10/27/2016

10 Reasons Why We Chose Homeschooling

Today, many people regard homeschooling as bizarre or abnormal, but I find it sad that something so natural is today seen as strange. I do understand that when things become uncommon in society, most people start seeing it as unideal either because of the lack of understanding or simply because they are more comfortable when everyone just follows the norm. Way before getting married and becoming a parent, I knew that homeschooling had to be my way of educating my children. Once married, I informed my husband about my intentions along with my reasons, and he became totally supportive of the idea from the beginning and agreed with me 100%. So being on the same page gave me more confidence and allowed me to research further and collect information and resources. But I know that I am not in control. All I can do is purify my intentions, make du'a (supplicate/pray), and hope that Allah makes a way to success. Depending on the circumstances, not everyone can homeschool, and we never know how life can turn around. To make it a bit clearer for those who do not understand homeschooling or maybe help an aspiring home educator, I will give ten reasons why homeschooling was the educational method that my family chose.

1. Role of Parents
I believe that parents educating their children is just natural from the moment the children are born. Education comes in many different forms. From teaching them how to say their first words, recognize different colours, food, animals, communicate with others, run, jump, ride their first tricycle/bicycle, we are educating our children. But in all honestly, children are born knowing how to learn, all we do is introduce them to the world and information. And if we can teach them their first words, then why can't we teach them how to recognize letters, read, calculate, and everything else? So, I see no reason why I should take my children to someone else to take care of my responsibilities when I'm capable of fulfilling them, and the information is widely available. And frankly speaking, I shouldn't feel the need to explain what I know is best for my child. But I know that explaining it may help someone else just understand or consider homeschooling as an option.

2. Each child is unique and learns differently
Human beings are individuals and learn differently. So, it is a problem to expect every child/student to learn the exact same way using a common core curriculum or method. Thus, I believe that many children are wrongfully diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and other mental illnesses. Some children may learn better by standing up for a while, walking around, and exploring while other children may learn better by sitting down and listening. Neither one is a problem or should be "corrected." I do understand that it is not feasible for the common school system to successfully accommodate every child in the way he/she learns. For that reason, there should be alternatives. Besides, homeschooling doesn't only have the be the traditional way where parents develop and teach each subject. There can be full time online schools for students and parents can simply monitor their progress and/or supplement their learning if needed. I do know that there are free online public schools in America, but I'm not sure if they are available in every country.

3. Safety, discipline, Islamic morals, and teacher to student ratio
Okay, that's four in one; sorry. I don't know about you, but I do not feel comfortable leaving my child for more than six hours, five days a week, year-round at the care of someone else who isn't a close and trusted family member. And even with a trusted family member, unless it is for an emergency, it is still too many hours to be spending with someone else other than the parents. Problems can occur no matter where we are, but as a parent, I'm the one who is primarily responsible for the safety of my children, not a random person in an institute. This may sound strange to you because the opposite is now common and acceptable. Even before school, many parents drop their infants at daycares or with nannies to go to work or enjoy themselves with friends. Sometimes it is necessary for some people to have someone else care for their children while they provide for them for example, but we can't deny that lifestyle has drastically changed over the years. Also, I cannot imagine anyone else other than my husband to discipline our children if needed. I believe that it is the responsibility of the parents only.  In addition, especially at an earlier age, children are heavily influenced by the people they spend the most crucial time with throughout the day. They learn more from the way adults behave and treat them than the lessons being taught. Furthermore, I do not expect every teacher to be patient and kind towards every student in his/her class. When teaching kids of different personalities at a ratio of 1 to 12-25, it can be much easier to not only lose patience, but to also neglect some students intentionally or unintentionally no matter how many "No Student Left Behind" programs there may be. I am aware that it is also very important for children to spent time with different people (adults/children), but parents should remain the primary care-givers, educators, and influential figures especially at a young age.

4. Common core curriculum not inclusive 
 Depending on where you live, the common core curriculum may or may not represent all the students. Let's take History for example, most History textbooks mainly include stories of the past through the eyes of Western Europe. In Science, important inventions made by other civilizations and race are often not mentioned, if ever. And those acknowledged usually have their original names translated to different languages which can take away from their recognition. Also, many of the textbooks when talking about 'minorities', dedicate only a small section or (maybe) month to teach few important facts about them instead of equally assimilating everyone. When it comes to religious holidays, some are recognized (even in supposedly secular countries), taught in school, and others aren't. There are days or even weeks off school because of some recognized ones, and students who celebrate other holidays have no choice but to either go to school on those days or miss school days/lessons. And when that happens, they have to later complete the accumulated missed classwork/homework. It's understandable that it is almost impossible for every school to give days off school for every student's holiday. That is the reason why there are private schools that accommodate some students of different educational levels and religious background for example. By homeschooling, we can make a schedule that works for us. For instance, when it comes to Ramadan, we can either have half-day school days or take the whole of Ramadan off and focus on something else. We can also equally include information from most parts of the world as much as possible. In addition, many Muslim boys at the required age of going for the Jumah Salah miss it because of being in class during that time. By homeschooling, that problem is solved.

