The Islamic Foundation
of North America
www.ifna.net

Weekend School Mastery Level 1

 

Age Group:  5-7 years old.  Students will spend a total of two years in this level.  This level will be broken up into Mastery Level 1 A  and Mastery Level 1 B.

Clothing Requirement:  Boys will wear a white kufi or topi.  Girls will wear a white hijab.  An even more standard uniform is important and you may want to institute a wider dress code for the weekend school  which has different color schemes for each level.   This approach presents a sense of unity, it highlights for the students that they will be progressing through mastery levels, it cuts down on the distraction of students arriving in very unIslamic clothing every weekend and it provides a sense of equality among peers in each mastery level.

Mastery Focus: Identity, behavior, etiquette, classroom manners and Islamic Adab.

Methodology:  The class will be divided into four segments of 30 minutes each with a 15 minute bathroom/water/snack break after the first two segments.

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The first segment will focus on training the students in motor skills and Islamic Adab and having them practice those skills.  Islamic phrases will be learned.  Mastery Level 1 B will focus on learning Salah in a basic way.

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The second segment will be focused on building basic awareness of Islamic practices and concepts, Arabic letters and how to pronounce words at the basic level,  The basics of Qirah and some simple rules of recitation, learning short Surahs and knowing simple Islamic beliefs.   (The following Aqeedah concepts will be introduced: Tawhid, Angels, Good and Bad Deeds, Prophet Muhammad (p) etc...)  Surahs 108-114 along with Al Fatihah will be memorized in this class along with the meaning.

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The third segment will be organized play time.  (Organized games such as ring toss, catch, kickball, racing, three-legged racing, tag, ball toss, relay racing, duck duck goose, etc...)  This is so the children have a chance to get to know each other each weekend and to build relationships on a "partnership" and "athletic" level.  This segment will be followed by a required water break.

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The fourth and final segment will be story time where the teacher and students read stories together, out loud, so they can build a base of imagination in their minds based on Islamic themes.  Any assignments given must be completed in class.

    The only regular homework allowed to be given will consist of: art projects, practicing Surahs, learning songs or writing small verses on their own about Muslim themes.   A key component of this level's methodology will be in the use of songs and poems in Arabic and English. 

    For those students in Mastery Level B, the classes will be slightly modified to reflect more learning of Islamic phrases, more rules of adab, more story telling and reading time and good sportsmanship in organized games.

Discussion:  Small children need more than anything else to be acculturated into a basic identity structure.  The child needs to begin to feel like they are something called "a Muslim."  Every society and religious tradition on Earth has its methods for indoctrinating the minds of the young into a group identity and consciousness.

    From such simple steps as getting the child used to using certain kinds of names for their friends to higher elements such as behavior and etiquette.  Ideally this type of molding of behavior would begin at home from the earliest years.  But Muslims have no Islamic culture that is trans-ethnic or universal.  In our fragmented Ummah a child from one ethnic group will be raised with values that are different from another.  Thus you can't expect that all "Muslim" children will come to your school with even remotely similar cultural values.  Arab traditions are vastly different from Indian traditions which are different from African American traditions.

    So this being the case, we need to look at establishing some basic and universally acceptable patterns of behavior based on purely Islamic traditions.  This age group is where the foundation for future success in the weekend school program will be established.  If our goal is to build a Muslim personality and have it remain a part of the student on into their adult lives, then it is with the young that the basic values and etiquettes of life must be reinforced.

Textbooks:  Each of these selections has been chosen with the understanding in mind that there will be a fairly competent teacher for the classroom.  Oftentimes weekend schools have to scramble to find enough volunteers.   Some are good, some need more training.  The book entitled, "Teaching Tips and Effective Strategies for Islamic Weekend Schools" by M. Ismail is a good crash course in education.  You can get it from www.Halalco.com

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Segment 1:  Class A will use "What Do We Say..."  By Kathryn Abdallah.  and "Coloring Book of Salah"  by IQRA.  Otherwise the class will be filled with physical and social training exercises.  (If there is a Pre-K level, they will use the textbook entitled, "I Can Color My Muslim World from IFNA).  Class B will use the book, "Color and Learn Salah"  by Yahiya Emerick.  (From IFNA (For Qur'an learning you can use the book: "The Holy Qur'an for Children Juz Amma from IFNA.)
 

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Segment 2:  Until there is something better, employ the 5 IQRA KG Curriculum guides for Class A.  Also, use the books entitled, "Let's Read and Write Arabic" by Fadel Abdallah.  (From IQRA).  Class B will use "Arabic Writing for Beginners" Books 1-2 from Kazi publications.
 

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Segment 3:  "We are Muslims 1" and "Songs From Adam's World" Audio tapes for fun song time exercises. (Noorart and Soundvision respectively).   Children can learn these songs by heart and sing them as part of the daily game time.  Class B will continue with this type of activity with more emphasis on organized games and sports.  This is crucial.  Sportsmanship and learning to work together on a team is important.  Games can include traditional sports such as soccer, basketball, relay races, etc... to more innovative ones.  On off days you can give the children art activities such as making things out of clay and kiln drying them, painting, puppetry, marquetry, etc...
 

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Segment 4:  Select from the story books listed for KG and First Grade in the regular KG-12 curriculum.  Every student should have a copy of each book.  The Weekend School can make a one time purchase of the books and either charge a rental fee for books, say a flat rate of $25 per year or the school can purchase the books and have the families buy them at cost.  This last option can be done every year and will help the children build a library of Muslim-oriented story books as well as support Muslim authors.

Specific Skills to Teach in Segment 1:  The skills needed basically revolve around Islamic Adab and basic etiquette and related knowledge.   Some of them are listed as follows:

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Saying, "Assalamu 'alaykum" when we meet and its response.   Also the meaning.

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Shaking hands with same gender.  Salutations and method for greeting opposite gender.  (Also hugging same gender properly.)

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Having a smiling face.  Avoiding making mean faces.

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What are good questions to ask when you meet someone:  "How are you?"  "What is your good name?"  "How is your family?"  "How are you doing?"  "Where do you live?"

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How to line up in straight lines, separated by gender.  How to march in lines and follow directions.  Being quiet in line.  This activity can be practiced for the first 10 minutes of class with the teacher marching the students around the parking lot or Masjid and stopping periodically to correct them or drill them.   Commands such as "Forward March"  "Halt"  "About Face"  and others can be employed.

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Raising your hand before speaking.  Getting to the point when asking a question.

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Saying "Shukran" "Afwan" and "Min Fadlik"   (Thank you, Your Welcome, Please.)

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How to drink properly.  (No gulping, taking a breath between sips, sitting, saying "Bismillah" first)

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How to eat properly.  (Saying the "Bismillah" Du'a, washing hands first, not being messy, eating with the right hand, sharing, not talking while chewing, not wasting food, the Du'a to end eating, etc...

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How to walk into the Masjid.  How to tie and untie your shoes.

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How to introduce yourself to someone else.

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How to keep silent when silence is required.

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How to share, clean up, play together and solve disputes fairly.

More to come...

The Final Word:  Five and six year olds need a lot of guidance and attention.  For every ten students their should be one adult.   Don't be afraid to be firm with kids who have serious behavioral problems, though techniques based on understanding have proven more effective.   

    Also, don't be stingy with compliments for good behavior.  Children need to hear when they do well.  don't be so "chummy" or friendly with the kids that they won't respect you as an authority figure also.

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