Answering Your Questions

I love talking with you. Going live is one of my favorite things about what social media platforms have to offer. Your questions are also brilliant! While some of the content related to your questions may have been addressed in various videos, overall I find it helpful to answer your questions this way because sometimes, what you are looking for is lost within a video about a unit study, or review video. So it’s with great pleasure I am making this series for you. In September of 2020, I shared via Instagram that I would be going live to answer your questions. I offered a question box in my Instagram stories and you came through!! I started answering your questions during the live but I didn’t get through them all. Then I hosted another live, and still couldn’t get through them. So now, I’m sharing the answers to your questions in individual videos so you can quickly access what you need. This is possible because of your questions! Keep them coming by adding your question in the comment section. And for now, enjoy these videos.


Live Q & A from Instagram

This is my Live Q & A from Instagram. I answer your questions, well some them. There were many questions, and I didn’t get to all of them, or half of them. But it was so lovely catching up with you and sharing my thoughts with you after a week of Day in the Life content on Instagram. For our first week of school, I showed in detail (in my Instagram stories) how our day goes while homeschooling. One day wasn’t enough, so I showed a whole week. And truthfully, it takes longer than that to really show the ebb and flow of our work and life. At the end of the week, I held a live Q & A on Instagram to answer the many questions that came in during the week. Even after an hour of answering questions I still have a lot more to get through.I plan to do this again, so join me on Instagram for more info. In this Q & A, I start off talking about low energy and a podcast I listened to (shared to me by my sister in law) on the Infradian Rhythm. The podcast is superb! I highly recommend it. It’s called Broken Brain with Dhru Purohit and it’s episode #94 Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage by Harnessing the Power of Your Infradian Rhythm with Alisa Vitti.


Live Q & A from Instagram

I’m answering your questions live! There were so many, but don’t worry, I’ll get to all of them over time through more videos and lives. Be sure to find me on Instagram if you want to see these live and also, add your question to the comment section, so I can answer it in an upcoming video!


Adapting the Waldorf Philosophy for the Muslim Homeschool | Live Instagram

Are you curious how Waldorf education connects to other educational philosophies? Are you curious to see how it can be adapted to suit the Muslim family? Today’s Live Instagram with Noor from Leaders Amongst Mothers (on IG as @SimplifyHomeschool) is a candid conversation about the Islamic view of raising a Muslim, the Waldorf educational method, and Anthroposophy. Please remember that both Noor and I are not scholars, and we ask you to forgive us for anything we said that contradicts Islamic teachings. Also remember that there are various schools of thought on topics. One thing I said that I want to point out that I forgot to provide context for was the breastfeeding comment. I meant to say that the financial support that is obligated for the father to pay the mother is in reference to a divorced couple, not a married one. If a couple are divorced and the mother is nursing a child, the father is obligated to pay for that specific support up to two years (he is obligated to support his children far longer, please refer to a scholar for specifics), the absolute limit on nursing is when the baby teeth have fallen out and the age of awareness is upon the child. This age is about 7 years. Also bear in mind that while we do not take events or behaviors that happened to the Prophet (saw) before prophethood as evidence for Islamic conduct, remember that the Prophet (saw) was protected from any haram all his life, so if he was breastfed for 3-5 years, we must consider that he would not have engaged in haram if indeed nursing must stop at 2 years of age.


How Do You Lesson Plan?

Welcome to this Question and Answer series! These first series of videos are based on the questions you’ve asked on Instagram. If you want to participate, you may leave your question in the comment section below. Today’s video touched upon lesson planning and how I’m planning these days. It’s not the best system for us for the time being, but it is quick. One pro is that it’s like a checklist independent of clock or calendar. The con is that we are not held as accountable to the schedule. We don’t get as much work accomplished and we are more flexible, which can be a very good thing indeed! But for me, there is a harmony between structure and flexibility and I know when I’m being too much of one or the other. If you are needing more flexibility, this system might work well for you. All you need is a composition book and you are ready to go! Likewise, if you are doing a lot more workbooks or a boxed curriculum, I would recommend using Homeschool Panda. I love the autofill option for lesson planning. It’s brilliant! Here are the vendors I mentioned in this video: Rainbow Resource, Acorn Naturalist, Nature Watch, and Educational Innovation. Links to the vendors on the blog post that accompanies this video.


