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Where To Begin By Homeschooling Mom of 2

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.
I don't know if I will end up with a child who is a Rhoades Scholar, I am not trying to push them too hard.
My goals are to instill in my children a natural love of learning because the process does not stop once they have closed the last text book and have switched the tassel from left to right on the graduation platform. Consider the period that you are home schooling as a project in progress with the early years serving as a series of building blocks to form a solid foundation upon which to build whatever may come after.

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.
Also check out the Charlotte Mason Method. For early learning, I read about the Maria Montissori Method of teaching letters and sounds which both my children seemed to respond to well. I made my own sandpaper letters, we did the tracing in sand thing at the playground and in the back yard sand box et al.
Joining an online web discussion group is also helpful. There are many sisters out there who have been at the same point and are willing to share their home school and life experiences.

Getting back to the idea of home school as a project:
In any project there are four basic elements that come together as common tools for organizing and achieving a finished product. They are:
And Management

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.

Texts and materials:
We have gathered most of our home school materials from easily accessible resources. Our local Wal-mart; an education outlet near us called 'the school box'; the local office supply store; the public library; online bookstores; and the internet play key roles in our course materials. I did go to a few home school expos in the beginning to see what course materials were out there to use. After checking the Abeka, and other formal curriculum I decided that it was way too much money for us to spend on stuff I could teach the kids anyway myself. That was just my decision however, and for those of you who feel more comfortable with a fully-set up program, those are a viable alternative. It just wasn't right for us. We tend to move around on subjects based on questions that my kids ask about everything under the sun. I guess I am lucky that they are just naturally curious… I organize 'on-the-side unit studies' on subjects and schedule 'field trips' based on their current interests. This helps us to keep the class materials from becoming stale.

First steps and how to organize yourself:
I bought myself a simple spiral bound, 200 sheet, 5 subject notebook. I use this to plan for the year. I divide mine into two sections, one for each of my children. On the first page for each of my children I list all of the subjects that I plan to teach during the year, who will be teaching it (me, my spouse, a tutor or whoever..) how many times per week I plan to teach that subject, and what specific goals I wish to achieve with that child by the end of the year. I leave some space of about four to five lines in-between the subjects so that I can add in what book titles or other resources I plan to use to teach.

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:

 Subject  Teacher  Materials  Time  Goal
 Quran  Husband

Quran reciter

Quran - Arabic text only



To memorize the 29th Juz by May 2003 inshah-allah
 Arabic  Husband Arabic resources from the web



 To begin to speak and write in Arabic
 Math  Husband  Beginning mathWe are using several online math websites as resources: AAA math, math cats, check out the listings under Smith HQ



 Mastery of single addition, subtraction and beginning multiplication and division problems. fractions, telling time, and ordinal number systems
 Reading  Me  The Compete Book of Reading by American education publ. McGraw-HillReading comprehension book level 1 by international fairEwe Books and printouts from the learning page.comLibrary books for the beginning reader,Phonics grades 1-3 by School Zone

m,t,w,th, sat,

sun if necessary

 Increase reading speed and comprehension add new words to vocabulary
 Writing  Me

Spelling lists from books read

Hadith a day copy work,Pen pal letters

m-w -sat  Consistent letter height and spacing
 Science  Me  The complete book of science for grade 1-2 American Education publ. McGraw-HillOnline lesson plans for weather, senses, earth, plants, health, animals, and things that move  t, th, sat  To supplement basic activities with fun, hands on projects to incorporate a love for science
 Social Studies  Me  Virtual co-op 'Islam for children'IQRA Prophets of Allah series books for children  m-w-f  We are currently studying the Prophets of Allah
 History  me  Story of the world- Susan Wise-BauerKingfisher Illustrated Encyclopedia of History  m-w sat or sun  To round out the stories of the prophets with classical history references

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 than what we do or other home school families.

Preschool Curriculum By UmmAdam

For the preschoolers' curriculum...first, you must figure out what you want your child to learn and what your child is capable of performing. If you are cooperatively homeschooling, you need to make sure that all moms have the same expectations and all children are capable of participating and performing in the chosen curriculum. This is necessary so that the group is effective and happy. The currciulum and teaching styles must also be dynamic and adapt as the needs change or be modified to remain effective.

