On Staying responsive

If there is one advice that I will give anyone who home educates is this – never allow a system for education to replace love for individuals . The longer you home educate , the more you realise how true this is . Last night, I was re reading a chapter from “ A gracious Space “ by Julie Bogart ( I thoroughly recommend her books btw ) and this was staring at me , so I thought I would share it :

“ If you value learning together with your children, homeschool is not a task you complete one day and then you are done . Rather it’s an ongoing source of relationship and self- education that your family will share throughout their lives .

All the choices you make shape who you become to each other . It’s okay that you didn’t find the right system earlier . There is no right system ! There is you, your family , and what you stumble upon that helps you each year as you move forward in life . Promise yourself one thing , and I think you will be okay :

Stay responsive
Stay responsive to the moment (what’s working , what isn’t ?)
Stay responsive to the child ( what’s working for the child / what isn’t )
Stay responsive to new input ( don’t disqualify any educational idea or tool because you are afraid you will look bad to some group of homeschoolers )

Allow your homeschool to evolve , morph , grow or shrink . Stick up for your choices in the face of pressure to feel badly about them. Do not adopt a system or a set of values and belief that trump the individuals who live in your home . There is no right system .

There is only your family . Love them and pay attention to them . Be satisfied with your unique blend of quality ideas that you sift and apply to your family , trusting that all together , you have created a life that values learning . If you ever feel belittled or shamed about the choices you make for your family , leave that group. Protect your family for judgement . Stand up for yourself . Learn. Enjoy ! “

10 Homeschooling Tips for Beginners

A few weeks ago, I read a brilliant homeschooling related book, called ” Homeschoolers are not hermits ( A practical guide on raising smart, confident and socially connected Kids ) ” by Kathy Oaks. I will be writing a separate review of the book on another blog post. But I wanted to share with you some of her tips that she gives to new homeschoolers or anyone considering home education. Below you will find my summary of her tips. Hope you find them useful.

  • There are lots of benefits to homeschooling, and different families will value different benefits. Be involved and engaged with your child, have fun and relax. If things are not working , try something different.
  • Believe in yourself! You and your children can succeed and you will find all the resources you need if you just keep moving forward and doing the best you can every day.
  • Take time off before jumping in to homeschooling. Remember to play together as a family and with friends. Learning and living should be fun, for you as well as your children
  • The hardest thing about socialisation for homeschoolers is convincing your friends and family that you are not ruining your children. Opportunities are around- make friends and have fun.
  • Take a deep breath and plenty of you-time and remind yourself that you and your children are doing the best you can with the resources you have It’s about growing and learning and not about being perfect and that holds true for all of us.
  • What homeschooling looks like for your family will most likely change and evolve over time, that is as it should be
  • Homeschooling is not a Panacea and it is not for everyone, but it is not as hard as you might think.
  • Don’t wait for others to find you. Be proactive and go find the homeschool group you are looking for. You may have to visit several to find one that is a good fit or start one yourself.
  • You cannot stop people from learning. We are all programmed from birth to learn constantly. Help your children understand how they learn best and where to find resources and that learning should be fun, interesting and relevant
  • And last but not least, you can homeschool whther you loved or hated school. or were somewhere in the middle.

“Homeschoolers are not Hermits” by Kathy Oaks can be bought from Amazon https://amzn.to/2JtMYvw . Please note that this blog post used affiliated links .

In the Early Hours ( Reflections on spiritual and self development) by Khurram Murad – Book Review

November was a great month for me in terms of reading books. Unlike, the first Lockdown , when I barely managed to read even one ( even though I had high expectations), this time around was different and I managed to read quite a few inspirational books.

If you are in need of something spiritually uplifting, then treat yourself by getting this gem ” In the Early hours ” By Khurram Murad. I bought this book quite a few months ago from https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/in-the-early-hours?_pos=1&_sid=cc39b20a8&_ss=r but for some reason I never read it straight away. In all honesty, I actaully regret not reading it earlier.

