My kids came back from their Arabic class one day excited to share with me a story they heard from their Ustazah.
It was about an old couple who were very poor. They were so poor that the small house they lived in didn’t have a proper roof and they didn’t have enough money to fix the many holes in it. They were also so poor that they could only afford one Quran which they shared and took turns to read.
One night it rained so heavily that they woke up from their sleep. Seeing their precious Quran getting wet by the rain that leaked into their house, they were horrified. So they took turns all night protecting their Quran from the rain – while one of them slept, the other one sheltered the Quran from the rain by hugging it close to their body and vice versa.
The next morning, both of them awoke and realised that they could suddenly recite the Quran from memory. All because they honoured the Quran and treated it with great respect. SubhanAllah.
Stories like these are important for our children to hear because before we start them on their journey of the Quran, they need to realise that this is no ordinary book. This is a book to be TREASURED, to treat with ultimate RESPECT, a book so precious that we are willing to sacrifice sleep just to protect it, a book of Allah’s words to us. It is a miracle.
Most of us, when teaching our children the Quran, will start them off with Juz Amma. We don’t have to wait until our children recognise the Arabic letters to start them on Juz Amma. The important thing is that the experience of learning about the Quran should be a positive one for the children. Ultimately, we want them to love the Quran and their relationship with the Quran in the early years is important in creating an environment where children look forward to and are enthusiastic in learning about the book of Allah.
Now some of you may ask, “How do I start teaching Quran to my kids?”
Well, it really depends on you and your children, your strengths, your weaknesses and your family dynamics. Honestly, I get incredibly stressed out when I look at what other people are doing with their children because what is presented on social media is far beyond what I am capable of doing with my own children, and as a result, I feel like I have fallen short.
You may have seen a 4-year-old child who has memorised Juz Amma with perfect Tajweed, or another 5- or 6-year-old child who has done a khatam of the whole Quran. Or perhaps the family who comes up with really wonderful and fun crafts for their children to learn the tafsir of Juz Amma surahs every week. All these are lovely, and we celebrate their wins and pray it serves as motivation to other parents. However, if you don’t even come close to their level of achievements, don’t be sad! Learning the Quran is not a race. It is the journey that matters, even if the journey takes you 10 times longer than anyone else.
I take comfort in the fact that there are many success stories of what we call ‘late bloomers’. Some great scholars only learnt the Quran as adults and are now considered experts in their fields. So, if you find yourself struggling in your children’s journey with the Quran, don’t despair. Just keep calm and make du’a. 😊 May Allah grant us sincerity and rectify our intentions.
Alhamdulillah now there are abundant resources out there for parents like us to aid us in getting our children’s Quran journey started. There are so many different teaching approaches. Where do I start? What do I focus on? Here are some areas that you could consider covering:
Most children are great auditory learners. All you need to do is get them to constantly listen to the verses of the Quran and most of them will naturally pick it up and memorise the verses effortlessly.
The earlier you start, the easier it should stick. Now, you’re probably thinking that the pillows that could play verses of the Quran can come in handy! Yes, you can start as early as when the baby is still in your womb. Either you recite the Quran yourself daily while pregnant, or you listen to a recording loud enough for the baby in your womb to hear.
My son had a slow start. At 4 years old he was still struggling to recite Al Fatihah and other easier Surahs from memory. However, at the same time, I was playing the longer Surahs like Surah Al-Fajr daily for his sister to memorise. SubhanAllah, one month later, he was reciting the whole Surah from memory without any effort on my part to help him memorise it. It worked like a gem for my son, but not my daughter. So, this method may work for some children, not all.
2) Kinesthetic method
Another method which I learnt from several local asatizahs is the kinesthetic method of memorisation. Children will use movement and facial expressions as they recite the verses, so not only will they memorise the Surah, they might also understand its meaning too! For this method to work, you’d need to know the meaning of each word and to provide a movement for each significant word or phrase. Little Quran Kids is a school in Singapore that utilises this methodology with its students.
If you still find that your child struggles with memorisation, don’t force it. Try other methods to develop their relationship with the Quran, like...
Some children excel at reading so if you find your child is inclined towards that or finds it easy to pick it up, then follow your child’s lead. However, if you find your child struggling to learn the letters, its sounds and he or she gets easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of letters in a verse, then pause. Take a step back. Remember, this is not a race.
Our main goal as parents is to get our children to love the Quran, to develop a life-long relationship with it. So, if you find your children resisting your efforts in teaching them to read, it might either be too early for them, or you can try other methods to ease them in.
