Oct 242014

Some things that matter, and some support not normally given  - www.MiddleWayMom.com

I’m always excited to work on projects with the fabulous bloggers of iHomeschool Network, and working together to compile The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas is no different. I’ve learned so much from these ladies, and I was happy to contribute pieces that I felt I had to offer. I’d love to share with you why I’m passionate about the chapters I wrote, and why I hope you’ll pick up the book. Each author is passionate about their topics, just like I am, and you can tell through their writing. First, let me introduce the book and the bundle sale happening right now!

Why you’ll love the bundle

From now until November 10th, you can get BOTH The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and all 23 MP3s from iHomeschool Studio for 50% off! The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas alone is worth the $15 with topics ranging from pregnancy to high school, curriculum to encouragement, and family time to mama time.

iHomeschool Studio really beefs up the deal with both fun, relevant, and heart warming topics. It’s great to listen to in the car, while you’re cooking dinner, or at the end of the day when you want to rest your eyes.

We’re even giving away a bundle! No worries, if you purchase it now, you’ll be refunded right away when you win. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Bundle Sale! Big Book of Homeschool Ideas AND iHomeschool Studio mp3s!

Getting Started with Credit-by-exam

Our family has spent time focusing on credit by exam through CLEP, DSST, and AP exams, and I wanted to share some tips on getting started. I wanted people to see that it’s not just for the elite, Harvard-bound students, but our everyday, driven students can achieve lofty goals with a carefully set out plan. Credit by exam has been a way to drive Kira to higher goals, and to in sha Allah (God willing) save our pocketbook when college time comes around. I feel passionate about helping our children get through college without crippling debt, and paying for four kids to get through college at sticker price just isn’t in the works.

Where to Buy and Sell Used Curriculum

I spent seven years as a single mom, but even more than that as a broke mom. Starting out as a mother in high school, and getting laid off shortly after getting married made for some trying financial times in my past. While we are not affluent at this point, alhamdulilah (Praise God) we are comfortable. I no longer have to worry about how I’m going to buy groceries, or pay the electric bill, but the idea that I need to be careful how I use each dollar is engrained in me. Paying full price for curriculum is something I only do when absolutely necessary. I know that new homeschooling families tend to spend more than they need to, getting expensive curriculum, stocking up on items they think they’ll need, and simply being unaware of how to shop around to find the best deal. In sha Allah (God willing), this chapter on buying and selling used curriculum helps ease the financial strain of homeschooling for families and stretches those dollars for other uses.

Transitioning to a Virtual School from Public School

I’ve talked about the pros and cons of a virtual school, and why in the end I recommend a virtual school to most, but not all, new homeschooling families. A virtual school is kind of like taking your entire public school home with you, and there are some aspects that must be prepared. Even just transitioning to being together all day takes time and effort. There were many ups and downs for Kira and me her first year in virtual school as we were both figuring out our roles, and honestly, I was getting used to being around a 10 year old all day. I know there’s some pressure in the homeschooling community to bypass a virtual school entirely, but I wanted to offer some support to those that are taking this step as it seems there isn’t much out there in the blogging sphere.

It’s been such a pleasure to work together with so many passionate homeschool bloggers. I hope you’ll hop over to visit some of the other authors, and read why they are passionate about the chapters they wrote as well.

Join the author blog hop!

Yesterday, Carisa shared why she wrote about Homeschooling Tots, and she is giving away her Animal ABCs Bundle.

Tomorrow, join Marianne as she talks about why she wrote the chapters Homeschooling Teen Girls, The Power of Interest-led Learning, and Raising Kids With Vision. Marianne will be giving away a DVD/study guide bundle of Intrepid: The Zac Sunderland Story – Part 1, Part 2 and Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story.

Of course, don’t miss out on all the other authors! There are giveaways happening throughout the month, so you’ll want to make sure to hop along with everyone.

I love the bundle sale, but if you’re only interested in the book, use the coupon code homeschool to get $2 off your purchase. Remember, this is only good until November 10th!

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas - with promo code!


The giveaway

iHomeschool Network is giving away 10 bundles! Want to lock in the bundle price? Purchase now and you will be refunded right away if you win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 222014

We didn't always homeschool, so why did we start? Read here why we made the switch! - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Why do we homeschool? Such a simple question, but it’s such a hard answer to narrow down for the simple, curious passer-by. My two-minute answer has evolved to something like this:

The public school wasn’t challenging her enough, and we wanted to alleviate the social pressures that full-time school created.

If you are a convert to your religion, like I am, answering why you homeschool feels similar to answering why I chose Islam. There’s so much back story, so much history, that unless we really sit down to have coffee and chat about it, I feel like I’m giving you only one slice of the pie. But, if you’re the person ringing us up at the grocery store, then you’re likely not going to go out for coffee with me.

Why we homeschool: the extended version

Homeschooling never crossed my mind until I learned that a few coworkers homeschooled their kids, and until I learned that a well-mannered, intelligent coworker was homeschooled (hehe, and he became my husband later on!). In truth, I never, ever considered being a stay at home mom either. I just always pictured myself as a woman in the corporate world, but then I got laid off, and we decided to take another turn. All those details are a tangent we can save for another day, over a latte, of course.