After a Hello Song (or smilar gathering activity) children may also rotate between stations allowing even more individualized help. Wtiht eh curriculum below this isn't really useful in small groups but may be useful, and even necessary, in larger groups.

The basic curriculum in our cooperative homeschool (preschool level) was based on a three day per week 3 hour each class day schedule and lasts a full school year with standard Islamic school holidays. Our goals, with the help of Allah, were to teach the children 5 to 10 surahs, the English alphabet and some phonetic sounds for the letters, teach the Arabic alphabet and some basic vocabulary, and teach miscellaneous themes, math (numbers 1-20, sorting, comparisons), etc. Below is a daily and annual schedule. We taught Islam as part of every lesson as much as we could. I have most of the year schedule on Word if you would like it.

Basic Daily Schedule...Preschool Level

 Time Activity
9:00am to 9:30am Quran (group & individual memorization of short surahs), meaning of surahs and specific words in ayats, Islamic nasheed, duas
9:30am to 10:00am Arabic (introduce letter of the week, practice writing the letter, reckognizing the letter and learn vocabulary that being with the letter). Arabic vocabulary (pick theme topic such as food, body parts, household items) and do projects, make book and/or play games.
10:00am to 10:30am Snack ( I recommend moms take turns bringing snack to avoid the amount of work to help each child set up his/her snack. Water is sufficient as a drink.)
10:30am to 11:00am English (introduce letter of the week, practice writing the letter, reckognizing the letter and learn vocabulary that being with the letter)...using the primary alphabet book.
11:00am to 12:00pm Theme time using the primary theme book.

Annual Preschool Schedule

 Week Quran Arabic A Vocab English Theme
1  Ikhlas Alif   C Me Day 1-3
2   Ba   A Me Day 4-6
3   Ta   T Me Day 7-10
4 Kauthar Tha   P Family Day 1-10
5   Ra   N Workers Day 1-3
6  Naas Jeem   E Workers Day 4-6
7 Review Body Parts U Weather
8 Falaq Mim Food & #s I Rainbow - Colors
9  Quraysh Za Transportation O  
10   Fa My Clothes S  
11 'Asr Dal In The House R Ramadan(move accordingly)
12   Seen Prepositions F Ramadan (move accordingly)
13   Ha Shapes & #s B Nighttime
14   Sheen   H Daytime
15   Review   M Safety
16 Masad Nun   G Under Construction
17    Kaf   L  
18    Ya   D  
19    'Ain   K  
20  Nasr  Sad   W Hajj (move accordingly)
21    Waw     Zoo fieldtrip
22    Review    V  
23    Lam    J  
24    Tha    X  
25  Qadr  Kha    Y  
26    Thal    Z  
27    Dad    Q  
28    Ta    Review  
29    Ghain    Review  
30    Review    Review  
31    Qaf    Review  
32    Review    Review  
33    Review    Review  
34    Review    Review  

Books used & other notes:
1. Alphabet - Theme-A-Saurus (excellent)
2. Hands-On Alphabet Activities for Young Children by Seckler Brown & Carey (whole language approach to reading (not phonics based) not really needed if using above which has even more ideas and focuses on learning the letters and not on reading which is done in Kindergarten or 1st grade)
3. Math 1-2-3 by Totline (we incorporated learning numerals and doing other miscellaneous activities by concept...really nice book)
4. Sail Through With Arabic Letters Activity Book (typical worksheet-like book not nearly as exciting as the Theme-A-Saurus...check out the Muslim Teachers United group for advice and reviews)
5. Most of Arabic Vocabulary activities were adapted from the Theme-A-Saurus book including:
a) Arabic songs based on letter of the week using many words beginning with that letter
b) letter cards (large letter on construction paper with pictures or stamps or stickers, etc. of an object which begins with the letter)
c) large motor activities (every time the letter of the week is held up out of a deck of letter cards, the students jump up or clap or another large motor activity)
d) play body parts bingo
e) put felt clothes on paper dolls
6. Most of the Arabic books to learn the language are worksheet-like and are good for photocopying for projects but aren’t very exciting for a preKer

7. Jumpstart in Arabic is spendy but easy to use and my dd just loves it.


Kindergarten Curriculum By UmmAdam

We homeschooled on our own for Kindergarten. Here's some of what we did...sorry there's not as much detail as preschool but it wasn't really necessary since I was the only teacher.