Our favourite way to start is by reading them The Arabic Alphabet of Huruf Island books, which introduces the Arabic letters through stories. My children all picked up the Arabic letters merely by reading these books repeatedly. Alhamdulillah I never had to teach them the letters.
When they felt they were ready, they’d come to me and request to start reading the Qaidah (better known as the Iqra’, Tilawati or Muqaddam books in Southeast Asia). They’d progress smoothly at first, but as more and more rules come into play, sometimes I’d need to take a step back and re-start at an easier level or revert to fun and games by using our Arabic of Huruf Island Card Game to lighten the mood.
I must admit, most of the time, it’s not such a smooth journey and I had to change tactics several times. The point is just not to give up, to take a break when needed, and to pick up where you left off. Or if it gets too much, just reach out for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself.
For older kids, reading could very much help with memorisation as some children are more visual learners than auditory. Looking at the Quran page would help them visualise the verse that comes next and aid in memorisation, so these go hand in hand.
4) Tafseer -
Children absolutely LOVE stories, so this is one area that I strongly encourage parents NOT to leave out when learning Quran with their children because it is the stories they’ll remember best.
Again, some of you may say, “But I am not learned enough to teach my children Tafseer of the Quran.” That’s exactly how I felt when I first started out, but the beauty of this journey is that you get to learn alongside your children. You learn together. It makes the journey all the more sweeter.
(Image: Children putting their knowledge of tafseer to use by arranging the Surahs of Juz Amma in order based on what they know of its meanings)
How do we do this? Alhamdulillah there are so many resources out there we can tap on. There are tafseer books written for children that adults could also learn from and also many videos on Youtube that teaches tafseer to children and adults. At the last section of this blog post is a list of resources you can tap into to teach your children Juz Amma (and for you to learn with them!).
5) Crafts and Visual Storytelling
If your child is a hands-on learner, and if you also enjoy doing crafts with your children, then this is a perfect thing to delve into while learning the Quran. For each Surah, you could decide what is the overarching theme and design a craft activity or experiment that your children will enjoy.
(Image: Happy Quran Kit for the month of Shawal)
If you don’t have time to do this yourself, there are Quran kits that have already been prepared filled with fun and engaging activities that are surah focused, like the Happy Quran kits produced by I Luv Quran. While teaching your child Surah Al-Ikhlas, the kit includes all the necessary materials for children to busy themselves with like making a mini Ka'bah, learning science using magnets and paperclips, and even includes a 32 page Surah Al-Ikhlas tafseer and activity book and keyword flashcards.
We also really like the activities that are shared by ‘Islam From The Start’. She uses a lot of visual and practical examples to make it easy for children to understand the concepts that are mentioned in the Quran. A recent one shared was a visual reminder to show the effects of the Quran on people’s hearts. How a heart that is hard as stone cannot receive guidance but if a heart is soft, the guidance is easily absorbed.
When presented visually in this manner, especially when inviting your children to take part in it, the message being shared will easily be remembered.
6) Quranic integration with other subjects
The Quran is a miraculous book. It is said to hold all the answers we need in life. So why not apply it to the other subjects that we teach our children? Why not link back Math, History, Geography and other subjects to the Quran.
For example, when teaching children about Surah Al-Feel, this could be a time you could introduce the study of elephant or birds. Which body parts did the birds use to throw the stones? How are these body parts unique to birds?
Iqrasauraus does this very well with their 4i methodology that teaches both adults and children to ponder and reflect over the things we read and experience. Their programmes are filled with creative and thoughtful activities that impart the love of not only the Qur’an but also Hadith and Seerah to children.
They occasionally conduct a Qur’an enrichment integrated curriculum that covers science, geography, math and language when teaching Surahs like Surah Al Ma'un, Al Feel and Al Quraish from the Quran.
Their approach enables them to connect simple daily life and activities and link it to Quranic verses effortlessly.
7) Quran journaling/doodling
Qur’an journaling and doodling is another way to help children explore the verses deeper. The act of drawing or choosing an image to represent a particular verse or word helps children remember the verse better. If they come across it, the mental image helps them quickly recall the meaning of the verse.
(Image source: Iqrasaurus)
For example in Surah Al Fatihah, we can ask what image comes to mind when they say the first verse. If it’s Alhamdulillah, then they can draw a symbol to represent being thankful. For the verse that has Maliki yaumiddin, they can draw a crown to represent king. For younger children, it can be a guided process but for older kids, they can doodle more intricately if they choose.
This could be a fun activity to do when learning Juz Amma with your children: to find out the virtues of each Surah and how to apply them in your daily lives.
