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.

Homeschool chat with Stephanie Radcliffe

The great educator Charlotte Mason says that when we put children in direct contact with great ideas and get out of the way, “Teachers shall teach less and scholars shall learn more.” Any homeschooling parent who has observed her own children for any length of time will know this to be true. Real learning happens when our children wrestle directly with great ideas- not as a result of our repackaging those great ideas, but when they interact with the ideas themselves.”

Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace

Today’s homeschool chat is with Stephanie Radcliffe, who has been married for almost 11 years to her husband Wes & is a momma to 4 children – Ages almost 6, 4, 2, & 6 months. She is a believer and Christ-follower and they live in Orlando, FL. She taught for 5 years before staying home with her children. Stephanie has a passion for teaching, creating, writing, & coffee. ☕️

They will begin homeschooling through a hybrid in August for her oldest son for kindergarten. Stephanie loves sharing her passion for learning at home, creating gentle learning rhythms, & helping families thrive. She creates early learning resources in her shop Stories Begin At Home. Her hope & prayer is to encourage mothers in their motherhood journey & to provide Gospel-Centered resources along the way. I have listed below all her social media accounts , where you can find her :


Email: storiesbeginathome@gmail.comWebsite: www.storiesbeginathome.comInstagram: @storiesbeginathomePinterest: www.pinterest.com/storiesbeginathome

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

I have been married for 10.5 years and we live in Florida. We have 4 children, a 5.5 boy, 4 year old girl, 2 year old boy, and 3.5 month old girl. I was a public school teacher and child development major before having children and becoming a stay at home mother. I now stay home with my children and run a small early learning, Christian-based Etsy shop on the side.

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

My oldest child currently goes to a small church preschool 3x a week and my youngest 3 are at home full time with me. We are choosing a homeschool hybrid school for my oldest this coming school year. We delayed kindergarten a year because of his late summer birthday. We wanted to give him another year of preschool to give him familiarity, freedom, and space. We looked at the big picture of his schooling experience and felt he would only benefit from having another year to gain confidence and develop willingness. He has thrived with this decision and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

The hybrid we have chosen is Christian-based and he will attend 2x a week. We have chosen this method for a variety of reasons. We want our son to be able to be with our family more than a traditional school schedule would allow. We want to give him the space and freedom to learn with a flexible schedule. We want him to have a gentle approach in his formative years and don’t want him to feel pressured to learn at a certain pace, with a certain style, or be pressured for testing too early. I want to have say in the curriculum choices and want to be involved in the educational process of my children. I also like the Christian based aspect of the hybrid-school we have chosen. I also enjoy being in community with like-minded families, enjoy having other teachers who come around us as a family and teach my children in a fun and creative way and enable me to be a part of it all. Right now, the plan is to send my 4 year old daughter to the same pre-k my son attends, she will only attend 3x a week.

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

I am not very structured at all right now as the kids are still quite young. We do a lot of just living life together & habit training (Charlotte Mason). We do whatever it is that fits us for the day. Sometimes that looks like errand days and playgrounds. Other days it looks like play dates with friends or nature walks near our home. Sometimes it is a bike ride in our neighborhood or a swim day. Sometimes it looks like crafts and semi-formal lessons at the table with reading and activities I have prepped and prepared during breakfast/morning time or “tea time” in the afternoon. But these are usually very short and I go with their attention spans and interests. We also cook/bake together a lot. We are very involved with friends, family, and our church we attend. Sometimes we follow along with other mommas in our internet homeschool community and use curriculums loosely such as Exploring Nature with Children/The Peaceful Preschool. This is mostly very recent and again, I want to emphasize loosely. I don’t follow anything with a formula or consistently yet, but plan to do so a little more for Kindergarten. We are interested in The Good & The Beautiful for Reading/Language Arts and possibly Master Books for Mathematics. I’m still deciding these things.

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

Right now Right now I am semi-structured/unschooling in their early years. Next year, when we start the hybrid for my son for Kindergarten, we will do Math/Reading on our home days and I will add in the other subjects as I see fit and wish to. He will do thematic studies that are literature based with art, social studies, science/STEM, and physical education at his hybrid school, all biblically based. I will still be loose and gentle as I am a big Charlotte Mason fan and want him to have a lot of freedom and gentleness to his Kindergarten year.

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

I love being able to go at each individual child’s pace and being able to choose what works best for him/her. I love being together more and figuring out what works best for our family.

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

Sometimes. We read books or do crafts during breakfast or right after breakfast, but not always. I follow their lead and if it fits with their mood and interest level, we go for it!

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

I love teaching reading, my oldest is an emergent reader and I love reading with him and seeing the lightbulbs go off in his head as he begins to learn to read. I don’t enjoy teaching math, in the higher levels, but enjoy it in the younger years.

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

Feeling the pressure that it is all up to me and feeling conflicted if I am making the right decision for each child. Also having 4 little ones so young and close in age can present a lot of challenges as well, including exhaustion on my part, at times. My oldest is very strong-willed (spirited!). I often get concerned about clashing with him and what that will look like. Finding the balance between sometimes we have to do things we don’t like versus the beauty of homeschool, we can put it away and come back to it when we feel better/are ready for it. But I have loved seeing how the gentle approach thus far and letting him lead the way has benefited him so very much!

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

My husband is very supportive and allows me time in the evening and/or weekend to go to the coffee shop to get work done or to just be. We take a lot of walks to get out and because I am an extrovert, I make sure I am involved with other moms and friends at our preschool and church. We often go to parks with friends after preschool and I am able to socialize and find other moms who are like-minded. Many of the moms who go to our current preschool are planning to homeschool or already do.

10 What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

The Brave Learner, Teaching From Rest, The Read-Aloud Revival, Wild + Free, For the Children’s Sake, Charlotte Mason

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

I usually vent to my husband who quickly assures me that it doesn’t matter what they think and that we feel confident in our decisions and reminds me why. Or I talk to a friend who understands. I read something inspirational from an Instagram account I follow who has gone through similar comments/experiences and most of all I pray about what decisions we are making as a family. I also reassure myself that it is okay for people to not understand or agree and give them permission not to, but also often try to use my passion for home educating as a positive light to people and to encourage moms who want to and think they can’t that there is community to be found if they really want to do so!

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

I have no idea! I say one kid, one year at a time! Right now I would love for all 4 of my children to at the hybrid school, but we will see!

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

To find community, to be confident, and to find the way they wish to do it! To work hard not to compare and to be confident in what they believe is best for their family and each individual child. Not to be anti-school or anti-support because there are wonderful schools and supports out there! And to take it one year at time, one child at a time and to know they can change their minds! I know families who home educate some of their children and send some of them to school. Some home educate when they are young, then send them to school later. I encourage parents considering homeschooling to know that they have options and to research their options. I do not believe there is one right way (or that homeschooling is for everyone). But I do want to be a cheerleader for parents to know that they can find alternative routes to education if the traditional form isn’t what they’re looking for. I want to encourage them that “the experts” don’t always know better and that their voice as parents matters.

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

I hope that my children can say that they had an amazing childhood where they were able to love learning and explore things at their own pace. I hope that their formative years lay a foundation for them as they become independent learners and hopefully life-long learners. I hope they remember having fun and being together. I hope that they view learning as living and find it adventurous and exciting. I hope they get to meet a variety of different people from different places, cultures, and backgrounds and learn to appreciate them, respect them, and love diversity. I hope they are able to see the intentionality behind our reasoning and our choices and that it is a launching pad for them to become adults who are excited about their life, journey, education, and passions. I hope that they fall in love with Jesus and know that He loves them, cares for them, and created them special for a unique purpose.

Homeschool chat with Judy Marie

“Don’t confuse the educational vehicle with the academic destination . In other words, it is less important whether you unschool or classically educate . Neither of these is inherently superior to the other . They are vehicles that you get to the end goal on the map- an educated , self- reliant adult. “ Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with the lovely Judy Marie, a mother of 2 girls . She is of Chinese descent, but has lived most of her life in the Philippines. She is classically trained with a master’s in music in vocal performance and opera. Judy is still actively performing, mostly singing in a choir for the city’s symphony orchestra. She currently has her own private music studio teaching piano and voice, occasionally coaching a church choir. She also works as a personnel & production manager for a local symphony orchestra. Judy Marie can be found on Instagram @angeltots147, where she shares glimpses of how she home educates her girls and she also writes about their Montessori homeschooling adventures at https://followthechildwithwonder.wordpress.com.

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

I have two girls, whom I call Jiejie on social media, meaning big sister in Chinese Mandarin, and Meimei, meaning little sister. They are currently 5 and 3 years old. This 2019-2020 is our third year of homeschooling. We live in Massachusetts.

