Islamic homeschooling..The preschool years

posted in: Islamic Homeschooling | 24
homeschooling preschool
homeschooling preschool

Islamic homeschooling..The preschool years

I have been wanting to write this for a while but I preferred to wait till I was 100% sure that homeschooling will be our education route of choice, for now at least. Insha’Allah in an upcoming article I will share with you why we chose homeschooling and how I think even parents who send their kids to school could benefit from the different paradigm for education from the homeschooling perspective.

In this post I just want to share with you what I did to teach my kids at the pre-school age (they have now finished kindergarten alhamdolilah).

Preschool is usually for 3-5 year olds. I will share here what has worked for me and my kids. Obviously that may not agree with you but hopefully you will be able to benefit of some of the ideas either way.

First of all let me say that I follow a flexible teaching approach till 7 years of age. Based on the advice of our beloved prophet Mohamed (may peace be upon him), and taking inspiration from successful education systems such as in Finland where the focus is on playing till the age of 7.

For myself and my kids I have truly seen them blossom with this methodology without taking away from their learning. I believe the focus on play has helped build their personalities and character while preserving their love of learning.

So what exactly did I do for the preschool years?? If I was to put all the advice in two words it would be (READ& PLAY). If you want more details carry on reading.

1- My number one tip would be to read to them daily. I relied heavily on snuggle up reading time to teach them almost if not everything I wanted to. They loved it and craved it every day and I loved it too. It was both our special bonding time and it gave me the ability to teach them without them even realizing. I would go to the library approx once every two months and just load up on books. I was able to teach them language development, letters,numbers,shapes,colours,….etc. All that preschool stuff they should now just through reading. I really can’t emphasize this point enough, it truly makes a HUGE difference.

2- FREE PLAY. Golden tip number 2. Just let them play. Let them be bored and figure out how to entertain themselves. Don’t be afraid to just let them be, they will definetely amaze you. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the idea that you have to be there guiding their play the whole time. In fact that is the worse thing you can do. That is why I wrote FREE play not just play. They need to be able to think for themselves, understand the world around them, learn important life skills including negotiation skills (for ex: fighting with siblings 🙂 ) , figuring out what they like and dislike for themselves…etc.

3- Nature. As much as you can take them to open spaces. Whether it be just them to a park for example. Or if you have good playgroups (where they can meet new people and play freely) near by I would highly suggest utilizing them as well. Kids need to be out and about. We all do in fact but sadly our fitrah often gets messed up over time. Kids however still have that strong desire to be free and explore. It makes heaps of a difference in their well being and happiness. Which will make a huge difference to you. Especially on those days when they are just being cranky kids.

4- Guided play. I am not a huge fan of guided crafts at that age. Especially ones where you want a specific outcome for example a painting of something specific that looks a certain way like a drawing of a lion coloured in orange and yellow. Or making a paper plate animal…etc The examples of these crafts are endless. You can find hundreds of them all over the net. I don’t really like them that much because if you want it to turn out like the photo on the net you will either have to do it yourself or you will end up mostly frustrated with your child for not getting it right. I don’t think that’s the best thing for that age. However, having said that if your child shows a true interest in something and really wants to do it you can find heaps of ideas on pinterest and youtube to help you. Just make sure to look at the fun side of things and not get too hanged up on the final result. If you are not careful in this aspect you can hinder your child’s creativity and make them too much of perfectionists who lack flexibility in their learning experiences.

5- Screen time. In our household screen time is prohibited under the age of 2. After that I try to limit to 30 min a day or less till the age of 3 or 4. Beyond that they get max 1 hour – 1 hour and a half a day and that’s not every day. All screen types are included in that time frame whether it’s ipad or tv,…etc. I choose beneficial cartoons for them to watch which they truly learn a lot from such as ones about animals (they know more than me now). Or beneficial documentaries or even just general appropriate cartoons which have good morals or may aid in language development. Part of screen time is educational apps on the ipad. Honestly I did try them for a while but later decided against them. I felt they were too young to be exposed to this kind of learning. As mostly it makes them fed up with conventional types of learning, hinders their playing ability and just turns them into zombie like creatures who can’t find fun or stimulation in anything else. So my advice would be is to limit screen time as much as possible and use it wisely.

6- Islamic side of things. For this age I feel it’s too early to push them too hard and I don’t want them to grow up with negative feelings towards Quran or religion. So I rely on gently reading to them Quran every night and getting them to repeat after me when old enough. Just by repeating they start picking up. I don’t do more than 10-15 min at that age. In addition to reading Islamic appropriate stories and using any available chance to talk to them about Islamic concepts such as the actions of our beloved prophet , basic concepts like who is Allah and how He takes care of us…etc.

7- Fine motor skills. You want to help develop their fine motor skills so they can write well later on. I didn’t push conventional writing on them at that age. I did provide other opportunities such as cutting with scissors, gluing,…etc. I also gave them worksheets on occasion but it was very gentle. Especially with boys I find they really resent writing at that early age. My advice would be follow your child’s lead and don’t get stressed if they seem a bit behind in writing. I know it can be hard. I stressed myself for a while but I truly believe it’s for the best. If you are patient they will get where you want them to be without hating the process. So hang in there and always remember our prophet’s advice about play till 7.

That’s it for now 🙂 if you have any questions or comments please comment below. May Allah guide us all and make our journey an easy and blessed one.

24 Responses

  1. JazakAllahuKhairan for sharing your experience. I just started homeschooling my 3 year old, this is week 1 Alhamdulillah and your post seems like a God-sent. May Allah Flourish our children both in the world and the next and May He Make out efforts yield fruitful results, Ameen. Look forward to more posts from you.

