The Adventures of Homeschooling

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Had someone told me years ago that I’d one day be educating two hyperactive, adorable little mini-me’s at home, I would have laughed in their faces and called them the most glib prophesiers ever! Stay at home all day with two naughty little elves always up to something? Never!

And here I am, tired and drained as I write this, but wonderfully happy with my decision to homeschool. This wonderful foray into the world of home education, child psychology and parenting techniques began with first my stint as parent.

Utterly clueless except for a burning desire to fulfill my responsibility as a mother, I sincerely prayed to the One who had placed me in this important position by handing me a crying, burping, squealing, pooping and spitting-up bundle of joy, to guide me to raise her right – in a manner that would get me His pleasure and approval.

When that first bundle was merely a few months old, I started hearing well-wishing advice from others urging me to register her as soon as possible in one of the “good schools” in the city – schools that have hefty admission and monthly fees, long admission applicant lists, bureaucratic interview processes, and even longer waiting lists for the ardent hopefuls. I went along where ever the tide took me, never challenging those who insisted, “It is very important for a child’s confidence and personality development to put him or her into a good school at a very early age nowadays, as early as 18 months or 2 years! If you do not do that, your child will not be able to succeed in life, or learn how to be sociable.”

It was not long before I found all these myths and delusions challenged by practical experience and observation. Children as young as 2 do not need to be left in a room full of strangers to develop their confidence. Why does Allah make a child suckle for up to two years? Why does Allah not enable a human baby to walk before the age of 10-11 months at the very least (even though goat kids and other mammals start walking right at birth)? Why is completely potty training a child not possible before the age range of 18 months to 3 years? —> Because children so young need their mother’s unswerving love, attention and physical contact to gain confidence in their budding, initial years of life.

I started reading up a lot about homeschooling, parenting techniques, child psychology and educational models and methodologies online. Whenever I’d face a problem with parenting both my children, I’d go online to try to find a solution for it, e.g. how to handle a tantrum, and from there I’d also try to discover why a child throws one, so that I could avoid the problem in the future.

I must admit, the vast chasm between what I learned during my reading stints and what society, especially its elders, were telling me, led me to become an enormous mass of confusion, pushing me into a constant mental dilemma. I started turning to Allah in earnest supplication (du’aa), asking Him to make me see reality as it is, rather than what people want me to think it is. Also, my husband was not convinced that homeschooling was the way for our children, especially since their naughtiness sometimes drove me up the wall so much that he seriously doubted what my mental state would be if both of them not only stayed at home all day, but also had to be taught by none other than me.

I always find it interesting how people are so convinced of specific outcomes of certain actions. They tell you with conviction, “If you do that, such-and-such thing will happen,” even though evidence to the contrary exists right under their noses. E.g. when I started hijab, countless ladies were convinced that “girls with hijab do not get married”. But then I did get married, alhamdulillah, even before some other girls my age in my extended family who didn’t wear hijab. And no, not to some illiterate maulvi from an unknown village.

The same applies to home education. People will make statements with unflinching conviction, such as, “Your children will become shy and unsociable,” or “Your children will not learn how to give exams or get along with peers” and so on. My daughter studied in school from the age of 2.5 to 5, and despite being around peers her age, she still preferred the company of adults: teachers, school maids, or her parents. One of the consistent “complains” her teacher made to me was:

“You have to make her get along with children her age; she always comes up to my desk and takes an interest in what I am doing, rather than playing with her classmates. This is problematic, and you need to make her hang out more with children of her age group.”

*Cough* This is a “problem“? A child who likes hanging out with adults is a “problem child”? Last I checked, one of the traits of gifted children is that they prefer the company of adults and older children!

When I heard this, I remembered `Ali, Abdullah Bin Abbas, Abdullah Bin `Umar, Usama Bin Zaid (may Allah be pleased with them), and other “children” of their generation who used to regularly hang out with some cool adults as children. How did this adult company affect them? Did it not make them learn skills at an early age, gain foundational knowledge more quickly, and succeed in life after they grew up?

Eventually, I started doing sincere istikharah, attending activities and get-togethers of home educating families in the city, and brainstorming options with my husband. I was convinced that homeschooling was the best way to raise responsible children, but I was not sure if it was the solution for our family. Hence, the mental dilemma continued, until I started my daughter on her school’s summer vacation homework during July this year.

