Giving Kids Choices in Education and Life

One of the wonderful things about home education is the flexibility and freedom but how much freedom do you allow your children?
I’m not talking about the totally autonomous v the home school debate I mean day to day things.

My children are mostly what I think of as “free range ” it they run about wildly and occationally sit and get some written work done. This post is inspired by an event this morning, my youngest son was due to go to a Beavers meeting where they are going to learn and Islamic song (nasheed) to sing to the public next weekend. He hates performing in public unless its something physical like skateboarding or climbing. He was very upset at the thought of singing in front of anyone and no amount of reassurance was going to persuade him otherwise. I even found the song on youtube to show him but he sobbed with big tears. My heart broke and I relented, hes now painting a canvas in the shed as its raining and is happy again.
It did make me think that many years ago I might have forced one of my children to do something they told me they hated with the idea that “facing your fears” or”live outside your comfort zone” would somehow build character.

I then began to reflect on my own childhood and how many times I was pressured into something I hated, I hated gym and dance class, I was and still am chubby and uncoordinated. Thank God I found types of exercise I enjoy and am good at. I wish I could go back and save my younger self the humiliation of gym class.

So how far do we take it as parents? My second son has a fear of heights (something he may get from me too ) so when we go on holiday and the others are all climbing like monkeys up the climbing wall/cliff/actual wall. He sits it out with me and nope its not a big deal. He is cautious and thats fine, he tries new activities all the time so I’m not worried that he wont ever learn new skills and I’m happy that its not a big deal.

Time tables are another thing we like, my husband swears by having some structure for the boys, they do thrive on having a list of tasks to do before they can do what they want to.
I know of a wonderful home educated boy who at the age of 11 when presented with the entire year 7 curriculum and told “when you get this done you can pursue your own interests this year” he began waking up at 6 am everyday and working solidly through until after two weeks he’d covered 9 months of work and he spent the rest of the year painting and drawing which was what he loved. I don’t think anyone can argue with that logic !

I am of the opinion that never being forced miserably into an activity by a well meaning adult will make my children more confident and happier people.

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Ramadan Food ( Contains Pictures of Yummy Food, Read after Iftar !)

Its Ramadan Allhumdulilah (praise God)!
Of course there is never a better way to get people to become obsessed with food than to have them fast!
The long hours of this years fast in the northern hemisphere means we are also constantly thinking about what delicious juices to drink once the sun dips.
Fasting for 18 hours+ means we have to carefully plan what we will eat in the two meals at sunset and before the dawn, a window of time so small that these meals have to be light and balanced or else we’ll really feel the consequences.

The meals also have to be quick and easy to prepare, Ramadan is precious and we are busy with worship night and day, spending hours in the kitchen shouldn’t factor into our holy month.

Iftars (evening meal at sunset)
After the traditional dates and water I usually put a bowl of fresh fruit salad or water melon on the table that everyone can dive into before the Maghrib prayer, I usually have a big tub of fruit salad in the fridge in Ramadan and everyday add to it or re do it, sometimes just slices of apple with lime juice and a sprinkle of sugar or honey.

You can add cinnamon or even a peanut butter dip but keep it light.

After the prayer we sit down to a meal, usually meat and rice or couscous and salad, we avoid dry or oily foods like chips or processed salty foods like sausage or frozen samosas. (I said it, we don’t eat samosas in Ramadan in our house!!)

We rarely have soup, traditionally most muslims breakfast on a rich soup, well in the culture I was raised in anyway, but my family are not keen so Harira or Choba doesn’t feature very often on our table which is a shame because I love it !

I love making a big chopped salad that goes with everything, just chop, a cucumber, two large bell peppers, a few spring onions and tomatoes and toss in olive oil and apple cider vinegar, add salt to help the juices come out and that will keep in the fridge for a few days.

You can add olives, celery, grapes, fresh chilli or avocados, all are delicious.

