7 steps to restart your homeschool

7 Tips to start homeschooling after the holidays

Assalamo alaykum and welcome.

Download your FREE TA-DAH list HERE

We all have some really good homeschooling streaks: we are all nicely settled into the routine, learning takes place, the parent feels reasonably in control and everybody is pretty happy. And then… BOOM! Staying guests. A family trip. Eid. A stomach bug. The routine is broken. Maybe it is already a week after that important celebration or milestone for which you took time off and you were expecting to definitely have resumed by now… but you haven’t.

Whatever the cause of the disruption, the problem is one and the same: you cannot restart.

The kids don’t want to touch the curriculum with a barge pole and – making things even harder – neither do you!

Naturally, I have been in this predicament a number of times, so I came up with a little action plan for when your homeschool is struggling to get going again.

If you think – as I probably would have thought too, at least initially – that this might take a whole week, and that’s a long time not to be doing “actual school work”, then try to force everybody back into it and see what fun it is! (Just kidding! Don’t do that. Bear with me and read on, insha’Allah).

Task 1: Seek help where help is to be found

Nowadays, ranting seems to have acquired human right status; when things don’t go their way, many take to social media and indiscriminately “let it out” to a bunch of strangers or people that – for the most part – are not very relevant in their life. The believer, on the other hand, remembers that she has a Lord who is Merciful and Who manages all affairs with the utmost wisdom.

Don’t vent. Instead, seek help where you can find it. Seek help from Allah, as in the heartfelt advice that the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) gave to Abdullah ibn Abbas (rady Allahu anhuma):

“…Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah alone; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah alone. […]”

You have a Lord that loves you to ask Him.

Anas (rady Allahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

اللَّهُمَّ لَا سَهْلَ إِلَّا مَا جَعَلْتَهُ سَهْلًا ، وَأَنْتَ تَجْعَلُ الْحَزْنَ إِذَا شِئْتَ سَهْلًا

“Oh Allah, there is no ease except in that which You have made easy; and, if You wish, you can make the difficulty easy.”

Collected by Ibn Hibban, graded saheeh by al-Albani

You don’t have to necessarily be hit by a major calamity in order to make these amazing words yours; they are perfectly suitable for anytime you feel deflated and at a loss when it comes to homeschooling and parenting (or life) in general.

Task 2: Reconnect

Often, when there is a break in our homeschool, parent and children each become absorbed in doing their own thing, typically those things they feel they don’t have enough time to delve into when homeschooling is on.

It can be hard to go back to structured learning while the interest for this activities we have thrown ourselves into is still so alive.

It is a good idea to do something to reconnect with our children first; in other words: do “nothing” together. I am talking about premeditated, intentional “nothing”: play games, bake a cake and invite friends, read aloud, go for walks… ask them if there is something they would like to do together and indulge in it without the pressure of having to “get work done”.

Task 3: Accept reality

Take a step back and accept that our life is made of days and each of them may come with change.

This is true of every aspect of our lives and we can certainly observe it in the patterns of our family life. Things did not change because you were unable to maintain them: they changed because such is the nature of our existence on this earth. And our nature, as human beings, is to pick ourselves up, reassess things and carry on, insha’Allah.  

Your homeschool is not a regimented institution. Your children are not in the army, nor are they in a conventional school where “they have to [fill blank]”. It is certainly not your job to make it like that!

Your homeschool does not need to be flawless in order to be an absolutely brilliant place of knowledge and growth.  Break away from that mentality if you find it is affecting you and let go of the guilt.

There was a time when change in our homeschooling setup, caused me severe insecurity and even upset me. Part of the solution to that is to put our trust in Allah and know that when He closes a door, something better for us must be on the horizon.

Task 4: Make a TA-DAH! List

We are all familiar with the concept of a “to-do” list; well, a “ta-dah” list is the opposite: instead of writing down the things you are yet to do, list what you have already achieved!

You can compile one for each child and also one for yourself as a parent and educator.

Alhamdulillah, sometimes you have to write it down to truly see how far you have come. Having this list in front of you will consolidate the notion that you have been an effective teacher and you did facilitate learning for your children.

This activity is guaranteed to encourage you and make you feel more positive about this whole homeschooling business!

Involve your children and physically write down all the amazing things that they have learned about and all the skills they have mastered.

Celebrate all the lightbulb moments, all the things – big and small – that they remember feeling happy or proud about. Include every little growth experience you can think of. From learning to tie shoelaces to showing ability to forgive; from learning how to say “hello” in a foreign language, to mastering the rules of checkers; from starting to offer the fajr prayer at its time, to learning to do a load of laundry; from perfecting the ability to shower without completely flooding the bathroom, to memorizing that hadeeth that will stay with them forever.  

You, mom, do it too. Have a list to record your own learning and growth. You are in as much need of it as your children are!

