Aligning Post Ramadan & Homeschool Goals

Assalamu alaykum sisters,

It’s that time of year again where most homeschooling families are wrapping up their current school year and busily planning for the next.

In the midst of researching curriculum, lesson planning, stationary hauls and typing up weekly schedules, it’s all too easy to lose sight of those goals we set a mere couple of weeks ago.

Those goals we set in the last third of the night…
The schedules we jotted down after finishing Taraweeh…
The daily practices we began to implement and promised ourselves we would carry on…

Yes, I’m talking about our post-Ramadan goals.

Ramadan – seems like only yesterday that we were planning its arrival and yet it seems like it was months ago.

After the excitement of Eid wears off and we start to find our feet again, old habits start to creep back in.

As mother’s, and specifically homeschooling mother’s, the weight of planning our children’s goals and objectives for the year can often lead to us giving our own less importance.

Slowly but surely…
The Qur’an memorisation we made time for, now gets filled with lesson planning.
The promise of physical self-care gets replaced with copious amounts of coffee again.
Our own path of seeking knowledge suddenly comes to a halt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We need too and should prioritise our own goals too. And YES, you do have TIME!!

How? Here are a few tips.

Instead of separating the two, why not plan your goals alongside your homeschool goals? Pull out your Ramadan goals, and have them next to your while you are planning your year. That way, you can account for both and plan your daily routine in such a way where you give everything adequate time.

For example, if you made the intention to memorise Qur’an daily, why schedule this in at the same time as your children. Perhaps Stay awake after Fajr, give your children their hifdh portion, and while they are memorising, you can memorise too.

If you had a pile of books you intended to read, ensure you read snippets during the day. So while the kids are playing after your morning subjects are done, have a well-earned break and read a few pages; alternatively leave a little early to collect your child from Arabic class so you can read in the car while you wait. Don’t wait until the kids sleep to get your daily dose of reading in…it won’t always happen and eventually you will place the unread book back on the bookshelf.

My overall advice to myself first and foremost and you, is to carefully look at those pockets of time, scribbling out anything unnecessary as well as ensuring you aren’t spending too much time in one area (homeschool prep can take over your life!!).  Then add in your Ramadan goals and make these a priority and part of your daily routine.

Because these goals we made when we feeling spirituality uplifted can change the whole dynamics of our homeschool and ultimately our home life.

So pick up that pink highlighter and get writing. Don’t allow your Ramadan goals to be left in your planner until next Ramadan.

Highlighter-Pen


My dear sister – I need no explanation.

Asalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu everyone,

I hope you are all having a fruitful Ramadan. I’m off social media to take advantage of this blessed time but I popped back on to share this reflection which I think some of you may resonate with.

Yesterday, we went to our local masjid and as we walked into the sister’s section the salaah had already begun, the Imam was reciting, there was a wonderful atmosphere, filled with peace and serenity.

But just as I was about to join the jama’ah with my kiddos I was swiftly told I had to go upstairs since this area was for women without children.

I didn’t mind, and off we headed upstairs. But as soon as we reached the top of the stairs, I almost felt like I was in a different masjid. The atmosphere was totally different.

I wasn’t met with silence but with the sound of a crying baby, the smell of bottled milk and a sight of scattered baby bags.

As I made my way further into the room, I walked past a woman trying to settle her child before the next rakaah began, another scrambling to find things to keep her toddler busy and another who just looked worried; I’m guessing she was hoping her baby would sleep through the salaah.

And it dawned on me. That even though I didn’t know these women, and they didn’t know each other; we were connected.

We didn’t have to say anything but the struggle voiced itself.

I didn’t know where she was from, but I had a good idea of what was going through her mind.

And I’m pretty sure we all had a pack of baby wipes in our bag somewhere.

You see, when Ramadan comes, we as mother’s often voluntarily put ourself at the back of the queue. We facilitate everyone else’s ibadaah, be it ensuring our children read more Qur’an, to making sure our husband’s clothes are ready for taraweeh, to cooking up a gourmet iftaar.

