” 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.