I often get asked about what my typical day as a homeschool mom of four energetic munchkins look like..
Well, it’s hard to answer that question when everyday is a bit different (lol). I would have to admit that we have changed things around with the homeschooling quite a bit since we got started. This is how we used to start our day …
Because we sometimes fell behind schedule, the Islamic studies would sometimes get neglected (okay, often :S ). Classes were organized like the traditional ones with a teacher (me) teaching the group of students. Since I have 4 children from Kindergarten grade to 5th grade, I tried to do group lessons as much as I could. I thought it would be easy, with only 4 children. There would sure be less distractions than in the regular classroom with 25 or more kids, right? Well, not exactly. It seemed like a lot of time was still being lost in “classroom management.” (“Mom, she kicked me. Mom, he’s laughing at me”… You get the idea) So as the days went by, and the enthusiasm and energy started wearing off, I became exhausted. Noon time, after hours of teaching to sometimes very rowdy kids, I would have to change hats, and be the lunch lady, and janitor.
“No fair!” I thought. Teachers in school didn’t have to teach and worry about what to cook for lunch for their students, and put in loads of laundry! Also, I didn’t like the fact they were missing out on a lot of subjects, especially the Islamic Studies. I knew changes needed to be made. So, one of the first things I did was to switch the schedule, and have Islamic/Arabic studies first.
Alhamdullilah, I have noticed a big difference it has made. Having the children learn Quran/Islamic Studies first was one of the best things that happened to our homeschool. It sets the pace for the day, and shows them where the priorities lie. Children learn many aspects of Islam in their Islamic studies book, but most importantly they learn about Islamic manners. In a world where parents are now racing to make their children the next Einstein, good manners got pushed aside. Walk in the halls of public schools, and you will see children talking disrespectful to their teachers, and peers, kids cutting each other in lines, littering, etc. Unfortunately, it is an epidemic that has hit many muslim families as well. Although we may want our children to grow up to have “successful” careers, we also need to realize that all the money in the world will mean nothing, if our child has not learn even the basic of manners. So, I decided Islamic studies, and Quran, a guide for all humankind, had to be the priority in our homeschool.
Of course, this does not mean we do not study other subjects. We still have a lot of subjects and tasks we have to complete each day, and since I have relatively young kids, I decided to do something which worked like a charm in most preschools.
Since I have four kids and limited computers and books, I set up what I call the “Morning Checklist Stations,” and have the children rotate around the stations.
Quran Station (I am using HouseofQuran.com online software)
Arabic Stories Station (I set up a cd player with headphones, and a basket of children’s story books with accompanying cds. I am currently using the Kareem series)
Islamic Studies Station (I have 3 books including Stories of the Prophets, Islamic Creed, and I Love Islam, and they read a chapter in each book).
Spelling/Copywork Station (I have a folder with all the Spelling lists printed out, and a dry erase board with the Copywork sentences taken from the book they are currently reading.)
Language Lab Station (We are learning french right now, using the Middlebury Language Software)
I strategically place the stations in different areas of the room, which I find it to be much more engaging for the kids, and allows the children the space to work with minimal interruptions. I printed a list of tasks they need to complete each day, and placed it inside a sheet protector, so they can check it off with a dry erase marker, giving them a sense of accomplishment. Instead of me reminding the children what they need to do next, the board now reminds them for me. Another thing I have changed is to encourage my children to be independent learners.
This means figuring out the answers by yourself, even if it takes hours. This means not running to the teacher (me) every time you don’t “get” something right away. This means managing your time so that so you can have time to do other things which interest you. This means a much less stressful school day for the parent educator (me) 😉
When I used to volunteer at the preschool, I was amazed how 2 teachers can manage twenty 3-5 year olds, without having the place turned upside down, while at home I was struggling with only 2-3 preschoolers. The trick they used was to invest a lot of time at the beginning of the year (several weeks to a month) to reinforce a classroom routine. After this transition period, the children would work like clockwork, and move between snack time, free time, clean up time, circle time, etc. almost like they were in the military. Of course, there are occasional setbacks but for the most part, the preschool runs a tight ship! Routine helps children feel secure as they know what to expect, and once it is established, it makes life easier for everyone!
Another advantage of teaching your children to learn independently, and to follow a routine is that their education can still continue despite of any setbacks you may have such as appointments, and other obligations. Also, it teaches them that they are in charge of their own education, a skill they will eventually need to learn further down the road. While my kids are learning, I now have time to do things around the house, drink my cup of tea, and work on my own studies. This is what I would like to think of as “teaching by example.” 🙂 In fact, if your kids see you with a thirst for learning, they will also naturally follow suit.
So, my school day today looks a lot different than it did months ago. Instead of trying to do everything myself, I put the ball back in the kid’s court. I make sure my children have everything they need to educate themselves: Great books, quiet space to work, and a set routine. Some days, it feels a bit too easy, and a part of me feels guilty. But then I remind myself that my children are learning valuable skills which they will need in this life.
Oh yeah, and someone asked me about menu planning… Well, let’s just say, we like to keep things real simple with that too…
As you can see from the menu, there is no room for picky eaters at Chez moi lol. Since, menu planning takes some organizing and planning and I have to admit that I’m not the best person in that department, whatever is in the fridge 30 minutes before dinner is what you get on your plate (in some form). Bon Appetit!
Can you share any tips that have worked in your homeschool?
Muslimah Guide to Morning Routine
3 ways to Find Joy in the Everyday Things
30 Day Challenge: Healthy Sleeping Habits
How to Align your Life
A Day in the Life of a Muslim Homeschooler
Homeschooling Success depends on 3 Ingredients
Interactive Children’s Picture Books
Golden Domes and Silver Lantern (Preschool Pack Printable)
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