Download your FREE TA-DAH list HERE

Free printable learning log ta-dah list to celebrate learning. Use as a bullet journal spread or for your homeschool planner

Task 5: Face the curricula

At this point you enjoyed a good dose of bonding with your children and the much needed “pat on the back” that is your TA-DAH! list. You must now take stock of the materials you were using before things ground to a halt.

Don’t worry: you are ready.

Armed with a big cup of coffee – quietly creep up to the bookshelf/drawer/basket, so not to spook the books, especially after they have been abandoned in their environment for so long and are no longer used to human contact. You might find it useful to have a cookie at hand too.

Seriously, it won’t be that hard. The books won’t bite you.

Get them all out.

All you need to do it separate what has worked well for you from what did not; what you want to work with now and what might be more suitable for a later time. Decide what to carry on with and what to abandon. Streamline the whole system by reducing the materials to a minimum (what is needed as opposed to what would be lovely to also incorporate, if you see what I mean).

Homeschoolers tend to be great book lovers, educational philosophy hoppers and sometimes curriculum hoarders, but if a certain method/book/style (even – temporarily – a subject!) is putting you off resuming your homeschool, ditch it!

How to reconnect with kids in your homeschool after the holidays. Tips for homeschooling moms

Task 6: Freshen things up

Introduce a new, fresh, desirable subject to replace something you are taking a break from (gardening? Spanish? design?…). Try out a new approach to homeschooling (unschooling? Workboxes? Charlotte Mason? …). If it is feasible in terms of family routine (and budget), sign your kids up for a new activity. Include videos or documentaries to supplement your textbooks. Start (or restart) having regular poetry tea-times! (those really reinvigorate our homeschool, alhamdulillah!). Make life skills and/or handiwork part of your homeschool.

You know your children well, so you may want to surprise them with the above or you might brainstorm with them and involve them in the decision process.

Ask your kids what they are curious about, which subjects they would like greater focus on and what activities they would like to try out or allocate more time to.

Jot down everything. If your kids are anything like mine, there is bound to be some ideas that are very, very much out there. Do not dismiss those either: just because you are unable to take your children to space or coach them to kung fu mastery, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn about it. In any case, a few years down the line, it will be delightful to read that jetpack building and mining for gold in your backyard were part of someone’s plans.

Task 7: Plan for relief, not torture

You have tightened the bond between you and your students; you celebrated successes and accepted limits; you narrowed your focus by selecting the materials that you intend to use; you ignited interest and fuelled the will to learn; you breathed new life into your homeschool, kept yourself adequately caffeinated… and sprinkled the whole thing with du’a to Allah for ease and guidance.

It is now time to put it to paper. Planner paper, scrap paper, digital “paper”… whatever works best or appeals more to you. Make sure that planning your homeschool is not a task that overburdens you. It is worth spending a few moments figuring out how you want to plan to make your life easier, and not to follow what you perceive to be a winning planning methodology.

For example, not everybody finds it useful to lesson plan, and, even if you do, how detailed do you want your plans to be? Make it yours. Making it yours meaning that you might decide not to write it down at all.

If you wish to write your plan, start small: distribute little chunks of work to each of your homeschooling days for the coming week, to test your way of planning is suitable to your needs and easily manageable before committing any further to it.

Once you are happy, you may proceed to plan months ahead or even the whole year. Personally, I never dare to go that far.

Actually, it is not a matter of “daring”: it is just knowing that, when we are all settled and the whole system is running smoothly… BOOM! A 3 days conference to attend. My Arabic exams. Grandma coming to visit for a week. A spell of awesome weather and you just can’t stay indoors… aaand we will be back to TASK 1!

Does your homeschool ever suffer disruptions or runs out of steam?

What do you do to get started again? Share your tips in the comments below!

tips to resume study in your homeschool. Muslim homeschooling after holiday

How to plan NO SPEND Ramadan activities

Ramadan activities for childre cheap frugal no spend craft ideas

Assalamo alaykum and welcome.

It is our most special time of the year.

As Muslim parents, we want to nurture in our children this powerful association to Ramadan so, from a few months before, the ideas start being thrown around on how to meaningfully mark this precious month.

No two Ramadans are ever the same but, in our household, there has been a constant presence every Ramadan for the last few years: The Ramadan mailbox (more info on what used to go inside it when the boys were younger HERE).

Everyday the boys would run to it as soon as they got up in the morning.

But what had started as a purely educational endeavor has, with time, become a materialistic PAIN. I started introducing a small toy the first day of Ramadan and then every Friday. Last year they had some sort of tat from an online pound shop every single day.

Meaningful and Minimal

I like to give my children something that entertains them; we know that it was the practice of the Sahabah to distract fasting children with simple toys when they became hungry. And it surely works, alhamdulillah. However, this year I will be aiming to a MINIMAL spend (to NO SPEND) Ramadan preparation for my children’s activities. The fun stuff insha’Allah. My main reasons are:

  1. to make better use of our money, and
  1. to reduce the amount of junk in my house, not increase it!

