4/01/2020

10 Steps to use the Animals Unit Studies Journal

Journaling is an amazing way to learn with children. Because my daughter loves animals, we decided to use animal unit studies journaling to learn detailed information about some animals.

If you haven't seen the  the previous post about the Animal Unit Studies Journal for Kids, check it our here.

We learned about the Chinchilla and had a lot of fun doing so! We first came across the name from an animal book that I purchased last year. We were fascinated and wanted to learn more.



We watched some videos and even thought about potentially getting one as a pet (one day). Hmm, not too sure about that anymore. But they are cute nevertheless.

Here are the steps we took to journal about the Chinchilla:

1. We first got some basic information about mammals because we just started the mammal category.
We used Google.

2. I then asked my daughter what mammal she wanted to learn about first.
We went through a list of mammals (given in the journal) and she chose the Chinchilla, an animal we've been wanting to learn more about for a while.

3. I wrote down the name of the animal on a piece of paper and she copied it in the journal, along with the date.


4. I asked my daughter what she wanted to know about the chinchilla and I wrote down her answers.
Children who can write well can write it all down themselves.

5. I noted down the resources we planned on using. Since we're now home on a lock-down, we couldn't go to the library or find magazines. However, doing crafts, story telling, and even animal play are some fun activities you can do with your children as well. We plan on doing those next time, in shaa Allah.

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6. We started searching on Google and ventured to various sites. We also used Youtube to watch videos about chinchillas.

7. As we watched the videos, I emphasized on facts mentioned in the videos to make my daughter pay more attention to them. I wrote some of the facts that stood out the most to us. We used various colors to make the book look more fun.


8. After writing facts, then came my daughter's favorite part ... drawing!
I found an example of a sketch on Google and had her look at it and imitate the drawing draw.
Of course, she felt the need to color it pink:)




We usually prefer to draw without eyes, but that doesn't always happen with my little one. She draws what she sees. When she was 2 or 3, she was drawing our family one day ... I told her not to draw the eyes and she replied saying "but we have eyes." That made me laugh a lot. I did explain the reason why I believe we shouldn't and she understood. But hey, kids are kids.

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9. Since we love books and couldn't find a story book about chinchillas, I turned our research into a non-fiction story-like 'book.' Basically, I simply re-read everything while making it fun and engaging.

10. Now comes some of the facts we learned about the chinchilla:


  • Chinchillas are rodents like rats and mice.
  • They are neither nocturnal nor diurnal but rather crepuscular, meaning, they are mostly active at dawn and dust. 
  • Chinchillas are herbivores who eat hay, plants and even chew on twigs.
  • Some chinchillas are domesticated and others are wild.
  • They live in the mountains in South America, specifically in Chile.
  • And manyyyy more fun facts!


So, there you have it! We had lots of fun learning about chinchillas.
Journaling about animals is an amazing opportunity to talk about the creations of Allah. It's a reminder to us and our children that Allah is the Creator and creates many amazing creatures other than us. Learning about fun facts of these amazing creations is an acknowledgement of Allah's wonders.



Let me know if and when you use the Animal Unit Studies Journal. If you do, please share an image of how you and your children used it.

Have fun!

3/27/2020

How to Make Homeschooling Fun Outdoors Through Nature Learning

Homeschooling doesn't have to only take place in the house. Besides working on crafts and workbooks, there are many other ways to make homeschooling fun. One of those is by learning about nature outdoors.

With the current Corona Virus pandemic lock-down, many parents are in dilemma about what to do with their children's education. Although we're limited on where we can go, there's still a way to enjoy nature.

Before the lack-down, I used to take my children to various activities throughout the week. My daughter especially had lots of fun meeting friends and staying active. Now she misses her friends and looks forward to life getting back to normal. So, I decided to take advantage of these moments and make use of our garden.




We hadn't used our garden for a long time for a reason I won't go in detail about. However, I thought it would be a waste not to make use of it right now. So every morning or afternoon, my husband and I and our children go to the garden to enjoy the fresh air and do various activities.

