” A Thousand Questions” By Saadia Faruqi- book recommendation

First thing , first, I haven’t read ” A Thousand Questions” by Saadia Faruqi, although I did skim through some of the pages. However , my 11 year old daughter was absolutely engrossed in the book from start to finish and even came to me to say , that she absolutely loved reading it and even asked me if the author has written another one. She told me it reminded her a lot of Bangladesh too and that she could see some similarities .So , as I already recommended it on my own Instagram page, I thought I will recommend it on here too. Here is the blurb :

  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • Publisher : Quill Tree Books (12 Nov. 2020)
  • Reading level : 8 – 12 years
  • Language: : English

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk

” A Thousand questions ” by Saadia Faruqi can be bough from Amazon –https://amzn.to/2VpQPfu ( affiliated link )

Will my homeschooled children succeed in life?

The most effective and least destructive way to help a child .. is to do everything possible to help her fall in love with what she is doing , to pay less attention to how successful she was ( or likely to be ) and show more interest in the task … Encourage more , judge less , and love always “ Alfie Kohn

A few days ago , a parent asked on one of the Facebook groups whether homeschooled children are at a disadvantage for not taking SAts at year 2 and year 6 . Of course , I had to reply and give my two cents on how useless these exams are anyway and considering the fact that in some countries children start school at 7 ( U.K. equivalent year 2) , other counties like England choose to test their children at that age… But , this blog post is not about SATs , but rather on something that is often prevalent in our society and the view that homeschooled children are somehow at a disadvantage for choosing a path that is not mainstream and that they miss out on things . The thing , is though , home education is not a guarantee of success just as public/ private school is not guarantee of success. In fact there are no guarantees. Full stop. But I think it’s important to emphasise that home schooling will not put your children at disadvantage compared to other people ..

Ultimately , your children will succeed or fail to the extent they are motivated and have confidence that they will succeed . This really has to do with how your children were educated and nothing to do with where they are educated , because the atmosphere of the educational environment can make a difference . Whether your children go to school or not , I do strongly believe that motivation for success comes from the values our children learn at home and in the community , about hard work and persistence and having goals to work towards to and ultimately an overall life purpose .

Muslimah Bloggers Award nominations

For those who follow me on Instagram , you may have read my delight on finding out that I was nominated in 4 categories for the annual Muslimah Blogger Awards – https://www.muslimahbloggers.com/muslimah-bloggers-awards-2020-nominees

1) Best Education Blog

2) Best Parenting Blog

3) Best Instagrammer

4) Overall most inspirational blogger

I honestly didn’t expect it and in fact I only checked for the Education category and then I received a lovely message from a fellow blogger to congratulate me on my nominations . So I was like , hang on, have I been nominated for more lol ( embarrassing I know 😭😭🤣) .

I have to admit I was a bit speechless because I didn’t expect this at all. I am in categories with some absolutely amazing , inspirational , incredible and super dedicated bloggers , who work so hard and I know they even put much more effort and time on their accounts and blog than me . And to be honest , I kind of felt a bit bad that I was on there and not worthy enough . I am my “best cheer leader “, as you can see 😂😭. I know it sounds so silly but that’s how I felt at first . I had a bit of self talk to myself and realised that It was wrong for me to think like this and to also belittle the amount of “ work “ that I do on here . I know I am probably one of the least professional accounts with needless to say not very much aesthetically pleasing photos etc but that’s me . I also thought of the time so many of you send me messages out of the blue , thanking me for my book recommendations, for my homeschooling tips, textbooks and various homeschool resources that you have found beneficial And then I realised , that you must find something useful on my account here for me to be nominated ❤️. So Thank you once again from the bottom of my heart . I really appreciate you all .

The deadline for the Muslimah Blogger Awards is this coming Sunday 6th December 2020. I also wanted to say a massive “ Thank you “ to the lovely and hardworking Foziahttp://( https://www.muslimmummies.comb) , who puts so much work and effort for these awards and does everything on her own ❤️

I am Back ……

Assalamu Aleikum and Hello to all!

Hope you are all keeping well and in the best of health and Iman. I am sincerely sorry for my absence on here . I had big plans for my blog this year but as we say- we plan , and then there is God’s planning. I feel bad that I neglected my blog for quite a few months ( more like a year ), but sadly , if I am entirely honest , I was not really up for writing on here and although , I do not want to use Covid19 as an excuse lol, it did affect me and I just did not have the energy or the time to write and I was not really in the right mental space either.