“How are we to become true believers who seek God’s good pleasure? How are we to become mindful of God, to be thankful or worshipful? How are we to control our anger and pride? How are we to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? This inspirational book of wise advice answers these questions and guides us toward the spiritual life.

Khurram Murad (1932–1996) was the director general of The Islamic Foundation, United Kingdom, and a renowned teacher who spent 40 years in the spiritual teaching and training of thousands of young Muslim people around the globe. He has published more than 20 works in English and Urdu. “

What an incredible, uplifting , encouraging and beautiful book. I really cannot praise it highly enough. Such an easy read full of so many inspirational reflections and wisdom. The book is divided in seven chapters. Chapter 1 looks at the process of self development, the prerequisites of tazkiya, its blessings and benefits. In chapter 2 , Khurram Murad informs us of the significance of dhikr, its meaning and methods and how to organise our dhikr. Chapter 3 looks at the characteristics of “holding onto Allah”, how to be thankful and how to strive in the path of God. Chapter 4 gives practical advice on how to relate to Allah’s messenger, the guidelines in studying theSunna and its real meaning. In chapter 5 , you will be able to learn more about how to spend in the name of Allah, small charity, forgiving others and love of this world. Chapter 6 reminds us of our obligations to our families, children, our fellow Muslims, neighbours , even the rights of animals. And the last chapter reminds us beautifully of the main objective of our life, seeking God’s mercy, His forgiveness and the reality of the Hereafter.

I really loved that the book was divided in sections and it made it so much easier to read and understand. This book truly gives simple and practical advice on every single aspect for us Muslims. I also believe that anyone who is a revert or new to Islam will really enjoy this spiritually uplifting read. ” In the Early hours ” by Khurram Murad can be bought from https://www.kubepublishing.com/products/in-the-early-hours?_pos=1&_sid=cc39b20a8&_ss=r or Amazon (https://amzn.to/36uGftN )

5 Tips on Self Care during Lockdown

We have all heard of this often quoted rhetorical question “ How can you take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself ?”. But how many of us do it – I will definitely put my hands up and admit that I truly struggle with finding time to do things for myself . However , I have also realised that I often make it harder for myself by always feeling that I have to do everything and anything for everybody before I take care of myself .

Lockdown has truly made it harder too in many ways too. But I thought I will share some tips and things that have worked for me ( do let me know , how you have been taking care of yourself during lockdown ) :

1️⃣ Relaxing my house keeping standards – a sink full of dishes don’t have to be washed straight away , baskets full of laundry don’t have to folded exactly the same minute when they come out of the drier too. Ask your family members to chip in- encouraging children to help around the house builds their self esteem and expands their abilities . But honestly hand on heart I can definitely say that it’s impossible to have a nice looking house when you have children. It’s taken me a few years to finally really surrender to this fact .

2️⃣ Cut down on TV time – I am not a TV person but as soon as my children go to bed , I often feel like binge watching some of my favourite youtubers or scroll through Instagram . I still struggle with this but more often than not I try to use that time do something that I truly love – and that’s reading a book. I actually want to emphasise something – Reading a book is not somehow Superior than watching TV . Whatever you choose to do – make sure it’s something that stimulates your brain and it doesn’t feel you left drained out.

3️⃣ Say “No” when you need to – this a big one for me , because more often than not I am a very “YEs” person and try to accommodate and get involved in activities just to fill someone else’s need. So I am trying very hard not to be a pushover – my needs and my energy level are important .
4️⃣ Use routines to make your life easier – I am not a rigid person but routines certainly help me and I have noticed the benefit of having a loose routine even more during Lockdown . Everybody knows roughly what’s expected from them .

5️⃣ Taking Care of my mind -as parents we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves and not to forget how much we “love “ criticising and condemning ourselves whenever we are less than perfect – we can sometimes be truly our worst cheerleaders. This negative focus causes us much unhappiness . Lighten up and let go of the guilt. One thing that has really helped me is practising positive self talk to myself and recently I even decided to write some positive statements that I often read to myself.

