Monday, January 26, 2015

Parenting: Answering a Reader's Question

"How do you and your family memorize specific ayat or hadith, then encourage each other to implement it? Also how do you handle those in household who refuse to implement the guidance or make excuses about them not wanting to change their character to be more like the believer? I don't want to be a dictator, but I want improvement in our characters so we can be of those who Allah loves."

Before I answer the first and second parts of the question, I must address the last sentence. Allah has put us in authority over our children, over our families, those in our care or guardianship. Allah has told us to save ourselves and our families from the fire (Surah at Tahreem). Allah has put obedience to and good treatment of parents right up there in the same sentence as tawheed! It is second only to tawheed, if looked at from that perspective. In fact, in being teamed with tawheed in the Qur'aan, the two become contingent on each other, with tawheed not being perfected without obedience to parents and vice versa. Subhaan Allah, it is the first subject to be covered in Adab ul Mufrad - the book of Manners by Imam Al Bukhaaree, raheemahUllah! So, my husband and I ARE dictators in our household. We are in authority over our children and we are responsible for their tarbiyyah - upbringing, education, practice, and correction. Even when they are teenagers or young adults, we continue to be responsible. We will answer to Allah for it, and we will do our best to enforce it.

As for memorizing ayaat and hadith and then encouraging each other to implement them, I remind and make connections ad nauseum. I mean, I feel like I should make recordings of my reminders, I have to say them so often. However, every time I remind, I have enjoined the good - improved my emaan and every time I forbid a wrong, I have fulfilled my duty to my fellow Muslim as per Allah and His Messenger's command. I have no qualms whatsoever about continuing on my path, even though I might be construed as Mean and Monstrous Mama Mai!  I have written about the reminders from the Qur'aan in Theme Ayah and Ayah of the Moment. Also about reminding and guiding in The Bad Guy-ette. When it comes to teaching them, I also involve them in lessons and their application to bring about a greater understanding and appreciation of my role as a parent, which you can read about in Parenting Audit. Also about setting examples in How our Children help our Islam and also in If you can't make it, Fake it.

For those difficult cases, we are straight talkers. There is no vague suggestion or warning look, but simply clear statements that their behavior is displeasing to Allah and therefore unacceptable to us. Over the years, I've learned various things about discipline, one of which was This Epiphany. When those behaviors are persisted upon, and as we have other children who are influenced by such behavior, they are at times put under a gag order, not permitted to speak to their siblings until an improvement is seen. We have even exiled older children to their rooms for periods of up to one month as part of their rectification program.I wrote about our discipline system on Parenting without Punishment. In Islamic terms, such punishments are called at-ta'zeer, which is to discipline by beating, scolding, shunning, or expelling and is considered obligatory for every sin for which Islamic Legislation has not stipulated a Hadd or an expiation. It is done to educate, refine, and discipline.

And, lastly, remember that our first port of call should be The Parenting Help Hotline.
Dua' is the most powerful ally of the believer and the dua' of a parent for their children is one of the most powerful. I recommend My Mothering Dua' and some Golden Rules for Mothers.

Mothering is such a big issue that I wrote a poem about it, LOL!

A mother's tears are never for transitory things; they are not worth misery or heartache.
A mother's tears are for the souls she bears the responsibility of raising for Allah's Pleasure.
A mother's tears have names written on them.
That is what makes her a mother.
That is why Jennah lies at her feet.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Got land, but no house?

Many people dream of having land, but don't think as far as where they will actually live if the land doesn't come with a house. Others look for land with a house, but it is usually very expensive. The beauty of having undeveloped land, is that you have a clean slate to do whatever you want with. You can design your home, it's materials, orientation, features, as well as its surroundings.

Our 51 acres of land cost $19,000 maashaa Allah. It is all grassland, for over 30 years simply being used for grazing cattle. That means that we need something to live in while developing it and building our permanent cob homes, inshaa Allah.  We looked at all the options for temporary accommodation, including building tiny houses, converting shipping containers, and barns but found that they all worked out to $10,000 each minimum. We realized that travel trailers (caravans) are the least expensive and most practical form of year-round, temporary accommodation for a family while building their permanent home.