When I actually started practically teaching her, what transpired was nothing less than an epiphany for me. She loved that I was taking time out and teaching her chapters from her books. She did her work quickly and with interest, so much so that we’d finish the reading and question-answer set of one chapter per subject in an hour at the most, whereas her school would make her do the same amount of work in a week – reading out a chapter to 20 children at once in class, making them all answer the questions in their notebooks, and giving the leftover questions as homework to be completed under the parents’ supervision at home.

As it happened, my husband read a couple of homeschooling articles online, without my telling him to do so in an attempt to convince him to homeschool, and by Allah’s decree, he became convinced that homeschooling was the best option for us as well.

And that is how Allah answered my earnest istikharah prayers and ended my constant mental turmoil. It has been three months since we took this decision, and alhamdulillah, we are pleased that we did.

Creative Innovation: an inverted plastic slide simulating a vendor's pushcart displaying neatly arranged toys denoting the ware "being sold".

I’d like to point out a few factors here, however, which I think made the decision to homeschool easy and practically workable for our family:

  1. We do not have a television set or any kind of video games in our residence, but we do have many other resources to keep our children occupied, which means that they spend most of their time reading or engaging in creative work, games, and productive play.
  2. We live as a nuclear family, where we, as the parents, get to practice total control over our children’s activities and pastimes. This is not always possible in extended families where many others live in close proximity e.g. our children cannot watch any television by going upstairs to their uncle’s home.
  3. I have given all my time to be with my children, as a constant supervisor. At least one parent’s constant presence around the children is necessary for homeschooling to be possible. I know that all mothers cannot do that, especially those who work, but it is important to remember that a homeschooling parent’s time is not always their own – their children are their constant companions. That becomes, ironically, an effective teaching methodology in itself that benefits the latter: they constantly observe their parents and learn to master adult tasks and responsibilities at young ages. This particular methodology is also endorsed by our Prophet’s (صلى الله عليه وسلم) sunnah. He never restricted his company, talks, sermons or other group activities to people who were adults. Rather, wards such as Anas Bin Malik and even his own wife A’ishah, (may Allah be pleased with them) were placed in his company as minors/children, because of which they acquired knowledge and grew immensely in their own skin. Contrast that to how we tend to treat children under the age of twelve: we want to get them out of the way, make arrangements for them to be occupied in activities revolving around make-believe, fantastical, dream worlds having princesses/princes, castles and unrealistic characters, and thwart their natural curiosity by giving them lame answers far from reality (“No, no, don’t be sad. That kitten did not die, it was just asleep!”).

Will we always be successfully able to homeschool our children? I do not know at this point. We do intend to keep the option of enrolling them into regular school as a valid contingency scenario if and when circumstances change. However, what with the rampant culture of private tuition and education in Pakistan, it’d not be an exaggeration to say that homeschooling is here to stay.

Here are some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt as a parent since I started homeschooling:

  1. Children are naturally curious and possess an intrinsic love of learning. This love is thwarted by none other than the adults around them, when the latter respond negatively to the incessant questions and interruptions children make.
  2. Children keenly observe and emulate their parents.
  3. Children like to learn independently, after minimal guidance from adults.
  4. Children love to read, especially text accompanied by illustrations.
  5. Children are enthralled by, and enjoy the company of, animals.
  6. Children love not just to build things from raw materials, but also to take things apart to see what they are made up of (“You broke this up too?!”)
  7. Children love to play and experiment with diverse textures such as water, paper, mud, wood, plants, sand and paints.
  8. Children get hooked on television, cartoons, comic books, musical songs and video games, only because their parents bring these things into the home for them, and plop them down in front of them to keep them occupied and hence, out of their own hair.
  9. Children forget and keep no grudges, so even if a parent makes a mistake in their sincere effort to teach or train their child, an onlooking adult might remember it and remind the parent of it later, but Allah will make the child forget about it, especially if the parent repents and follows it up with good.
  10. Children love the Quran. If the Quran is played or recited before them, they catch on to it and automatically memorize it without any difficulties.
  11. Children who are homeschooled start to get along very well with their parents because both spend time so much together. They help their parents and rush to aid them in their day-to-day tasks.
  12. Children, if left on their own, can learn a skill or accomplish an adult task long before adults expect them to.