All this without disappointing the kids of course.

They will be informed about the change of direction their beloved Ramadan mailbox is taking, and it will still be great fun, insha’Allah.

They won’t be simply handed some play thing: they will be given a chance to do something fun in which we can all participate, insha’Allah.

With some careful planning we can keep the expenditure to a bare minimum (or spend nothing at all!); the easiest way to achieve this is to use what we already have available in the house.

Ramadan activities for children Muslim homeschooling cheap frugal no spend

Is it really NO SPEND?

It can be if you want it to be.

The point of the exercise is NOT to think of all the cool activities we would like to do in our homeschool and then shop for them. Rather, the opposite: see what you already have available and then find activities to use it in a fun, educational or meaningful way.

You might still need to spend something if you decide to do so.

For example, if you think everybody would love making things out of clay, and you don’t have any, then I am not suggesting you go dig up some soil from the stickiest corner of your garden. Buy clay.

However, you might have some hobbies or occasionally do crafts and have some materials lying around or stashed away somewhere (which homeschooling mom doesn’t???).

If you knit and have bags of leftover yarns, look for some cool projects that your children could make using those, instead of using the clay everyday and therefore needing to buy a truckload of it.

Reduce the shopping list to the bare minimum: don’t come up with more than 1 or 2 projects for which you will need specific tools and materials that you will have to spend on.

If you think something is worth buying for your homeschool (or for the experience of it), buy it. But be moderate with it.

The point is to save money by not buying what we don’t need. You could go to an art supply shop and go crazy, or go online and buy a boxful of craft kits just because they are on sale, but that would be a whole other type of exercise!

Coming up with a list of 30 activities, one for each day, can seem like a huge task, so I tried to break down the planning process into manageable bites. Read on, and let’s make this Ramadan special for our children, bi-idhnillah.

1. Make an inventory

In order to use what you already have, you must first know what you have.

Rummage through all your craft supplies, make a list of anything for your kids that you bought a surplus of and might have stashed away. Look everywhere for something that could be painted/ upcycled/ used in a DIY game.

You can also ask any crafty auntie, grandma, friend or neighbour if they have scraps of materials they are happy to get rid of.

You could include:

  • Stationeries
  • Craft materials
  • Art supplies
  • Toys/books you have but the children have never seen
  • Toys/books that the children have forgotten about
  • Toys you already own but can put a twist on
  • DIY toys out of recycling
  • Books you own and that you can create activities for
  • Magazines (ask on buy/sell communities)
  • Board games (there is a lot of free printable ones online)
  • Easy, kid friendly recipes
  • Good deeds ideas
  • Ideas on how to write a letter to someone
  • Receiving an encouraging message from someone they love
  • Experiences (such as outings and playdates)

And anything else that your family would enjoy!

Ideas to engage and entertain kids in Ramadan, Islamic activities and craft - homeschooling

2. Narrow down your categories

Are your children crazy about Legos? Are they into cooking? Engineering? Art? Gardening? Board games? Jewellery making? Drawing comics?… whatever they like to do for fun, or whatever new activity you think they would like to pick up, it can be broken down in a series of small, manageable activities.

I suggest to have a few different categories for variety and to maintain a certain surprise effect throughout the month, insha’Allah.

Make sure you have 30 in total. Job done, alhamdulillah!

If you are planning for different age groups, keep in mind that not all activities could be suitable for all of your children. You may need to adapt them to suit younger ones.

In order to keep this as easy and manageable as possible for you, I recommend to avoid having to come up with alternatives for different age groups as much as possible; rather, each child can do the one designed project as well as they can or with as much input as they need from you.

For example, the only activities that I really don’t want Miss3 to be involved with are the one involving button batteries (she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore but I am nervous about that) and the pom pom hair clips making, because it will be her Eid present from her brothers insha’Allah, so it needs to be kept secret. On those 2 occasions she’ll have something else to do.

It is unlikely that she will care to take part in a Lego STEM challenge, but she will have her own baseplate to build what she wants and I expect she will enjoy rummaging madly through the bricks like her brothers.

3. Hit Pinterest

What if you know your child would enjoy hand sewing but you don’t know the first thing about it? One of the greatest advantages of the digital age we live in is that access to free learning is probably greater than it has ever been.

Pinterest is a brilliant tool for inspiration. Search for “beginner projects” in whatever craft or field you think your child would enjoy and create a board to keep all relevant results.

I make a Pinterest board every Ramadan (which, for sentimental reasons, I can never seem to delete afterwards…).

Here is my Ramadan 1440 board, if you want to have a peek.

You will find links to blog posts that also have video tutorials. If your children are small and you are completely clueless on how to build a raft with sticks or paint peg dolls, it is worth spending a little time to go through all information you have saved and educate yourself beforehand, so that things can go more smoothly when you present the activity.

If you only have older kids, it might be even more fun to learn together from scratch, insha’Allah.