This is a great family bonding time and it makes our children not feel like they are missing out. Here are some of the things we do.

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Enjoying fresh air
Getting fresh air is important, it make us feel good, and it's an opportunity to talk about nature. We talk about us needing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. We also talk about how plants produce oxygen and everything else that comes with it. I mention everything being the creation of Allah and how Allah provides many things in nature for us to enjoy.

It's also an opportunity to practice staying quiet, observing and breathing in and out. Practicing silence is a great way to reflect on life and staying present. It's never too early to start doing it.

Exercising
No more excuses not to exercise!
We take advantage of the garden to move a little more, run around, kick a ball, and just have fun while enjoying the sun.
It's an opportunity to talk about staying healthy and remembering that our body has rights upon us.


Listing
The garden is an amazing place to hear all kinds of sounds.
We stop and listen to try to identify what's making sound. This helps children develop their listening skills and learn new things.




Observing and finding new creatures
This one is our favorite!
We look around us, pay attention and try to spot different creatures. This helps children develop their observation skills and makes them appreciate and notice their surroundings.

Sometimes, when we find interesting or beautiful creatures, we take a picture to add it to a collection of our nature findings.

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Doing these outdoor activities is a perfect opportunity to use the Animals Unit Studies Journal that I recently published. After finding animals, we write it down in our journal and do more research to find out more. What to research is all laid out in the journal. After finding facts, we draw or write about what we've learned. Here's a sample.


We also love reading books about nature. One that we enjoyed reading is titled Get Outdoors: A Mindfulness Guide to Noticing Nature. This book is amazing and comes with fun activities such as making compose, creating a garden and more. We borrowed it from our local library. If you don't find one at your local library or aren't able to go out right now, you can also find it on Amazon at a reasonable price.

Free play
You don't always have to think of something to do in your garden. Let your children use their imaginations to find things, jump around and just do what they want to do. It's also okay to let them be bored for a while, if that happens.
My daughter loves playing in the dirt, dinging, finding flowers, collecting rocks and doing animal role-play. Getting dirty in the garden builds the immune system and allows children to simply have fun without thinking about not making a mess like in the house.

After everything, we go back inside and take a warm shower:)



Wrapping up
Playing outdoors is fun, keeps children active and it's healthy! It's a great moment to bond with your family and for children to be creative.

How do you use your garden (if you have one)?
How do you study nature with your children?






Some of the links may include affiliate links, check out my disclosure for more info.

8/26/2019

Kindergarten Part 2 | Our Homeschooling Update


Homeschooling has been a journey for us, especially for me as the educator. I see it differently than I did at the beginning. As an ex teacher, I think I came into it with confidence while trying to replicate exactly what I learned in the education system. Things are slowly changing.

I don't write much anymore and have taken a step back at making curricula or printables because I want to give myself time to see what works for my daughter and what to improve on. I would be documenting our journey whenever I see fit and will share resources at times, in shaa Allah.

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Yes, you read the title right, we're starting Kindergarten Part 2.
That may come as a shock for some because we did kindergarten the previous year. As I said before, this is a journey for us. It would come with exploring, trials and learning. My daughter is 'supposed' to start 1st Grade (Grade 1) this year, but I believe she's too young. I don't want to rush her. And even if I were to call it '1st Grade,' it wouldn't have made a difference anyway. As an educator, you decide what Kindergarten or 1st Grade is to you.

My definition of Kindergarten Part 2 is a year to relax, explore and focus on what my daughter loves. She's obsessed with animals! She always says, "Animals are beautiful creations of Allah." That's right, so we will make that our theme focus this year in shaa Allah. It's basically unit studies, except, we will have a gigantic unit study subject with multiple subcategories.

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We homeschool year-round and try to 'officially' start the year after Eid al Adh-ha. So we started back not long ago. We're both excited to embark on this new journey.

And just because our focus of the year is on animals doesn't mean we would completely ignore everything else. I'd be using our kindergarten curriculum once in a while to re-enforce what she's learned so far and make sure she doesn't completely forget everything. We may also incorporate some of the previous lessons in our unit studies. We'll see how that goes.

