Is Homeschooling for Losers?

1193228_doodled_desks_2There are lot of debates these days about homeschooling. Is it the right approach? Are parents who choose this way are  excluding their children from the “real” world? How does homeschooling impact the academic level and the social life of a child?

Here is an interesting view from a journalist based in Canada:

When my daughter was in elementary school, the mother of a classmate decided to home school her daughter. She didn’t like the Grade 4 teacher.

I don’t remember why she had a problem with that particular teacher, but I do remember my surprise that a parent would go to that extreme. Home school your child for a year, just to avoid a specific teacher?

This mother was a certified teacher herself, at home on an extended maternity leave. So she not only had the time, she certainly also had the qualifications to teach Grade 4. Even just a classroom of one.

But I admit, at the time, I thought the whole concept of home schooling to be a little … well … weird.

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Why would anyone choose to isolate their child like that? Take them away from their peers? Think they could actually do a better job teaching their child than a school filled with qualified and experienced professionals?

I knew one family that decided to make the commitment to home schooling their children after deciding that their local school wasn’t offering a “proper Catholic education.” Whatever that means.

I remember one mother who turned to home schooling out of desperation, after her son became a target of frequent bullying. I did a story about her for the CBC, and remember thinking this was a parent who honestly believed she was out of options. And had to take that home schooling step just to keep her child safe.

However, once you look at the research, or read the report on home schooling by the Fraser Institute, you might start to wonder if your kitchen table isn’t the perfect school after all.

Consider this: your child learns one-on-one for the entire day. An entire curriculum is built around your child’s strengths and weaknesses, emphasizing what they find interesting, and supporting them through the material they struggle with.

And unlike the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) programs, it’s completely free and available across Canada.

I’ve never seriously considered home schooling any of my own five children. For one thing, how could home schooling adequately prepare your child for the academic demands of university? And what about the lack of day-to-day interaction with their peers? It seems like it would set my children up for failure. Both academically and socially.

Yet according to the research, I’m dead wrong. Home schooling is on the rise in Canada and the United States. And now I finally get it.

It’s one of the realities of the public school system: with 20+ children in a classroom, a large part of every school day isn’t spent learning.

It’s spent waiting. Waiting for a computer. Waiting for a teacher’s attention. With home schooling, there isn’t any waiting in line. It’s more efficient.

With such concentrated, one-on-one attention, it’s no wonder that home schoolers maintain a strong advantage over publicly funded school students.

The surprising part: home schoolers are also outperforming private school students. Despite shorter schooling hours, home schoolers have consistently scored at or above average in virtually all subject areas on standardized tests.

As for that assumption some might make about home schoolers being socially inept – thanks to a lack of exposure to their peer group – the evidence suggests just the opposite.

The benefits of home schooling go above and beyond academics. According to the Fraser report, the average home schooled child consistently participates in eight social activities outside the home.

They even watch less television.

One researcher claims that home schooled kids actually display fewer social problems when “observed in free play” than publicly funded school children. Okay, I wondered about that, too. Did the home schoolers hand out cookies to the rest of the kids? Organize everyone into a friendly game of tag, including the slower kids on the play ground?

But interestingly, according to the Fraser report, parents teaching their children at home don’t actually have to be qualified in any special way. Home schooled kids enjoy no significant advantage if one or even both parents are certified teachers.

Some of the reasons given by parents for choosing to home school their children include their commitment to passing on a set of values and beliefs, the potential for higher academic achievement because of the one-on-one instruction, and the opportunity to develop closer and stronger parent-child relationships.

The parents also expressed concerns over what they consider to be a lack of discipline in public schools. Teaching them at home means a physically safer environment for their child in which to learn, and the opportunity for their child to enjoy high-quality interaction with peers and adults.

And one more: “The opportunity to escape negative peer pressure (e.g., drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex) through controlled and positive peer social interactions.” (Page 10 of the Fraser report)

But what about later? Are home schooled children disadvantaged when it comes to pursuing post secondary education?

Higher education for home schooled children is available across Canada, as more and more universities are accepting home schooled students. This includes the University of Toronto, York, Dalhousie, the University of Saskatchewan and more.

In the U.S., home schoolers are gaining admission and scholarships to some of the most prestigious universities in that country, including Harvard, Yale, Standford, MIT, and the Citadel.

If home schooling offers such an ideal – even free – education, then why aren’t I now considering it for my own children? In part, the time commitment. I admit I’m not prepared to quit my job and stay home full time to home school my children.

Studies have shown that children whose parents are directly involved in their education do much better overall. But that doesn’t mean we all have to home school our kids for them to benefit from having their parents actively involved in their education.

But one thing is for sure: those home schoolers are on to something.

You can read the Fraiser Institure report here.

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43 responses to “Is Homeschooling for Losers?”

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  2. Wonderful! yay for us homeschoolers!

