Grammar book review

Grammar. Love it or hate it, we know we have to learn it!

   To be honest, I really don't remember anything about grammar from my own school days. I guess that says it all!

However, I have always considered my grammar skills are not too bad....a little rough around the edges maybe, but I don't think I am that I? (don't answer that!) After all, I can formulate simple sentences that you can understand...right! (I am becoming increasingly nervous as I continue to write this post!)

I have to admit, since really looking at grammar for my children, I know my grammar knowledge is shockingly bad....but that's nothing that can not be fixed inshaAllah with a do-it-yourself crash course a.k.a.....internet research and a couple of handy books!

To help me in my grammar quest, I've recently purchased a few books to assist, so I thought I'd write a quick review of how useful I'm finding them.

The first one is the Oxford Primary Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Dictionary. I've linked it to Amazon where you can see preview sample pages.
It has been designed to help support children aged 7-11 so I guess that is key-stage 2 (if you are interested in curriculum).
I actually quite like this one. Its simple and gives you a very broad overview of the important grammar essentials. Its easy for children to pick up and great for you as an education facilitator if you don't know much about grammar yourself. It serves great use as a basic introduction.
The pages are well laid out with clear basic explanations and simple examples. I like it, and it will defiantly come in useful for us inshaAllah.

The second one is The Usborne guide to English Punctuation. The content of this one is well written and the examples are well thought, clear and simple. The only thing I feel is there is a little too much going on, on each page. But all in all, a useful book.
There is more information in this book than the Oxford Primary, and although I can't find what age /stage it has been designed for, I'd say its probably for secondary stage. Although that is not to say primary age children would not benefit....they will! (and so will clueless grown ups like me!).

The last one, is Help your kids with Spelling and grammar. I couldn't find it on Amazon so just linked to the book people where I purchased it from for only £3.99.
This, is an excellent 251 page book...especially for us grammar-phobic grown ups! It goes through literally every part of grammar with full, clear explanations and examples.
 As the title explains "help your kids...."  it is designed for parents in mind.
 However its carefully planned pages are visually stimulating and easy on the eye, making it great for older children to pick up and work through.
 I have to say, its easily a self-study guide for both parents and children alike.

It is well laid out, visually stimulating, easy to read and goes into quite some detail to give you enough of a solid understanding of each rule / concept, making it ideal for older children....and bored grown ups!

If you want only one good book, then this one out of the three here, is far superior.

I'd say this is a really useful book to have on the shelf, and at the discount price, its excellent value Alhamdulillah.

Since purchasing these books, my grammar-phobia has somewhat subsided Alhamdulillah, and I actually believe this is something that once you have mastered the rules, then you have mastered the rules! Its something which can be easily learnt when the children are older in a much shorter time than what I feel I am facing if I continue to try to teach my now 7 year old.
So, although we have these books on our shelf, they are there to be picked up and glanced through casually, leaving a further in depth study a few years down the road, when it can be learnt over a much shorter time-frame with a greater degree of understanding inshaAllah.

So, on that final note, let's go eat, kids.

Have you heard of a "Home School Co-op"?

We have all heard that saying "I home school because I have seen the village and don't want it raising my children" ...its all over pinterest right!

Well, what if that "village" shares the same values, morals and interests as you? What if that village holds strong the same Islamic goals and lifestyle choices as you? What if that village enlisted the same educational philosophy as you?

Would that village be so bad? Really?

Okay, you are probably never going to find that village....and lets be honest, even if it did exist, it would probably be pretty dull anyway! I mean come-on....everyone thinking exactly the same, with the same ideas, same likes, same dislikes...what would be the point!

For every family who home schools, there are just as many reasons as to why they do it. Everyone is different....every family is different.
A lot can be said for having seen the village and not wanting it to raise our children.....society can and does have a deep effect on individuals and families. And when you don't live in the best of societies, you certainly don't want that village anywhere near your children or your family!

But its not all doom and gloom! Alhamdulillah most of us have developed our own little mini societies locally and most of us are part of our local Muslim community. And where ever you find a cluster of home schooling families (whether that cluster is 2 or 200!) then you find families rallying together. And it is often this shared identity of being a Muslim home schooler which creates small friendly home schooling tribes, within our local wider communities!

Even if you are a sole-home educator with no other family in sight, the global community is just a click away. And while online communities may not offer the same benefits as local face to face companionship can, the world wide web offers support, help, advice and yes, even friendship to your little home educating family!

So what has all this got to do with Home School Co-ops? Well, its like creating your own little village....we all know the other saying that goes something like "it takes a village to raise a child" (......maybe that's not so popular on pinterest!?)

Let me explain......home school co-ops are something I have stumbled across online, and looking into it, I think they are something quite awesome!

A home schooling co-op basically, is a group of home educating families who pull together to "teach" their children! (think about that village raising the child!)

Basically, families will draw on all their different skills, interests and passions, and use those to effectively "teach" the community children! So for example, one parent may dream nothing but she will set up something mathematical. Someone else may have a passion for crafting jewellery so sets up a workshop to pass on those skills. Some one else may have a degree in medicine so puts together some first aid or science classes! Perhaps one family has spent 8 years studying in Yemen so they are perfect to teach an Arabic you see where this is going!!!
.....Families share and pass on their don't know how to put together an engine, but Abu Talha does, so he starts up a mechanics workshop and stops your car crazy son from pestering you to help him fix something up!

Some co-ops may be quite small, some off the scale! Some may work by parents teaching lessons, workshops or projects in areas of interest or strength. Others may pool together to hire tutors!

Each co-op will be individual to the needs and wants of the families involved with it. Some co-ops may run a couple of times a week, sharing out volunteer teaching time to each of the parents different talents and skills, whereas others may just run once or twice a month, offering something a little more casual and fun.

I don't know a great deal about this, so I'd recommend taking a look online and seeing what sort of things existing co-ops get up to and how they have started.

But from what I understand, Co-ops seem to be great way for families to meet, get support and fundamentally, give opportunity to share valuable teaching skills and present to your children projects or subject areas you know little about....(or  bores you to tears!!!)
 Its a great way to get the children working together socially, on projects they wouldn't ordinarily be able to do at home with you.

 You get to create your own little village and make it work for you.....perhaps not the perfect one, but a valuable none the less!

My Wudu Reminder Poster

When I started teaching my eldest how to perform wudu, I found that although she knew what to do, she lacked confidence to know she was getting it right.
So I designed a fairly basic wudu reminder poster that we stuck up in the bathroom, serving as a gentle prompt if she started to worry she had the sequence wrong or had a mind-blank moment as to what comes next!
This saved me time... because it meant that I didn't have to stand over her every single time she needed to perform wudu. And it also helped to give her the confidence that she could complete it independently alhamdulillah.
I still check over her from time to time, to ensure she isn't skipping or skimping over sections, but alhamdulillah, I feel for us, having a reminder has certainly helped!
Based on our success, I have redesigned a more generic poster (our original was very basic) and is now available to download!
I recommend laminating the poster to keep it dry and clean in the bathroom! Ours has been stuck on the bathroom wall for several months and still looks as fresh as when we first put it up!
Get your free download HERE!
Please note: This poster does not explain the finer details of wudu, such as the method to rinse the mouth and nose, or how to separate the toes when washing etc. Rather, it has been designed to act as general guide or reminder, assuming that parents / teachers have already discussed and explained these important details
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