“An eternal question about children is, how should we educate them? Politicians and educators consider more school days in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certification for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, soul is neglected.”
Throughout the years I have met some of the most incredible home educators , who have all been a source of knowledge , help and inspiration . I hope you enjoy reading these interviews and that they will give you a glimpse of the many different approaches and systems of home education .
My first home-school mama to participate in these series , is the lovely Shazia Hussain, who is a mum of 3 and resides in the UK.
1 Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children .
Assalaamu alaykum, my name is Shazia and alhamdulilah I am a mother of three wonderful children ranging in age from 12 years to 7 years. Alhamdulilah I have two daughters and a son. As a family we love to spend much time together whether it is in the outdoors (local parks, county parks, peak district nature reserves etc), at museums, heritage sites, Islamic events or just being at home snuggled up to watch a movie. We love to travel to Muslim countries and see the beautiful masjids and explore the different culture.
2 What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
I would have to say my husband initially who planted the seed of homeschooling when the children were just toddlers. However, at that time I remember saying no to him as I had never come across the concept. When my children started primary school I began to feel the void of them being away from me for so many hours. Most days it was just clock watching for 3pm to come. They would return home with little paintings and drawings and it made me sad to think I didn’t witness this masterpiece from the offset. The work at primary level was so basic that I started to look more into home education and realised I could just teach them at home and enjoy them during these most precious years.
3 What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family?
We wake up quite early which always helps as the ‘school day’ is over before the afternoon. After breakfast, everyone gets dressed and makes sure their beds are made and bedrooms are clean. We then always allocate a small amount of time for dhikr (remembrance of Allah). We sit in a small circle and make dhikr together. I have always found this starts our day off so much more calmly and puts us all at peace. The children then recite their Qur’an, qaida, and practice duas and surahs they are memorising. We then move on to Maths and English worksheets/workbooks/reading. This normally takes us up to lunch time. While I prepare the lunch they are told to put all their workbooks away and have some freeplay. If we have no group activities planned for the afternoon, we then move on to science, history, geography etc. This really depends on which topic we are exploring as I like to incorporate as many subject areas around a topic. I try to have a few days in the week as our ‘outing days’ and a few as our ‘home days’ as this helps me to get on with housework while the children work on projects or just play board games or pursue their own interests.
4 What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
I probably started off very structured with timetables and lots of weekly lesson planning. A year or so into homeschooling I slowly abandoned this approach due to the time consuming nature of it. I then had a period of unschooling until the anxiety kicked in that they weren’t learning enough. I find I am more semi structured these days. If I have the time I will pick a topic and plan the subjects around this. If I don’t have the time we just seem to go with the flow and decide on the day what to look at.
5 What do you love the most about home schooling ?
Definitely the freedom and flexibility it brings. Being able to wake up and look outside and decide that Maths and English can wait as we have to make the most of the good weather. Being able to see the journey your child takes with your own eyes and not have to read about it through a school report. Learning so much together. Things I would never have had made time for if I was doing it for myself like hadith and seerah. When you set about to teach the children you gain so much from it yourself. The time we spend together is so valuable for us all.
6 What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I find maths easier to teach as there only can be one answer. English grammar is one subject I don’t really enjoy teaching, but I’m grateful for the abundance of resources available for it.
7 What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children?
The differences in their learning styles and their behaviour. I have had to adapt my methods of teaching to appeal to my visual learners. I try to use many different styles like Montessori for maths. The homeschooling/housework balance can be difficult but I try to create a balance by getting the children to help with the chores and also keeping larger chores to the weekend when my husband is at home to occupy the children.
8 How do you deal with unsupportive family, relatives and friends ?
I don’t let it bother me as much now. The ones who matter to me support me and that keeps me going. Those who came across negative in the start have seen the positives of our choices for our children.
9 Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years time?
My eldest started secondary school this year and she is really enjoying it. My son has heard about the resources available with it being a STEM specialist school so he is very eager to start too and will be starting in the next academic year. So inshaAllah (God willing) that will leave me with one at home who has never been to school and hopefully won’t opt for it but only time will tell if in 5 years time I’m still homeschooling.
10 What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children?
I would say just pluck up the courage and do it. Don’t let negativity from family and friends override your feelings. You know your children best and you are the only one who will ever want them to succeed in deen and duniya more than any other teacher. The primary years are the time children are moulded and build the greatest bonds so make that sacrifice (and normally it is financial but no price can be put on this journey together) and give them your time. You really will make some of the most amazing memories together in this time.