we get to dig into books together and discuss them. A really close second to what I love about homeschooling, though I do think it is connected, is being able to take my kids to museums and plays numerous times each year. Again, we get to learn and explore together and it is just such a joy . “

15 ) Faryal– @life.of.faryal , a homeschooling Mom of 4 children, from New Jersey, USA gives her reasons on what she loves about home education – ” I love the flexibility and the relaxed nature. As my kids are getting older, I can see how their personalities have shaped for the good by spending so much time with us, their parents. There are definitely many things to love about homeschooling. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. If you are home educating your children, I would love to hear from you and what you love about taking this unconventional path. 

Homeschool Chat with Faryal Mahmud

“Think less about how to shape your kids into world changers and more about how to bring a wide world to your family to shape them. Think more about how much energy your children invest in what they love and less about what they fail to do. Think more about each child’s natural aptitudes and less about each child’s deficiencies. Think less about the future and more about today-this moment… Allow yourself to be in awe: disallow anxiety. ” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat series is with Faryal. She’s a homeschooling Mom of 4, from New Jersey, USA.  She spent a number of years working in the Islamic school setting. 

 When she’s not teaching, blogging or driving her kids from one sport/class to the next, you can find her having a cup of coffee or trying to squeeze in a run/walk. She enjoys reading, reflecting, and snuggling on the couch. 

   Faryal can be found on Instagram at her personal account @life.of.faryal.  She blogs her musings on homeschooling, books and more at Cup of Home.  (You can also find homeschooling specific resources on Instagram at @cup.of.home)

Instagram: @life.of.faryal and @cup.of.home

blog: https://Cupofhome.wordpress.com

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

Assalamu alaikum all! 

 We are a family of 6.  Two boys ages 15 and 14 and Two girls ages 11 and 5, MashaAllah.  I was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended public schools my entire life.  

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

 I have always been very involved in my children’s education.  When my oldest was 3 years old, I decided to go into teaching so I could work the same hours he was in school (it ended up being the same school).  When he was 4, I took a year off and homeschooled him because I had a newborn and the school was 1.5 hours away. It seems crazy now to drive 3 hours a day, but at that time, it seemed like getting my son into a good school would ensure the best future for him.  

We returned to the school the following year.  I had one child in Kindergarten, one in Pre-Kindergarten, and one in the daycare.  Juggling school and home was always stressful, leaving little time for myself. We stayed at the school for 5  years. 

After working as  Vice Principal, Allah swt (God)  chose for me to have one more child.  When she was born, the school was moving into another building, causing a delayed start to the school year. This gave us time to ponder on the idea of Home Education.  The daycare for the school was going to be at another location, so I decided to take a year off. Another family close to us was homeschooling, and my kids really liked the idea.  So we stayed home, agreeing to try it out, for just one year. The rest is history. We never ruled out a brick and mortar school as an option. This is our 7th year of homeschooling.  

  1. What does a “typical”  homeschool day look like for your family ?

  I love how homeschooling allows tailoring education to each individual child. We have always taken it one year at a time. This year, two of my kids, the 14 and 5 year olds, attend a brick and mortar school.  I truly believe each child is a different person with a variety of needs, so we tap into the best resources available. The 14 year old was homeschooled the last 5 years, so this is something new for him. The 5 year old has always been passionate about books, lessons, and sitting at a desk and chair;  so she naturally gravitated toward her school. Both are happy, as well as academically and socially stimulated. But having kids in a school really changes the typical homeschool day (if there is any typical day). 

Having two teens, schedules are not as set as when the kids are younger.  They have their own ideas and needs, at their own timing. But if I had to try to give one typical day, here it is:

6am Pray and Coffee while reading morning supplications
6:30 Quran
7am  Wake up Kids, Get them dressed, jBreakfast, Lunches, Backpacks
7:40 Drop #2 and #4 to school
7:55 Back home (it’s a mile away) and BREATHE! (really don’t like the morning rush but it’s what is working for our family right now: but I need to come back after the rush and just relax a bit)
8am Eat Breakfast while reminding #3 to get ready and start day
8:30 Drop #1 to Class at community college
9am Math with #3 and the read aloud
10:30 Leave to Pick up #1 from class
11:15 Back home and early lunch for kids; I might try to squeeze in a workout, laundry, or  meal prep
12pm Language Arts (Brave Writer Arrow) with #3
12:45 Pray then  Remind #3 to get ready for Quran class, and drop her off at 1pm.
1pm THE GOLDEN HOUR (this is the hour that I may have the house all to myself) #1 goes to the Masjid for Duhr Salah (noon prayer)  and #3 is at Quran class; lately I’ve been kicking my feet up with lunch on the couch while watching a cooking show; Most days I DO NOT get this time bc I’ll end up running errands that need to get done (library returns, bank, pharmacy, dropping son to masjid because of poor weather). But when I do get this time, it’s beautiful!
2pm More academics with #1 and #3
2:50pm Leave to pick up school kids
3:15 Now it gets crazy. School kids need attention and are tired from school.  Might try to squeeze in a Poetry Tea Time. Also, after school activities and sports kick in.  Some days #2 has Model UN at school, so he might need to get picked up later. Probably, #1 would like me to drive him to the soccer field to get in some practice about now.
4:15 Time to leave to pick up #2 from Model UN and pick up from Soccer field.
The day goes on with various activities. This fall my boys were on a soccer or basketball team and the girls had gymnastics. Some practices finish at 9:30pm, so I’m still driving around until pretty late. Yeah. But that’s the season of life right now and I embrace it because I can see how fleeting it is.

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

 I started off homeschooling with The Well Trained Mind (classical). That approach did NOT work for all my children (as hard as I tried).  So, right now, we try to be somewhat structured. I would say I am eclectic, a mix elements of most types of homeschooling. This year we really got into The Bravewriter Lifestyle and absolutely love it!

  1. What do you love the most about homeschooling ?

 I love the flexibility and the relaxed nature. As my kids are getting older, I can see how their personalities have shaped for the good by spending so much time with us, their parents. There are definitely many things to love about homeschooling. 

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

 I love teaching almost any subject. I feel really blessed with my educational background, as I took a diverse variety of subjects, so am pretty good at them.  There is one exception: High school geometry. My kids know this, as I have not tried to relearn it to teach them. I never got the hang of it in High School and never needed it after. 

