Home Ed Q&A with Amina
When and why did you decide to Home Educate?
I wanted to home educate when my eldest son who's turned 2. Family pressures and questions started like 'when are you sending him nursery? You know he can go now he's 2? You'll get time to yourself, i would send him if I were you.' I found all these suggestions quite shocking and offensive to be honest. At 2 I was enjoying motherhood more than ever. We were reading books together, going for walks, exploring, painting, doing every kind of arts & crafts out there etc. I was fascinated and amazed at how quickly he picked up, how inquisitive he was about things that I didn't even think of as things. He was learning soo much and people wanted me to send him to nursery QuickTime, like he was a burden and he needed to just go now so I could enjoy myself whilst he was away. I was enjoying myself endless amounts and couldn't stand to have him away from me at such a tender age.
At the age of 4 I put him in nursery, I regret to say, after pressure from friends and family. But I'm glad I did as this solidified my decision of home educating him. I took him out after just 3 weeks. I hated the pressure, the expectations of him to be doing certain things in a certain way. I was asked by teachers why doesn't he like getting paint on his hands? Why does he like looking at the routine caterpillar throughout the day? Why hasn't he made a main friend after 2 weeks? So much was expected of the children, there was no leeway for them to just explore and develop into their own character. They all had to be the same and if one was different, why was he different?? Home education gives so much freedom and takes learning at their own pace and it's he best decision I ever made Alhamdulillah 🙏
What kind of approach do you take?
Our approach is quite relaxed and child led. If my son shows an interest in a subject then we pursue it in different methods until he finds one he likes. I introduce new things but if he doesn't take to it I leave it and don't push him. We read books a LOT and outdoors time is very important for us.
Where do the children do most of their work? and do they distract each other?
The children have a desk they work at but we aren't always on there. Sometimes they decide they want to work on the floor, in the kitchen, hanging off the sofa, whatever works lol.
They used to distract each other but now they're slightly elder they understand their work is their own. It makes them feel special they have different work from each other just for them with their name on it. However as soon as work is finished, the fighting and bickering continues lol
What is your favourite thing about Home Education?
The flexibility of learning where we want and when we want, and having the kids with me at home. Being their teacher and seeing their progress really is an amazing thing alhamdulillah.
What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable?
At the moment my children are quite young so I go with their interests which have been reading, writing, counting and simple geography. My main focus at the moment is teaching them to read InshAllah.
I set out their work for the next day the night before, so we have a routine but not a strict timetable.
What do you find most difficult and why?
Sometimes it all gets a bit overwhelming and being patient and positive can be hard. Some days we get nothing done and all the kids do is fight and trash the place but I have to remind myself that's ok, they're still young, let them be. We go out for some fresh air and I talk to other home ed mums who always give me a boost and remind me why I'm doing this in the first place. It's a tough journey but very worth it.
How do you react to people asking about socialisation, do your children easily socialise and work well with others?
I don't blame people for asking how they socialise and am happy to tell them just how much the kids do socialise. When my eldest son was 2 he was v shy, didn't ever want to talk to anyone new. People would say u have to make him, why is he so shy, why this why that, it's cos he isn't in nursery. Well nursery made him even more shy and didn't help him like they said it would so after I took him out of nursery I grew a pair (pardon the language) and did whatever the heck I wanted after that. I told him you don't want to talk to anyone even if they're family, don't. U say Salam and if u want to stay quiet, you can do that. He was very confused and always said on the way to family's house or when we were going somewhere new, mama do I have to speak to them? I said no, you say Salam then you you stay quiet if you want. I thought no more forcing him, it doesn't do what we want it to do why am I upsetting him? People hated this and thought I was rude but I was past caring by this point. And you know what, it worked. As soon as I stopped forcing him, he opened up. He asks people their name. He is polite and starts a conversation. He not only says Salam to family and new friends, he will willingly himself go and shake hands and hug them MashAllah. He has come so far from before and it wasn't nursery and socialising that did it, it was allowing him to be himself and letting him come out of his shell in his own time.
Have family supported your decision?
Initially they didn't agree but after I put my foot down, explained firmly but respectfully this is what I'm doing, they support me alhamdulillah. They may not agree but I don't need them to agree, just support me and not lecture me.
How do you incorporate Physical Education into your Home Ed days?
We go in the garden and to the park a lot. Aswell as that the kids do swimming and gymnastics and hoping to add tennis to this years schedule as that what my eldest asked for.
Do you plan and how far in advance?
I plan what we will do the day before but not in great detail as it doesn't always go to plan and as they are still young with lots of interests, our plans for the next day can change into a totally different subject that they're suddenly interested in rather than what I planned the day before.
What's a typical Home Ed day like?
After breakfast and morning chores we sit down for whatever our work is that day. It'll normally be handwriting, reading practise, simple maths, whatever they're into at the time. They last an hour then we have snack time. After that we do arts and crafts and reading time. Then after lunch we are free to do whatever we want. It'll be free play or time for the park or a trip to the forest. Whatever they want to do that day.
Do you spend a lot of money on resources?
I did in my excitement in the beginning but then I slowed down and realised most of what you think you need for the kids learning you don't actually need and they are in fact more happy with the cardboard box the item came in than the resource itself lol.
How do you make time for yourself?
I'm strict with kids bedtime as the evenings are for me. I need the evenings to unwind and relax. I don't use this time for any kind of chores. We clean up before we go to bed and I make sure I have time to do whatever I want in the evenings. Also grandparents are amazing and they have the kids for me for a while whenever I need a break alhamdulillah.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their Home Ed journey?
If your children are young, ENJOY them. Taking the step to homeschool can be daunting and a lot of us myself included, like to get kids straight into work, alphabet, maths, learning, worksheets etc, pushing them and pushing without realising that the reason you wanted them at home in the first place was to take education at their pace with their interests. I pushed my son to learn and he obliged But after a while he shut down and said but mama I just want to play. Play is a HUGE important part of their learning and childhood. I used to see it as they're playing all day and not learning but a huge part of their learning process is when they are immersed in play. It is the BEST way for them to learn. Take it at their pace, teach them where they show interest and leave them to play when they don't. Enjoy them and let them enjoy their childhood. Remember the Prophet (SAW) said, 'play with them for the first 7 years (of their life), then teach them for the next 7 years, then advise them for the next 7 years (and after that).'
I hope I didn't ramble on too much and have given anyone reading this an insight into how hard but immensely rewarding and fulfilling this path of home education is. May Allah make the journey easy for us all
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