Ultimately , we will all be better parents, loving spouses , friendlier friends and overall better people , if we all take time everyday , just for us .

“Thank you” note to all the homeschoolers and all the parents

Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

Lockdown2 , here in the U.K , is coming to an end tomorrow 2nd December 2020 , although sadly my city is placed in the highest Tier3 for another 2 weeks. So we are not allowed to mix with other people indoors or outside, in our gardens etc..

Last month, has been challenging for me on many levels. It felt like one whole month without a break and I have been feeling really tired , exhausted and really overwhelmed and drained. You know those days , when you wake up and you just want to curl back to your bed and not be the adult and make any sort of choices- well I have had plenty of days like these in November. It’s crazy how much depends on us and if I am entirely honest, I often wish I had a little less power and less responsibility, right ??

A few days ago, while having a cuppa ( which wasn’t luke warm ), I was flicking through my planner and I saw a note that I wrote all the way in January- it was a quote from the lovely Julie Bogart’s book ” A gracious space “, in which she thanks all parents and homeschoolers for doing what we do and being who we are. It honestly made me feel better and I thought I will share it on here too, in case someone else needs to read it :

  • Thanks for getting up in the middle of the night again-with the baby and bed wetter
  • Thank you for holding back your tired and angry voice
  • Thank you for hunkering down with a curriculum you don’t like but cannot afford to replace right now.
  • Thank you for making magic with vegetables and healthy snacks for reluctant to try anything -new kids
  • Thank you for excusing childishness
  • Thank you for celebrating childishness
  • Thank you for being childlike with your children
  • Thank you for keeping house as best as you can, in spite of the never ending assault on your house by all the people who love you but love your house less
  • Thank you for washing an unending parade of dishes
  • Thank you for not falling part
  • Thank you for holding it together long after you thought you could not

The work you do is invisible to many , but well known to all of us who lead the same life you do.

” A Gracious Space” by Julie Bogart can be bought on Amazon – https://amzn.to/3odWotU

” A Thousand Questions” By Saadia Faruqi- book recommendation

First thing , first, I haven’t read ” A Thousand Questions” by Saadia Faruqi, although I did skim through some of the pages. However , my 11 year old daughter was absolutely engrossed in the book from start to finish and even came to me to say , that she absolutely loved reading it and even asked me if the author has written another one. She told me it reminded her a lot of Bangladesh too and that she could see some similarities .So , as I already recommended it on my own Instagram page, I thought I will recommend it on here too. Here is the blurb :

  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • Publisher : Quill Tree Books (12 Nov. 2020)
  • Reading level : 8 – 12 years
  • Language: : English

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk

” A Thousand questions ” by Saadia Faruqi can be bough from Amazon –https://amzn.to/2VpQPfu ( affiliated link )

Will my homeschooled children succeed in life?

The most effective and least destructive way to help a child .. is to do everything possible to help her fall in love with what she is doing , to pay less attention to how successful she was ( or likely to be ) and show more interest in the task … Encourage more , judge less , and love always “ Alfie Kohn

A few days ago , a parent asked on one of the Facebook groups whether homeschooled children are at a disadvantage for not taking SAts at year 2 and year 6 . Of course , I had to reply and give my two cents on how useless these exams are anyway and considering the fact that in some countries children start school at 7 ( U.K. equivalent year 2) , other counties like England choose to test their children at that age… But , this blog post is not about SATs , but rather on something that is often prevalent in our society and the view that homeschooled children are somehow at a disadvantage for choosing a path that is not mainstream and that they miss out on things . The thing , is though , home education is not a guarantee of success just as public/ private school is not guarantee of success. In fact there are no guarantees. Full stop. But I think it’s important to emphasise that home schooling will not put your children at disadvantage compared to other people ..