I was relatively satisfied with how the school was doing while Kira was in kindergarten and first grade. Also, I was very happy with her teachers through all of Kira’s years in public school (through third grade). Where I started to become dissatisfied was when I started seeing Kira slip toward the center of the standardized tests after she started her school career at the very top. Each year she moved about 10 percentage points closer to the center, and her teachers all the while raved about what a great student she was, and what a pleasure she was to teach.

What dawned on me is that she wasn’t being challenged to her potential, and instead she was learning that she could give 50% effort and still get stellar grades. In all honesty, I still struggle with the after effects of being able to pass exams with little to no prep work, and I notice that we are still battling it a bit with Kira as well. Don’t get me wrong, Kira, nor any of my kids, need to be at the 99th percentile in standardized testing to make me happy. If 100% effort means they are below grade average, alhamdulilah, I’m celebrating they are giving 100%.

I’m not okay with school being an experience of just showing up and getting praise. I want there to be exploration and stretching of the mind.

Secondly is the social pressure from the kids around her. In Kira’s younger years, she strived to make everyone happy, all the time. With a split home, this meant she had to adopt a split personality. This also translated to friends at school, and never being able to walk away from unhealthy friendships. We spent the first couple years of homeschooling working on how to respectfully decline friendships, and even how to respectfully disagree with her own parents (myself included). We drilled time and time again that we would rather be unhappy with the truth than fooled by a lie.

Without homeschooling, we simply did not have the time to dedicate to working on building a strong character. In a split home, she needs that strength.

I normally leave our religious reasons for last in regards to Kira for two reasons:

  1. In her split home, my religious choice is not matched with her biological dad’s. Homeschooling for religious reasons wouldn’t have been an acceptable reason to start.
  2. Many people assume a religious motivation for homeschooling, so much so that they may overlook the educational and social reasons. I like to start with the unexpected so I avoid people tuning me out when I mention the secular reasons.

Without a doubt, because we homeschool, I definitely feel we have more of a fighting chance for Kira to live her teen and young adult years with high moral standards and with Islam as an influence, even if it’s not something she openly practices on a day to day basis. Peer pressure is a strong thing, and being surrounded by your peers for the majority of your week makes it hard to walk a different road. Given Kira’s father chooses a more pop-culture, secular lifestyle, I have little reason to believe she’d choose the “restrictive” path from my influence – someone she would see a fraction of her week.

Of course, there’s the bonuses of having a strong relationship with my 14 year old daughter (how many people can say that?), and she has a strong relationship with her 3 and 1 year old sisters. This family bond is hard to come by if I’m splitting the week with her dad, plus she’s gone at school all day.

Why do you homeschool? Do you find it easy to answer to the casual passer-by?

Oct 172014

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

You might remember when I reviewed Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah and how impressed I was with their debut book. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to review their second book, Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival, I think I’m a fan for life. They’ve done it again, with crisp, interesting images, a fun story line, and tidbits of knowledge sprinkled throughout in unexpected places, and this time centering Eid for kids.

The Ilyas and Duck books aren’t just two books with the same main characters. There are definitely themes in both books in regards to the style and flow through the story, keeping it engaging and amusing. My favorite, especially during this American holiday season? Duck mistakenly brings Christmas and Hanukkah presents to decorate for Eid, but his best friend Ilyas corrects him, simply saying, “That’s for our Christian/Jewish friends.” With Aamina coming up to 4 years old, she’s more observant than ever, and there’s no way to avoid all the Christmas decorations surrounding us. Alhamdulilah, it’s a real treat to have a book that addresses it so beautifully for young readers.

I wondered if this book would sit on our shelf, unused for most of the year and just dust it off for Ramadan and Eid, but with simple explanations for kids who see these celebrations happening around them, I know this book won’t be collecting dust.

Eid for kids

I also appreciate that Ilyas and Duck focus on Eid as its own celebration rather than a break from a month of fasting. We want kids to appreciate Ramadan, and to enjoy Eid in its own right, rather than a celebration from a dreaded experience, in sha Allah. The celebration is about family and friends, which Ilyas and Duck learn at the masjid – the perfect place for little Muslims! Now, I only wish I could take a hot air balloon there. That would solve the Eid salat parking dilemma!

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Beyond just celebrating, Ilyas and Duck make sure to join in Eid salat (perfect time to talk about proper manners while the adults are praying!), and give their zakat. Again, great starting points to talk about the pillars of Islam, and the importance of them to join us in our local and worldwide community.

And what’s more? Ilyas and Duck give in charity with their hands, mashaAllah.

Ilyas and Duck are back at it again, making Eid for kids a fun and educational experience! Learn why I'm a fan for life after reading the second book of this dynamic duo. - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Every book I have read before Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival has been a non-fiction book, missing a story to keep little readers engaged, and thus missing the message of Ramadan and Eid. While the previous books have gotten the job done to introduce Eid to kids, Ilyas and Duck presents Eid in a story young Muslims want to read again and again. What better way to get our kids excited for Eid, even when they are surrounded by the lights and hustle of the Christmas season?

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