Thoughts..

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Today a local sister came to visit us. Her children are in school but she is considering home educating them. Although I have visited her a few times, it was her first visit to our home and it was nice that R enjoyed showing her her work, lapbooks, and other completed projects.

It is amazing how many sisters are considering home education at the moment. I held an open day at my home some weeks ago, and there were roughly 10 sisters. And aside from that, I have had roughly five sisters come over at individual times asking about home education. I don’t know why there is a sudden increase in interest in home education but alhamdulillah I am always happy to answer any questions.

I had a very interesting conversation with the sister who came over today. We talked about the different ways to home educate and our conversation led us to reasons why one home educates. Some sisters tend to home educate because they feel that home education is the only way that they can protect their children from the world. We both agreed that this is wrong. Home education should be a choice because we feel that it is the BEST choice, and not the ‘only option’ left for Muslims. This actually scares me as I know quite a few sisters who shut their kids off from the world thinking that that is what is going to save them and protect them and make them these wonderful pious Muslims. Allah is the Protector. But one day these children WILL grow up and WILL venture out into the world, and so we have to PREPARE them for the world and not HIDE them from it.

Another thing that popped up into our conversation was when we home educate, we should really be involved and interested in what our children are doing. The sister mentioned a home educating sister she knows who seems to just give her kids stuff to do to simply occupy them instead of engaging in what they do. It made me think about myself. I do hope that I am not like that. I don’t want home ed to be something whereby I simply get the kids to get on with their work and then mark it at the end. And then I feel that my job is done. No, I want to be a homeeducator that takes interest in my children’s interests. That plays games with them. That reads aloud to them. I think I am on the right track inshaAllah. But as I am someone who has other projects going on in my life, I need to ensure that I don’t place whatever else I’m doing first and then just get the kids to do their work to occupy themselves whilst I have time to do what I need to.

This leads me on to the importance of reading aloud. Before I started home educating, I used to think of read alouds as something you would do until a child could read to themselves. It was only until I came across many home educators that still read aloud to their teenagers that I realised how important read alouds are for the child, and for the bond that it creates between the parent and child. Read alouds have and still are an important part of our home education. At the moment, I am reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to R. I can’t tell you how much she is enjoying this book. I read a chapter to her a day (which isn’t enough  – in her words). Read alouds really bring us closer together, it enhances her vocabulary and grammar and there are so many other educational benefits.

Home education should be about taking an ACTIVE role in our children’s learning – not by simply giving them loads of workbooks to complete but rather showing excitement, amazement, interest, and ACTUAL involvement in all that they learn and do.

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6 responses »

  1. Assalamu alaykum dear sister,

    Until recently I thought going to school is okay as soon as the school is Islamic and the teachers are good Muslims with correct aqida and approach. However, as I previously mentioned I read “Dumbing us down” by John Gatto. This book brought to an awareness which shoock me deeply and changed my understanding of everything related to school and learning. I must admit I did have his ideas 15 years ago when I finished high school but I forgot them I guess. The book forcefully brought me back to my old ideas and added more awareness and understanding in how schooling affects the society as a whole.

    So now I understand that it is not about finding a good Islamic school and homeschooling as an alternative until good Islamic school is available. But rather schooling is wrong in itself and homeschooling is the only way and alternative my children have. Since I realised this I don’t feel guilty for not sending my kids to the school of my friend. I went even further by stop sticking to national curriculum and taking my own road in their education. Amazingly, the road I decided on is matching closely the method described in the “The well trained mind” book. Certainly I am not going to teach my kids all what she says she taught her daughter. I rather see that the method is right. I told my husband that I see that my kids need to focus on languages as means for learning and means for expression, plus Islamic history. That every subject needs to be taught in the context of Islam but a child cannot understand Islam if they don’t know how everything started and what happened next. So I am on with my project of writing an Islamic history text book. It is slow because we had the flu twice but I am determined to continue inshaAllah. 

    Since I decided to stop worrying about covering all the subjects for year one our educating day is much calmer and smoother. I decided to focus on manners so I bought a lot of books about manners for my daughter to read and also on grammar, spelling, etc. And in Arabic reading and writing.