Ultimately , your children will succeed or fail to the extent they are motivated and have confidence that they will succeed . This really has to do with how your children were educated and nothing to do with where they are educated , because the atmosphere of the educational environment can make a difference . Whether your children go to school or not , I do strongly believe that motivation for success comes from the values our children learn at home and in the community , about hard work and persistence and having goals to work towards to and ultimately an overall life purpose .

Muslimah Bloggers Award nominations

For those who follow me on Instagram , you may have read my delight on finding out that I was nominated in 4 categories for the annual Muslimah Blogger Awards – https://www.muslimahbloggers.com/muslimah-bloggers-awards-2020-nominees

1) Best Education Blog

2) Best Parenting Blog

3) Best Instagrammer

4) Overall most inspirational blogger

I honestly didn’t expect it and in fact I only checked for the Education category and then I received a lovely message from a fellow blogger to congratulate me on my nominations . So I was like , hang on, have I been nominated for more lol ( embarrassing I know 😭😭🤣) .

I have to admit I was a bit speechless because I didn’t expect this at all. I am in categories with some absolutely amazing , inspirational , incredible and super dedicated bloggers , who work so hard and I know they even put much more effort and time on their accounts and blog than me . And to be honest , I kind of felt a bit bad that I was on there and not worthy enough . I am my “best cheer leader “, as you can see 😂😭. I know it sounds so silly but that’s how I felt at first . I had a bit of self talk to myself and realised that It was wrong for me to think like this and to also belittle the amount of “ work “ that I do on here . I know I am probably one of the least professional accounts with needless to say not very much aesthetically pleasing photos etc but that’s me . I also thought of the time so many of you send me messages out of the blue , thanking me for my book recommendations, for my homeschooling tips, textbooks and various homeschool resources that you have found beneficial And then I realised , that you must find something useful on my account here for me to be nominated ❤️. So Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart . I really appreciate you all .

The deadline for the Muslimah Blogger Awards is this coming Sunday 6th December 2020. I also wanted to say a massive “ Thank you “ to the lovely and hardworking Foziahttp://( https://www.muslimmummies.comb) , who puts so much work and effort for these awards and does everything on her own ❤️

I am Back ……

Assalamu Aleikum and Hello to all!

Hope you are all keeping well and in the best of health and Iman. I am sincerely sorry for my absence on here . I had big plans for my blog this year but as we say- we plan , and then there is God’s planning. I feel bad that I neglected my blog for quite a few months ( more like a year ), but sadly , if I am entirely honest , I was not really up for writing on here and although , I do not want to use Covid19 as an excuse lol, it did affect me and I just did not have the energy or the time to write and I was not really in the right mental space either.

But, I feel after 8 months absence , I think I am ready to come back on here. I hope I am forgiven. In case , you are wondering what we have been up to during these months and two Lockdowns, here in the U.K- it’s been mainly lots of nature walks, exploring our city and the usual homeschooling sheninganz. Here are some photos :

Homeschool chat with Our World Schooling Family

“In the land of human beings , beware those who shame you for your failings , who urge greater fidelity to a system what ails you rather than greater trust in yourself. Beware those who put institutions ahead of persons , and whose idealism tempts you to pretend away your problems and distresses in favour of a sparking seductive image . There is no inoculation against life . Be as genuine as as you can , try write the resources you have , open your mind to new solutions , and trust that you know what’s best for you and your family more than anyone else does. Take your time , be wary of unsolicited advice, and hold fast to your commitment to peace and well being over ideology” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with Laura, a homeschooling mother of three children (Joshua 8, Holly 6 and Natalie 3) , married to her musician husband Tabes. They decided to bring their homeschooling to a new level and have sold everything material they own to dive into a WorldSchooling adventure. To find out more about their adventures and homeschooling updates , head over to their Instagram page @ourworldschoolingfamily or visit their website http://www.ourworldschoolingfamily.com

1) Tell us a bit about your family and your child/children.