Waking Children up for Fajr

Today we are talking about waking children up, for Fajr or any other time. I’m of the opinion that you let children sleep. If there is a need to wake them up, I’m also of the opinion to do it gentle, like raising a curtain, turning on a soft light, speaking gently to them or another way that works for you (maybe turning off the fan or opening the window, etc.). What we can do as parents is mind or at least help with a bedtime. Now that I’m speaking to you as a parent of a 9, 14, 18 and 22 year old, bedtimes are vastly different than when they were little children when they nursed to sleep or slept early. Now that they are mostly adults, they go to sleep much later and they are fully responsible for their wake up times. When it comes to Ramadan, my method of waking them up was to come to their room, turn on a light and say it’s time to wake up, or good morning, or Asalamu Alaykum. Then I would leave. I wouldn’t wait until they were up, I would however wait until they stirred. Then I would leave. It was always my responsibility to wake them (for Suhoor or my husband’s), but never my responsibility to get them up. It was always on them to get up and get out of bed. And knowing I wasn’t going to hover over them, probably meant they were going to get up then and there rather than fall back asleep. Plus with the light on, that helped them awaken. Granted, if they didn’t come downstairs after several minutes, someone would check on them 😉


How Do You Teach Math?

It’s my opinion that the best math teachers are the ones who didn’t do well in math in school. When we struggled to learn a particular subject, I feel we are better at teaching it because we know how hard it can be to grasp a concept. We tend to be slower, more compassionate and more creative in our teaching. I’m not such a math teacher! I am impatient and don’t know why it isn’t obvious. Aside from my shortcomings, I am creative and flexible, so utilizing manipulatives, games and pictures books is something I do well. In this video, I share the math chart that I have on the chalkboard in the background and in my mental math curriculum for grades 3-5.


Do You Need Extra Book for Live Education Curriculum

Gosh I like books. They bring me such joy! I love picture books and well written non-fiction books to accompany our main lesson blocks. But do you need so many books for a boxed curriculum? The answer is no. You don’t need this many books for a boxed curriculum. What you may want is one or two resource materials and maybe a a book or two for assigned reading for a middle school aged student. But alas, that’s not what I do. I get over excited about books and end up adding more and more to our main lesson blocks and ultimately to our home library.


How Do You Motivate Children to do Schoolwork

Motivating children is tricky. Actually motivating anyone is tricky. I find that motivation is less about what someone else does to me and more about what I feel about my own tasks, projects and accomplishments. I need my work to feel meaningful, productive and worthwhile. It may be that some children feel the same way. In which case, busy work may not be the right kind of work for them. As homeschoolers, we can provide opportunities for meaningful work that may not always be an option in other school environments. Of course, before we can talk about motivation, let’s talk about two other things: first, are you motivated to do the work you just assigned? If not, why? Is there a way to find work that you would be motivated to do as well? Is the task of building habits what’s needed? And secondly, is your child hungry, tired or unwell? If so, motivation will mean very little. Instead, meet the needs of your child before diving into the bigger school stuff. And lastly, notice if the unmotivation is acute or chronic. You’ll be needing a different approach depending on which it is.


Sick Days

Sick days are not easy whether it’s the parent or child going through them. Sometimes it’s just a cold and that doesn’t impact the day as much as the flu or maybe it’s something even more impactful. When I was in university, I was washing dishes one evening when I slipped my hand into a large tumbler with the sponge to clean it when the glass broke and my index finger (right at the knuckle) slipped into the cut glass and I sliced my finger pretty bad. I grabbed a dish towel and wrapped it around my hand but the blending didn’t stop. Two hours and 9 stitches later, I was back home and in the worst pain I had been in in all my life. I was wincing at the pain enough for the nurse at medical center to say, “you just wait until you have a baby.” Fortunately it was the start of the summer term and I only had two classes. The pain was so bad I couldn’t write and eventually I had to drop both classes. The point of this story is to say that even a small thing can have a big impact. You will know best how to adjust for a sick day, but overall, if you are staying on task on most days, it’s okay to take a sick day, even if no one is sick. Sometimes we need a rejuvenation day, so we can avoid running into the ground and having to take even more time off.


What Goes in a Main Lesson Book

Main lesson books are like blank notebooks. They are a place to deposit the day’s learning in the form of written or illustrated work. While in many cases, there are specific lessons which go into the main lesson book, there is also a lot of room for flexibility. Sometimes, we do our main lesson books with pastels, watercolors or color pencils. Sometimes I have a chalk drawing to accompany each lesson, and other times, my children create their own entries.

Main Lesson Books

The Waldorf curriculum we use doesn’t have a teaching manual and textbooks. There are no workbooks. We might not even see regular subjects as you’d expect in other traditional methods and the scope and sequence may be new to you. So what do you get when you order a Waldorf curriculum and what will your children do? I’m sharing our main lesson books for 5th grade. They are over a period of several years and with multiple children as well as my own ‘teacher’ main lesson book I make to use as an example for my children. I’m sharing with you the main lesson books for Botany, Geometry, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient India, The Ancient Culture of Persia and Ancient Greece.