4. Make a list of supplies

You now have 30 activities lined up, each will need supplies and, in order not to forget anything, I recommend compiling a master list of everything you will need for the whole month worth of activities.

I recommend printing out all the instructions first (this will also help you later on, so you won’t have to be fiddling with your mobile all the time as you do the activity); from each set of instruction, copy the list of things you will need.

To make this task easier (and – admittedly- because I thought it would be fun), I created a little printable checklist for your materials.


Then proceed to tick what you already have (which should be most things – insha’Allah!).

5. Assemble your stash

There might be some things (such as food items) that you will need to get at the last moment, but, other than those, I recommend getting everything ready before the start of Ramadan.

Gather everything you need and, if you can, put all the materials for a given activity in a separate bag (I am thinking ziplock kind freezer bags or sheet protectors for very small or very flat things), ready to open and go.

Obviously, if you need glue for 15 of the activities, I am not suggesting having 15 glue sticks, one in each bag; within reason, prepare it ahead of time as much as you can.

Keep all bags together and, of course, hide them well!

I ask Allah to let us all reach Ramadan and let us and our families take maximum benefit from it.

Have you got something special planned for your children this Ramadan?

Share it with us in the comments below!

FREE RAMADAN PRINTABLE materials list for activities and crafts

Minimal Homeschool Planning

Simple minimal homeschool weekly planning with free printables

I never trained as a teacher. When I see a lesson plan, I want to run away (and I usually do). I never buy the teacher’s book of anything: I know I won’t have the patience to go through it.

When I started off with my 3 year old, I used to overplan and overthink. I expected myself to create every single resource from scratch for it to be adequately tailored to my child (madness). I would write down everything in a lot of detail, including reflections on what the benefits of each detail would be.

After having poured my heart and soul into writing that in depth, lesson “plan” (more like a big long essay), my son would do the activity in 40 seconds and move on. I would then proceed to torture myself with self doubt (Am I hopelessly inept at this? Is there something wrong with this kid?).

After that, I resorted to “winging it”. Not so much by choice, but rather because the idea of a homeschool plan scared me:

What if I don’t stick with it?

How do I even write a homeschool plan?

As for the first question, I can only promise that, should you decide that total spontaneity works best for your family, I won’t rat you out to the planning police.

As for “How” you plan your homeschooling, I shall give you some simple principles to get it done in a minimal, doable, not overwhelming fashion.

Despite an innate tendency to bite off more than I can chew, I have to say that – alhamdulillah – if the last 8 years of homeschooling have taught me anything, it is the importance of keeping it simple.

So, here are some steps to create a simple plan for your homeschool: not too rigid or too detailed, but an amazing tool for the day to run much more smoothly!

I can write this post with all my heart, especially after having attempted to homeschool for one week without a planner. It It was an experiment and it turned out to be – how shall I put it? – the opposite of fun.

Read about my No Planning Homeschooling experiment HERE.

Simple way to plan homeschooling for beginners + free weekly planner

How to plan your homeschool year

It may seem a very big task to the novice but, generally speaking, it all boils down to answering  the following:

  • What will you use?
  • How many weeks will you homeschool in the year?
  • How many units/lessons does each subject have?

This way of planning will NOT tell you from now what exactly you will be doing at precisely 10.27 on the second Wednesday of June. However, it will help you visualise how long it is likely to take you to complete the resources you have chosen and, on a weekly basis, it will make it easier for you to be productive and to take in how much you actually do.

So, let’s get started!

1. Lists are your friends

I love lists. Not only because they give you a chance to use that awesome adult stationary that you hide from the children. The way I see it, making lists is the first step to organize ideas and come up with new ones too! What should you list? For each child make a list of:

  • Core subject (keep it minimal!);
  • Extra subjects (you might rotate them through the year);
  • Topics or subjects your child wants to learn about;
  • Resources you will use for each subject (books, websites, subscription sites, videos, activities, tutors, clubs, coops etc…). List ONLY what you actually plan to use!
  • If you have a small child, you may want to list activities rather than subjects (such as book bags, sensory play, tray activities, life skills activities, games etc…). For each activity, list the materials you will need. Tick off the ones you already have.
  • List books you want to read aloud with your children or include in your morning basket (or, if you are like us, in your Evening Basket)

Later you will divide and allocate everything you have listed in a portion of your homeschool year, but first, what exactly is your “homeschool year”?

2. Define your homeschooling time

This task will help you take stock of what your “school year/week/day” will look like. You need to know this in order to know what you can fit in them.

Cross out all holidays/celebrations/trips you know you are going to take and all days you already know you will not be homeschooling.

See how many weeks of homeschooling you have left. TA DA! there’s your homeschool year.

  • Your week: How many days a week do you plan to homeschool? Which day(s) will you have as days off?
  • Your typical day: While I do not recommend using a schedule as such, it might help to know roughly what is your time block for homeschooling (only morning? Morning and afternoon? Whenever we feel like it as long as we do at least x hours? Or as long as it takes to do x amount of work?…)

The point of this exercise is to see how much time you have each week to fill with what you would like to study with your children.