And while that is wonderful, and a path to seek reward, sometimes we need to just put everything aside….just for a few moments, and think about nothing and no one, except for ourselves.  Because these precious moments give us the momentum to then give back to those around us.

Aside from that, I noticed something just as wonderful. Our common struggle resulted in a non judgemental atmosphere.

You see, I understood why the sister was there….and that was far dearer to me than caring if her child was in her pyjamas. 

Sisters didn’t get mad when a random toddler tugged at their khimar…they were used to it.

Noone seemed to point fingers when a child was disruptive – there were no stern looks. 

My dua for you my dear sister is that you benefitted from those few moments of peace…may Allah reward you in abundance for all your beautiful effort, Ameen.

And if you ever run out of baby wipes? I have plenty…don’t worry.


Parenting popped my personal bubble.

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies, what comes to your mind if I was to say…

“Parenting popped my personal bubble.

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Let me elaborate.
Do you ever miss…
Praying salah without someone tugging at your khimar, perhaps in a quiet room, with lit candles and bukhoor burning in the background?
Eating a chocolate bar, without having to share a piece?
Being able to focus on your needs, without having to pause to cook, clean or tend to kids?
Having a decent nights sleep, without that having to mean you wake up to twice the amount of chores?
Attending classes at the masjid without worrying about finding a creche?
Having time with your spouse, when you could take impromptu holidays and have alone time that didn’t need to be scheduled?
Being your pre-baby weight, since you’ve had children your body has not been the same?

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My Bad Homeschool Day Survival Guide

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

No matter how much we plan, schedule, and prepare, it’s safe to say that sometimes those wonderfully planned school days just don’t work out. 

But don’t panic!  Heres a quick guide to help you recover your day and not let one bad homeschool day turn into one bad homeschool week!  Be it the night before, during the day, or dealing with the aftermath, we’ve got you covered.

My Bad Homeschool Day Survival Guide-page-001 Read More


The best personal development course, ever.

Asalamu alaykum ladies

Im sure you’ve all either attended or at least heard of some type of self-development course, be it via CD, YouTube or in person. They’re the courses we feel the urge to take when we feel life is not quite how we expected it to be, maybe we don’t feel fulfilled, or we need some direction in how to reach our dreams that are so perfectly well drawn in our minds.  I myself have taken a few, and whilst I have benefitted, it dawned on me today just how much homeschooling is an ongoing form of personal development for me.

Below are some topics that you’ll often see such courses cover, and my take on how homeschooling provides the perfect platform to learn and focus on these areas, without you maybe even realising. 

Vision

So, our decision to homeschool was not something that was thought well in advance like some other families.  And when I did decide to homeschool, I dove straight into the deep end, searching curriculum, printing worksheets, buying stationary and reading all the blogs and homeschool routines I could get hold of. 

Well, that didn’t end so well…

Two weeks in I was totally overwhelmed.  I couldn’t believe how much life had changed, and I didn’t feel I was ready to take on the commitment. See, I was missing a key ingredient.  My intention and my vision were missing.  So, I went back to the drawing board, and after lots of reflection realised that raising and teaching my children for the sake of Allah had to be at the core of my decision to homeschool.  Alhamdulillah, having a clear intention and vision for myself is what keeps me going, especially through the more difficult days.  

Taking ownership

Well, homeschooling certainly provides an opportunity to take ownership.  You’ve decided to take ownership of your children’s education, it’s pretty self-explanatory!

Goal setting

This is probably at the top of the list of most self-development course outlines.  We get so caught up in life, we fail to plan and set our goals, eventually leading to lack of fulfilment.  I actually felt like I was pretty ok with goal setting before I began homeschooling because I naturally like to plan my day.  But homeschooling took this to another level.

Now I plan goals for myself, for all my children collectively, my children individually,  break goals down into physical, spiritual, and academic, and I have a better idea of our goals as a family. Phew!

