I know its been really slow around here with my posts! Inshaallah I plan on being more regular. The main reason why I had the long break in posting was because we had a pretty long break in homeschooling. In September we put Yusuf in school. He attended JK at an Islamic school which has a very good reputation for their Islamic and Arabic Curriculum. We didn't put him in school because we were finished with homeschooling, we made this decision because mashallah we were blessed with the opportunity to perform Hajj last year. In preparation of leaving Yusuf for three weeks, we figured putting him in school would not only help him cope with being separated from us, but also keep him busy while we were gone. During this time Ibraheem and I also were going to school. Ibraheem went to the daycare and I attended Taleemul Quran classes. The three of us were going to school Mon - Fri, 8am-4pm everyday for about two months. I went through alot of mixed emotions during this time (having Ibby cry for me every single day shred my heart to pieces!) and both my husband and I came away from this experience with a lot more insight on how we would like to raise our family.
I strongly considered keeping Yusuf in school for the entire school year. Alhamdulllah mashallah he did much better adjusting than I expected. He didn't love school, but he didn't hate it either. His teacher was awesome and actually a good friend of mine, and even a former homeschooler! [ you can find her blog here]. But while away on hajj we both had alot of time to reflect on our lives and goals in life. And of course, after pleasing Allah, doing whats best for our family is at the top of the list! And the day we arrived home was the day we took Yusuf out of school.
After returning from hajj, keeping Ibby in the preschool long term was not even an option. Having Yusuf stay was something we considered, but after talking about it with my husband we decided it was best to return to homeschooling. We also sat down with Yusuf and asked him what he thought. He had a huge smile on his face when we gave him the option of staying home again.
Before I was even pregnant with Yusuf, I was interested in homeschooling and when I brought the idea up with my husband back then he thought I was crazy! After having Yusuf and as I got more involved in the homeschooling community my husband became more open minded. But it wasn't until we put Yusuf in school that my husband became fully supportive of homeschooling and agreed that it was best for us!
As I said, we learned a lot in those two months where we were all attending school. It was a difficult period for me but Im glad we went through it because my eyes were really opened and I appreciate our homeschooling lifestyle much more now.
Here are a few of my thoughts regarding our choice to homeschool:
*When I think back to the days where we were all going to school, the main thing I remember is chaos! I always felt so rushed! I didn't feel like I was enjoying my kids and I felt like we were all in our own world... my husband with work, Yusuf with Jk... Ibby with preschool and me with my class. By the time we all got home at the end of the day we didn't have the time or energy to enjoy one another. Weekdays were all about school: rushing to get ready in the morning, going to school, coming home tired, rushing dinner n bed n then doing it all over again the next morning. Yes, homeschooling can be crazy busy at times, but I feel that it gives us the opportunity to enjoy each other much more than we did while in school.
*I feel that we are much more involved in our children's lives. When Yusuf was going to school, wed have the typical conversation...wed ask him, "How was your day?" Hed reply "Fine." Wed ask "What did you learn?" Hed say, "Nothing." I know this is normal and I dont believe he learned nothing... but its common for kids to forget or just not want to talk much once they get home. With homeschooling, were constantly learning together and I think its such an amazing opportunity to watch our kids grow and share so many memorable experiences with them. Yes, Im being selfish...I want to be the one who watches them struggle for months with sounding out words and then they finally reach the point where they can read fluently! I want to be the one to see my child's eyes light up when they finally figure out the answer to the math question they've been trying to figure out! Alhamdulillah this is one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling and a priceless feeling!
*Mashallah we are blessed to have two beautiful boys who are fairly close in age and have come to a point in their relationship where they can communicate and play together. I LOVE seeing them together. Yusuf is mashallah so patient with Ibby slows down just to take time to explain or teach something to his brother. And Ibby looks up to Yusuf like no one else. They learn so much from each other and I think sibling relationships do not have the chance to flourish with the school routine. Ibby would literally cry out Yusuf's name when Id leave him in his class. They missed each other alot. But by the time we all got home from school they were both so cranky and they'd just take it out on each other and rarely have the chance to enjoy each other anymore. With homeschooling they are able to continue to build their relationship and learn from each other. The Prophet Muhammad SAW said we must show respect to those who are older than us and show mercy to those who are younger than us. And I truly believe homeschooling provides much more opportunities to develop this as most settings are mixed in ages.
*This is more of a personal reflection, but I felt as if someone else was doing my job. I felt as if I was falling short on my responsibilities as a mother. This doesnt mean I judge or look down on those who choose to put their kids in school. Like I said, this is personal. And because of my strong feelings towards homeschooling and it being best for our family, it made me feel guilty to have them in school. Especially Ibraheem! I truly believe that a child under four years old should not be left in a school setting unless the circumstances are desperate. I believe our society puts way too much pressure on mothers to have their kids in a structured school environment as soon as possible. Daycares now accept such young ages and I personally believe this is a contributing fact to why our society is failing. There is so much emphasis on being independent, from such a young age! WHY does a two year old have to be independent of his mother?! I think this is a very modern idea and also a corrupt one. No wonder Old Age homes are so common now... from only a few months old, parents are pushing their children out of the home.. of course the children are going to turn around and push their parents out of the house once they become slightly dependent on their grown children.