Calling the U.K. our home for our entire lives, I trained as a primary school teacher with a special needs background. Tabes is a musician, he has run recording studios and taught at colleges, but now his focus on performances. His own music is a wonderful mixture of Indie-Pop but he loves singing covers from all eras. Joshua is 8, he is a huge foodie. He will ask anyone he meets what their top ten vegetables are or a similar food-related question. Josh is a bookworm, his all-time favourite reads include Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and The Railway Children. Holly aged 6 loves ice skating. Back home, she and Joshua we’re part of the junior figure skating academy. She is very keen to keep finding new ice rinks on our journey. Holly loves art and any form of gymnastics or dance. Our 3-year-old, Natalie, can eat any adult under the table! She loves family games, riding her bike and reading together. We are a plant-based family, always striving to eat and move in a way that makes our bodies feel good.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

Home education discussions began when I was pregnant with our oldest child. I was teaching at the time in a mainstream primary school with a wonderful centre for children with Autism attached. I was given the freedom and flexibility to design a curriculum purely based on what the children most needed and deserved. Thanks to this, I was afforded opportunities to visit unique and alternative education forms which began opening my mind to a new way of learning. When Joshua was born we had looked into every education style and settled upon a delightful Waldorf Steiner school set in picturesque grounds and taught by wonderful caring teachers. He attended the kindergarten for a few months before we decided it was too far so from our home. This is when the homeschooling journey began. As soon as we started I completely fell in love with it, and it seemed crazy to me to send my kids off to a school to be taught in mass conditions by a stranger when I could easily do it myself. It was also influenced by seeing behind-the-scenes of how business-like schools have been forced to become in the U.K., and in our area, how under-resourced and over-subscribed they all were.

3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

In October 2019, we made the life-changing decision to sell 95% of the things we owned including the house, car, furniture, piano, most of the toys, our beloved book collection…to travel the world and take homeschooling onto the road. We thought we’d be responsible and give ourselves a year to sell everything and get what we needed to in order. That was until I read about The World School. This brand new school is a democratic, interest-lead, forest school that travels the world. What a dream! Where do I sign up? Right now we are located in the Dominican Republic, so a typical day is very different to how home school looked for us in the U.K. After breakfast, over which we usually chat about the day and read, we walk to the bus stop. Here the older two kids board the bus to their forest school. Currently, this is a tropical coconut-palm lined beach in the Caribbean. We loved forest schools back home and the accompanying muddy boots, this forest school is extremely different and we are all learning so much from it. During the first school mornings, the teaching staff will often read, provide activity suggestions, or have a specific focus, however, it is entirely interest lead. So the children choose what and how they want to learn based on their interests. They then hop back on the bus which brings them to a school building where they have lunch with their friends. The afternoon session revolves around clubs, forums and activities. This includes drama, Spanish, cooking, art, maths games, sport and more. Natalie and I then pick the, up and we wander home. While debriefing the day we have snacks and drinks. During this time we carry in with our project time in which each child has created their own project. We have a lovely extended playtime in which they will often play with friends, or we’ll play a game together, do some art or baking. Dinner time is followed by reading and 1:1 time before bed.

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

We have explored and loved many different homeschooling styles. We began with Steiner and Charlotte Mason and then settled on project-based learning. Our children learn in an interest lead style, carried out through projects of their choosing. Based on the Reggio Emilia education style and popularised by the author of one of my favourite parenting books; Lori Pickert, it is an approach to learning. With no planned out curriculum or academic targets, it is entirely lead and resourced by the child. With just support and mentoring from me as the parent, my kids take the reins. And this is with everything – the project subject matter, the manner in which it is approached, the resources they will use, and even the duration of the project. As a trained primary school teacher, this took some training for my mind to adjust to this radically different education style. I had to deschool myself! The approach is fairly similar to unit studies within the school curriculum, in that all academic subjects and areas become encompassed within the project. Each of my kids has an individual project on the go and then will regularly collaborate with each other or with friends on other projects. We’ve found it the most effective for learning, and definitely the most time-efficient and calmest for me as a mama. I’ve found because it’s self-lead the kids want and choose to carry out project time. And I’ve loved watching the skills evolve.

