Thursday, October 11, 2012

ADHD Pills

ADHD pills are increasingly being prescribed in schools all across the country, with the biggest percentage being preschool children. This is disturbing. All so that kids can sit and focus in a class for a number of hours longer than is normal for a child to sit. I understand how these pills may help many children suffering from such disorders, but there is increasing evidence and research such as the article below that most kids being prescribed these drugs do not even have a disorder, and are used primarily for kids to focus. With the increasing elimination of extra curricula's in schools, longer school hours, and elimination of recess and Gym, how can children possibly focus when they are receiving no outlets to expend their energy?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Playdough Fun

I find playdough to be a very useful homeschooling tool. It can easily turn a dull worksheet activity into a vibrant, creative, hands-on activity. We did this a while back while introducing the Arabic letters and I have been meaning to share it. I was using lots of worksheets at the time but she insisted on playing with playdough after she was visibly bored. In the interest of not getting side tracked from our days lesson I suggested we make the letters out of Playdough. It turns out learning Arabic letters are a lot more fun when you get to roll, cut, and mold them. I believe it also is helpful for the visual understanding of the symbols because they are recreating them by hand which takes quite a bit of mental and physical work. Arabic letters are not easy to grasp unless you are constantly working with them. We still use worksheets but I try now to supplement more with activities such as these, which I feel gives it more of a Montessori touch.

After the letter making, she wanted to just play with the dough, so I sat with her making cut outs of various objects with the cookie cutters they provide. By doing so we ended up playing a pizza restaurant game. Where we made pizzas with various toppings. Then she would stand on one side of the table and I on the other, and we would take turns ordering slices of pizza from one another. What was great is that it quickly turned into a basic math lesson on fractions and counting. By slicing up the pizza we discussed a Half, a third and a quarter.

I also got a cup of loose change and we would pretend to buy our pizzas with the money which is a great lesson in counting, addition and subtraction.

Playdough is also a great way to keep toddlers busy while you are homeschooling your older children. Mine loves to mush it, throw it, even eat it, and a 15 month old will have no problem making cut-outs with the cookie cutters, and is great for the motor-skills development.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Definition: A forest kindergarten is a type of preschool education for children between the ages of three and six that is held almost exclusively outdoors. Whatever the weather, children are encouraged to play, explore and learn in a forest or natural environment. The adult supervision is meant to assist rather than lead. It is also known as Waldkindergarten (in German), outdoor nursery, nature kindergarten, or nature preschool.

Ummm, I am the only one in complete shock and awe of this type of education system? I couldn't even believe it when I first read about it in Boys Adrift and then again in Last Child in the Forest. I know some may think this a bit overboard or extreme but I just love this concept of kids learning and being outdoors all day. Read more about it below:

I researched and found there are a few in Luxembourg, if I am lucky enough to find one in my area I would definitely try to get my kids in a program like this.

Jewels of the Earth

                                                                Gardening is something I have always wanted to do, but never really had the time to do before, or at least do well, but nothing like a move across the country away from all your loved ones and social obligations to free your days right up! No, but honestly, now that my daughter's school day ends at noon, I can spend a lot more time taking up new hobbies. The garden initially was a mess and was a project in itself just to get clean and ready for planting, but the process has been amazingly rewarding for all of us. Ameera and I decided we would create a space for planting flowers as well as fruits and vegetables. We already had a raspberry and blackberry bush that was fully mature and my 18 month old thoroughly enjoyed picking all the berries off the bush and stuffing his face with them. Although it is October, there are still plenty of winter vegetables that can be planted for spring harvest. I also thought it would be fun just to experiment a bit with different plants to show Ameera which continued to grow, which died, or which just remained as they were in the ground and did not grow nor die. So, we bought various plants of her choice, including lettuce, strawberry plants, pepper plants and various flowers and pines to work with in her miniature garden It is the process, not the product that is most important in my book.

