Children are, by nature and from birth, very curious about the world around them, and very energetic, resourceful and competent in exploring it, finding out about it, and master it. In short, much more eager to learn, and much better at learning than most adults. ~ John Holt
Welcome to another Season of Homeschool Chat series over on my blog. Today’s interview is with Amina Mohamed, a mother to 4 little humans. She holds various qualifications, diplomas, degrees and a master. She enjoys learning and reading and her favorite past time is listening to lectures whilst sipping on coffee/tea. She is the second eldest of 8 children and “thus had to grow up before I could even enjoy my childhood. Alhamdulillah I learnt quite a lot taking care of my siblings and was able to transfer the skills coupled with my studies and experience to my own children. I enjoy being with my children as I look at them as my akhira investment. ” Amina Mohamed can be found on Instagram @thesixcards . She also has a blog https://knowledgefountainbooks.com/ .
- Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
My family consists of me and my husband and our four children. Our eldest is 8, then 5.5, 3.5 and a 2 year old. I do all the teaching and signing children up to extra curricular activities and my husband helps with the driving the children to places and planning surprise days out which I’m grateful for as the children learn so much from the outings.
2.What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?
When I was in college my mum gave birth to our youngest sibling. This sister of mine at age 2-3 was diagnosed with severe eczema. Her face was unrecognizable due to it. Me and my oldest sister would take great care in researching what we could do to help. As we were busy trying to care for her face, we realized our parents forgot to sign her up to nursery. We just naturally taught her at home as we got quite a lot of time off college, she became confident and was very wise in her thinking. She reasoned extremely well about her surroundings and engaged well with adults and children of all ages. We homeschooled her using whatever resources were available to us and by age 6 she was 2 years ahead of her peers. Sadly, our parents got a lot of negative talk from friends and they persuaded them that our sister will become anti-social! (Eye roll!)
That experience taught me two things; one – to teach a child doesn’t require much resources and two – it’s possible!
That was it – fast forward 10 years later and I’m holding my first born and I now have a PGCE and a Masters in education and have been teaching for 5 years in different schools and settings. I was determined to teach my own child as I felt it was extremely possible. My other reason for homeschooling is because I look to my children as an Amanah (trust from God) and I need to teach and guide them on certain matters that I feel only I am able to do a good job of. I’m their mother and I know them better than anyone. I have no issue with the school system and if my circumstance was to change, I wouldn’t mind putting them there but as for now I’d like to have my children close and grow with them and expose them to things I feel will add to their life experience. Homeschooling is for everyone but not everyone is able to homeschool. I see homeschooling as an extension of my parenting.
3.What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
We wake up for Fajr and then return to bed for a quick nap before waking again at 8am. Breakfast is served and we get on straight to revising our Surahs, learning a new ayah, reading the qaidah for my second child and setting up the legos or another hands on activities for the younger two. The kids take mini breaks and we get on with spelling or reading, another mini break and it’s maths for 15-20 minutes. I usually finish teaching by 12/1 pm. I like to finish before dhuhr so we can spend that time cooking and cleaning up, catching up on read aloud or just playing. On some days I fit in painting or baking but most days the children have access to water paint and colors and lots of plain paper to do as they please. This is the ideal model, but most days we get Quran and Arabic and some maths and that’s it! Everyday is different but everyday has to have Quran!
4.What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
With Islamic studies we are classical in that we memorize a lot of what we learn. As for normal studies we don’t have a particular method or idea that we follow. I’m quite open to whatever I find suits our family routine.
5) What do you love the most about home schooling ?
I’m not rushing around the clock. I take it easy, there’s always going to be time to learn. There’s no need for the rushing element that we find in schooling system and many organization. Children learn so much from just being around you.
6)Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?
Morning time is always duahs recitation and Quran. We use to do circle time before the arrival of my rather energetic two year old, but at the moment it’s been paused.
7)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
I enjoy all subjects even mathematics , which I used to absolutely hate in school. I’m actually enjoying it as I’ve found ways to teach my children without pressuring them against the clock! I do enjoy teaching Quran the most and I’m most passionate about it but it can be hard most days as I sometimes forget my children are still young and fairly new on the journey. I have to recall how I viewed Quran when I was young so to take a step back, because the aim is to help them love to read for life.
8) What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
I find preparing the materials and finding easy to follow resources challenging. When you have more than one child time is against you and are only left with squeezing in reading time and planning time when the baby is napping or when the kids have gone to bed. It’s really easy to just browse around all day and flick through different books and purchase too many books before you realize or find the one or two simple books to use. Alhamdulillah , we learn as time progresses but I must admit a lot of finance and time is wasted and because of the amount of information there is online, it is so easy to get diverted and sucked into buying things you don’t need or will never use.
9)How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
Trying to really get a balance on this one, but for now when the kids are in bed I do as I please. To be honest my self care really consists of drinking a beverage in complete silence – I’m happy with that. When you home school – the house is full of energy and noise so if I’m able to sit and just be able to hear my own thoughts whilst drinking my coffee – I’m happy. On days like that I am very productive the next day because I would have had my cup refilled the night before. Other times I get the husband to take the kids out whilst I enjoy my own company, and other times spend it with friends who will allow for adult conversations to be had!
10) What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
John Taylor Gato – ” Weapons of mass distraction ”
The Well Trained Mind by Susan Bauer– allows me to plan or look at how to plan
“Fun start “ by June Oberlander ( I like this book because I don’t have to think about ideas to do with my under 5, I just open the stage/age they are at and there’s a simple activity to do with them)
“Language and thinking for young people ” BY Ruth Beechick – again another excellent resource filled book to use with under 5
“Daring greatly “ – Brene brown
“Today is their name “ – Christoph Arnold
11 )How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
I’ll be very honest here, I don’t waste my time explaining anymore. Most of my family and relatives have never gone to school and have been traditionally taught (homeschooled style) and in the beginning they were cheering me on about homeschooling but now some have started hinting that the kids should go school for whatever reason. I listen and just kindly respond ‘inshallah, whatever Allah wills’. Alhamdulillah I have had very supportive friends so no problem there.
12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
I would hope to see my homeschooling journey become efficient and my children acquiring the foundations I set out during their early years. Because I follow the classical Islamic method of memorization I would hope that they can recall the information memorized and start putting it into action. Inshallah I pray we continue homeschooling and moving forward.
13) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?
Look at homeschooling as an extension of your parenting and you would be able to find some ease in the heavy task ahead. You are your child’s first role model and you are the best teacher because you know them better than anyone. Believe me, homeschooling ain’t easy but it’s worth it. You are gonna have horrible green monster days but you learn and the kids learn to. You are building relationships and creating memories. And the best of all… you can do the absolutely minimal and your child will still learn. Children are natural learners as you will come to find out.
14 )Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?
I want them to be able to appreciate the time, energy and sacrifice we (me and my husband) did for them. I would love to hear them thank me for the experience, skills and knowledge they had attained. I would be so happy to see them blossom into beautiful adults.