Animals are mentioned in various parts of the Qur'an, so we will sometimes use examples from the Qur'an. It's also a good excuse to learn/hear one more Ayah. :)

Hands-on activities, trips and nature walks could also work very well with this unit study. I'll research on that and see what we could incorporate in our homeschooling this year.

Besides just learning about animals (which will be packed by the way), we will work on her reading and writing skills. It may or may not have anything to do with animals. My daughter has been showing an overwhelming desire to read and write, so we will work on that too. She can write letters and even short words, I just didn't think it was necessary to focus on that before. These days, there are children reading and writing even at the age of 2, but I think we're rushing our children to do things they would eventually learn at a more developed age anyway. If it works for your child, go for it, just don't feel pressured to follow the trend. Homeschooling is really what you make it to be and what works for your family.

Let's wrap it up now. I just wanted to share this new update with those who have been following our journey so far. I also didn't want to keep you hanging, wondering what's happening. This is also to help anyone (new or old) reading this to gain new inspirations or ideas.

I'd probably be sharing what we do along the way this year to give you a more realistic view of how it could work. Is this something you would like to get more info about?
Orrrr, would you want me to make an animal unit studies journal!?
I could probably do that at the end of our journey while still sharing bits and pieces along the way.
Let me know!

__________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.

5/06/2019

A Ramadan Journal for Little Muslims - Ihsaan Home Academy


I made a Ramadan journal for Muslim children titled 'My Mini Ramadan Journal' last year. I wanted to share it on my blog, but I got carried away with other things until days into Ramadan. Here comes another Ramadan, so I decided to take the opportunity to share it now. I hope it's not too late.

This is a simple, yet informative journal that children between the ages of 3 - 10 will enjoy in shaa Allah. Actually, it could be for children of any age. The little writing part can be done by the parent/educator when the child is too young to write. 

Here is what the journal consists of:

1. Ayah about Ramadan
Before officially beginning using the journal, children are introduced to an ayah (verse) from the Qur'an that mentions the revelation of the Qur'an and more. 

2. Countdown page
The countdown is for children to color-in each day of Ramadan that passes. It helps them keep track of their progress in the journal and of the days of Ramadan. It's also fun to look forward to coloring a box every day.

3. Thirty (30) pages of activities
There are thirty pages of activities, each dedicated to a day in the month of Ramadan. Each page has an empty box at the top, an image of what the activity is about below, a fun fact after that, and two lines for writing. 

The first line is where children (or their parents) would write what they are grateful for. The next line is where they would make a du'a. The purpose of adding this part is to encourage Muslim children to actively think about the blessings in their lives, be grateful, and to practice turning to Allah first for everything they want in life.

4. Thirty (30) Ayat cards
I got this part of the activity from a blog called Parenthood Muslim Style. Click the name to be taken to the blog. You can download this part of the activity there. I use it in my activity a bit differently than the sister uses it. 

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The cards basically have an Ayah on each and an image representing the Ayah. Each day of Ramadan, children search for the verse in the Qur'an. These cards can be used in many ways. It was a perfect fit for my activity and I didn't have to make new cards. May Allah reward the sister with the best of rewards for making these cards!

5. Laylatul Qadr section
After 20 days, there is a section with Ayat and ahadith about Laylatul Qadr. Children get to learn about this blessed night found in the last ten nights of Ramadan.

6. Eid Page
The last part of the activity is a page about the celebration of Eid.
It has Eid Mubarak and a du'a of Eid. Below, there's a space for children to write what they got for Eid as gifts and a place to write the gifts they plan on giving others. 

How to Use this Activity
1. Prepare the activity by printing it and binding it into a book. Next, print out the 30-Ayat cards after downloading it from the blog, then cut them out into cards. Get coloring pencils, a pencil, and glue. 

2. Start the journal by generally talking to your children about Ramadan. You can also read verses from the Qur'an, read ahadith, watch videos, etc.