As an illustration of point number 12 above, here is 3 year-old Abdullah fetching his plates himself, despite being reprimanded and repeatedly warned by us adults that he can fall and hurt himself while doing so. (For the record, once he did slip and cut his lip slightly when his chin hit the counter, but ماشاءاللهُ لا قوّة الَّا بالله that didn’t deter him.)

Abdullah's method of getting a plate for himself involves teetering on the edge of the counter, and hanging off it without support!

He would initially drag the stool that is kept in the kitchen to the sink, stand atop it, and then get his plate.

Within a few weeks, however, he decided to forego the stool altogether and just haul himself up on the edge of the sink, balance his body there, and fetch the plate!

Over the course of the last 3 months since he has been doing this, I realized that there is no stopping him. So we have given up trying to prevent him from doing this.

Instead, I have changed the way I perceive his behavior. He is not deliberately disobeying me. Rather, I have acknowledged that this kind of initiative, strength of resolve, determination to achieve an objective (without taking others’ help), and risk-taking prowess are all actually very admirable traits, depicting an individual’s strong character and personality.

Instead of preventing him, we as his parents should be encouraging him. Its amazing how changing one’s attitude and thoughts about something makes one see things as they really are, isn’t it? Now, I just tell him to fetch his plate, without worrying. And to Allah belongs all credit, as He is the source of all good.

A homeschooling household transforms into a center of learning for the children, a place where parents are guides and teachers, where the children contribute to the chores and help out their parents in all activities.

In stark contrast, numerous mothers of school-going children “dread” the onset of summer or winter break/vacation because all their children will be at home for three months. The children, on the other hand, treat vacation as “freedom” from books and boring schoolwork. Their home turns into a hotel-cum-entertainment center, where they sleep in till noon and spend the rest of the day wasting time in mostly unproductive activities, expecting Mum to turn into a chef catering to their whims and desires.

Education and traditional means of gaining knowledge are changing drastically as the years go by. An example of this is the Khan Academy, an online tuition centre or teaching program that is a one man show. An MIT and Harvard postgraduate gave up his lucrative full-time career to do what he loves: making online videos teaching math to youth. None other than Bill Gates has acknowledged the benefit of this academy, that was started and is still run from a closet inside the tutor’s residence.

Isn’t it quite ironic that we formally educate and train our children to attend the best institutions throughout their youth and then instruct them to go work for companies that are headed by college and school drop-outs who left “school” in order to pursue their natural interests and dreams, and consequently became financially successful? Isn’t it ironic that these drop-outs are today called in by these institutions to give graduation addresses and speeches?

However, what I am advocating here is not for everyone to drop their formal schooling, or to not pursue a job after they graduate if they want to. What I want everyone reading this post to realize, is that success does not lie in what the world wants us to do, or in what other people think we should do, but rather, in doing what we love, as long as the latter is not against the pleasure of our Creator. And this is the message that our children should be receiving from us, their parents, especially at ages less then 10, when they look up to their parents for every answer and for guidance in every matter.

If you are not courageous enough to stand up to people for what you believe is the right choice for you or your children, how can you expect to succeed in life by always unquestioningly following the majority, or riding the wave so to speak, doing what everyone else is doing or telling you to do?

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36 thoughts on “The Adventures of Homeschooling

  1. As’salamu Alaikum Sadaf!

    Thanks for sharing your homeschooling journey! Alhamdulellah, I am also homeschooling my two children, ages 8 & the other one nearly 7, insha’Allah. And I commend you for mentioning certain things, like not having a TV. We don’t have one either, and any media is limited, and special, like a movie I’ve approved we watch together as a family. They do spend all their free time playing, imagining, being in the yard, doing lots of art, and just being kids. It’s lovely (although I admit, messy at times! Because our home is in constant use, it does mean more clean-up work sometimes!)

    Looking forward to reading more in the future, insha’Allah 🙂

  2. Wa alaikum ussalam, Megan. 🙂

    Alhamdulillah for having likeminded people like you stop by and comment on this post. It makes us homeschoolers all feel like one big global sisterhood/community.