Drinks
Nothing beats cold water at iftar Try adding fresh lime to your water and leaving it to steep for an hour before you breakfast its the most refreshing drink ever!

Juice cocktails,
try mixing coconut water with fresh pineapple juice and lime
orange juice with cranberry
mango with fizzy water
or whatever takes your fancy, but avoid sugary processed drinks like coke or pepsi which will dehydrate you and irritate your bladder and kidneys.

Suhur

We keep it simple at Suhur,
eggs in a wholemeal english muffin
yoghurt with fruit and linseed
wrap with tuna and some of the chop salad I mentioned.
Lots of water.

Questions About Ramadan You Never Dared to Ask a Muslim..


Ramadan is on the doorstep, its quite exciting, we’ve been making decorations and stocking up on dates!
Ramadan is the month in the Islamic calendar when we fast between dawn and sunset, no food , water, sex, arguing or smoking. Needless to say its great for strengthening our will power !

1 Isn’t going without food and water for so long bad for you?

In a word, No.
There have been numerous studies regarding the benefits of fasting, recently the 2/5 diet where one fasts two days a week has brought media attention to the health benefits of fasting. Fasting gives a much needed rest to our digestive system during which time the body repairs and detoxes, there are many jokes about the breath of a fasting person as the body sends toxins to the lungs to be expelled. Obviously if a person is old,ill, pregnant, breastfeeding or a child under the age of puberty then fasting would probably be harmful. These people are exempt from fasting Ramadan.
Fasting is great mental training, we often drift through the day, fasting gives your brain focus, helps us over come bad habits and reduce addiction to caffeine and cigarettes.

2 Don’t you feel hungry?
Yes we do feel hungry but to be honest after a few days of fasting the body adapts pretty quickly and the hunger goes away during the fasting hours, the thirst is more difficult to ignore. We hydrate massivly i the night hours, sipping water constantly and trying to get a lot of foods that release water in the gut into our diet. The good thing about being truly thirsty and hungry is how much it makes us grateful for our blessings, how long has it been since you’ve been without food and drink for more than 10 hours during the day? If you work as a nurse, midwife or doctor you’ll know the feeling well but most of us rarely go more than 5 hours without something.

3 What about sex?
Sex and sexual contact during the hours of the fast is forbidden and would nullify the fast. However in the night time its allowed between married couples of course 😛
The days are so long here in the summer that its likely most couples don’t have much time for it in Ramadan.

4 What do you do all night in Ramadan?
Well Ramadan is really all about the nights, each night is precious to us and we use the time wisely,(or we should do) we eat and drink, feed the poor and needy. We go to the mosque for a long prayer every night or as often as we can, we read Quran a lot and reflect on it, we also have massive charity collections with telethons going on every night to raise money for the needy throughout the world. In the Uk the night s are very short so we don’t sleep at all, many of us fit a workout or brisk walk into the night hours to get our hearts pumping.

5 Do you lose weight?
yes and no! Some of us drop the pounds with ease, some give into temptation when we break the fast and actually find the pounds creep on during this time, our metabolism slows incredibly and with little physical activity in
the day time its easy to get lazy. Eating a well balanced diet in Ramadan is essential to prevent the sluggish feeling and sleepiness.

Teaching Children to Respect One Another

As a parent of four boys with nearly 20 years parenting experience I’d like to share something. Teaching our children to value themselves and respect one another is so important and yet so difficult.

Siblings fight, bicker and wrestle, whichever gender, I was raised with two of my brothers and we had little respect for one another, we fought like wolves, violently sometimes but we love each other deeply as adults. My husband and his sister fought until they often drew blood, little respect going on there too.

So in our home we have tried develop an environment where violence towards your siblings is completely unacceptable. We are don’t smack our children though I confess to threatening to do so sometimes.

We want them to respect each others space, knock before entering a room even if you know the only person in there is your little brother, doesn’t he deserve privacy too?