We bought a 28 foot travel trailer for $1,800.00 our first summer at Healing Earth, and it served us well. However, knowing that we will need to live in it year round while we work and build, we just bought a newer one. It cost $2,800 and everything works in it, so we can be comfortable inshaa Allah.

We plan to buy another with 4 bunk beds and a master bedroom, inshaa Allah. To protect them from the elements and prevent any issues with roof damage or leaking, we plan to put them underneath carports. In this way, they can be used as guest, student, teacher, Woofer, or Poosher accommodation long after we have built our home, inshaa Allah.

When we look at the huge amounts of money people are spending on tiny houses, most of which are not particularly natural or non-toxic, we can't help but think that they could have a travel trailer for a fraction of the cost with all the facilities and still live small. Even the ones with slide-outs can easily be found for under $5,000.00 maashaa Allah. While it is mobile and can be moved wherever needed, it doesn't need any planning permission, unlike a fixed structure. In addition, anytime we want to go on vacation or take a trip, we can literally take the whole house with us, eliminating hotel expenses and eating out. Not "Trailer Trash," but rather, "Trailer Treasure!"Al hamdul'Illah, it works for us!

Friday, January 16, 2015

What we're reading in January 2015

In avoiding fiction books for our children, we struggled when it came to phonics books, early readers, and simple chapter books. However, Allah opens every door for the believer in good, and we found these over the summer, maashaa Allah.

This Floppy Phonics Fact Collection is both interesting and educational. There is a parents book along with the set and each book has two parts, including projects and fun activities.Floppy Phonics Fact Collection - 13 Books - Collection - 9780198332503

Wonderwise Collection - 20 Books - Collection - 9780749682637

In addition, we bought the Wonderwise Collection of 20 books, another non-fiction set that is geared for 5+ years, but maashaa Allah, our 2 year-old carries the books around from both sets and looks through them himself, identifying things and commenting when he isn't being read to.

We have recently found that Oxford Reading Tree does a Treetops Non-Fiction series of graded readers for higher levels up to stage 15 or above, which will inshaa Allah, give us a much wider range of books for advanced reading.

Once children are well established readers, there are many lovely books to be found that are non-fiction or based on true stories. One set we are looking at is this:

True Animal Stories Collection - 3 Books - Collection - 9780748136292 - Various

Hopefully, this will help others who want to raise avid readers with entertaining books that are the truth! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Blessings, My Voice

"My Blessings" poster by our 11-year-old daughter (maashaa Allah)

It is easy to turn a lesson into an assessment and child-centered form of expression. For example, when covering our adab with Allah, the children were given free reign to do a poster on their blessings. This was fun for them, maashaa Allah, but also was an excellent way to gauge their thinking and development. Each year they will be given a similar assignment, perhaps expressed in a different form, inshaa Allah. In this way, we can see how their understanding develops and deepens with education, age, and exposure bi idhn Illah.

My Blessings poster by our 8 year old daughter, maashaa Allah.

We have also done infographic-style posters to remind about different aspects of etiquette and manners, al hamdu'Illah. It isn't about the children just repeating what they heard in the lesson; it's about them internalizing it and making it their own. How do they understand the manners for sitting in class? What strategies do they think might work to include the Qur'aan more in their lives?

Another way of encouraging many beautiful and positive forms of expression, is through a blog. We set up a blog, originally for the girls in a monthly book club we hosted, that has now become our children's. They include a variety of things on the blog, and it is a wonderful way to encourage them to write. Although still in it's infancy, you can view their blog here: Little Women on the Prairie

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Small but Lofty: Additions to our homeschooling schedule.

Our homeschooling curriculum is always evolving to improve and provide the framework and content for excellence in Islaam. We are developing it, not only for our own children, but as a prototype for other families.We seek Allah's Guidance and Aid for success in this - ameen!

We have added ten precious minutes to our daily schedule: 5 minutes for Salat ad-Dhuha before classes start in the morning followed by another 5 minutes for a daily ta'aboor (assembly) in which one of the students does a 5 minute presentation of an ayah or hadith of their choosing, telling why they chose it and it's significance to them. It is done on a rotation basis so everyone gets a chance to present regularly. This builds up their confidence in speaking, communicating ideas, and encourages them to identify the personal connections they make. They also have the added reward of sharing/teaching good - something huge in itself maashaa Allah!