I had no idea where to start.
In the beginning of the school year my two oldest kids were in Islamic School. However, when paying the tuition became increasingly difficult to keep up with and I began to find myself being behind in bills and owing people money, I knew I had to do something different.
So after sending my two daughters to Islamic School for two months, I reluctantly withdrew them from school and made the decision to home school them.
Since I hadn’t planned on doing so and was heavily involved in working my business and engaged in other interests, I wasn’t excited about being “forced” into being home bound with my kids.
I had to get it all done:
- the house chores,
- the cooking,
- while simultaneously managing, stimulating and teaching young children,
- in addition to caring for, nursing and attending to the needs of my one-year old baby.
I was accustomed to dropping the kids off to school, checking things off my list and feeling productive. Now with my three-year- old and four-year old home with me, I had to quickly surrender my plans and adjust.
Not only that, but it was a tremendous blessing because they were ahead. Technically, my oldest daughter was in Pre-Kindergarten, but because of the early preparation that I had given her, she was practically on the kindergarten level.
Since my three year old was exposed to the higher learning of her older sister, she too was on a higher level and ready to start school.
I told myself to take it easy. The early work that I put in afforded me to chill out a bit and catch my breath. I would just take it slow until I could get things in order and develop some type of routine.
I didn’t have a full curriculum in place yet, but that didn’t stop me from doing something.
I started small. We did arts and crafts; I took them outside in the backyard and let them explore, and found creative ways to teach them without them even knowing they were learning!
In other words, I allowed them to be kids and just implemented subtle learning in the process, without letting them know. In my humble opinion, that is the best way!
The more we are able to implement strategies like these during times when children are in their unadulterated state, the more we are able to get out of them.
Before you knew it, I found myself establishing a routine and it felt great!
I ordered superb books, which were not only great for developing their critical thinking skills but was fruitful in prompting their interest.
Upon waking up, they would brush their teeth, get dressed and eat breakfast. Then we would hit the books for about a half an hour and go outside!
But there were times when I changed it up a bit.
I would always pay attention to their moods, feedback and response. If they showed resistance to working on the books, I would close them and do something different.
One time I took out some coins, laid them on the table, and began counting them. They were real excited about that!
Other times I would let them immediately go outside and begin the day painting or something else that they enjoyed. Studies show that you can get more out of students when they are motivated and their interest is sparked.
Many times, we do it the opposite way. Despite the child’s body language and attitude showing us that they aren’t attentive, we attempt to force them to do the particular assignment anyway. This strips them from feeling empowered and makes them feel as if they have no choice.
While they may actually end up following your orders, the question is: would they get as much from the assignment than if they were engaged, motivated and joyous?
Sure, there are times when the assignment must get done but there are many ways parents can go about getting their child to do it, while the children feel great about it. It may mean them doing it at another time or building up their motivation for it or talking to them and trying to find out why they don’t want to do it.
You will be surprised what you will find out when you show a sincere concern for your child’s thoughts and feelings. By showing care, not only will your relationship with them advance long term, but you will get more out of them as their teachers.
As time passed, I became more and more confident in my abilities to teach my children and build a solid foundation for them. I made a habit of researching and learning more about teaching.
I spoke to other homeschoolers and kept my eyes open for opportunities which would lead to further improvement and development.
A couple of months ago, I met an educated sister who made the decision to leave work outside of the home and permanently homeschool her children. Even though she had a PHD and clearly could afford to send her kids to Islamic School, she actually chose to stay home and teach her children full-time.
This blew my mind! I decided to network and learn everything I could from her. I found my mind opening up just by simply listening to her explain the strategies she employs in teaching her children.
In addition, she informed me that she had a membership with a homeschooling co-op and she passed on the information to me about a homeschooling expo, which I was so fortunate enough to attend. Everything that I was able to gain from that homeschooling expo alone was remarkable!
I saw the development and growth of my children and gave thanks to the Creator who had guided me and blessed me with the empowering knowledge that made a tremendous difference in me molding my children.
And to think, I hadn’t even planned on homeschooling my children and at one point even saw it as a burden! But the All-Knowing knew of all the fruits that would come from my sacrifice and blessed my family abundantly!
I thanked Allah for opening up so many doors and facilitating me in my journey to teach my children!
The very thing that I reviled actually became a major source of blessings in my life.
I took a moment to pause.
How many times do we curse a thing or say things like: “If only I had the money…” or “If things were this way…”
We may say that we accept divine predestination, but when it comes to our lives, do we take a moment to put everything in perspective?
We somehow think that if we had the power to change something, we could create a better outcome, but is that really the case?
For those of us who believe in a Higher Power trust that everything is in divine order, which means that we could not even comprehend the Creator’s masterful infinite intelligence, let alone entertain the thought of matching it!
There could have been a million different outcomes that resulted from one act, yet through the will of the Creator, everyday so many things are taking place simultaneously, each of which takes place for a reason.
We must take a moment to pause and reflect and view those curve balls thrown at us with the right attitude. If we feel we are thrown off course, we may just be directed in a different direction.
No doubt, some benefit will come out of your experience, regardless of how bitter it is in the beginning. Often times, the initial adjustment is difficult but the ease will come and better days will follow.
Just look at me.
In the beginning, I wished I had the money to send my kids to Islamic School. Now, I wouldn’t trade homeschooling for the world!
This article was written by Subhanah Wahhaj. You can read more of her writings and purchase her personal memoirs “How I Found Myself In Egypt” at her website SubhanahWahhaj.comby