Homeschooling: Personal Opinion before Personal Experience

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,

Lately I’ve been coming across parenting and homeschooling articles everywhere. Even if a million people disagree, I whole-heartedly stand firm that parents should homeschool their kids no matter where they’re living. I grew up in a Muslim country and I used to go to a school in which the two genders got separated after grade three and had entirely different campuses. Alhamdolilah. But there were issues. There always are. When puberty kicks in, parents ignorant of what their children are upto (or those in denial) end up having sons or daughters do things that not only interferes with their Deen but also wastes their next few years recovering from the dilemmas. Not to mention the shock and trauma. Muslim countries have their share of Shayateen. The only difference as compared to non-Muslim countries is that everything happens underground. Which in my opinion is worse. Now this doesn’t mean, one should settle in non-Muslim countries for good. What I’m trying to point out is that, caution is better than regrets and no single place in this dunia is safe anymore.

I just needed one experience to figure out why homeschooling or one-on-one tutoring is better. I was a Quraan sub during the Winter break and in the very first class, I instantly found out that there was a difference in learning levels. Some kids’ parents are so hasty that even though their kids get confused between a daal and dhaal, they push them to the reading level. I feel it not only as being unfair but also a huge crime to burden a child with expectations so very huge. They should be allowed to perfect a certain level and then move on. It is counter-productive really if one doesn’t keep the child’s learning capacity in mind. SubhanAllah. I met only 10 girls between the ages of 6-11 years but all of them had different personalities. Few of the girls were shy so I had to be extremely gentle with them and encourage them constantly just because I knew they needed that to move further. A few were major trouble-makers and I had to be strict (in the right manner) with them to get them under control. Such kids, if you lose ground, they tend to gang up on you and are very well skilled in bullying adults! Hehe. Alhamdolilah I had experience with younger cousins before so I had learned my lessons well in time.

Then there’s always the ‘clown of the class’. She was my favourite by the way because she excelled in her reading and always managed to make me laugh with interesting answers. But I had to prevent the class from being misdirected so I had to be strict with her too. By Allah, I have never ever in my life felt so terribly difficult to be strict. I was melting inside (because I naturally bond with kids) but I had to be stern because there was another Quraan class going on right opposite the divider for little brothers. I’m not the kind of person who likes to raise voice because that’s just disrespectful even though most people don’t treat kids with respect and besides, my voice can’t stand being loud.  Those I was stern with, I explained them the seriousness of what they were studying by letting them know that I will be held accountable if they don’t respect the Quraan and that I didn’t mean to hurt them (I made eye contact with all when I said that–one of them was teary :( ) but one has to respect the Quraan to make Allah SWT happy. I also taught them how not to speak out of turn and not laugh at each other when any one of them made mistakes and helped them feel by questioning them that would they want to be laughed at if they made any mistakes. Oddily enough, without me screaming or having to repeat myself, they paid more attention after that and behaved so well mashaa’Allah. That was a glimpse of taqwa that I saw in young girls and it made me love them all for the Sake of Allah SWT so much so that I wish I get the chance to go back as a permanent teacher.  With no better day than it being Christmas, I got to teach them the basic meaning of Surah Al-Ikhlaas which they all memorized with me. They knew about the ‘greatest sin’ i.e. Shirk. Alhamdolilah, I was totally loving teaching them bits of Aqeedah.Inshaa’Allah, some day will definitely take this up full-time. For now, I feel helplessly incompetent.

However with that insight, it made me come to several conclusions in terms of raising children. My main concerns are many-fold and I would like to list down a few goals to shed more light on the seriousness of this issue:

