It might seem like a "brave new world" out there once you've made the decision to home school and begin the commitment. Here is some advice gleaned from other homeschoolers, in the hopes that it takes some of the fear and sense of being overwhelmed away.
• RELAX, RELAX, and RELAX! Homeschooling has got to be fun or at least enjoyable for you. If not, you will burn out in a very short time. Don't put too much pressure on yourself (especially if this is your first year and your children have been in public school). Even on your worst days, your one on one tutoring (even if just for an hour or two) is more productive than an entire day spent in a classroom with 20-30 children to one teacher.
• Talking, giving and getting support from other home schooler’s is often essential. Unfortunately it may be hard to find other home schooling Muslims in your area. Christian and non-Christian home schooling support groups can be a good way to over come the gaps. Still there are issues and tasks that these groups are unable to help with. The Muslim Home Education Network is always available for support. We check our email almost daily, often 3 times a day. We are also putting together state and local contacts of Muslim home schooler’s. For more information, support, etc. write us: firstname.lastname@example.org
• For a new homeschooling parent developing a curriculum may seem like a daunting and impossible task. It is best to talk to other homeschooling families and see what they are using, ask why they are using it and why they like it or dislike it.
Take into consideration your family style. If you have many children it may be worth while to spend the extra dollars on hard back texts that can be passed down from child to child, than paper back books which in a year could look like it barely escaped from Normandy Beach on D-day.
It is also important to take into consideration the type of curriculum a parent is comfortable with (textbook based or development along themes). One, textbook based takes very little preparation time. The other, unit studies (themes), takes much more preparation time as a parent must find the books (generally not textbooks) that apply to the theme that is being studied. Then the parent must make sure that all the material (reading, vocabulary, etc.) is ability appropriate. And that there are ample opportunities for hands on projects and question & answer periods.
• It is also quite common for new homeschoolers to stretch themselves too thin. Many times new home school parents unknowingly fall into the "socialization trap". Often it is well meaning family and friends and even society at large that causes sub-conscious feelings of guilt ("By homeschooling my child is not getting enough social time with children his/her own age."). Concerned homeschooling parents go overboard with clubs, teams, lessons, and activities to make up for the "lack" of social activities.
The truth is that many parents report their children having more friends and being more social once they begin home schooling. Why?
Some evidence suggests a child’s self esteem actually flourishes in the home school environment. Freed from the demands of peer pressure and the spiraling atmosphere of many schools today, children become more self -assured and self-reliant. They become a strong individual instead of one in the pack.
Parents also are more confident about the associations his/her child is making. No longer worried about the kids their child develops as friends, or their families, a parent is often times more confident about planned actives, saying "yes" more often.
Keep clubs and extra actives low, maybe 1 or 2 per child. And don't be afraid to say, "NO". Sometimes neighbors and family can take advantage of a homeschooling parent who is home all day. In emergencies it is essential that one helps out where one can, but on an everyday level remember the children and their education come before a sister who needs to get her hair done every week.
• Fathers are an essential part of the home school mixture. If it is impossible, due to work schedules, to teach 1 or 2 subjects, then try to "correct" the work of a few subjects. Also, remember your wife has been home all day, all week, all month, with the children, be available and take off time in your schedule for her to go to a Sisters meeting, a home school meeting, or to get her hair done. She should never feel isolated, her contacts are important too.
• Housework is often a sticking point with many homeschoolers. For the most part and for many the house is not as immaculate as before home schooling, but this can be part of a family's homeschooling day too! A child's school day is not taken away from due to an hour of chores, it is actually enhance due to the responsibility and the lessons learned! Incorporate chores into the daily homeschool schedule
Fathers this is where you can help out too. Remember you are instructed by the Qur’an to help your wife with her household chores. Don't be overly critical that the house isn't as clean as before homeschooling, jump in and help to return it to that state! Home schooling works best when it's an entire family activity
• How does one manage a teaching schedule with a large family? There are many ways to do it. One is use a two-room approach (or the backyard when the weather is nice). Have one hour of your homeschooling day where all of you are together, this can be during Islamic class or penmanship, social studies, etc. The schedule 1 to 2 hour blocks where it is just you, the teacher, and one child. The other children can go into the other room or to the back yard and play with the older ones looking after the younger ones. If there is a grandparent in the home, this can work out wonderfully!
During the 1 to 2 hour sessions a parent is doing one to one tutoring, and this is generally the most effective teaching time it also takes less time to cover the same amount of subjects than the 6-8 hours public/private school day -- there are few distractions and 30 other students aren't in need of the teachers attention all at the same time.
Little ones tend to take more time, as they need more help to get through subjects. Older children can more often be given an assignment and left to work on their own. If there are several little ones in the house, one may be able to teach many subjects to them all at once.
Lastly, if your 1 1/2, 2 or 3 year old wants to sit at the table for school, along with his/her older siblings, make room and hand him the colouring books! And let him/her leave the table when they want to do something else. You could ask for nothing better. Education has become a natural part of that child's life as much as breathing is, masha'Allah!
Muslim Home Education Network Australia ( MHENA ) is a united group of Muslim Homeschooling mothers, with experience in all of the learning stages up to stage 5, from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. Read More