    And banning the television has had people really think of our family as ‘weirdos’, but has it paid off or what?! I always tell them, “My children will have the rest of their lives to watch television, so why start them on it now, when they are so young? Why not focus on developing their reading habits right now, and on making them use their leisure time for more productive activities?”

    Yes, our home is always a clutter-ground as well. But I love that, even though it means that when we do rarely entertain, we do not have the picture-perfect home to show off to guests. But so what, right? We can decorate and keep it tidy later, insha’Allah, when they are grown up.

    By the way, are you Megan Wyatt? 🙂 I didn’t know you homeschool too!

  3. Yes, that’s me 🙂 I do, alhamdulellah.

    Get your kids into audio books. I LOVE audio books, and so do my kids. This trains them to have excellent listening skills, and to expose them to vocabulary in context at a higher level then they can read.

    Because of listening to audio books, which means having to be still, imagine, and focus (in the car, or in their room), and we share it as a family, talking about it later , they are also, masha’Allah, able to sit still in khutbahs, listen, and learn, including islamic lectures.

    Even if someone is not homeschooling, I would highly recommend training your children to find media entertainment through audio books, and you will find after awhile, they love it, and are pretty disappointed with the limitations of movie remakes of their favorite stories!

    And although it’s true, homeschooled kids may not always interface the same with public school kids (because they simply don’t know all the latest video game trends, miley cyrus movies, bratz doll releases, or holiday participation and school plays or choir) they ARE very sociable, and often have very pleasant manners, and an ability to be more patient speaking with adults because of a more disciplined ability to listen, focus, and offer give and take.

    I am in no way criticizing anyone for how the educate their children. Everyone has different choices to make, but I know homeschoolers would love it if everyone would stop assuming they are damaging their kids for life 🙂

    ** and of course, there are exceptions to every rule **

    1. Your input has really added positively to this post! Jazakillahu khair, Megan.

      I have to look into the audio books that you are suggesting. My kids are keen listeners (they love listening to the Qur’an in the car, masha’Allah) and would probably love audio books, as you said, as storytelling is such a boost for their imagination at this age.

      And although it’s true, homeschooled kids may not always interface the same with public school kids (because they simply don’t know all the latest video game trends, miley cyrus movies, bratz doll releases, or holiday participation and school plays or choir) they ARE very sociable, and often have very pleasant manners, and an ability to be more patient speaking with adults because of a more disciplined ability to listen, focus, and offer give and take.

      Totally spot on! I have seen this even in my short homeschooling experience of just over 3 months.

      There is a very elite and prestigious school in Karachi, called Karachi Grammar School or KGS, which supposedly has the cream of the city’s young brains. However, personal interaction with kids who go to this school has more often than not revealed to me how they tend to stick together in cliques (even at dinner parties where there are adults around) and discuss the things you have highlighted among themselves viz. films, video games, technological gadgetry (Apple in particular), or idols, without as much as a cursory greeting to, let alone a meaningful conversation with, any of the adults around them.

      (I hope I haven’t offended anyone whose children are in KGS, but this is my personal and admittedly limited observation, and as Megan has said, there are exceptions to every rule!)

      Allah knows best.

  4. assalamalaikum, sister sadaf i m was so happy to read your blog. i was wondering if i was the only wierdo without cable. i feel so relieved to hear this from people who are educated and know right from wrong. Alhamdulilah.

    1. Wa alaikumus salam Zaitoon Baji,
      Yes alhamdulillah those who do not keep television and cable in their homes are now increasing in number, but are a silent minority i.e. you will not find them blowing their own horn very loud. 🙂 I know a few such families, and as you said, they are educated and established. Alhamdulillah for group support!

  5. The discussion in the comments here is so educational (pun intended! :D)! I’m really looking forward to more writeups on homeschooling from you, Sadaf baji, and from Sr Megan too! 🙂

  6. Salaam ‘alaykum dear Sadaf,

    Thanks so much for this post! My son is only 8 months old but I am interested in homeschooling & am glad to hear your perspectives & joy in it.

    My husband is more skeptical though. Do you have any good reading recommendations that I could go through with him to broaden & deepen the knowledge we both have?

