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|Muslim Homeschool Central|
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Have any suggestions? Email me now and I'll try to work them into the site as soon as possible!
Masha Allah is about all I can say. Go here to pick a surah, the verses you want recited and how many times. Cool! The site hasn't been working for a few weeks but insha Allah it will be up and running soon. It's worth the wait.
Muslim moms and educators discuss and share. Great board. Ask here about the virtual co-op study of the prophets of Allah.
Wonderful site with great getting started info, reviews, links
First, of course, ask for Allah's guidance and mercy. Then, contact your local homeschooling organization or support group to learn about your State homeschooling laws and options. Search the internet for these groups. A to Z Homeschool's Cool is a wonderful resource for new homeschoolers.
Once you understand your options and get some advice, then you MAY call your local school district to find out what kind of programs the school district offers to homeschoolers. Each school district differs and you may be able to belong to a school district that is superior in its homeschool program even though you don't live within their district. If they do offer a program (sometimes they provide texts, paper, pencils, many supplies, a resource library, state testing, resource teacher, etc.), you are not always obliged to follow their texts in which case you are able to choose your own curriculum. Discuss their program with them in detail to find out all your options. It may seem overwhelming but insha Allah you will get the hang of it and if you find that something is not working for you, then you figure out why and find a solution. It's a dynamic process and you are rarely ever cornered into sticking with your initial plan.
Every year I do extensive planning and every year, it seems, I revamp a bit or a lot of what we do. In First Grade we scrapped our math program. Alhamdulillah, I love that we can change when something isn't working and alhamdulillah, we're making progress comfortably and happily. I've also learned to buy used instead of retail and have saved a whole bunch. Another thing to keep in mind is to solicit support from your husband and other family members but don't open yourself to criticism by friends, relatives or neighbors who are not keen on the idea of homeschooling. You need all the support you can get.
Second, decide what curriculum you will use. The school district's? Your own? Pre-packaged from a curriculum company, like ArabesQ, Oak Meadow or Laurel Springs? Join a local or internet homeschooling group (see Homeschool Links) where you can talk to other moms about what materials they are using. You will find secular and religious groups, both of which can provide good advice. One advantage of belonging to a local homeschool support group is that you can participate in group fieldtrips which would otherwise be impossible for you as a sole homeschooler to attend. You also get group rates which make it really affordable. You should remember that what works for one family, or even one child, may not work for another. Be sure to ask for specific advice and if you can borrow a book for a couple days, it will give you a good chance to really look at it and see if it is something that you can use. Some big bookstores also carry many books for homeschoolers. It's nice to see a book before you buy it. And, if you do order it and then don't like it, you can either return it (you will loose the shipping costs) or you can try to sell it on a used curriculum board (see Homeschool Links). Find out if there are any homeschooling conferences in your area. We have one in Phoenix once each year in the summer. It's a great place to see what curriculum is out there and hear speakers talk on a variety of subjects. We also have a used curriculum fair...I've heard the deals are great but it's packed.
Third, determine what subjects you can teach yourself and which areas you need help with. Tutors or homeschool programs often offer services for physical education (sports), arts, music, language (including Arabic), religion. Some masajid have hafiz programs.
Fourth, purchase your materials. Either you can buy from a bookstore or from a used curriculum board (see Homeschool Links). Sometimes you will find a curriculum swap in your area. Your local homeschool support groups will know about these. Insha Allah, you will be able to buy a lot at a swap for incredibly cheap prices.
Fifth, start teaching and don't be afraid to change what you are doing if it is not working. If a child has a bad attitude about school or a particular subject, be patient and ask for Allah's help in getting over that hurdle. Local homeschoolers will probably have great advice.
Some other things to think about...Homeschooling can either be done individually (one on one) or cooperatively where moms take turns teaching the group of students while other moms babysit the younger siblings or just drop off her student. Each mom needs to decide if this is something she and her child are ready for. It takes dedication and commitment to make it work. Do you have the time or can make sacrifices or adjustments to free up enough time? Is your family (husband and other children) supportive of homeschooling? In the past we co-oped the whole preschool year with 3 other families and then last year year we co-oped with 3 different families and met once a week with each week a focus on a chosen topic (usually science and history). Each mom takes turns presenting a particular part of the lesson (cirlce time, project time or large motor activity). The kids loved it and we can teach subjects that the kids would otherwise not be that interested in. However, I did find that it took a lot of time and didn't suit our needs anymore. In Second Grade we're meeting with another family weekly to do history (Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer).