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

When I was younger and without kids, I used to teach a little music class at a local primary Montessori school once a week. I fell in love with how respectful the directress and the guide were with the children. That was my first exposure to a Montessori school, where everything is child-sized, and the children were able to follow their own interests and choose their own work. Every week, I come home from the class feeling so light and happy, thinking that is what I want for my children. 

Unfortunately, we do not live in an area that has a public Montessori school, and the ones that are close to us are not within our budget. I know a few people who homeschool and thought that homeschooling my children using the Montessori philosophy is a pretty good compromise. So, after reading a lot and educating myself on how to bring Montessori into the home, here we are!

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

I keep a list of things or presentations that we need to do/plan to accomplish, and when the opportunity arises, we do it. Unless it’s a fixed appointment or a class with another teacher, we are flexible. 

With Montessori in the classroom, the children have a three-hour work period where they work uninterrupted. At home, their “three-hour work period” is in the morning most days, and for some days, in the afternoon. They have their morning routine of getting dressed, brushing, making breakfast, and then doing some “work”, which could include practical life, sensorial, math, language, the current theme, or outdoors for gross motor and nature. Jiejie practices her piano sometime in the morning before lunch. Once a week the children have Catechism of the Good Shepherd, dance, and art classes.

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

Montessori

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

I love many things about it. But the best thing I love about homeschooling is how flexible we can be as homeschoolers. I personally find deadlines and rigid scheduling stressful, so I love the fluidity of homeschooling.

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

During breakfast, we either read books or listen to podcasts/audiobook. I’m not a morning person (see #8), so they listen to something in the morning while my brain tries to wake up. We recently got a tape/CD player and the girls have quickly learned how to use it for their library audiobook CDs.

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

I like doing practical life with them. My least favorite one is geography.

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

I am an introvert at heart, and I like spending A LOT of time with myself. With two children constantly with me, it is challenging to find peace and quiet, so I compensate for that by staying up way too late to recharge myself after they’ve gone to bed. Also, patience. I think many can relate when I say we need a boat load of patience as parents. 

9. How do you find time for yourself/self-care, etc.?

My other jobs. It may sound like work, and yes, it’s most definitely work, but simply being able to step away from being a mother feels like self-care to me. I can do other things I enjoy and love, and be someone else other than “mom”, “Mommy!”, “MAMAAAAA!!!”.

I have a loving husband who encourages me to go out with friends, or even to just sit in a coffee shop (and he’ll put the children to bed – the most challenging thing for me as a parent) when I’ve had a rough day. Sometimes I choose to simply be alone by hiding in the bathroom with a face mask and sit in the tub watching Netflix.  Most of the time, my self-care is a delicious meal that I didn’t cook myself. 

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

I currently don’t have a favorite homeschooling-related book. I mostly read parenting books on respectful/gentle parenting, and books explaining how a child’s brain works. I’m still in the process of cranking through books written by Montessori herself on the child and child development. I just received the book of Maria Montessori’s lecture from 1946, and I can’t wait to dive into it!

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

It shouldn’t, but it does bother me when some relatives do not understand. Thankfully, most of my family, relatives, and friends support the choice that my husband and I have chosen. In dealing with the few who do not understand, I usually talk it out with my husband, and he always makes me feel better. 

12. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time?

When people ask me how long I’ll be homeschooling, I always tell them that I am taking it one year at a time. Maybe that’s just what I say to protect myself from others’ judgement, because thinking about it ending does bring a little ache to my heart. 

But back to answering the question..in 5 years’ time, if we’re still homeschooling, I am hoping that the kids will still find joy and excitement in everything around them. I would like for us to get to know each other better and build on our relationship as a family. I hope to see us in a more solid routine, with reading books (either individually or together) as a way for us to decompress and recharge.

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

Be confident in yourself and believe in your child. You’ll see lots of posts online of how “perfect” everybody else’s something is, and you start comparing. It is inevitable to want to compare, but don’t do it. Use the “perfect” things you see online only as an inspiration. Once they start stealing your joy, it is a sign that you’ve started comparing. You are on your own unique homeschooling path, as homeschooling is all about following your child. Your child is unique and there’s nobody else like him in the world.

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

I want them to look back and say they really enjoyed those years that we homeschooled, and they are proud that they were homeschoolers.

Homeschool chat with Mountain Mother Runner

“Tips, tricks and techniques are not at the heart of education – fire is …… Not merely the facts , not merely the theories but a deep knowing of what it means to kindle the gift of life in ourselves , in others and in the world.” Parker Palmer

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Emily Renteria @mountainmotherrunner , a homeschool mother of one from USA . She also has a blog , where she writes about adventures balancing motherhood, running, and homeschooling in Colorful Colorado. https://mountainmotherrunnerrenty.blogspot.com. Emily has also created a Facebook group for support/resource for all those parents who are now home educating due to Covid19- https://www.facebook.com/groups/1099675340372192/?ref=share

1. Tell us a bit about your family and your child:

Our little family currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO after spending the last five years in Washington state. My husband and I have been married for nearly eight years now! He is a Realtor and a U.S. Army veteran. I currently stay at home, but thirteen years ago I originally attended college for Art and Elementary Education. My internship was with a first grade class and I worked part-time as a kindergarten substitute teacher. After our daughter turned three years old, I returned to college to become a Licensed Massage Therapist.

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

Our original reason to homeschool was based on a few things; we sold our house in WA and were moving back to CO, but we did not know exactly where we would live or which schools would be nearby. We literally bought a house without ever seeing it in person! Since our daughter would be starting kindergarten, we thought home educating would give her a head start on schooling.

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

We have no typical days for our schooling. In the beginning of the year, I followed the schedule of our boxed curriculum which does all subjects every day. This didn’t give us a chance to dive in, so we’ve become more flexible. We will spend an entire day on Science with books, drawings, experiments, and videos. The next day will be all sorts of Math with games, hands-on activities, and worksheets. We play games nearly every single day and spend much time (average of hour) reading.

4. What type of a home educator are you?

I think we are semi-structured with a mix of gameschooling. We include a LOT of nature and outdoor time as well.

5. What do you love the most about homeschooling?

The thing I love the most about homeschooling is hearing our daughter say how much she loves school! Her love for learning grows each day and we try to follow her curiosity to inspire our lessons. I also love the flexibility our family has for field trips, special appointments, days off, etc.

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

Not exactly, our mornings are slow and gentle which is nice for our family. We all eat breakfast together around 8:30am. Eisley plays and sometimes listens to audiobooks for about an hour while my husband and I sip our hot drinks over conversation. Around 9:30am we head upstairs to start schooling which begins with reading.

7. What is your favorite subject to teach and what is your least one?

My favorite subject to teach is maths because it is tangible, you know, mainly black and white. I love the challenge of creating hands-on lessons and games to bring Math to life! My least favorite subject to teach is History. I only feel this way because kindergarten is such a small introduction to History, I know it will be better and elaborated more in older years.

8 What do you find challenging when it comes to homeschooling your children?

Our biggest challenge this year would have to be learning what works best for us. The initial schedule and curriculum teaching was frustrating for both myself and our daughter. Through trial and error, we continue to tweak our methods and we are very happy with it.

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

Self-care has been a big focus since becoming a mother. We do something called “Dual Enrollment” so our aughter attends Specials classes (Music, P.E., Computers, Science, Library) at our local public Elementary school. It is only one class per day and we typically go three days per week. When I drop her off, I go off on a run. There are many trails and roads to run and I can typically get 3-6 miles which is the best mental and physical therapy for me.

10. What are some of your favorite homeschooling related books?

I have honestly not read a single homeschooling book, but it is on my list! I am such a book worm.

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

Our family is very supportive of our decision and it seems the majority of our friends are too. My stepmom is currently homeschooling my little brother and sister, so it’s great to be able to talk to her and ask questions or share ideas. I’m yet to talk to someone that is openly unsupportive.

12. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time?

I have no idea, we may not be homeschooling in five years. Life is full of many opportunities and changes.

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

My advice for people in the U.S. is to first check your state requirements. Each state is different. Colorado is quite strict, requiring us to teach specific subjects, give a “Letter of Intent” to the assigned public school, document our lessons/hours, and log 178 days averaging four hours per day!

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

In 20 years from now, I hope our daughter looks back at her time of homeschool as a magical and unique experience. We get to spend so much time together as a family and out in the world, gaining experiences that can’t be had in a classroom.