  3. Homeschooling/ distance education rocks :)
    Even now as I’m finishing up high school, alHamdulillah it’s the best system of education that I’ve ever been involved in! (I’ve been to public school and Islamic school as well as homeschooling/distance education.)

    BTW many people confuse homeschooling and distance education; the former is often a system that the parent-instructors have to devise a curriculum for, while distance education is when you sign up with a certified distance education school that’s part of the Ministry of Education. Through them, you get the same curriculum that a ‘normal’ schooler would get, as well as all the material (textbooks and other supplies), certified teachers to mark your work, and regular report cards.
    The best part is that in addition to having the work laid out, you still control the major factors: pace and style of learning, studying environment, one-on-one attention, friends, etc.

    It’s fantastic, alHamdulillah!

  4. NH says:

    International Baccalaureate is for losers — or those who don’t care about being brainwashed.

    Maybe this is why people don’t want their kids in public schools, because it’s treason?

    “In the struggle to establish an adequate world government, the teacher has many parts to play… He can do much to prepare the hearts and minds of children for global understanding and cooperation… At the very top of all the agencies which will assure the coming of world government must stand the school, the teacher, and the organized profession.

    — National Education Association Journal, 1946

    Public schools are a cult..

    http://www.truthaboutib.com

  5. Amatullah says:

    Assalamu Alykum

    it also saves on commuting expenses…

    But really the benefits of learning in class rooms cannot be overshadowed by this, both sides have their pros and cons…children who learn in classrooms are more socially developed…

    The ideal situation is to have segregated learning environments, Allahu Alam

    I read an interesting article on Reader’s Digest on how single gender education maximizes the learning process:

    http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/how-boys-and-girls-learn-differently/article103575.html

    JazakAllahu Khair,

    • Arif Kabir says:

      I fully agree; homeschooling definitely has may pros and looking at statistics, the children that have been homeschooled are more apt to do better in school. Everything has become much easier nowadays as they have distance-learning homeschooling in which all the material, whether it be textbooks, notebooks, or art supplies, that comes in a package in the beginning of the year with a lesson plan. When I was in grade school, I used Calvert School and they even included a lesson plan book in which they divided all the course material into 160 lessons and one would basically use that to base their schedule. After each 20 lessons, there was a test and for an additional lump sum, one could submit the tests to Calvert School instructors who would return it graded and with detailed comments. If one was to pay that additional sum, they would also receive a diploma once they successfully completed the course.

      I could just say that I loved my homeschooling experience of a few years and that I would recommend it to any prospective parent. However, in truth, I strongly disliked (trying not to use the ‘h’ word:) homeschooling because it was hard for me to function without being in an classroom experience and without competition and I doubt I would ever do homeschooling if it wasn’t for the fact that I was in Hifzh School and homeschooling was the only option. In all fair respect, if anyone is truly interested in homeschooling their children, two things are very necessary for a homeschooler from my experience and without them, it is very hard for them to do well:

      1. A committed parent – There needs to be at least one parent that helps the child out, whether it be with the educational aspect or the social aspect. For example, most kids will not be able to comprehend the math section (especially when they begin algebra) without the help of an adult who can further explain it to them. Socially, those statistics that mentioned that homeschoolers “were involved in at least 8 social activities in a week” could only manage that with a dedicated parent that can ferry them to their various activities. I know of homeschool mothers that run a very rigorous schedule with their children, teaching for some time and then taking them to at least one museum per week and playgroups with peers which often would revolve around helping others, whether it would be helping pick berries at a field or decorating cups to help the homeless. If a child is just left at home by him/herself or just told to always “go do your work!”, there is a far less likely chance of that child doing well as he will either be lazy or frustrated. I personally know of many that would study 1 hour max and then just sleep or browse the tv and internet all day.

      2. Friends/Competition – Perhaps the strongest dislike that I had of homeschooling is that I had no competition. When I was in school, our teacher would give us 60-70 problems in a class and I would race through the questions because I would always try to finish first and many other classmates would do likewise. In homeschooling, just staring at a book telling me to complete a certain number of questions (almost always less than even 30), I would still dread doing those problems because I didn’t really have any time limits or any reason to do those problems. If you are serious about homeschooling for your child, then you must find some peers that they can compete with and vent their feelings and thoughts to.

      Saying all of this, I think it is only possible for someone to homeschool their children if they have the energy, capacity, and connections to do so. But not everyone has the ability and time to do all of that. Personally, I believe that if Islamic schooling is an option in the area, then that is definitely the best option because they do very well statistically, they is no fear of them being a social outcast, they will be in gender-separated classroom (which as mentioned above, has many benefits) and all of this in an Islamic environment. My college professor moved all the way from Kansas to Maryland because she wanted to put her children in a German school that teaches their students four different languages and has high education standards. Jewish people spend 10-40 thousands dollars annually to put their children in Jewish schools because they highly value their children’s education. If they feel that educating their children is important, where do we stand? Isn’t our children one of our biggest responsibilities in Islam?

