بسم اللّٰہ الرحمٰن الرحیم

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 unrelentingly ardent hopefuls. I went along wherever 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 mere hours after 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 discovered eye-openers such as this:

Children, like all human beings, crave freedom. They hate to have their freedom restricted. Children explore and play, freely, in ways designed to learn about the physical and social world in which they are developing. In school, they are told they must stop following their interests and, instead, do just what the teacher is telling them they must do. That is why they do not like school.- Peter Gray, a specialist in Developmental and Evolutionary Psychology.
[- Freedom to Learn, PsychologyToday.com]

I must admit, the vast chasm between what I learned during my reading stints about how children learn 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'a), 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 who observe hijab do not get married”. But then I did get married, alhamdulillah, even before some other girls of my age in my extended family, who did not wear hijab.

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 write 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 “complaints” 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 peers.”

*Cough* This is a “problem“? A child who likes hanging out with adults is a “problem child”? Last I checked, preferring the company of adults and older children over that of peers was one of the signs of giftedness!

When I heard this, I remembered `Ali Bin Abi Talib, `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.

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 only 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, 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.

How They Stay Busy: A play slide overturned to simulate a vendor's pushcart selling toys as wares

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 Qur'an. If the Qur'an 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.

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 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 not to 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 it is not against the pleasure of our Creator. And this is the message which our children should be receiving from their parents, especially at ages less then 10, when they look up to their parents for every answer and for guidance in every little 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, riding the wave so to speak, and doing only what everyone else is doing, or what they're telling you to do?

50 Responses

  1. Rafa

    I was always curious about homeschooling. From my own experiences of public school at a young age, I’d say homeschooling would be, in many ways, the better option.
    There is one objection that always seems to come up though, which is the child’s “social life.” While I agree that it is beneficial for a child to spend time with adults, how does a homeschooled child go about making friends of their own age groups? And what about when schooling is done, and they’re faced with the “outside” world?

    Jazak Allah for the article!

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    • Sabeen

      ” There is one objection that always seems to come up though, which is the child’s “social life.” ”

      This is one of the greatest misconceptions about homeschooling. Allah has blessed me and given me the ability to homeschool for the past six years and the opposite is true as far as my children’s social life is concerned. Homeschooled children are often involved in so many activities “outside” that the parents are always talking about scaling back on the extra-curricular. Since they are not tied to a school routine they often have a lot more flexibility in the activities they can participate in.

      There are endless opportunities for homeschoolers to interact through homeschooling support groups, through the activities at their local Islamic Centers etc. Many museum, zoos and libraries across the US offer special programs for homeschoolers. The “social life” thing would only be a problem if the parent is a socially isolated adult.

      Sadaf is mashallah homeschooling in Pakistan so she is truly a pioneer. May Allah give her the courage to continue and bless her and her children in this life and the next

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  2. abu abdullah

    jazak Allah khayr for the tremendous article. Mash Allah, Tabarak Allah may Allah bless your children. ameen.

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  3. an lusan

    London Home Schooling Resources

    One of the traps many muslim homeschoolers full into is the idea that homeschooling is about the school at home. So they get out the national curriculum, set up a class room in their living room and off they go.

    But with just a little research, they would realise that having your children at home gives you a unique opportunity to raise your children so that they can fufil their potential as a son or daughter of adam, created with the capacity for greatness.

    Ok , so we will give them homework as well as lessons?

    NO THE ABSOLUTE KEY to a childs growth is CONFIDENCE and never supressing their desire to learn.

    Well how do you that?

    First and foremost , no tests, no defined goals, no expectation of being able to read at the age of 5,6, or 7.
    and NO teaching.

    What NO TEACHING?

    Yep. our role is to facilitate their learning. Where the child explores what they are interested in. If they are ever being taught that which they don’t want to learn , you seriously risk them loosing the desire to learn. Boredom, stuck learning something they don’t want to, but this time there is no escape. They will be like the millions of kids who come out of school having learned, nothing but left with the memories of boredom, and the desire to get away from education as quick as they possibly can.

    So how do you facilitate learning.
    Well you learn with the child, bring to the equation your years of experience in being able to resource and research effectively.