 The process of digging the hole, planting the plant, watering and then cleaning up the debris is really what I wanted her to be familiar with. And she would often look up at me and with a sigh say, "Mama, this is hard I am getting tired." Which is the exact feeling I wanted her to acknowledge in this process. That growing is hard work, and not just growing, but maintaining, looking after, watering and overall caring for nature and the environment are all important lessons for children. It is becoming increasingly hard in this world to provide kids with real experience working with nature. They don't understand where their food comes from, or the process that is involved. I am no expert either, but these small steps will build the foundation for appreciating living and growing things for all of us. Ameera has begun to develop a sense of ownership in her garden now that she has been working on it for sometime, and now requests on her own to go out and plant or do other garden activities, which for me is the icing on the cake. At first she would get distracted easily, and was reluctant to get her hands dirty, but after a while, her attention grew more and more, and I bought her some gardening gloves and tools to work so she feel better about getting dirty. She now has no problem working with her bare hands in the garden. For other interesting, creative and fun activities to do with your kids outside you can check out this website: I really loved the ideas here and thought they were very original.

Over the past few years, I began to feel bothered by the fact that kids in general these days spend a lot of time indoors. School hours are becoming longer and longer with little to no time for outdoor play or recess. Field trips are not what they used to be anymore and homework for the little ones is becoming more than they and parents can handle. It was a bit disheartening; as I have always felt that kids really need to be outdoors more than anything else in order to aid in their developmental growth. There is just something magical about being in the fresh open air, and watching your kids and how they interact with nature. I have made it a point to make sure my kids go out every single day, at least to the garden for a period of time if I can't physically take them out somewhere.
The end result of our work is displayed here; it's not much, but it is something to call her own and she is proud of it. I feel as the process of my homeschooling continues that I am becoming more inclined to to incorporate outdoor activities , particularly ones that involve being in and working directly with nature. I guess we will see where this interest takes us. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mud Pie

Back when I was living in NJ, one of my daughters favorite pastimes was a hole that she had dug in the ground in the middle of our yard. She would ask, "Mama, can I make mud?" I happily agreed and would turn on the hose for her and let her fill a watering can that she could use to mix the water and dirt. She would spend countless hours mixing, digging, unearthing worms and bugs and just having fun. Whenever her cousins came over she would show them the secrets of making mud, "Look you just mix dirt and water!" Soon everyone would be a wet, muddy mess, and while the other parents squirmed, I would be ecstatic.

Now that we have become situated in Luxembourg and have a new garden to work with the first request of my daughter among others was, "Can we please make a place for mud so our garden can be fun?" I had never before thought of actually designating a space for mud play, but her request intrigued me. I did alittle research before hand to see what other moms have done in their gardens and to see what these "spaces" might look like. I found they were fairly simple and wonderfully entertaining. And so, together we created a space for mud play.

Yes, this is picture of my son actually eating mud. I resisted the temptation to run and wash his mouth out and just let him get a taste and see what he did, unfortunately he just kept eating it ;) but on the plus side I found that there are many health benefits of playing with and in the mud and dirt. You can check out this link to read about the 5 health benefits of getting dirty.

In our mud area I keep various objects such as shovels, pails, flower pots, magnifying glass, creature peeper, trucks, watering can, watering table and pots and pans that I had stored in my garage that were not being used. Ameera used one such pan to create a bug home. She filled it with soil and would place her bug findings and earth worms inside to examine and watch. I also keep a large plastic basket to store all these items and a wooden shelf I use as a table top by placing on top of the basket so the kids can work on.
The kids play in the garden in rain or shine so rain boots and jackets are always made to good use. Backyards and gardens however small can be full of wonder and adventure for small children and are great for imaginative and creative play. Not to mention the wonderful conversations that arise from being outside. We have talked about weather, seasons, plants, insects, animals, gardening and about thankfulness and compassion for Allah's creation and how He alone creates everything in this world. For myself, I have found it to be very therapeutic and calming to be working on the garden, but I do not always go outside with them. I often leave them to play alone and find that they do much more interesting things when I am not present.