    Thank you!

    Warmly,
    Baraka

    1. Wa Alaikum Ussalam Baraka,
      I can give you the link to an article on MuslimMatters that really changed the way my own husband regarded homeschooling. It is by Zohra Sarwari, a successful life coach and homeschooler in America, who regularly gives talks in schools in colleges. Hope it helps!
      The fact that sister Zohra’s daughter is already writing books at such a young age showed my husband real-life, practical “results” of successful homeschooling.
      May Allah help us in all our endeavors. Ameen.

  7. Asalaamu alaikum waramatulahi wabrakatu, I’ve enjoyed reading your stuff on and off for a little over a year now!! MashaAllah!! I just got married and started “first grade” so it has been a while before I read anything of yours. So today seeing your question on FB to homeschoolers I was delighted!! AlhamduliAllah another sister here with no cable and tv on all day, actually at all. If there is something really needed to see we use the net. MashaAllah I “preschool, Kindergarten, and now am First grade” teaching my now six year old daughter. Keep up the good work you CAN do it!

    1. وعليكم السلام و رحمة الله و بركاته
      So good to hear from you again, Holly. I didn’t know you homeschool as well!
      Alhamdulillah for the support I receive online. It is so reassuring and motivational.

      1. Oh yes MashaAllah I started doing “pre school” 2 and a half years ago or so MashaAllah. I love it so much a group of sisters and I run a group on facebook, and I have a website for homeschooling Muslimah Mommy’s (click above if you want to join for free) as well. I really enjoy it!!! InshaAllah I can do it as long as possible!

  8. It sounds really really tough :D. I mean… 24 hours non-stop with kids? Eh, but Im guessing at 3-5 years, they do not wreak the kind of havoc my 1 year old nephew does… :$

    But I’m glad you’re doing it, if you were disappointed with other schools.

    Please keep updating about this.

  9. @ Uni… You know what, it may be harder to have kids running around without a T.V., but since I never had the option available, a few things happen.s 1) I learn different ways to keep the kids busy 2) the kids learn ways to keep themselves busy.

    I did have a few select DVDs on hand that when I really most desperately needed them to be quiet, in one spot, and safe, like being sick, with no one around to help me out, I could let them watch a nature program, or Islamified cartoon. I used it sparingly, and even when they did watch something, and still do today, 95% of the time I am sitting with them, and its a family space.

    The catch is that once kids get used to that level of stimulation and instant gratification such as T.V., it’s MUCH harder (thought no impossible) to back track to children who simply love to explore the mud in the yard, build with blocks, and draw. Their ability to focus changes.

    So while it may seem like an easy way out from the beginning, down the road, you now have kids on their hands that can’t handle down time, quiet time, and “bored” time, because their minds are addicted to TV stimulation.

    It makes me sad to see small children glued in front of a TV. They are meant to be mobile, crawling, exploring, touching, babbling. No judgment on anyone, because most of us never have close family around to help out with the kids, so what mother with a few young ones doesn’t get exhausted and need a break. I totally feel that….

    But if one has a choice, then let’s focus on natural play rhythms.

    As Sadaf and others will agree from her own experience, my house on a daily basis doesn’t look picture perfect, because I’ve always had active kids, alhamdulellah. Something has to give with busy little bodies all over the place 🙂

  10. JazakAllah so much for the detailed comment Megan. It just seems really tough from my side of the spectrum (er, I don’t have any kids you know – and just have experience handling a fiesty nephew :D). But the thing is that it seems like the hugest sacrifice ever, in my humble opinion. Here, the fact is that women are expected to study with great grades and all, get a professional degree and all, and have a nice career and all. For Sadaf, its a cool thing that she’s a journalist.

    For me (who did study engineering, meaning to apply my knowledge to the world and solve problems) :(… this deal (homeschooling I mean) sounds like a full time job. Not to mention the extreme taunts that would be hurled from all over the place for ”wasting a seat” and ”wasting yourself” and ”your kids are just not going to get along with other kids, you seeee” –

    On the flip side, I’m inclined towards this thing (and could sacrifice the whole career and 18+ years education and professional education and heck, Im even going for a Phd :'(… *swallows hard*) … because

    1. The one thing women ARE going to be asked about on the Day of Judgement is their children and their upbringing
    2. They ain’t going to be questioned about the engineering they did
    3. Situation in pak is really messy regarding bringing up kids, esp in a joined family system. [who btw would think we’ve gone crazy if we dont have a TV… again, for Sadaf’s its a smooth sailing MA because she doesn’t live in a joined family]
    4. Hence a mom’s full attention is required to educate (esp in deen matters) and bring up the kid. Nobody else can give them that 100% attention.