Some advantages of cooperatively homeschooling is that you pool effort, time and experience. Each mom learns from the other moms in teaching ideas and techniques. It also gives your child other children to learn with and helps them in any separation anxiety issues where a gradual separation can be established. Some disadvantages are that you have to cooperate and organize with others and that alone does take time and effort. Our group runs so smoothly, alhamdulillah. We pick a schedule and topics. Each mom signs up for what she will contribute and alhamdulillah it always works out so well...sometimes it seems as though we've planned together. You may also choose to cooperatively teach certain subjects and then teach other subjects at home on your own. Unit studies and science are fun to do as a group and they can be quite a bit of work to do on your own but if each mom brings something to share, you can save lots of time.
Even if you don't co-op your classtime, you can still co-op in developing a curriculum and ideas. Insha Allah we will be able to use this site to network with each other to build resources, share knowledge and find other moms interested in cooperative homeschooling. In our local homeschool support group one mom, instead of scheduling a fieldtrip which is mandatory for belonging to the group, she offers classes at a minimal fee (usually $2 for supplies). She has taught space and dinosaurs. Everyone loves it.
After the initial 'hub-bub' of deciding to start a home school program for your family is over, you as a parent need to have a series heart to heart discussion with yourself and your spouse over what your expectations will be for your major goal.
Do you want your child to achieve academic success and a full scholarship to college of his/her choice? Do you want to teach him or her a trade? Do you want to cover a specific core curriculum? Are you leaning towards a classical education?
What you choose as your overall
goals will help you define what you want to teach your child.
There are several methods for approaching home school and that is the beauty of opting for a home school program. There is no one right method to teach. The approach begins to form in the first years and develops along with you and your children, alhumdu-illah! I look at the whole home schooling issue as an 18 year project from pre-k or K all the way through senior year in high school.
I highly recommend reading Susan-Wise
Bauer's 'The Well-Trained Mind' for an overview of home-schooling.
She covers everything so much better than I ever could! I use
my copy as a reference guide - it has sticky-tabs all through-out
and the pages are dog-eared from continuous readings.
Getting back to the idea of home
school as a project:
For me the time period is 18 years. After that point, I hope that my children will continue the learning process throughout their entire lives. I truly believe that if we choose to stop learning we are no longer actively participating in life. Our perspectives change over the years which will bring a whole new level of understanding to the subjects we choose to learn.
The money part is whatever your household budget will allow for you to spend on each child each year. I have not spent more than $200 a year on each of my children and I choose my purchased resources very carefully so that I can use them for a maximum amount of time.
The possibilities for resource materials are enormous and I will share a few of my favorites in a moment.
Management is what you do in
your planning and execution of a project to achieve your goal.
Management involves a broad outline of the projects scope and
includes specific milestones along the way to measure your performance
and re-assess the overall project, making any necessary adjustments
to ensure that you are on time, within budget, and achieve the
desired result. I come from an engineering background so this
approach makes logical sense to me. Home schooling is a commitment
by a parent to his/her child to teach them to the best of their
abilities information that they will need in the future to live
a good and fulfilling life. That does not mean that if you do
not have a masters in any given field you cannot teach, believe
me! It may take you and your children a bit of time to work out
how to teach them best. Teaching is not an instant skill; it
is learned through experience and over time. So those of you
who are starting at the beginning, have patience, take a deep
breath, and know that you are making the right decision to take
your children's education into your own hands.
First steps and how to organize
This book will serve as the overall plan for your teaching year. It will outline the spine for your teaching activities and planning sessions. I would advise to only plan out detailed goals for up to 3 months in advance because you may need to either speed up or slow down your approach based on your child's learning pace.
I also printed out a simple annual calendar from September to June. These can be found on any number of websites but I have used the ones on the Donna Young. Org. website. On the calendar I counted out school days and broke out my weeks into manageable units of time. I also used Donna's goals sheets to work out what I wanted to teach and what I wanted to achieve before I wrote them down in my planning book.
I also used a schedule from her website to post on the refrigerator door to help everyone visualize and stay on track with what we are supposed to be studying.
What does all of this look like?