      Being educated almost my whole life in Islamic schools, mainly in Al-Huda School, I have seen almost every single one of my peers enter college at least two years earlier, completing highschool in two years, and a sister in my community completed her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry (or some bio related field) at the age of 18, when most people begin their college education Masha’Allah. This has become quite the trend at our Islamic school by the grace of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala…

      • Sadaf says:

        Jazak Allahu Khairan for sharing your experience with us. It has enlightened me more about homeschooling..the fact that you have been homeschooled yourself added to the value of your account.

    • N/A says:

      if the child frequents the masjid he will have plenty of socail interaction there with all the other youth in the community. thats what i would do.

  6. Sadaf says:

    Bismillah
    Well, I think homeschooling has many tremendous benefits, although the condition is that the parents do it responsibly and everyone must acknowlegde the fact that homeschooling does not work for everyone, but rather, for a specific niche. Thus, we must be careful not to assume that those children that go to school are worse off than their homeschooled counterparts.

    There should also be a clear difference between homeschooling and hothousing. Some parents overdo the “we-want-our-children-to-learn-everything-as-soon-as-possible” approach, making children achieve high results much sooner than usual, and thus putting them under tremendous pressure to keep up their “prodigy” status. Young minds then become overwhelmed with all the attention, and diverge from the “normal” childhood that other children their age enjoy.

    Here is the story of a 12-year-old Muslim girl who was homeschooled, and who is about to start University in Connecticut. Do you really think she’ll have a normal, average teenage from now on? Allahu A’lam. And the world already knows about the Oxford University math prodigy (I am refraining from naming her) and her unfortunate fate, although of course she was a rare exception. She was htohoused, along with her siblings.

    For most people, homeschooling is a great option, and it definitely works wonders. Here in Pakistan, most well-off families’ kids go to “trophy” schools (most notably, KGS, LGS) that the parents can proudly proclaim in their social circles. In addition, they attend private tuition centers in the evenings to do their homework or pass O- and A- levels. I know of a lady who has been tutoring neighborhood kids for years, and her whole apartment complex vouches for her excellent abilities to make kids pass exams. Yet, when people mention homeschooling in Pakistan, jaws drop. “Tuitions” are just another word for homeschooling, because the teachers basically take extra classes at their homes (even if they are not the kids’ parents; still, the learning is taking place in a private set-up with a smaller attendance). My friend’s mother has been tutoring children at home for years, and she does it on her dining table.

    Home education or homeschooling is actually the best way to make kids learn, in my opinion. But, I would reiterate that it should be done responsibly, and the intention should not be to make one’s kids outshine other kids or to outperform them before time.
    Allah knows best.

    • I’m sorry, but your post shows tremendous ignorance about this kind of situation. This is not “hothousing”. Once you start teaching your own children you realize that no amount of “hothousing” will make your child achieve a level that they ae not ready for! Children learn at their own pace, and this is another advantage of homeschooling by the way, that if your child is slower or faster than “average” they are free to be taught at their level. Most homeschooling familes I have met did start out their homeschooling experience with some expectation that their kids would end up “ahead” of other kids, but I have not met a single homeschooling family (Muslim or not) who didn’t quickly realize that you can do no more than find out what works best for your child’s learning style and intellectual capacity. And I really shouldn’t say “no more” because that in itself is a great gift.

      In this particular case, you have to realize that children like this are not advanced because they are homeschooled, rather the opposite is the case– they were homeschooled because it became clear that they were naturally so far beyond what the school could offer, they had no choice but to homeschool. You have to realize that there IS such a thing as “exceptionally” and even “profoundly” gifted children. They did not become “prodigies” because of anything their parents did, they were BORN that way.

      I was a gifted child and I started taking college classes at 15 during the summer. I got all As in my college classes, I hated high school and I wanted OUT! I went to public school, was not “hothoused” and neither were any of my friends in the public school G/T program. Some of them were even more advanced than me and were taking advanced calculus in college because they had gotten 1600s on their SATs as 8th graders! What we all had in common is that we felt terribly held back by the school system, which for most of us refused to let us skip grades. We did not have “normal” teenage years (you want to define “normal” anyway?) because we could not really relate much to our peers no matter what we did, and many of us were bullied throughout our school years. Many of us would have been MUCH happier had we been allowed to skip grades and start college earlier.

      Unfortunately, I think many people, Muslims included, have grave misconceptions about both homeschooling and gifted children.

  7. I think the most important point to be emphasized about homeschooling, aside from the basic obviousness of keeping children away from the innumerable problems that public education brings (having gone through it myself, it boggles the mind whenever I think about it), is the level of involvement that the parents will have in their upbringing. Instead of a child spending the majority of their conscious time away from their primary educators & nourishers, they will get a strong dose, in a much more natural way.