English...we used The Writing Road to Reading by Romelda Spalding and did phonograms about 4 times a week. I did not teach exactly as Spalding puts it but I think the phonograms really helped to develop a good reading level. The WRTR is not very user friendly. Jay Patterson wrote a user manual for WRTR and his books are called Reading Works and Grammar Works. They are pretty spendy but do make it a bit easier. Spalding also offers classes to learn how to teach WRTR. We used the phonograms as our penmanship work, too, and did extra practice of writing letters as needed. In the beginning we used Zaner-Bloser handwriting but I think writing the phonograms would have been sufficient. With my son, insha Allah, we'll probably do D'Nealian handwriting with is somewhere between ball-stick manuscript and cursif.

We also read the Eemaan series, Bob Books, MCP Phonics readers (I don't recommend these) and also got a subscription to Scholastic's Hello Reader club. Next time, I'd just buy the books at Scholastic's 50% fairs (they have them twice a year here in Phoenix and are wonderful for buying new books and gifts).

Math...we used Saxon K and in the Spring we started Saxon 1. Saxon is wonderful for Kindergarten and really lays a solid foundation. Next time, insha Allah we'll spend less time on the Meeting Book since all that calendar work was fruitless. We did math about 4 times a week.

Quran...we basically reviewed surahs at bedtime. Astaghfirullah, I must say that by bedtime we were all too tired. I've had a hard time finding motivation for Quran.

Arabic...for several months we had a tutor. We stopped since my daughter was not happy and going to lessons and doing daily homework was a real battle every day. We used Jumpstart in Arabic for fun. We also have a program called Sindibad which is really wonderful. It has activities which progress from recognizing letters to building sentences. The digital audio quality is very good. We got it in Syria but I haven't seen it on the market here. We also like the Arabic song tapes available at NoorArt and Astrolabe (Hayya ila al arabi and more).

Islam...I used the IQRA curriculum as a guide but I found that most the activites were geared toward classrooms and didn't really work for us. Next time, I'll use Yahya Emerick's Learning About Islam (as a guide only), Ghazi's stories of the Prophets, Let's Learn from the Holy Quran Activity Book. For Seerah, I used a set of books (someone is borrowing the set now) which is called Seerah and has 10 or 12 paperback books in the box. Each chapter is very short and manageable with paraphrasing for a 5 or 6 year old. My daughter didn't really like them but I think the info is really good, probably better for 2nd+ graders to either read on their own or have adult read to them.

Science, Social Studies, History, etc....we belong to a weekly group study and do most of these topics in this group. For Kindergarten we started the 3 hour group with circle time, followed by a correlating project, then snack and then a large motor activity. The kids just love it and each mom brings in her own talent, ideas and style.


First Grade Curriculum By UmmAdam

We are in our third year of homeschooling and are now (as of January 2002) in first grade, alhamdulillah. Here's what we've been doing. This year we are using The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer as a curriculum guide. It is a guide to classical education and is pretty western centric but it can be easily modified for anyone. I only use it as a guide but really don't follow it on a daily schedule basis (the daily schedule would be nightmarish, even Bauer admits that! I like to read the Charlotte Mason monthly newsletter which keeps me on track and not stressed.

English...we're still using Reading Works (user friendly manual for The Writing Road to Reading by Romelda Spaling). We do spelling words daily. Handwriting is part of spelling. Most the time we spell in a composition notebook but when we need a change we do it in salt or on my Palm Visor. Sometimes we write letters...daughter dictates while I write and then she copies it. Late in the year we started Write One which has really helped us bridge the gap, alhamdulillah, between the unwriting and writing world.

With my second child I taught the phonograms until he was up to speen on reading. The Pathway Readers for first grade take care of writing, spelling, comprehension and vocab.

