2009 and Beyond – Part 3

In our home, a literature rich approach is adopted – we do research on quality modern and classical literature using the following resources:

As far as possible, we use whole books – unabridged – and discourage dumbed-down books or twaddle.

As our elder daughter is a strong auditory learner, read-aloud sessions became a mainstay in our family. Her younger sister also loves being read to and we intend to continue these sessions till our children reach the age of 13.

The many benefits of reading aloud can be evidenced in the following:

  • Reading aloud with the children is a bonding experience that fosters meaningful one-on-one communication. It also reinforces a feeling of self-worth in children – reminding them that they are important to us.
  • It builds listening skills, increases a child’s attention span, and develops the ability to concentrate at length of which all are learned skills.
  • Reading to our children provides the best opportunities for true teaching moments.
  • Reading aloud as a family allows us to guide our children’s minds, allowing them to learn, digest and comprehend ideas and concepts beyond their reading ability. For example, we had read challenging books such as “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Old Yeller” by Fred Gipson to our elder daughter when she was between the ages of 3 to 6. Reading to our children also allows us as parents to guide our children to think critically especially when issues presented may be controversial or contrary to our beliefs.

What we will use:

Language Arts – Early Learning


  • Growing With Grammar
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Jessie Wise, Sarah Park
  • Grammarland by M. L. Nesbit
  • Charlotte Mason’s Simply Grammar: An Illustrated Primer by Karen Andreola
  • Glencoe’s Grammar Practice Workbooks (Grades 6 to 12)



  • Natural Speller by Kathryn L. Stout
  • Glencoe’s Spelling Power Books (Grades 6 to 12)
  • Selections from living books for dictation


  • Our copywork book with poetry, quotations and selections from the Qur’an, Hadeeth and living books – will be made available for download soon in shaa Allah
  • Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Childrenwe are postponing this :) Mars is really not ready for cursive or italics!

In keeping with our literature-rich approach to homeschooling, we use living books to teach Math. In this, we combine traditional methods of learning Math with literature, exposure to real life settings, science and history. We hope that this will make Math come alive and give our children a deeper appreciation and love for Math.

This is our Math stash :):

Our daughters have always had a strong love and curiosity for living things, the world around her as well as discovering how things work. We encourage our daughters to appreciate nature and spend time outdoors as it is essential for our children to experience first hand and delight in and appreciate Allah’s creations and signs.

We will study Biology, Zoology, Botany, Astronomy, Physics and Chemistry. We will try to source for as many living books as we can. Penny Gardner’s Readable Science page is particularly useful.

Our proposed resources will include:

  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2 by Bernard J Nebel
  • Noeo Science
  • The Lab of Mr Q
  • MSNucleus
  • My Pals Are Here – a Singaporean series… it comes with a booster set that makes this rather dry set of books more palatable to Marz
  • IGCSE books on Physics, Chemistry and Biology
  • First Encyclopedia of Science (Usborne)
  • Mysteries & Marvels of Science (Usborne)
  • Mysteries of Nature & Science (Usborne)
  • Magic School Bus books and videos
  • First Encyclopedia of the Human Body (Usborne)
  • Big Book of the Human Body with 3-D Glasses (DK)
  • BBC Atlast of the Natural World – Western Hemisphere, Antarctica, Africa, Europe
  • Life on Earth (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • The Life of Mammals (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • The Private Life of Plants (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • The Life of Birds (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • Life in the Freezer (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • Life in the Undergrowth (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • Life in Cold Blood (David Attenborough, BBC)
  • Nature’s Great Events (BBC)
  • Lost Worlds Vanished Lives (David Attenborough, BBC)

* David Attenborough is an agnostic and believes in evolution. However, we feel that his documentaries prove that there IS in fact a Creator. Mars often remarks, “How can he NOT believe in God?” :)

  • Postcards from Pluto: A Tour of the Solar System Loreen Leedy
  • The Living Planet (David Attenborough, BBC)

As with all other subjects, we will encourage our daughter to narrate and notebook her studies in order to reinforce comprehension, retention and record keeping.


“The peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures…. The child gets his rudimentary notions of geography…in those long hours out of door…. He gets his first notions of a map from a rude sketch…or with a stick in the sand or gravel. …Let him be at home in any single region; let him see, with the mind’s eye, the people at their work and at their play, the flowers and fruits in their seasons, the beasts, each in its habitat; and let him see all sympathetically, that is, let him follow the adventures of a traveler; and he knows more, is better furnished with ideas, than if he had learnt all the names on all the maps. The “way” of this kind of teaching is very simple and obvious; read to him…bit by bit…any interesting, well-written book of travel. …Here as elsewhere, the question is, not how many things does he know, but how much does he know about each thing.)”
– Home Education, p. 272-275; Charlotte Mason Study Guide, p. 114-115

We began introducing our daughter to Geography by reading story books that presented people from various parts of the world. We also do unit studies on specific countries – for example, we studied Australia and delved into its history, legends and wildlife. To make our geography studies more interesting, we have joined various online international mailing lists in which we swap postcards, brochures and other items of interest with members in other countries. This provides an invaluable human connection.

Our proposed references/materials:

While History is not taught in detail or depth at primary level, we did not want to curb our daughter’s interest in the subject. We have not studied this in a strict chronological manner but have thus far chosen to allow our daughter to delve into the history of a person or period of interest. For example, we have studied World War II, the Irish Potato Famine, the Civil Rights Movement in the USA (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X), the Japanese Occupation in Singapore, Middle Ages and ancient Rome, among others. We supplement reading from text-books with living books.

We also intend to place a special emphasis on studying Singapore and Pakistani history over the next few years so that our children will appreciate their heritage.

Our references/materials:

We used the Singapore curriculum initially but since moving to Pakistan, have enrolled Mars in an Arabic institute. She has a personal tutor who coaches her 5 days a week. It is a gruelling course with quite a workload, but the upside is that she gets a tailor-made course as the principal monitors her progress. In August 2010, her course was been expanded to include Qur’anic studies and reading lessons. My husband reads Arabic storybooks, magazines and comics to Mars and her sister.

Initially her teacher did not use any textbooks – lessons were customised for her in the beginning and there was an emphasis on drills and vocabulary. Now she has begun using these books:

  • Al `Arabiyya Bayna Ya Daik (Books 1 to 4)
  • Al `Arabiyyatu-Lin-Nashi-een (Books 1 to 6)
  • Qasas an-Nabiyeen by Sheikh Hasan Ali an-Nadwi
  • Mu`alim al-Qur’an

* The following are books we had referred to prior to enrolling Mars in the institute. These may be useful for those of you who are proficient in Arabic and are able to teach your own kids the language.

We give our children free reign for creative endeavours. Among the activities they enjoy are:

  • Cross-stitch
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Hama beading
  • Cooking and baking
  • Clay work with Fimo/Sculpey
  • Drawing
  • Painting