Remember that life happens: setbacks are encountered, ideas change and opportunities arise. Let this be a helpful tool and a source of peace of mind for you, rather than something you must achieve at all costs and will cause you a sense of failure if you don’t. The planner is not the boss of you!

3. Distribute your resources through your year

Do this part of the planning with your resources opened in front of you. See in how many lessons/chapters each resource breaks down into and make a note of it.

Assign each of those portions to a time chunk (a chapter a week/ a lesson a day/ etc.).

This is not to become something that you must abide by, but rather a general indication of where you could be in the maths book in 6 months and how long it could take to complete that science book you do twice a week.

With the passing of the days and weeks, you will see what works and what you may need to adjust.

4. A week at a time

This is the part I find most beneficial and that I actually stick to the most.

While I was writing this post, I did have a go at designing my own weekly planner (which you can download and print for free to your heart’s content); however, until this moment I very happily used one of the pages from the beautiful and super useful planner by A Muslim Homeschool to plan my children’s weekly lessons (or most of them).

Click here to DOWNLOAD my FREE HOMESCHOOL WEEKLY PLANNER in 43 colours (+ a monochrome option) and print as many copies as you will need.

In the top row of boxes I write the days of the week (in my house, we usually start on Saturday and end on Wednesday, but that’s entirely up to you). In the first column to the left I fill in the boxes with the subject names. Typically I use one sheet for both my older kids, split horizontally and colour coded in their respective favourite colour.

I fill in the row for each subject by opening the book or other resource I am using and allocating portions of it to each day I intend to teach that subject. How big a portion depends on various factors such as how hard the child would find that task and how much work you intend to assign for the other topics that day.

Not everything needs to be planned, there are non-core subjects that I consider ok for my children to do as they feel like it.

I think of this weekly plan as something that – if for some reason I was not available – my children (or husband) could pick up and follow to complete an adequate day of “school” work.

I rarely plan our lessons for more than a week at a time because, if you don’t complete everything and something needs to roll over, I would find it too much of a mess to amend everything (the domino effect! I don’t know how some people lesson plan for a whole year).

Free weekly homeschool planner printable

5. Apply wisdom

  • Be moderate in your expectation: If you want your child to study 10 different subjects as well as train as a gourmet chef, be a professional athlete and maybe sometimes eat, sleep and play, do not expect her to do an hour of each per day.
  • If you have never homeschooled or taught (or learned) in a 1:1 setting before, know that, what takes an hour to accomplish in a class of 20 children, only takes a small fraction of that time with 1 or 2.
  • How much work should you plan per day? Consider what the child in question is able to achieve and how much it is appropriate to “push” him.
  • Don’t forget to facture in any other scheduled activity outside the home (don’t fill her days excessively).
  • Be mindful of his emotional state. Children sometimes go through particularly sensitive patches; they might have a lot in their head. You must take that into account and to go easy on him at times. On the other hand, they can also get complacent, bored or a little lazy and therefore need a fresh challenge.
  • Observe and adjust accordingly: If your child consistently cannot go through the amount of work you set for her, it might very well mean your expectation are excessive.

Having this kind of planning in place has massively improved our homeschool: We are more productive, there is a lot less stress and frustration (usually generated by not knowing what is going on!) and – last but not least – going  through all the pages of completed weekly plans gives the frazzled, insecure, guilt-ridden homeschooling mom a well deserved boost of confidence!

What about you?

How do you make planning work for you?

Free homeschool weekly planner

11 Tips to get started homeschooling

How to start homeschooling tips beginner

Assalamo alaykum and welcome.

If you are reading this, chances are that you are somewhere between blind panic and utter excitement.

You may be a young mom with your first toddler, rearing to plunge into formal education with her to give her every ounce of yourself; or a mother whose children, for whatever reason, have not thrived, or even suffered, in school; maybe you are worried about the world we live in, where many fundamental values are rapidly been eroded, and want to safeguard and nurture faith in your children in a largely non religious society.

Wherever you are in your journey as a mother, just by being one you have a responsibility given to you by Allah. Homeschooling is a way in which we work to fulfill it.  Alhamdulillah, it is the way my family chose. Sometimes out of sheer passion and deep conviction, other times for mere lack of a better option, but here we are.

This post is not meant to provide a fool-proof, comprehensive, step-by-step program so that, if you go through it, you will suddenly emerge a successful homeschooler. I simply compiled a list of practical tips that might help you feel less overwhelmed and bring your very own homeschool closer to becoming a reality, insha’Allah.

With that in mind I created a fun simple (and FREE) GET YOUR HOMESCHOOL STARTED printable to help you jot down your ideas and find your feet as an emerging home educator.