  1. What do you find challenging when it comes to homeschooling your children

 Finding time to learn HOW  to teach children with learning differences can be so hard as a home educator.  There are so many excellent resources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc). But finding the time to sit alone and read can be difficult.  We often get caught up in the day to day.

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

 Honestly, I have not had to deal with anyone abrasively unsupportive.  As a former school teacher, many of my teacher friends have wondered if I am doing a disservice to my children by “keeping them home”.  Of course they don’t realize how little we are home. I allow people to express their opinions but also assert mine. Our job is not to convince others, but to whole-heartedly execute our dreams. 

  1. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years time ?

 We have always taken one year at a time, never committing to home education forever.  But we love it and it has given us a lot of opportunities we would not have had otherwise. There are many kids who could benefit from homeschooling. I see myself helping people be able to take the chance on home education and see if it’s a good fit for them.  And my door is always open for my kids if they wish to continue home education.

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

I would say start slow, and don’t be overwhelmed with what others are doing and how their homeschooling space looks. The most important thing is to love your children deeply and be present. Hug them, kiss them, read aloud snuggled up on the couch. Take chances even if you feel scared. Let the fear power your bravery. 

Even if all you have is a bare room with books from the library, that is good enough. Just add paper and pencils. And please don’t compare yourself with what you see online. Everyone’s journey is unique. 

My Top 20 Children’s Islamic Books for 2019

“A book can’t change the world on its own. But a book can change readers. And readers? They can change the world….. We read with our children because it gives both them and us an education of the heart and mind. Of intellect and empathy. We read together and learn because stories teach us how to love.”
― Sarah Mackenzie, The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

This year, without a shadow of doubt, I purchased the most children’s Islamic books that I have ever done in recent years. I think part of the reason is that unlike ten years ago, when there wasn’t that much on the market , now the publishing industry for Islamic books is truly booming. We are truly blessed and spoilt to have so many new and exciting titles coming up every year. I have compiled a list of our favourite Children’s Islamic books that we read in 2019. I have tried to include books for various age ranges- 0-5, 5-9, 9-12, so hopefully there will be something that will cater for your children. Please note this post may contain affiliate links and some books mentioned may be books we were initially sent for review. However , I have included them because we genuinely loved reading them.

1)Where is my prayer Mat

  • Board book
  • Age range- 2-5
  • Author- Ruhana Begum
  • Illustrator- Lera Moniz

This truly is an adorable and sweet  lift-the flap board book. There aren’t that many of these on the market, which is a shame, because I do think that young children are always excited to find out what’s hiding behind the flaps , as they love the element of surprise.

The story is about a little boy called Musa, who “realizes it is time to pray his Zuhr salah (prayer) , but after making wudu (ablution) he could not find his prayer mat. He starts to look for his prayer mat in different places around the house, so that he could pray on time. ”  I actually really loved the whole story because this is something that happens in my own house too ( and I am pretty sure in most Muslim households). My son or daughter often  ask or scream : ” Muuuuuuum, where’s my prayer mat, where’s my kufi /hijab ….?”. To read my full review of the book , check my blog post –https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/11/17/review-wheres-my-prayer-mat-by-ruhana-begum/ . The book can be bought from Amazon –https://amzn.to/2rUprLC

2) My Book About Prophet Muhammad

Author: Sara Khan
Illustrator: Ali Lodge
Publisher: Kube Publishing
Age: 0-5
RRP: £4.99

I am a big fan of Sara Khan , ever since I bought her first book ” My first book about the Quran”, so was really very excited when I found out this year that she has published her second book ” My first book about Prophet Muhammad “.

The book is perfect for toddlers and young children. It is a board book , so it is very sturdy and little hands will easily be able to flick through the pages. The text is simple but concise with 2/3 sentences per page. The illustrations are stunning , colourful and vibrant without overhwelming the child.

It truly is a perfect first book to introduce your children to the inspirational life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)- “his unshakable love for Allah and some of his amazing characteristics: his bravery, determination and kindness. At the end of the book Sara Khan has included a few facts about the Prophet Muhammad ( peace and blessings be upon him) and his life. The book can be bought from Kube Publishing-https://www.kubepublishing.com/collections/books-by-age-0-5-years/products/my-first-book-about-the-prophet-muhammad

3)Ramadan around the world”

Writer- NDAA Hassan
Illustrator- Azra Momin
Age Range- 6 and above

This book is definitely one of the most expensive ones, retailing at £19.99. However , as cheesy as it may sound, it is definitely worth every single penny.  It shows children of various nationalities and how they celebrate Ramadan with their own families and communities from Mexico , Palestine,  Senegal to all the way in Australia. But what I absolutely love about this book is that Ndaa Hassan not only includes  families from various backgrounds( single mother, two-parents home,  children raised only by grandparents) but also children who have different abilities and disabilities such as autism. hearing-impairment, diabetes etc. This is one of the first Ramadan books for children which I have seen that  focuses not only on inclusion but also acceptance of diverse abilities and family types. The illustrations are done by the talented Azra Momin. We have a few books which have been illustrated by her ( Allah made everything by Zain Bhika, The Missing socks by Elizabeth Lymer and many more) and they are certainly stunning to say the least, full of colours , beautifully depicting the scenes of Ramadan festivities around the world. At the end of the book, there is a glossary and also a page with more information about Ramadan. The book can be purchased from Anafiya Gifts- Ramadan Around the World

4)Planet Omar

  • Author- Zanib Mian
  • Paperback
  • Age Range-6-13
  • RRP- Around £5.00
  • Illustrator- Nasaya Mafaridik

We are big fans of Zanib Mian and love all her books. I think we more or less have her entire collection .I love her style of writing too and we find her stories super fun to read. ” Welcome, readers, to the imaginative brain of Omar! You might not know me yet, but once you open the pages of this book you’ll laugh so hard that snot will come out of your nose (plus you might meet a dragon and a zombie – what more could you want?).My parents decided it would be a good idea to move house AND move me to a new school at the same time. As if I didn’t have a hard enough time staying out of trouble at home, now I’ve also got to try and make new friends. What’s worse, the class bully seems to think I’m the perfect target. At least Eid’s around the corner which means a feast (YAY) and presents (DOUBLE YAY). Well, as long as I can stay in Mum and Dad’s good books long enough… ” The book can be bought from Amazon –Planet Omar. We are also really looking forward to the second series of Planet Omar, which will be released in February next year.