    *totally confused as to what she should do*. This is getting really weird.

    1. @Uni: You should really not worry about it so much right now. 🙂 Please just continue to read about homeschooling or alternative routes of education, then when your future circumstances require, you can make your decision based on what seems favorable at that time, insha’Allah.

  11. Masha’Allah, I am so happy to hear you are thinking that far ahead, and you don’t have kids yet! 🙂 That’s wonderful, and it’s nice to see your open and flexible, what a beautiful quality!

    Remember that Allah provides our sustenance every step of the way, and that’s not just in food and money. It’s strength, support, resources, will power, and our iman.

    Cross those bridges when you come to it 🙂

  12. Assalam o alikum Sadaf 🙂
    It was nice reading your article, I’m not married yet but I plan on homeschooling my children if circumstances work out Inshallah! 🙂
    It really sounds like a healthy alternative to schooling where children are so prone to picking up bad habits from other kids at school.
    And I’d love to meet you some day too, if Allah wills Inshallah 🙂

  13. Assalamu Alaikum,

    First of all, I’d like to start off by saying that I immensely enjoyed this article! I definitely agree with many of the points you came up with about how we need to nurture and stimulate our youth’s young minds without the influence of all of today’s “Modern technology.” I don’t have children yet but InshAllah I do have one along the way and I want to educate myself in every way possible so that I can begin this journey in the best way from day one. My husband and I have always toyed with the idea of homeschooling since we’re not happy or satisfied with the school systems in our area.

    I have a few questions. Was your home always a TV-free home or did you make that decision when you started a family? Do you include Islamic Education as part of the daily schedule, like as a separate subject? Or do you integrate it with other subjects? Or do the children go outside of the home to further their Islamic education such as Quran recitation/tajweed etc? (I don’t know if I consider myself very knowledgeable in the area enough to be my child’s sole source of Islamic education.) Can you be a little bit more specific about the types of activities you try to get your children engaged in?

    JazakiAllahu Khairan for such a wonderful and inspiring read!

    1. Wa Alaikum ussalam Madiha,

      Well, yes, it so happened that when we got married, both my husband and I happened to be averse to the idea of having a TV in the house. This was because of personal reasons on both sides, but mainly that its a distraction from quality family time and too noisy. When our first child came along, it only reinforced our decision to keep it out of our home.

      Islamic Education goes on informally at this stage. I do not have set, fixed timings for sitting down with my children to teach them right now, as I think they are too young to be forced to study. The result of that is that they are always keen to read, write, draw, paint and learn in other creative ways. I am always talking about Islam, Quran, and sunnah all day, relating practical life and events to it. E.g. if we see a tree, I describe to my kids how Allah created a tree, its benefits (gives oxygen to the environment, provides shade) and then perhaps make a passing reference to any mention of the tree in the Quran e.g. the believer has been compared to a date palm tree, and why. This is the way our Islamic Education is progressing right now. I teach my older one the Quran but very little by little right now, basing my speed on her absorption of what is being taught, and her eagerness towards it. I intend to start more structured, formal instruction after the age of 7, insha’Allah, which is the age our Deen teaches us to make our kids start praying all the 5 prayers i.e. adhere to more discipline in their routine.

      The activities my children engage in right now are voluntary and eager reading of books (more storybooks and less textbooks, though the latter are also there in our home), writing on scribble pads and writing books (those with stenciled letters etc.), water-color painting in both formal coloring books and on plain sheets of paper, watching (but rarely) youtube videos about animals or other things (like rockets or fire trucks), Quran memorization software (for my 5-year-old), listening to Quran Mu’allim tapes in the car (absolutely no music, not even nasheeds right now, as I want *just* the Quran to enter their ears as much as possible during these formative years), and keeping Zebra finches as pets.

