Friday, April 16, 2010

tot school: Arabic words!

One thing that I've been - well, not *worried* about, but very aware of - for a while now is that Basbusa just doesn't see much Arabic writing in the world around her. We only have four books in Arabic (we have a few more stored away for later, but they're not really toddler-oriented), and a flimsy Egyptian kindergarten alphabet book. Basbusa sees Arabic when we're memorizing Quran together, but that's about it.

All those easy activities you can incorporate into daily life if you're teaching your child the English alphabet are just not available while we're living in the US: there are no Arabic street-signs, store names, advertisements on buses, labels on grocery shelves, etc. And particularly since Arabic script looks so different from the stand-alone Arabic letters which we've been learning, it seems all the more important that Basbusa would just have some general exposure to what writing "looks like."

So, when some friends gave us a whiteboard that their daughters had outgrown, but which is still too tall for Basbusa to use comfortably, I thought I'd use it to add a tiny bit of random Arabic script into our environment:

I change the words on it every so often, although "Allah" is usually up on top. (For non-Arabic-speakers, it currently says "Allah," "Mama" and "Baba," as well as Basbusa's real name, whited-out for the purposes of the blog :) My goal with this is definitely not to try to push her into reading! I'm in no rush at all about that. She's usually watching while I change the words, and I tell her what each one says, but that's it. We don't dwell on them or study them or really pay them any attention at all - they're just part of the environment. I'd just like her to have the opportunity to become aware that there's something called "writing" and that this, more or less, is what it tends to look like. It's an awareness that I'm sure she'd gain without any effort at all if we were working in English, just from seeing words all around her.

So imagine my surprise (and delight! and huge fountains of maternal pride and goofiness! and calls to the grandparents!) when it turned out that Basbusa had actually picked up on every single word I've ever written up there? The other day, she brought me her magnadoodle and said, "write something! write something!" She uses "write" for both writing and drawing, and what she almost always wants is a picture of a cat, but this time, just for the heck of it, I wrote her name. "Basbusa!", she cried, pointing to herself. What?!? Really?!? So I went through all the other words that have been up there, and she called out "Allah! Baba! Mama! Basbusa!" (couldn't resist throwing her name in again!), and even her best friend's nickname, "Raspberry!", which was only up there once, ages ago, for only a few days. She wasn't even stopping to think about them.

Of course she's not really reading; she has just memorized what those particular words look like, but you can just imagine how proud of her I was!


  1. Assalaamu Alaikum ukhti,

    I just came across your blog. And was reading this particular post on how your daughter knew the words. If you go through Glenn Doman's book on "How to teach your baby to read", you will find that the method you have used actually results in a 2 year old child reading anything and everything bi idhnillaah!. And according Glenn Doman this method is the best than teaching phonics, he may be wrong or may be correct Allaahu A'lam but the research he has made makes sense to me.

    My daughter is 2 and half years old now and masha Allaah can read about 5o words and can recognize words in print or writing any where masha Allaah. And now she chats with her Abi on yahoo typing on her own some of the words she knows masha Allaah.

    And I know ukhti the feeling of knowing that your daughter has done something, subhanallaah.

    I just thought of sharing this with you. May Allaah bless you and your bint. Happy journey Insha Allaah!

    Umm Maimoonah

  2. Jazaaki Allahu khayr! I hadn't heard of that book but I'll definitely go look for it at the library insha'Allah!

    Masha'Allah, your daughter sounds like a real little smartie :) Thanks so much for your comment!