But, I feel after 8 months absence , I think I am ready to come back on here. I hope I am forgiven. In case , you are wondering what we have been up to during these months and two Lockdowns, here in the U.K- it’s been mainly lots of nature walks, exploring our city and the usual homeschooling sheninganz. Here are some photos :

Homeschool chat with Our World Schooling Family

“In the land of human beings , beware those who shame you for your failings , who urge greater fidelity to a system what ails you rather than greater trust in yourself. Beware those who put institutions ahead of persons , and whose idealism tempts you to pretend away your problems and distresses in favour of a sparking seductive image . There is no inoculation against life . Be as genuine as as you can , try write the resources you have , open your mind to new solutions , and trust that you know what’s best for you and your family more than anyone else does. Take your time , be wary of unsolicited advice, and hold fast to your commitment to peace and well being over ideology” Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with Laura, a homeschooling mother of three children (Joshua 8, Holly 6 and Natalie 3) , married to her musician husband Tabes. They decided to bring their homeschooling to a new level and have sold everything material they own to dive into a WorldSchooling adventure. To find out more about their adventures and homeschooling updates , head over to their Instagram page @ourworldschoolingfamily or visit their website http://www.ourworldschoolingfamily.com

1) Tell us a bit about your family and your child/children.

Calling the U.K. our home for our entire lives, I trained as a primary school teacher with a special needs background. Tabes is a musician, he has run recording studios and taught at colleges, but now his focus on performances. His own music is a wonderful mixture of Indie-Pop but he loves singing covers from all eras. Joshua is 8, he is a huge foodie. He will ask anyone he meets what their top ten vegetables are or a similar food-related question. Josh is a bookworm, his all-time favourite reads include Harry Potter, Mary Poppins and The Railway Children. Holly aged 6 loves ice skating. Back home, she and Joshua we’re part of the junior figure skating academy. She is very keen to keep finding new ice rinks on our journey. Holly loves art and any form of gymnastics or dance. Our 3-year-old, Natalie, can eat any adult under the table! She loves family games, riding her bike and reading together. We are a plant-based family, always striving to eat and move in a way that makes our bodies feel good.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

Home education discussions began when I was pregnant with our oldest child. I was teaching at the time in a mainstream primary school with a wonderful centre for children with Autism attached. I was given the freedom and flexibility to design a curriculum purely based on what the children most needed and deserved. Thanks to this, I was afforded opportunities to visit unique and alternative education forms which began opening my mind to a new way of learning. When Joshua was born we had looked into every education style and settled upon a delightful Waldorf Steiner school set in picturesque grounds and taught by wonderful caring teachers. He attended the kindergarten for a few months before we decided it was too far so from our home. This is when the homeschooling journey began. As soon as we started I completely fell in love with it, and it seemed crazy to me to send my kids off to a school to be taught in mass conditions by a stranger when I could easily do it myself. It was also influenced by seeing behind-the-scenes of how business-like schools have been forced to become in the U.K., and in our area, how under-resourced and over-subscribed they all were.

3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

In October 2019, we made the life-changing decision to sell 95% of the things we owned including the house, car, furniture, piano, most of the toys, our beloved book collection…to travel the world and take homeschooling onto the road. We thought we’d be responsible and give ourselves a year to sell everything and get what we needed to in order. That was until I read about The World School. This brand new school is a democratic, interest-lead, forest school that travels the world. What a dream! Where do I sign up? Right now we are located in the Dominican Republic, so a typical day is very different to how home school looked for us in the U.K. After breakfast, over which we usually chat about the day and read, we walk to the bus stop. Here the older two kids board the bus to their forest school. Currently, this is a tropical coconut-palm lined beach in the Caribbean. We loved forest schools back home and the accompanying muddy boots, this forest school is extremely different and we are all learning so much from it. During the first school mornings, the teaching staff will often read, provide activity suggestions, or have a specific focus, however, it is entirely interest lead. So the children choose what and how they want to learn based on their interests. They then hop back on the bus which brings them to a school building where they have lunch with their friends. The afternoon session revolves around clubs, forums and activities. This includes drama, Spanish, cooking, art, maths games, sport and more. Natalie and I then pick the, up and we wander home. While debriefing the day we have snacks and drinks. During this time we carry in with our project time in which each child has created their own project. We have a lovely extended playtime in which they will often play with friends, or we’ll play a game together, do some art or baking. Dinner time is followed by reading and 1:1 time before bed.

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

We have explored and loved many different homeschooling styles. We began with Steiner and Charlotte Mason and then settled on project-based learning. Our children learn in an interest lead style, carried out through projects of their choosing. Based on the Reggio Emilia education style and popularised by the author of one of my favourite parenting books; Lori Pickert, it is an approach to learning. With no planned out curriculum or academic targets, it is entirely lead and resourced by the child. With just support and mentoring from me as the parent, my kids take the reins. And this is with everything – the project subject matter, the manner in which it is approached, the resources they will use, and even the duration of the project. As a trained primary school teacher, this took some training for my mind to adjust to this radically different education style. I had to deschool myself! The approach is fairly similar to unit studies within the school curriculum, in that all academic subjects and areas become encompassed within the project. Each of my kids has an individual project on the go and then will regularly collaborate with each other or with friends on other projects. We’ve found it the most effective for learning, and definitely the most time-efficient and calmest for me as a mama. I’ve found because it’s self-lead the kids want and choose to carry out project time. And I’ve loved watching the skills evolve.

5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?