Homeschool Chat with Invitations to Play

“Your amazing , special , imaginative, talented , brilliant children are a gift , first and foremost. If you can remember to enjoy them ( more than worry about them) , and keep reflecting back to them how much you value all those little traits that other people don’t see, together you will create a magical ( real) life and education. Here’s to children! Aren’t they grand? “ Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with Rowan from @invitationstoplay.uk , who is an early years consultant, specialising in child led learning and play. She works part time as a childminder, and part time running a small business from home called Invitations to Play, creating seasonal and topic based play guides, plastic free play dough kits and loose parts collections. She’s recently launched her first online course for parents, called The Simple Art of Toy Rotation. The aim is to teach parents how to reduce, refine, organise and present their child’s toys to promote creative and independent play.

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

Hello! My name is Rowan. I live in Bristol in the South West of England, with my 8 year old daughter Elsie Bean and our beloved cat, Lily. It has been just the three of us since Elsie was 12 months old. We might be the smallest of families, but we have a wonderfully close relationship and are happy as we are.

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

To begin with, it was because I wanted to delay formal schooling. Elsie is a summer born child (born in June) and she simply wasn’t ready to start school at just turned 4 years old. As an ex-primary school teacher, with experience predominantly in the Reception year, I knew what would be expected of her in that first year of school, and I wanted to protect her right to pursue her own interests through play. As time has passed, we’ve come to realise that there is a lot that we love about home education, and we can’t imagine making what we see as huge sacrifices for her to go to full time, mainstream school.

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

There’s no typical day in our home! Our days vary greatly, through the week and through the year, with our scheduled classes and commitments continually evolving. I work as a childminder one day a week, and Elsie spends a day a week with a childminder friend, so that I can work on my other business. The other three days of the week we are free to work on projects, play, see friends and family, go to the library, cook together, work in the garden etc. At the moment, Elsie goes to a weekly gymnastics class and a fortnightly cookery class, and spends alternate weekends with her father.

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

I would describe our home education style as eclectic. In the early years I was heavily inspired by Montessori, and very much focused my attention on nurturing a respectful relationship with my daughter and supporting her with practical life skills. When Elsie was 2 years old I completed my Level 3 Forest School Leadership training, and ran a weekly session with a fellow childminder in nearby woodland. This influenced my general attitude to learning in terms of respecting a child’s innate ability to learn, the importance of stepping back and allowing children to take risks.

For the first couple of ‘school’ years (5-7 years) we loosely followed the Exploring Nature With Children Curriculum, while also being heavily influenced by the Steiner Waldorf movement in terms of seasonal rhythms, celebrating seasonal festivals and exploring art and handcrafts. 

In more recent years we have found ourselves naturally drawn to project based learning, delving into topics of interest for weeks at a time. I’ve found that my daughter doesn’t like too much structure, and switches off if I try to push my own agenda. In the summer months we pretty much unschool.

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

The freedom! Freedom to follow our own interests. Freedom to eat, to drink, to move, to rest (even to go to the toilet!)whenever we need or want to. Freedom to visit places out of season, when they are more affordable and less busy. Freedom to drop it all if we’re not feeling it, or because it’s snowing and we want to go sledging, or because a new baby cousin has been born and we want to go and meet him!

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

We do a morning time of sorts. We have a morning time basket, which I stock with topic related books and materials, but I’m not very consistent with doing anything on a daily basis. If we are having a home day or morning, then settling together on the sofa or at the dining table with our morning basket is how we usually start our day. Elsie is usually keen to drop what she is doing to join me if I am offering to read her a story.

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

I love teaching art and crafts, because I am naturally creative and so is my daughter. We both really enjoy these sessions. In contrast, neither of us has particularly enjoyed any of our attempts at more formal reading and writing lessons. Every so often, I give in to the pressure I feel to have her reading and writing fluently, and we attempt some form of formal instruction, and every time I regret it, as it isn’t coming from her and she resists. She reads and writes every day, without the need for me to set an agenda, and I have come to trust that she is making her own steady progress. I remind myself daily that children in many European countries do not start to learn to read and write until they start school at age 7, and that all the evidence suggests that there is no benefit to starting to learn to read and write at age 4. If I let go of comparison, then I am able to appreciate that she is exactly where she ‘should’ be.

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

I’d love to be able to dedicate myself completely to her home education, but as a lone parent, I have to work, and it’s a constant juggle. I make a lot of sacrifices to home educate her, both financially and in terms of time for myself. In the past I have felt very overwhelmed by choice when it comes to curriculum and learning materials, and felt like I needed all the things to do be able to offer her a rounded education. I’ve since scaled back enormously, as I find that my daughter learns best through her own, self-directed projects, and I’m working hard not to give in to the temptation to buy things that we don’t/won’t need.

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

Phew, this is a tough one! My work has become my self care, as it is the only time I get to do something for myself that is creative and that I feel passionately about. I prioritise good sleep. Now that my daughter sleeps through the night, I’m quite strict about bedtime, so that I have an hour in the evening to unwind. I like to read, listen to podcasts, declutter and clean. Taking the time to meal plan, order groceries online for delivery and keep on top of the laundry and cleaning, helps to ease my stress and anxiety. I’ve massively simplified our home and lives in recent years, and I’m definitely feeling the benefit.

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

In the early years, before I made the decision to home educate, I watched a lot of Ken Robinson lectures on YouTube, and they really helped to cement my decision. I love Peter Grey’s Free to Learn. Everything he writes resonates with me. Project Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert was very inspiring, and anything by John Holt. More recently I’ve been binge listening to Julie Bogart’s Brave Writer podcast.

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

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had to deal with much direct criticism of my decision to home educate. Most of my close friends have opted to send their children to school, and so we simply avoid the subject. I’ve had to seek support from those within the home education community instead, who share my values and reassure me when I am feeling anxious and full of self doubt. I’ve found so much comfort in the friends I have made through my own social media platforms, sharing my work and our home education journey.

My biggest challenge has been convincing my daughters father and my own mother. I love and respect my family, and want their approval, so it has been hard for me at times. I’ve had to be very firm, and come across as more confident than I feel at times. It is tough, because I know that the concern is coming from a place of love. That their worries are genuine, and that they want the best for the both of us. The concept of a child being able to learn without force, and in any way that is different to how society has us believe is best, i.e. sitting at a table, daily practice, recording findings etc. is quite alien. It’s also really difficult for them not to compare my daughter to other children.

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

I really have no idea! I find it so hard to imagine the future, and rarely plan more than a few months ahead. I hope that my daughter has strong and supportive friendships, and develops a healthy attitude to learning. I feel a certain amount of dread about the next phase, as my daughter enters the ‘tween’ years and seeks out more independence. I can’t imagine it, but I feel confident that we will find our way together, as our relationship has such a firm foundation of trust and respect for one another.

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

To know that, here in the UK, it is your legal right. If you are planning to home educate from the start, then nothing really needs to change once your child reaches compulsory school age. You do not need to replicate school at home. You can trust in your child’s innate ability to learn, providing that you are offering a rich and stimulating environment. School is actually the experimental route, and I personally believe that it is raising an unhealthy society. A society that is driven to produce and consume, compare and compete. If you are planning to deregister your child from school, remember to factor in the time needed for your child to deschool. The common advice is ‘one month for every year your child has been at school’. During this time, simply allow your child to recover, in whichever way is meaningful for them, and slowly but surely, a routine will begin to evolve.

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

I would like her to know, deep down in her being, that her needs and interests were always my top priority. I want her to feel that she was always heard and respected and valued, and to come to expect that from others, and to call them out when they don’t show her the respect that she deserves. I want her to know that she was offered something very special and unique. A childhood protected from the modern day pressures, with the most dedicated and loving guide. A first class private education!

Website: www.invitationstoplay.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/invitationstoplay.org

Instagram: www.instagram.com/invitationstoplay.uk

Homeschool Chat with Elizabeth Lymer

“Rather than teach, lead . Rather than talk, act. Rather than following the curriculum or opening the book, express what you want your children to know. The secret of a vibrant homeschool is not in a book. It is you. You are the secret weapon. You do not have to be a good teacher. In fact, it helps if you are not. It is better if you are an enthusiast, someone for whom the feast of ideas is so compelling , you sneak time to follow up on the material you read to the kids to get the adult perspective .” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Elizabeth Lymer , a homeschool mama of 4, from the UK. She is a children’s author of a handful of rhymes books published by Mindworks Publishing. She has also independently published picture books and colouring books via Aneesa Books. As a creative developer, she has co-written stories for Noor Kids and Little Hibba. To find out more about her books , do visit her website –http://rhymesandstories.co.uk/ .

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

Assalam alaykum,

Alhamdulillah I am a writer and mother of four children, ages six to eleven, living in the UK

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

When I made the decision, my first born was a baby and I read ‘The Power of Play’ by David Elkind which reminded me of many out-of-school things my mother had facilitated in my childhood and several of the problems with the National Curriculum my father had spoken of (he was a teaching headteacher). I knew I could not afford to send my child to a Waldorf or Montessori institution and so I endeavoured to home educate. I signed up for the job until a child reached eight years of age and I wasn’t expecting it to want to home educate longer.