Help for new homeschooling moms

1.  Upgrade your intention

Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

{Indeed actions are considered based on the intentions, and everyone will be rewarded according to what he intended.}  (Collected by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

If you want to home educate to feel or be regarded as super-mom, you will shortchange yourself. Homeschooling our children for the sake of Allah is a treasure that is there for the taking by those who are sincere.

Be determined not to miss out on it and rectify your intention daily: to be a mother that Allah is more pleased with; to really take charge of raising and educating the children He entrusted you with; to model the exemplary character you want to see in them; to teach them beneficial knowledge: the knowledge of their Creator and of their purpose in this life.

Writing a mission statement for your homeschool is a brilliant exercise to achieve clarity in your intention: it brings out what really matters to us, our values, our drive. Read here about how to write a homeschool mission statement.

2. Let yourself be inspired

Sampling what the main educational philosophies are about is sure to get you thinking about the way you want your homeschool to be. You don’t have to delve deep in any of them, but it can be interesting to see what they brought to the table. You will probably find that some ideas resonate with you much better than others.

Of course, as Muslims, we know that the only guidance that is complete, comprehensive and flawless is that of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, so take every educational philosophy with a pinch of salt. Never feel as though you have to fully subscribe to one of those schools of thought and stick with one method. And never turn off your critical filter.

Another way to be inspired is to see what other homeschoolers are doing. Remember, I said inspired, not intimidated!

Yes, blogs (those of people who – unlike me – know what they are doing with technology!) and social media are full of pristine images of unattainable perfection that main generate feelings of inadequacy in the reader … blah blah blah. It is up to us to be mature enough to know that there is life beyond the styled photography.

First of all, we must remember we are all humans and there is bound to be a certain amount of mess out of the shot and all around that beautiful arrangement. Secondly, someone’s fabulous online presence is by no means a hint at our “un-fabulousness”!  As with everything, be careful who you let yourself be influenced by.

3. Build beneficial connections

Who said inspiration and support has necessarily to be found online? Before child rearing was at all on my radar, I became friends with a sister 10 years older and 3 kids wiser than me, who home educated. I was impressed, Allahumma baarik. I was impressed with her children and what she was doing for them, instead of pursuing her career. Soon after, I got married and had my first son and I found myself automatically turning to this friend for advice on education. Her insight was pure gold for me who basically had just come to motherhood – let alone homeschooling – from a whole other planet! I have been picking my friends’ brains ever since. It is a reciprocal service. This of course goes way beyond borrowing each other’s resources and exchanging reviews on curricula: A good sister, who is a good friend and homeschools, can be an invaluable presence at the coffee table, when things have not gone well and you need to have coffee and pick up the pieces. Your lives are similarly invested in the upbringing and education of your respective children, so she can grasp the magnitude of successes and milestone reached with far greater appreciation than other friends or family members who have never tried their hand and home education.

You do not have to be super outgoing to meet up with someone who home educates, have a chat and ask all your questions. I cannot stress it enough: the support of your fellow homeschoolers is invaluable. Find some you get on with. Become friends.

4. Determine subjects and levels

Make a list of the subjects you want your child to learn. Don’t forget to include Islamic sciences such as Qur’an, Arabic and whatever branch of Islamic knowledge you deem suitable at this point. They don’t necessarily have to study all the subjects all the time and it helps to keep the list minimal. Have an idea of what your child’s level is. If you are in the UK, and you are not adverse to the school system, you can check out the National Curriculum guidelines for the various subjects your child would be taught if he was in school. If you are removing your child from school you will know how he was doing at the level he was. Otherwise you can go by your child’s age, look at resources for that age and see how they work for them, then adjust accordingly with more challenging or easier materials and build on that. It is possible that he might be at different levels in each subject.

5. Gather your materials

You have decided on a bunch of different subject, but what curriculum do you pick for each? again, your fellow homeschoolers will be a great asset in helping you take this decision insha’Allah. Ask for reviews, ask them to show you their books or lend them to you. Some will have homeschooled multiple children and have sampled a variety of approaches and curricula. You don’t have to agree with them and what has worked for their children may not work for yours, but do benefit from their insight! Do not go line on on a crazy excitement-fueled shopping spree and spend hundreds of pounds without having even had a look inside the books or having given a little thought to how that is going to work for you. Plus, books are not the only way to learn.

As part of your materials, get your FREE Get Your Homeschool Started printable HERE!

6. Find a place

A place to homeschool and a place to store all your homeschooling things. Do not feel as though you need to set up a “classroom”, buy special furniture, and certainly do not quote this blog to your husband among the reasons why you “must” redecorate!

All I am saying is that it helps things to work smoothly if, at the start of each day, you do not have to chase: a) your students and b) the book and the paper and the pencil and the rubber and the glue-stick …. I don’t know about you, but this is not the kid of treasure hunt I care for! I am going to be very straight with you: both things will probably change quite a few times; even when you feel you have found the perfect setting and/or the perfect storage solution, something is going to come along and cause a reshuffle. Well, homeschooling is flexible and we must at least try to “flex” with it!