5. Someone else's definition of what education is
Beside reading, writing and few other subjects, I believe that education is subjective. What one person may find as crucial and educational may be a waste of time to another person. And even what we unanimously agreed to be educational can be taught in many ways. There are certain things in the common core curriculum that I believe is a waste of time and other things that I believe should have been included.

6. Not learning real life skills
School shouldn't only be about sitting in a classroom and learning/memorizing lots of information. There should be some form of practicality to what we learn. Theories are important, but how we bring them to life is even more important. We shouldn't have to wait till university to start thinking about our interest and career. And why can't a career start at a much younger age? By having the chance to explore our interest, we are more likely to build a career on our own much earlier. That may or may not include university years later. Depending on what the student is truly interested in, it may save time from only learning theories to being practical and gaining experience.

7. Too many hours sitting in class
I was once a student with little hands and feet sitting on those tiny chairs and desk for hours at a time. But I know for sure that by the end of the year or vacation, I probably did not remember most what I learned even after getting excellent grades. I remember getting bored sometimes, exhausted, not understanding, and asking lots of questions. I asked questions to understand even when I didn't find the class interesting. I just wanted to have good grades and be done with the class. I don't call that education. As a former teacher, I knew that it didn't require hours to teach those lessons. But having many students makes it impossible to appropriately cut down the teaching hours. By homeschooling, we have the freedom to be flexible, move on when we understand, continue when we don't, and spend more time on what we find interesting.

8. Too much homework
As a teacher, few years ago, I remember being verbally abused by a parent for giving his children too much homework. The truth is, I also found the amount of homework ridiculous for students who spend hours in school only to go spend more hours at home doing more work instead of spending time with family and pursuing their interests. The problem was, I did not have the freedom to give less homework. The curriculum included activity books for each subject that every student had to finish or at least do most by the end of the year. And when they missed school days (even on sick days), I was asked to have them complete the missed activities. Homeschooling allows children to spend time on understanding the lessons and moving on rather than trying to complete several activities by the end of the year. It is not a race; it really shouldn’t be.

9. Too busy and not enough time to enjoy life
We often say, "let children be children," but do we actually believe that? Actions speak louder than words. I can easily say that most of my life has probably been spent in class and doing homework. I remember waking up very early in the morning at a very young age getting ready for school. Sometimes I just wanted to stay home with my family, go to interesting and fun places, or just take a break. There were times when I even wished I was sick just to stay home; a3udhubillah. But at the same time, I hated falling behind with classwork, homework and having to do much more at once later on. I don't want my children to go through that. Children are way too busy these days. Are they really given the opportunity to explore, have fun, and enjoy life as they should? I think not.

10. Freedom 
Even though the common criticism against homeschooling is that "homeschooled children are isolated or become socially awkward," I can confidently say that this rumor is absolute nonsense. It all depends on the parents, how much they allow their children to participate in outdoor activities, and the personalities of their children. I went to the common school system and knew people who were "socially awkward." I also know of homeschooled children who are social butterflies. Most of the friends I made while in elementary school were my neighbors, not classmates. Friends aren't only found in school. Besides, how much socialization is done in the common school system when majority of the time is spent glued on chairs and not allowed to talk? And not only are school field trips very limited, the variety of the places to go to is very limited as well.
Homeschooled children are also less exposed to peer pressure because they have the flexibility to choose the people they associate themselves with. They aren't confined to a building where they are obliged to face the people who influence them to do what they would have otherwise not do or see their bullies almost every day. They and their parents can spend more quality time, communicate, and understand each other more. Homeschooled children have the flexibility to plan different field trips with their parents, other homeschooled children, and/or even the friends they meet at their local communities. As a family, it is easy to travel whenever the opportunity arises. Homeschooled children aren't only exposed to children of their age group, but also to younger children and adults. This may help them gain more maturity at an earlier age than their peers. Again, it all depends on the parents, children, and the community in which they live in. Let's remember that human beings are individuals with different choices and experiences; therefore, produce different outcomes.

I hope this helps you understand the concept of homeschooling from another perspective. But if you have any question, please do not hesitate to comment below.


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