Category Archives: Toddler Training

Need vs Want

We try (only TRY) to run our lives around needs instead of wants. This is a trait my mother tried to instill in us and some of my friends complain that I have plagued their lives with the same transmission of thought – they can’t have a ‘good’ time at the malls because of the brain-washing they underwent while shopping with me 😉 The funny thing is that once your brain is programmed to shop only for needs, you can’t get away without a guilty feeling if you try to overlook the phenomenon. It’s a life sentence.

I have been trying to explain the same concept to my youngest daughter, almost 5 year old. The bone of contention is again ‘Doodoo’ because she wants it too many times in a day. The other day, we were having our evening Quran session – me and the eldest were discussing Quran and the youngest was busy with her creative pursuit – making a book – around us.

She goes: “Can anyone give me an eraser?”

I call out to her middle sister: “Hanaa wants an eraser, please hand one over to her.”

She corrects me instantly: “Needs not wants!”


The First ‘No’

I grew up in an environment where manners were given a big emphasis. I saw my Nani (grandmother) inculcating basic manners in children even before they could speak. The first thing that she taught any child was “Don’t look at ‘parai cheez'” (Eyes off others’ stuff). She would ask the child “parai cheez?” and teach the child to move her head in a NO. Now when I look at it deeply, it is such a valuable lesson for life. This single thing can teach you contentment, controlling your greed, controlling your ‘desires’, not being jealous of others, being thankful for what you have – big lessons learnt from the first, simple NO. It is as if she taught us to say NO to the world and its temptations as soon as we opened eyes! And why she began with food? … because IT IS the FIRST temptation for a child!
May Allah have mercy on her and grant her Jannatul Firdaus. May Allah increase her Hasanat for every word of Quran that I read, as she was the one who taught me to read Quran. May Allah give her the share from all of the good that I am able to do and increase her levels in Jannah, as promised for the dua by the children made for their parents, Ameen.

SubhanAllah, simple ways of the old times and what great benefits they had! It’s probably only now that I am analysing the ‘hidden agenda’ of that first teaching, but I did teach my kids the same things from the start. It really puts me off if a kid behaves in a greedy way towards anything (food or toys etc), because it shows that he/she has not been taught the basic manner of controlling his/her self. Or may be the mom is not making an effort to provide her children with what they like, so that they can behave in a contented way when they see something of their liking.

So, following in my grandma’s footsteps, the FIRST thing I would list in good manners (strange as it may sound) is teaching the child how to behave towards food, specially if they are at someone’s else place. Some people may think it is Riya, but it is not. Children have to be taught how to behave well in other people’s house or in other’s presence because they are affecting other people who may not be ready to tolerate rudeness, greed etc. And it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to ensure that other people are not hurt because of our behavior, both emotionally and physically. In your own family / house things may be more open and there are stronger ties due to which family members will have more tolerance for each other. They may respond more openly, while others may have to reserve their responses due to many factors. Secondly, when in a group, the children must also learn how to share with others and sacrifice for others, so they must be taught to control their desires even more when people are around. So we must teach our children not to mess up anything in people’s houses, not to be loud or rude and not to attack on food.

I know there is this ‘modern’ concept of parenting which advises you to ‘let children do’ whatever they want to and just be good role-models, but it really offends me. I think just being a role-model is not enough. You should correct the child in different ways, mostly politely yes, but strictly also at times so that they understand the importance of manners. Timely response to children’s mistakes is extremely important in correcting their behavior. I’m not saying that I expect 3-4 year-olds showing exemplary manners, it is their training period – but if a 7+ child has no idea about the basic manners then surely the mother has made a big mistake in Tarbiyah.

Things may not turn out perfect but I try to ensure that my kids:

  • Don’t speak loudly or rudely.
  • Don’t mess up with anything / dirty or break anything / leave things un-arranged etc
  • Control the amount of food they eat and HOW they eat it.
  • Don’t interrupt an elder while speaking.
  • Give preference to elder people and other kids in seating / eating etc
  • Don’t look at anyone’s things without permission.
  • Don’t wander about in anyone’s house, only go to rooms where the host takes them.


