My kids are on track to graduate from high school at age 14, inshā'Allāh. And at ages eight and six, my kids have collectively authored and published five books of their own, and are asked to speak at schools around the country – TabarakAllah.
I travel around the country giving seminars and talks to college students, parents, youth, Muslim and non-Muslim. One question I get all the time is, “How are you doing it Zohra?” How are your children so advanced for their ages?”
alḥamdulillāh, first and foremost it's with the tawfiq of Allāh. However, it's not as impossible as you may think:
You're probably wondering, “What? How?” I will tell you a few strategies that can help you do the same. I will start off with, how they can graduate high school early.
Plan 1: Skipping Grades.
Students taking placement tests and passing to the next class is not as hard as many parents think. The problem is that we don't give our kids the benefit of doubt. All of our kids are geniuses; all we need to do is help them see it.
Kids are naturally motivated to excel on their own without mommy and daddy always looking behind their shoulders. This can work great when it comes to excelling in school.
For all the busy people who have to work, for the first two-to-three years of their child's education, sit with them every evening and go over homework and also have the child explain it to the parents.
I know you're probably thinking I don't have any time for that – with dinner to serve, baths and so on. I am telling you that if you want your child to excel and not worry about nagging them later, then you need to sacrifice some time and be there for them when it counts. What I would do to take care of this problem is:
a.) Cook the whole week's meals on Sunday's and just heat and serve during the week.
b.) Take the phone off of the hook and just focus on your child for 1-2 hours. If you have more than one child, have all of them studying at the same time and spend a few minutes with each one. Basically make rounds during that time, so they each get your full attention.
Again, this will take some training and some pushing on your part, but remember the benefits are for you. If you can get all of your children to get scholarships to college would that alone not be worth it? If you have two or three children, that is the equivalent of saving anywhere between $30,000- $50,000. What's sad is that most parents don't even have that money to help their kids out with college, so everyone gets into debt for school.
Let's just say that you really can't do it because of how your life is scheduled right now, what about hiring a tutor for just a few dollars an hour; a young teenager to help your child with what you want. Believe me it will give your child confidence and skills that they didn't know they had.
Plan 2: Home-schooling your children.
Did you know that homeschooled children are the first to be recruited by universities such as Yale, Stanford and Harvard? They believe (and rightfully so) that homeschooled children are disciplined to learn and teach themselves. You're probably thinking, “I am too busy, I can't home school.” That's what I was saying; I used to be a corporate mom and enjoyed it too.
After I realized that no one cared as much about my kid's education as me, I changed my lifestyle to make it happen. However, I can hear some of you saying right now, “But I can't do it, because of my responsibilities.” I understand, and will not push you do it my way, but for all of those moms who are at home, they can home school.
Imagine spending about three hours a day with your child to learn and the rest of the time, they teach themselves. They have to read books, do projects, explore. Imagine if you had a curriculum that helped them graduate high school by the age of 14. Which college would not want them? If they are that smart, you will have schools fighting for them. At that age, I personally recommend a university close to home, so parents can drop in and pick them up.
Imagine raising two, three or even four great kids who are smart, talented, well-educated and loved. What can those kids do for us? Anything. The problem with society today is we want to do everything and be great at it. However, the tragedy is usually the first thing to suffer is our families — be it our marriage or our kids.
We need to refocus and think about our lives, if we were to be alive 15 years from now, what is most important to us? Is it our careers, being a CEO of a company? Is it being the best lawyer? Or is it raising super stars and working part time with it? I am not saying ladies don't have careers, all I am saying is that we need to focus on our families, too.
Maybe the first 15 years should be focused on teaching our kids manners, love, respect, hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) but most importantly, the Qurʾān. Every morning wake them up to pray and read Qurʾān before they leave the house.
We need to build families and not just careers. Allāh (SWT) has put us on earth to test us. One of the tests is motherhood. Are we really doing what we should be doing, or are we just trying to keep up with the Joneses? If we don't take care of our kids, with love, knowledge and patience, why will they want to take care of us as we age? Think about it. Think deeply. I will let you read this story to help better understand my point:
“A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and four-year old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred and his step faltered. The family ate together at the table.
But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. “We must do something about father,” said the son. “I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
When the family glanced in grandfather's direction, sometime he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The four-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food in when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what had to be done.
That evening the husband took grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.” – Unknown Author
I am a woman who likes to lead by my actions and not just my words, as for my children, all 3 of them want to be authors in areas that they can help society inshā'Allāh. All 3 of them have goals to memorize the Qurʾān and be scholars of Islam, and pursue other careers as well. My daughter wants to be a zoologist and get a Ph.D in Islam. My son wants to be a haffith, scholar, and an inventor. Remember that we must all answer to Allāh (SWT) about how we took care of what He gave us. That should be enough for all of us to want to do it, for what will our answers be to Ar-Rahman? I leave you with words of encouragement to help your kids achieve their dreams and goals within the Islamic scope of life, they don't have to give up their deen to be successful in this life, and they can do both inshā'Allāh. However, they need the support of mom and dad.
In conclusion, your child can become anything, but needs your support along the way. Your child needs your love, compassion and patience to teach him or her. Be the best parent you can be, so that you don't have regrets later! I hope that you have gotten the point that your child can graduate early inshā'Allāh, and even have the chance of going to college early, but more than anything they have the potential to being the leaders for Ummah when you and I are gone, inshā'Allāh. You must nurture the seeds you have planted, you water it, fertilize it, and give it sunshine or else it won't bloom like you want it to.
For anyone who wants more information on home schooling, or how to make this process happen for them, please email me at email@example.com
Zohra Sarwari is a Muslim woman speaker who has authored and published nine books. She gets invited to speak all over the country in front of Muslims, non-Muslims, college students and parents alike. She and her daughter have been featured in places like Fox News and she was Noor TV's 2009 Woman of the Year. To have her weekend seminar: “Live Forever: It's your life's dream” come to your city, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.