This series of interviews with three Muslim homeschooling Moms tells it like it is. Stories of what homeschooling is really like!
Be sure to leave questions below and they’ll try to reply, God Willing.
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Questions Asked –
1 – Tell us a little about why you decided to homeschool?
Sr. Rania – I homeschool to be sure that my children are learning and understanding according to their needs.
Sr. Amna – My why was very simple. I had moved to Makkah but wanted to look for schooling systems that were identical to the ones I had seen in my own schooling years in Canada. What I found around me basically expected little kids to be seated and tracing lines, number and alphabets. I wanted my child to learn in a more engaging way so I researched other possibilities, most of which were either too expensive or too far from where I lived till I stumbled upon a Pin on Pinterest claiming to sell The Perfect Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool. It immediately sparked my interest and though I didn’t get that Curriculum, I was introduced to the concept of homeschooling and decided that it wouldn’t be too hard to test a few years before sending to school.
Umm Umar – We homeschool for multiple reasons. I am a teacher by profession as well. Most moms are the best teacher for their kids.
2 – How many kids do you homeschool and what grade levels?
Sr. Rania – I have two boys in grades 6 and 8.
Sr. Amna – I have four kids in grades 3, 1 and two Preschoolers.
Umm Umar – I have three kids in grades 5,2, and younger.
3- What is your homeschool approach?
Sr. Rania – We use the Montessori and Traditional approach to homeschooling.
Sr. Amna – Now after almost six years of homeschooling, we do a bit of Unschooling academics along with my children’s Hifdh program which could be considered as a Classical Approach.
Umm Umar – We prefer flexibility with good routines.
4 – How has your homeschooling approach changed since you began? What is working for you now?
Sr. Rania – I am flexible with change.
Sr. Amna – Home environment is never the same scheduled situation like those of school so while I began homeschooling with the thought of recreating a school at home, I was promptly made to realize it is not always possible with moving, guests, babies, vacations etc. So we adapted to our stage of life and changed our approach accordingly. So I went from a Classical approach to an Eclectic approach. We also tried Unschooling during baby seasons or for now where we are trying to prioritize the memorization of the Quran.
Umm Umar – It is the same.
5 – What does your day look like?
Sr. Rania – Our day is very busy and full of passion for learning.
Sr. Amna – We wake for Fajr – dawn prayer, have breakfast and then my elder two boys (9 and 6) head out to their Quran teacher’s place. They learn in a small setting with a few other boys. Meanwhile I workout, finish some of the pressing chores and try to sneak a quick nap with my toddler twins or work on any homeschooling community projects. They return around 10AM and are expected to nap till Dhuhr – noon prayer. After that we have lunch and then we sit down to memorize the next set of verses. We usually review basic translation and Arabic along with memorization. Once we are done with it, usually an hour or so before Asr – afternoon prayer, the kids pick any of the core academic subjects they’d like to finish or if they have any specific topic in mind we find resources for it and study it. After Asr, they are to head back to their Quran teacher to recite the previously memorized verses so they are not forgotten. They return home by Isha (night prayer) and we have dinner together. There is an hour of free play-or-learn time for them then. I’ve arranged for fiction and non fiction books that they read independently, ask me questions while I finish chores or they play with their open ended toys and create elaborate things. This is our usual day but I have also arranged two days (apart from the weekend) to break the monotonous routine and try something new. They only have the morning Quran sessions and then they either go swimming, take art or calligraphy classes, or currently, virtual Astronomy classes. We spend much time at night staring and identifying the few visible stars in our light polluted city.
Umm Umar – Here is what our day looks like: Breakfast>Quran>Morning Folder with Duas>Calendar>1 to 3 subjects> Lunch> Dhur>nap>Independent time (while I cook)> Salaat> Dinner>Hadith or Sahabah stories> Reading>Bedtime
6 – What is your biggest surprise about homeschooling?
Sr. Rania – Islamic Studies
Sr. Amna – My biggest surprise about homeschooling is that my kids love to learn. I think that was the biggest surprise. I always envisioned the morning tantrums going to school, the battle for homework and assignments because that was the only imagery I could create from the term, education. So it was a surprise since I never imagined the sparkling of eyes and the eager and curious minds asking us to teach them more. There are so many possibilities when you give them space to learn and explore without pressure.
Umm Umar – How much I adore it!