    • halahshaheen

      May Allah bless and help all of us. Make sure to remember the two main rules especially at that young age: Read…and…Play 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing

    • Aslm ..jazakAllah khairan…iv got a hyperactive 4year enthusiastic girl who gets bored easily with everything other than scresntime…pls suggest me some books for this age…she loves story time thou…

      • halahshaheen

        May Allah bless your daughter. The reason she is bored is because of screen time. I know it’s a vicious circle. But if you don’t control it now , it will get worse and worse. She needs to go through a detox phase. It will be difficult for both of you but after that you will both enjoy the results insha’Allah. Any story like books are good. Also think of books about interesting things for her such as animal, space, plants encyclopedias….etc. Open up her horizon as much as possible. Buy her age appropriate toys that will stimulate her brain such as lego, different building toys,make believe toys such as cooking sets,..etc. But no matter what you do don’t give in to screen time.

      • Most of the kids just love drawing. So have more art supplies at hand. I’ve noticed they love exploring different textures and materials. Soft pastels, crayons, markers etc. May Allah ease your path ❤

    • halahshaheen

      You’re more than welcome 🙂

  3. Very well planned and thoughtout.we do face a lot of pressure from our community .i am a mother of son who love play and 3 nd a half year old.IA i will do consider these choices

    • halahshaheen

      Ignore the pressure. I know it’s difficult but remember you are doing the best for your child. You are following the best advice (from the prophet peace be upon him) and if you research Finland’s example you will be even more confident.

  4. BaarakAllahu feeki…precise and to the point !!!! Very well explained may Allah grant you taufiq ameen

    • halahshaheen

      Very happy you like it. And thank you so much for your kind comment, means a lot to me. May Allah guide us and bless us all.

  5. Faiza Haque

    Alhamdulillah. Essential guidelines for parents and very helpful.

  6. Well said… sharing your post on Facebook 🙂

  7. Awww thats so sweet of you to take the time and give us some potent, simple all in one homeschooling advice. MashAllah. Allah ya zeed wa ya barik feekom and bless you with the best of the dunya and akhirah xxx

    Ohh just read some posts, to the sister with the hyper 4 year old. I agree little girls love baking. My daughter would do anything to bake. I always buy the ready made packs to do with her or play dough, give her a rolling pin and child friendly cookie cutters and she should entertain herself for a good half hour ATLEAST InshAllah. May Allah make parenthood easy for us InshAllah. How do we do justice to everything and everyone. Wala howla wala gowata illa billa. Allah yahfathkom x

    • halahshaheen

      Yarab ameen and bless you and all your family as well 🙂 jazaki Allah kheir for your advice too

  8. Assalaamalaikum wr wb sis
    Jazakiallahu khair for all your advice.my five year old starts school next year although I m not ready. Then I hav a 4 yr old starting kinder same time n a 15 month old n fourth one on the way in shaa Allah. What do u suggest I do now that I already enrolled her in school and everything’s set..?
    How should I manage time and their curiosity while goin thru my severe nausea phase?
    Also they have been spoilt already with screen time so detox mechanism gradually shud look like or should I stop completely?
    Please help

    • halahshaheen

      First of all I know your struggle 🙂 I have 6 year old twins and 2.5 yr old girl (who drives us crazy) and a fourth on the way insha’Allah. Even though last year was a challenge but we got through it alhamdolilah and it was good. Please check these links to my previous articles on cartoons:
      http://www.theheartsoflight.com/my-twins-and-cartoons-saviour-or-destroyer/
      http://www.theheartsoflight.com/away-from-the-praying-mat-cartoons-children/
      http://www.theheartsoflight.com/away-from-the-praying-matcartoons-children-part-2/

    • halahshaheen

      When my kids started kindy when they were 5 I basically got the main text books they will need to get through such as Math, basic phonics and spelling, science , history and geography, personal health and art. In addition I organized extra activities such as sports, robotics, excursions and play dates. Plus they had Arabic and Quran classes and daily read alouds. All that may sound a lot but seriously we did no more than 2 hours a day maybe 3 days a week or 4 max of official work. The rest they just played and played. I would recommend getting good educational toys they can spend hours on to replace screen time as it will truly sabotage all your efforts. Example: lego. Seriously they can spend ALL day several days non stop playing with it. Insha’Allah I will article soon on alternatives to screen time that don’t make you have to spend more time yourself. I also intend insha’Allah to write a more detailed article on kindy year as well as how I will change things this year insha’Allah for grade 1.

      Homeschooling is so much and is truly worth it and with the right support you can do it. Insha’Allah I will offer as much advice as possible. I am having a cesarean on Tuesday so please make dua it goes well and I can get back to writing more. Jazaki Allah Kheir

  9. Mashallah lovely article.
    What are some good books you could recommend for a 3 year old

    • halahshaheen

      Any picture suitable aged book is good. They will mostly be board books. Basically ones that have no more than 3-4 lines per page. Having said that you can use other pictures books as well , just use them differently. Instead of reading every word on the page , you have a discussion with your child about it. For example, what is this colour? How many of a certain item is on the page? what is that character doing? what shape is that?….etc

  10. Really needed to read this, such perfect timing Alhamdulilah. Great tips which ill be using inshaAllah. JazakAllah khair 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing! This was extremely helpful as I will he diving into homeschooling my 5 year old. I agree with everything you mentioned and it has solidified my approach. May Allah but barakah in your efforts.

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