    And, parents know when they will need to bring someone in to supplement what they themselves cannot provide – for example, a Qurʾaan teacher or a math tutor. This is part-and-parcel of raising a family.

    I think, though, we have to understand that this will hardly work if both parents are working. Without a doubt, a homeschooling family will require a stay-at-home parent, and the most common formula for that is the most logical, namely, the mother. With the mother as everyone’s first teacher, why not continue that onward through to the primary & secondary educational levels? The father, too, must play an active role, and be willing to spend time with his kids teaching them as the mother does. It’s all part of childrearing and developing a strong, Islamic household.

    Parents have abandoned their children to nurseries, daycare, & public schooling (i.e., daycare with recess). So, it’s no wonder that children then abandon their parents when they grow older, as it becomes like for like. Instead, we need to take our children’s upbringing and future seriously, and sacrifice, perhaps, the lifestyle we may have wanted before we became parents for the greater purpose of developing the next generation of our Ummah.

  8. […] Is Homeschooling for Losers? | MuslimMatters.org […]

  9. usman says:

    As an education major i think public schoo learning(also islamic schools) is better. Although homeschooling has a few positives, i think public school or schooling in an institution is genrally better because the teachers study the material and study the different methods of teaching, this helps them teach more effectively. A lot of pysch is used in these courses and teachers generally have an idea how students act. This helps them become effective teachers as far as the academics go. Homeschooling advantage is the child is kept safe from the non islamic culture in he public school system, but islamic schools can very easly take care of that.

  10. Mercy says:

    Assalama ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

    Upon looking at the title of this article, I initially cringed at the title as I thought it was some sort of bashing of homeschooling or something along those lines. Alhamdulilah, though homeschooling has its ups and downs, joys and wonders, and faults I think its best to consider what options parents have and whether the parents themselves are equipped to take upon this role i.e resources, curriculum, as well as background knowledge about teaching and the teaching profession. As an education major myself, and one who grew up in the public school system, I think its best for each parent to prepare themselves or even evaluate some of the pros and cons involved in such a method.

    Pros:
    1.) Having that control/or ability to convey whatever is of importance to a child both in the dunya and in the akhirah (i.e Islamic studies)
    2.) Cutting off some of the unnecessary things found in elementary as well middle school curriculum i.e music, etc. In homeschooling, one may be able to substitute sessions such as this for something Islam related.
    3.) Protecting ones child from social ills found in schools in the form of peers and peer pressure.
    4.) Time-this is such a huge factor, and one that if we look at the school systems and of just how much is spent on changing classes, teacher tending to disciplinary issues from students, as well as other situations, one may try to calculate just how much is actually spent on actual “on task teaching” . With homeschooling one is able to control a bit of this and the specific tasks that are carried out during the school day.

    Cons:
    1.) Development of social skills and interacting with others may not be so clear for the child involved in homeschooling (but one may look into other homeschooling families-both for resources and a source of good social circle)
    2.) Comparative/competitiveness of students in the school system in evaluating where they are in terms of their peers. There may be lack of this in homeschooling a child may not have exposure to it-as it may be just a parent and child scenario.

    All in all I think it bodes well for both parents to evaluate what is best for their child in both this life and hereafter, and to try to instill in them strong values whether they are involved homeschooling or in the public school system. And Allah knows best.

    Wa’alaykuma Salam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
    Rahma

  11. Dawud Israel says:

    I took a look at some of the brothers I saw come out of a Muslim school and I thought it would be inadequate. But in Canada, education is inadqueate to prepare you for university anyways.

    I did find however, start noticing these kids and how they are…yes, they do inherit a bit of the Muslim hatred and rivalry in our community, and sure, they may not always be super-sociable…but I see more potential in these two brothers now, because they have a sense of duty towards our community. And working on their own, they have developed a great deal of disciple- something necessary to be successful in post-secondary education.

    Its a bit of an experiment but I would consider Islamic education…as long as its not too repressive and helps foster a child’s creativity.

  12. Ibn Masood says:

    Fantastic… some nutritious food for thought

  13. J says:

    Wa alaykum as-salam,

    I am a supporter of home-schooling and distance-learning for Muslim youth. However, I think that parents should make sure their children don’t turn intolerant or close-minded. When you are shielded from society, you tend to be more receptive to intolerant and close-minded ideas. Remember: the goal is to become the Yale YQ, not the Saudi YQ. :P Not that YQ was ever close-minded or intolerant…just that his Yale-self had much more depth of understanding and dynamism that would have been impossible to attain in an isolated environment.