    Thats it. No qualifications, no huge amount of resources. Just the attitude that your care for your childs growth and happiness, and thats the reason they are at home.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      Interesting. I agree that, especially at younger ages, stress should not be on teaching/structured lessons, as much as on letting the children learn on their own. Surround them with resources (crafts, books, pens, etc.) and let nature takes it’s course. Plus, if the children see their parents reading and having intellectual discussions, they will pick up a love of learning even faster, insha’Allah.

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  4. A Muslimah and a parent

    May Allah help you in your sincere efforts. There were some interesting points in your article. I have been weighing the pros and cons of homeschooling vs Islamic Schools for a long time now here in the US for my son who will be turning 3 years old soon inshAllah. I personally know parents who homeschool as well as those who send their children to Islamic Schools. What I have seen in their children is a confirmation of what I have always known from personal experience. That is, the result depends on how much effort the parents put into their child’s studies and broader education. My mother constantly oversaw my education at school and very often taught us what took us beyond what we learned at school and at other times corrected the concepts we were taught in the light of Islam. Although we went to school, she was our primary educator. At school, I learned to compete with and interact with my peers many of whom were from diverse backgrounds. Some of them are even now my closest friends, my support system and my best advisors. I had the space to run around and play, I learned to work with others and make allowances for them. I benefited from going to school in more ways than one. Just wanted to share these thoughts. May Allah guide us and our children and make them righteous. Ameen. 

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  5. ummi homeschooler

    MashaAllaah a very nice article. I also homeschool, in the Emirates.

    I have only one little thing to say! potty training, only a problem if you are using diapers especially disposable (though not really disposable) diapers/ nappies.

    So for those who haven’t heard about this insha’Allaah you find this beneficial.
    For a very long time the rest of the world (not the West) used elimination communication/ also known as diaper free or natural infant hygiene.

    heres some info you all might find shocking! but useful insha’Allah. its an amazing thing when you realise you can communicate with a 4 month old, who lets you know they need to go to the toilet! (might not be for everyone, just like homeschooling might not be for everyone.)

    http://www.freewebs.com/freetoec/
    Let’s begin with what it is not.

    EC is not potty training for babies. Firstly, the method is not anything close to what the word “training” would conjure up. There are no rewards or punishments, there is no unlearning of a previous habit, there is nothing in it that goes against the infant’s nature. EC is no more training infants to eliminate than breastfeeding is training an infant to eat.

    Babies have a need to eat: they are capable of communicating this need to us, and are capable of assisting us in fulfilling this need.

    Babies have a need to eliminate: they are also capable from birth of communicating this need to us, and assisting us to meet this need.

    Or, as my wise friend Jen says, “Being aware of your baby’s elimination needs is no more or less “parent training” than being aware of when your baby is hungry.”

    http://www.tribalbaby.org/ECindex.html
    In a nutshell, Elimination Communication is about the Communication.

    When I first heard about Elimination Communication, my second child was about 8 months old. The concept intrigued me. I knew that women around the world did not use diapers, and though they wore their babies on their bodies, they didn’t get soiled on. They simply tuned in to their baby’s cues from birth and at the right time, held baby out over a bush or toilet receptable and let nature take its course. I decided to try it with my son. I was tickled pink when I sat him on a little potty and he went, right on cue. It’s like he knew exactly what to do.

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      • ummi homeschooler

        Yeah me too, when i first heard about it, i thought ppl would be spending all their time running to the loo with the baby! there was a small clip about it that i saw. then when i started reading about it, it was pretty amazing.

        I really feel like the whole bonding thing went to another level, just because all of us dh, and the older children could all tell, mama, he needs the loo!

        Masha’Allaah. i would say try it. i use it part time and it really does help, cuts down on diapers, easier time when you are diaper free and if your expecting again and the kid needs the loo he totally lets you know he needs to go or wants to be changed. no squished smelly mess! as they hate sitting in their own mess, alhumdullilah, so much cleaner.