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

In the morning, the children usually pursue their own reading, learning, and creativity. In the afternoon we may go out for a walk or to the playground together, or I may facilitate activities one to one, with a pair, or with everyone. Later in the day, the children will play games, often on screens, for maths, language, and Minecraft. In between those things are prayer, meals, and snacks, and plenty of opportunities for me to be alone with my Lord including with my pen alhamdulillah.

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

I have especially sought influence from John Holt, role modelling from Brooke Benoit, and attitudes from Islamic Neuro Linguistic Programming….I don’t often face this question.

I am a survivor schooler, perhaps. I ensure my children are fed, watered, and clothed; I actively allow them space, stimuli, and time to remember their Creator, to learn about His creation, and pursue their potential to flow creatively within it. I make efforts to model in myself a compassionate drive towards excellence like I hope for them.

I am particularly inspired by the Quranic notion of learning by the pen, by the Quranic guidance of reflecting upon stories, and by the worldly reality of ‘ayat’ as Quranic verses and any of Allah’s signs. I appreciate the flow of Quranic recitation and the harmony of its vibrations with the pleasure of Allah during our worldly journeys towards Jannah. Perhaps I am an ayat schooler. Nouns aren’t my strong point. Alhamdulillah for dyslexia in my own way.

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

The centrality of Allah in our lives. Subhanallah, we hit hards times for a while and the children went to school for a year and a day. We did not experience Muslim life and therefore happiness as easily or fully during that time. Alhamdulillah for all things, especially ease after hardship.

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

No. At the end of the day, we sometimes have highlights (we take turns to tell everyone about our highlight of the day, which can lead to several rounds), or an informal quiz (about subjects from maths to seerah to ourselves), or mindful moments using Mini Mindful Muslims cards.

Sometimes I go to the kitchen early and that usually rouses one child to awaken before the others. Then we have one to one time. Since we spent almost every mealtime as a circle in which we connect, resolve issues, and make plans, it is the one to one times that I particulary facilitate time for, at home, during a walk, or elsewhere.

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

I love reading stories to my children. At the moment it’s ‘Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. I love discussing things fictional characters say and do, relating them to Allah’s pleasure and everything else; I really value the safe space of fiction for discussing – even rehearsing – character development without uncovering sins/mistakes or backbiting alhamdulillah. I suppose you could term this reading comprehension. However our interactions are much broader alhamdulillah.

And my least favourite subject to teach? Potty training. Alhamdulillah I am glad that is long over.

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

Everything. When the challenge seems to much, I make changes alhamdulillah. I find that by rearranging the furniture, or reading more/again about learning styles or processes or anything, I can feel more empowered to approach and achieve something new.

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

Alhamdulillah my children work independently a lot, so I get plenty of time to myself. This is in supervision or on call mode, however, and I need richer time more fully to myself than this. So I have learned to communicate my needs, and to request that my husband facilitate my times away – especially now that he mostly works and lives apart from us.

In the main, I prefer to rely upon myself, and every day (during most of the month), I go to my room and read the Quran. It’s only a little. Yet the effect on me of looking forward to it, reading it, and reflecting upon it, is huge alhamdulillah. This is my favourite self care alhamdulillah. I have learned to be flexible about when I make time for it, and to relax and read ‘late’ if for any reason Maghrib passes before I have been able to approach it.

10 )What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

John Holt: How Children Learn; Teach Your Own

Brooke Benoit: Fitra Journal; How to Survive Homeschooling

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

As with all ‘advice’: hear it all with respect, and choose what to listen to, alhamdulillah.

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

Inshallah I see many changes as my eldest two children will have entered the age of befriending their parents (14 to 21). I am curious.

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

Would you rather try and fail, or regret never trying at all? What if you more than try, what if you are made for this and you do it well, mashallah?

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

Inshallah: “Alhamdulillah.”

Homeschool Chat with Gentle Art of Learning

Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without being taught to us…. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much of what is remembered , is irrelevant. ” Russell Ackoff

Today’s homeschool chat brings you the lovely Janine Kellar-Vasiliou, a Muslim homeschooling mother of four children from the UK. Janine follows currently an eclectic method of home education, following the teachings of Charlotte Mason , Montessori and incorporating a peaceful parenting approach to learning. She can be found on Instagram @gentle.art_of_learning ,where she shares snippets of their homeschool journey and she also has her own blog http://gentleartoflearning.co.uk/ .

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

Salaam alaykum. I’m Janine, aged 33 and a UK home educating mother of four.  I’m passionate about all things creative, Islamic parenting, and self- improvement books. I love educational wooden toys, organising spaces, home decor, and trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

I’m a British born Revert to Islam, born in Kent raised between Kent and South East London.

Born to a British mother and British, half Greek and Italian father. From a fairly non religious background, and now Gratefully Muslim, Alhamdulillah, for the last 9 years. Married to a British, mixed raced, half Trinidadian Muslim revert. My husband is a big support for me and the sole provider in our home. 

Once I got married, I Left my current job, to travel across the world to Saudi, Jeddah, where we experienced 4 memorable years together, both working as teachers and where I gave birth to two of my now four children. After my second child was born, we arranged to return home as we realised the UK offered a-lot more opportunities for raising our children how we envisioned. The main reasons being surrounded by family and nature, two things that lacked abroad. We also wanted to be able to share the love of the deen, give dawah and lead by example to those we love. . I now have Four beautiful children, 2 boys and two girls. Oldest boy being 6.5yrs, youngest boy being 14months. My girls are 4.5 and 3.5 years old.

I Never grew up ever considering home education as an option. I Was schooled, all the way up from daycare to uni and enjoyed it for the best part, apart from anxiety over exams and maths. My husband went to a Grammar school, and felt he wasted a lot of time. We both naturally agreed pretty soon after becoming parents that homeschooling was best for our lifestyles and the children’s future. We haven’t looked back since. However, I do say we are always open minded to change.

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

The key reasons behind our decisions were;

* freedom to parent and teach how we wanted without answering to anyone and having the freedom to get up and go on holiday or travel whenever we saw fit.

* Being able to raise our children on the Deen, to put Allah first in all we do, and to create a stable, loving home for them where they are lead by example. 

* to give them the opportunity to express themselves as born persons, to have child led experiences that are natural and not forced upon them, to nurture and develop their independence in a safe environment. 

* to not have them confide to a school sit down, don’t speak, setting, where we couldn’t monitor what they were subjected to and to nurture a love of learning in a homely, safe, environment. 

* to allow them to interact with all ages and peers and have the confidence to speak, relate and find common ground. To be able to up-stand a good moral character and give back to the community.

Theres many more reasons but these stand out and were the main important core values for our family.

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

A typical day, well most days aren’t the same with young children and so I have to be flexible in this and also take into account any appointments, trips, outside activities etc.

Usually our days start off with my morning routine at 6am but it often changes with time. 

Currently I workout at home, two days doing something simple like planks and 3 days I Follow a workout plan. Shower and dress, then pray fajr and read Qur’an, check my planner and usually make a cuppa, unless it’s a real struggle then I hit the coffee. If I have time I’ll also add in a quick wash down of the sinks and clean toilets. ( As I hate cleaning bathrooms so try to stay on top of it). The kids are usually awake then anytime between 7-7.30am and are demanding breakfast. We have habits in place for our morning routines and the chores where the kids will check their tokens for the day and follow them. (I hope to have a blogpost out on this very soon inshAllah, since habits are something I have been working on with the children and myself.)

Once the kids are all dressed and done with their age appropriate chores (ie. making beds) then we sit down together for breakfast.

Our breakfast usually consists of either porridge, fruits and yogurt, Alpen, homemade bread, or Eggs, avocado, salad, and I rotate this out. We try to start our day as healthy as possible. We are also working on adding in more green juices, since I now have a ninja blender and since the kids have gone fussy again at dinner times.

Somewhere between this, I’ll load the dishwasher and put the washing machine on.

We usually start schooling around 9, 9.30 God-willing, after a quick breakfast clean up. It’s easier to do it straight after breakfast because I then don’t have to rally them all together. I stick on our nasheed playlist or Qur’an, sometimes we light a candle, burn oils etc and set the scene for the day. I will get the kids setup with some maths work or Phonics/handwriting etc depending, but it’s always the core subjects first. So if nothing else gets achieved that day, I don’t feel so overwhelmed. Meanwhile, my 3year old is always happy to join in, but if she’s been playing I won’t interrupt her or may just give her colouring or wipeable boards to do, which she loves. Then I will go and feed the baby and get him down for his nap. I can then come back and give my full attention. This is where we do our bulk of our studies, stopping in-between for brunch and lunch. ( Because my kids always want to eat and we study in the kitchen). Usually I’ll add in our morning Basket, where we do Qur’an memorisation, flashcards and read aloud’s mainly. This way I get to read to them and eat snacks aswel and everyone is happy.