    Fi aman Allah,
    J

  14. Musa Franco says:

    As a social worker I can honestly say that Public School is something that I will never consider for my daughter. To hear an interesting talk regarding the subject or if you want to get clarity on the matter refer to http://www.drhatemalhaj.com or refer to Man of Few Words articles on the topic. I just want to add that the problems of public school is not just the education itself that is mediocre. It is in fact the extreme negative influences coming from kids. I have expereinced 3 year olds teaching other kids how to do the crip walk and many many other serious issues that we would find appauling.

    Wallahu alim

  15. UmmMaryam says:

    As Salamualykum interesting article

    I would like to point out that there are many different ways to homeschool, weather you want to make shcool at home, waldorf, montessori, unschooling, charlotte mason, the classical approach etc etc

    as each child and family are different so you can have a different approach for each of your children.

    i would also like to say that no i don’t want my children to be like the ‘average’ teenagers. the ones with the attitude problems and peer pressure problems and yes i have seen a big difference in homschooled and school schooled children and the way they behave around other children and adults.

    As a muslim homeschooling mother i look at how the ppl were in the past, weather they were muslim or not, take a look at the 1800’s men and women at the age of 16/ 18 were working, holding down jobs, getting married and basically being responsible, now a days you have 30/ 40 year olds who are still too young to settle down, apparently!

    looks to me like there has been plenty of dumbing down and brain washing ppl into thinking that they can’t be responsible at a young age.

    i meet muslim and nonmuslim ppl/ children schoolers and homeschoolers so my children meet all sorts of interesting ppl of different ages and religions etc

    waslam

  16. mofw says:

    As someone with a great deal of experience in public schools, from the very “best” to the very worst, I can only describe the enrollment of one’s students in these institutions as an absolute catastrophe.

    Furthermore, as the article mentioned, much of the day is spent waiting and not learning. A study came out which demonstrated that in the average day of school there were only 2 hours of actual instruction. If you homeschooled your children for 4 hours a day with a break in the middle you would be miles ahead of all their peers.

    Homeschooling is no doubt more involved and time consuming for parents but it is light years ahead of the alternative.

  17. Brother in islam says:

    Alhamdulillah was salaat was salaam ‘ala rasoulillah

    Assalaamou ralaikum

    Vry nice topic masha’Allah.
    Wat i hav to say abt home schooling is that i find it one of the best types of educating ur children in a good atmosphere. If u go to these colleges, u’ll see wat is happening to our young muslim brothers and sisters, they are getting influenced by drugs,pornography and all these immoral stuff.
    But however it is true that the child must knw the outside world in order to be aware of its dangers and for his/her proper emancipation and for this purpose, he/she should receive a good islamic formation together with a good explanation of how to adapt with outside world life which is full of dangers.
    I personally think that the student can be taught abt all these at home by a good islamic formation on how to deal with all these obstacles coming up at university level.

    Another important point is abt university life, a home schooled student may somewat find it difficult to adapt, that’s true. But if there is a small group of muslims there, then he/she will be comfortable and encouraged.

    One thing that we sholud always bear in mind is that first of all we shud evaluate the pros and cons in terms of our deen, we shud see on which side our deen is being more preserved. Maybe nowadays we are doing a mistake, we care more abt the secular education that the islamic one, in fact they shud be balanced for a young muslim to live well and has a proper upbringing..

    May Allah guide us all and help us all to make the right decisions for our child’s education bearing in mind that our deen should prevail over and sholud govern watever thing we do in life..

    Wa’alaikum salaam

  18. maz says:

    Thanks, now I feel like I am a loser for choosing to go out so I can put food on the table and roof over my the children. I guess its doomsday for those children who parents cannot afford to homeschool their charges.

    • MuslimFamily says:

      Maz, I do not believe you are a looser. We all are doing what we believe to the best for our families.
      It is a big myth that homeschooling is only for the wealthy.
      There is no reason for money to be an issue for not being able to homeschool.
      Many single parents also hs. Honestly, I think it would be very difficult. I do not know how they do it.
      http://www.google.com/search?q=single+parenting+homeschool&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS235US236

      I am blessed that I have a husband that works and I am able to stay home with my 3 girls.
      My husband does not make much as a delivery driver.
      Our house is 764 sq ft and we pay less then that in rent.
      We use the library , state and county parks are awesome, and Google really is your friend. We enjoy making up our own curriculum according to the interests of the girls. It makes learning so much more enjoyable.

      My purpose is not to try to convince anyone to homeschool.
      I only wish to let you know that you do not need to be well off in order to homeschool.
      peace

      Side note: I have noticed that many people who have something against homeschooling have never really experienced it. While those who homeschool have had extensive experiences with both public and private school.

