” It’s not too late to teach writing or fractions or a love for reading. It’s not too late to have big conversations or to show interest in your children’s boring card games.It’s not too late to sketch the trees or recite poetry. It’s not too late to study chemistry or learn calculus or play a musical instrument. It’s not too late to be gentle, or to listen more attentively to your child. It’s not too late to get help for your struggling learner, no matter how old he or she is. It’s never too late to do what you want to do….now .”
Today’s homeschool chat is with Habiba Anwar, a British homeschooling mama of 2 , residing in Pakistan. She can be found on Instagram (@eatwritebe), where she shares snippets of their homeschool life there.
1)Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children.
I have two girls, one is five and the other is two. Together with my husband we all live in Islamabad, Pakistan! Originally, I’m from the UK where I had lived for all of my life before marrying my husband. We travel back and forth often, and my girls consider both places their home.
2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
By the time she got to school age, my older daughter had never been to nursery and we used to do a lot of hands-on activities at home. We began visiting schools in Islamabad, and found that none of them were offering anything more than what we were already doing, except for a ton of academics at a very early age! We decided to continue learning at home till we found a school that we were satisfied with. But at some point, we began to enjoy it so much as a family that we abandoned the search altogether!
3)What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
During our first year of homeschooling, every day varied greatly. We were finding our feet and couldn’t seem to stick to any one routine. I would swing between impromptu activities inspired by a pretty Instagram picture I’d just seen, to meticulously planning unit studies that my daughter would show no interest in! This year, already I feel as though we have found our feet and settled into something that works for us right now.
We’re going to use a literature-based curriculum to largely shape our mornings, and during some afternoons we join other home educating friends for co-ops. I also run a weekly nature walk and try to encourage the girls to spend at least two hours a day outside, weather permitting!
4) What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
I think we started out trying to recreate a school at home, and have experimented with different types of curriculums along the way. Charlotte Mason appeals to me the most, but what we are doing now is in fact closer to unschooling that anything else!
Whereas previously, I would resort to worksheets first and hands-on activities second, I now try and exhaust all the hands-on learning I can before resorting to a worksheet if absolutely necessary.
We are also “long-conversations-in-the-car” type homeschoolers!
5) What do you love the most about home schooling ?
I love that it allows me to spend so much time with my daughters, and the flexibility it gives us as family; flexibility not just to travel whenever we need to, but also on a day-to-day level: to wake up late and stay in our PJs, or to do our learning over a plate of dinner, or to do nothing at all if that’s what it seems is best for all of us that day!
6)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I love all things literacy related, such as reading aloud, or encouraging my daughter to narrate a story. Equally, I love our art lessons, even though I myself hated art at school. I feel as though I am rediscovering this subject now as a mother and learning with her.
My least favourite subject is perhaps science. I feel that it always comes with this weight of importance attached to it, and I often feel intimidated by it. I persevere nonetheless, but enjoy it the least.
7) What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
Just like one of the best things about homeschooling is spending so much time with the people you love the most, it can also be the most challenging thing. Sometimes, you cannot hear yourself think over the sibling rivalry, or you just need a moment to finish your coffee and even that becomes a momentous task! Self care is a lot more difficult when home educating, there is no denying that.
8) How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
In my case, I know that my husband and I are on the same page and that makes it easier to discard others’ views. But of course, there is still that feeling of anxiousness when someone judges your choices in life, whatever they may be. There are two things I do that have helped me immensely:
1. I no longer explain my choice, unless someone is genuinely interested in learning more. But I don’t allow myself to get locked into debates about the pros and cons of home education. I tell myself “just like it is not everyone else’s responsibility to defend the school system, it is not on my shoulders to defend and promote home education either.” Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I try not to let a conversation become an opportunity for others to impose theirs on me.
2. I smile before answering any questions about home education, so they can see before I’ve even started speaking that this is something that brings me joy.
9)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years time ?
I hope that by then, God willing, I will know my childrens’ learning styles like the back of my hand, and that we will have a ton of happy memories to look back on. I have never said that I will never send them to school; nobody knows what the future holds. But, I do pray that for as long we stay on this path, it brings them joy.
10)What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
I would give the same advice that I would give to a new parent: always trust your instincts. Nobody knows your children better than you. Remember that and believe it! You will know, deep down inside, if this is the right decision for your family or not. And if that nagging feeling in your gut keeps saying that it is, then just take a leap of faith and jump in. Don’t overthink it, just do it !