7 – Is there an unexpected benefit or drawback in homeschooling?
Sr. Rania – The unexpected benefit or drawback is time management.
Sr. Amna – I have four children now and I expected that I’d have to go through the same process of teaching every single time for each child but I was surprised to see it was not necessary because the younger ones often learn by watching us. They just needed a little guidance and immediately got on track. It is such a wonder to have a learning lifestyle at home.
Umm Umar – The benefits to homeschooling is how much I love my children even more and I see constant progress.
8 – What is homeschooling REALLY like?
Sr. Rania – Homeschooling is a lot like life.
Sr. Amna – Homeschooling is just a lifestyle. It’s not the pictures of forever outdoor adventures we sometimes see in pictures. I don’t live in a climate that allows such a thing. It’s not timings and schedules, grades or assessments, books or worksheets. It’s just your mindset and lifestyle. You just begin to see learning possibilities anywhere and everywhere.
Umm Umar – Homeschooling is lovely!
9 – What would your absolutely perfect homeschooling day look like?
Sr. Rania – An absolutely perfect homeschooling day would look like us finishing everything we have scheduled (see routine above).
Sr. Amna – I’d say any day with learning and curiosities explored is a perfect day but between four kids and navigating squabble all the time, I’d call a day with perfect teamwork and discussion between the siblings without fighting, distruptions and petty jealousies a really perfect day.
Umm Umar – An absolutely perfect homeschooling day would look like us following our routines as scheduled.
10 – Dish the dirt on homeschooling! What is the problem with it, or what is your biggest challenge in homeschooling. What do you like least about it?
Sr. Rania – I don’t like when the kids fight! 🙂
Sr. Amna – I dislike the legal part of homeschooling because not every country and region is accepting of homeschooling. Its also illegal some places. It becomes a challenge to transition to a formal schooling program after a certain age if your region expects to have assessments reports and other formalities. It’s always better to check in with your local educational authorities if you decide to homeschool beyond preschool and kindergarten.
Umm Umar – There is a constant struggle to finish all of our schoolwork.
11 – What is your favorite homeschooling memory so far?
Sr. Rania – All of them are great memories because homeschooling is a lifestyle.
Sr. Amna – When I decided to start Hifdh – memorization of the Quran with my first born, I had my other kids only doing secular studies. One day while reciting a verse, my first born made a mistake. I stopped but before I could correct him, my second child who was busy playing at that time corrected him. I was shocked and asked him if he also knew those verses. He replied that because his brother is always repeatedly reciting that he memorized ALL just by listening. To this day, I marvel at the benefits of a learning lifestyle at home.
Umm Umar – My favorite homeschooling memory so far is homeschooling on the road.
12 – What would you go back and change if you could?
Sr. Rania – I would’ve started when my children were young. 🙂
Sr. Amna – If I could go back, I’d change my initial days of worrying and scouring the internet for THE perfect curricula, trying to recreate a school at home and impress/prove our abilities to all the homeschooling critics. I wouldn’t waste my energy on that again and instead just use that time and energy to just bond with my children.
Umm Umar – If I could go back, I would enjoy the early years more.
13 – As a homeschooling mom, what is your own special take on it – or what have you learned that you would like to pass on? (Top tips for new homeschooling moms)
Sr. Rania – My top tips is to have patience and to be flexible.
Sr. Amna – You are a mother first. Even as a homeschooling mom, you’re a mom first and your first job is to love them. Just love them and be a safe space. There is no need to join the race of learning to read at x age, write at x age but instead focus your energies on their character development in those prime years. At age 18, it doesn’t matter if they’ve learned to read at 4 or 6 but it really matters if they’ve learned to be kind, to regulate their emotions, and have a growth mindset. Teach life skills, have them help you at home with chores, cook, sew and clean (boys AND girls). Don’t let them become academically ‘qualified’ adults who can’t even look after their own basic needs. Your academic checklist with fill itself out, don’t worry.
Don’t over purchase items because less is more. Everything looks cool and exciting to start but just because it looks good doesn’t mean it will work for your family. Only take from what you need and be consistent and continue to express your own enthusiasm in learning.
Umm Umar – Enjoy the early years (especially the first 7 years). You’re doing an amazing job!
New to homeschooling? Read the Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling for Muslim Families.
Watch my Homeschooling Videos!