Main Lesson book are the main notebooks used in Waldorf schools and Waldorf homeschools. They are typically 8″x10″ with lined and blank pages for students in 5th grade and up and blank notebooks 9″x12″ (and larger) for students in 1st-3rd grade. While I bought many of mine from http://www.waldorfsupplies.com You can make your own, too. I’ll show you how to make some simple ones at the end of the video by cutting drawing paper and construction paper down to size at your local office supply store and having them bind it with a coil or comb.


Homeschooling on a Limited Budget & Educational Funding

There are two resources at your disposal: Time or money. When we first started homeschooling, we had very little money, so many things we did were heavily budgeted. I bought things from eBay, or second hand or saved for a few choice items. We used our library extensively and I kept my eyes open for homeschool materials at discounted shops. After a few years of homeschooling independently, we joined a charter school. This charter school provided funding for their families to buy educational material to use in a home setting, i.e. homeschool. This was a game changer! I loved buying books and supplies and curriculum, and spent several years building up our basic supplies. When we don’t have the budget to buy all the books and kits, you have to get creative. Sometimes that means using the library or buying second hand, sometimes it means taking the time to find free resources online. Other times, it means tapping into your local homeschooling community and setting up a trade. You can also pool your resource to buy curriculum that you may each use in turn.


How to Plan for the Homeschool Year

Planning is one of those elusive things because mostly what you see is the final process: The process of putting your final thoughts on paper and organizing when lessons are going to happen. When you plan for the school year using unit studies or another method which is more flexible than a boxed curriculum (and even with a boxed curriculum), you’ll find that a lot of planning is happening outside of the planner. That planning is happening in your head! It’s happening all the time and a lot of planning work happens before you even put pen to paper. Once I figure out the units I’m doing, then I can arrange them in the year. This is easy for me to do because I do my grammar and math in the fall, history in the winter and science in the spring. And because we are always a bit behind, whatever science we didn’t get through in the spring gets bumped to the summer/fall.


Pros and Cons of Hiring a Tutor

Sometimes we need help. Actually if we admit it, we probably need help much of time. When we homeschool, we are still caring for all of other responsibilities (usually), and so it makes sense that sometimes, we’re going to need to outsource things. Sometimes the things you outsource are meals in the form of take out, or housework in the form of a cleaning service, and sometimes they are lessons in the form of a tutor. While I haven’t used a tutor specifically to help with a subject area insofar as to supplement my teaching, I’ve outsourced lessons in the form of mentors, classes and co-ops. While it isn’t typical for us to outsource a lot of activities and lessons, it does occur several times a year. There is benefit and cost for such outsourcing while mostly I see benefits, there are some factors to consider: the time it takes you to drive to these activities, the cost (financially) and the type of lessons or methodology of teaching.


How to Keep Your Students Focused on Their Work | ADHD

It seems like staying focused it harder and harder these days even without the challenges of ADHD. While I am unable to speak about ADHD and other learning modalities and challenges, I know two women who can. Tanya from Project Happy Home and Michelle from A Common Life are both knowledgeable homeschoolers with years of parenting experience. I encourage you to check them out on Instagram and YouTube for videos on these specific parenting and homeschool challenges. Two tips I got from these women which I find helpful for all students are setting up good study habits and minimizing distractions.


Structure for a 5 year old

Because I’m a huge proponent of formal education and a play based early childhood, I’m mostly suggesting that instead of structure for a 5 year old, we look at what natural pillars exist during the day that we can take advantage of. For young children, there are usually meals and bedtime routines that stay fairly consistent. If you are struggling with those, let’s start there. Get your bedtime routine down first then begin to tackle the rest. When my children were young, it looked something like this: dinner, dishes, bath, stories and bed. By 8pm I was done! As they got older that changed of course. Next came a solid breakfast and morning routine. I left big portions of the day as open as possible to minimize my own stress. Most of our extracurricular activities were in the afternoon so that marked the end of our school day when the children were older.

Delayed Academics

Delayed academics isn’t a route every parent may want to take, but it may be one many children would like. How does delayed academics work and what are some of the pros and cons? I’ll touch on these and share a few personal experiences as well. At the heart of delayed academics is a trust that your child (and all children) can succeed and thrive. Sometimes we have to hold our breath and see it come together on our child’s own time schedule, other times we need to delay academics because of learning delays or other similar situations. I allow myself a long runway to educating my children, trusting that they will make to the ‘end’ knowing the foundations of education and hopefully attaining a love of learning and an ability to learn. I have two milestones: 6th grade and 9th grade. By the time they are ready for 7th grade I want my kids to know the basics in reading, writing and arithmetic.

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