  19. Dawud Israel says:

    Here is something a brother posted on Facebook…its from a teacher:


    I Quit, I Think, John Taylor Gatto, The Wall Street Journal

    Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents. The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the theological idea that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

    That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its “scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of Biology. It’s a religious notion, School is its church. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

    Socrates foresaw if teaching became a formal profession, something like this would happen. Professional interest is served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating the laity to the priesthood. School is too vital a jobs-project, contract giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches, that’s why reforms come and go without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

    David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first—the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too. For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education” fodder. She’ll be locked in her place forever.

    In 30 years of teaching kids rich and poor I almost never met a learning disabled child; hardly ever met a gifted and talented one either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

    That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation. There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen—that probably guarantees it won’t.

    How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn or deliberate indifference to it. I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work.

    • MorningWind says:

      This article “I Quit, I Think” is screaming truth.

      On my field experiences in public high schools, my supervisors often said “teach these kids here as if they’re your own.”

      My reaction: I wouldn’t put my own kids here.

      I’m looking into Islamic schools and homeschooling now. Br. Nadim, thanks for posting this article. I loved reading all the different comments afterwards – best part.

    • sadia says:

      Gatto also has an interetsing book called, Weapons of Mass Instruction: A schoolteacher’s journey through the dark world of compulsary schooling

    • Abu Yunus says:

      As salaamu alaykum,

      Here is the actual book that John Taylor Gatto wrote on this issue entitled, “The Underground History of American Education”:

      http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm

  20. I’d also like to recommend “The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling” by Rachel Gathercole for a thorough overview of all the social issues connected to homeschooling.

  21. Nadim Sohail says:

    JazakAllah Kheir for all the interesting comments.

    Can someone post some resources like curriculum, activities… available online for those who want to start homeschooling their kids?

  22. Sadaf says:

    I will post links below, to Muslim homeschooling mothers’ blogs, which have many homeschooling links on their blogrolls:

    Ummi Homeschools Me
    The Homeschooling Ummi
    Days of Our Lives

    Please check out the links to homeschooling resources in these blogs. A couple of these bloggers are writers for SISTERS Magazine.

  23. Z says:

    I’ve started a resource kind of blog for Muslim home schoolers… mostly about my experience with homeschooling and stuff like that :) It’s kind of empty now, but I hope to update it regularly inshallah…

    http://www.muslimhomeschoolers.wordpress.com

  24. Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

    Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatoh,

    I have begun homeschooling this year, 2 of my 4 children living at home. They are in Grades 3 and 5. I am using the Independant Learning Center curriculum for their academic material gourndbase, and supplement with a home library of science, geography, grammar and fiction that I began building when my son (Grade 5) was just a baby. I found it easier to accumulate a substantial resource library a little at a ttime, and have built this library from Scholastic Book Services, Scholar’s Choice, Teachers Resource Book Store, public library sales, chance book sales (never walk away from a good book on sale, you’ll never find it again later!).

    I also have a crammed shelf of Islamic Curriculums, Islamic instruction books for chidren and fiction written for Muslim children.

    From these resources I am able to instruct my sons through the materials I want to teach them. I can teach my Grade 5 son about the beginning of Civilization, from Mesopotamia, through Egypt, Greece and Rome all the while referring to internet maps, atlases and map workbooks I’ve purchased for his grade level and a world map on our hallway wall, a globe on our table to give him a sense of his world and how it has developed over time into what we have today. I can compare Hammurabi’s Code to the Laws of Moses and demonstrate how Moses influenced this set of Laws.

    I can show him where each Prophet of Allah appeared in the time period we are learning about, whether it is in Ur, Ninevah, Egypt, or Palestine, and while discussing the beginnings of Government in each nation, I can demonstrate how we came to a Parlimentary Democratic System in Canada today which blends into his Civics curriculum.

    While teaching my Grade 3 son, his social studies curriculum is about Pioneer times in Canada. Alot of their lifestyle is similar to what my other son might be learning about the Neolithic Period of the Fertile Crescent; farmers coming together for commerce and protection, the use of mills, blacksmithing, water resevoirs, irrigation, preserving food, energy sources, etc.

    Each child is learning along side the other and hearing the lessons of the other, thus enriching their understanding of social evolution and technological evolution from necessity.

    It is true, one parent must stay home and be primarily responsible for the teaching and supervising, and that person MUST be dedicated, organized and themselves have some knowledge or desire to learn so that they can teach the subject matter, but when they are not able to, they can supplement by using tutors for specific subjects or trade other homeschooling mothers whose strengths compliment their weaknesses.

    There is enough available material and resources today to make homeschooling an enriching education, and promote Islamic values and behaviours in our children.

    I am able to send my sons to full time hifz classes throughout the year because I can homeschool on weekends, some weeknights, holidays, etc.

    Ontario doesn’t require parents to use the same curriculum nor use the same pace when homeschooling, so the time we have for academics doesn’t present a problem even though they don’t complete each academic year in 10 months.

