I received a question a couple of days ago and figured it would be easier to reply fully in a blog post rather than give a brief response through the comments section, as I think this question will resonate in the minds of many who are thinking or planning to start home education inshaAllah.
I'm going to respond to this question in 2 parts inshaAllah.
Part 1 being my own response and in Part 2, I will gather some of the responses to a questionnaire I sent out a short while ago asking home educators about their thoughts, styles and backgrounds to home ed.
This kind of question probably runs through the minds of (almost) every single parent who thinks about treading the home-education path!
For the majority of us, we ourselves were educated in the traditional school fashion. We know school. We know the teacher knows best and the student (and their parents!) know nothing.
We know this box and until we start to home educate, most of us are still inside this box...but once we dare to educate our families ourselves, we will escape from that box and learnt to think outside it inshaAllah!
Because home-schooling is something completely new to most of us, we don't know what to expect or what is "normal", and so our mind is rushing with worries and anxieties because we are afraid of getting it "wrong"....and that's because we have been trained throughout our own school experiences that only teachers know how to teach! (which is not true!)
This question reminds me a lot of myself as a newbie to home education. I remember when I started home educating, I was completely clueless...I still feel clueless even now 3 years later, but Alhamdulillah, at least now I have a bit of balance with that cluelessness!
I was so worried about not meeting the "school standards" I became a militant teacher-Mom! I'd be in tears as well as my 4 year old some days! I was trying to replicate school in the home. Alhamdulillah, I finally learnt that home schooling is not the same as school-at-home!
The biggest tip I can probably give you, is do not even attempt to replicate the "school" model in your home! Home schooling really is not the same as School-at-home! They are in fact worlds apart! You do not need to spend 6 hours a day officially "schooling" - depending on where you are in the world your local authority may have certain requirements so you will need to find out what those are. But generally speaking, you do not need to spend 6 hours a day "schooling" like they do in mainstream school institutions! And certainly not at ages 3 and 4! You may only need an hour or 2 to accomplish everything you want to!
Let me assure you, there is no right or wrong way to home school....so long as learning takes place! What works for one family may not work for another. As you try things out and figure out what works for you and your child's learning style, your confidence in your ability to teach your children will grow inshaAllah.
Firstly, let me say to you that your son is only 3 years old, so in September I am assuming he will be 4 inshaAllah if you say he is due to start school. Please believe me when I tell you, he is still a baby! He is still tiny mashaAllah, so my first advise to you is do not overwhelm both yourself and your son at this young age. Children this young benefit and learn so much just by being with you Alhamdulillah!
Being with you at this young age is the best place for him and far superior than being left with strangers in a school! If you look at the various education systems across the globe, you will see that in the vast majority of counties, formal education does not begin until the age of around 6! Here in the UK we pack our kids off to school at 4 (although the official age a child must be in school is 5 here) with many starting nursery at 3 and even 2.5years! (which is crazy!)
Children are by nature curious. They want to explore and learn. So my advise is to simply nurture this curiosity and have fun. Don't fall into the school-at-home trap which catches so many of us when we begin home schooling and we start out with our little student sat at the table unable to speak as we stand towering before them explaining the life-cycle of a butterfly! (cringe!)
There are some amazing bloggers and pinteresters who will be able to give you plenty of ideas of fun learning through play activities you can try out inshaAllah. You want the main objective to be having fun through helping to develop their innate curiosity and desire to learn bi'ithnilllah.
When it comes to subjects like maths, it is best to make it as practical as you can. Get out the building blocks and count them together. See how many blocks there are when you take 4 red and 3 blue together! Find out how many of your son's hands are needed to measure across the length of the table! You may like to read my previous post about keeping maths real.
Maths is not as scary as we may have been taught to believe! When your child gets older, if you prefer to follow a curriculum, then there are plenty to choose from. .....but don't rush into buying straight away! That's the 2nd trap many newbies fall into! We will buy every resource and curriculum we see, only to discover they don't work for us or there is something else better, leaving us with ££££££££'s lost!
I would suggest you think about a few things to help you understand why you want to home educate, you may even want to write your answers down.
- What is important to you and your family Islamicaly?
- What is important to you and your family educationally?
- Why do you want to homeschool?
- What educational philosophies appeal to you, or you think may suit your family?
Ease yourself slowly into home-ed, don't put so much pressure on yourself (and son!). Relax, be natural, have fun and allow yourself to think outside the "school box"!.