Math...we're doing Moving With Math now and are pretty happy but do have to modify some things. Saxon just got tedious and boring although I still think it's a good system with lots of repetition. Saxon is also easy prep whereas Moving With Math is more work for me.

With my second I basically just give him the worksheets and explain briefly. Alhamdulillah, that's all he needs.

Science...we are following TWTM but have stopped doing the notebooking since dd hated it. Now we just talk about it. We do a lot of this in our weekly group study. We did quite a bit of animal studies already and alhamdulillah the kids always want to learn about animals. Our local Game and Fish department has resource boxes on various topics that we checked out (Free!). Now, we're going to move on to learning about the human body and then on to plants.

History...we stopped doing most of history (we're supposed to be learning about Ancient history 5000bc-400ad) but we still keep up with prophets and Islamic history. We started Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and are loving it. The activity book is fantastic, masha Allah, with wonderful supplemental reading suggestions, including picture books!

Quran...we review surahs mostly while in the car. There's an online Quran reciter which we just started using. Masha Allah, it is wonderful. It's link is on the links page. We try to have Quran parties every once in a while to help give the kids encouragement to memorize. It's about time we plan one again! I'd love to hear how other parents teach Quran. Email me.

Arabic...My dear husband has taken over lessons but I must admit this is probably our hardest subject. No one has enough patience or motivation and it's hard. Daughter now goes to a weekend Islamic school but we don't expect her to get any true Arabic learning out of it but it is good exposure to other Muslims and it also motivates us. We basically teach Arabic along the lines of the Total Physical Response and mix in a building amount of Arabic vocabulary into our daily lives. Masha Allah the improvement of comprehension and speaking has really shocked me this past week. There's a group at yahoo called KidsIslamicStories which has a very nice way of teaching Arabic vocab but the transliteration is pretty tedious for me. Well, come March I have been teaching Arabic using a first grade writing book (al qiraah) from Syria and supplementing with Sindibad Multimedia's Letter Garden software which has been so wonderful.

Islam...I've been using Yahya Emerick's What Islam is All About (too high for our level but good info and discussions...I'd love to see the next editionwith the Arabic text!), My Book of Islam (Maryam loves this...It's very first grade level and has pictures that she likes). Her weekend school uses The Path of Islam (book 3) from Interanational Islamic Educational Institute and so I supplement with other readings and discussions at home. I also tell the kids about any kid-interesting hadith I receive on AHAD (daily emails of hadith). Starting in May we're going to study the prophets in a virtual co-op. Email me directy if you are interested.

Art...One year we started Drawing with Children by Mona Brooks. It's a wonderful program and easy to use for mom and child. I must say that I dropped this since we started a regular, academic curriculum although my daughter likes to pick up the books and draw out of them. There are also lots of really nice books about how to draw certain things. We have one on dinosaurs and have checked out ones on other things, too. I've been trying to do more watercolor in our projects, especially the history coloring pages.

Extracurricular Activities...The kids also participate in a weekly physical education class. It's a lot like school PE but is during the day and is made up of homeschoolers. The kids also take various art, gym and dance classes. As the kids get older finding appropriate classes will probably become more difficult. We belong to a local homeschool group and go on fieldtrips and park days. The few Muslims who homeschool here also get together monthly.

Second Grade Curriculum By UmmAdam

Starting Fall 2002 we will be in our fourth year of homeschooling, alhamdulillah. My second may also start Kindergarten sometime this coming year. That will sure change things! Insha Allah for the better. I still plan to use The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer as a curriculum guide. I haven't figured out exactly what we'll be doing but this is what I am thinking about.

English...In the beginning of the year we continue Spalding Phonograms and Reading Works (spelling and phonics). Continue with Write One. We worked on English for the Thoughtful Child which I thought was okay but would look into something else for my second child when he's in 2nd grade. I will not keep up on the phonograms after my other children are reading, because it's tedious and time consuming and I didn't really see a whole lot of benefit for the amount of work it takes to maintain the knowledge. They're great to teach the initial, basic phonics for reading.

