Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
This is probably the most highly stressed over aspect of committing to homeschooling for many newcomers. However, I would encourage us to see this as an opportunity to create a well-rounded education that is both personalized and enjoyable for your unique learners, as well as covers the fundamentals of what are important to you!
As I stated before in the “Our Story” page, I truly believe that the basics for a good education are as follows:
1) How to read
2) Clear, verbal and written articulation
3) Basic mathematics
4) Critical thinking
5) Creative expression
These fundamental skills can be applied to any subject matter that you and/or your children select. Because my eldest child is a pre-kindergartener this year, the acquisition of the above skills will look slightly different than they would for an elementary, middle, or high school student. For us, the beginning stages of reading are: letter recognition, phonics, writing, audio stories, and reading books together. Having “show and tell,” engaging in meaningful conversations, and writing down her thoughts for her, are the beginning stages for clear articulation skill development. Early mathematics is about number recognition, counting, writing numbers, and introduction to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, often through real life experiences, like: cooking, dividing the meal by number of family members, etc. Critical thinking is required in all of these content areas, and can be supported through discussions on books, especially those that are intended for a slightly older audience, and pondering over the Quran and Allah’s creation. We maintain a variety of art supplies and materials for artistic expression, along with dramatic, open-ended, and nature play for creative expression.
In terms of our specific curriculum subjects, we will be focusing on the following this year:
-Language (English, Arabic, & Spanish)
-Quran (memorization & reading)
-Sensory (Science, Art, Exercise, Nature, Geography, Cooking)
In my planning guide for each week/month, I am also considering the following points:
As I consider what exactly to include in the content of each of the above subjects, I want to give my children a voice here by listening to what they are interested in and planning around that. For example, earlier this year when schools first closed, my daughter was highly interested in birds. We were able to set up activities in language, math, and science about birds. We did projects, learned about birds, went bird watching, listened to bird sounds, and even got to see a nest being built in our backyard! Shortly after that, our topic of interest was kangaroos, which gave way for learning about Australian animals and marsupials by extension. Choosing your subject areas as the adult are critical; however, allowing your child to drive the content based on her interests is where the true learning lies and the love of learning is sustained.
I’d also point out here, that learning takes place in a variety of ways, not just by filling out worksheets or listening to lectures. Get creative and consider: What can be learned from reading (fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, biographies, auto-biographies, poetry, etc.), from watching a video/documentary/movie, from listening to a podcast, from an immersion experience, from talking to expert, from taking a field trip, from playing a game, from hands-on experience, etc.? How can I make this topic of interest applicable to all of our subject areas? (In other words–how can I incorporate ____ (kangaroos) into language work, math work, Quran, Islamic Studies, art, science, etc.?) This is the exciting part about homeschooling–that you get to decide how to share the learning and how to do it in meaningful and lasting ways, knowing that the content is appealing to your child…because he chose it!