    I find homeschooling the best of both worlds.They receive a full education,in academic subjects, Islamic subjects and in Tajweed and Memorization. They are maintained in an Islamic environment with the best supervision (their parents and their Hifz teachers), and their peers are also good musim BOYS, and I don’t have to worry about bullying, corrupt or immoral influences, drugs or predators.

    • Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal says:

      Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatoh,

      So, here I am 2 years later. I continued to homeschool 2 grades for both of my sons. Now they are back in school again.

      Homeschooling is a good choice for Muslims, IF they have the dedication and discipline to keep up the workload every day. And IF they are able to teach their children in a manner that doesn’t create a distance with their children as a parent.

      I found that I spent so much energy in trying to keep my sons focused and applying themselves (and actually paying attention to my teaching), that by the end of our daily lessons I just wanted a break from them and they wanted a break from me. It was unexpectedly difficult and a little bit disappointing.

      With so much struggle in the academic curriculum (I needed to keep them current with thier peers), I found I didn’t have much time or energy to spend on the Islamic subjects, like tafseer, seerah, and adhaab.

      I know not every parent/child relationship is the same as mine, but I have to be truthful in admitting that as dedicated and flexible as I am, I found this endeavor extremely challenging.

      I made the decision to keep them at the same level as the public school curriculum because if I ever moved to a place that didn’t allow homeschooling, or if something made it unable for me to continue (health, etc.), they wouldn’t be floundering when put back into the school system. They really needed to cover the material (Islamicized), that everyone else has covered so that they could understand the new lessons they would be expected to complete that were based on these foundational materials.

      If I had tailored their education to ONLY Islamic subjects, or only taught basic math, language, history, science, etc. they would never be able to catch up later on.

      As it happened, my health did begin to make it difficult to keep up to their educational needs, and as we are not financially able to put them into Islamic School anymore, they were put into the public school system for the first time.

      Alhamdulillah, with all of the material we covered, and the tools of studying and researching I taught them (though they didn’t pay much attention then, it is helping them now that they are expected to do so independantly), they are doing well. My older son slacked off a bit at first because he didn’t have anyone driving him anymore, but with warnings and showing him what’s at stake, he has pulled himself up very quickly and is now doing meeting his teachers’ expectations and actually excelling in some of his classes.

      It’s a very tough responsibility. Know what you are doing and be prepared to complete your task if you make this decision. Don’t set your child back by doing half a job. It’s soooo easy when they’re 3 or 4, even 6 years old. But when they get older, it’s a lot harder than you can imagine.

  25. SomeGuy says:

    I think homeschooling leaves a very narrow and sometimes damaging effect on a child. Especially when living in secular countries, it is best to have the child around children of other backgrounds, ethnicity, or even religion. How do you expect them to become balanced people when, by homeschooling, you indoctrinate them with a selective, yet biased, curriculum?

    I thought Islam was all about treading a middle ground in efforts to become a purely balanced nation. I suppose not.

  26. Maryam says:

    I think that children are a life long investment. They should be atleast homeschooled till the age of 7.
    Where I come from, mothers dont usually believe that. They have maids to carry around their children so that they could attend all the parties. You see children need their mothers more than their teachers when they are little. It pains me to see parents admtting their 2 year old children in pre-schools- whats the need?

    Education has become business and this is destroying our children. We have to be wiser in deciding whats best for them inshaAllah.

  27. Summer Lewis says:

    i was home schooled too but i would still prefer regular schools.~`-

  28. Greengrass3 says:

    Salaam

    I recognise the reasons Muslim parents would prefer to opt for home schooling and this is eloquently expressed in this post. However, I do feel self exclusion through fear of the duniya we are in is not the solution. The problem is fear and the solution is to self include in this most mundane but potent of ways. . . Send your child to a school rather than home school them.

    Why? Home schooling is an unhelpful response to the times we live in (in my view!)

    We can demonstrate what being a Muslim is by engaging in our local communities and the school is an ideal place to make a contribution and show our desire to live in harmony alongside non-Muslims, by being visible and heard in these educational institutions. Namely, in the interest of your child’s welfare, but the additional value added you can bring is limitless. The responsibility is mine and yours. It’s how we want to promote Islam the minute we wake up and the minute we step foot across the threshold of our homes. It’s a golden opportunity and that’s why this trend for home schooling dispirits me.

