By Umm Sumayyah Quan
2015 First Edition
2020 Second Edition
Did you know, my book Teach Your Child To Read Arabic in 10 Easy Lessons all started in 2015?! It was when we decided to officially homeschool our daughter who had just turned the tender age 3. We were both new to home education. And, I was reluctant to teach her two languages simultaneously as I thought the capabilities of a young child who only just learned how the potty train a little over a year and a half ago, and had only just started forming sentences together in the previous year, was unable to acquire the complex skill of reading. But, how I underestimated the intelligence of a 3-year-old!
The story starts with teaching my daughter how to read English.
We started pretty slow and gradual at first. But then I came across the Jolly Phonics and Montessori English language program for reading. We quickly picked up the pace and we graduated successfully step after step using their methodical approach. It really did surprise me that with the right teaching method, you have the keys to unlock your child’s true potential. Her abilities were directed to a more purposeful skill. Three to four months passed by so quickly, it was a challenge to keep up with my daughter’s pace. By the end of the curriculum, she was reading very well, becoming a fluent reader within a couple more months.
At a similar time, we were learning Arabic but unsuccessfully. I made excuses and I put it down to it being a foreign language for both of us, so maybe that was the reason why it was harder. Coupled with the only Arabic reading program I’ve ever heard of was Qawaaid Nooraniyyah used at mosques around the world to teach 5-year-olds how to read. If you’re not sure what the Qaida is, it’s a thin, simplified book filled Arabic text with about 20 back to back Lessons. Starting with the Alphabet and ending with being able to read Quranic Verses. It isn’t colorful, you don’t understand what you are reading and practice pages are limited.
Albeit, it gets the job done if you stick at it. As for my daughter, she was at an age where she loved vibrant colors, relatable pictures. And wanted to know what she was learning and make sense of it. Meaning the Qaida didn’t match her learning style.
So I customized an Arabic program for her. When started learning the Arabic Alphabet, it took a good portion of our time and effort. We did many sensorial activities like arts and crafts for each letter for example taa is for taaj so we did a letter craft then made a paper crown. I DIYed sandpaper letters to feel the letter and imprint on the memory. As well as tracing letters in a sand tray. Tracing with chalk on a chalkboard. And using playdough to make the shape of every letter we learned.
During each stage in her Arabic reading, we would play different games. So when she learned the Alphabet and started to decode the letters in their cursive form, we would try to work out the letters written on the shops and store signs. One of the bonuses being in an Arab country is that Arabic is everywhere, so there plenty of words to decode.
The trickiest stage of reading was reading with vowels. We spent the longest part of our reading journey on this stage. It took about 4 weeks for my 3-year-old to understand the mechanics of reading with fatha, dhamma and kasra. This is where Arabic phonics comes in handy. My daughter depended on the sound of the letter rather than the name of the letter to be able to connect the phonetical sound with the vowel sound a/u/ē. Since it’s the vowel which actually vocalise the letter.
For example َخَرَج would be read as kh-a/r-a/j-a = kha/ra/ja. We would play vowelize the word, a listening and writing exercise. Here I would write a 3-lettered word on the whiteboard, say it out loud. Then, my daughter would listen, then carefully place the correct vowel fatha, dhamma or kasra on the letter, finally repeating the word she has written. I had to exaggerate the position of my mouth with each vowel sound for her to mimic and articulate herself. This was very useful exercise and became part of our daily routine.
Another game we regularly played was matching picture and word cards. Motivated by my daughters love for hands on learning. I decided to DIY picture and word matching flashcards for her, adding miniatures to make it more playful and engaging for her. It seemed like it was working and her positive response made me continue with more flashcards. I would also bind some flashcards with a key ring for her to read on car journeys.
After passing this stage. The rest became a lot easier as she developed the fundamental skills to apply to other operations in reading Arabic. Reading with madd was simply elongating the vowel sound when the vowel is accompanied by their corresponding madd letter Alif, Waw and Yaa. We played the same games at this stage, as she continued to enjoy them.
Coming onto reading with sukoon. Because of learning to read phonetically, it made this stage a lot easier too. Remember what I said? If the fundamental skills are strong everything will follow inshallah, so it may be a good idea to spend more quality time in the beginning. All that needed to be done at this stage of reading was learning the symbol for sukoon, as she had already learned how to make the sound when stopping on a letter.
The last stage of reading Arabic is reading with shaddah. Meaning to double the letter. In reality, the shaddah symbol isn’t introducing a new sound. Rather shaddah tells the reader to double the letter it’s placed on, the first is to read with a sukoon, and the second is read with the vowel that is above or below the shaddah symbol. These are reading skills that your child already knows how to do. The shaddah symbol is the only thing they have to newly learn.
At this stage, it’s worth introducing short sentences containing 2 to 4 small words, taken from Arabic children’s books and from the Noble Quran. This stage consolidates everything they have learned. So, they should now apply their newly acquired readings skills to more challenging phrases and sentences.
By the end of it, I was happy that my daughter could start reading the Quran. But it did take a huge amount of effort, time and commitment to tailor a reading curriculum for her. I didn’t think I could’ve exerted that same amount of effort if I had to teach my second or third child.
So, I entertained the idea of there being a book easily available where it had all the information readily available. All the hard work is done for me. And put into a child-friendly way, with colorful illustrations, meaningful language, helpful teaching instructions and activity sheets for extra practice.
Of course, I never found such a book, just lots of recommendations of different variations of the Qaida. Which, has helped many thousands of children to learn to read if not millions. But that wasn’t my point for teaching a child to not just read, but learn to love the language by understanding it with its meanings and ignite that spark of joy and love to willingly want to learn. Which was my reason to design a book that achieved this. Thus, Teach Your Child to Read Arabic in 10 Easy Lessons was born.
That brings me to an end of my story. Teach Your Child To Read Arabic in 10 Easy Lessons was designed out of a need. It was inspired by the Montessori and Jolly Phonics reading program. Whilst keeping faithful to a similar structure of the Qaida. Over time, I added extra pages and activities, got it checked by educational consultants and editors, until my book became what is it today. A complete curriculum designed to provide your child with a full range of fundamental activities to support emerging and early readers to improve their reading fluency giving him/her repeated varied exposure to common everyday words.
I hope you enjoy reading my personal story. I’m curious to hear your story of how do you and your child find your Arabic lessons. Did you struggle as I did or does your child love Arabic time?
If you would like a copy of the book for your own classroom, head over to my shop page there you can find my Second Edition workbook and a range of classroom resources for your Arabic lessons.
Click the link for my Tarbiyah Islamiyyah shop page https://tarbiyahislamiyyah.com/shop/
Or you can head directly to the Amazon marketplace to grab your copy.