Thursday, January 27, 2011

Home ed-ers Hit The Beach

Last week end, our Home ed community held its "Annual Beach Trip" Alhumdulilah, thanks to the efforts of a generous couple Abu Muaz and Umm Muaz. The weather was warm and the sea a calm, delicious cool, the snacks were plentiful and the lunch was relished (spicy mutton biryani and a plainer chicken pulao for kids with delicate palates). All the families brought something to help out- the snacks, water and a sister bought a bag full of beach spades esp. for the occasion, Masha'Allah.

The BAPs played cricket with their friends and bulit sand castles and sand cities, and got drenched in the sea. QBAP enjoyed a swim near the shore and even IBAP and MBAP waded in till there necks. Whereas most children observed shells and sea slugs, the BAPs chose to observe a dead dog- its appearance, its exposed skull and obvious cause of death (its feet were tied)-not a pretty sight but as ABAP insisted a "home schooling moment".

This was ZBAP's (a year old now) first beach trip (well actually, his second, the first time he sat out the entire time in his baby chair and people's 'godi' without actually geting the benifit of being at the beach), and so we put him down onto the sand. After a few tentiative prods at the sand he soon went "sand crazy"; grabbing hand fulls of it and tossing it up and into Ummi's lap and into his mouth quickly, smirking at everyone's attempts to stop him. He went home this time bringing the beach with him (as his siblings normally do) in his hair, pockets and even in his daiper (smile).

Interestingly, this was SBAP's (now 3 years old) third trip to the beach and Masha'Allah, he seem to enjoy it and was as independent as always. He would make mounds of sand with a spade and when he found a small watering can he made several trips taking it to a pool of water to fill (unattended!), then walk back to pour it onto his mound of sand. He did this a few times, holding up his shorts with his free hand and pausing on his way back from the pool to observe a sitting camel. Later he genereously filled an aunt's hands with pebbles, insisting they were seeds.

When the camel first arrived at the scene, SBAP ran behind it calling out, "Somebuddy! Camel come!" and much to his pleasure and fear, he was rewarded with a camel ride, sitting between ABAP and Ummi (he kept muttering "I will fall" every few seconds throughout the ride).

Alhumdulillah, we all had a lovely time and managed to get home and wash up before Asr Masha'Allah.

Images courtesy of Umm Muaz and Ummibaps
22nd Safar 1432

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome White Board: Stepping into Writing

Give a kid a crayon/marker/ chalk and an empty wall, and whether you like it or not, their inspired! But these amature graffiti artists seem to lose the desire once they are forced to put it down on paper, at a desk, in a prescribed manner. So getting our children to rekindle the passion to write and draw has been a real chore, till this gorgeous White board entered our lives. Her pristine colour begged to be written on and Voila! lots of little hands have got busy: spontaneous sentences, tic-tac-toe, a tutorial on drawing stick men in action and even an algebra lesson by Abbi. So here's a solution to get children "writing" and as you can see here; your never to young to find writing fun!

8th Safar 1432

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dining Out On a School Night- Benefits of Home Education

Prior to educating at home, dining out on a school night was almost unheard of - homework to be done, dinner rushed through and a mad dash to get the kids in bed, squeezing in some time to talk to Abbi as well, the though of going out was OUT. Now there's still the urgency to get to bed but we can have friends over for dinner on a school night and still wrap up for a new day of learning, or even dine out with friends on a week we did! Call it a field trip, or a socialization class or plain relaxation; its all three and as always the learning never stops.

The younger Piranis were particularly excited about going out that night, because the two home educating families joining us had young children too, and the meal was at our now favourite fast food bar "Snack Attack". The waiters here are very friendly and willing to entertain the children's queries, and as the kitchen is divided from the rest the dining area with a bar counter, the kids can watch their food being prepared. The best part is their brick oven, where the children could see their pizzas being baked. A flat screen television entertained the elder children with a cricket match - before the food arrived, because once served no one was really concentrating on much else.

Pictures are courtesy of IBAP, Masha'Allah.