    People often sound defeated so frequently by the wave of Islamophobia that is the flavour of the zeitgeist, but everyone of us can help to conquer it in a range of ways. I really do appreciate that people are doing so in many ways I just don\’t want this approach to be overlooked or underestimated. This is just one of the most obvious. I am ofcourse biased as an educator myself – I’m certainly not denying it. Make your Islamic presence felt in all its spiritual and practical beauty. Go to the schools…

    The following are a few examples of ways you as Muslim parents can have an impact:

    • Parents join the ‘Friends of school X’
    • Parents join the PTA (Parents and teachers association)
    • Parents join the school governing body as a parent governor
    • Ask the school for a copy of the academic calendar to get an overview of events the school has planned, decide how you can contribute
    • Themed assembly weeks on faith is an opportunity for you to educate staff/students
    • RE (Religious Education) departments in schools frequently need help when trying to find someone from the local Muslim community to come and talk about life as a Muslim today
    • Staff in-service/training days are an opportunity to talk to teaching/non teaching staff who often have questions relating to faith issues that have arisen in school amongst students and want advice on handling these with sensitivity
    • Home school liaison co-ordinators in school are often the lynchpin in accessing communities, one meeting with them can help them be more informed about their role in relation to working with Muslim parents
    • Offer a tour of your masjid if you are comfortable doing so. Schools are very respectful and appreciative of this kind of gesture of inclusion into the world of Muslims rather than what they are told by the media masjids are used for
    • Pick a topic for example, I’tikaaf and explain to students the spiritual sustenance and empowerment derived from this experience in the masjid. For many students the pressure of duniya is overwhelming and being given a context not only to retreat from it but to return to it more beatified to face the duniya would be quite a surprise for them. ( I have never had the opportunity to do it, but I can’t help thinking about it quite a bit and the stunning inspiration it must be for an individual Muslim.)

    The above are just a few ideas from a UK experience that can no doubt be transferred and revsied for the US and elsewhere in accordance with the context you are in but there are innumerable ways to support your child\’s schooling and have a deeper impact on a grassroots level as well. Schools often need ordinary Muslims like you and I to help them understand our faith as a way of life. How we live it on a daily basis and are similar and dissimilar to non Muslims. I know many Muslim parents who are contributing in this way already and you may also, but there has never been a greater moral imperative than now to do so. These Muslim parents make a difference time and again. It’s an obvious way to be part of the solution.

    Despite the negative experiences of schools experienced by people, there are equally positive experiences we can recount as well. Over the last decade and more as an educator, I have observed first-hand how educational institutions welcome and are not averse to being educated and who better than yourselves who are constantly striving to be better in your faith for yourselves and your children, to provide an Islamic education to schools. Just by being you ie Muslims actively seeking to improve their knowledge which can then be used to inform others in your communities and schools. My view is we get stuck into the system or feel controlled by it, querulous and cornered. So, please don’t opt out of the system, it’s there for you and yours, embrace and define it by making your contribution. The contribution through engagement you can make as Muslims who show their commitment to their faith is invaluable not only to you but to those that only have the media caricature of who we really are. The reality of us being just like any other decent citizen of the local community/town/city we are in can be shaped and informed by us ourselves through this most obvious and easily overlooked avenue.

    If I’m preaching to the converted or teaching grandmothers to suck eggs, apologies and thank you for indulging me this moment. I really don’t think it’s about having the confidence/courage to leave the system for home schooling but about having the confidence and courage to stay in the system for schools. The above is quite clearly common sense but it also makes you a role model to your own children by demonstrating how the Muslims are not just at the heart of the community, they are its heart. May Allah bless, your children and keep all safe and strong in eman.

    Jzk

    Sobia

    Ps If anyone chooses to be offended by this rather lengthy comment, then I can only assume you’ve had one mango lassi too many…

  29. sara says:

    I’m afraid there arent too many options for social interaction available for kids with their own age, here in Pakistan. Can somebody tell me I’m wrong?
    Parks are one… but there’s not much of a trend here…kids dont frequent parks. I just know of , what, Karate classes..
    how does a child get to interact with other children his own age and get the necessary social exposure?

  30. AbuAhmed says:

    Assalamu Alaykum, == السلام عليكم
    A component for success in your homeschooling education is having a large and very *rich* resource at your hands as well as at the hands of children. This is what we set out to do with MUMTI. A truly unique
    tool designed by Muslims for Muslims, where grownups also find resourceful activities within it. MUMTI enables you to experience family moments on your large-screen or desktop watching and interacting with content rich in Islamic values.

    Along with a national homeschooling program All of my children use MUMTI daily. Here is a clip of my boy
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckJ9n6RT3kU

    MUMTI is the ultimate Muslim digital educator and your #1 tool for Homeschooling.
    It is packed with Cartoons in Arabic, a large collection of Quran tools, Arabic lessons, Science, to list a few… It also features numerous speakers collections and much more.
    At its foundation MUMTI is a Quran, Arabic, and Islamic Values Digital Educator that is now available to you and especially to your children 24/7.

    If you or friends would like to receive your personal licensed copy send your request over a short email to Learn[aatt]MUMTI.com .
    For your readers who can afford to purchase/donate visit this link http://mumti.com/purchase/

    Evey child is a true gift from Allah, don’t waste it in some “public” classroom

    Jazaakum Allahu Khayran
    Wa assalamu Alaykum,

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