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.