The Rivers of DooDoo

Tapping into Hanaa’s ‘passion’ of DooDoo, we’re now using it as a tool to instill into her the love of Jannah. She is simply fascinated by the idea of having ‘a personal river of doodoo’ which will be much yummier than this world’s doodoo and will be NeVeReNdInG! Her 4 yr old mind can think of amazing ways of utilising this river to her heart’s content. Her most favourite way is ‘filling a BIG bottle directly from the river and drink and drink and drink’. On her wishlist is also: a fountain of doodoo, doodoo rain and  a super giant bottle!

Ba the Robot is maximising the opportunity and the doodoo ritual has become a special customised event now. It goes like this:

Hanaa orders doodoo by writing a message to Ba the Robot.

To: Ba the Robot.
From: Hanaa.
Brng DOODOO (aftr you eat or wen you wak up).
Sian on bak

Ba the Robot chooses option OK and serves.

But he is a special robot “who only provides service to Bichas who are working hard for their doodoo river in Jannah”. So Ba the Robot asks “what exactly is Hanaa doing to get her river of doodoo”. Hanaa very excitedly tells that “she is working hard by reciting La Ilaha illalah many times before sleeping and on waking up and saying Bismillah before she starts eating and saying Alhamdulillah after eating and saying Subhan Allah many times and behaving well with her sisters”. After that she has to select from many options of service like “slow (salowly, salowly), normal, fast and extra fast” on the Robot and finally get the bottle 🙂

The amount of patience and enthusiasm on behalf of Ba the Robot is amazing Alhamdulillah. Ma has requested Hanaa to give her a a share from her river when she gets it in sha Allah and Hanaa has eagerly agreed.

Rivers of Doodoo….we wait for you!


DooDoo and chapter books

“DooDoooo…!” This is a common call resonating in our household and the source is our ‘baby’ who is 4 and a half – drinking milk still from bottle AND reading chapter books! Alhamdulillah, Long live homeschooling 🙂

Milk or ‘DooDoo’ as she calls it, is one of Hanaa’s passions in life 🙂 It serves mostly as a soother and the bottle is more of relaxing therapy then nourishment for her. For sometime now, we have been passively trying to make her less dependent on this ritual… but here she goes after placing the order one day….

“You know I read in one of my Rasulullah sallalahu alayhi wassalam’s book that Rasulullah sallalahu alayhi wassalam LOVED milk”. Full Stop. On the issue of bottle she announced : “I’ll leave it when I’m FIVE” … so no more arguing if you know Hanaa!

The bottle has not deterred her reading frenzy in any way though. She is reading books totally on her own… and the latest under her review is a chapter book called ‘Sheltie rides to win”. I had some doubts so I asked her to read aloud a page; she stopped only on one word – ‘sarcastically’, the rest was a breeze for her 🙂

Some of Hanaa’s favorite reads these days are:

My Quran Friends

Stairs Series books

Amira’s totally chocolate world

The perfect gift

Eid Songs

Allah gave me two hands… series

Young Muslim Rhymes

Magic School Bus Beginner books

Her sisters emails

My mobile text messages….