Math...second grade Moving with Math looks identical to first grade so we'll only use the workbook and mix it in with third grade Moving with Math. MWM has many explanations for methods of addition and that was very confusing for my dd. I won't stress on the methods they offer but let my other child(ren) figure out what method works best for them.

Science...we are following TWTM to study earth science and space. We did very little science but I like what Evan-Moor has to offer in terms of activity guides. Also, we checked out a lot of library books.

History...We'll continue with Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer until we finish the Ancients. We really enjoyed this, although there are topics which definitely have SWB's subjective voice. We'll also continue with the prophets of Allah virtual co-op.

Quran...we'll keep going as we did in first grade.

Arabic...Quran Made Easy is fantastic and has revolutionized our attitude and learning of Arabic.

Islam...Most of what we learn is in daily life and in stories and in hadith that I get from AHAD (daily emails of hadith).

Extracurricular Activities...The kids also participate in a weekly physical education class. It's a lot like school PE but is during the day and is made up of homeschoolers. The kids also take various art, gym and dance classes. As the kids get older finding appropriate classes will probably become more difficult. We belong to a local homeschool group and go on fieldtrips and park days. The few Muslims who homeschool here also get together monthly.

Third Grade by UmmAdam

Just a quick intro note...I usually buy my books at a local used curriculum swap or go to, or where they have a swap. It's so much cheaper, alhamudlillah.

I still use The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer as a general guide to what to study but I'm not too fond of most of her curriculum suggestions. It does give me a basis to build upon and helps me to organize myself and our studies.

Grammar...Easy Grammar 3/4 bt Wanda C. Phillips - I have both the workbook & TE (TE gives answers and a few extra notes for teacher but you could do it without purchasing the TE if you had to) plus Daily Guided Teaching and Review 2/3 (this used to be called Daily Grams) by Wanda C. Phillips.
Spelling...Spelling Power by Beverly L. Adams-Gordon - this is for 8 years to 12th grades...I only use the manual and I recommend reading the intro so you can understand how to use the book, which then is very easy. It only takes us about 10 minutes a day for spelling and is so easy to use. It is also multi-sensory.
Math...Moving With Math - It's pretty pricey, but I like this program because it has built in review and almost always gives plenty of practice on new skills. It's also very teacher friendly. I don't do a lot of the topic introduction but just explain the new skill as we do the worksheet and do a game if it is needed and sounds interesting. We've used it since 1st grade. In 1st grade it's very hands-on with lots of manipulatives and then still uses manipulatives in 3rd grade but less frequently.
History...Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer (this is history and comes with a narrative and then an activity book. Although I really like the narrative style, I know that there are mistakes in the facts. The activity book gives discussion questions, maps and map activities, lists of recommended reading of both factual and picture books and then also a list of crafts/activities to choose from. The kids really like it, although I still have to paraphrase a bit and choke on some of the subjective comments made in the narrative.)
Science...Evan-Moor Geology (I really like the E-M books because they're so easy and give info and activities. Science is our pitfall because it's so time and material consuming on my part. We're also supposed to study chemistry this year but I doubt we'll make it that far.
Arabic...Quran Made Easy (I love this book. It progresses from reinforcing the Arabic letters to reading with tashkeel and then reading the Quran. It's so easy to use and manageable lessons.)
Quran...We memorize Quran along with the studies at their weekend school.
Islam...Prophet Study (we belong to an online co-op where mom's take turns preparing lesson plans for each prophet. This has been such a great learning experience for us all and the moms have such great ideas, masha Allah.) Many things just come up in our daily lives that we discuss or I read something interesting to share with the kids.
Reading...Pathway Readers & workbook from Rod & Staff (the kids love these and although I skip some of the phonics lessons in the workbook, it's still good for vocab, some spelling and reading comprehension. They're also very cheap.)

Extracurricular Activities...The kids also participate in a weekly physical education class. It's a lot like school PE but is during the day and is made up of homeschoolers. The kids also take various art, gym and dance classes. As the kids get older finding appropriate classes will probably become more difficult. We belong to a local homeschool group and go on fieldtrips and park days. The few Muslims who homeschool here also get together monthly.

I'd be happy to share my schedule or anything else if you're interested.



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.