5) A race to prayer

  • Author -Aliyah Vaughan
  • Paperback
  • Age Range 7 and above
  • RRP- £3.00

“Nothing is going right for Sulaiman. He just wants to have fun but something always stops him. First it’s the prayer, then it’s the rain and then the car breaks down just as he is leaving to watch the quad bike races. He eventually gets to the stadium but then prayer time comes back around. When he is finally ready to settle back into his seat something frightening happens and Sulaiman soon realises the blessings of a perfectly-timed prayer “. The book can be bought from Kube Publishing-https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/a-race-to-prayer-salah-1?_pos=1&_sid=daee3f007&_ss=r

6) Who will help me make iftar

  • Author- Asmaa Hussein
  • Illustrator- Saliha Caliskan
  • Paperback
  • Age Range- 4 and over
  • RRP- £9.99

” Mustafa Amca and his wife have a yearly tradition- they cook iftar for their friends and neighbours on the first day of Ramadan. This year, Mustafa Amca’s wife is sick and can’t help him to cook! Will he be able to find others to pitch in and create a meal for everyone to enjoy”. The story is really lovely with stunning illustrations. I bought it from Anafiya Gifts , retailed at £9.99-  Who will help me make iftar

7)  The Best Eid Ever

  • Hardback
  • Age -Range 2-5
  • Author- Asma Mobin-Uddin
  • Illustrator- Laura Jacobsen

“Young readers can learn about Eid, a religious holiday celebrated by Muslim families every year, as well as the Hajj pilgrimage, when Muslims travel back to Mecca for the Eid, in this picture book about Muslim culture and traditions written by Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen. This Eid, Aneesa should be happy. But, her parents are thousands of miles away for the Hajj pilgrimage. To cheer her up, her Nonni gives her a gift of beautiful clothes, one outfit for each of the three days of Eid. At the prayer hall, Aneesa meets two sisters who are dressed in ill-fitting clothes for the holiday. She soon discovers that the girls are refugees – they had to leave everything behind when they left their native country to live in America. Aneesa, who can’t stop thinking about what Eid must be like for them, comes up with a plan – a plan to help make it the best Eid holiday ever. School Library Journalsays: “[A] beautifully composed story. . . . This is a welcome contribution, giving much-needed visibility to a celebration observed by over ten million people in North America.” And Library Media Connection says: “After reading this book, children will have a greater appreciation for the Muslim culture and will have no problem realising that love is an action word.”

This is not the first book, which we have by Dr Asma Uddin. A few months ago, I bought  ” A party In Ramadan ” to include in my eldest Ramadan’s basket and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. And by oure coincidence , I found that she has also written a book on Eid al Adha, called ” The Best Eid Ever.” I am not entirely sure why they have given the age range as 2-5. In my opinion , this one is definitely , same like Ramadan book, geared for children aged 6 and above. This book absolutely fantastic not just for Muslims but for non Muslims too.  It explains this major Islamic holiday in simple words, so anyone who is non Muslim would be able to understand what Eid means. But what I love about this book , is that it touches on the sensitive issue of refugees and their struggles  to adjust to a different country.  It has the beautiful message that ” sharing is caring ” and the importance of giving to those in need. Overall, this is a really touching story . The illustrations are beautiful and colourful and at the end of the book, Dr Uddin has also included detailed note on the Hajj pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha. The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/2YkC7Wc

8)Cotton Candy Sky

  • Author-Zain Bhika
  • Hardcover: 30 pages
  • Age Range: 3 – 6 years
    Publisher: Islamic Foundation
  • RRP-£4.99

I am pretty sure we are one of the millions of fans of world renowned nasheed artist Zain Bhika. He is without shadow of doubt one of our favourite nasheed artists and my children absolutely love his songs. This is the second in a series of books under the Zeebee Kids level ( we absolutely love watching their videos btw) . The illustrations in the book are really beautiful and colourful with diverse charcters. The book can be bought from Kube Publishing –https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/cotton-candy-sky?_pos=1&_sid=704941d07&_ss=r

9) The Boy at the back of the class

  • Author- Onjali Rauf
  • Paperback
  • Age Range: 8 – 11 years
    Publisher: Orion Children’s Books

“Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.He’s nine years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite!But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That’s where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we’ve come up with a plan. . “.

My 10 and 8 year old absolutely loved this book, including myself too. We loved the realistic nature of the characters. This is a great book for empathy and teaching acceptance. It is an amazingly constructed story about a sensitive topical issue which couldn’t be more timely. I definitely think that adult readers could get as much out of this book as children. By exploring the attitudes and assumptions surrounding refugees, through the eyes of a child protagonist, the book really takes a step back from the politics and puts compassion and heart at the very centre. In this way the story never feels preachy and is all the more powerful because of it. The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/34FHmTx

10) The Victory boys

  • Author- Jamal Orme
  • Age Range-9-12
  • Paperback
  • RRP £4.99

” Junayd and his friends think madrasa is a waste of time and older brother Saleem is fast becoming the black sheep of the family. That is, until the Imam oft the mosque iniaties an extra-curricular project outside his comfort zone. But can faith and football flourished side by side .”

If you have football mad children, then this one is for them. My 9 year old son really loved the book. Jamal Orme has also written another book in the series ( Team Spirit) , which we also have and he equally enjoyed reading that one too. The book can be bought from Kube publishing-https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/the-victory-boys-1?_pos=1&_sid=464c25bf3&_ss=r

11) ” We are off to pray “

  • Author- Sana Munshey
  • Hardback
  • Age Range – 5-9
  • RRP: £4.99

“A young boy prepares to pray with his family before he hears some familiar voices at the door. His friends have arrived and want to play. He must decide to pray or to play in this warm story that sees him enjoy an afternoon in the sun and please his parents and Creator. A simple yet captivating story that pits that pull of playtime against the daily requirement to pray in Muslim life. ” The book can be bought from Kube Publishing-https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/were-off-to-pray?_pos=1&_sid=9bd01b9ef&_ss=r

12 )The Green Bicycle

  • Paperback
  • Age Range 8-12
  • Author: Haifaa Al Mansoor

“Wadjda has one simple wish – to race her friend Abdullah on her very own bicycle. But in Saudi Arabia, it is considered improper for girls to ride bikes and her parents forbid her from having one. Sick of playing by the rules, Wadjda schemes different ways to make money and buy the bike herself. But freedom comes at a high price . . . Set against the shifting social attitudes of the Middle East, The Green Bicycle explores gender roles, conformity, and the importance of family, all with wit and irresistible heart. ” The book can be purchased from Amazon –https://amzn.to/2M2dKsP.

