“Rather than teach, lead . Rather than talk, act. Rather than following the curriculum or opening the book, express what you want your children to know. The secret of a vibrant homeschool is not in a book. It is you. You are the secret weapon. You do not have to be a good teacher. In fact, it helps if you are not. It is better if you are an enthusiast, someone for whom the feast of ideas is so compelling , you sneak time to follow up on the material you read to the kids to get the adult perspective .” Julie Bogart
Today’s homeschool chat brings you Elizabeth Lymer , a homeschool mama of 4, from the UK. She is a children’s author of a handful of rhymes books published by Mindworks Publishing. She has also independently published picture books and colouring books via Aneesa Books. As a creative developer, she has co-written stories for Noor Kids and Little Hibba. To find out more about her books , do visit her website –http://rhymesandstories.co.uk/ .
1.Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
Alhamdulillah I am a writer and mother of four children, ages six to eleven, living in the UK
2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
When I made the decision, my first born was a baby and I read ‘The Power of Play’ by David Elkind which reminded me of many out-of-school things my mother had facilitated in my childhood and several of the problems with the National Curriculum my father had spoken of (he was a teaching headteacher). I knew I could not afford to send my child to a Waldorf or Montessori institution and so I endeavoured to home educate. I signed up for the job until a child reached eight years of age and I wasn’t expecting it to want to home educate longer.
3 )What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family?
In the morning, the children usually pursue their own reading, learning, and creativity. In the afternoon we may go out for a walk or to the playground together, or I may facilitate activities one to one, with a pair, or with everyone. Later in the day, the children will play games, often on screens, for maths, language, and Minecraft. In between those things are prayer, meals, and snacks, and plenty of opportunities for me to be alone with my Lord including with my pen alhamdulillah.
4)What type of a home educator are you (structured, semi structured, unschooling, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, Montessori etc )?
I have especially sought influence from John Holt, role modelling from Brooke Benoit, and attitudes from Islamic Neuro Linguistic Programming….I don’t often face this question.
I am a survivor schooler, perhaps. I ensure my children are fed, watered, and clothed; I actively allow them space, stimuli, and time to remember their Creator, to learn about His creation, and pursue their potential to flow creatively within it. I make efforts to model in myself a compassionate drive towards excellence like I hope for them.
I am particularly inspired by the Quranic notion of learning by the pen, by the Quranic guidance of reflecting upon stories, and by the worldly reality of ‘ayat’ as Quranic verses and any of Allah’s signs. I appreciate the flow of Quranic recitation and the harmony of its vibrations with the pleasure of Allah during our worldly journeys towards Jannah. Perhaps I am an ayat schooler. Nouns aren’t my strong point. Alhamdulillah for dyslexia in my own way.
5)What do you love the most about home schooling?
The centrality of Allah in our lives. Subhanallah, we hit hards times for a while and the children went to school for a year and a day. We did not experience Muslim life and therefore happiness as easily or fully during that time. Alhamdulillah for all things, especially ease after hardship.
6) Do you morning time/ symposium / circle time?
No. At the end of the day, we sometimes have highlights (we take turns to tell everyone about our highlight of the day, which can lead to several rounds), or an informal quiz (about subjects from maths to seerah to ourselves), or mindful moments using Mini Mindful Muslims cards.
Sometimes I go to the kitchen early and that usually rouses one child to awaken before the others. Then we have one to one time. Since we spent almost every mealtime as a circle in which we connect, resolve issues, and make plans, it is the one to one times that I particulary facilitate time for, at home, during a walk, or elsewhere.
7 )What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one?
I love reading stories to my children. At the moment it’s ‘Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll. I love discussing things fictional characters say and do, relating them to Allah’s pleasure and everything else; I really value the safe space of fiction for discussing – even rehearsing – character development without uncovering sins/mistakes or backbiting alhamdulillah. I suppose you could term this reading comprehension. However our interactions are much broader alhamdulillah.
And my least favourite subject to teach? Potty training. Alhamdulillah I am glad that is long over.
8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children?
Everything. When the challenge seems to much, I make changes alhamdulillah. I find that by rearranging the furniture, or reading more/again about learning styles or processes or anything, I can feel more empowered to approach and achieve something new.
9) How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc?
Alhamdulillah my children work independently a lot, so I get plenty of time to myself. This is in supervision or on call mode, however, and I need richer time more fully to myself than this. So I have learned to communicate my needs, and to request that my husband facilitate my times away – especially now that he mostly works and lives apart from us.
In the main, I prefer to rely upon myself, and every day (during most of the month), I go to my room and read the Quran. It’s only a little. Yet the effect on me of looking forward to it, reading it, and reflecting upon it, is huge alhamdulillah. This is my favourite self care alhamdulillah. I have learned to be flexible about when I make time for it, and to relax and read ‘late’ if for any reason Maghrib passes before I have been able to approach it.
10 )What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
John Holt: How Children Learn; Teach Your Own
Brooke Benoit: Fitra Journal; How to Survive Homeschooling
11) How do you deal with unsupportive family, relatives and friends?
As with all ‘advice’: hear it all with respect, and choose what to listen to, alhamdulillah.
12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time?
Inshallah I see many changes as my eldest two children will have entered the age of befriending their parents (14 to 21). I am curious.
13 )What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children?
Would you rather try and fail, or regret never trying at all? What if you more than try, what if you are made for this and you do it well, mashallah?
14 ) Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?