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    • Hebah Ahmed

      I could not agree with you more. I used the EC or Infant Potty Training technique (its more about training the parent to be aware of the child’s natural signaling) you described with both my children and it was amazing. It is a common misconception perpetuated by pediatricians that children cannot have control over their elimination before 18 months. AlhumduliLah my daughter was potty trained with number 2 from the age of 6 months and fully potty trained including night pottying by 14 months. Boys usually take longer so my son was not fully trained until between 2-2.5 years of age. I used cloth diapers so I would not get lazy about changing them and it also is much more environmentally friendly. After they were trained, even if I tried to put a diaper on them, they would refuse, and either try to pull it off or throw a tantrum.

      I also think it greatly effects the mental development of children because you are responding to their needs and signals early, teaching them effective communication and making them responsible for themselves at an early age.

      I personally believe if you have the time and energy for it, that it is the most Islamic way to deal with children due to its cleanliness, mental effects, and environmental savings.

      Hebah

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      • ummi homeschooler

        As salamualykum

        Totally agree with you there sister about it being more islamic, clean and environmentally friendly. Alhumdullilah. i think even if people are a little scared about doing it, trying it even part time would help and would also keep the child from losing their natural reflex of holding it in!

        MashaAllaah for the article and all the comments about homeschooling. Its really nice to see positive information, expereience and advice regarding homeschooling.

        jazakAllahukhairn
        As salamualykum

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  6. Lil' Muslimah

    Assalam-o-Alaykum!
    What a WONDERFUL article!!! Currently, I am a freshman in high school but was homeschooled in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade (I went to Islamic school in 4th grade) because my mother wanted my sisters and I to become stronger Muslims before entering the “real” world. And I ToTALLY agree!! Homeschooling made me a completely stronger muslimah! I now wear and abaya and hijaab in school and have ABSOLUTELY NO SOCIAL PROBLEMS (at least, thats what I think) and LOVE explaining my religion to other people! Insha-Allah, your children will flourish under thier loving parents supervision!
    I have a baby sister, who is four, and is currently homeschooled too, Walhumdulillah. She is academically ahead of her peers and acts very mature (maybe its cause my other sisters and I are WAAYYY older than she is). She LOVES memorizing Quran because she sees me and my otehr sisters memorizing and reading everyday. Insha-Allah, our goal is to have her memorize the 30th juz beofre she turns five.
    So my point is HOMESCHOOLING IS LEGIT!!! I have an undying love for my parents because I realize that they took the time out of their day to raise me (I was a difficult child, always trying to see how much trouble I could get into ;)) to my full capability. My parents instilled Islam into my sisters and I by acting like themselves and teaching us by example (praying in front of us, du’aa — normal routines of their lives)

    May Allah bless you and keep up your efforts!!!

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    • Aaishah

      i am a junior and have been homeschooling frm 8th grade. i follow the curriculum thru keystone and i say i just love it!!
      but there is one thing as a homeschooler, u r faced with these enormous n silly questions by ur friendz.. questions like, how do u make friends, dnt u cheat in ur exams, or dnt u miss bullying ur teachers just bug u out!! :/
      but anyway, ALHMD i am finally way ahead than my peers who r in skool academically as well as Islamically.

      btw, Gr8 article!!

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      • Hidaya

        ”ALHMD i am finally way ahead than my peers who r in skool academically as well as Islamically.”

        lol this statement doesn’t sound like you are ahead of them =D Not judging you , just stating how your statement came across.

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      • Lil' Muslimah

        Yea, I have to say going back to public school brought down my Imaan a bit, but I try to keep it up by reading books (reading “Du’aa: Weapon of the Believer” by Yasir Qadhi right now – AWESOME BOOK) and listening to lectures. But going to school is an awesome Da’wah opportunity, especially if you live in an area where ANY sort of colored people are a minority and most people have never seen a Muslim in their life (I just moved to Indiana -aka the cornfields- last year… it is awful here)
        A couple of my friends told me that theyre gonna consider Islam for their future and a boy once told me that hes gonna marry a Muslim gurl int he future <– I wasnt sure how to respond to that soooo I just walked away :)
        But I hope your Islamic and worldly knowledge increases!!!