13)Bismillah Soup

  • Author: Asmaa Huseein
  • Paperback
  • Age Range :4 plus
  • RPP: £8.99

“A spinoff of the classic “Stone Soup” folktale, Bismillah Soup is a story about Hasan, a young Somali boy who ventures out to gather his community together for a great feast at the local Mosque! His journey is full of unexpected twists and turns that lead him down a path of discovering what community, generosity and reliance on God truly mean. ” The book can be bought from Anafiya Gifts UK-https://www.anafiya.com/products/bismillah-soup.

14) Secret Recipe Box

  • Author: Helal Musleh
  • Papertback
  • Age Range:4 plus
  • RPP: £9.99

“Maha’s grandma is moving from Palestine to Canada, and Maha can’t wait! Teta travels from far away with a box full of secret recipes and special memories. Maha wants to keep them all for herself, but Teta’s kindness teaches her the value of sharing, and the joy of connecting with loved ones.

A touching story about finding new communities, no matter where in the world you travel. ” The book can be bought from Anafiya Gifts UK-https://www.anafiya.com/products/secret-recipe-box

15) The Star Outside My Window

  • Author- Onjali Rauf
  • Paperback
  • Age Range 8-12

“Following the disappearance of her mum, 10-year-old Aniyah suddenly finds herself living in foster care. With her life in disarray, she knows just one thing for sure: her mum isn’t gone for ever. Because people with the brightest hearts never truly leave. They become stars.

So when a new star is spotted acting strangely in the sky, Aniyah is sure it’s her mum, and she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to make sure everyone else knows too — an adventure that involves breaking into the Royal Observatory of London, a mischievous scurry of squirrels and the biggest star in Hollywood…

Told through the innocent voice of a child, this is a story that explores the subtle faces and endless impacts of domestic violence, and celebrates the power of hope and resilience, from Onjali Rauf, the award-winning author of The Boy at the Back of the Class. ” The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/2PUknyr

16) Zaid and the Gigantic Cloud

  • Author- Helal Musleh
  • Illustarator- Sabrina Pichardo
  • Paperback
  • RRP- £7.99
  • Age Range- 4-8

Zaid is excited to go on a camping trip with his cousin Ahmed. Just as he’s getting his bag ready, he receives the news that Ahmed is sick and the camping trip is cancelled. Disappointment sets in and Zaid’s day gets gloomier by the minute! What will make Zaid’s gloomy day bright again?

An engaging book that will allow children to explore and understand their stormy emotions, and learn how to cope with them! ” The book can be bought from Anafiya Gifts- https://www.anafiya.com/products/zaid-and-the-gigantic-cloud .

17) I love my Baba

  • Paperback
  • Author- Razaida Bahram
  • Illustrator -Asbah Alaena
  • Age Range-2-5

The book depicts a beautiful relationship between a little girl and her father.  It has a nice balance in portraying the different sides of fatherhood- loving , caring, helpful around the house , playful as well as emphasising our core aspect of our beautiful Deen-  Salah and praying together as a family.  The book uses rhymes throughout  , which definitely makes it more engaging for young  children and therefore is perfect for the target audience- toddlers and  preschoolers. My 2 year old son and 5 year old daughter really enjoyed listening to the book and at the end we had a little discussion of what they loved about their daddy. I absolutely loved  the illustrations  done by the super talented  Asbah Alaena – they are  beautiful , vibrant and colourful.This is a brilliant book to have in your children’s Islamic library at home and also makes a perfect gift too. To read my full review of the book, check my blog post-https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/03/22/i-love-my-baba-by-razaida-bahram-book-review/. The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/34CL403

18) If Allah Wills

  • Paperback
  • Author- Dr Oz
  • Illustrator- Mariya Khan
  • Age Range -2-6

” Faris wants to go to the Ka’ba, but it’s so far away and it’s nearly his bedtime. Can Faris get to the Ka’ba and back in time for his bedtime story? If Allah wills! This is a wonderful story of innocence and imagination. Every page has been designed with a child in mind and provides fun scenes to inspire both children and adults. Beautiful watercolour illustrations add vibrancy to the story for you to enjoy, and themes like love, kindness, and prayer are interwoven throughout, providing talking points for you and your child. The perfect addition to a young Muslim child’s life. About the author: Dr. Oz is a father of four, from London, UK. He has studied Islamic sciences for many years and has a keen interest in child development. He also has a post-graduate certificate in education and a PhD in engineering. “. The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/2S9hWej

19) The colour Blind Boy

  • Hardcover
  • Author- Mohammed Yaseen
  • Illustrator- Khultum Burgess
  • Age Range- 9-12

” The boy at the back of the classroom was the only one not staring at Abdullah. Who was he, Abdullah thought to himself? Abdullah knew that the boy had some sort of secret that made him different from the others, something that made him stand out. But what was it?

