Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting Started and Choosing a Curriculum

In the name of God, the Most beneficent, the Most merciful

When I first started homeschooling, I did not know which curriculum I would be using. I had initially thought of the purchasing regular school books used here.

Chusy has an uncle(who is his really good friend ,too) who is just 19 months older than him and thus a grade ahead. He started school at 27 months. So, I had access to all the books prescribed in his school. I liked some of the books while thought some were really unnecessary.

He had quite a few books for each grade which had worksheets/ activities that covered a very broad range of skills. Like for Pre-K, he had a counting book with a poem on the left page and a grid on the right for each number. The poem was too difficult for a 3 year old to understand the concept while I thought kids really do not need to fill pages with numbers in order to learn them. Then after every ten numbers, like after the number 10, there were counting exercises and activities like arranging in ascending and descending order which involved understanding quite a lot of things which according to me were not right for the age group. This book was called Counting from 1-100. I used the book with Chusy but he was not interested in filling up pages.

He learnt to write and recognize numbers way before he was 3 but he never wanted to fill the book. He did not even understand the poems that went something like a monkey had a party and he was alone and he was one, then a donkey came and there were animals two. I stopped using the book. But he can still write his numbers very neatly Masha Allah. He can do all those activities, too. What was the purpose of introducing so much at that age is what I fail to understand.

The same happened with handwriting books. He never filled books with uppercase and lowercase letters . He just learnt to write the uppercase ones when he was 3 (on his own) and then lowercase letters a few months after that. He always preferred unruled paper and still did until very recently when he started writing in lines.

He learnt to write some lowercase letters a couple of months back because he wanted to. I never made him. And, he can write just fine, Alhamdulillah. Then there were picture books for Pre-K, K1 and K2. Chusy never found any interesting. The activity books had some nice ideas but a large portion of the book was really unnecessary or plain uninteresting for the age levels those books were for.

This led to the conclusion that we really didn't need to use those books.

I just happened to see the same little boy's books for grade one and they are soooo many of them!
He has books for Science, Social Science, General Knowledge and Environmental Education apart from the ones for Grammar, Phonics, Reader, Poems and Handwriting for English, Handwriting and Reader for Second Language, and a Big book of Maths(this was really nice). I really didn't understand why a 6 year old needs so many books and so much busy work.

Anyway, this has led me to the conclusion that we didn't need to purchase the same books to stay at grade level, which is important for us. We(hubby and I) understand though that we need guidelines but if we just focus on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic with all Science and History being Islam based, covering a topic including what the Qur'an and Sunnah say about it and read stories on those topics while focusing on Hifz , we're good, Insha Allah.

So now, we have stopped consulting school books and focus on topics by grade level and use them sometimes for oral discussions or experiments as well as to understand how it all goes back to the perfectness of the Creator. One example of that is we talked about how we have five senses and we talked about how we feel and what happens when we touch something hot and how signals travel from the sensors to the brain and back and why we need to eat brain foods to keep the brain working and how his bones could break if he falls and that bones help us walk otherwise we would just be lumps. And how Allah has made everything so perfect. I think he enjoys and retains the information better when we talk and do things rather than our answering question and writing those question and answers from science and social science books. This does not mean that we do not use books at all, In fact we use a lot of books but they're different one(not textbooks) and that topic deserves a separate post.:)

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