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      • Aaishah

        thats slang!!:P dnt judge on that lol
        wat i mean is the skools here r not v nice n islamic. being a homeschholer made me goal-oriented, responsible and increased my iman.

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  7. Subahan Allah

    Aazing jazaki Allah khaire, will def pass this article on to others… :) May Allah bless Sadaf and her children

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    • mmmtea

      As a homeschooling mom, this is pretty much preaching to the choir. I would be more interested to see the comments of those that are teetering.
      Thanks for the link. :)

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  8. Curious

    JazakAllahu Khair Sr Sadaf for the fantastic article, mashaAllah!

    Homeschooling seems to have many benefits with regards to a childs development however one question I have. Till this day, after countless reading about home schooling and meeting home schooled children/adults (who are quite social btw! So this one is definitely a myth), I have noticed that academically that are not up there as their peers.

    I am not saying that they are dumb (no, they are intelligent) but what I mean by this is that I have not met any that have been home schooled their whole life and went on to gaining a very high qualification, e.g. Medicine etc.

    Sure they are intelligent, in fact I attended school for most of my life and changed to home school (due to my circumstances) for the remaining 3 years and there were different benefits. During my schooling years, I was the smart kid – the one that who would always get first place in most of my subjects, the one that peers called ‘nerd’, the one that the teachers loved but with regards to knowing where I wanted to go in the future and recognizing my talents, I did not have that because during school I had the mentality that whatever job offers the highest pay, highest status is the one to aim for.

    In contrast, when I left school – things were the total opposite. I learned so much more about life and about myself (and as a result, I became more mature than my peers) but with regards to my studies, they went downhill. It all relied on self motivation, self teaching ( my family could only help me to a certain extent ) and as a result I did not end up achieving as high as I was capable of [ not that it mattered to me because I had other plans for the future, but this is just an example ].

    Maybe I can be wrong. I don’t know but this is always something that tends to worry me with regards to home schooling so till I find a way to be able to give my children a good education during their last stages of schooling, I would inshaAllah homeschool them for the years that I can teach and then send them to a (good) school for the remaining years so that they don’t miss out.

    What do others think about this? This issue is hardly addressed because whenever the issue of homeschooling comes up, most of the time it is focused around the social aspect and it does not address something like this.

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    • Curious

      by the way, school in and of itself was not the reason for my good grades rather it was because of the extra support I received from my family. So I think its possible to be on this intellectual level when being home schooled, as long as someone can teach it all to you but when your parents can no longer teach you then things get tricky.

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    • an lusan

      salaam
      your making the mistake of judging success by academic qualifications.
      The reason homeschooled kids probably do not go on to be doctors or lawyers is because they recognize there is more to life than being a SKILLED worker. Which is what these professions are.
      Muslims HAVE to get out of this mindset that success is being a SKILLED worker whether it is a doctor or lawyer or engineer.
      Success should be measured by acheivement and creativity, like being an entrepreneur or creating an independent business.

      that said homeschooled kids CONSISTANTLY over acheive when they do take exams. And gain higher grades across the board.
      Like i said in my earlier post do some reasearch, especially on the reasons why compulsory schooling was set up (john taylor gatto). Because it was not set up to educate, but to create SKILLED dependent workers who peform their function of being cogs.

      We are all sons and daughters of Adam, and ALL of us have the capacity for great ness. So call Genius is as common as muck, its just that the vast majority are dummed down in the schooling system for a reason.

      If you had a thouand kids brought up how beethoven was raised, most likely you will have a thousand musical geniuses.

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      • Curious

        Please don’t make an assumption, I never said anywhere in my post that success is when you get into med school nor did I say that home schooling kids are dumb. So no need to get heated up.

        My point is that if child (that was homeschooled) wanted to be a doctor or some high profession, then would home school make it harder for them due to the lack of resources mainly?

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    • Med school

      I personally know many people who home schooled all their life and went to medical school, including my husband and sister in law. It all depends on the type of person they are (hard-working, studious, etc.)

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      • Curious

        Jzk for this answer. I was looking for something like this.

        I understand that if you try your best then anything is possible. That theory is the case for everything in life but can you please elaborate on this? How did they do it? Did they go to private tuitions. Did their parents teach them? Did they teach themselves?