Carefully addressing the issues of racism, bullying, and color-blindness, this book is both engaging and insightful. It highlights how the color of one’s skin should be infinitely less important than their actions in the eyes of others—and how difficult school can be for children that don’t quite fit in. ” The book can be bought from Kube Publishing-https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/the-colour-blind-boy?_pos=1&_sid=b65cc626d&_ss=r

20 ) Tayba’s Sunna Recipe

  • Paperback
  • Author- Latifah Bint Mohammed Anwar
  • Illustrator- Maria Rosaria Barrea
  • Age Range-2-5

” Join Tayba in her cookery adventure, as she explores healthy foods within the Sunnah. 
Just how healthy will her recipe be?
Good enough to eat? Get your children excited about healthy eating with this wonderfully illustrated book! “. The book can be bought from Anafiya Gifts-https://www.anafiya.com/products/taybas-sunna-recipe

This post is in collaboration with Fozia from http://www.muslimmummies.com/ and Hafsa from https://www.mamateachesme.com/, who are also sharing their favourite Islamic books for children and adults for 2019. I have provided the link below . Do check it out, as I am sure it will give you even more inspiration and make it easier for you to choose good quality Islamic books for your children and even for yourself too –http://www.muslimmummies.com/2019/12/our-favourite-islamic-books-of-2019-childrens-and-adults/ and https://www.mamateachesme.com/2019/12/22/our-top-10-favourite-islamic-books-for-children-2019/

Homeschool Chat with Middle Way Mom

“Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking – the strain would be too great – but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. “Charlotte Mason

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Shannen (@middlewaymom) ,who is a long time homeschooler to her four daughters aged 20, 9, 6 and 4. She currently follows the Charlotte Mason method for her homeschool, enjoying the outdoors when the Minnesota weather permits, and aiming to make their homeschool a joy for everyone involved. Some days are more successful than others. Shannen is also a student of sacred knowledge and a volunteer in her local community, speaking at local interfaith community events and volunteering at the Islamic Studies class in the state women’s prison. When she’s at home she enjoys knitting, reading, and avoiding housework. You can find her mostly on Instagram at @middlewaymom sharing in her stories of everyday life as a homeschooler, and you can find articles on her blog, www.middlewaymom.com about an array of topics and curriculum she’s tried over the years. 

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

Alhamdulilah, I’ve been married to a fellow convert for nearly 11 years now and I’ve been blessed with four daughters: 20, 9, 6, and 4 years old. 

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

As we have homeschooled for over 10 years now, the reasons have changed quite a bit. It first started as I didn’t think the school system was challenging my daughter enough academically for what she was capable of. Additionally, as I was a new convert to Islam, I had concerns about the social aspect of school and I didn’t feel like I was well equipped to manage that on the evenings and weekends only. I started homeschooling my younger daughters as I felt that I could give them a more well rounded, tailored education if we did it at home. 

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

Again, this has changed a LOT over time, but currently I wake up around 6am and work on my own studies and get things done that are hard to do when the kids awake. I wake up the kids around 8am so they can have breakfast, do their morning chores, and be ready for their lessons at 9:15, in sha Allah. As of this year, we’ve added in a social studies class (I teach it) and Quran class at a local Islamic private school, so we have to finish lessons by 11:30 so we can have lunch, do chores, and be ready to leave at 12:30, in sha Allah. We return home about 4pm and go right into our dinner prep routine.

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

I try to follow the Charlotte Mason method quite closely as I have seen great benefit to our homeschool atmosphere when we do so. As a Muslim it takes a little extra work to get materials that fulfill the goals of the Charlotte Mason method, and are not Christian, but when I have put in that work, I enjoy the great fruits of those efforts, mashaAllah.

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

What I absolutely love about home schooling and why I hold on to it even when it is extremely hard and I think I’m not doing a great job at it, is I love learning with my kids and I truly believe that my love of learning is a gift to them to see that learning does not end when you graduate. I joke sometimes that the one good thing I’ve done as a parent is instill the love of books in all my kids (I know I’ve done more than that, mashaAllah). It is just a part of our culture at home, and with homeschooling, we get to dig into books together and discuss them. A really close second to what I love about homeschooling, though I do think it is connected, is being able to take my kids to museums and plays numerous times each year. Again, we get to learn and explore together and it is just such a joy.

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

It’s really hard to find a favorite… history comes to mind, but frankly, it’s very hard for me to find books that I really like that are honest about history yet child-friendly. Literature is another favorite just because it’s quite easy and it’s like we’re just sitting with a good book. If I’m being honest about my least favorite, it would in general be Islamic studies since I get anxious that I’m not doing enough. I have come to terms with the fact that my kids may have gaps in math or history, but if they grow up and they don’t have a proper understanding of Islam, I’d have a hard time dealing with that. Since I feel that pressure, that translates to pressure on my kids. So, what I’ve done is make sure I am not the only outlet they have to Islam, and they see Islam throughout the community and learn from people other than me, in addition to the lessons we have at home. Since I’ve been able to do that and I feel less pressure for every lesson to go *just right*, it’s been a lot more enjoyable, alhamdulilah. 

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

Patience is a challenge for me, and getting overwhelmed with 3 kids close in age. Of my four kids, not one of them would tell you that I’m a patient person. Still, it’s something I’m working on and I think that the value of homeschooling my kids is greater than my own personal shortcomings. 

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

Alhamdulilah, our families have generally been supportive, or at the worst, neutral, about our decision to homeschool. It helps that my husband was homeschooled, so his family was obviously supportive, and my family got to see a “normal” adult that was homeschooled as a child.

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

I guess I see myself just keep on keepin’ on with homeschooling. In 5 years I’ll have kids in 8th, 6th, and 4th grades, so what I picture is a lot of round table discussions, but what I’ve learned is that you just have to stay flexible, so it could look much different than that. In sha Allah I hope to continue supporting new homeschoolers in their journey, though, and I hope once I’m done with my own studies (should be done in 5 years, in sha Allah), and when the kids are older, I can start giving back a bit more. 

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

Homeschooling is not about memorizing facts. It is not about giving kids information and they keep that information in their brains forever. As Charlotte Mason says, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” RELAX if they don’t remember everything. Neither did we. Keeping their love of learning alive will bridge any educational gaps they are sure to have when they move on from you. 

Make a plan, but stay flexible, and lower your expectations of your first year. That first year everyone is just getting used to being home, yet having expectations set upon them. Have that plan, but don’t freak out if things fall apart. Your first plan you’re making blindly, so be forgiving of yourself! PLAN PLENTY OF DAYS OFF. If you feel like you’re getting close to burn out, take another day off.

Everyone wants to quit in February. For real – everyone, even me, every year. Also, don’t spend too much money on curriculum until you know what really works with your family. Buy used or borrow when you can. Last, but not least, find what homeschooling method sounds best for you and use that as a guide for narrowing down resources. Your homeschool method is not a religion, you can take a little from here and a little from there, but it’s useful to narrow down what you’re looking at initially.

My Top 7 Homeschool Books for 2019

This year I managed to read quite a few books related to homeschooling . I found a lot of them extremely beneficial , helpful and life changing too and I thought that it would only be fair if I shared them with you all. Because sharing is caring 🙂 So below you will find my favourite homeschool books for 2019. Please note that this post includes affiliated links.