I want to remember this…

Hanaa at 4 (yes she is 4 and not even 4 1/2) is reading, and quite fluently! These are not those one-liner books she’s tackling, she is reading paragraphs of text and pages of poetry, Alhamdulillah! She is not reading just the familiar books but any new ones that suit her interest and level. Today she surprised me by reading Urdu material from her book, which was read to her only once recently. We have been working on her Urdu reading from the beginning and now she is showing the results Alhamdulillah. She recognises Arabic letters well and is working with vocabulary, flash cards etc. I’m sure that she has mental images of many words by now and I hope that she’ll start some basic reading soon in sha Allah.
She was able to recognize words and make her own spellings much earlier… when she was still 3. But, it was more than a month ago that she started reading bigger texts… and I was not sure whether she was reading from memory or ACTUALLY reading….. until she started reading my text  messages and chats 😀
She loves to write and draw and make her stories and ‘books’. Although much of her spelling won’t win any contests still, but she is rarely corrected. And she is dictated spellings only when she asks for it. She also tends to write backwards and can write whole sentences and whole ‘books
How have we supported Hanaa’s learning expedition 🙂
  • We’ve read to her a lot, both I and her elder sisters.
  • She played freely with alphabet blocks, puzzles, magnetic ones.
  • We pointed out letters for her on every day materials like sign-boards, product labels etc. (and now she loves to read all labels and boards)
  • She was exposed to Phonics early on, using both workbooks and (limited) computer games.
  • Finally, ‘Sight Word Recognition’ or ‘Look and Say’ gave her the final push, though she was never formally ‘taught’ or ‘instructed’ to ‘read’.
  • She was never criticised for writing backwards all letters and whole ‘books’.
  • We listened intently to her ‘stories’ and gave unconditional appreciation and encouragement. Even her elder siblings were not allowed to point out her errors.
  • She has asked a million questions and has mostly been answered promptly and to her satisfaction.
I remember when she was 3 she used to ask scientific questions like ‘why is it dark at night’ and ‘why do we put on heaters in winter’, ‘why does the tea with milk comes up when boiling’ etc and we tried to explain things at her level of understanding.
She has taken keen interest Alhamdulillah in the world around her and the Creator. Her connection with Allah (swt) and the Hereafter is such that a while ago she insisted on knowing ‘when are we going to die?’ because she ‘couldn’t wait to go to Jannah’. She persisted that ‘are we going to die after 15 days?’ because ‘it is so nice to die’ and 15 days was the maximum timeline in her mind! Alhamdulillah I was pleased to see the ‘hubbul maut’ instilled in her and may she increase in her love for the Hereafter and resentment towards Dunya, leading us to the same. Aameen.
Ever since she has recognised the importance of Hadith and Sunnah, she never fails to quote one that she knows (yes she knows a handful from her coloring books and the ‘I love Islam’ book that she adores). She would ask why we do such and such and on getting the reason that it is ‘Sunnah’, she tries to remember and implement it always. She has been exposed to much of Quranic recitations as she likes to identify the ‘madds’ and the ‘rukus’ to her sisters when they’re reciting and she is sitting with us looking at the Mushaf.
She loves to read her Dua at night and Kalimah that she repeats 4-5 times because ‘Allah Taa’la likes this and there are so many good points for it’ .
As a person, Hanaa is my most ‘proper’ and organised child. She likes to keep her things at their places, her desk neat, her clothes tidy and her toys organised. She has not been very social but now she is visibly getting comfortable with children, even those who she thinks ‘don’t have very good manners’ . With her few close friends she loves to play for long, specially with her ‘JARC’ and accessories which is actually a big hit among all our friends. She can be a little bossy at times but that is part of her ‘proper’ nature.
She has always taken keen interest in kitchen and learnt the process of making tea at 2. She was a serious (yes proper!) dish-washer at age 4 when we had no helper available for a few months… you could actually rely on her 😀
She has been very picky about clothes and shoes since ever. You can simply not force her to wear anything that she doesn’t like. She has the sweetest habit of ‘making excuses’ to avoid doing things she dislikes. She rarely ever refuses blankly, but would make a nice sweet excuse, trying not to hurt you but at the same time making clear that she’s not going to change her mind.
Hanaa has been the sweetheart of our family and will always be in sha Allah. May Allah keep her in His mercy in this world and the next and join us all together in Jannah.  Thank you Allah for giving us this wonderful child!
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Homeschooling, Toddler Training


Hanaa’s Happy Homeschooling!

When at home a toddler can learn at leisure, without pressure and with absolute pleasure, WHY do the parents become so cruel and send them off to school at such a tender age? Here are some glimpses of my toddler learning at home. I hope I could post a couple of videos but still have to figure out a way to do that.

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