We then stop for free – play, if my son still needs to read to me, I’ll do this with him on the sofa (though he’s starting to do this independently now that he’s older) and then I tell them I have chores to do, calls to make, and that I need my quiet time. Afternoons are then free for outdoors activities, or taken up by cooking, if I haven’t done it the day before which my eldest loves to help me with. We also do themed projects and crafts on the days when I have less of my own chores to do, otherwise I’ll set them up with an activity to play with. We then have a manic tidy around and my husband is usually home around 5pm, where we will have dinner altogether at the table. My husband will usually finish of his work in the office, then will play with the kids. We all wind down together before I get them ready for our bedtime routine. 

We read to them every night, my husband will usually read to my eldest some Islamic story of the battles or something with a good moral or positive mindset, at the moment I think it’s called A warrior Child and so my son does a workout routine in his room before bed (not my choice). I then bath and put the baby down to sleep and then give the kitchen a once over before I can get a cuppa and chill around 8pm. I’m usually shattered and in bed by 10.30/11pm.

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

Being fairly new to homeschooling, I have a lot to learn. You may be a fly on the wall looking in and see days that appear to be more ‘Montessori’ based learning as I love introducing practical life skills whenever I can. We may have an ‘unschooled’ approach one day if we’ve all woke up late and are feeling poorly. Routine may of gone out the window and so we might be having a non- structured learning day, sometimes it’s just nice to just go with the flow. But reading through Charlotte Mason’s book’s have taught me that is it best to have a philosophy and a method that backs up how we live out our educational life. Something that ‘Karen Andreola’ goes on to talk about in her book ‘A Charlotte Mason’s companion.’ This book helped me immensely when starting out and I often refer back to it. Charlotte Mason’s teaching resonates with me, my families values, spiritually and non spiritually. We have gone as far as adapting our own school Motto based on Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, because I believe in her teachings so much. Of course, our Deen comes first in all we do, and the ways of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammed SAW. I still adapt things to our surroundings and input an eclectic approach at times, as we never stop learning and changing as our children grow, we grow too. In homeschooling we have to be flexible and I think that goes for how we teach, what we teach and when we teach. But for now, I can happily say we use Charlotte Mason’s teachings. I’ve learnt the meaning of habits, routine and consistency. It’s a continuous battle, mind you, but the days when everything flows and the atmosphere is right and the children are engaged and everyone is relaxed and vibing of off my energy. Those are the days I love, and those are the days of homeschooling that I remember why we are doing it and why I choose Charlotte Mason’s methods. 

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

I Feel immensely blessed to wake up and seeing the smiles on my children’s faces and knowing that I don’t have to rush to go to work or take them to school.That we can just get up and go and pack our bags for a trip pretty much whenever we feel like it and don’t have to answer to anyone. 

I love those little moments ‘aha moments’ when the kids tell you about something they have learnt or seek interest in, and I love witnessing the wonder and owe that children possess. 

I love being around them and witnessing them grow and not have that guilt feeling like I’m not there for them as much as I’d like. Those moments when you can teach life skills and watch habits form. Cooking together or just reading on the sofa when were all feeling poorly.

I love the freedom it brings, when being in control of what we teach and often switching it up, adapting to our changing life, whether that be at home or on the road. Allowing the children to have an input and choose child lead interests to study. Most of all, I love the fact home education allows children to be children and that I get to enjoy those life experiences alongside them.

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

Yes, having young children and different ages, I’ve always wanted to make life easier for myself by having everyone together in one space and to create that close net family unit, I really feel it’s what homeschooling is all  about. So for me, Morning time/ circle time has always been a big part of how I teach, whether one child engages more, or takes something different from it or is doing something totally different to what I’m reading, by being together they are take in something and gaining and benefiting by being exposed to it. 

I’ve done circle times in the past, where I’d love to do sing songs, hand gestures, finger puppets, nursery rhythms, read alouds, somewhat nursery like , but since I have a baby lately we have gone back to the table as it’s easier. At one stage, I stopped morning baskets In the mornings for awhile, I cut it out completely, because I felt we were taking too much time over it and not getting the core work done which was giving me anxiety, so I stopped, then I missed it too much. I think we have found a balance that works for us now, where we do our core subjects first, then with the morning basket we will cover any flashcards memorisation, Nasheeds, Qur’an, date/weather, poetry, read alouds and character building.  The kids really enjoy it and they can learn so much in this time period, by doing a little, but consistently. I love to switch it up and add in maps, flag work, Arabic and other things to memorise. I tend to switch it up every 12weeks.( Blogpost coming soon on this for more details)

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

I’ve always been a visual learner and creative person from a young age, I studied in Graphic Design, so anything arty, crafting projects, handicrafts, I love it all. I think it’s important to incorporate art and design into most subjects as it makes for more fun to be had. I also love nature studies, because it’s my children’s favourite. They enjoy drawing and colouring and exploring nature outdoors and studying creepy crawlers. I also love the fact I get to do nature and seasonal displays for them to enjoy at home and bring some nature inside.

History and Geography might have been one of my most anxious subjects to start, just because I thought they were so vast and I didn’t learn anything in school myself, so have very little knowledge on them but I actually love the fact I get to learn alongside with my children. The older I get the more I love learning about history and find It fascinating. Maths and languages are not my speciality, so that’s where my husband comes in, he’s great in these areas. I’m not put off by a challenge but I would get a tutor if need be. Funny enough English,I’m not too good at either, (you might be able to tell) plus I’m such a slow reader, always have been, but I do enjoy it, and love read aloud time with the children. I’ve also really enjoyed teaching them to read and seeing the progression in them.

In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn’ Phil Collins

I can’t believe it was Phil Collins that quoted this but I love it because whatever your strengths and weaknesses, you learn alongside your children and most importantly, your children teach you some of the greatest life lessons  there are to learn.

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

Honestly, there are many challenges. Lack of confidence, lack of patience, that self doubt within, is a constant battle, especially to be consistent, I use that word a lot because, being disciplined within ourself is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome but having the ‘Will’ and ‘why’ I am doing this, helps push through the day and strive instead of just to‘ get by’. Usually I wonder if they went to school would I have a cleaner, tidier home, with less in it and plenty more free time for self care and valuable personal space, but these concerns and doubts outweigh all the blessings that raising my children bring, in these formative years. I constantly remind myself on the blessings we have been given and I try to tell myself that everything I do, is firstly to seek the reward of my Lord and second to create a loving home and calm atmosphere, to nature that love of learning.

My son loves to do hands of activities, stem work, maths, experiments and finding stuff out but he gets distracted easily and doesn’t enjoy handwriting and copy-work much. It can be hard at times also when your trying to teach more than one child and he gets involved and try to tell them the answers, but all these things I see as very minor obstacles and things I need to overcome gradually.

I guess the biggest challenge which most home educators would agree is never quite feeling that balance of being on top of chores and homeschool it’s a constant battle and one I’m still working at. I feel I’m often a great homeschooler and parent or a great housewife doing both definitely isn’t easy, it’s often a struggle. However, any time it gets to a point when I’m not enjoying it or giving them my best self, I take a break and re -evaluate everything. Overall , I’m very passionate about home education otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do it and give my children the best of me. When I’m learning with them and see them happy, I Come alive and we feed of that energy, it really is a beautiful thing.

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

Since I have a 14month old that I breastfeed still,  I don’t get the best nights sleep always but I try my best to make time for a morning routine. I’ve realised the important of these quiet moments alone before the kids rise. This usually starts at 6 am. I Admit since my kids are still young, I don’t really have any hobbies or outside activities I do on a regular, just for me, but evening and weekends are sacred time for me. My kids are in bed, lights out by 7.30 pm every night without fail. Usually by then I am too tired to hoover, clean the kitchen etc but I try to have a 15 min power through room tidy, do the dishwasher, bf and put the baby down for the night, pray Isha and then chill. That could mean study time with the hubby, an early night and a book in bed, or a cuppa and Ertugrul.lol. Weekends, we enjoy time as a family and Sunday morning is when we take a family stroll with the kids outdoors, then I get meal prepping and planning done for the week ahead. Sundays and Friday nights are the only times we allow kids to watch tv, (unless its HS related) My husband and I, take this hour on Sunday to either get some individual tasks done or plan the week together and re- evaluate. Although this isn’t self- care time it’s valuable time for me to re-charge for a new week ahead, without the kids distracting me. We try to make time for regular monthly date nights out and if I Ask my husband he will usually take the kids out for a couple of hours to give me a break. Nevertheless these times are usually taken up by seeing to the baby, doing chores mainly folding laundry whilst drinking a cuppa and watching some home renovation program, Qur’an lecture, self help video or audible. I love spending time in nature like most people. It has an amazing calming effect, I also find this for when I’m in a creative place, doing some type of handicraft, or planning homeschooling and shopping for resources. haha. I love to take hot showers and find I get most my creative ideas flowing either in the morning or last thing at night (the later can drive my husband potty, with my overflowing mind). I am planning on getting some more independence and me time once i’m driving though. I plan to take a Qur’an class for myself InshAllah this new year.