  1. A Gracious Space by Julie Bogart– If there is one book that every single homeschooling parent should have in my opinion is honestly this one. What a treasure! I wish I discovered these books earlier. Julie Bogart is the owner and creator of Brave Writer, an innovative company that teaches writing and language arts to homeschooling families. “Since its inception in January 2000, Julie has taught thousands of homeschool families not only how to write, but how to create rich homeschool lives—the sort that we all imagine we’ll have but often fall short of living. Julie is a popular speaker at conventions in both the United States and Canada. She’s written curricula and online writing courses for grades PreK – 12th grade, and adjuncts as a professor of theology at Xavier University. She home educated her five children for 17 years, all of whom are adults now. Julie lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. ” A Gracious Space has three editions – Fall , Winter and Summer. It is basically a collection of thoughts and reflections on home education, drawn from Julie’s personal experience and the lives of thousands of Brave Writer families .

This particular edition provides ” daily readings that offer insights into the home education experience, as well as supplies encouragement, inspiration, and companionship on the journey. The entries are honest reflections drawn from Julie’s life and her interaction with the thousands of homeschoolers that are members of the Brave Writer community. Each entry is accompanied by a “quote of the day” written by a parent like you, or a notable individual. The day’s entry is concluded with a “sustaining thought” to take with you. “

I just finished The Fall edition, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I am now embarking on the Winter one. What I love about this book, is that it is not aimed at a specific curriculum strategy nor a singular homeschool philosophy. It doesn’t matter what type of a home educator you are , whether you are religious or not, any homeschooling parent will resonate with the daily reflections. The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/2LOLVUJ

2) Give Your child the World – Raising Globally Minded Kids one book at a time by Jamie Martin – “Jamie Martin is a highly sensitive, introverted mama of three, who loves books, tea, and people (not always in that order) and avoids answering the phone when possible. Author of Give Your Child the World, she shares thoughts on parenting and personality over at http://www.introvertedmoms.com. ” She lives with her family in Connecticut.

What a Gem of a book this is ! This is truly more than a book- you do not read it just once and put it back on your bookshelf. It is a super inspirational guide book that contains over 600 children’s book recommendations from all around the world. The Book is separated in two parts: Part 1 : Falling in love with the world and Part 2: Read the World. I really enjoyed Chapter 2 ( part 1 of the book) which looked at practical ways to invite the world into your home, whether that’s home decor, food tasting or ethical spending. Part 2 includes the reading lists ( fiction and non-fiction, which are carefully curated. What I love about these reading lists is that they are organised not only by region ( Asia , Europe etc) and country, but also by age range too . There are three age ranges 4-6, 6-8, and 10-12. Each listing includes a brief description of the book and its themes, as well as any content of which parents should be aware . I cannot imagine the amount of time and careful research that Jamie must have done for her to produce such a fantastic and diverse list of incredible books. We were recently looking at the continent of Africa and it was so easy to find relevant books and it saved me so much time, as the reading lists were already in the book and I was able to find the relevant books for all my children. I was also pleasantly surprised that a lot of her books , I was able to borrow from my local library, which meant that I spent less money on purchasing books. I also loved the ” Global Perspective ” sections which are spread throughout the book. In this section, parents from all over the world,give their answers to the question “How do you give your children the world in your home?. “

This is truly one fantastic resource, that every family should own ( homeschooling or not) if you want to expose and broaden your children’s minds to some first rate literature from around the world. The book can be bought from Amazon –https://amzn.to/36yJjCD

3)The Read Aloud Family – Making meaningful and lasting connections with your kids by Sarah Mackenzie

“Sarah Mackenzie is an author, speaker, and podcast host. She created the Read-Aloud Revival podcast in 2014. That fateful decision resulted in a highly rated show with millions of downloads. Sarah helps families all over the world fall in love with books. She lives in the Northwest with her husband, Andrew. She homeschools their six kids and considers it her high calling to make sure they are well-stocked in the best books she can find. ”

” “When read-aloud time doesn’t look like we originally hoped, we begin to doubt that it’s giving us any of those wonderful benefits we discussed in part 1. But here’s the thing: it still works. Even when it’s noisy, messy, and more chaotic than you’d like it to be, it works. Even when kids are grumbling, complaining, and don’t seem to be listening, it works.”

To say that I enjoyed reading the ” The Read Aloud Family” By Sarah Mackenzie will be for sure an understatement. I absolutely loved and have been using it ever since I discovered it a few months ago. The Book is divided in three chapters:

Part 1 ” Time is now ” looks at how reading aloud can change the your world, tips on how to be fully present , as well as some of the many benefits of reading aloud to your children ( increased vocabulary and highly sophisticated language patterns, the ability to make connections and last but certainly not least , the love for learning ).

Part 2 is ” Connecting with our kids through Books”. I really loved this section, as it is full of tips and advice on topics such as how to create a book club culture at home, how to become a literary matchmaker , how to ask compelling questions and much more.

In Part 3 ” Meeting them where they rise “- Sarah gives the relevant read-alouds lists , split into a specific age group 0-3, 4-7, 8-12 and the Teen years. In this section, you will also be able to learn how to choose books for your children and what the most important aspect of this are.

This book will truly enable you to discover practical strategies to make reading a meaningful family ritual. Although the book is written by a homeschooling mum, the book will be great to anyone whether you home educate or not. “The Read Aloud Family can be bought from Amazon –https://amzn.to/34lBVcl

4)Better Together by Pam Barnhill

Better Together teaches you how to design a part of your homeschool day where the entire family can learn together. This time, known as “Morning Time,” has exploded in popularity since its inclusion in Sarah Mackenzie’s bestseller Teaching From Rest. Now homeschool mom and former teacher Pam Barnhill breaks down the practice for every homeschooler. “

Pam Barnhill is a mom and former secondary teacher. When she’s not homeschooling her three kids, she can be found helping and encouraging homeschool moms at pambarnhill.com. She is the host of Your Morning Basket, a podcast devoted to helping families contemplate truth, goodness, and beauty in Morning Time, and The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast where she interviews homeschooling parents, providing a peek into their days. She lives with her husband, children, and a passel of dogs in beautiful Alabama.