Short-term and long-term goals

Following on from goal setting, the commitment of homeschooling really pushed me to think of our goals on a much broader scale.  I was quite content with weekly goals before, but when I decided to commit to teaching my children that just wasn’t enough.  I was forced to have a much broader vision, and now long-term goal setting is something we do all the time. 

Problem-solving/Overcoming barriers

Boy oh boy! I can safely say this has been one of the main areas that I have felt the most improvement.  Children are all unique in their own way, and of course, as a mother, I knew that.  But I wasn’t quite so aware of how different their learning styles were.  And of course, homeschooling uncovers many learning challenges along the way.  But since you are teaching your children, it’s up to you to solve these problems (I don’t think I’ve ever researched so much in my life!).  Homeschooling has also helped me overcome many of my own personal barriers, and that’s not something you necessarily think of when you do take the decision to homeschool. 

Listening skills

I think most of you will agree with me if I was to say homeschooling makes us better listeners.  From listening to my children’s hifdh, having one to one reading time, watching presentations, brainstorming, or planning crafts with them, its a must that we as homeschooling mothers are present and ready to listen.  Its one of those areas of improvement that gives me the most satisfaction, Allahuma barik.

Stress/anger management

Picture the following homeschool scenario: One of your kids isn’t paying attention in History, the house is a mess, you had several subjects planned but the toddler keeps interrupting everyone and you’re suffering from major homeschool burnout.  When I first began homeschooling, my initial reaction would have been “AAAAARRGGGHHHH!”  I was so used to things always being in order, even the smallest things would get to me, let alone all the above!

But as a homeschooler, you come to the realisation that every day is different.  It comes with fresh challenges, a whole new set of things to do, and if you’re not able to adapt or if you become stressed at the sight of things out of place, it sucks all the happiness out of your homeschool.  It’s a lesson I learnt the hard way.  But Alhamdulillah, I’ve managed to become less ‘rigid’ over time, more flexible, and easier upon myself. Im now able to recognise when Im getting overwhelmed and rather than reacting, I take some time off and manage things in a healthier way.  

So, there you have it.  These are just a few ways in which homeschooling really has been the most fulfilling self-development course Ive ever taken.  If you feel like you’ve benefitted from this post, let me know.  I can already feel a part 2 coming!

 

 


Pre Ramadan reflection #1 Homeschool

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmtaullahi wa barakatu sisters

Ramadan is just days away, and im sure like many of you, I’ve begun to reevaluate our year.

Where has the time flown since last Ramadan?
What have I achieved since last Ramadan?
Did I manage to keep up with the goals I set myself?
Did I fall back into old habits?

But in today’s post, I wanted to specifically discuss some thoughts that have been surfacing in my mind in regards to homeschooling.  Its a huge part of my life, and one that consumes a lot of my time, energy, and day to day focus.  Its one of my biggest priorities, and its one that im always thinking about because it concerns the well-being of my children.

So, when I sit back and reflect on it, I find myself feeling like im on a rollercoaster. We have had a shorter school year than normal this year and that alone is enough to cause panic.

I stare at the unfinished textbooks, the stack of books I didn’t get around to read,  realising that our Arabic journey is going slower than what I wanted and that my youngest is still interested in playing with his cars and still hasn’t shown any interest in phonics, while other 4-year-olds are already starting to read.

The panic starts to creep in…

I begin to become anxious. The questions that originally surfaced, now lead to a barrage of more questions…

Have I done enough?
Do I know what im doing?!
Can I actually educate my children?
Why don’t my children know x, y and z yet?
Are my kids behind?
Why do I have imperfect days, when others don’t seem to?
Am I depriving my children of a ‘proper education’?