Here is an example of my son's first grade scope for the first
three months from September to December:
You might notice that I do not have specific times assigned to my studies. That is because we do these based on when I get home from my daily commute from work (yes I am a working gal -sigh!) My husband and I share the teaching responsibility and have devised a split-shift in our work schedules to allow us to both teach our children in our areas of strength. Some days I get home by 6:30pm and some days it isn't until 7pm onward. Saturdays and Sundays are catch-up days to ensure that we stay on schedule. I do envy those of you who get to stay home because of all of the additional opportunities for play groups co-ops etc. My kids do get to go to the Masjid every afternoon for prayer and to play with the kids after school for a few hours, so the social integration does happen.
With these notes I hope that in some way I have helped you with your beginnings. Just remember, there are many ways to do this and your way may take on a completely different look that what we do or other home school families.
If you disagree with any comments below or have any suggestions, send them my way! I'm very much an eager amateur and would love your input. Below are some of my suggestions but I do not swear by them because we all have different methods and different children. I advise you to read what you can, use the powerful brain Allah has given you and see what benefit a book is to you. Remember that some books don't work for you but may for others and there are certainly some that should be dumped.
The Complete Home Learning Source Book by Rebecca Rupp (excellent source book...the best I've seen so far)
Evolution's End by Joseph Chilton Pearce
The Homeschool Manual by Theodore E. Wade Jr. & Others (Christian based but general concepts applicable. Some interesting food for thought.)
The Home School Source Book by Donn Reed (discusses homeschooling challenge thru essays, lists resources for homeschoolers & reviews books on general homeschooling, curriculum planners, phonics, education methods & concepts, unit/theme studies, magazines, teaching aids, etc. - useful)
Core Knowledge Series has books with the title What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know (1st grader, etc.) - I'm not overwhelmingly impressed with it but I've heard it recommended quite a bit.
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner (discusses the different types of intelligences people possess). It's a heavy theory based book but not much advice on the practical end but still it's a good and interesting read.
In Their Own Way by Thomas Armstrong (addresses the different types of learning styles and gives tests that can help determine someone's specific learning type).
Dumbing Us Down (addresses how current educational practices hinder our children's learning)
The Big Book of Home Learning by Pride.
The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer (a homeschooling guide to classical education). I really like it as a guide since our school district doesn't give us any guidance at all. I also like the logic but try to make it more world balanced (it's pretty western centric) and also add in Quran, Arabic and Islamic studies.
Talk So Your Kids Can Learn by Adele. Easy to read, practical advice on how to teach and how not to teach. This is a must read!
Charlotte Mason has several volumes on home learning. I find articles on CM newsletters to be so helpful and they keep me on track and not so obsessive about schedules and curriculum. See the links page.
Please let me know if you have some other good resources I can add!
Library...The public library is a great resource for wonderful books. You will even find books about Muslim children (you can also find a big list at the ArabesQ website). Remember, you can add islamic concepts or discussions to ANY book. The library has a good section on activities for story time and art projects (ask the librarian). Many libraries are online so you can check the book catalog from home instead of heading off to the library with the ducklings in tow!
Internet...There are a thousand and one websites and our list is growing, so click here to see the links. Includes homeschooling sites as well as suppliers.
Art Supply Stores...Supplies are generally a bit costly but you can often find cheaper alternatives. Craft stores or teacher supply stores are both listed in the Yellow Pages. There are several craft catalogs out there...Oriental Trading Company is one. You can make your own finger paint, playdough (see Fun Stuff), clay dough and many other materials and can also substitute less expensive materials that will work just as well. The library has wonderful books on crafts and different recipes for pastes and paints. Lakeshore Learning has reasonable prices if you catch a sale and you can either buy online or at your local store. Find out about discounts to "educators" at all your local stores including craft stores, office supply stores, book stores, etc. If you buy paint, get tempera paint (I like the wet better) and only buy the primary colors. You or the kids can mix the rest of the colors yourselves.
Islamic supplies...There are bookstores on the internet like Astrolabe, Halalco, Noor Art and Sound Vision. The problem is that you often don't know exactly what you are going to get, so check their return policy before purchasing. You may even coax them into faxing or sending you a copy of the table of contents and a few content pages of the book.
Do you have any suggestions, comments or additions to this web site? I'd love to hear from you AND your kids....just email me.