3rd Safar 1432

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Introducing: "Homeworks: where learning is living!'

The 6th Annual Bookfair at our local expo was also the venue introducing our 1st local home education magazine -HomeWorks. This magazine was made to give people a glimpse of the lives of families who have chosen to educate their own, as well as offer information on what, why and how to educate at home. It proudly displays the work of the home-educated children too, Masha'Allah.
Furthermore, East Publishers offered a part of their stall to home educating families to use as a platform to introduce the public in general to educating without school. Quiet a few parents and children helped mann the stall including the eldest two BAPS Masha'Allah.

Other than the magazine, the stall offered handouts about home education and displayed work of children who learn at home - according to the BAPs the display attracted quiet a lot of attention and drew parents to the stall.

Interestingly, QBAP met a lady who was his opponent at the Scrabble competition and a gentleman was impressed by ABAP's "confidence" he then came to the stall to learn more about ABAP's education. The kids enjoyed moving around and addressing people about a task they were given (EAST asked them to invite children to take a short Urdu and English proficiency test so parents could assess how well their school educates). They felt most adults do not take children seriously (this was discouraging for BAPs) and many children felt it wasn't worth attempting the test unless they would receive a prize of some sort in return.

Some feedback given by home educating parents at the stall were:

"Special mention must also be made of Bhai's two sons (ABAP and QBAP) who were on duty at that time and were inviting kids to take the EAST competency test and also guiding them through it. They did and EXCELLENT job MashAllah. Very confident and assured. In fact, one man actually came back to buy the magazine because we had told him they were homeschooled and he had been so impressed by their behaviour."
“I met quite a number of people looking for alternative systems of education who came without any reference or invitation. They had issues with schools and seemed enthusiastic about learning more about how HS works. Masha'Allah the posters our HS children created were major crowd pullers; people were fascinated by the materials used and realized that scientific knowledge can be acquired and reproduced very creatively. (lungs and hearts posters).
Two reporters from (a local news channel) were so awestruck by this "new concept" and seemed to grasp it so well, they wanted to cover home schoolers in their news report. Alhamdulilah we had a good bunch of homeschooled kids starting from 6 Rayeds and 2 smart young Piranis and above all Mr Rayed to talk to. “

Alhumdulillah, we feel glad the Piranis could have been a part of this venture, Masha'Allah. For those who would like to read the magazine, it can be viewed and downloaded from:
1st Safar 1432

Brainy Books: Book Quest workbooks

At a previous the Book Worm Club meeting, a Sister had brought over some of the work books her daughters are using. Amongst them were a set of simple colourful workbooks called Brain Quest. These books are attractive and fun. Each book is divided into sections for Science, Language arts (grammar), various components of Math, reading, writing (phonics and alphabets for young grades), social studies (American) and a some quiz card sheets to be cut out and used.

Though very basic, I wanted something simple to start off our next three months of "focus on reading, comprehension and writing skills", so these books were met the needs of our 5yr old, 7yr old and 9yr old. They are infused with colour and the work isn't crammed onto a single page, so it even looks like fun. We've bought numerous books in the past for our 5 yr old, but she would be unable to following some instructions and in some cases prefer to make her own. In this book (pre-k) she doesn't want to put the book down and really enjoys it, and loves to choose a sticker (also provided) to put on her page when she's done. Her work has become a game.

Our 7yr old and 9yr old are working with these books willingly too, they choose which math component they want to attempt and may squirm with parts of the writing, but not for long Alhumdulillah. These books also help me decide when to pull the brake on the day's work so I'm not forcing them to attempt several pages of various books in one day, and we then have time to read other things, (I can concentrate on the 11yr old's reading and 3 yr old too) and they get time to review their Quran lesson and play as well.

Interestingly, when our 5yr old daughter was working on a page about our world, she was instructed to circle the pictures depicting things we do at home (girl sleeping in bed, family eating a meal) one of the pictures portrayed kids sitting on the floor in front of a woman with a blackboard behind them - school ! She circled that too! (we "school" at home:)

29 Muharram 1432