3. One day at a time, mark the Ramadan day on the countdown page by coloring the corresponding box/number. 

4. Glue the first Ayah card on the page for the activity of the day. It should be glued in the empty box. Search for the Ayah in the Quran (audio or book). Read it or listen to it, then read the meaning (translation, if needed).

5. Talk about the word of the day mentioned on the card. 

6. Read the fun fact of the day and discuss. 

7. Next, children should write about things they are grateful for and ask Allah for something through a du'a. 

8. Once you reach the last ten days of Ramadan, read the information about Laylatul Qadr. Feel free to expand by doing many other things related to the specific topic. 

9. After the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan, go to the Eid page and write the gifts received and the ones to be given.

10. Enjoy EID!

Goals
  • To learn about Ramadan
  • To practice searching for verses in the Qur'an
  • To listen to the Qur'an and build a bond
  • To learn new Arabic vocabularies from the Qur'an
  • To learn fun facts and be informed
  • To practice gratitude
  • To practice remembering Allah and asking Him for everything
  • To look forward to doing something productive every day of the month of Ramadan
  • To make learning easy, straight forward, and FUN

I truly hope this mini journal will benefit everyone who downloads and uses it. Please, share this post with others so they too could benefit in shaa Allah. May Allah forgive us all for our sins, guide us, help us catch Laylatul Qadr, and make Ramadan successful for us. 

Ramadan Mubarak!

__________________________ 
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.

5/01/2019

Our Updated Full Kindergarten Curriculum - Ihsaan Home Academy


If you regularly follow this blog, then you've most likely come across the post where I detailed our Kindergarten curriculum. Well, guess what? There's an update! I intended to write about this months ago, but as you probably already know, I was away for a while. Now I'm back, so let me update you on our curriculum.

One of the reasons why I like sharing our homeschooling journey on this blog is to give ideas to other homeschoolers or aspiring homeschoolers. It is to also to encourage others to not be afraid to explore, make plans, change plans, take a break if needed, and know that each family experiences home education differently. 

In the previous full Kindergarten curriculum, the daily plan was to go through a list of subject curricula that I authored, each one taking no more than a few minutes at a time. Although that was all nice and easy because it took almost no time, it did get a bit stressful for me to constantly keep track of the next subject to cover and where we had previously stopped. It seemed too rigid for me, especially for Kindergarten!  
So, I decided to make it more flexible and fun!

Here's what we ended up doing instead and still continue to do...
We now start the day by going over the weekly Surah of our choice and learn the meaning.
Next, I let my daughter choose at least 1 or 2 subjects she would like to do after making sure that we do something in Math and Language Arts. But, here's another major change, I allow her to choose whatever page she prefers. She could literally choose the first page today and go to the last page tomorrow. 

What I find fascinating about this new method is that it keeps us both stress-free and allows my daughter to feel in charge of what she's learning. She enjoys it more and is excited about the new lesson. Another interesting observation was seeing her more focused and willing to do more pages than required. I literally have to sometimes force her to stop. It's now a 'game of learning' for her. She always says, "I want to do more!" She even cries sometimes when I stop her. 

Since I created each subject curriculum keeping in mind what I believe she should know or be familiar with by the end of Kindergarten, I'm not stressed about what she learns first or last. By the end of the school year, we would most likely cover all pages and even go over many of them multiple times, in shaa Allah. 

At the end of our homeschooling day, I read aloud from her preferred book and we do Arts and Crafts if she wants to. We go out to the garden or park as often as possible for Nature Walks or to enjoy the fresh air. I also allow her to help me with Cooking and Baking at least once a week (still working on it). We do homeschooling 3 to 4 days a week and remember to keep it fun!

Don't be afraid to make changes along your homeschooling journey. Try different things and see what works best for you, and most importantly, your children. I hope you've enjoyed reading this post and got some tips out of it. Until next time in shaa Allah, assalaam 'alaikum!