We don’t allow the excuse “we were only playing” to cover bullying or disrespect.

No name calling or taunting, words can hurt deeply and for longer then a punch.

A joke is not a joke if one of you is the butt of it, thats just bullying.

Never put yourself down, no one is stupid or ugly.

This is a daily struggle to enforce, please dont think that our home is a utopia of positive thinking with well adjusted level headed kids and calm insightful parents, haha!!

However we’re trying.

How do you teach your children to respect themselves and others?

Having listed these rules I realise we do indeed follow them, not with 100% success but we’re trying.

Dad Questionnaire

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
– Kamal – 14 years old


1. What is something dad always says to you?
Do you want a coffee?
2. What makes dad happy?
Coffee , Watching films , MEATTT!!!
3. What makes Dad sad?
When we jack the laptop charger
4. How does Dad make you laugh?  

When i was 8 he pushed me over and said ‘HAH your infinity now’ goooood times ∞

5. What was Dad like as a child?
Reckless , adventurous and mischievous
6. How old is Dad?
1000000 …. 38
7. How tall is Dad?
 5’11
8. What is his favourite thing to do?
DIY init HAH!! going on trips and holidays all together
9. What does Dad do when you’re not around?
Workalings …. i think :O
10. If your Dad becomes famous what will it be for?
Teaching , or owning a successful company
11. What is your Dad really good at?
Coding , teaching , Being a good dad , leading ,
12. What is your Dad not really good at?
 DIY
13. What does your Dad do for a job?
User Interface Designer … Web developer and designer 😉
14. What is your Dad favourite food?
MEATT!!
15. What makes you proud of your Dad?
How hard he trys to keep us all happy no matter how hard everything seems 🙂
16. If Dad was a character who would she be?
Henry Morgan from Forever hahahaha
17. What do you and Dad do together?
   Go coffee shops , code , watch tv together and go cinema 😀

A day in the life of a home educating family ..or what we do all day.

This morning started late, we tend to rise early for the dawn prayer, fajr which we pray before sunrise, in the Uk this means getting up at about 4 am in the summer, we wash and perform the prayer and then usually sleep for a few more hours.

Everyone slowly got up between 9 and 10 am today, Mr I stuck into our bed for a cuddle and a story before breakfast. We like the slow starts and generally avoid being rigid about what time they all wake up, some people work better at night.

Work began, Sul is working on a project for a client so he was busy all day with headphones on and the boys are trying not to disturb him, he’s working on the dinning table so can look up to chat and take phone calls. I juggled house work with getting the kids all started on something, Mr K started a project on human geography and how changing environments affect peoples lives. This involved some discussion and then he got down to research and make his own notes, Mr A was finishing off typing up a piece of writing he’d been working on for a few weeks.When he finished, Sul went through it with him, praising and giving hints for adjustments.
Mr I spent most of the morning avoiding doing some spellings in his workbook, he managed to drag it out for three hours and anytime I’d leave the room he’d be off to the bathroom, to get a banana, to get some water, to build lego in his room…arrggh. In the end he finally finished a page of suffixes and moved on to writing a story about how much he loves holidays, now he was on a role and asked to do some work on the computer, he did a few activities on Time 4 Learning, a subscription we have for him.

Mr K moved on to maths and spent time doing long multiplication to revise times tables, while Mr A spent 45 mins looking for an art pad (he has 4 or 5 art pads!) to draw a design for a canvas that will go on his bedroom wall, an hour later he’s found it, he also fit in a cardio workout he followed on youtube into that time.
Now everyones getting hungry, while everyone was busy earlier our shopping order arrived so I put a chicken in the oven and made a salad to go with it.

Having done a days work the younger boys are now chilling out playing mine craft, Mr K is upstairs probably watching youtube videos, Sul is still working hard on his project and I’m about to serve dinner, which will mean kicking him off the dinning table.
I managed to get three loads of laundry done, clean the floors, wash up, put some sales up on ebay and do a bit of yoga today.