        When I was doing my final years of schooling at home, it was really difficult for me to self teach myself certain subjects that were a bit more complex such as physics, chemistry, mathematics.

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      • Curious

        Also what country are we referring to here? Because where I am from, getting into medical school is very tough. One has to not only achieve top marks but they also have to do a special IQ test and in some states go through an interview process with a panel.

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      • Med school

        They are going to medical school here in the US, which is very hard to get into. Basically, they homeschooled themselves using various resources with some help from their parents, started community college at a young age, transferred to a 4-year university, applied for medical school, and got in! :) Pretty much the same process as everyone else goes through.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      I have one example for you, of a homeschooled girl who went on to gain a high qualification from a prestigious university: Umaimah Mendhro. She studied at Cornell University and at Harvard Business School.

      You can read her interview at the above link. Our local Home Ed group interviewed her via email exclusively for the benefit of our group.

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  9. Ismail Kamdar

    Jazakallah Khair for this.

    Between this and sister Zohra’s article and interview, I am seriously considering home-schooling my kids. I went to a Muslim school, and taught in some too, and am not happy with the ethics and ‘Islam’ in some of these schools.

    Alhamdulillah, I completed my high school through home schooling so I missed the worst part of school life. So I can compare and it seems that home schooling is harder but has better results.

    Allah knows best.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      May Allah guide you to the right decision for your family.
      Homeschooling is quite easy. Please start reading up on it in your leisure time, accompanied by sincere istikharah prayers, and insha’Allah, Allah will help you.

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  10. Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    When people tell you with conviction, “If you do that, such-and-such thing will happen,” they are in fact expressing their own fears and insecurities. They are bound by those fears, shackled like prisoners, so they can never admit that the shackles can be easily broken by one who dares.

    This was an inspiring article, thank you, and I love the way you pointed to those Sahabah who were “home-schooled”, i.e. the ones who spent their time as children hanging around adults, or around the Prophet himself (pbuh), learning.

    And thanks for reminding us about all the good things that children love naturally, as long as we do not corrupt them or suppress them. We need to encourage all those good traits and let them flourish.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      When people tell you with conviction, “If you do that, such-and-such thing will happen,” they are in fact expressing their own fears and insecurities. They are bound by those fears, shackled like prisoners, so they can never admit that the shackles can be easily broken by one who dares.

      Yes, I agree 100%!

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  11. Umm Reem

    Great Job Sadaf!! mashaAllah.

    May Allah give you strength and motivation to keep you steadfast on your goals.

    My kids were homeschooled all their lives in US. The first time they went to school was here in doha. A part of the family stopped feeling “sorry” for them and were thankful that finally my children will be “educated” now, LOL.

    I must say that I felt sort of “relieved” not having to homeschool them, not for any other reason but just the stress part. But within the first year of their schools, i started realizing the blessings of homeschooling. And I might soon start it again inshaAllah.

    For the mother, i have one piece of advice, don’t ever think that because of homeschooling you will have to give up your own activities/life. If you manage your time well, and you are disciplined and consistent, you CAN have your own life AND homeschool ur kids. I’ve done it and there are many other mother who are doing it.

    For those of you who are in US, please take advantage of the virtual academy programs. Go to K-12.com and you will find out how many states participate in that. YOu can actually get free supplies and an online teacher, online educational clubs, PLUS an official report card etc.

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    • Sadaf Farooqi

      I am so glad you commented, Umm Reem. :)

      You were a great inspiration for me when I was reading up about/researching homeschooling, especially since (and I want the readers of this article to know this too) you have also made your older 2 kids memorize the Quran all by yourself at the ages of 10 and 8, respectively, if I am not mistaken? Masha’Allah! Allahu Akbar.

      May Allah continue to make everyone who is inspired by you, a sadaqah-e-jariyah for you, in addition to your own offspring. Ameen.

      I must say I agree with you. Ever since I started to homeschool this August, Allah has placed so much barakah in my time, that my life is actually more full of fun activities/outdoor excursions, and I am so much less stressed out/short of time now – perhaps because of the absence of school homework, the school pick-and-drop routine, exam preparation (yes, even at the age of 5, my daughter had written exams!), and the rush to go to bed on time every night/wake up on time in the morning.