__________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.

10/25/2018

Our Kindergarten Curriculum plus Free Printables - Ihsaan Home Academy



Kindergarten is one of the easiest and most fun grade levels to teach and a good start for anyone new to home educating. Depending on where you live, Kindergarten may not be a requirement for your child. Even if it isn't, I believe this is the best time to practice and get ready for First Grade. I've put together a simple curriculum that my daughter and I will be using throughout the year in shaa Allah.




Before going through the curriculum, let me first outline some important aspects that may help you.

Days of School in the Year
As you can see, it's almost November, and it's now that I'm sharing our KG curriculum. That's because I don't have to follow the exact conventional school-year; neither do you. Unless there's an exception in your country or state, you can make your own school calendar.

We plan on having 200 days of school even though the average conventional school covers about 180 days. Instead of having specific days that we must do school work, I went ahead and planned it by the number of days. What I mean is that we will have Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc. If we miss a day, we'd just catch up on the following day without stressing out. We'll check each day as we go in shaa Allah.

After every four weeks of school, we'll have a week of break. That's the general plan, but there will also be times (i.e. Ramadhan) with more than a week of school break.

We'll also leave room for change in our weekly schedule. At first, I wanted to have specific school days (i.e. Saturday to Wednesday), but I'm now leaning towards allowing varieties in case we want to do something new as a family, go out, spend quality time, etc. So some weeks, it may be Saturday to Wednesday, and other weeks, it may be different. As long as we put in the number of days in the week, that's all that'll matter.

Hours of Education in a Day
During preschool, it barely took us an hour to do everything. Now for Kindergarten, since we'll be doing a little more, the plan is to go for a maximum or 2.5 hours. If we do less, great, but definitely not more than 2.5 hours. And even during that time, my daughter will not be sitting the whole time. I may need her attention for a little while, but I wouldn't mind her jumping around if she chooses to do so at any given time.
---------------------------------------------

Curriculum
Subjects
We'll be covering lots of subjects, but that's only because I categorized them in a way that makes it easy for me to check as we go along. It won't take my daughter long to go through them at all.

Preschool was full of hands-on activities, workbooks, reading, we took a break, changed the method of teaching, and tried different ways. My daughter had a lot of fun, which is the most important thing, but it did require a lot of work from my part.

This year, I'm planning on making it simple, to the point, and effective in shaa Allah. Instead of the unit studies approach I previously wanted to go for, I've decided to leave that for another year. Kindergarten is the year where students are introduced to various concepts for general understanding. So, I've decided to cover the basics by making each individual curriculum along with read-out-loud. My daughter loves when I read to her, so she would definitely enjoy that part in shaa Allah.




Now on to the curriculum.

Qur'an: We'll go through Juz' 'Amma just for familiarization purpose, although, she does tend to memorize most of the time. We'll listen to the recitation, talk about the meaning, and repeat the same Surah as many times as we want. How many times we repeat always depends on how much she enjoys reciting the Surah. She usually finds some challenging, so we don't spend too much time on them, and go for the ones she loves better. Check out this post I made about how I teach my daughter the Qur'an. We used to go through any Surah from the Qur'an (long or short), but this year, we'll focus on Juz' 'Amma in shaa Allah. Click here to download the checklist printable.

Nature Walk/Exercise: The plan is to go out to the garden every morning before starting 'school' or exercise at home. We've started the morning nature walks and it's been wonderful so for! What we do is observe, relax, enjoy, and appreciate the beautiful creation of Allah. Stay tuned for a full description of what we do on an upcoming post in shaa Allah.

Language Arts: Check out the Language Arts curriculum I recently made. It requires no preparation from the educator except to download and put the pages in sheet protectors. It also doesn't require any writing from the student. Students would only need to use dry-erase markers to circle or trace the answers. Another option can be to select by using manipulatives.
https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/10/kindergarten-language-arts-curriculum.html


Math and Logic: Check out the Math and Logic curriculum here. It is similar to the above.

https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/10/kindergarten-math-and-logic-no-prep.html

Phonics and Reading: Learn to Read with 52 Easy Lessons.
https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/07/learn-to-read-with-54-easy-lessons.html

Science and Social Studies: Check out the Science and Social Studies curriculum here.
https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/10/kindergarten-science-and-social-studies.html




Health and Safety: Check out the Health and Safety curriculum here.
https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/10/kindergarten-health-and-safety.html

Writing: Writing is not a big focus this year. But since my daughter loves pretending to write, I think it would be a good idea to make sure she learns at least the basics. So, I made a short writing curriculum that we'll cover this year. After that, I'll give her a notebook to write whatever she wants and date it to see her improvement over time. Click here to see the printable.