7. Be serious about it (but not too serious!)

Handing your child a colouring sheet and some crayons once in a while does not amount to homeschooling him. On the other hand, you don’t want to make it too regimented and end up inflicting on (yourself and) your children a super concentrated, 1:1 version of the very kind of pressure and rigidity you wanted to spare them in the first place by taking them out of school. It would also be nice for you not to suffer any kind of breakdown… right?

So, always think about homeschooling as a natural extension of parenting. You already have charge of these precious young people: you feed them, you make sure they are dressed and clean, you try to keep them healthy and happy, you do all you can for them to experience security and love. Now you are also taking control of their education. You know that delicate balance between laxity and strictness that we try to achieve as parents? Apply it to homeschooling as well. Sometimes you will see the fruits of your efforts and you will be pleased, sometimes you will mess up and you will have to say “sorry”. Homeschooling your children looks a lot like life!

Set up your homeschool free printable

8. Know the legal requirements (if any)

In the United Kingdom homeschooling is not strictly regulated or monitored, however, if your school aged child has ever been in school, or if you have accepted a place for her in a school (even if she has never actually attended it), you will need to deregister her. This site offers some useful information on the deregistration process which basically consists in writing a letter to the child’s school. It even gives a deregistration letter template.  If your child has never been enrolled in school, as far as I know, you are under no obligation to inform anyone of your decision to homeschool.

If you are not in the UK, do check your country/state requirements and make sure you understand clearly what your rights and responsibilities are.

9. Get started as you can

Do not wait for everything to be perfect to allow yourself to start. Do not wait to have every single book, a massive stash of purposely bought craft materials, the crayons arranged in chromatic order… In fact, it might be better if you start small and avoid building up huge expectations. You have at hand your English materials, but you haven’t received the Maths book yet? Start with what you have and use it to test the waters. Maybe do that one lesson every day for a while and see how you get on. Find your feet, then build on that. There is no lesson timetable, no school bell… nothing to dictate that you should proceed at a certain pace or in a certain way, except your own sense of what is achievable and appropriate for today.

10. Prepare for criticism

I once came across someone who, after mentioning how many tens of thousands of pounds *gasps* they spent yearly for the private schooling of their children, looked positively disgusted when I contributed to the conversation that mine had never been in school.  Almost as if I said I had left them in the wild, to be raised by wolves! when she recovered, she asked: “But can they, like… read???”

Home education has been happening for decades in the in the UK but, 10 years ago in my country of origin, the homeschooling community was almost non-existent, to the point my mother was adamant it was illegal. Even in a country like the UK where, a couple of years ago, the number of homeschooled children was 48.000 (but in reality it is bound to be more), the idea of alternative ways to educate might be welcomed with skepticism.

Your family might be completely unfamiliar with the whole concept of homeschooling and, as a consequence, fear it. You might enjoy frequent replays of  “But you are not a real teacher” interspersed with “they will grow up to be weird loners”. Prepare for the fact that it might happen. Don’t engage in arguments. Don’t let it get to you. Chances are that insha’Allah the skepticism of those close to you will soon turn into admiration. You might overhear your mother boasting about you to her friends. If your relatives need a little nudge to be supportive, why not find a way to involve them in your children’s learning? as for those critics that are not close to you, debating with them is not our job.

11. Trust Allah. Trust yourself. Trust the process

Allah says in the Qur’an:

{And whoever is dutiful to Allah, He makes a way out for him from every difficulty. And He will provide for him from places he never could imagine. And whoever puts his trust in Allah, He will suffice him.} [Surah At-Talaaq: 65:2-3]

Trust Allah. Know your Lord. Know with certainty that He has all power and ability, among all other things, to guide us when we are confused and to rescue us from our mistakes. While He sustains the whole creation, His special closeness and guidance are obtained by those who strive harder to please Him.

Trust yourself. Do not think that, because you are not a qualified teacher, your children’s education will be inferior to that offered in schools. If you can learn, you can homeschool. Remember, you haven’t always been a confident mother, you weren’t born able to manage a household or do any of the other amazing things that you have mastered. You learned them. Similarly, you will acquire those teaching skills. As you gain experience, you will feel increasingly confident as a homeschooler; formal qualifications per se will not give you that. If you don’t know something, you can look it up. You are not expected to know everything beforehand. There is nothing demeaning in learning along with your child something you don’t know or have forgotten.

Trusting the process means believing that, although you may not see quick results, the days will add up and the work you put in will show in your children, not only in their academic achievement but also, and especially, in who they are. It will not happen overnight. In fact, homeschooling is not a great source of instant gratification as much as a long term investment. But the Muslim knows that none of their sincere efforts will be in vain. And the Muslim parent that chooses to home educate, does so knowing that Allah does not abandon those who do their best on His path.