What do I love most about homeschooling? Wow, so many things! I guess top on my list is the freedom…the freedom to learn in the manner most suited to us all, the freedom to set our own life path and veer off the box we sat in. For us, right now we have taken our homeschooling global so the freedom to learn wherever in the world is incredible. We love homeschooling around the world as it brings in aspects we were talking about before but now can see them in reality. We can allow these memories to ignite further sparks of interest. Homeschooling allows us to set what we believe are the most vital elements of life learning rather than following a prescribed, generic format that might not fit each individual. It allows us to have super quality, unhurried time together as a family unit. It gives our children the chance to develop their relationships as siblings and friends. It provides so much social time with genuine friends – old and new, spanning all ages and cultures – that it makes me laugh when people question how as homeschoolers we socialise our kids!

6) Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

We have swayed in and out of routines over the years but our most popular is morning time. We love having a basket of books, card games and art suggestions to do during breakfast.

7) What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

I love art in all its forms, I think it’s calming for us all and teaches us so many skills beyond creativity. I love how it demands patience and perseverance, how it can be taken anyway and can capture a moment so beautifully. I love watching minds open as new materials and techniques are begun and mastered. For us, project-based learning allows all subjects to be organically included so there’s not one, in particular, I don’t enjoy teaching or aiding with. As a primary school teacher before having kids, my least favourite to teach was music because I felt my skills were so lacking. Maybe this is why I married a musician!!

8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Challenges when homeschooling should not be pushed aside. I think it’s so important we have a tribe of people to share these with and often friends will work together to help each other out and share good advice and tips. Some days can seem tiring – most days are lovely but then there’s that day when you are tired, or poorly, or lazy 😬! I feel these are the day’s which I’m trying to spot so I can straight away shake the day upside down and do something unplanned or spontaneous to ensure we don’t get on each other’s nerves. I’ve moved beyond the point of worrying about whether my kids are learning the “right” things because my mantra is; what’s the worst that can happen? Say they reach 16 and haven’t learned enough academics…then what? They’ll decide what path their life will take and move their academic learning accordingly. As long as my focus remains on raising kind, compassionate, respectful, caring, self-learners I’ll feel proud.

9) How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

I love waking up before the kids. Hang on, most days I love it, some days I hate it for the first 45 seconds! I use this time to exercise or do some yoga, plan my day and prep for the morning. I also actively sit and read in front of the children to demonstrate down-time. Socialising with friends and dates with my hubby has always been a priority and something that we always strive to do more of.

10 What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

Favourite books…Project-based Learning by Lori Pickert, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart, Free-range Kids by Lenore Skenazy, Calm Parents Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham

11) How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

We are super fortunate that most of our family are incredibly supportive. I remember feeling so nervous about telling everyone. But in reality, most of them were on board and wanted to help us. A few family members still ask when they’re starting school or if we’ll homeschool all three of them. I guess we’ve reached a point of knowing our decision to be right for us and so feeling confident when we talk about our reasons and decisions. We surround ourselves by friends who completely support us and are very like-minded. Life can be greatly affected and shaped by the people you choose to associate with, so this is strong in our minds when we choose who to spend quality time with.

12) Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

In 5 years , I see us having had a wonderful time adventuring around the world, exploring alternative school systems and meeting wonderful people who will help shape our futures. I see us settling down somewhere for teenage years and aiding our children to become strong, independent self-learners. Learners who in this fast-changing world are keen to adapt and shape their future.

13) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

The advice I would give would be follow your heart. There are so many styles of home educating, don’t feel hemmed into one. Try them all until one sings to your heart. Don’t be afraid of judgement, it’s fleeting and insignificant to your life. Don’t feel like a failure if it doesn’t work out the way you hoped. Don’t worry about if your kids are learning enough – as long as you are shaping beautiful personalities the learning will come. Make friends – in person and online. These people will be your support network, your sounding board, your inspiration and your friends.

14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?

We had a loving, fun family filled with incredible memories.

Homeschool chat with Stephanie Radcliffe

The great educator Charlotte Mason says that when we put children in direct contact with great ideas and get out of the way, “Teachers shall teach less and scholars shall learn more.” Any homeschooling parent who has observed her own children for any length of time will know this to be true. Real learning happens when our children wrestle directly with great ideas- not as a result of our repackaging those great ideas, but when they interact with the ideas themselves.”

Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace

Today’s homeschool chat is with Stephanie Radcliffe, who has been married for almost 11 years to her husband Wes & is a momma to 4 children – Ages almost 6, 4, 2, & 6 months. She is a believer and Christ-follower and they live in Orlando, FL. She taught for 5 years before staying home with her children. Stephanie has a passion for teaching, creating, writing, & coffee. ☕️

They will begin homeschooling through a hybrid in August for her oldest son for kindergarten. Stephanie loves sharing her passion for learning at home, creating gentle learning rhythms, & helping families thrive. She creates early learning resources in her shop Stories Begin At Home. Her hope & prayer is to encourage mothers in their motherhood journey & to provide Gospel-Centered resources along the way. I have listed below all her social media accounts , where you can find her :