I think it’s important to add, If I feel like I’m gonna burst at times,(which happens) I always reach out for help, whether it be outside help, my husband taking more responsibilities to take some load off, family taking the kids for a night, It’s important as a homeschooling mum to find those breaks in-between and make time for yourself, if you need a day off homeschooling to re-charge, I take it and I don’t feel guilty about it. I’d rather come back fresh and ready to start as my children feed of off my energy and I set the tone for the family. When I’m stressed out, I have to take a break.

10.Book list

Here are some treasured books, that I often refer to and that make up the bulk of our homeschool;

I am the seed that grew the tree – National Trust – poems collection

A child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson 

A Picnic of Poems In Allahs Green Garden – Dawud Wharnsby

Map book by Alexandria Mizielinska

99 Names of Allah – Chickpea press

Safar – Islamic Studies Textbooks and workbooks

The Moral Compass – William J. Bennett

Nature Anatomy – Julia Rothman

Handbook of Nature Study

Some other books I’d recommend include; 

Nurturing Eeman in children. Dr Aisha Hamdan. 

The whole Brain Child and Parenting from the inside out – Dr. Daniel J.Siegel

Current audible reading – Authentic Happiness – Martin Seligman and 

Invaluable laws of Growth – John C Maxwell.

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

Thankfully, I come from a loving supportive family, Alhamdulillah. On both mine and my husbands side. We don’t have a strong support network in the sense we are the only current Muslims in our family, and my mother lives far from us, which can be hard at times but we do have the support and that’s the main thing. They may not understand all we do, but they are eager to learn more. My mother is a teacher herself so she often shares her experiences with me and offers her advice. Sure I’ve had many different opinions thrown at me, from a schooling perspective and the famous ‘socialising’ questions. I’ve had many debated conversations and lovely question sessions on why we choose to homeschool, but like I said I’m passionate about it so I’m always happy to talk about it and also try to be respectful of others who can’t or choose not to homeschool.If anything I have found it’s only brought a good interest into home education and a different perspective. 

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

My husband and I, have taken the time to write in detail all our core values, Moto’s, rules, expectations and how to implement them. I really recommend this to anyone home educating, to have a clear vision of where your going and what you expect together, so you know your both on the same page. Of course Allah is the best of planners. But like the saying goes, ‘Trust Allah and tie your camel.’ 

We have many personal visions for the future, some of the main ones being as self sustainable as possible. Giving the children as many life experiences as possible with as much travelling as we can. Hopefully on the road around Europe. God-willing. I want them to see the world and have hands on experiences, write books, do charitable events, climb mountains, work on character building and implementing the sunnah of our Beloved Prophet SAW in our everyday life. I see us still home educating in which my children will then be almost 12, 9, 8, and 6 and able to attend a lot more outdoor classes and activities. I would pray that in 5 years time my husband’s business would allow for more time to work online or from home where he could have more of an active role in joint educating and more freedom to travel.

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

It would be hard to home educate without both of you in agreement on schooling and parenting, so work out your core values and goals before you start. Of course this doesn’t mean that single parents can’t do this just as well on their own. I know many that excel and are super mums, nowadays, you can get helpful government aid and support. Currently in the UK, you don’t have to register but if you choose to, I have heard they have offer extra support and some people don’t find this invasive. I choose not to, but at least the option is available to us, so research what would work best for your family. 

Many people often worry about the costs of homeschooling, but to be honest I believe truly anyone can homeschool, it’s about being smart. You can get so many resources online nowadays, books from libraries or can be ordered in, amazon and eBay sell second hand, charity stores, Facebook etc for resources. Yes it may take more effort on your part, but if your someone that mainly wants to ‘unschool’ say, instead of following set curriculum, then this may be a cheaper option to consider. 

I would suggest to anyone considering home education to do your research. I watched a few good homeschooling documentaries on YouTube at the start and read some books by the likes of John Holt, and John Taylor Gatholt to name a few. I looked into many different philosophies, their history and took note on what resonated with me and what didn’t. So I had a clear idea and vision of what I wanted and what I didn’t want for my family. Of course too much information can also be overwhelming, the best thing to not overthink it and just start. Via simple trial and error. 

‘We all fail- it’s how we get back up that determines our success.’

I really found help with the likes of ‘Ourmuslimhomeschool’, ‘Jady A’ on YouTube, ‘Simply Charlotte Mason’ and ‘Missmodernmason’ to name a few. Take a few pointers and resources from people that inspire you, use their methods if it helps until you get on your own feet, then adapt it to your own personal, family’s needs, as in home education you must to be flexible and no home or home school will look exactly the same. 

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

 “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240

This applies with home education too, things will not always be prefect, start implementing a few things regularly and add to it slowly as you grow in confidence and as your family adapts. InshAllah

And lastly, don’t doubt yourself, I mean we all do it, myself included but don’t let that be the reason to hold you back!

Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No Excuses.” Kobe Bryant

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

This a great question, one that isn’t easy to answer. 

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn’ Benjamin Franklin

This quote struck me when I was thinking about this question and visualising. As a parent, if I could only give my children a few life skills in life that they could remember me by, it would be firstly, to Put Allah first in all they do. 

To see us parents, as the role models and to embody Taqwah ( fear of Allah) and Tawakkal of Allah ( Trust in Allah) in all they do. Secondly, I want them to master self- control and to be confident, Optimistic and positive beings. We believe as parents, in today’s ever fast changing society, that character and strong ethics are the most important life skill and wisdom, we can teach our children. Above any facts in learning, if they are able to have inner strength and be in touch with their emotions, then they can be adaptable to any life situations and hopefully thrive. God-willing. 

My vision for them would be, to have them look back, and say that they respect and appreciate all we did for them. That they embody Iman and a strong moral character. That they see myself and my husband as role models and look up to us and would want similar for their children. That they didn’t feel like they missed out on any life experiences and have lifelong friends and a love of the Deen.  

That they had many great happy memories of their childhood and places they have visited. 

That have developed worldly knowledge through experiencing many different life challenges from a young age, and because of their confidence and knowledge they are able to apply it in any situation and therefore play an active role in the Muslim community, with charitable work.

I Would love for them to say their childhood was full of the outdoors, literature, fun and an overall love of learning. That they were able to make clear choices in life and are confident assertive individuals. I Hope that they will be proud of me as a mother and see me as a happy, loving and nurturing parent and Muslim role model, and feel that they are able to confide in us for anything. I want to be remembered as a mother that could have fun, laugh and joke with them and not be remembered as a constant nag or helicopter parent. I hope that they would say I was just, respectful of them as born persons and that we as parents gave them independence yet they still had firm boundaries, rules and routines in place to guide them.

Lastly, I’d like to thank Eva for arranging this home ed network and for inviting me to be a part of it, I have enjoyed answering these questions and pray they will be of benefit to some and an encouragement that with baby steps and consistency, we can raise our children with confidence and ease. Insh Allah. 

“Upon death, man’s deeds will stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and a pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously prays to Allah, for the souls of his parents” (Muslim).

May Allah make our intentions pure, and good deeds, the best of deeds and may our children be a source of continuous rewards for us in the hereafter. Ameen.

Homeschool Chat with Little Homeschool on Prairie

” As teachers, parents and caregivers, we become not scientists with microscope and laboratory, but naturalists, who observe life and nature within its element- plain air (outdoors)-like the modern day ethnographer observing children in real life to see how and why they learn as they do.” Jack Beckman

Today’s homeschool chat is with Tasha , a former Elementary teacher and a homeschooling mother of 6 children, who resides in Canada. She can be found on Instagram (@little_homeschool_on_prairie). Tasha also has her own blog http://www.littlehop.ca , where she shares snippets from their homeschool journey as well as creating lots of free printables.

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

Alahamdullilah we have 6 children – 5 boys and 1 girl. They are all fairly close in age (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12) and they are the best of friends! We live on a farm in the prairies of Canada. We raise sheep, cows, chickens, turkeys, and peacocks. We also have dogs, a cat, and a rabbit! My husband and I were both born and raised in Canada. I reverted to Islam in my early 20s after attending a Bible college, alhamdullilah.