5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?

What do I love most about homeschooling? Wow, so many things! I guess top on my list is the freedom…the freedom to learn in the manner most suited to us all, the freedom to set our own life path and veer off the box we sat in. For us, right now we have taken our homeschooling global so the freedom to learn wherever in the world is incredible. We love homeschooling around the world as it brings in aspects we were talking about before but now can see them in reality. We can allow these memories to ignite further sparks of interest. Homeschooling allows us to set what we believe are the most vital elements of life learning rather than following a prescribed, generic format that might not fit each individual. It allows us to have super quality, unhurried time together as a family unit. It gives our children the chance to develop their relationships as siblings and friends. It provides so much social time with genuine friends – old and new, spanning all ages and cultures – that it makes me laugh when people question how as homeschoolers we socialise our kids!

6) Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

We have swayed in and out of routines over the years but our most popular is morning time. We love having a basket of books, card games and art suggestions to do during breakfast.

7) What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

I love art in all its forms, I think it’s calming for us all and teaches us so many skills beyond creativity. I love how it demands patience and perseverance, how it can be taken anyway and can capture a moment so beautifully. I love watching minds open as new materials and techniques are begun and mastered. For us, project-based learning allows all subjects to be organically included so there’s not one, in particular, I don’t enjoy teaching or aiding with. As a primary school teacher before having kids, my least favourite to teach was music because I felt my skills were so lacking. Maybe this is why I married a musician!!

8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Challenges when homeschooling should not be pushed aside. I think it’s so important we have a tribe of people to share these with and often friends will work together to help each other out and share good advice and tips. Some days can seem tiring – most days are lovely but then there’s that day when you are tired, or poorly, or lazy 😬! I feel these are the day’s which I’m trying to spot so I can straight away shake the day upside down and do something unplanned or spontaneous to ensure we don’t get on each other’s nerves. I’ve moved beyond the point of worrying about whether my kids are learning the “right” things because my mantra is; what’s the worst that can happen? Say they reach 16 and haven’t learned enough academics…then what? They’ll decide what path their life will take and move their academic learning accordingly. As long as my focus remains on raising kind, compassionate, respectful, caring, self-learners I’ll feel proud.

9) How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

I love waking up before the kids. Hang on, most days I love it, some days I hate it for the first 45 seconds! I use this time to exercise or do some yoga, plan my day and prep for the morning. I also actively sit and read in front of the children to demonstrate down-time. Socialising with friends and dates with my hubby has always been a priority and something that we always strive to do more of.

10 What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

Favourite books…Project-based Learning by Lori Pickert, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart, Free-range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, Calm Parents Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham

11) How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

We are super fortunate that most of our family are incredibly supportive. I remember feeling so nervous about telling everyone. But in reality, most of them were on board and wanted to help us. A few family members still ask when they’re starting school or if we’ll homeschool all three of them. I guess we’ve reached a point of knowing our decision to be right for us and so feeling confident when we talk about our reasons and decisions. We surround ourselves by friends who completely support us and are very like-minded. Life can be greatly affected and shaped by the people you choose to associate with, so this is strong in our minds when we choose who to spend quality time with.

12) Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

In 5 years , I see us having had a wonderful time adventuring around the world, exploring alternative school systems and meeting wonderful people who will help shape our futures. I see us settling down somewhere for teenage years and aiding our children to become strong, independent self-learners. Learners who in this fast-changing world are keen to adapt and shape their future.

13) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

The advice I would give would be follow your heart. There are so many styles of home educating, don’t feel hemmed into one. Try them all until one sings to your heart. Don’t be afraid of judgement, it’s fleeting and insignificant to your life. Don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped. Don’t worry about if your kids are learning enough – as long as you are shaping beautiful personalities the learning will come. Make friends – in person and online. These people will be your support network, your sounding board, your inspiration and your friends.

14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?

We had a loving, fun family filled with incredible memories.

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