Email: storiesbeginathome@gmail.comWebsite: www.storiesbeginathome.comInstagram: @storiesbeginathomePinterest: www.pinterest.com/storiesbeginathome

1. Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children

I have been married for 10.5 years and we live in Florida. We have 4 children, a 5.5 boy, 4 year old girl, 2 year old boy, and 3.5 month old girl. I was a public school teacher and child development major before having children and becoming a stay at home mother. I now stay home with my children and run a small early learning, Christian-based Etsy shop on the side.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

My oldest child currently goes to a small church preschool 3x a week and my youngest 3 are at home full time with me. We are choosing a homeschool hybrid school for my oldest this coming school year. We delayed kindergarten a year because of his late summer birthday. We wanted to give him another year of preschool to give him familiarity, freedom, and space. We looked at the big picture of his schooling experience and felt he would only benefit from having another year to gain confidence and develop willingness. He has thrived with this decision and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

The hybrid we have chosen is Christian-based and he will attend 2x a week. We have chosen this method for a variety of reasons. We want our son to be able to be with our family more than a traditional school schedule would allow. We want to give him the space and freedom to learn with a flexible schedule. We want him to have a gentle approach in his formative years and don’t want him to feel pressured to learn at a certain pace, with a certain style, or be pressured for testing too early. I want to have say in the curriculum choices and want to be involved in the educational process of my children. I also like the Christian based aspect of the hybrid-school we have chosen. I also enjoy being in community with like-minded families, enjoy having other teachers who come around us as a family and teach my children in a fun and creative way and enable me to be a part of it all. Right now, the plan is to send my 4 year old daughter to the same pre-k my son attends, she will only attend 3x a week.

3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?

I am not very structured at all right now as the kids are still quite young. We do a lot of just living life together & habit training (Charlotte Mason). We do whatever it is that fits us for the day. Sometimes that looks like errand days and playgrounds. Other days it looks like play dates with friends or nature walks near our home. Sometimes it is a bike ride in our neighborhood or a swim day. Sometimes it looks like crafts and semi-formal lessons at the table with reading and activities I have prepped and prepared during breakfast/morning time or “tea time” in the afternoon. But these are usually very short and I go with their attention spans and interests. We also cook/bake together a lot. We are very involved with friends, family, and our church we attend. Sometimes we follow along with other mommas in our internet homeschool community and use curriculums loosely such as Exploring Nature with Children/The Peaceful Preschool. This is mostly very recent and again, I want to emphasize loosely. I don’t follow anything with a formula or consistently yet, but plan to do so a little more for Kindergarten. We are interested in The Good & The Beautiful for Reading/Language Arts and possibly Master Books for Mathematics. I’m still deciding these things.

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

Right now Right now I am semi-structured/unschooling in their early years. Next year, when we start the hybrid for my son for Kindergarten, we will do Math/Reading on our home days and I will add in the other subjects as I see fit and wish to. He will do thematic studies that are literature based with art, social studies, science/STEM, and physical education at his hybrid school, all biblically based. I will still be loose and gentle as I am a big Charlotte Mason fan and want him to have a lot of freedom and gentleness to his Kindergarten year.

5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?

I love being able to go at each individual child’s pace and being able to choose what works best for him/her. I love being together more and figuring out what works best for our family.

6) Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

Sometimes. We read books or do crafts during breakfast or right after breakfast, but not always. I follow their lead and if it fits with their mood and interest level, we go for it!

7) What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

I love teaching reading, my oldest is an emergent reader and I love reading with him and seeing the lightbulbs go off in his head as he begins to learn to read. I don’t enjoy teaching math, in the higher levels, but enjoy it in the younger years.

8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

Feeling the pressure that it is all up to me and feeling conflicted if I am making the right decision for each child. Also having 4 little ones so young and close in age can present a lot of challenges as well, including exhaustion on my part, at times. My oldest is very strong-willed (spirited!). I often get concerned about clashing with him and what that will look like. Finding the balance between sometimes we have to do things we don’t like versus the beauty of homeschool, we can put it away and come back to it when we feel better/are ready for it. But I have loved seeing how the gentle approach thus far and letting him lead the way has benefited him so very much!

9) How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

My husband is very supportive and allows me time in the evening and/or weekend to go to the coffee shop to get work done or to just be. We take a lot of walks to get out and because I am an extrovert, I make sure I am involved with other moms and friends at our preschool and church. We often go to parks with friends after preschool and I am able to socialize and find other moms who are like-minded. Many of the moms who go to our current preschool are planning to homeschool or already do.

10 What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

The Brave Learner, Teaching From Rest, The Read-Aloud Revival, Wild + Free, For the Children’s Sake, Charlotte Mason

11) How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

I usually vent to my husband who quickly assures me that it doesn’t matter what they think and that we feel confident in our decisions and reminds me why. Or I talk to a friend who understands. I read something inspirational from an Instagram account I follow who has gone through similar comments/experiences and most of all I pray about what decisions we are making as a family. I also reassure myself that it is okay for people to not understand or agree and give them permission not to, but also often try to use my passion for home educating as a positive light to people and to encourage moms who want to and think they can’t that there is community to be found if they really want to do so!

12) Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

I have no idea! I say one kid, one year at a time! Right now I would love for all 4 of my children to at the hybrid school, but we will see!

13) What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

To find community, to be confident, and to find the way they wish to do it! To work hard not to compare and to be confident in what they believe is best for their family and each individual child. Not to be anti-school or anti-support because there are wonderful schools and supports out there! And to take it one year at time, one child at a time and to know they can change their minds! I know families who home educate some of their children and send some of them to school. Some home educate when they are young, then send them to school later. I encourage parents considering homeschooling to know that they have options and to research their options. I do not believe there is one right way (or that homeschooling is for everyone). But I do want to be a cheerleader for parents to know that they can find alternative routes to education if the traditional form isn’t what they’re looking for. I want to encourage them that “the experts” don’t always know better and that their voice as parents matters.

14) Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?

I hope that my children can say that they had an amazing childhood where they were able to love learning and explore things at their own pace. I hope that their formative years lay a foundation for them as they become independent learners and hopefully life-long learners. I hope they remember having fun and being together. I hope that they view learning as living and find it adventurous and exciting. I hope they get to meet a variety of different people from different places, cultures, and backgrounds and learn to appreciate them, respect them, and love diversity. I hope they are able to see the intentionality behind our reasoning and our choices and that it is a launching pad for them to become adults who are excited about their life, journey, education, and passions. I hope that they fall in love with Jesus and know that He loves them, cares for them, and created them special for a unique purpose.

Homeschool chat with Judy Marie

“Don’t confuse the educational vehicle with the academic destination . In other words, it is less important whether you unschool or classically educate . Neither of these is inherently superior to the other . They are vehicles that you get to the end goal on the map- an educated , self- reliant adult. “ Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with the lovely Judy Marie, a mother of 2 girls . She is of Chinese descent, but has lived most of her life in the Philippines. She is classically trained with a master’s in music in vocal performance and opera. Judy is still actively performing, mostly singing in a choir for the city’s symphony orchestra. She currently has her own private music studio teaching piano and voice, occasionally coaching a church choir. She also works as a personnel & production manager for a local symphony orchestra. Judy Marie can be found on Instagram @angeltots147, where she shares glimpses of how she home educates her girls and she also writes about their Montessori homeschooling adventures at https://followthechildwithwonder.wordpress.com.

1. Tell us a bit about your family and your child/children

I have two girls, whom I call Jiejie on social media, meaning big sister in Chinese Mandarin, and Meimei, meaning little sister. They are currently 5 and 3 years old. This 2019-2020 is our third year of homeschooling. We live in Massachusetts.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children?

When I was younger and without kids, I used to teach a little music class at a local primary Montessori school once a week. I fell in love with how respectful the directress and the guide were with the children. That was my first exposure to a Montessori school, where everything is child-sized, and the children were able to follow their own interests and choose their own work. Every week, I come home from the class feeling so light and happy, thinking that is what I want for my children. 

Unfortunately, we do not live in an area that has a public Montessori school, and the ones that are close to us are not within our budget. I know a few people who homeschool and thought that homeschooling my children using the Montessori philosophy is a pretty good compromise. So, after reading a lot and educating myself on how to bring Montessori into the home, here we are!

3. What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family?

I keep a list of things or presentations that we need to do/plan to accomplish, and when the opportunity arises, we do it. Unless it’s a fixed appointment or a class with another teacher, we are flexible. 

With Montessori in the classroom, the children have a three-hour work period where they work uninterrupted. At home, their “three-hour work period” is in the morning most days, and for some days, in the afternoon. They have their morning routine of getting dressed, brushing, making breakfast, and then doing some “work”, which could include practical life, sensorial, math, language, the current theme, or outdoors for gross motor and nature. Jiejie practices her piano sometime in the morning before lunch. Once a week the children have Catechism of the Good Shepherd, dance, and art classes.

4. What type of a home educator are you (structured, semi structured, unschooling, classical, Charlotte Mason, Steiner, Montessori etc.)?

Montessori

5. What do you love the most about home schooling?

I love many things about it. But the best thing I love about homeschooling is how flexible we can be as homeschoolers. I personally find deadlines and rigid scheduling stressful, so I love the fluidity of homeschooling.

6. Do you do morning time/symposium/circle time?

During breakfast, we either read books or listen to podcasts/audiobook. I’m not a morning person (see #8), so they listen to something in the morning while my brain tries to wake up. We recently got a tape/CD player and the girls have quickly learned how to use it for their library audiobook CDs.

7. What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one?

I like doing practical life with them. My least favorite one is geography.

8. What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children?

I am an introvert at heart, and I like spending A LOT of time with myself. With two children constantly with me, it is challenging to find peace and quiet, so I compensate for that by staying up way too late to recharge myself after they’ve gone to bed. Also, patience. I think many can relate when I say we need a boat load of patience as parents. 

