Jumping into homeschool is, for most of us, a huge leap into the unknown. I know how it is....the uncertainty, the doubt, the wanting to know what you're meant to do now you're not using school.
We want to be confident this is the right decision for our family.
We want to be confident we will give our children everything they need.
We want to be confident we know what we should be doing.
We want to be confident we won't mess up our children's education.
We want to be confident that We. Are. Enough.
I look back to the time my family made the decision to home educate when my eldest was 4. I was DESPERATE for someone to answer all my questions and point me in the right direction!
The internet wasn't what it is today when I was a new homeschooling mum. I remember trying to flag down local home educators with older children and more experience to pick their brains and seek advice....but often they were too busy to give me the time I craved. Of course they were - they were with their children.
Alhamdulillah today we can often find answers to many of our uncertainties with a click of a button, and I have been passionate in helping families find their homeschool answers for a decade so you don't have to struggle the same way I and many others like me did.
Last week I hosted an all-day Q&A over on Facebook so you could ask your homeschool questions. I have to confess that by the end of it I was exhausted! There were some interesting qurries posted and I thought it would be beneficial to share some of those here to make them easy to find and reference for anyone seeking the same advice.
What I'm going to do is repost some of them in a series of posts, with an edited response to provide a little more detail than the rapid-fire answers originally given.
If you have a homeschool question, I'm pleased to announce I'm launching a monthly Q&A series here on the blog insha'Allah, so please send yours if you have one (no matter the stage of your homeschool adventure) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's kick start this new series with our first question, asking something I think many of us wonder...
Can I home educate when I can't imagine the kids being home all day?
Assalamu alaikum, I have a toddler. I felt like I'm not someone who can homeschool because I can't imagine having my kid home all the time after age 5 to be honest, but I enjoy doing play-based learning and I am not particularly fond of the schooling system so do you know people who felt this way and it still worked out for them?
wa alaikum asalaam wa rahmatullah,
Do I know anyone who felt this way, and it still worked out for them? .....
What a lot of people don't realise is that many of us begin like this - reluctantly, not sure if we will cope or manage.
It's like jumping into ice cold water when you were a child. When you first jump in it doesn't feel very nice - the adrenaline and the excitement is there, but it is uncomfortable. It is cold and you can feel it. But you wait a few minutes and your body acclimatises so that you no longer feel the cold anymore. Now you can enjoy the swim and have fun. This is homeschool.
We begin unsure, but as the weeks, months and years go by we warm up. We start to see the benefits and experience the joys. That's when you know you got this.
I never wanted to home educate. When my eldest was born, my husband and I always knew State School wouldn't be something we would use, but homeschool....not us!!!
Alhamdulillah here we are now, 14 years later, as MASSIVE advocates for home education.
I didn't consider myself to be someone who could cope with having the kids home all day. Our society raises us to believe children need to be in school and parents have time to work, or do what they need to do without the kids getting in the way. It takes a lot of active rethinking to change that ingrained belief within us and see the opportunities that come from having children home with us.
I will confess I was excited for my firstborn to start school and quietly celebrated in my head on her first day. I'd finally have time for her younger sibling whom we joked was the neglected child since her older sibling demanded (and received) so much more attention.
When that first half-term holiday came six weeks later, I was nervous - a whole week with my daughter at home-what would we do? It unsettled me.
However, by the end of the first term in reception class, the novelty of school wore off. It felt as though I was running a B&B, not a family home. Once my little four year old returned from school, we'd have about an hour together before it would be time to get dinner, clean up and start the bedtime routine so that we could be up in the morning to do it all over again. It felt as though we were preparing her to spend the best hours of her day with someone else. It was a feeling I never expected to have Alhamdulillah.
When we made the decision to home educate after the end of the first term, I was nervous. I knew it would take some getting used to. I wasn't patient. I didn't know how to "teach". I'd have the kids with me 24/7. Aghr!
But I have to tell you, once we began this adventure, everything changed Alhamdulillah.
You become patient- because you have to. You become used to having the kids around. It changes you. You realise that for this to work, you have to change your mindset.
As the weeks, and months and years go by, you''ll start to see the benefits of home education; from the smile on the children's face when they do something awesome, to their maturity, to your connection with them, to all the amazing things they learn and discover.....you will relax, and you couldn't imagine it any other way.
I'm a big believer in taking control instead plodding along feeling incapable. I see difficulties as problems that need to be solved rather than difficulties to hold you back, and so I am a fan of problem-solving by writing things down.
We have so many thoughts buzzing around our minds that it can be difficult to determine those that need attention to those that are just clutter and making extra noise. When we write things down, it allows us to slow down those thoughts enough so that we can catch them and really focus on what they are saying.
Grab a pen and paper, and write out why you think you are not someone who can homeschool. Be honest with yourself.
Then, identify solutions to help you offset those points. Look for practical actions you can take to combat what you feel are areas of weakness or obstacles in your way.
For example -
I can't home educate because I have no idea what or how to teach. I need time for myself and having the kids with me all day will be stressful.
I can find out homeschool methods that will help me to facilitate an education at home without school.
I can find out how home educators do this and stay sane.
I can organise time so that I get the time I need for myself
This is just a really really brief example, when you do this you will give more detail. But do you get the point?
The more options you give yourself, the more likely you are to take ownership of whatever issue you think you have. The more possibilities you give yourself, the more empowered you become. Of course, it goes without saying, make dua'a. Turn to the One Who has control on our affairs. But then take tie your camel - take the means and act.
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