Today's Home Ed Q & A is with Yusra, all the way in Australia! So grab a cuppa and have a read of how their Home Education adventure is going so far!
Yusra (Umm Summer) is a homeschooling mother of four currently residing in Australia. She is passionate about homeschooling and raising God-conscious children, organisation, travel and being a homemaker. You can find her here:
When and why did you decide to Home Educate?
It was a natural progression for us. I am a strong believer in early learning and the importance of the early years so I began to read and talk to them before my twins were even born. Although I didn't fully grasp the meaning behind the phrase - "the mind of a child is like a sponge" - until both my girls amazed me by pointing out all the body parts in Arabic when I prompted them at the early age of 16 months. I didn't realise how fast and effortlessly they could learn. And that's how our journey began. Playing whilst learning. I hoped to stimulate their fragile minds and to ignite a curiosity for learning within them. I wanted to teach them the world and once they reached school age I already knew that it simply wasn't for us.
Homeschooling gives us the freedom to make our own choices and teach how and what we want, whilst also nourishing within them a love for our Islamic faith and values naturally.
What kind of approach do you take?
Our approach to home education has been an evolving journey but has always had an eclectic style. I have a pick and mix mentality and try to take the best of everything (for us in that particular point in time). In particular, Charlotte Mason, classical education, Montessori, Bravewriter and child-led styles of homeschooling resonate with me. At times I have had to adapt what I did with one child and use a different approach with another.
Where do the children do most of their work? and do they distract each other?
For the younger ones I have set up the playroom using a montessori approach.
As long as I set up, they come. As long as we create, discover and display, they appreciate. In saying that, in our home, learning is a lifestyle. So we have another area close to the dining table for art, nature and unit study displays, and the morning basket. We use the kitchen for experiments, the garden for nature study and messy play. We enjoy sitting on the floor. And you will frequently find the children's books, pencils and scraps of paper strewn all around the house as the kids are still quite young, but I am planning to keep work with the older two restricted to the dining table more so this year.
Yes they definitely do distract each other! More than a handful of times per day. But I am hoping they learn to cope with distraction as they get older and manage it better, with the older ones occupying the younger ones at times.
What is your favourite thing about Home Education?
My heart swells when I see the fascination in their little eyes and voices ten times a day. And I feel blessed that I am there to cherish every precious moment of their childhood as they learn, grow and develop (inshaAllah).
What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable?
Our core subjects are math, language arts and Quran. Our elective subjects are science, history, islamic studies, nature study, artist+picture study and geography. Our schedule is very flexible at the moment as I have a 12 month old baby. I have a flow. We try and complete a few things by a certain time, sometimes we are able to stick to it and sometimes we aren't.
What do you find most difficult and why?
Lesson planning and researching. I am a perfectionist so I find it very difficult to put my laptop down. One page, resource or site leads to ten more and it feels never-ending.
Managing multiple ages is a major challenge too. I hope to write more about this on my blog.
How do you react to people asking about socialisation, do your children easily socialise and work well with others?
It's a legitimate question. At times homeschooling can feel like alot of time is spent at home, so I do believe that the homeschooling parent needs to make a conscious effort to take their children out and about and make plans to meet others through excursions, co-ops, and playgroups etc. However, I find in my experience with homeschooling that for the most part it is quite easy to have a socially diverse and full life, mixing with a wide variety of people and helping to ensure that they become fully-adjusted members of society. Alhamdulillah I do feel as though my children socialise comfortably with others, adults and children alike. Although one or two of them can be shy at times which is simply a product of their personality.
Have family supported your decision?
My own family has always supported me, I am very blessed in that regard. My siblings have even taken inspiration from me and would like to homeschool their own children (inshaAllah).
My husband's family is indifferent as it is a new concept and style of education for them but supportive in other ways (Alhamdulillah).
And whilst my husband supports my decision to homeschool, I wouldn't say he is completely convinced (yet) that homeschooling is a long term choice for us.
How do you incorporate Physical Education into your Home Ed days?
My children attend sports classes outside of the home, they play outside in the garden or nearby park nearly every day no matter the season and we go for nature excursions once a week.
Do you plan and how far in advance?
I plan a week or two in advance, sometimes saving resources or links to topics we aren't currently covering for future use.
What's a typical Home Ed day like?
I'm planning to write a post on what a typical day in our homeschool life looks like. But to summarise, our days are mostly spent poring over books (particularly living books), reaching back into history and science and making learning come to life as much as possible. After 'morning time' reading, we go through our core subjects, break for lunch and play outside and then spend time on one other elective subject which we use a 'loop system' for and do associated crafts, experiments or activities. In between I spend one hour exclusively with my 3year old son. We also do a bedtime reading session.
However, no one day is the same as another so we have days where our structured work will be interspersed with or put aside for other interests and passions of the children. We may drop our plans. We may veer off. And more often than anything, we may get disrupted due to the younger ones.
Do you spend a lot of money on resources?
Books are my weakness. I try not to spend too much on resources because you can find alot of free printables and worksheets online and ideas on making your own. I do love a good bargain though so I've got alerts set up on ebay, classified sites and facebook marketplace. And I'll wait for a good sale before buying something I really want. But books are invaluable. My online bookstore baskets and wishlists are always full (mostly with second hand).
How do you make time for yourself?
During the week I don't get a solid amount of time to myself. Sundays are my day to catch-up, plan and recuperate as the kids visit their grandparents.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their Home Ed journey?
Be conscious of your intentions and beliefs. Try not to get caught up by the glamour of other homeschoolers on social media. Of course it's a great way to obtain ideas for your own homeschool. But don't let it get you down, overwhelmed or the opposite - wanting to buy everything you see. Everyone is living their own journey. The child’s potential will unfold itself, InshaAllah. Focus on what you want for your children and evaluate the vision you have in mind for them in this life and the next (the aakhira).
A Big Thank You to Yusra and her family for taking part in today's Home Ed Q&A. If you would like to take part in a Q&A then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org :)