Asalamu’alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies, I hope you’re well. After recently holding the free ‘5 Steps to Simplify Your Homeschool’ workshop, I’ve had many messages from sisters who want to homeschool but don’t know where to start. So I thought I’d put this post together to help you get started in sha Allah. This was an old post which I’ve added more to, and republished to make it more comprehensive and hopefully useful to sisters out there who are yet to start or are new in their homeschool journey, and need direction in how to start homeschooling.
Let’s start off with a few FAQs and then we’ll jump into how to start homeschooling.
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling (also known as home education) is a rapidly growing alternative form of education whereby parents take the responsibility to educate their children at home rather than sending them to school. However, although the name suggests all learning activities are home-based, homeschooled children are often enrolled in clubs and activities outside of the home to supplement and enrich the child’s learning experience. Additionally, home-schooling is not to be confused with ‘school at home’. Homeschool families have the privilege of customising their children’s education to fit their learning styles, needs and this flexibility is one of the reasons families are drawn to homeschooling.
Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in many countries, however there are some countries where homeschooling isn’t legal. It is also important to note that each country has its unique laws with regards to homeschooling, and within a country these laws can also differ depending on where you live. It is important to research your laws and regulations that are specific to you before you get started.
Why do families choose to homeschool?
There are several reasons as to why families opt for homeschooling rather than sending their children to a public or private school system. According to a survey conducted by the National Center for Education (in 2016), the number one reason parents decided to homeschool their children was due to a concern about the environment of schools, with dissatisfaction with academic instruction following second. Parents also highlighted their desire to provide moral and religious instruction in their child’s education as their reason to homeschool, as well as citing reasons such as their child having special needs, illness, or a physical/mental health need.
As a Muslim homeschooling parent, I will highlight here that the tarbiyah of our children falls upon us, the parents. Consequently, homeschooling allows us to cultivate and educate our children without having to compromise their deen n sha Allah. Contrary to popular opinion, research has also shown that there are numerous academic advantages that come with homeschooling; it doesn’t compromise academics in any shape or form in sha Allah.
What are the Homeschooling methodologies/approaches?
Often when families research how to get started with homeschooling, articles relating to methodologies of homeschooling arise. Popular approaches include Classical, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, Montessori, and Unschooling. In a nutshell, a homeschooling approach is essentially a method of learning that encourages a particular learning style though they all overlap in one way or another.
However, it’s important to note that although approaches to homeschooling can be useful, feeling the need to adhere to one style and all that it promotes is one of the number one reasons mothers begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed. I’ve discussed this numerous times with mothers both in-person and online, that methodologies should assist you not restrict you. And more importantly, as a Muslim homeschool parent, it is also important to be selective in what methodologies we follow, ensuring they adhere to our Islamic values and principles.
And you can absolutely homeschool without following any approach at all!
I want to homeschool. How do I get started?
(As I mentioned earlier, find out the legality of homeschooling in your locality and familiarise yourself with specific laws and regulations that apply to you.)
Reflect upon what you want to gain from homeschooling. Homeschooling is so much more than preparing our children for the passing of a few exams. Homeschooling is a choice we make so we can educate and nurture our children in all aspects of their life, so we can give them a strong foundation in their deen first and foremost and also help them academically flourish in sha Allah. It’s so important that when we begin to homeschool we don’t wrongly translate this as simply school at home or even someone else’s homeschool at home. We have the Qur’an and Sunnah as our framework, and then we need to look at our individual circumstances and our children and their individual learning styles and strengths so we can keep our homeschools meaningful, sustainable and customise learning for our children in sha Allah.
So reflect on what you want to gain from homeschooling, not just for your children, but for your family as a whole, so the routine that you create reflects this practically. I mention this over and over again, because it is so crucial!
Build your routine gradually. Homeschooling full time is a transition so don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on everything at once. Start with two to three core subjects, and incorporate more subjects as you find your feet. Remember, you have a say in what you consider as your core subjects so you might include things like reading and Math, but you also might add things like hifdh, Islamic studies and learning Arabic! Don’t go too slow though either, you want to establish your homeschool and learning in your home, so build gradually but don’t over delay.
Don’t rush to buy the curriculum you’ve seen other homeschoolers using and promoting. With young children especially, there is often no need to buy lots of curricula as there are tonnes of websites with free resources for all subjects. Also, many effective methods of teaching don’t require an abundance of resources either. Many homeschoolers regret purchasing expensive curricula so early on because it’s often not needed. Don’t rush!
Instead, take your time to research curricula before you purchase anything. There are several factors to consider when purchasing a curriculum, whilst still noting that no homeschool curriculum is perfect because it is still developed for the homeschool masses so will still need tweaking for your family (for example, secular curriculum needs to be tweaked to ensure we teach our children from the lense of Islam). Factors include things like your budget, pregnancy or your overall health, and multiple children to name a few. Choose curriculum that are best suited for your family and that you can realistically see yourself teaching. As Muslim homeschoolers, we don’t just look at secular studies as our homeschool. We also account for Islamic studies, learning Arabic and hifdh as core focuses in our homeschool, which we need to give adequate time too. So when making choices, don’t overcomplicate things!
Figure out ways to keep your homemaking streamlined. When we homeschool, we often think about just the school. But the home is where most of the learning will take place. Look into ways you can keep on top of your homemaking, but adapt now that you’re also homeschooling. Simple meals, batch cooking, freezer cooking, decluttering and chore systems to name a few are all ways you can keep on top of your homemaking whilst still being able to give homeschooling time too in sha Allah.
Do things that you enjoy too. To homeschool happily, for the long run, it’s important we mothers enjoy the process too. Maybe nature journalling is something you enjoy; you yourself are learning Arabic or baking; incorporate your own interests alongside those of your children; you’re in this together!
Look at the things need all of your children need, and also specific needs too. There are things we will want all our children to know, do and learn. But each child has different needs, may be at a different stage, and will also have different strengths and interests. Have a roadmap of learning for everyone collectively, but learn about ways to maximise learning for each child too by looking into learning styles, effective teaching strategies, preferences and following individual interests.
I did think of a few other things, but this post is already quite long, and I don’t want to bombard you with too much information. I hope these few tips on how to get started with homeschooling are useful. I am learning just like you, but if you have any questions, comment below, and I’ll do my best to help in sha Allah!