      Every outing is a learning experience. They go to a nearby park, have scooties at home to run amuck on, and my son already likes to play cricket (bat ball) on our roof. I also attend one or two planned events in a month, which are arranged by the local home education community in Karachi. They are also a lot of fun.

      Home Education is one of the best things we could have done for our children. Alhamdulillah, even though we took the decision after several istikharah prayers and had a lot of doubt, with each passing month, we are more and more convinced that it was the right one, as we witness our children blossom and learn freely, without the threats of bells, classes, forced homework and exams to thwart their enthusiasm at this tender stage.

      All I can say is, alhamdulillah for Allah’s blessings upon us.

  14. Not sure who that question was directed at, but I’ll add in my own two cents!

    My home had a TV physically in the house BUT I’ve never had cable or satellite or anything like that – it’s always been used for Islamic lectures, my select choice of clean entertainment, and things for the kids.

    It was in my bedroom, and not the living room as well, because I think a living room should be for LIVING 🙂

    That being said, the reason I wanted to move it out was because as the kids got older, they wanted to watch things more, and when it’s there, it’s much easier to say yes more often then I wanted too. So…I decided we could do without it, plus I was just tired of looking at it sitting in the corner of my room!

    I didn’t grow up this way, and in my household growing up, if my dad was home, a TV was always on, even if on mute, it was behind us at the kitchen table, or in the living room. What I can recall is that I used to feel I had to compete with the TV at times for attention over the hourly news…I think TV divides families more than it brings them together.

    For Islamic education, I gave up on the idea of a set curriculum because 1) the conversations I have with my kids, alhamdulellah, are usually more advanced than what the reading level Islamic textbook curriculums provide. Kids comprehend faster than they can do reading comprehension on a subject. So, I am currently sticking with the principal that one must LIVE Islam to teach it. For Arabic, right nowthey are in private lessons with a shaykh for Qur’an reading progressing to memorization insha’Allah.

    My weaknesses that are more a part of m personality are that I would like to incorporate the memorization of more du’a into our life – something that comes more naturally to others at times when they grew up in an Islamic background, or have a natural grasp for understanding Arabic – but alas, these are still excuses, and simply requires more effort on my part. There is no lack of nice kid friendly resources in this area.

    The beauty of homeschooling is that you can explore subjects right along with your kids. For example, you could read tafsir together, and discuss it, and you both learn, but your ability to comprehend and break things down for a child will be easier.

    Homeschoolers don’e educate for test taking information to be thrown back on a piece of paper. With the exception of math at higher levels, or an inability to teach in a way that your child grasps (get at tutor here) there is nothing wrong with you exploring subjects together, and creating projects, reading, writing, etc. all around that subject.

    I mean most of us vaguely know all subjects, right?

    As for friends, alhamdulellah, they see them often throughout the week at various classes or get togethers, like Quran class, martial arts class, and there are other options I’ve turned down for the moment like writing classes, art classes, because I don’t want a cluttered schedule.

    Hope this helps 🙂

  15. Assalam Alaekum Sister

    I have arrived to your blog by searching about homeschooling. Currently my son goes to a school in Karachi. However, I am not satisfied by the progress. I have scanned some other “good” schools but am really reluctant about them due to their environment / curriculum etc.

    During my search and discussions I have noted the biggest argument against homeschooling is that the child get less amount of social networking and peer interaction compared to school going children. What are your observations on this? especially for a child of around 11 years of age?

    Also, what are future study options for children when they complete homeschooling up to grade 8? especially in Karachi.

    Jazak’Allah Khair for your time

    wasalam

    1. وعليكم السلام
      It is easy to find enough extra curricular activities for an 11 year old boy, especially in Karachi.
      Insha’Allah you will learn about them by joining our email group. Homeschooling allows more time for children to interact with people of all ages and from all walks of life, because the lack of the stringent school routine makes their lives more relaxed and less stressful.
      After grade 8, it is easy to enroll a child into private tuitions to start their preparations for O levels or Matriculation. In their spare time, these kids can enroll in sports (especially if a parent or close relative is a member of a private club), karate classes, and of course a part-time Quran memorization or tafseer course.
      I think the so-called “lack of peer interaction” that is attributed to homeschooling actually makes a kid grow up and mature early viz. at the right time. it is a bit sad to see 18-year-old’s fresh out of A-levels from our local schools mostly still think and act like little kids. Take them to an adults’ dinner party, for example, and they won’t be able to talk to a single stranger present there (not even a kid their own age who is not part of their exclusive clique); rather, they usually make a beeline for the host family’s television or computer to plop themselves in front of it like zombies. What has their daily “peer interaction and social networking” at school taught them? To talk only to their “friends” and not to strangers who are adults or to others outside their age group?
      That is sure how it seems to the onlooker.