This is also a great way to get you and your children to develop a personal relationship with the Quran. Furthermore, Tadabbur (reflection) is highly encouraged. To reflect on one verse of the Quran is more impactful than to do a whole khatam of the Quran without any reflection at all. It is what would lead to change and action.
“Then do they not reflect upon the Quran, or are there locks upon their hearts?” (47:24)
Learning the Quran doesn’t have to be a dry activity. Make it fun for both you and your children. Remember to do only what serves your family and don’t try to do things that you don’t enjoy.
For example, I enjoy crafts and so do my kids but I really can’t handle the preparation and clean up with so many other responsibilities hanging on my shoulders. So I do easier things instead, like sit down with my children, open up a book of tafseer and just read and discuss any topics that crop up. My children enjoy being read to, it requires minimal preparation and no cleaning at all, so currently this is our family’s preferred choice of activity. We make it fun by rewarding ourselves with a nice treat afterwards.
Juz Amma Resources
As promised, here are some great resources to use to teach your children Juz Amma:
This set contains a total of 38 mini books. You can either purchase it as e-books or physical books from their website. It includes the Tafseer of all the Surahs in Juz Amma and Al-Fatihah as well. Not only do the books contain stories and tafseer derived from Tafseer of Ibn Kathir, but it also includes engaging activities, colouring pages, translations from Sahih International, transliteration of the verses, ahadith related to the Surah, interesting facts and trivia and much more.
The fonts are nice and big, very kid-friendly. It's a great resource to use if you have no idea how to teach your own children Tafseer. The fact that is comes in 38 separate books also make it less overwhelming as you can focus on one book at a time.
(Image source: Ayeina)
This is a wonderful addition to the list of great resources we can use to deepen our relationship with the Quran. All the Surahs are presented in one big book with 300+ pages. There are so many features that we love about this book including its design and presentation, big kid-friendly text, hifdh/ qira’at tracker, mini-tafseer word-for-word translation and much more! The part we love best is the sections where the children are made to reflect on what they have learnt from the Surah and how they can apply it in their lives.
(Image source: Wardah Books)
The Clear Quran for Kids is a gem of a book. Its presentation of the surahs is easy on the eyes as it is broken down into various sections such as learning points, background stories, side stories and words of wisdom that encourage deeper discussion. It very cleverly uses the power of stories to explain Quranic passages.
As an adult, I find this really useful and easy to understand and I’m learning along with my children. If you don’t have this yet, do add it as part of your home library. It’s really designed with kids in mind because it was even edited by kids to make it very easy to understand.
(Image source: Amazon.sg)
This book by Faith Books is really great for visual learners. It really helped my daughter to memorise her Juz Amma before she was fluent in reading as she is a visual learner. Each verse from the Surahs in Juz Amma is illustrated to explain its meaning. It has also been used in my children’s classes for their teacher to illustrate the tafseer pictorially. For games day, we even used their flashcards to get the children to guess the Surah just by the picture (and their knowledge of tafseer) and to arrange the different Surahs in order. This book only contains half of the Surahs of Juz Amma as the 2nd part is still in the making.
The 4 resources above are the ones that we own and use with our kids. The ones below are the resources we’ve heard of but never had a chance to use or review:
(Image source: Islamhashtag.com)
The book is a student friendly presentation of the 30th Part of the Qur'an. The book contains large and clear Arabic text, transliteration in English and translation in three-column format. Each surah starts with a short introduction. The surah is followed by explanation of the verses based on authentic commentary. A "word to know" section provides root and derivatives of several key words used in the surah. This is further elaborated in to a word-to-word meaning of the entire surah. Each chapter ends with some teachings in the surah that the children can apply in their everyday life. A short question section reinforces the materials learned. (text taken from Amazon)
6) The Holy Qur'an for Kids - Juz 'Amma: A Textbook for School Children with English and Arabic Text by Yahiya Emerick
(Image source: Amazon.sg)
This is a textbook for elementary level children that teaches the basic concepts of the last 37 chapters of the holy Qur'an. It contains the full Arabic text, along with simple translations into English of the meaning, transliterations, chapter introductions, engaging graphics, review questions and activities. (text taken from Amazon)
(Image source: Amazon.sg)
The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an for School Children is a graphic-intensive translation of the Qur'an tailored to the needs and interests of young readers. It contains the full translated text in child-friendly English, reasons for revelation and information of interest to better understand the verses. Great for grades 3-7 and beyond. (text taken from Amazon)
Share in the comments below which activities you like to do with your children when it comes to learning the Quran and also the resources you use for the benefit of other readers here.
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