      The flexibility that homeschooling affords (which is also part of our pious predecessors’ sunnah viz. they did not get structured, rigorous, institutionalized education during early childhood) is amazing for the children, masha’Allah.

      Alhamdulillah for Allah’s blessings.

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      • Hebah Ahmed

        Barak Allahu Feekum to both of you!!!!! May Allah reward you and make your children of the most righteous Insha Allah!

        Thank you Sadaf for the well written article. I love how you presented your choices and perspectives without judging others who may make different choices. We all have to make our own parenting plans, and reading about how others have chosen helps us make informed decisions without having to be defensive.

        To your duaa to Umm Reem “May Allah continue to make everyone who is inspired by you, a sadaqah-e-jariyah for you, in addition to your own offspring. Ameen. ”

        I say double Ameen. Umm Reem gave me the confidence to believe I CAN teach my children to read, memorize, understand, and implement the Quran as well as homeschool. I searched high and low for someone to teach them, not believing I could. But Umm Reem inspired me to learn tajweed and teach my daughter. The best part is how much I am benefiting from it and how much I am learning with my daughter. Its also a great way to make sure you come to the Quran every day beacuse sometimes you will do what you should for your children before you will do it for yourself.

        One of the biggest misconception about homeschooling or teaching Quran is that you have to already be an expert. The truth is you can acually learn with you child and it does not take away from the respect or abilities of your child at all. Sometimes it more fun for them too!

        Where there is a will there are so many ways!

        Finally, I live in New Mexico which is so progressive in terms of homeschooling. In order to enter any university in New Mexico, a homeschooled child only has to take the GED and SAT. They do not require transcripts or grade reports. They tell you which subjects you must teach but how and what you teach is up to you. There are so many community activities and programs to support homeschoolers. Also, any child which attends their senior year of High school or is homeschooled in New Mexico automatically qualifies for a full 4 year scholarship to any NM university based on min test scores. Its a great deal!

        Hebah

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  12. UmmeNYer

    Greatly written article Sadaf. I am so impressed by my sister in Pakistan, kudos to you! May Allah make your kids your path to paradise, ameen.

    I just wanted to make a clarification to readers who’re looking for “successful” products. Homeschooling a child is about helping your child find his/her passion. I recently read a quote – “Education is not about filling a bucket but it’s about lighting a fire.”

    I’ve met quite a few muslims who measure success by careers. Generally, if one is a doctor or engineer, then one is deemed successful else not worth a second look. True homeschooling doesn’t allow children to be pegged into a hole at a young age – the medicine track, the engineering track or business track but rather it allows the child to enjoy learning. Homeschooling allows for happiness while learning;which is such an idiosyncrasy in the institution of education.

    Here in US, I’ve met many doctors from Pakistan but not one who wanted to be a doctor because of wanting to treat the poor. They became doctors because that was only one of 3 routes to success and many times the only way out of Pakistan or into a good marriage. Sadly, most were pushed into the path by their parents who were vicariously trying to live their childrens’ lives and therefore victimized them by having them study 24/7 to get into med school. So yes, they’ve got the big houses and the nice cars here but I don’t envy them in the least bit as wealth doesn’t bring happiness and as Hamza Yusuf here, http://vimeo.com/17166865 says, the world’s poorest people are also the world’s happiest people.

    And if one still must search for successful formerly homeschooled, I wish I had a list of muslims as I’m sure they’re countless but here is one of non-muslims, http://www.knowledgehouse.info/famous.html

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  13. umm easa

    Asalamalaikum, amazing article. I really needed the article to re-boost my confidence in homeschooling. I have started h.s since september 2010 and it is the best decision I have made in my life (after accepting Islam that is). I think support though is a major factor, it would be very hard for me if I did not have my husbands support when everybody else in the family thinks we are going to wreck our children’s lives and turn them into social mishaps. It was not just a decision based on religious beliefs ,this did have a major part to play however, a lot of it is about growing wholesome children with good adhab which for me is far more important than academic results, to love the world, experience nature hands on, the woods as a classroom while other children are sat at tables that are colour coded in order of academic ability ( blue table = gifted to the yellow table= needs extra support), such labels at a tender age damages confidence that will effect them through life. Also I love the fact that insha’Allah our children will be enriched with memories that we would have created as a family and they will become adults that will prioritise on the importance of strong family bonding that can only strengthen the muslim community.

