Had to share a conversation I had yesterday with a friend who home educates her 6 children and always has done masha’Allah. Hope it serves as an inspiration to everyone.
So, yesterday as I was driving to the supermarket, I called my friend to talk to her about something non-home ed related. We got talking and then she suddenly became quite excited and told me she had some good news to share with me.
Her 15 year old daughter had sat two iGCSEs this year: Islamiyat and Biology. iGCSEs are somewhat more difficult than normal GCSEs. Masha’Allah tabarakAllah, her daughter got two As and after studying the results graphs, both Mum and daughter realised that they were very very strong As.
But what has astounded me is not so much the fact that she got As (although that is wonderful in itself) but that she completely self taught herself for only a few months prior to the exam! She had not studied Biology AT ALL prior to this. Had studied random science here and there from a young age onwards. Both Mum and daughter were completely shocked especially the daughter as she had no tutors, hardly any help from Mum and she had self taught herself everything for her Biology GCSE. Even using ‘Google’ to help her when she didn’t understand what on earth the course was talking about!
For Islamiyat, again it was mainly self taught and based on what she had learnt in previous years.
So, I chatted with her Mum for ages yesterday asking all sorts of questions about how they were home educated when they were younger and I left the conversation feeling renewed and refreshed that our new semi-structured way of doing things really is OKAY!
Her Mother informed me that when they initially started, they were very structured but as she began to have more children and found out more about home education, she changed and moved towards the more autonomous way of learning. For a good few years, they didn’t do anything structured at all and then eventually the whole family moved towards a semi-structured approach. She said that most families end up doing this as it is impossible to continue home educating in such a rigid structured manner. Stressful to Mum and kids don’t really like it either!
She spoke of her second child who started reading very late, who wasn’t interested in anything and was very different to her eldest. This child (aged 13) has just announced that she too wants to sit some GCSEs this year which was a big shock to the family as she is very much the ‘disinterested’ learner.
Masha’Allah, I was really inspired as I spoke to her as she has taken a very chilled and relaxed approach to home ed. She laughed as she recounted how she had ‘religiously’ stuck to curricula and how she now mixes and does a bit of this and a bit of that.
One thing that she did stress has helped her children is their attachment to the Qu’ran and the fact that they are memorising the Qu’ran. She was adamant that this has definitely improved their memory and assured me that even if a child did nothing aside from Qu’ran for a good few years there is no way that they could fall behind. This gave me great courage to continue with our decision to really push R in her hifdh over the next 2 years. I was really worried that she would fall behind in her academic subjects. I do want her to sit her GCSEs and I was worried it would affect her grades etc but alhamdulillah the above story has really given me the courage to continue in the natural way our family’s home ed has progressed to.
I’m not so worried now about sticking to the curricula I’ve chosen or having to complete it. I feel free from the chains of the curricula! And insha’Allah I feel more at peace with the fact that we won’t be able to do as much academic studies this year.
So sisters, don’t worry insha’Allah. Another side note with regards to this family mashaAllah is that both parents are very very active in their communities. They do a lot to help others and they involve their children in what they do. I feel that is why their children have a sense of self belief which I feel is very important for life. My friend picked up on this and said that despite her children’s different learning styles and capabilities – she has always tried to be consistent in the praise she gives them and the encouragement that they can do anything they set themselves to do.
By Allah, I left the conversation very happy and content. Home ed doesn’t have to be rigid and structured and school like. It should encompass the children’s different abilities and learning styles and give them the freedom to go at their pace and to learn what they want to learn.
Don’t know if this post will help you all but it has definitely inspired me in home ed especially as we begin to prepare to start again inshaAllah. Often we beat ourselves up that we’re not doing this or that with our children or that they’ll fall behind. I seem to be seeing a trend in the older home educated children I know that they are succeeding not only academically but Islamically and with minimal structure. Isn’t that the whole point of home ed? That they become self initiated learners who LOVE to learn and are free from the boxed in rigid approach schools adopt?
Food for thought…