  • I wouldn’t want to waste the prime first few years of the child by making them go through a school system that has a standard way of teaching and is not properly tailored to the child’s needs.
  • I would want to prioritize the load of education in which without any doubt, Islamic sciences would be taught first.
  • I would want to teach them everything even the Sciences (Physics,Chemistry,Biology) in the light of Islam (by connecting them with Aqeedah) and would want to teach them the fallibility of man-made laws and thus teach them about the beauty of Shariah and so on–in short, not segregate the knowledge of dunia and Islam at all like what is usually is the case.
  • I would probably want to teach them Mannerisms and Etiquettes first thing and progress from there.
  • Teaching responsibity is integral to confidence building in my opinion so I would like to integrate ‘Cooking lessons’ for them so they not only enjoy for e.g. baking cookies but also get the confidence boost of achievement because kids love doing adult-type activities. Another way could be taking them to grocery stores and asking them to get things from different aisles and monitor how they do it. And take them to different nature excursions and make them love Allah SWT through nature. Help them identify animals and touch and play with them (safely and respectfully) without getting scared. Possibly reward them as well so that they know how to interact in the ‘real’ world enthusiastically.
  • Teaching them sensitivity: once they reach the age of seven, I would want them to volunteer at the hospital for only a few hours to build empathy and gratefulness.
  • To me sports is extremely important and if there were halal opportunities for Muslimahs, I would be the happiest person on earth. However, there aren’t. But I have noticed that kids who study and play sports are more well-balanced in their approach towards life in future versus kids who just study. A healthy body results in a healty mind. It also breeds healthy competitiveness and the ability to take failures and not get too bogged down by them.
  • Get them enageged in artsy activities and allow them to play with removable/washable paint to their heart’s content without being critical. I would personally love doing that.
  • I don’t know but I’m a person who likes classical form of languages and I would want to stress their education more so on classical Arabic vs. colloquial so that they can read Quraan and texts of the past without any intermediary and understand it better. A bit of a linguistic background wouldn’t hurt. I know a sister who only allows her kids to watch cartoons in Fuss-ha so they get to learn real Arabic via clean cartoons mashaa’Allah.
  • Speaking of languages, I would definitely want them to learn their native language besides Arabic and English. I would also want them to learn at least one European/Asian language. Trust me, kids are experts at learning several words from a very young age and they are capable of learning different languages. We just underestimate them too much and may Allah SWT forgive us for that.Ameen.
  • I would want to save them from diseases of hearts or things that cause such diseases, prevent them to not even come into contact with music at all and guard their senses in a controlled environment so that once they understand what Taqwa is, I wouldn’t need to monitor them anymore.
  • A lot of parents worry about children being deficient in social skills if they’re homeschooled. There are many children I’ve come across who are not very sociable despite going to public schools. As a guardian/parent one will have to remove barriers from the child’s brain which prevents them from engaging in respectful conversations with other people . If those barriers or fears are removed, there’s no doubt that children would become confident and very sociable inshaa’Allah.

I am quite aware that it is a challenge to ensure  everything is done in the manner you want to but Allah SWT allows things to happen y’know via duaas. I mean I know how I feel now, with not much time left before my brain deteriorates or other responsiblities come up…I don’t have ample time to focus on one thing at a time anymore. It’s a major strugge to balance Deen and dunia when you’re incharge of your soul and are inexperienced. Had I been provided with special Mercy from Allah SWT, I would have been proficient in basic Islamic Sciences long back and now could focus on helping the community. All Praise is to Allah SWT who blessed me with parents who took care of me in the manner most suitable and feasible at that time. I have no complaints but I do know there’s always room for excellence that one should strive for. I am just too protective of what’s input into innocent minds and I absolutely get thrilled when five year-olds come stand next to me for Salah or ask me to fix their Hijab. Some of these kids are so tiny that I have to lift them to help them up so that they can reach the sink to do Wudu’. God that’s difficult. Weight-lifting is not my domain. SubhanAllah. But it’s very ‘cutely Eeman-boosting’…if that makes any sense.

One doesn’t have to be a parent to promote such ideas even though I do know people against my opinions would give me the look of what-do-you-know-about-parenting. I don’t have to be a mother to feel what kids feel. I was a child myself. I know what their needs are. Besides all older sisters with younger siblings are mothers in some way or the other. Some sisters think that they have to have a Masters in Education (Elementary etc) to be able to teach their own kids but I disagree yet again. Of course, a mother doesn’t have ‘Ilm-al Ghayb about what their child might be feeling but she does want to do the best and she will make extra duaa to help the child compared to the teacher in some school who hardly cares unless the student is a troublemaker or a slow-learner. Experience and education does help but great women and men were raised by parents hardly literate the way we define literacy. These very kids became Mohsineen and Mohsinaat , ruled the world and became excellent worshippers of Allah SWT. They had same problems like us and no-one should argue that they had any fewer for every generation has its set of trials. However, if parents do venture out to homeschool, they must do lots of reading on the literature available. Because  it’s not just a matter of what grades the kids get. Rather, it is a matter of guiding a soul’s future towards khayr and equipping little Abdullah or little Maryam with a map to Jannatul Firdaus inshaa’Allah.

Now that’s some hard work. I hope to live up to my personal goals inshaa’Allah. To become a good teacher, one should first become a good student. Got lots of learning to do and have to dispel the darkness of ignorance from my life first inshaa’Allah.

Would I be able to have life, energy, health, time and opportunity to do all that?

Only Allah SWT knows best about our fates and life spans. But one can make intentions and can get rewarded for it, right? Inshaa’Allah.

May Allah SWT guide our kids and their upcoming generations to become like the best of generations.Ameen.

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