    There are days when stress levels are high and I think the Mother should find a routine in the day so the children are in bed at a certain time so she has her time to concentrate on things she likes, and also planning is very important to me if you choose to homeschool in a structured way, it really does let the day run smoothly. My daughter said the only thing she missed from school was P.E so now she is in karate class.
    Islam is full of knowledge and wisdoms that will benefit our children in this life and the next, if my child remembers 1 ayah from the koran each day I would rather that than them knowing the entire works of Shakespear and Yeates.

    ” I think we’ve tied acquiring knowledge too much to school” (A.Penzias, Nobel Literature). SubhanAllah it is us Mothers that are the first school, it is our duty, we will be questioned on it. I think we have to check our own naffs to see why would we prefer school and to me personally if I am honest it was a 6 hour a day free babysitting club so I could do a few things in peace. I know everybody has there own individual cases, some woman are single parents and simply have to work to keep things running but do not leave all your trust in the teachers, turn the t.v off and talk to your children, have the weekends when you teach them by visiting museums, art galleries e,t.c it does not have to be expensive.
    JazakAllah once again to the sister who wrote the article, may Allah make it easy for us , amin.

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    • Sabeen

      The first year of homeschooling was the most challenging for me. I was insecure in my ability to teach even though I was pursuing a degree in education at that time! The constant stream of criticism from friends and family was also unnerving sometimes. But trust in Allah and in yourself and ignore the criticism. Some people do not understand homeschooling, others are irritated that you chose a different path and some are driven by jealousy.They will come around, inshallah, as they watch your kids grow up.

      The support of your husband is critical and if you have have a group of like-minded friends then you are truly blessed. Inshallah, Allah will give you the will to persist and reward you in this world with respectful, wholesome, believing children and in the hereafter for all the effort you put in for their upbringing.

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  14. Faraz

    Great article Masha Allah. The struggles described to get to this level are very inspiring.
    I just wonder however that didn’t early Muslims send children to mosques to study with elderly shaikhs. Isn’t that sending children to some kind of school then?

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    • umm easa

      But with the elder sheikhs you would refer to them as pious beings with excellent charecter, I couldn’t say the same for teachers not alone the peers. I still believe that even if there was a good islamic school near me I wouldn’t send my children, the whole concept of how the west teaches is a problem to me, especially under 7’s.

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    • ummi homeschooler

      Sending the children to the mosque was and is still different. you dont get grouped by age, rather you find little ones sitting next to big ones and everyone in between. go to the masjid and you would find 5 year old kids next to 10 year olds 20 year olds etc.. you would also find that the teachers at leaast here in the mosque organize it so that the child who is better at the basic level will teach the newcomer and the one better than him will teach the basic level and so on and so forth till you get to the sheikh who is teaching the most advanced student.
      The Sheikh/ teacher would listen to the students no matter what age they are and then select the appropriate help for them.

      You also find that there is no line of students with the teacher at the head sitting opposite. rather everyone is sitting in cirlces and can see everyone else in their group teacher included.

      the whole set up and pyschology is different.

      (but they learnt more than just quran back then, they learnt, hadith and good manners too)

      These days it seems good manners and any kind of islamic explanaiton get left and the focus is just on quran without meaning.

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  15. Owais

    I have a different view based on my experience of my children’s education i.e. schools running for years even do not have proper selection of books as they follow the fame of books/publishers rather than what is necessary for the children to learn at a given level of education.

    I believe that all parents are doing home schooling for years as teachers at school give for homework without guidance, eventually parents have to teach them at home.

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  16. amel

    sister I will be very grateful if u share some educational resources for homeschooling

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  17. Sahar

    JazakAllah sister Sadaf, May Allah bless you and your family for sharing such a useful article.

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