Theres a lot of silliness and distracting one another that goes on that I haven’t detailed, some days they bicker and fight and it seems like nothing happening. Today was a good day!
We’ll drag the boys out for a walk into town later to pick up some new glasses for Mr A from Spec Savers and possibly do a bit for window shopping if the stores are still open.

Its an unusually windy and wet day today, so no trip to the park or out door sports.

Your Mum, Questionnaire….


Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Kamal is 14
1. What is something mum always says to you?
looong pause while hes thinking….
2. What makes mum happy?
Me in general.
3. What makes mum sad?
when i dont listen to you.
4. How does mum make you laugh?
Jokes
5. What was mum like as a child?
Highly responsible and mature.
6. How old is mum?
38..37 your’e 38 this year
7. How tall is mum?
2’5″ or 2’4″
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
Family walks or when we all help to bake
9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
Watch films and go to pizza express, i hold no grudges.
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
TV show or a book about home education or doularing.
11. What is your mum really good at?
cooking, looking after us, teaching us , trips and creative stuff, presents (with a little prompting from his dad!) and obviously youre good at your job as well.
12. What is your mum not really good at?
nothin….. gasp emoticon
13. What does your mum do for a job?
Doodaling …. i mean doularing
14. What is your mums favourite food?
Mash Potato , fruit and salads
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
That shes brought us up all really well and shes very good at what she does grin emoticon
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
Jane Austin init
17. What do you and mum do together?
Have coffee and pastries

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Abdullah is 11(he is also the best!)
1. What is something mum always says to you?
come on

2. What makes mum happy?
if you give her some thing out of love
3. What makes mum sad?
if she wants to do something but she dose it all by her self
4. How does mum make you laugh?
telling me funny stories
5. What was mum like as a child?
very quiet i guess
6. How old is mum?
37
7. How tall is mum?
5 foot something
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
go on nice walks

9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
clean cook relax that sort of thing
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
helping others
11. What is your mum really good at?
art, cooking(very nice food):} doularing, writing
12. What is your mum not really good at?
parkour climbing
13. What does your mum do for a job?
doula some times
14. What is your mums favourite food?
Moroccan food
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
caring for people
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
Ron’s mum from harry potter

17. What do you and mum do together?
watch tv go on walks
18. How are you and mum the same?
we do the same looks i have body language
19. How are you and mum different
Im a boy she is a lady
20. How do you know mum loves you?
because she says thats all i need to know
21. What does mum like most about dad?
his looks his personality etcs…
22. Where is mums favourite place to visit?
Tenby
23. How old was your mum when you were born?
26

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Ibraheem is 7
1. What is something mum always says to you?
I love You.

2. What makes mum happy?
When I give you a flower.
3. What makes mum sad?
when i be naughty
4. How does mum make you laugh?
when I do silly faces and jokes
5. What was mum like as a child?
You had light hair, i remember from the picture.
6. How old is mum?
37
7. How tall is mum?
not really tall.
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
exercise

9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
Read quran
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
doing work, important stuff.
11. What is your mum really good at?
cooking
12. What is your mum not really good at?
playing games, i mean xbox games, i have to teach you.
13. What does your mum do for a job?
get paid, shrugs, helps someone with a baby,
14. What is your mums favourite food?
chilli and rice, you do like spicy stuff dont you!
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
That cake made me happy.
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
a wizard

17. What do you and mum do together?
work, you’re always teaching me, sitting in bed having huggies
18. How are you and mum the same?
i came out of your tummy,
19. How are you and mum different
your face is different, we’re not twins, (shouting)
20. How do you know mum loves you?
coz you’re my mum, you make me do work.
21. What does mum like most about dad?
hes handsome (mashallah)
22. Where is mums favourite place to visit?
errr i dunno, wait….the forest

23. How old was your mum when you were born?
29