I first heard about Morning time nearly 9 years ago , when i used to follow the blogs of a few American homeschool mums. Then when my eldest was 2 , I used to attend for a short period of time a Steiner parent adn toddler group once a week and we used to do a similar ritual , called Circle Time.

Morning time has always been part of our routine, although it has always looked different and needless to say changing depending on what stage of life we were/are at. So when I first discovered from Sarah Mackenzie that there is actually a book on morning time, I knew I had to read it. I loved reading it and it has given me even more well needed encouragement to persist with morning Time and also more ideas on what to include in our MT Basket. If you happen to be a morning time veteran, there is a lot of refreshment to be found in this book for you, too! I made a few really great tweaks to our schedule that have made a world of difference for us. I have included below ten tips ( my summary) that hopefully will give you an idea about what to expect from the book in regards to Morning Time:

  • Anyone can benefit from morning time- no matter what type of a home educator you are and what method or religion you follow.
  • USE MT to teach subjects such as science and history/geography to multi age children at one time
  • Find engaging material to read together
  • Quality over quantity- whether it is 10 minutes or one hour- it all counts
  • Use MT to introduce art and poetrt, never to Maths
  • There is no right or wrong anwer to how mcuh you read during MT
  • Your children do not need to sit still and be quiet
  • Morning Time does not have to be done on the table or even in the morning for that matter. Do it at a time and a place that works for you and your family.

Pam has also included snapshots/interviews of how other homeschooling families do Morning Time. I found them really very helpful and insightful. The book also contains lots of recommendations on what to include in your MT basket. The appendices at the end of the book had invaluable resources, many great ideas for MT areas of study. The book is written from a Christian viewpoint, so if you are a secular homeschooler, you may find the religious aspect a bit too much. The book can be bought from Amazon -https://amzn.to/38ANejS

5)How to Survive Homeschooling ( A self care guide for moms who lovingly do way too much ) By Brooke Benoit

“All mothers struggle to achieve balance in their lives, so how can homeschooling moms do it when they have taken on an entire other role? How to Survive Homeschooling: A Self-Care Guide for Moms Who Lovingly Do Way Too Much is the companion homeschool moms need to avoid burnout and to find their personal wellbeing. In this enjoyable and interactive book you will learn how to: Identify and take care of all of your various physical and emotional needs as an excruciatingly busy individual Track your progress as a homeschooler, a role model, and wholly-living person Further your personal goals aside from homeschooling your children Guard yourself and your family from interlopers Recognize how a homeschooling lifestyle is different and live it unapologetically Brooke also shares her unique story of homeschooling herself and then her children. “

” Brooke Benoit is a magazine editor and artist who attended the San Francisco Art Institute and earned a degree in Rhetoric from the University of Alaska Anchorage. After homeschooling herself for high school she began college at fifteen years old. When it came time to enroll her children in school, instead Brooke immersed herself in learning the various styles and means to homeschool. She has continued to work, returned to school and moved abroad while homeschooling. Brooke currently facilitates her seven children’s education (at home) on the southern coast of Morocco where she also enjoys photography, travel and lively chit-chat. ” She also runs Amsmoon, a third space, near her home where she helps other young people explore their interests and new things . Brooke is also the editor of “Fitra Journal” – four collections of wisdom from Muslim homeschoolers around the world.  I cannot recommend this enough- they are so insightful and full of wisdom and advice. Once or twice a year Brooke very happily runs retreats for Muslim women in Morocco and London. Here are the details, if you would like to attend them.
Amsmoon – Collective Makers
Aourir is a working-class, fishermen’s community just outside the economically strong and tourist-friendly city of Agadir. The majority of residents live below the poverty line, so how are they supposed to access the kinds of services proven to boost lives?

If there is one thing that I can defintely say about this gem, is that I wished Brooke wrote this book 10 years ago when I first started became interested in homeschooling. There are hundreds of books on the varioys tyoes and methods of homeschooling, but not many about self care, about you as a person , and not losing yourself in the chaos that comes with being a homeschooling parent.

The book consists of two parts. The first part is a guided self care manual with short essays and lots of prompts with space for you to write your own answers and thoughts. I absolutely loved this section and enjoyed Brooke’s insights. This section will give you tips on how to identify and take care of all your various physical and emotinal needs, as well as how to track your progress as a home schooler, a role model and wholly living person.

Part 2 is a short autobiography of the author with a focus in her family, homeschooling and travel/living situation. I really enjoyed reading that memoir . Brooke truly is one inspirational woman and I honestly wish she wrote a book on her life in Morrocco while homeschooling her children.

The book is full of tips and advice, and written by someone who clearly knows about struggles as well as the results and joys of homeschooling. “Balancing everything and still caring for oneself may seem impossible, but Benoit reminds moms of the importance of taking care of themselves as well and how to make sure the family supports that. ” The book cane be bought from Amazon- https://amzn.to/2RJNnLU

Brooke Benoit also participated in my Homeschool Chat Series, so if you want to read my interview with her and get a glimpse into how she unschools her children, just click on the link – https://letslearnmama.home.blog/2019/10/08/homeschool-chat-with-brooke-benoit/

6)The Brave Learner – Finding Everyday Magic in Homeschool, Learning and Life

“In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.

“Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family’s routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it’s easy to simply say “no” to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child’s curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks. “

This book truly was well worth the read. It is such a brilliant, encouraging and practical book that truly deserves a place in everyone’s home. Julie writes so beautifully about how we can create magical learning environments for our children. And best of all – none of these ideas require a huge investment of time, money, or energy! I mean you gotta love this.

One thing about this book to bear in mind is that it can be overwhelming if you were to read it at once. Take your time, read chapter by chapter slowly, take notes ( I really recommend this) and dont just put the book back on the bookshelf , once you are finished reading it . I often re read chapters , depending on what i want to focus on .

This book is filled with practical ideas and tips on how to apply what she writes about, and also how to connect with our children and put relationships first. I honestly think that it is a parenting book as much as a homeschooling book.  It truly is must read for any home educator and you will take a lot away from it, especially if are new to home schooling or in need of finding back your enthusiasm in home educating your children.

