My advice for the New Homeschool Mom

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

I hope you are all well.  We’ve had a cold going around this week, and thus haven’t had a typical homeschool week, alhamdulillah ala kulli haal.

How has your week been?

I often get asked from mothers who have just begun there homeschooling journeys about ‘where to start’.  Or mothers who have started but feel overwhelmed with all the changes.  So I thought I’d share a few tips that may help make that transition easier.

1) Intention, Intention Intention
I cannot stress the importance of having a correct intention enough.  

It is narrated on the authority of Amir al-Mu’minin (Leader of the Believers), Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), say: “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. Whoever migrates with an intention for Allah and His messenger, the migration will be for the sake of Allah and his Messenger. And whoever migrates for worldly gain or to marry a woman, then his migration will be for the sake of whatever he migrated for.”
(Related by Bukhari & Muslim)

For our actions to be fruitful it is essential we have the correct intention.  Raising our children is a lifetime commitment and homeschooling takes up time, energy and effort.  But everything will be worthwhile if our intentions are correct, so before beginning take some time out to clarify why you have decided to educate your children and ensure your intention is sincerely for Allah alone.  Of course, our intentions are not just to be made and then left.  We should be in a constant state of scrutinising our lifestyle choices and thus intentions must be renewed and refreshed.  I’ve written more about this here.

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2) Take baby steps not giant leaps
So it’s Sunday evening.  You print off a weekly timetable, watch DITL videos of homeschool moms on Youtube, fill up your schedule and eagerly await the next day… 
You get two subjects done out of five, read aloud gets interrupted several times, the house is in chaos and you have to make do with breakfast for dinner because you had no time to clean.
Does this sound familiar?
It happens to all of us.  The over-scheduling monster takes over, and we become so zealous about this wonderful adventure we are about to take that we take on everything all at once.  
The problem is, such expectations are often unrealistic, and not reaching them can really dent confidence and the belief that we are capable of teaching our children.  
So start slow.  Perhaps starting with a couple of subjects, and slowly adding more when you feel like you’re ready.  A slow, simple and steady start is far more fruitful than jumping in the deep end.  This is also good time to look for free samples of curriculum/free trials to get a feel of what learning style you and your children enjoy before committing and making a full purchase.

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3)Tweak, Chop and Change 
So its official, you’re now homeschooling!  Everything’s ready, you’ve already begun to teach a couple of subjects and juggle housework…your confidence is growing, alhamdulillah!  But after a few weeks, you feel like things are starting to crumble a little.  Disappointment kicks in if lessons don’t get completed or take longer than planned.  The kids start to become bored (and so do you) and things start to come to a halt.
But wait-don’t give up just yet!
One of the main pieces of advice I give to new homeschool moms is to embrace the control you have of customising your child’s education.  Don’t be afraid of making lessons your own, curriculums are there to serve you, you are not there to serve the curriculum.  Go through curricula, see what you can tweak to make lessons for you.  Tweak things, double up lessons if you like or halve them, add resources you want to, if the kids don’t like the cut and paste activities, don’t feel afraid to skip over them; the point is to MAKE THE CURRICULA YOUR OWN.  Buying a curriculum is only the first step in the planning process, you will soon become an editor I assure you!

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4)Time IS on your side.
Yes, I’ll say that again, time IS on your side.  Teaching our children is not a race, it’s a journey.  It’s strange but as soon as we decide that we want to homeschool our children,  a ‘stopwatch’ appears in our mind.  Consequently, the transition of homeschooling can sometimes have the opposite outcome and we go from playing with our children to feeling like play has to be timed so we can fit in English and Math.  But seriously, when you instil the love of learning into your home, the pace will follow.  Don’t make the quantity of learning your measure of success, it is the quality that matters.  This is something that personally took me some time getting used to, so don’t worry.  You will get to a point where learning is a part of your day insha’Allah, just like everything else, so don’t rush the process.  

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5)Become the student as well as the teacher
I mentioned above that one of the biggest perks of homeschooling is that it allows us to customise our children’s education. However, one of the biggest perks for me has been that my love of learning has been reignited and I’m not sure I would have delved into learning about certain things had I not been homeschooling.  From strengthening our spiritual path to general knowledge, homeschooling provides YOU with an amazing opportunity to learn and grow alongside your children.  Its a myth that learning should come to a standstill once you have children, on the contrary having children should encourage you to learn even more.

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips, feel free to ask any questions below!

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