Islamic Studies: Although Islam will pretty much be part of our overall KG curriculum, there are some basic Islamic concepts that I would like us to go over as many times as possible. Check out My First Islamic Binder free printable.
https://www.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/08/my-first-islamic-learning-binder-free.html

Arabic: Since I'm not a native speaker of Arabic, making or following a curriculum with basic concepts is the easiest way I can teach. The focus this year will be spoken Arabic only, not written. Check out Kindergarten Arabic Curriculum.
https://shop.ihsaanhomeacademy.com/2018/10/kindergarten-arabic-curriculum.html




Mandinka: We'll cover basic concepts. A this is my language, I think speaking directly to her would be more effective. But, I still plan on dedicating specific time to go through some things that I would have otherwise not think of teaching her.

Read Out-Loud: The main books we'll be reading everyday are: 365 Days with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), My First Quran Storybook, 101 Sahabiyat Stories and Dua, Our Wonderful World by Emery Lewis Howe (a living and nature studies book, I'll replace some words that talk about 'God' as we read because it seems to have been written by a Christian), and any good geography book we find at the library that talks about people around the world.

Arts and Crafts: This will only be drawing and craft-making. She loves drawing, so that may be what we'll do the most. For crafts, we'll just find random ones online as we go. They may or may not be related to the weekly lessons.

Cooking and Baking: My daughter always tells me that she want to help me cook, but sadly, I'm most of the time in a hurry and not patient enough to cook with her. This year, I'll dedicate a day in the week to cook or bake something together, step by step, in shaa Allah. It could be something related to what we'd be studying or anything she wants to cook. I'll try to get inspiration from cooking books and Pinterest.

Here's our weekly plan:

As you can see, most of our learning will be in four days. The first will just be cooking or baking and her weekly outing (i.e. meet-ups, sports, etc).

Planner: I made a weekly planner, a daily countdown, and a very simple weekly planner to record what we do each week. I also made an assessment sheet to record what's working and what we need to work on if needed. This isn't required especially this early on, but it helps me know if the plan I put in place is good for my daughter or if there needs to be a change. Remember, this is about the child and what works for him/her, not about coming to a conclusion of how "incapable" we think they may be.

I hope this outline of our curriculum will be helpful to you and hopefully give you ideas on how to plan your homeschooling year in shaa Allah. If you know anyone it may benefit, please share it. I wish you all the best on your homeschooling journey. May Allah make us all successful.
Have fun.

Some of the links may include affiliate links, check out my disclosure for more info.
__________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.

10/04/2018

All about Me Free Printable for Kindergarten - Ihsaan Home Academy

  



As we're starting Kindergarten soon in shaa Allah, the All about Me notebooking activity is what I'm planning on starting with my daughter in shaa Allah. This is an activity that can cover every subject  while also helping students learn about themselves.

It's very important for children to be aware of who they are, where they live, and where they come from. This activity is good for studying Geography, History, Math, and other subjects.

There's a part of the printable named 'Where I live' with extra pages to create a fun and visual activity showing the difference between a continent, a country, all the way to 'My Home.'
It helps the child understand that a planet is bigger than a continent, a country is bigger than a city, and so forth.

It is most suitable for children ages 4 to 8 (but can be used with any age).

Total number of pages: 10
Print: A4 sheets

Enjoy!

__________________________
Umm Sumayyah is a mother of two and a former teacher who turned into a home educator after becoming a mother. She is also an editor and a researcher who loves collecting and sharing information on social matters, education, career, and entrepreneurship.