The book can be bought from Amazon-https://amzn.to/34jtgXE

7)The Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Homeschooling

I love reading how other parents home educate and even more so from veteran home schoolers. The ” Unhurried homeschooler” is written by Christian American homeschool mum Durenda Wilson, who shares her advice and wisdom of home educating her eight children for over 20 years. Durenda is also a regular guest of the Busy Mom podcast and a contribution writer at the Busy Mom.

I loved her explanation about what unhurried homeschooling means – ” allowing childen to learn at their own space, willing to be flexible, starting “education” slowly and gently, remembering who we are and the example we set, remembering that education is a much, much bigger picture than ‘bookworm and memorisation and so much more.”

One of the best things about this book is that it doesn’t include any curriculum recommendations ( there is nothing wrong with having curriculum btw). But it is really nice to read something which does not focus on this. It was a very easy and short read (62 pages) and it is full of inspirational quotes and homeschooling advice. I throoughly enjoyed reading her three eldest children’s views ( now in their 20s) on homeschooling.

Although the book includes religious references, it should not be discarded by those who are of no faith or different faith than the author. The book is truly a must read for any homeschoolig mother who has been living with fears and doubts if she ever does enough to educate her children. Also it is a great book for the new homeschooling parent as well, who wants to start it right and fears not knowing where to begin or how to do it.

Reading The Unhurried Homeschooler is like having coffee with a trusted friend. You’ll be encouraged as you learn to do what God has put before you. This book will lighten your load while helping you learn how to raise life-long learners and ENJOY the homeschool years with your kids. ” The book can be bought from Amazon –https://amzn.to/34i1Bq9

Homeschool chat with Bilingual Homeschooler

“Think more of home education when you are at home defending it to yourself, and defend it less to other people. You do know what you are doing. The tweaks and changes you make are validations of your vision, not invalidations of past choices. You are growing alongside your children becoming an educator as you go. Think more of your journey as a homeschooler, and less about what your kids are learning. ” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat brings you  Umm Ameerah, a homeschooling mother of two girls who resides in Saudi Arabia.

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

 I’m a mother of 2 little girls, 6 and 3. We are a multilingual family, speaking English, Arabic and Russian. We are expats living in Saudi Arabia. Being homeschooling for over 3 years now.

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

The main reason is quality of education provided in the country we are residing in and having the control of what and how are children learn.

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

A typical home school day starts with good breakfast, followed by our weekly schedule, which includes main subjects like Quran, English and Maths and additional weekly subjects like Arabic, Russian, Science, Geography, Islamic Studies and Art.

4) What type of a home educator are you ( structured, semi-structured, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, Montessori etc.)? We try to follow a Montessori method of homeschooling, but we mix it up and don’t stick to it religious. We structure our homeschool and use British National Curriculum as a guide.

5) What do you love the most about homeschooling ?

The best thing about homeschooling is the flexibility and going at the pace of our children, knowing their strengths and weakness we can push or slow down as needed.

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

Our favourite subject to teach is definitely going to be science and geography as this includes a lot of fun experiments and documentaries. The lease favourite subject would be languages.

7) What do you find challenging when it comes to homeschooling your children ?

First would be holidays always effect our routine as we don’t have any regular activities during the holidays. The second would be the social aspects, since found ourselves moving around lately (from city to city) we found it hard to provide maintaining social connections with friends, but some cities are better than others with regards to socialising.

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

I Do not have any.

9) Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

We would like to see our daughters become more independent when it comes to self learning. One thing in particular we would like our daughters to take on seriously in a future is coding, as it seems to be a create tool/skill these days

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

Before you decide to go ahead with home schooling you need to educate yourself and learn what you would be potentially getting yourself into. Then once decided educate yourself some more… Do online courses and read on methodologies, so that you get your head around the concept…
Join local homeschool community for two reasons, support and the social interaction with their kids (which is a must)

Review : ” I can do it : Play and learn activities to help your child discover the world the Montessori way” by Maja Pitamic

I am a big fan of Maja Pitamic and have always loved her books. She is a Montessori Teacher with a specialisation in Early Years teaching. Maya is also the co-author of ” I Can Play It ” ( another favourite book of mine ) and Modern Art Adventures. It is through her association with the parents of her students that Maja realised the need for a practical play- and workbook for parents and their children.

This book is genuinely a fun- filled practical book for children aged 3-5. ” It is based on key Montessori principles of learning through the experience, but rest assured that there is no need to create a Montessori Classroom in your own home ” . This is really one of the main reasons why I absolutely love her books.

The book is divided in 5 chapters , covering all the main areas of Montessori teaching for ages 3-5 :

1 )Life skills – There are 18 activities in this chapter -such as washing hands, cleaning teeth, buttoning a shirt, weaving paper , threading buttons and many more.

2)Developing the Senses– All the activities in this chapter not only help to stimulate and develop all five senses, but also introduce new concepts and vocabulary. Here you will be able to find activities such as – learning size and shape, tactile opposites, discovering colours, musicals scales and many more.

3)Language development– ” The activities in this chapter will help to instil in your child love for language and books, and when you achieve this, reading will follow naturally .” Some of the activities included are – matching paper letters, word building, making a diary, making a book, constructing phrases.

4)Numeracy skills– ” Maria Montessori observed the mathematician is an abstract concept and she felt that for children to be able to understand it, she needed to make it as concrete as possible. The activities in this chapter follow this principle . ” Some of them are -objects on a line, combining quantities and numerals, introducing money, number songs and rhymes and many more.

5)Science skills– there is a great selection of activities on here, that will certainly engage your child’s imagination and increase his/her sense of wonderment. I really loved the activities included in this chapter. Some of them are- making a flower puzzle, growing carrot tops/sunflowers, discovering the weather.

The book is very well laid out, sturdy and with glossy pages. It is full of lovely pictures and diagrams and not to forget easy to follow instructions. I really like the fact that the descriptions of how to present the activities to your child are very ‘Montessori’ without being excessively prescriptive. So you will not feel overwhelmed or confused in regards to how to present the activities . Most of them require very little preparation and use readily available materials .The best part of the book is the Appendix. Maja has included 7 worksheets at the end of the book, which you can photocopy and use with your child. Overall, the book is a fantastic resource for parents/ childminders and anyone who wants to embark on the Montessori method at home. You can buy the book from Amazon – https://amzn.to/347vmK2 ( affiliated link ) or borrow it from your local library.

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