But I’ve realised that all these fears crop up because my measure of a successful homeschool year gets distorted over the year, and the intention that I had, becomes hazy. I begin to measure success at surface level, limiting my children’s education to mere pen and paper when educating my children is so much deeper…

And so I begin to curb my thoughts, and in doing so my reflection questions begin to change…

Are my children growing up being aware of Allaah and His Greatness?
Is the sunnah interwoven in my children’s’ every day lives?
Do my kids understand the purpose of life?
What relationship do my children have with The Noble Qur’an?
Do my children realise the importance of seeking knowledge and are they actively doing so?
How are their manners, first and foremost with their Creator and then others around them?
Are my children growing up to be good citizens, are they caring and compassionate individuals?
How is the relationship between me and my children, is it one of love, respect and communication?
Do our ‘bad’ homeschool days really outweigh the ‘good’ days?
Are we still HOMEschooling or homeSCHOOLING?

I start off by reminding myself…

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

My panic slowly begins to settle…

See, if my intention to educate my children is pure and done in the correct way, then surely the effort, time and sacrifice have been worth it. And if im able to see some progress in the questions that I’ve just asked myself, it becomes clear to me that we’re doing ok…

That isn’t to say that the more academic side of learning is not to be evaluated. But for me, that’s the second half of the questionnaire, not the first.  These things don’t hold weight if I haven’t bothered with building the foundation for my children because without it I have set my kids up to fail.

So now as I continue my reflection, and list the pros and cons of our year, I know where to start. Now I can begin to reflect on which areas my children need to work on, slowly working my way through the questionnaire.

And as the list of areas of improvement begins to grow, my yearning for Ramadan increases, because I know Im in need of this month of mercy to set myself up to continue on this journey of educating my children.

May Allah allow us to witness Ramadan, Ameen.

Share your homeschool reflections below, I’d love to know how you are preparing for Ramadan. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Umm is a title, not an eraser.

Asalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu my dear sisters

I hope that the title of this post has encapsulated what I wanted to talk about today.

Let me begin by reminding myself and you that motherhood is beautiful, a blessing from Allah, and a trust from Him. This post is not intended to come across as a complaint but rather to offer a supportive hand to my dear sisters.

Alhamdulillah, the majority of our days are joy-filled, and I can truly say I have not experienced anything more wonderful than motherhood. But there are days that we feel so overwhelmed, we begin to feel like we don’t know who we are anymore. We were once avid readers, nature lovers, writers, students. Everything that we wanted to do that day was a decision solely based around ourselves.

Then motherhood came along it seems, erased our personalities, and we went from being Hafsa to JUST Umm Adam. And before this gets taken in the wrong context, I am not saying anything negative about having a kunya, I love and embrace my own, Alhamdulillah.

But imagine you were to graduate as a Doctor, or an Engineer, or a pharmacist. All of these professions give the individual a new found title. This person who used to be a university student, is now maybe a father, a writer, an Arabic student AND a doctor. It has enhanced the individual, not taken anything away.

As mother’s, since our profession is at home, it’s much harder to draw that balance. Our work is ongoing, our commitment is lifelong and our work hours are not scheduled.

Fast forward a few years, and those of us who make the decision to homeschool, meaning our children are with us for the most part of the day…..it’s easy to wipe away everything else we were and just become Umm Homeschool.

Umm Homeschool…..you may have heard of her, or you may even BE her. Read More



DITL when Mum is tired -13/03/2018

Asalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu ladies

Today I thought I’d share a day in the life of our homeschool when I wasn’t quite up for it.  I’ve had a cold all week and not much energy, and even today was quite slow.  But I think it’s important to share experiences when things don’t go to plan.  Days like this just take some tweaking that’s all, an art I’m still mastering.  No elaborate projects, field trips or anything majorly exciting happened, just a slow paced day which I could manage. 
So here’s a snapshot of how our Happy Muslim Homeschool looked like yesterday.  Read More


Unfiltered Homeschool

My carpet full of crumbs,
Sticky fingers on the wall.
Paint marks on my hijaab,
But that’s not all.

Flour stuck on the floor,
From pancakes, we made this morning.
My four year old asking me to read,
But I can’t stop yawning.

My coffee has gone cold,
While picking up the books.
Cars, trains, and piles of sand,
And of course his yellow truck.  Read More