Homeschool Teaching Tips

16 Aug

I wanted to share some teaching tips for those who might be new to homeschooling. I remember how scary it was when I first started. I have learned that as I got more experience, I was able to improvise more and didn’t need to follow step by step scripted lessons, masha Allah. So I thought I would share with you what we did for this week’s “garden” theme. (kind of long, but if you know me, hey that’s natural)

We do not really have a set time for Islamic studies. Ideally, it’s the first subject, but I really approach each day differently. It depends on that day, what the kids’ attitudes are like (and mine), what errands we have to run, chores we have to do. Each day is different. I like to try to stick to a routine as much as possible, but we kind of go with the flow. So we sat down, I rounded up all the kids (well six of them). My toddler, joined in too but was in and out of the mix through out our session/lesson.

This was an example of how one of our learning sessions went. We were following TJ’s 52 Week Islamic Studies outline and doing the Science-Garden unit.

I started out by having my 12 year old write the word “garden” on the board(we have a whiteboard). I told her to write neatly and clearly so everyone could see. I then had my two five year olds tell me the letters in the word garden. One did the g, the other the a, the first one the r, etc. I asked the 7 and 9 year olds what sound each letter made as the five year olds do not know the sounds of all the letters yet.

I then asked my 14 year old what a garden was. He started to say a place where fr— (fruit) grows but corrected himself and said a place where plants grow. I praised him for monitoring his answer and correcting himself. Then he offered that there were different types of gardens. He asked what was the name for a type of garden where flowers, etc grow. (He was unknowingly leading us into the next thing we were “supposed” to discuss—types of gardens).

I wrote the word botanical on the board and asked him if he remembered the botanical garden that we had gone to when we were living in South Carolina. I also told them that the word botanical came from the word botany, which is the study of plants. Then I told them that there were also fruit and vegetable gardens which produced fruits and vegetables. I told them that the word produce was what we call fruits and vegetables and told them that when we go to the fruit and vegetable department, we are going to the produce department. Somewhere in here we brought up word crop and I explained what it was.

We started talking about the blessings of gardens (that they provided us with food and nice things to look at) and that no matter if the gardener (wrote this on the board and explained what one was to the younger ones) was a good one, if Allah didn’t will, that garden would no grow. Then I told them that we were going to read a story from the Quraan about two men, one of which had a garden and he did not give credit to Allah for his wonderful garden which produced so much food. I started to read the ayaat in English. It was somewhat over the heads of the younger ones, so I had to do a lot of explaining and tried to vary my voice and be more animated to engage them. Years ago, I had re-written this story for my older kids and added clip art, but of course, it has since disappeared. I gave my oldest son the task of re writing it for the younger ones. I have a feeling that won’t get done, so I may assign it to my more studious 12 year old daughter. She loves to write……

So we finished the story and recapped that bad things can happen to us if we do not remember Allah and are arrogant (explaining what this word meant). We also talked about saying Insha Allah when speaking about things that have not happened yet. Later on that day, one of the five year olds recalled on her own, what we had learned (it was slightly off, but nonetheless, I was happy she had understood, remembered what we had talked about and brought it up on her own, masha Allah.)

We had started to go to the Mughal gardens link online from the garden lesson, but we have dial up and it was slow and the attention spans started to wane, so we stopped. So later in the day, I assigned some garden themed problems to the older kids (perimeter, area, yield (+/-/x an division problems). I used one of our textbooks to get some problems from as well. I also assigned the older students the task of writing sentences that were garden themed. They had to vary how they started each sentence, sometimes starting with a noun, a verb, a “where” word/phrase, a “when” word/phrase. I usually have my older ones do this sentence writing exercise as much as possible for them to learn to write more interesting sentences. I have a sheet on TJ on my writing skills/composition page that explains this, if you are interested in the exercise………Plus also stop by my writing pages if you need a little help/tips/resources for writing.

Kind of long, but I hoped it might be helpful if you are kind of starting out and don’t feel like you’ve gotten your “sea legs” yet. I am really impressed these days that I have been able to kind of improvise so much and even if I just have a few notes jotted down as to what I want to cover, the lesson can end up so rich, masha Allah. A lot of it comes from the side discussions, the kids asking questions. Sometimes we really go out on tangents to other subjects, and have to reel back in to what we were originally discussing. Sometimes we don’t even hit upon all the things that I had planned to discuss. That’s another thing: I also found that sometimes if you have this big lesson plan, you may have to resist the temptation to “do it all.” I have tried to press on many times to “finish” the lesson and it ended disastrous…..

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Posted by on August 16, 2007 in Science, Teaching Tips


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