Home Ed Q&A with Sarah Javed

Sarah's Homeschool.
Sarah Javed, 34 year old homeschooling mother of three. Two boys aged 11 and 6 and one girl age 9. A YouTuber and author of the Islamic children's book "I'm so angry!" available on Amazon.

Instagram: sarahijaved

Book: "I'm so angry!" Available on Amazon.

1. When and why did you decide to home educate?

I started home educating six years ago when my eldest was around five years old. I always wanted to home educate my children, it was something that was very appealing to me- to be the primary influencer in their lives and to encourage them to learn in an environment that was most comfortable to them, were all very attractive to me. I was worried if I could actually do it! Those doubts in my own abilities is the reason I ever sent my children to school. I finally decided to take the leap and have a go, living with the guilt of not having even tried it was too much for me. Also, my eldest struggled with the separation from us and although he would have managed had I insisted he had to, I didn't want him to feel that way at five years old. Once I saw the benefits of home education, it was inevitable that I would continue with my other children.

2. What kind of approach do you take?

We are very much eclectic homeschoolers. I do enjoy learning and blending my school style with many different approaches, a little unschooling, a little Charlotte Mason, a little structured....I mix and match to find what suits our needs and objectives during that period.

3. Where do the children do most of their work? 

We are blessed to have invested in a school room for our three. When I first started home educating, we simply used our dining table. I then sacrificed my living room space and converted that into a school room. After five years, the need for a living room has become paramount! Thus, we have saved and extended to make a specific school room. Additionally, my children do work in home ed co-ops outside the home, in the library and outdoors.

3B. Do they distract each other?

For sure! They are all very different in their learning styles and they're siblings, together all the time, inevitably they will distract each other. It doesn't concern me too much because they do get focused and get their work completed. I don't think this can be entirely prevented. One of our classroom rules is to not distract others and I often find a gentle reminder does the trick.

4. What is your favourite thing about home education?

Being with my children and seeing them learn, grow and develop and not missing a minute of their childhood. Priceless! 

5. What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable?

I teach all mainstream subjects including maths, english, science, geography, history, IT and PE. As well as, Islamic studies, Quran and tujweed and Urdu. Yes, we follow and stick firmly to a timetable.

6. What do you find most difficult and why?

I find the workload and managing the workload very difficult. There's a lot that's expected of me on a daily basis. I find teaching mixed age and abilities difficult and it adds to that workload I mentioned and I find switching off and making time for myself a real struggle. 

7. How do you react to people asking about socialisation, do your children socialise and work well with others?

The socialisation question IS a legitimate question and area of query. Therefore, I don't mind the question whatsoever. I always ensure I aid and answer the question as thoroughly as possible, to either help the individual or enlighten them in their understanding of what home education actually looks like. 

My children socialise a lot! I make a conscious effort to establish socialisation into our homeschool. As a result, they socialise and mix well with children of all ages as well as adults and they have the ability to work with others regardless of age and background.

8. Have family supported your decision?

My husband and I are very much on the same page when it comes to the education of our children. Our families were not particularly supportive at first, however, that was because of lack of real knowledge on the subject and they associated it with all the negative media that surrounds home education. Once they began to see our children learning and growing and mixing with others and being well-rounded little beings, their opinions changed and now they are respectful of our right to choose whether our children are in the system or at home. This can take time and many years, as it did with us, so patience and holding firm to your objectives is necessary.

9. How do you incorporate physical education into your home ed days?

We do PE as part of our local home ed group. So my children attend weekly PE lessons, where they are exposed to different sports and techniques. Moreover, my children are very sporty and athletic, they are involved in many sports groups and clubs including, yoga, football, gymnastics, basketball and karate. They do a sports activity every day of the week. My eldest son is also an Academy football player, signed at Brighton and Hove Albion FC and so he trains four days a week and I include that into our physical education time.

10. Do you plan and how far in advance?

Yes I do plan. It very much depends on the units of study, however, often it will be weekly or monthly if I have to purchase text. This also gives us room to be spontaneous and flexible by moving things around and rescheduling if we decided to take a trip or be more relaxed.

11. What is a typical home ed day like?

It is very busy! It starts early with a quick clean and organise of our home. Followed by breakfast, washing/changing and everyone settling into the schoolroom. My children work best in the morning and so they often choose to get individual subjects for which they're all at different levels, completed early on. They will then do some reading, and arabic, handwriting and spelling until lunch. After lunch, they will pray and then continue with group work including subjects such as history, geography, art, and IT. School usually finishes early afternoon, freeing up the rest of the afternoon for extra curricular activities.

12. Do you spend a lot of money on resources?

Yes, I guess I would be considered as someone who spends a fair amount. In our homeschool this includes workbooks, supplies, printing costs, cost of experiments, online programmes, as well as, all the clubs and homeschool activities/trips my children take part in as part of our local home education group.

13. How do you make time for yourself?

I don't! I haven't mastered this yet. After six years, I still struggle to make time for myself, there never seems enough hours in the day! I also have a terrible habit of filling up moments of "free" time with other jobs that need doing, in the hope that I will have less to do, however in reality, never giving myself an opportunity to take a break.

14. What advise would you give someone starting their home ed journey?

Be very clear on your reasons and objectives for home educating, be patient through the process, be authentic and find what suits and works for your child(ren) and home. This is a journey, it takes time and effort to find what works for you and your home. Try to be authentic in your homeschool and not feel pressured to be like and do what others are-this is fundamental! Home education is full of highs and lows, it's very much a trial and error, learning on the job kind of role, so you have to be realistic and patient as you go through this testing, yet beautifully, life changing journey. 

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