After the Vietnam war, an American reporter asked a Vietnamese immigrant family what it felt like to not have a home? A child replied, "We have a home, we just don't have a house to put it in." Subhan'Allah! That is what we, as a new home schooling family aim to do, build our kids a "home".
Many a person questions our sanity, our ability to educate our children and whether our kids will be able to live in the real world. They assume by educating at home we are boxing them in a building, where we tell them what to do, chose their friends for them and expose them to books and curriculum of our choice only. To these people I say; that's not home, that's SCHOOL". Home is where a child can be himself, delve into activities of his interest, go the bathroom without asking permission, eat when he's hungry, pray on time, sleep in when he's ill so he recovers quickly, rather than worrying about the classwork and homework accumulating during his absence at school. Many people worry that a kid who spends his time at home will never learn to obey authority (but that's what parents are there for), and may run amok like a creature of the wild, untamed and ignorant. I beg to differ, for any home to run smoothly, and for its members to live in harmony, you need rules to be enforced. So at home the kids do chores, study, play and argue and grumble too, like all kids do, but spending time in a home also teaches them responsibility, respecting the rights of others, conflict resolution, problem solving and team work too - without worksheets and short term rewards of stickers and stars.
People disapprovingly point out the we will (s)mother our children by keeping them indoors. Our house is not our hermitage, we are not hiding our children from the world. We do "home educate", but our children's education is not confined to our house, nor are we, the parents, their sole educators. Our kids attend a Quran class, sports groups, a book club and run errands outside the house, interacting and naturally learning, from the real world people they meet all the time, from service men who visit our home, to shopkeepers,other children at classes, family friends and relatives. We plan our days but our lives are not regimental, we have put away our books early to tend to our Eid goats, done extra work on a certain day so that we can spend the next morning with grandparents or spent all morning surfing the net for information on to World War 2. Though there are home educators who are following a certain curriculum, we have chosen to focus on our children's abilities and help them develop and polish their skills of reading, comprehension and problem solving and we choose books accordingly. We can not teach them everything they want to know, but we can guide them on how to use resources (books, the Internet, contacting people) to acquire the knowledge they want, in short we teach them to teach themselves. Once they are ready to study for a degree, we plan to look to Karachi's ever popular " aftwer school tuition's" as a resource. (As for "mothering" our children, I apologize, but I can not help it, it is my job title; I am their Mother.)
People have marvelled at how we are "experimenting" with our kids, Subhan'Allah! We question why is parenting considered an experiment? When a child finds a meal indigestible, it is natural for his mother to switch him on easier to digest meals, if a storybook is beyond his comprehension a father will find him something more suitable to his understanding, if he is well versed in an arithmetic concept a parent will obviously introduce him to another; its very natural, no experimenting involved.Can a home educated child compete with a school going one? That depends on each child's capability, home education works to provide a child with a holistic development, his academic ability is only one aspect of it. Thus a home educated child may be well versed in history, hate algebra, bake wonderful cakes, preform tae-kwondo and know which plants give goats indigestion.We as parents have decided not to hand over the responsibility of the upbringing of our children to a school nor wait till summer vacations to spend time together and develop our relationship as a family. So to all those who wonder what we're up to; we are building a home, where our children are at home with education and learning, regardless of the house we put it in.
Here's what some of the members of our home have to say about being at home, so far:
Abdullah (age 13): I've learned how to speak to adults now, because I'm always asked about why I am home schooled. At a scrabble competition when I told some adults that I'm homeschooled they found it mind boggling and wondered if it could even be done.
Isa (age 9): (I like being homeschooled because) We don't get homework after finishing Math.
Muadh (age 7): I like being homeschooled because its fun and we can play with our toys after our work.
Qasim (age 11): You can sleep if your ill and you won't get shouted at by your teacher for being absent on an important day. You can eat breakfast comfortably and not worry you'll be late for school and not be allowed to enter the gates.