  16. assalam o alikum, i one of the many tormented mothers here in karachi who stay up night after night- worrying about their kids and wondering if they,ve done the proper thing nad put their kids in the ‘right’ school. can we please meet in person? i would really love that.

  17. As salam a’ley kom warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu sister sadaf

    Mashallah I am very proud of you !!! May Allah grant success in your work Ameen
    It’s really wonderful to see you so active and productive. Mashallah, you are homeschooling your kids and also sharing the knowledge with others. May Allah bless you 🙂

    Sister I have couple of questions to ask you about homeschooling if time permits can you please email me.

  18. greetings all harried homeschoolers! has anyone heard about the CAT (california acheivement testing) system? I’m really interested in getting hold of the books, etc but i don’t know how. it’s quite helpful for providing guidelines for homeschooling students of K-9; after which we can opt for either a local board, O levels/ A levels ot even SAT. look around n keep me posted. thanks!

  19. Assalamualikum,

    Wow, this post is super old but somehow I came across it. I really enjoyed reading your insight on homeschooling. I had no idea people in Pakistan also homeschool-ed, it’s really common in the west among non-muslims but i’ve never heard anyone do it in Pakistan. I did traditional schooling myself (elementary in Pakistan and since then in U.S) and I currently tutor a Muslim student in 8th grade to pay for college expenses (mon-fri). I volunteer at an Islamic school on Saturdays. Over the past year, I have immensely observed and compared the kids who are at the masjid on saturdays (all of them go to public schools in the west!) to the one kid I tutor. I am not a parent or even married but I can tell there is by far a HUGE difference in how the kids turn out. My mind was blown when this kid told me his goal in life is to attain Jannah. I’ve been in school my whole life and NO ONE taught me that. I started highly respecting Muslim parents who home school their kids when I started this job but I never thought I’d be able to do it for my own. I know it sounds crazy but after reading this, I feel like even I can do this when I have my own kids, because you sound so normal, lol. I favorite’d this article, mA you’ve hit all the right points. JazakAllah Khair !!!

  20. assalamualikum sadaf,
    so glad to c ur posts though i dont know u but i was just googling for home schooling in pakistan and saw ur space,clicked on it and went thru all ur post, must say mashaAllah!i am living in dubai,mother of 4 kids 3 of them are doing hifz and youngest one is 10 mnths.my eldest one is 12 yrs and mashaAllah his 2 juz are remaining then inshaAllah he will b a complete hafiz in a mnth inshaAllah.m worried for him bcz now he will go to school thatswhy m also considering home schooling for him.plz guide me from where i can get a better schooling .my friends told me abt Calvert and K-12.what do u suggest.waitng for ur reply.jzakumullah khair,

  21. You are an inspiration to me. You have always been. And you will always be, InshaAllahu Ta’ala. Reading this post of yours has given me even more energy and faith that homeschooling is the solution to raising better humans. The involvement of a mother with her children is the absolute need of the child, that the society wants us to neglect. And that’s where much damage begins from. I live in a joint family setup. Where television is absolutely inevitable. What I do on my part is to not watch television altogether. I have also limit my screen hours. I’m available to the screens when my little one is fast asleep. And constantly praying that Allah makes it easy for my family to get rid of these televisions soon so that I can raise my child to how I have envisaged. It’s a tough call. But I know, prayer works when all others fail! Keep my son in your prayers. Lots of love x

    1. May Allah bless you and guide you, Mina. I’m so glad that you’ve found solace in homeschooling. 🙂 May Allah enable you to easily fulfill all your noble intentions regarding your family. Ameen.

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