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

I was previously an elementary teacher and always knew in my heart I would homeschool my children if possible. I witnessed several incidents with my students in the public school system that made me cringe – behaviours, attitudes, bullying and so on. I also couldn’t wrap my head around the amount of wasted time that was spent on discipline and other nonsense. When we had our children, we knew that we wanted to spend our days together as family. We wanted them to learn what we felt was important. We didn’t want them to spend long hours away from home learning what they were told to learn. We wanted to be able to incorporate religious studies into our every day. We wanted our children to maintain the bond between each other. We wanted to provide a home and environment that nurtured nature. We wanted them to be motivated to learn by cultivating an environment that embraced various learning styles. And ultimately we wanted to provide an environment that would create a strong connection between our children and their Creator.

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

We follow a fairly structured day because we have farm chores to be done, so because our animals are on a routine, we have to be as well. Our children thrive on routine so we do maintain a schedule for them (although, some days we need to adjust accordingly for various reasons). This is the benefit of homeschooling. We begin our morning with ‘Morning Time’. This is when we spend a small chunk of time altogether. We then move into ‘Morning Rotations’. The children all work on math, copywork/narration/dictation exercises. The younger ones are using a copywork loop schedule so each day they are experimenting with different forms of writing (classical literature, poetry, hadith, Quran, and novel/easy reader). The older boys are using Fix-it-Grammar for their copywork/narration portion. The younger children finish the morning rotation with Arabic and Quran. The older boys finish with Science. In the afternoon, the older boys have their Quran/Arabic while the younger children have their ‘Afternoon Loop’. This loop is very short and usually consists of a science read aloud and a math read aloud or a quick map drill. The older boys also finish the day with an ‘Afternoon Loop’ that consists of either: history notebooking, map drill, poetry study, writing from pictures, or nature study (it depends on the day but we rotate through those in our loop). We end their day with an Islamic history read aloud. We take advantage of the afternoon by engaging in handiwork, outside time, and farm chores!

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

I would say for several years I was very much an eclectic homeschooler; taking away things from all different styles. However, more recently I have taken more interest in Charlotte Mason homeschooling. I have been reading extensively in this area and feel that in many ways, this is a great fit for our family.

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

There are too many things to list! We love the flexibility. We can take holidays when it works for our family. For example, during our Eid celebration we take a mini break. We can wrap up our school year when it works for us. On the farm, spring is a very busy time so we wrap up by the end of April. This also allows us to maximize our summer since we have a very short summer season. We love the close family bond we have and that we spend our time learning together.

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

Yes! The children listen to a read aloud chosen by me (typically a classic novel). We also cover a moral story or hadith at this time. There are a few selected works that I have been utilizing in this area. We like to engage in discussions on the novels and the moral story of the day. It usually takes us about 20 minutes before we head into morning rotations.

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

Language Arts and History I enjoy the most. We often incorporate a fun element to these subjects by using lots of literature and project-based learning (art projects, handicrafts etc). Personally, my least favourite is higher level math. It’s just not a subject I feel passionate about.

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

#1- Patience. Some days will be tougher than others. #2) Selflessness. I have to be realistic when it comes to goal setting for myself. I definitely would like to accomplish more in terms of reading and memorization but at the same time I have to be realistic. I would love to have an immaculate home all the time, but it’s just not a realistic expectation. I make the most of the situation and we work as a team to stay on top of things the best we can. This is my biggest challenge.

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

I try my best to wake up before the children so I can get in a bit of reading, memorization, or other things I enjoy. Once our school day is complete, I try my best to squeeze in some exercise prior to supper. Our children follow a bedtime schedule, so the evenings are open for self-care and quiet time. Weekends are more “me” time. I make it a priority to make the most of Friday nights and Saturdays. Daytime is usually catching up on organization and cleaning. Evenings are usually spent together as a family.

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

Over the years I have enjoyed reading homeschooling books focused on various homeschooling styles. I have enjoyed Read Aloud Revival, The Well Trained Mind, any of John Holt’s reads, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (Cathy Duffy), Homeschooling 101 (Confessions of a Homeschooler, Free Range Learning, Dumbing us Down. More recently I read ‘Teaching from Rest’. This book hit so many key points for me – I REALLY enjoyed this one! I’m currently reading ‘The Charlotte Mason Companion” which I’m truly enjoying. I’m also reading ‘The Harp and Laurel Wreath: Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum’ which might prove to be a fairly good resource to have on hand.

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

We have been pretty blessed in this way. Our friends and family have been very supportive of our choice to homeschool. I have been asked several times why we homeschool and my response is always the same. I am upfront and honest about why we made this decision and I always explain the benefits we have seen from homeschooling. Often the social aspect is a concern for those opposed to homeschooling. I always explain that our children are no different than children in school. They are participating in extracurricular activities. They are involved with real world social skills throughout their day – grocery shopping, mailing letters, interacting with the librarian and so on. These are real life social skills they are engaged in almost every day! Homeschooling is a growing trend and our children can access many activities with fellow homeschooling families.

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

Well , because we have such a range of ages, we plan to continue on this homeschool journey. Our younger children will continue with parent-directed, which allows us to create their homeschool program. Our eldest will be in high school at that point. We haven’t quite figured out what route we will take for high school. We may just continue in this way or allow him to take some courses through distance learning.

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

I would encourage parents to educate themselves with various homeschool styles to see what might work well for their family. I would encourage them to read books and blogs and websites that offer support to homeschoolers. Have a support system in place whether physical or online. Social media groups are a great start! Don’t feel shy to ask fellow homeschoolers for help. Many homeschoolers are happy to provide feedback when it comes to curriculum suggestions, routines and schedules etc.

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

We want our children to look back and say that their educational experience was positive. They enjoyed learning and evolving together as a family. They have fond memories of their school experience.

Our experiences shape the people we become. We hope (inshaAllah – God willing) that we have planted the seeds by instilling a love for our Deen (religion and all that it encompasses) and a desire to always strive towards the right path. This was our ultimate goal when we chose to homeschool.

Homeschool Chat with Ink and Blossom Homeschool

” Our children are children for such a small season of life. Let their laughter ring out, their imaginations soar, their feet stomp in puddles, their hands clap for joy. Too soon they will grow up and out of their youthful exuberance and zest and settle into the life and routine of adulthood”. L.R.Knost

Today’s homeschool Chat brings you Raeesa , a homeschooling mum of one from Birmingham, UK. She can be found on Instagram @inkandblossom_homeschool, where she shares snippets of her homeschooling journey .

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

My name is Raeesa. I joined instagram exactly a year ago as @inkandblossom_homeschool. I was born and raised in Sheffield and I absolutely love the North of England! I studied English Language and Linguistics at undergraduate level and then went on to do my Masters in Applied Linguistics with TESOL.  I love crime and mystery and at one stage I wanted to become a forensic linguist – but in the end I got a a job at the University of Sheffield teaching modules in Academic Reading and Writing and Critical Reading!

I worked for around three years before getting married and moved to Aberdeen. This was a completely new and unique experience for both my husband and I as we didn’t know anyone there and had no family nearby. Alahmdulilah after a year Allah planned for us to move much closer to our families and we now live in Birmingham. We currently have one son aged 3.


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

I have always known I wanted to home educate from a young age. I actually remember the day I was sat in secondary school in a lesson where I just felt so disconnected, thinking to myself; ‘I don’t want my children to feel like this, I want to homeschool’. My main reason is probably the opportunity to prioritise real life, connection and broad experiences rather than the bulk of all day every day being standardised academic work.  I love that home educated children can learn in so many diverse environments, can spend so much time outdoors and benefit from lots of practical life activities without anything getting in the way of studies!  Another big motivation for me is being able to incorporate Islam into our daily life and routines. I don’t want Islam to be a ‘subject’; something studied after school or on the weekend (as many of us experienced it!). I am passionate that my children live their deen and experience it in fun, captivating ways from a young age.

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

At the moment because my son is young, many mornings we make use of groups  (forest school, our own club with friends, library sessions) and then we fill the rest of the day at home. This involves lots of free play, cooking together and of course reading reading and more reading!My husband tends to do things with our son on certain evenings and weekends (eg swimming and other sports) which I feel is so important to develop the bond between them as he works full time during the week.
4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

So far (0-3) we have used a lot of Montessori principles in our home but I also love what I have seen from unschooling and Charlotte Mason home educators so I expect we will be very eclectic in our future years!

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

The chance to be together!

Yes this can also be challenging and intense at times, but I am so grateful that I have been able to spend the early years with my son experiencing so many lovely things, facing challenges together and learning from each other Alhamdulilah.  I truly feel like I have learnt more from my son rather than the other way around. The blessing of being able to spend time with children is really valuable subhan’Allah. To sit in the company of a child who shows curiosity, fascination and joy at things we as adults become used to and dont think twice about has definitely sparked my own passions for teaching and discovering more about the world!

