Saturday, April 28, 2007

Teaching Children Quran

I am brainstorming how to start teaching my two-year-old daughter Quran. She can hardly speak yet, but she is soaking in information at a bewildering pace, putting two and two together in such creative ways. I hope the Quran can be an integral part of her learning in this phase.

For me, results are secondary. She doesn’t have to have a certain number of surahs memorized, be learning at a certain pace, or know how to read by a certain age. If she knows 20 surahs by the time she’s five, or if she only knows three, that’s OK. While we are all amazed by children who memorize the whole Quran by the time they are ten, that may or may not be within our own children’s ability. If we push them too hard, we might get results but in the process crush the internal desire and associate stress, boredom, and frustration with learning the Quran. I care much more that she loves the Quran, loves to pick it up, leaf through its pages, and pretend to recite. I want her to know that it is something very special.

Here are a few things that I’ve been trying. Please share your ideas too.

1. Play the Quran throughout the day. The Quran should be the soundtrack of our homes! Constantly playing in the background whether the children are playing, eating, riding in the car, or going to sleep, the Quran should become a normal, familiar part of their lives.

2. Read Quran before something special. My daughter loves to sit down with a pile of books and read with me. Since I have her total attention at that time, I’ve started reading a short surah before each book. “Ok, let’s read this one! We can start it with Surah Al-Ikhlas…” I’ve found that she is paying attention, eager to get to the story, and she is also associating the Quran with something that she already loves.

3. Have a tape for the car, a tape for bedtime. Although I haven’t been disciplined with this, I think it’s a great idea to play the same tape over and over again in the car, and before sleeping.

4. Set the example. This is the best way, and for me it is what I am most struggling with. When we hear a song, see something fascinating, or taste something good, we react in a way that makes our children share in that joy and interest. If we read the Quran throughout the day, read it while doing housework, listen to it when we want to relax, and feel and show true pleasure when we are with the Quran, our kids will naturally share that love. They will adopt an attachment to the Quran, so intrinsically part of their routine that they miss it when it’s not there.


Fatima said...

Wow Maha, jazakillahu khayran, great topic. I don't have much to add, but I did pick up some pointers for my daughters. Do you see anything wrong with them leafing through a mus-haf? Sumy always wants to do that.

Duaa said...

Here are some ideas that I found helpful for Safiyah :):

1) Let her be the qudwa! Safiyah always enjoys being the "big sister" and "teaching" Sumayah how things should be done. So, sometimes, I'll tell Safiyah, "Sumayah wants you to show her how to recite. Show her how nice it is to read Quran." So Safiyah will take her mushaf and read next to Sumayah, sometimes pulling her in her lap, choking her :) and to my surprise (and pleasure) she's done it a few times on her own while I'm at a distance doing other chores.

2) Record familiar surahs in your own voice. It's so much more exciting to hear Mama on tape than a qari.

3) Set aside some "Quran family time." Although I must admit that I have to put this one into more practice, Safiyah truly enjoys seeing both her Mama and Baba read at the same time. She will pick up her mushaf and join in with her reciting sounds.

4) Create a playgroup where Quran plays an integral part. I made one for Safiyah where Quran is our welcome and closing. As each of her "ashaab" come in, we sit in a circle and recite al-faatiha over and over until all her friends show up. We then sing a nasheed, watch a puppet show, then do our activities. After snack and before leaving, we recite al-faatiha again. Safiyah is always eager to see kids her age know the same surah and likes to see how she compares to her friends. (Just remember not to use comparison as a motivator)

There's another idea I had done with Safiyah but aborted because I had second thoughts. I used to have a "special treat basket" that I let her choose from every time we would do Quran time (which never lasted more than five minutes). Then, I realized that perhaps I was teaching her that the only benefit for reading Quran was getting a treat, rather than the reading being a benefit in and of itself. I must say, though, this tactic worked like magic...Safiyah used to ask me first thing in the morning for Quran time...But I stopped...what do all of you think?

ummossama said...

ASA, sisters,
Another idea- A friend of mine teaches Quran to her three year old while walking.

Duaa, I agree with you-
I realized after raising my children that the reward system never worked for us. A good book to read on this issue-' Punished By Rewards" Alfie Kohn

Fariha said...

Great topic Maha, I got a lot from everyone's ideas. I found that when Shuayb sees not only Mamma or Baba reading Qur'an, but also Grandma, Grandpa, uncles, aunts, people at the masjid, he notices and asks about it. So the idea of setting example like you said. And also giving him his own copy of the Qur'an while we read, feels some ownership that way.

At the same time, I also found that if I sit down w/ it as a routine every morning, he takes it away from me, as if to say, "pay attention to me right now" -- so it seems like I also have to find the right time.

so nice "seeing" all of you here :)