Homeschooling is a Personal Decision – Please Throw Your “Cookie Cutters” Away
Homeschooling is a personal decision – and this is reflected every step of the way when you decide to homeschool. It starts out when you make the decision to homeschool – not everyone will make this choice or see the need to. I’m sure you already know that – because if you have chosen to homeschool – these people have probably told you in so many ways how wrong you are to make this decision or they try to fill your head with all those common worries about homeschooling:
– What about socialization?
– How will they get into college?
– How can you teach your child when you aren’t a teacher?
– How will you know that your child will learn everything they need to know?
And the list goes on and on . . .
At some point you have to learn to be firm in your decision – and to truly feel in your heart that this is the right choice for you and your family. Only then can your homeschooling journey be truly successful. Until then you will always be filled with doubt and worries. Now, this doesn’t mean that once you feel that you have made the right choice that everything falls into place perfectly or that every day of homeschooling is a successful one – or even that you won’t doubt yourself from time to time. What it does mean is that you have a more firm commitment (in your heart) to homeschool and you already know the reasons why you are doing it.
So, when you do waver in your thoughts – or you get bombarded with worries (either self-made or imposed by others) you can reach in your heart to all those reasons why you do it and reaffirm that it is the right choice for you and your family. It will help keep you going, insha’Allah, even on the hardest of days. Even those of us who have been doing this for years sometimes may wonder “what did I get into” or you wish for more personal time or you allow others to make you question your decision. It happens – we are all human. However, if you start out firm that this is the right choice for you and your family – these momentary lapses won’t allow you to quit or give up so easily.
How do you stay firm if it is something you struggle with or if you are uncertain? The best thing I can think of is to write a list of all the reasons why you want to homeschool in the first place. Write down all the good reasons you are wanting to homeschool and also list all those things you want to avoid by homeschooling. Whenever you are struck with self-doubt, or someone questions you (or berates you, as is often the case) for making this decision – pull out your list to remind yourself why you chose this path. Remember all the positive influences and experiences you are hoping for your child and your family by making this choice. This list SHOULD help make the case for you. So – expect to have bad days – expect to struggle – and expect to spend a lot of time with your children. However – also expect at least at some point in your life to also have all those positives that you hoped for when starting homeschooling in the first place (and many more).
There is nothing like a heart that is firm upon its purpose. I only remind you of this because you will often find people along the way who won’t agree with you – and who will do everything they can to question your choice. Their actions will make you feel guilty or they will make you have self-doubts. You will perhaps also find them comparing your child to theirs. When you have a firm heart, it allows you to have a sound mind when it comes to your choices in life. If you made this choice for the right reasons – then insha’Allah it will truly be a blessing for you and your family, despite what anyone else thinks or believes.
You would think that once you stepped over the hurdle of deciding to go “against the flow” and to homeschool that this would be the only obstacle that you need to overcome. Well, guess again – because truthfully, nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Sorry, I wish I could paint a prettier picture – but unless you live in the middle of the desert without ANY influence from others – that will definitely not be the case. Once you decide to homeschool there are many choices to make:
– How are you going to homeschool your child?
– What methodology are you going to follow?
– What resources are you going to use with your child?
– What resources are you not going to use with your child?
And the list goes on and on . . .
The only thing I can give as words of advice is – DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. I can promise you right now that you will find all sorts of people and “so-called experts” who will say one method is better than another – that one curriculum is better than another – or that one methodology is better than another. For every one of these people, though, you can find just as many that sit on the other side of the matter – claiming that their way is the only way. It is enough to make your head spin! Subhan’Allah – as if homeschooling isn’t hard enough already!
I highly recommend that you take some time to learn about the different methods and resources and see what you think works best for your family situation (don’t let others dictate what you decide to do). Make sure to make lots of dua and especially pray Istikhara to help you with this decision. In the end, I can only recommend that you do what is best for your family situation because everyone’s needs and situation is different. May Allah make it easy for you and your family, insha’Allah.
I only make these recommendations because I can assure you that you will find people who will question your choices. Don’t think that after you homeschool for a year that this will change anything – you will find this struggle year after year, unfortunately. However, insha’Allah at some point you will realize what is best for you and not worry so much about what others think. As with any decision we may make – there will always be people out there who feel very strongly about their decision and they feel that anyone who makes a different decision is just wrong (despite the fact that their situation is way different from another person’s).
I was fortunate early in life that Allah truly tested me through my children and showed me the importance of realizing that everyone is different – everyone’s situation is different – and we should always remember that and respect that fact when dealing with others and their choices. Only Allah knows their situation, their needs and what is best for them.
When I had my first child I was determined to be the “perfect mom”. I read all the parenting books and learned about all the methodologies and ideas about parenting, raising children, etc. With that knowledge, I came to the decision that it was wrong to have an epidural and that natural childbirth was the only acceptable means of having a child. In the end, Allah humbled me and taught me such an important lesson, Alhamdulillah. I was in labor for 42 hours – with no medicine during the first agonizing 41 hours until I could stand it no more. Without any progress, baby and mother started to show signs of distress and finally a c-section was also required. To put this in perspective – I not only had two midwives during this birth – but I also paid a doula (out of my own money) to ensure that this birth was a “perfect” one. So, while I originally thought that things SHOULD BE this way and ONLY this way – I was taught that sometimes we cannot understand all the circumstances or needs of a given situation. While I could have felt guilty for not following my plan – instead I realized that what was important was that my baby was born and was healthy, Alhamdulillah.
Now that I look at my child so many years later I can only laugh at how much importance I put in my “theories” of what was “perfect” or “right”. My child is healthy and thriving, Alhamdulillah – so did my FIRM STANCE really help anything? Is there really only one way to do things and to do them correctly? Not always. And Allah knows best.
So, anyway – all that aside – I learned a very important lesson in life. We can never truly know what is best for us – but we can always ask Allah to help guide us to what is best for us. While we may feel strongly about something – it may not be what is right or what is best for us in our given situation – and that’s why we should always ask for Allah’s guidance in all matters. That’s the best way for us to know what is right for us. Above all – we must realize that while something may be right for us – we do not know what is best for others. We do not know their situation or their needs – and we should never be so firm in our own purpose as to impose it on others.
So, in the end – make the best decision you can, with Allah’s guidance. Make a list of the different homeschool methods and why they would or wouldn’t work for family. From that list, make a choice that fits your needs. Then, when people question you – or even when you question yourself – you can return to that list to remind you why you chose this path. Sometimes – just knowing where you want to go – and why you want to get there – is half the battle in fighting against self-doubt. While this is not the ONLY requirement for a successful homeschooling experience – it is definitely a very important one.
Insha’Allah – we will learn to seek Allah’s guidance in all that we do – and feel a firmness of heart once we make these decisions.
Insha’Allah it will help us get though those tough days when we do question ourselves or when we are questioned by others.
And – Insha’Allah – we will learn that no matter how strongly we feel that our decision is right for us – we will realize that we cannot possibly know what is best for another person.
In that knowledge – Insha’Allah – we can be a better Sister and a better support for those who are also struggling along this same path.
“’A’isha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: ‘A’isha, verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
“Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.” (Sahih Muslim)
Sumayyah Umm SAA