As the new year of school is going to start in September, many of us parents are preparing for that – more so the homeschooling ones – even more so new homeschoolers starting from preschool or later grades. Saying from experience it can be very overwhelming. Especially in year 2020, which has hit world hard with CoVid as well as plenty of people online sharing more and more beneficial resources to home educate children. There is just TOO MUCH of homeschooling stuff online now, which is a blessing but surely makes it very hard to make decision as to what and which stuff to use. No one wants to miss out on something better, so we keep on searching and searching – hence feeling overwhelmed. Today I am going to share my thoughts on a starter phonics workbook which has been created with Islamic principles and ideas in mind while not compromising on the education value of the product. Which I don’t want my friends and fellow Muslims to miss out on!
Below is mine & Ruqaiya’s honest paid review of the Phonics Reading Readiness Book R workbook. Which is first of the series from Muslim School Books.
- Level R is for Pre-K – Kindergarten (Suitable for teaching letter identification, letter sounds and cvc words.)
- Author is Grandma Jeddah
- Editor: Eric Ali
- Educational Advisors: Ahmed Ali & Saleh Ali
- Published in 2019
- Price: $34.99 (Physical Copy) & $19.99 (PDF Version)
My First Impression: Things I noticed when I first held the book in my hands.
- Spiral bound – I love that part. Because that way I can just keep one side at the back and child can only view one page hence more focused. Alhamdulillah.
- Pages are okay. Neither thick glossy ones which we all love but are impractical for a workbook of 174 pages (let’s be honest, who will pay extra money for a workbook just to have that fancy paper) nor the totally lost case cheap paper that if you even try to erase something the whole ink comes off (Yeah, I have seen my share of pages :p)
- Pictures and text is big.
- It is colored book, not black and white.
- Use of Islamic items/pictures, for instance zamzam, kabah, hijab, sadaqah, etc.
- Contents are listed, which is good especially if you want to go your own way and decide what letters you want to cover first (like in montessori approach they teach c,m,a,t first).
- Daily review pages for alphabet sounds and short vowel sounds + a writing chart. Pages a child can go over frequently or daily to strengthen their skills.
- Ready to cut and laminate flash card pages included in the end for Uppercase and lowercase letters. Consonants in black and vowel in red.
My Thoughts on the book after using with Ruqaiya, who is 4 years old, for more than two months:
The way we did it was we tried to do it as frequently as possible but not daily. Whenever we did we did 3 or more pages. Some times even 10 pages! She would just enjoy and want to keep on going. Before we even started this book she had a good grip of alphabet sounds, the initial activities just helped her grow on that. Now that we are entering the blending territory we may slow down, because that’s challenging for her – a good challenging – I’ll let her take lead on that (in sha ALLAH).
Structure of Exercises:
- Identifying which words/items start with same sound.
- Rhyming exercises
- Then for each letter sound Circling, Coloring and Tracing exercises are given (3 pages we liked to do – was finishing one alphabet)
- After few letters are covered other exercises are given to strength child’s knowledge on letter sounds and see how well child can distinguish between sounds when put together.
- First all consonants are covered then vowels.
- By the end of the book child gets to read 3 letter words.
For review purpose I was initially sent the student edition only, later the author generously sent me pdf of teacher’s edition as well. May ALLAH bless them for that aameen. I feel now I am in a better place to review the product alhamdulillah.
For starter, you do not need anything but pencil and colors to benefit from this workbook. No preparation required before lessons. You can just grab the book, take the pencil and colors and get on with it 🙂 makes life easy for us busy moms alhamdulillah
Writing practice part– honestly this was the challenging part for us. As you can see only one line of uppercase letters and lowercase letters is written/dotted – rest the child is expected to do on their own. Which felt too much for my 4 year old, may be because I never really forced/pressured the writing practice on her…though she did do some practice here and there. It got soooo stressful that she started to cry seeing that page because she knew one line is for tracing and next she will have to try and write. Since we were also doing other workbook (math) along side I realized in that one she wasn’t really expected to write on her own, the entire page was all for tracing and she enjoyed it. So I started putting dots/lines myself for her in this book so that she can happily trace and she did alhamdulillah 🙂 And once in a while I would just put a dot at starting point and end point and ask her to connect the dots, just so that she slowly but surely gets to writing the whole letter by herself. For now it just felt a too high of an expectation.
Just as a side note, for authors, having writing practice pages wipe clean ones would be icing on cake 😀
We covered more than half of the book without access to teacher’s edition and truth be told some words were simply too hard to guess for me (because the picture is given then you have to tell name of the item and then child has to tell what sound it starts with – that is if child doesn’t know name of the item himself/herself). Some due to being uncommon item so I didn’t know it’s name in English (like the feather that was used for writing) or some because they have multiple names and I didn’t know what the author intended for that particular exercise (scarf or hijab?). So I can say for most part for Book R one can do without teacher’s edition. But having it on hand would surely be better, since it is exactly the same book with all the correct answers already filled plusssss it has additional ideas for activities parents/teachers can do with their children many of the lesson in the book. For older grades teacher’s edition may actually be a necessary additional purchase you have to make.
The teacher’s edition and student edition are SOLD SEPARATELY. Both are available in physical form as well as pdf.
As far as the book’s primary goal of teaching a child to read is concerned the book surely is on the same level, if not above, as many of the other phonics curriculums I have looked up bidhnillah.
As for the biggest aspect of this book, Islamic integration into the learning, it brings up plenty of discussion/learning topics for parents and children. A little example would be my daughter asking what should she color Kabah and then we googling an actual picture of kabah to show her so that she can accordingly decide the colors. Many times not having something is also an important point to keep in mind – so not having many of the pictures that are nowadays added into children’s curriculum is a blessing. Those images many times make it hard for Muslim parents to explain certain things to little kids at such a young age. We can’t shelter our kids forever, but we need to protect their heads to the best of our ability at least till they are mature enough to understand things for themselves. (in sha ALLAH).
Is my child benefiting from it – YES alhamdulillah
Will I be buying next level after she finish this one – YES (in sha ALLAH)
Will I be buying teacher’s edition for next level – YES but most likely the pdf version since that seems better option financially.
Lastly, Ruqaiya’s review:
“Mama orange book is my favorite.” She said this just yesterday! Without me even asking or anything. So there you go guys, a 4 year old’s honest opinion about this workbook 🙂
Check the link for inside view of the book.
For peek inside other advanced books in this series go to this link and go all the way in the end of the page, it’s there bidhnillah.