Again, I have to make it clear that I do believe in certain situations, it is better for a child to be in daycare and some people do not have the choice. But I also believe that there is so much unnecessary pressure on mothers to put their babies in daycares for no other reason but to make them 'independent.'
I have had numerous people come up to me and ask me why I dont go to work and put my kids in daycare (starting when they were only six months old!). I dont understand the logic behind me going to work (especially as an ECE where Id be watching other peoples kids when I could just be with own?!) and then have a big chunk of my salary go towards my kids daycare fees? I believe the majority of kids should be at home at least until 4 years old with their mother unless there are dire circumstances. Yes, we live in a basement apartment and share an old van... I could go get a job so we could enjoy the luxury of having a double salary income... but I rather sacrifice that and stay home with my kids.
Okay... onto the next point = )
*The number one issue that always comes up with people when they find out we homeschool is.....SOCIALIZATION?!?!?!? For those of you who have met my kids, you know that mashallah they do not lack on this skill! But for those of you who haven't met my kids, or are still under the impression that homeschooling stumps a child's ability to socialize, heres what I think.... I believe weve been programmed to think that socialization equals being put in a room with 29 other kids with the same calendar age. And I question this definition. Why does my child need to be with only four year olds for 6 hrs a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year? Seriously, what benefit comes out of it? Okay, yes, they make friends. But as an adult, how many of your friends are born in the same year as you? At work, how many of your coworkers who you have to learn to interact with are your exact age? In reality, we have to learn to deal with people of all ages and homeschooling gives more of an opportunity to develop this skill.
The school system often gives a child the mentality that anyone in a younger grade is a baby and not worthy of their time, and anyone in a grade older is not gonna have time for you because to them, youre a baby. I even saw it with Yusuf when he went to school. He thought his brother was a baby all of a sudden and he was too cool to play with him. I really dislike this mentality and alhamdulilah I believe homschooling minimizes this.
Yes I will still make an effort for my kids to interact with kids their age and plan playdates and such. But I dont believe that they need to be with kids their exact same age for the majority of the time in order for them to be socially functional. And maybe, in the long run my kids will turn out to be shy (doesnt look like it right now though!) and Im okay with that and I wont blame it on homeschooling... because we all know many kids who attend regular school turn out to be shy too!
Alhamdulilah my kids have exposure to kids who are older then they are and they have the courage to go up to them and talk to them. And chances are if that kid is homeschooled he will also take the time out to show compassion and maybe even teach my kids something. And on the other hand my kids also get exposure to kids that are younger than they are which gives them the opportunity to practice being kind and gentle to them.
*I personally believe two things are essential for successful homeschooling : love for your children (which we ALL have) and a support system, whether it be your husband, family or friends. Its so important as a homeschooling mother to be able to talk about your feelings, your struggles and have someone listen and understand. Sometimes you can feel really alone being with your kids all day every day ... but being able to send an email or call up someone to talk to makes a huge difference and can really be a sanity saver!
I dont believe homeschooling is for everyone. But I do believe many mothers who have an interest in homeschooling shut themselves down too quickly by saying they dont have the qualifications or patience or talent or time! There's no harm in trying! And I think its much better for a family to at least try homeschooling (if they have the interest) and then put their kids back in school if its really not working, then to just dismiss their inclination by blaming it on lack of qualifications, patience, talent or time.
Ive had many people come up to me and praise me to my face because of my choice to homeschool, and they continue on by putting themselves down saying they'd never be able to because they dont have the patience or skill. What my blog shows of me is not the full truth... I welcome you to ask my husband and kids what our life is really like! We have crazy days, a far from spotless home and I have tons of not-so-pretty moments! Im not a super mom! Im a regular person with many flaws just like anyone else out there. Im just blessed to have an amazing husband and kids, and also to be part of a few mailing lists, homeschooling and playgroups which offer a huge support for me... without these two, I would not have made it this far. I know well continue to have bad days and I know Ill keep making mistakes as I learn along the way... but I pray that in the end, when Iook back at our homeschooling journey, Ill be content that I tried my best and I beg Allah swt to make the result (our grown children) something that we're proud of! Ameen!
In the end, everyone has to do whats best for their family! And that's what we feel we are doing. Homeschooling is not easy. Its not about teaching your kids 5 days a week for a set amount of hours. Its an entire life style with lots of struggles... bad days... exhaustion and frustration...but it also has countless priceless moments which make every struggle worth it!