I have been procrastinating planning for 2018, so I'm forcing myself to sit down for an hour a day to do it. Today, I start with the nicest part, at least to me; planning the school terms.
I printed out the holidays for 2018 and a blank year-at-a-glance calendar. What I did was to first circle all the public holidays and possible leave days for my husband and shade the long weekends. I also shaded in important Islamic dates like the start of Ramadan and the last ten days of that month.
That done, I shaded in my school weeks, usually five weeks long with breaks in between. For breaks, I also consider the usual dates when we take a break as a family and when my husband's company has its yearly shutdown. You can also put in other dates important to you as a family so you can include it in your homeschool or take that day off.
In addition, I printed the Hijrah calendar as I aim to be more conscious of our Islamic dates through the year. They were downloaded from the Islamic Religious Council's website where I am.
Alhamdulillah! Step 1 done. InsyaAllah, next I will be looking at reflecting and resetting our intentions for HS next year and setting down goals for us a family and individually.
I came back from my break with a renewed sense of what I wanted and knowing that in a world linked virtually, I do not have to confine myself to be among those who are unlike me because there are people out there living lives not set in the same stone as what I have always known possible. Hence, I shall not have to feel like the strange one always.
It is a real struggle when homeschooling in a grades-crazed country, and I'm not talking just about school grades.
So today, I let go of familiar encumberances in my head when I teach. I sought to teach in light of my reflection of the world and the words that explain it within the patterns of childhood that I believe is nearest to its natural form.
I do not think however that it means it has to be simple, so I placed the challenge up a notch from my usual plane. The children were a bit caught unaware of what they should do and how they should tread. I see the more challenging activities avoided but I shall place it before them again in the future.
My happiest thought today was that they were working, alone and as partners.
Today, we talked about the Coming of Humans after I rounded up what we have learned about Creation and early life before Man that we have previously covered. I pointed out that as Muslims we believe that Adam was the first human and that it was no coincidence that we were placed here after earth has gone through its many mutations and was covered with plants and animals to nourish humans.
We did not skip the science of course, that scientists have certain opinions of how humans evolved and that many lifeforms have gone through much evolution.
I think the lesson here is how blessed we are to have been given existence, for the millions of years that have passed to give us today is so complex and mind-boggling and that as humans we are indebted to our Creator beyond measure and that we are caretakers of what is before us.
This is not just my opinion but something embedded in our faith and I must point out in Montessori's elementary educational philosophy.
So I think sometimes the lesson is not just the science or the history, or whatever syllabus you are covering (which is important that you should cover, I should stress) but how the lesson impresses on the inner consciousness of the child that will become the adult.
I have always been intrigued by the wonderful homemade craft materials and sensory play activities I have seen online and was eager to try it out myself. This was most suitable for my 3-year old and so, I had reached out to those with children around that age who have expressed interest in my classes but have not been able to join us as there was no vacancy.
With the attendance of the other children confirmed, I set out to make the materials starting from about two weeks before the actual event. This allowed me to enjoy the process of creating and learning how to make new materials I have never made before; the rainbow rice and homemade paint.
On the actual day, I was quite happy with the outcome. Plus, I have found a new channel for my furniture-moving habit - creating play areas - and I love our newfound space at home after the adjustments I made. I have however learned a few things from this experience:
Making your own materials
Allow for time to test your homemade materials as they are not standardised. What works one day may not work again the next time. The first time I made playdough for a group of children, the event was held at an air-conditioned room. On hindsight, I also used a different recipe. Maybe, just like baking, you have to consider the weather differences here in the equator and the recipes online which are from temperate countries.
I was worried that the dough would be too cold, so I took it out an hour before the session. That proved to be a mistake because they were sticky by the time we started.
As I wanted a more rustic and natural feel, I got plyboards instead of plastic boards. The already sticky dough didn't take well to this.
The rice I made two days earlier were still damp. I should have either air-dried them flat or put them in the fridge after draining the water. The temperature in my mini fridge also turned out too cold that the rice I did manage to put inside became brittle and was easily crushed.
Next time, I'd give two days for them to dry in the regular section of the fridge.
The paint turned out nicely when used although I was peeved that it did not cake after 24 hours as stated online. Again, always allow yourself extra time.
I rotated myself among the four stations stepping in only when help is needed or to assist in extending play with what I know is available. I resisted overly suggesting activities to any display of hesitation or tiredness, trying to keep to just inviting the child the play when I see an opportunity.
The parents who stayed during the session were most forgiving of my shortcomings and I hope I have made their trip fulfilling: )
My little clients were the most understanding; most playing without a break for the 2 hour session. In fact play picked up speed at the start of the second hour and started to taper towards the end.