9. How do you find time for yourself/self-care, etc.?

My other jobs. It may sound like work, and yes, it’s most definitely work, but simply being able to step away from being a mother feels like self-care to me. I can do other things I enjoy and love, and be someone else other than “mom”, “Mommy!”, “MAMAAAAA!!!”.

I have a loving husband who encourages me to go out with friends, or even to just sit in a coffee shop (and he’ll put the children to bed – the most challenging thing for me as a parent) when I’ve had a rough day. Sometimes I choose to simply be alone by hiding in the bathroom with a face mask and sit in the tub watching Netflix.  Most of the time, my self-care is a delicious meal that I didn’t cook myself. 

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

I currently don’t have a favorite homeschooling-related book. I mostly read parenting books on respectful/gentle parenting, and books explaining how a child’s brain works. I’m still in the process of cranking through books written by Montessori herself on the child and child development. I just received the book of Maria Montessori’s lecture from 1946, and I can’t wait to dive into it!

11. How do you deal with unsupportive family, relatives and friends?

It shouldn’t, but it does bother me when some relatives do not understand. Thankfully, most of my family, relatives, and friends support the choice that my husband and I have chosen. In dealing with the few who do not understand, I usually talk it out with my husband, and he always makes me feel better. 

12. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time?

When people ask me how long I’ll be homeschooling, I always tell them that I am taking it one year at a time. Maybe that’s just what I say to protect myself from others’ judgement, because thinking about it ending does bring a little ache to my heart. 

But back to answering the question..in 5 years’ time, if we’re still homeschooling, I am hoping that the kids will still find joy and excitement in everything around them. I would like for us to get to know each other better and build on our relationship as a family. I hope to see us in a more solid routine, with reading books (either individually or together) as a way for us to decompress and recharge.

13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children?

Be confident in yourself and believe in your child. You’ll see lots of posts online of how “perfect” everybody else’s something is, and you start comparing. It is inevitable to want to compare, but don’t do it. Use the “perfect” things you see online only as an inspiration. Once they start stealing your joy, it is a sign that you’ve started comparing. You are on your own unique homeschooling path, as homeschooling is all about following your child. Your child is unique and there’s nobody else like him in the world.

14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience?

I want them to look back and say they really enjoyed those years that we homeschooled, and they are proud that they were homeschoolers.

Homeschool chat with Mountain Mother Runner

“Tips, tricks and techniques are not at the heart of education – fire is …… Not merely the facts , not merely the theories but a deep knowing of what it means to kindle the gift of life in ourselves , in others and in the world.” Parker Palmer

Today’s homeschool chat brings you Emily Renteria @mountainmotherrunner , a homeschool mother of one from USA . She also has a blog , where she writes about adventures balancing motherhood, running, and homeschooling in Colorful Colorado. https://mountainmotherrunnerrenty.blogspot.com. Emily has also created a Facebook group for support/resource for all those parents who are now home educating due to Covid19- https://www.facebook.com/groups/1099675340372192/?ref=share

1. Tell us a bit about your family and your child:

Our little family currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO after spending the last five years in Washington state. My husband and I have been married for nearly eight years now! He is a Realtor and a U.S. Army veteran. I currently stay at home, but thirteen years ago I originally attended college for Art and Elementary Education. My internship was with a first grade class and I worked part-time as a kindergarten substitute teacher. After our daughter turned three years old, I returned to college to become a Licensed Massage Therapist.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children:

Our original reason to homeschool was based on a few things; we sold our house in WA and were moving back to CO, but we did not know exactly where we would live or which schools would be nearby. We literally bought a house without ever seeing it in person! Since our daughter would be starting kindergarten, we thought home educating would give her a head start on schooling.

3. What does a “typical” homeschool day look like for your family?

We have no typical days for our schooling. In the beginning of the year, I followed the schedule of our boxed curriculum which does all subjects every day. This didn’t give us a chance to dive in, so we’ve become more flexible. We will spend an entire day on Science with books, drawings, experiments, and videos. The next day will be all sorts of Math with games, hands-on activities, and worksheets. We play games nearly every single day and spend much time (average of hour) reading.

4. What type of a home educator are you?

I think we are semi-structured with a mix of gameschooling. We include a LOT of nature and outdoor time as well.

5. What do you love the most about homeschooling?

The thing I love the most about homeschooling is hearing our daughter say how much she loves school! Her love for learning grows each day and we try to follow her curiosity to inspire our lessons. I also love the flexibility our family has for field trips, special appointments, days off, etc.

6. Do you do morning time/symposium/circle time?

Not exactly, our mornings are slow and gentle which is nice for our family. We all eat breakfast together around 8:30am. Eisley plays and sometimes listens to audiobooks for about an hour while my husband and I sip our hot drinks over conversation. Around 9:30am we head upstairs to start schooling which begins with reading.

7. What is your favorite subject to teach and what is your least one?

My favorite subject to teach is maths because it is tangible, you know, mainly black and white. I love the challenge of creating hands-on lessons and games to bring Math to life! My least favorite subject to teach is History. I only feel this way because kindergarten is such a small introduction to History, I know it will be better and elaborated more in older years.