    You said that some sisters see home education as necessity in order to protect their children from the world. I sort of agree that we have to protect our kids from the world until they are ready to deal with it. That we shouldn’t expose them to children and adults with bad manners and language. They need to mix with children and adults of good deen and character inshaAllah. I guess it is not by shutting off kids from the world that we protect them but by carefully choosing their environment until they know their deen well enough to make the difference between right and wrong, halal and haram, and be aware of how to deal with the wrong they may encounter. InshaAllah.

     What I mean is that I do agree that homeschooling is a way to protect our children from the world since only when we home educate them we have control over their environment. But protecting them shouldn’t be by isolating them completely but rather by carefully choosing their environment inshaaallah.

    Wassalamu alaykum

  2. Assalamu alaykum
    I don’t think I really agree with you! That’s quite unusual! I think there is a real danger in what you have written to strive for perfection, which is of course unattainable. What’s the odd workbook here and there??!! And yes, I want my children to be delighted by the world and to follow those delights, but they still have to do the boring stuff just like I do.

    You say that sisters homeschool because it is the ‘only option’. Well, yes, certainly for me it really is the only option. That does not mean that I don’t do it wholeheartedly and with conscious effort.

    With regards homeschooling as a means to protect our children – yes it is inshAllah. I have no desire to have my children as prisoners in their own home, of course not, but I will try my very best to keep them away from harmful influences until they are old enough to know better inshAllah. We are not living in a utopia, far from it, and there are many things that I myself steer very clear of. If only somebody had protected me from so many things in my life! Even as an adult, imaan can be affected greatly by your surroundings. We know ourselves that we try to surround ourselves with the ‘best’ of people hoping that some of that will rub off onto us (!). Why is it wrong to want this for our children too?

    I know that I have taken this a bit further than the meaning you intended to convey, and that in fact we are most probably singing from the same song sheet. I think my message is that nothing should be taken to an extreme – we all know this, but frequently we forget to implement it. These things are never black and white, just varying shades of grey. And what works for one family might be the worst decision imaginable for another.

    Sorry for the essay! Jazakillah khair for the thought provoking post – I’m off to contemplate it in the shower now whilst the baby sleeps inshAllah!!
    Wasalam

    • Walaikum assalam

      I’m always up for a bit of a debate (!) lol So please feel free to disagree. I don’t think I was saying that we need to strive for perfection. If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you will know that R does a lot of workbook stuff. Nothing wrong with workbooks, but I do feel that we should have a balance and make home ed interesting. Also, it was more along the lines of shoving our kids with lots of sheets to fill in because that will occupy them (as the sister who came to see me mentioned) instead of engaging in an activity with them.

      And I do feel that there is a difference with it being the ‘best only option’ and the ‘second best only option’. (If you know what I mean)

      I do think we are singing from the same song sheet. lol

      May Allah make it easy for us all and purify our intentions and cause us to be the BEST home educators that we can be…and that of course is going to be very different in each family.

      Jzk sis for your post. Made me think too. 🙂

  3. Assalamualaikum,Jazak’illahul khair for the thought provoking reminder.Your idea about ‘best option’ resonates with the much desired attribute of having ihsan in everything we do.How more poignant this is when it comes to the tarbiyyah/upnringing of our children- the future, inshaAllah!
    Just a small note.For some sisters however, it is sadly the ONLY option.They live in areas which are notorious for crime/substance abuse and we all know the first place for this to spread is the schools.As much as they’d like to,(desperate to) move, due to family commitments,ageing in laws etc they cannot for the time being.In these situations, in my humble opinion I think homeschooling is the only option and thus the best opinion for the family considering the circumstances.Even if this means resorting to worksheets,if that’s all she is able to do,for the time being! is better than the diabolical schools we see in some areas.I am NOT promoting doing endless worksheets!! I’m just highlighting how pathetic some of the schools are. Allah knows best.

    No criticism to you at all sis! just my opinion, I agree with everything else you said:)
    I absolutely love your blog and the discussions it springs forth.I REALLY needed the reminder!
    May Allah bless you and your family.

    • Walaikum assalam

      True – but in that instance for those sisters it is clearly not the ONLY option but also the BEST option. May Allah help them. Ameen. Jzk so much for sharing your thoughts sis. xx

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