“Think less about how to shape your kids into world changers and more about how to bring a wide world to your family to shape them. Think more about how much energy your children invest in what they love and less about what they fail to do. Think more about each child’s natural aptitudes and less about each child’s deficiencies. Think less about the future and more about today-this moment… Allow yourself to be in awe: disallow anxiety. ” Julie Bogart
Today’s homeschool chat series is with Faryal. She’s a homeschooling Mom of 4, from New Jersey, USA. She spent a number of years working in the Islamic school setting.
When she’s not teaching, blogging or driving her kids from one sport/class to the next, you can find her having a cup of coffee or trying to squeeze in a run/walk. She enjoys reading, reflecting, and snuggling on the couch.
Faryal can be found on Instagram at her personal account @life.of.faryal. She blogs her musings on homeschooling, books and more at Cup of Home. (You can also find homeschooling specific resources on Instagram at @cup.of.home)
Instagram: @life.of.faryal and @cup.of.home
- Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
Assalamu alaikum all!
We are a family of 6. Two boys ages 15 and 14 and Two girls ages 11 and 5, MashaAllah. I was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended public schools my entire life.
- What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
I have always been very involved in my children’s education. When my oldest was 3 years old, I decided to go into teaching so I could work the same hours he was in school (it ended up being the same school). When he was 4, I took a year off and homeschooled him because I had a newborn and the school was 1.5 hours away. It seems crazy now to drive 3 hours a day, but at that time, it seemed like getting my son into a good school would ensure the best future for him.
We returned to the school the following year. I had one child in Kindergarten, one in Pre-Kindergarten, and one in the daycare. Juggling school and home was always stressful, leaving little time for myself. We stayed at the school for 5 years.
After working as Vice Principal, Allah swt (God) chose for me to have one more child. When she was born, the school was moving into another building, causing a delayed start to the school year. This gave us time to ponder on the idea of Home Education. The daycare for the school was going to be at another location, so I decided to take a year off. Another family close to us was homeschooling, and my kids really liked the idea. So we stayed home, agreeing to try it out, for just one year. The rest is history. We never ruled out a brick and mortar school as an option. This is our 7th year of homeschooling.
- What does a “typical” homeschool day look like for your family ?
I love how homeschooling allows tailoring education to each individual child. We have always taken it one year at a time. This year, two of my kids, the 14 and 5 year olds, attend a brick and mortar school. I truly believe each child is a different person with a variety of needs, so we tap into the best resources available. The 14 year old was homeschooled the last 5 years, so this is something new for him. The 5 year old has always been passionate about books, lessons, and sitting at a desk and chair; so she naturally gravitated toward her school. Both are happy, as well as academically and socially stimulated. But having kids in a school really changes the typical homeschool day (if there is any typical day).
Having two teens, schedules are not as set as when the kids are younger. They have their own ideas and needs, at their own timing. But if I had to try to give one typical day, here it is:
6am Pray and Coffee while reading morning supplications
7am Wake up Kids, Get them dressed, jBreakfast, Lunches, Backpacks
7:40 Drop #2 and #4 to school
7:55 Back home (it’s a mile away) and BREATHE! (really don’t like the morning rush but it’s what is working for our family right now: but I need to come back after the rush and just relax a bit)
8am Eat Breakfast while reminding #3 to get ready and start day
8:30 Drop #1 to Class at community college
9am Math with #3 and the read aloud
10:30 Leave to Pick up #1 from class
11:15 Back home and early lunch for kids; I might try to squeeze in a workout, laundry, or meal prep
12pm Language Arts (Brave Writer Arrow) with #3
12:45 Pray then Remind #3 to get ready for Quran class, and drop her off at 1pm.
1pm THE GOLDEN HOUR (this is the hour that I may have the house all to myself) #1 goes to the Masjid for Duhr Salah (noon prayer) and #3 is at Quran class; lately I’ve been kicking my feet up with lunch on the couch while watching a cooking show; Most days I DO NOT get this time bc I’ll end up running errands that need to get done (library returns, bank, pharmacy, dropping son to masjid because of poor weather). But when I do get this time, it’s beautiful!
2pm More academics with #1 and #3
2:50pm Leave to pick up school kids
3:15 Now it gets crazy. School kids need attention and are tired from school. Might try to squeeze in a Poetry Tea Time. Also, after school activities and sports kick in. Some days #2 has Model UN at school, so he might need to get picked up later. Probably, #1 would like me to drive him to the soccer field to get in some practice about now.
4:15 Time to leave to pick up #2 from Model UN and pick up from Soccer field.
The day goes on with various activities. This fall my boys were on a soccer or basketball team and the girls had gymnastics. Some practices finish at 9:30pm, so I’m still driving around until pretty late. Yeah. But that’s the season of life right now and I embrace it because I can see how fleeting it is.
- What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc )
I started off homeschooling with The Well Trained Mind (classical). That approach did NOT work for all my children (as hard as I tried). So, right now, we try to be somewhat structured. I would say I am eclectic, a mix elements of most types of homeschooling. This year we really got into The Bravewriter Lifestyle and absolutely love it!
- What do you love the most about homeschooling ?
I love the flexibility and the relaxed nature. As my kids are getting older, I can see how their personalities have shaped for the good by spending so much time with us, their parents. There are definitely many things to love about homeschooling.
- What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I love teaching almost any subject. I feel really blessed with my educational background, as I took a diverse variety of subjects, so am pretty good at them. There is one exception: High school geometry. My kids know this, as I have not tried to relearn it to teach them. I never got the hang of it in High School and never needed it after.
- What do you find challenging when it comes to homeschooling your children
Finding time to learn HOW to teach children with learning differences can be so hard as a home educator. There are so many excellent resources (books, podcasts, blogs, etc). But finding the time to sit alone and read can be difficult. We often get caught up in the day to day.
- How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
Honestly, I have not had to deal with anyone abrasively unsupportive. As a former school teacher, many of my teacher friends have wondered if I am doing a disservice to my children by “keeping them home”. Of course they don’t realize how little we are home. I allow people to express their opinions but also assert mine. Our job is not to convince others, but to whole-heartedly execute our dreams.
- Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years time ?
We have always taken one year at a time, never committing to home education forever. But we love it and it has given us a lot of opportunities we would not have had otherwise. There are many kids who could benefit from homeschooling. I see myself helping people be able to take the chance on home education and see if it’s a good fit for them. And my door is always open for my kids if they wish to continue home education.
- What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
I would say start slow, and don’t be overwhelmed with what others are doing and how their homeschooling space looks. The most important thing is to love your children deeply and be present. Hug them, kiss them, read aloud snuggled up on the couch. Take chances even if you feel scared. Let the fear power your bravery.
Even if all you have is a bare room with books from the library, that is good enough. Just add paper and pencils. And please don’t compare yourself with what you see online. Everyone’s journey is unique.