Additionally, I love having the freedom to follow the interests and pace of the child, it is great to be able to develop a topic they have become fascinated with, or to really support a new skill they are showing.
I also value that we have been able to lay as Islamic foundation and insha’Allah nurture a love of Allah and the Prophet (saw) in the early years. Of course this can be done with children who attend nursery and school too but for us the freedom of time has meant we can really focus on creating a routine involving Quran, dua, stories and even starting our own group (Discovery Club) which we hope will be a long term weekly gathering where we strengthen our children’s love of Islam and connection to the prophets. 

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

Yes we do! We have a morning basket routine which was inspired by @ourmuslimhomeschool. I love what this has done for us as family. We start the day reading together, remembering Allah and Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and playing a little game. It really helps to connect us for the rest of the day! (I have a post on my Instagram feed detailing exactly what is in our basket!)

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

I love History and English (probably not surprising for a Linguist!). I don’t really enjoy maths and physics but I think this is due to my own experiences as a child. I am looking forward to approaching these subjects differently with my own children and insha’Allah making them enjoying and relatable!
I also really love taking aspects of Islam and making them accessible for younger children. I make lots of props to tell stories and we have done crafts based on Quranic lessons, all of which I have found very rewarding Alhamdulilah!

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

Looking after myself. Mothers can become lost in their roles; being mum, teacher, housekeeper etc. I have had to try hard and be very conscious about trying to keep things in my life that are just for me in order to feel truly fulfilled. I think this is so important if we want to homeschool and parent in the best way we can.
I also feel it is easy to become lost or overwhelmed as a home-educator as there is such a vast amount of information and social media content on this subject, it can be easy to fall into comparison and self doubt. This may be more common in the early years (the stage I am currently in) but I am definitely glad I invested in coaching and courses that have helped me gain clarity and confidence as a new homeschooler!


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

I have at least one evening a week that is just for myself. I used to spend the time socialising but then decided to take on a one year Diploma so now I go to university once a week. I love this completely different change of scenery and the opportunity to do something academically stimulating Alhamdulilah. I also recently started the Couch to 5K challenge and have enjoyed becoming a little fitter!

My husband and I also try to take opportunities to do things together when our families are around. This could be as simple as going for a coffee, but it is so important to stay connected and maintain a healthy marriage!


10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

‘Hold on to Your Kids’ by Gabor Mate- I love love love this book! whilst it is not strictly ‘home-ed’ many of the reasons I homeschool are covered in this book. ‘The Well Trained Mind’ is another great one. Also ‘How to Survive Homeschooling – A Self-Care Guide for Moms Who Lovingly Do Way Too Much’ by Brooke Benoit. I read this early on and I am so glad that I did! 

11. How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
So far Alhamdulilah we haven’t had too many negative comments, but I think some people haven’t completely grasped that we plan to home educate long term! I have heard people saying to my son he will be going to school when he is older which I always find odd! Right now I just remind him if he brings it up that some children go to school and some do their learning at home and outside of school. I tend not to let other people’s comments affect me too deeply and insha’Allah I will be able to maintain this approach if and when we face any comments regarding our schooling decisions. 


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

Insha’Allah in five years , I would love to feel much more confident in my home education rhythm (as it is early days right now!). Also a big thing for me is establishing a network with like-minded home ed mums in order to avoid being isolated or overwhelmed on this journey. This is something myself and some other homeschooling mums at the start of their journeys are working on establishing here in Birmingham, we recently had our first social and it was lovely to connect with like-minded mums offline! We are making dua Allah places lots of baraqah in our efforts!


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

I would say if you are serious about it – give it a go! As long as the reasons are yours (and your husband’s) own and there’s no pressure from elsewhere, there is really no harm in trying it out. It is definitely daunting for anyone at the start of their home education journey but if it doesn’t work out there are other options…and if it does it may be one of the best decisions of your life insha’Allah! It is just important to be clear about your intentions, know your ‘why’ and try to avoid comparison to other home educating families from the start!


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

I would like my children to remember their homeschool years with warmth. I want them to have memories of the fun, exciting and interesting experiences we embarked upon together. I would love for them to feel that they had the independence and opportunities to pursue their passions, and that they always had support and guidance from their parents inshA’allah. 

Homeschool Chat with Breanna Rein

“Children, even when very young, have the capacity for inventive thought and decisive action. They have worthwhile ideas. They make perceptive connections. They’re individuals from the start: a unique bundle of interests, talents, and preferences. They have something to contribute. They want to be a part of things. It’s up to us to give them the opportunity to express their creativity, explore widely, and connect with their own meaningful work.” Lori McWilliam Pickert

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Breanna Rein (@dirtyfeetandmessyhair), a homeschooling mother of two children who lives in Nebraska, USA. Breanna is also a very talented full time photographer and you can find some of her work on https://www.rein-photography.com/

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

My name is Breanna Rein. I am married to my husband William, we have been together since 2008. Right after high school, we moved to Nebraska from Virginia.Kind of random, but we made this our home ever since. I am a full time Photographer and part time seamstress. I have two kids, Camden Brynn (7) and Laiken Jameson (2). My husband works 4 days and then if off 4 days, so we get a ton of family time. He is a big time hunter and we also have a ton of reptiles.


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

We had just gone through a half year of preschool and the morning routine was just plain awful. It was never a good morning. There was rushing and yelling and mom guilt and just all of it. When the time came to sign Camden up for kindergarten…I physically couldn’t do it. I just felt a really strong pull to keep her home, it’s not really explainable until it happens to you. And so we did and now we are on year 2!

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

Kindergarten was A LOT easier for us (not because it’s a lesser learning curve) but because Laiken wasn’t as mobile as she is now. We have a lot less ‘alone’ time than we did when we first began. Laiken wants to be involved in everything and while it sounds amazing…it’s not. It’s more or less her tearing everything up, basically being a toddler version of King Kong onto everything that has to do with our studies. So, how our learning revolves around naps and leaving the house when we can get a sitter or staying up later than everyone else to be alone when the house is quiet. In the morning, we make coffee and go for a walk…ideally. This doesn’t happen every day. We live in Western Nebraska and it is cold and windy a lot. During the winter, we’re staying in a lot. But, when we go get our walk in…our day goes a lot smoother because we got our ‘wiggles’ out. Then Camden and her sister just play a majority of the day. Tues-Thurs Camden has piano, jiu-jitsu and class at our local zoo, so those 3 days are our main focus of study as well. When Laiken does nap, we try to get through one lesson in our ‘The Good and The Beautiful’ literature book and also read one short story from our reader book from the same curriculum. If for whatever reason we weren’t able to do that during the day, often Cam and myself will stay up past everyone else and do those things when the house is quiet. We’ve always been night owls, it’s just how we function. 


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

If I most had to describe our style, it would be unschooling. We do a lot of living over here, more living than formal learning….100%


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

I love the freedom. I don’t want to ask some authority if my family can go on a trip, in fear of missing too much ‘school’. This is OUR life, not anyone else’s. 


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

Our morning time is either walks or art, often coloring or watercolor painting.


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

We love art as a whole family…definitely art is a fave. I don’t enjoy literature because Camden doesn’t like to be forced to read. The more I’ve let off, the better she has gotten learning how to read.

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

Time management is hard, that’s my only goal this year is to really hone on on what we are doing. It’s difficult have a toddler around, feels like I’m putting out a fire all the time.

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

After hours, Camden benefits from a quiet house too. And I imagine in years to come, it’ll of course get easier as Laiken gets older. But night time is just out time and its how we both recharge.


10)What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

“Homeschool Bravely” is my favorite 100%, so much of that book I felt was just written about us. At first, you doubt yourself so, so much. So much guilt. So much ‘are they missing out’. You will not feel that way after reading that book.


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

I’ve never ever been one to care what people have to say how we live our life. They do not pay my bills or feed my kids. Worry about yourself. I literally just do not care. My kids are smart and thriving. 


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

I do not really know. Would I like to do this forever? Yes. Camden’s wants might change though. I would never keep her home if she wanted to go to public school. I’m taking it one year at a time.

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

Do not buy this and this and this and this. Just simplify. Play A LOT. Kids need play. They are more calm, they process better. The good and the beautiful is such a blessing, it’s so simple and I could confidently toss everything else we ever bought and just focus on that curriculum. Listen to your kid, don’t place blame on yourself for their shortcomings, they’ll bloom when it’s their time…no matter what subject they struggle with. Believe in them!


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

That I so much enjoyed having them home with me. I never wanted to be without them for 8 hours…5x a week. That seems like torture for me…and them. That I loved our time together and all the experiences and adventures we had as a family unit.

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