Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ramadan Plans

Less than a month left until Ramadan, insha'Allah! So I've been thinking about what to plan for the kids. Iftar will be past their bedtime this year, so I think we won't make it to the masjid very often.  So we'll have to make it all the more celebratory at home, insha'Allah!

- Decorate the house! (Yay for millions of fairy-lights picked up in the post-Christmas sales!)
- Make lanterns. I'm thinking like these (because we certainly have plenty of artwork to upcycle!) or these (scroll down a bit to see them on that link).

During Ramadan:
- Explain what Ramadan is;
- Read our favorite Ramadan picture books*;
- Encourage sadaqa - make a special little jar for Basubsa, maybe?
- Make a good-deeds tree (like this one, maybe?)
- Names of Allah: I was thinking I might try to have a little "tea time" with them each day in the afternoon, where they'd get a drink in a fancy teacup, and a nice snack. I was thinking we'd have the 99 names of Allah in a box, let them take turns to choose one. We could chat about the meaning a bit over (their) tea, and then we could add each one to a pretty ribbon, to serve as a kind of Eid count-down calculator. Maybe they're a little young for discussions about the meanings of the names of Allah... Hmmm... I guess we could try it and see how it goes?

* Our favorite Ramadan picture books, in case you were wondering, in order of increasing age-appropriateness:

 Under the Ramadan Moon

 Ramadan Moon

 Moon Watchers

 A Party in Ramadan

Monday, June 10, 2013

Qur'an progress

I wanted to update on how Basbusa's Qur'an memorization is going, just so I can keep track of our progress. (I'm saying "we" because her learning Qur'an is definitely closely related to my learning how to teach it!)

Overall, I'm really happy with it, al7amdulillah! We're definitely not setting any speed records, but a few weeks ago - almost exactly a year after we started memorizing for real - Basbusa recited the last quarter-hizb (from surat al Qari3a to the end) - without help, and with only four mistakes, al7amdulillah. That's a long time for a small number of pages, but it took us a long time to figure out how to go about memorizing! The pace picked up a lot during the last few months, when we arrived at this routine: 

  • Qur'an happens before we start any other activity. That doesn't mean I start chasing the girls as soon as they're out of bed, but once they're up and have had breakfast, we work on Qur'an before heading off to the library, or before starting project time, or before heading out to playgroup, or whatever the day's schedule might be. Al7amdulillah, we really have been doing it daily, so at least a good habit is being formed, regardless of how much Qur'an is being learned!
  • The basic routine for memorizing is that Basbusa and I recite her current "new" sura together three times, and then she recites one page of the pages she has previously memorized, just so they don't get forgotten. (The main reason the first quarter-hizb took so long was that I didn't have a good routine for review, so by the time we got to al Qari3a, we had to start over with most of the rest of it!) 
    • This takes between five and ten minutes, total. I know that's not long, and that an almost-five-year-old could probably handle more if I knew how to keep it interesting for her. But at this point, if it gets longer than that, she gets fidgety. And from then on, progress gets slower and slower, because more and more time is spent trying to retain her attention rather than actually reciting. 
    • If she has memorized most of a "new" sura, then we might just recite the troublesome bit three times rather than the whole thing (so that the sticky bit gets the maximum amount of her freshest attention).
  • Rewards: I'm still embarrassed to say it, because I still feel like I'm failing somehow if she isn't memorizing Qur'an purely for the sake of al aakhira, but she still gets a choose a piece of penny-candy each day after Qur'an. And she gets a dollar from Baba for each sura she recites for him perfectly. And she got a small gift (a long-coveted, pink-and-white jewelry box from a thrift shop) when she completed the quarter hizb. I don't know... It just makes the whole thing so much more fun for her, and the whole process is so much easier, faster and happier when she's looking forward to it. And if she memorizes the whole Qur'an for $114, that's a good deal...!
  • We've also settled on a new bedtime routine that I think is also helping. After Kunafa's two picture books and Basbusa's chapter from a chapter book, I turn out the light and recite all the Qur'an Basbusa has learned until they both fall asleep. I think that's been helping with retention.
Kunafa (currently aged 2.5) "learns Qur'an" with us - she recites Al Fati7a along with me, and then either Al Nas or Al Falaq. She can do Al Fati7a by herself now, and gets most of Al Nas, al7amdulillah.