8 What do you find challenging when it comes to homeschooling your children?

Our biggest challenge this year would have to be learning what works best for us. The initial schedule and curriculum teaching was frustrating for both myself and our daughter. Through trial and error, we continue to tweak our methods and we are very happy with it.

9. How do you find time for yourself/self care?

Self-care has been a big focus since becoming a mother. We do something called “Dual Enrollment” so our aughter attends Specials classes (Music, P.E., Computers, Science, Library) at our local public Elementary school. It is only one class per day and we typically go three days per week. When I drop her off, I go off on a run. There are many trails and roads to run and I can typically get 3-6 miles which is the best mental and physical therapy for me.

10. What are some of your favorite homeschooling related books?

I have honestly not read a single homeschooling book, but it is on my list! I am such a book worm.

11. How do you deal with unsupportive family, relatives, and friends?

Our family is very supportive of our decision and it seems the majority of our friends are too. My stepmom is currently homeschooling my little brother and sister, so it’s great to be able to talk to her and ask questions or share ideas. I’m yet to talk to someone that is openly unsupportive.

12. Where do you see your homeschooling journey in 5 years’ time?

I have no idea, we may not be homeschooling in five years. Life is full of many opportunities and changes.

13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children?

My advice for people in the U.S. is to first check your state requirements. Each state is different. Colorado is quite strict, requiring us to teach specific subjects, give a “Letter of Intent” to the assigned public school, document our lessons/hours, and log 178 days averaging four hours per day!

14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future, what do you want them to say about their experience?

In 20 years from now, I hope our daughter looks back at her time of homeschool as a magical and unique experience. We get to spend so much time together as a family and out in the world, gaining experiences that can’t be had in a classroom.

Homeschool Chat with Invitations to Play

“Your amazing , special , imaginative, talented , brilliant children are a gift , first and foremost. If you can remember to enjoy them ( more than worry about them) , and keep reflecting back to them how much you value all those little traits that other people don’t see, together you will create a magical ( real) life and education. Here’s to children! Aren’t they grand? “ Julie Bogart

Today’s homeschool chat is with Rowan from @invitationstoplay.uk , who is an early years consultant, specialising in child led learning and play. She works part time as a childminder, and part time running a small business from home called Invitations to Play, creating seasonal and topic based play guides, plastic free play dough kits and loose parts collections. She’s recently launched her first online course for parents, called The Simple Art of Toy Rotation. The aim is to teach parents how to reduce, refine, organise and present their child’s toys to promote creative and independent play.

1Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children

Hello! My name is Rowan. I live in Bristol in the South West of England, with my 8 year old daughter Elsie Bean and our beloved cat, Lily. It has been just the three of us since Elsie was 12 months old. We might be the smallest of families, but we have a wonderfully close relationship and are happy as we are.

2. What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?

To begin with, it was because I wanted to delay formal schooling. Elsie is a summer born child (born in June) and she simply wasn’t ready to start school at just turned 4 years old. As an ex-primary school teacher, with experience predominantly in the Reception year, I knew what would be expected of her in that first year of school, and I wanted to protect her right to pursue her own interests through play. As time has passed, we’ve come to realise that there is a lot that we love about home education, and we can’t imagine making what we see as huge sacrifices for her to go to full time, mainstream school.

3. What does a “typical” u home school day look like for your family ?

There’s no typical day in our home! Our days vary greatly, through the week and through the year, with our scheduled classes and commitments continually evolving. I work as a childminder one day a week, and Elsie spends a day a week with a childminder friend, so that I can work on my other business. The other three days of the week we are free to work on projects, play, see friends and family, go to the library, cook together, work in the garden etc. At the moment, Elsie goes to a weekly gymnastics class and a fortnightly cookery class, and spends alternate weekends with her father.

4. What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?

I would describe our home education style as eclectic. In the early years I was heavily inspired by Montessori, and very much focused my attention on nurturing a respectful relationship with my daughter and supporting her with practical life skills. When Elsie was 2 years old I completed my Level 3 Forest School Leadership training, and ran a weekly session with a fellow childminder in nearby woodland. This influenced my general attitude to learning in terms of respecting a child’s innate ability to learn, the importance of stepping back and allowing children to take risks.

For the first couple of ‘school’ years (5-7 years) we loosely followed the Exploring Nature With Children Curriculum, while also being heavily influenced by the Steiner Waldorf movement in terms of seasonal rhythms, celebrating seasonal festivals and exploring art and handcrafts. 

In more recent years we have found ourselves naturally drawn to project based learning, delving into topics of interest for weeks at a time. I’ve found that my daughter doesn’t like too much structure, and switches off if I try to push my own agenda. In the summer months we pretty much unschool.

5. What do you love the most about home schooling ?

The freedom! Freedom to follow our own interests. Freedom to eat, to drink, to move, to rest (even to go to the toilet!)whenever we need or want to. Freedom to visit places out of season, when they are more affordable and less busy. Freedom to drop it all if we’re not feeling it, or because it’s snowing and we want to go sledging, or because a new baby cousin has been born and we want to go and meet him!

6. Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?

We do a morning time of sorts. We have a morning time basket, which I stock with topic related books and materials, but I’m not very consistent with doing anything on a daily basis. If we are having a home day or morning, then settling together on the sofa or at the dining table with our morning basket is how we usually start our day. Elsie is usually keen to drop what she is doing to join me if I am offering to read her a story.

7. What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?

I love teaching art and crafts, because I am naturally creative and so is my daughter. We both really enjoy these sessions. In contrast, neither of us has particularly enjoyed any of our attempts at more formal reading and writing lessons. Every so often, I give in to the pressure I feel to have her reading and writing fluently, and we attempt some form of formal instruction, and every time I regret it, as it isn’t coming from her and she resists. She reads and writes every day, without the need for me to set an agenda, and I have come to trust that she is making her own steady progress. I remind myself daily that children in many European countries do not start to learn to read and write until they start school at age 7, and that all the evidence suggests that there is no benefit to starting to learn to read and write at age 4. If I let go of comparison, then I am able to appreciate that she is exactly where she ‘should’ be.

8. What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?

I’d love to be able to dedicate myself completely to her home education, but as a lone parent, I have to work, and it’s a constant juggle. I make a lot of sacrifices to home educate her, both financially and in terms of time for myself. In the past I have felt very overwhelmed by choice when it comes to curriculum and learning materials, and felt like I needed all the things to do be able to offer her a rounded education. I’ve since scaled back enormously, as I find that my daughter learns best through her own, self-directed projects, and I’m working hard not to give in to the temptation to buy things that we don’t/won’t need.

9. How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?

Phew, this is a tough one! My work has become my self care, as it is the only time I get to do something for myself that is creative and that I feel passionately about. I prioritise good sleep. Now that my daughter sleeps through the night, I’m quite strict about bedtime, so that I have an hour in the evening to unwind. I like to read, listen to podcasts, declutter and clean. Taking the time to meal plan, order groceries online for delivery and keep on top of the laundry and cleaning, helps to ease my stress and anxiety. I’ve massively simplified our home and lives in recent years, and I’m definitely feeling the benefit.

10. What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?

In the early years, before I made the decision to home educate, I watched a lot of Ken Robinson lectures on YouTube, and they really helped to cement my decision. I love Peter Grey’s Free to Learn. Everything he writes resonates with me. Project Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert was very inspiring, and anything by John Holt. More recently I’ve been binge listening to Julie Bogart’s Brave Writer podcast.

11. How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had to deal with much direct criticism of my decision to home educate. Most of my close friends have opted to send their children to school, and so we simply avoid the subject. I’ve had to seek support from those within the home education community instead, who share my values and reassure me when I am feeling anxious and full of self doubt. I’ve found so much comfort in the friends I have made through my own social media platforms, sharing my work and our home education journey.

My biggest challenge has been convincing my daughters father and my own mother. I love and respect my family, and want their approval, so it has been hard for me at times. I’ve had to be very firm, and come across as more confident than I feel at times. It is tough, because I know that the concern is coming from a place of love. That their worries are genuine, and that they want the best for the both of us. The concept of a child being able to learn without force, and in any way that is different to how society has us believe is best, i.e. sitting at a table, daily practice, recording findings etc. is quite alien. It’s also really difficult for them not to compare my daughter to other children.

12. Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?

I really have no idea! I find it so hard to imagine the future, and rarely plan more than a few months ahead. I hope that my daughter has strong and supportive friendships, and develops a healthy attitude to learning. I feel a certain amount of dread about the next phase, as my daughter enters the ‘tween’ years and seeks out more independence. I can’t imagine it, but I feel confident that we will find our way together, as our relationship has such a firm foundation of trust and respect for one another.

13. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ?

To know that, here in the UK, it is your legal right. If you are planning to home educate from the start, then nothing really needs to change once your child reaches compulsory school age. You do not need to replicate school at home. You can trust in your child’s innate ability to learn, providing that you are offering a rich and stimulating environment. School is actually the experimental route, and I personally believe that it is raising an unhealthy society. A society that is driven to produce and consume, compare and compete. If you are planning to deregister your child from school, remember to factor in the time needed for your child to deschool. The common advice is ‘one month for every year your child has been at school’. During this time, simply allow your child to recover, in whichever way is meaningful for them, and slowly but surely, a routine will begin to evolve.

14. Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?

I would like her to know, deep down in her being, that her needs and interests were always my top priority. I want her to feel that she was always heard and respected and valued, and to come to expect that from others, and to call them out when they don’t show her the respect that she deserves. I want her to know that she was offered something very special and unique. A childhood protected from the modern day pressures, with the most dedicated and loving guide. A first class private education!

Website: www.invitationstoplay.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/invitationstoplay.org

Instagram: www.instagram.com/invitationstoplay.uk

Homeschool Chat with Elizabeth Lymer

“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

Assalam alaykum,

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?

Inshallah: “Alhamdulillah.”

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