Are you new to homeschooling and something worries you?

Are you  an experienced homeschooler with more tips to add?  

Please drop us a line in the comments below!

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10 Facts about homeschooling (for beginners)

What is homeschooling like? why to homeschool for beginner

Assalamo alaykum.

After being blessed with the ability to homeschool for a few years, this has become my normality. I don’t do school runs. I never know when the half-term holidays are. But I must remember that, for the majority of people out there, we are the weird ones (do our kids even speak English? do we ever get out of our pyjamas?).

There is a lot to say about homeschooling, for the benefit of the novice, as well as give the seasoned homeschooler some fresh food for thought, insha’Allah.

And since downloading information from one brain to another hasn’t been invented yet (and I hope it never will. It hasn’t been invented, right???) here are 10 facts for you, who have home education on your mind.

1. It is legal

Unless you are seriously out of touch with current affairs, you will know that homeschooling is legal in the United Kingdom, as it is in a lot of other countries worldwide, alhamdulillah. Then why mention this? to remind myself and you that, on your worst day of homeschooling, you should be grateful that your family has this choice in the first place. The freedom to have a say in what, when and how your children learn is a great blessing (even on the days you wish you could send them to school in a different continent!). After a bit of research, I was unable to find out the legal status of homeschooling in all countries of the world… it seems that in some places the law is unclear (sadly most Muslim countries appear to be in that predicament in case you are wondering…). Anyway, here’s a map where you can see where else in the world we enjoy this freedom insha’Allah!

2. It is nothing new

Over the last couple of centuries, human life has changed more rapidly than ever before. For millennia children have been taught things; they have learned everything they needed to know independently, either with the help of their family members or, less frequently, through other individuals. Schooling has been institutionalised and made obligatory only at the end of the 19th century. Children have been systematically made to learn in classrooms as we know them for less than 200 years: Very little when compared to the span of human existence. But, as I said, this relatively short time in history has changed people’s life beyond recognition. School has rapidly become synonym with learning; in fact, it has been inculcated in our minds that is “the one and only” avenue to learning. However, it takes only a little reading or looking around to see that: a) school doesn’t always work well and b) there are some truly inspiring and amazing adventures to be had if one chooses to educate their children independently.

Brilliance, invention, ingenuity and a the potential for a fulfilling life were available before school was invented and insha’Allah they can certainly be achieved outside of it!

3. It is increasingly popular

According to the BBC, the number of homeschooled children in the UK has risen 40% over the last 3 years. It is estimated that there are 50,000 homeschooled children in the UK, but the actual number is probably a lot higher, since this figure account only for children who have been in the school system at some point. Anyway you look at it, there is quite a lot of us. This has its perks:

  • People will be more aware they have the choice to homeschool (and be homeschooled!);
  • It makes us look (and feel) less weird;
  • Prejudice against homeschoolers will be increasingly challenged;
  • More homeschoolers in a given place virtually means more activities organized for their children;
  • More parents in your same situation meaning more potential for reciprocal inspiration and support;
  • More children educated independently means more children (and, some day insha’Allah, more adults) that have not been through the social and intellectual constraints of mainstream education.

Alhamdulillah, it is good news all around.

4. It is doable

By law you are not required to have any formal qualifications to home educate and certainly you do not need a degree to be able to do an amazing job as a home educator. It will help if you have ever been in school (or been homeschooled yourself!) or if you have ever studied or learned anything… and who in the world hasn’t?! If you can understand primary school maths, then you can help your child to learn it too. And if you do not understand or remember primary maths (or grammar, or French… anything really) you can easily look it up and quickly prepare.

What you really need to be able to home educate – and you cannot do it without – is:

  • Seek Allah’s help
  • Be a committed and caring parent
  • Give a big chunk of your daily time
  • Be curious, willing to learn,open minded

If you lack teaching and organisation skills, don’t worry: they will come with time and practice, insha’Allah.

5. The whole family will learn

Picture this: mom doesn’t really understand chemistry (she never did… and – to be honest – she could live without it!…); her 10 year old cannot get his head around reactions between metals and acids. Mom looks it up (on books, Google, Youtube…) and – BEHOLD – she gets it! She shares her discovery with her child (ok, technically, she has not discovered those reactions… but you see what I mean. Don’t ruin her moment!); anyway,the child gets it too! They excitedly communicate their success to Dad, who gets to learn something new. Meanwhile the 3 year old, who has been hovering around and listening, is now pretend playing “stirring magnesium in a sulfate solution” in her play kitchen.

10 Facts about homeschooling for beginners

6. It is all about relationships

When you home educate, your relationship with your children changes. It is not something to maintain and then develop at the weekend and in the holidays, when you get to spend more time together. No. They are with you pretty much all the time, so the interaction is far greater in length and intensity. Plus – because you are now taking on the new role of teacher or “manager” of their education – they are sure to find new and “exciting” ways to test you to the limit. Not because they are evil and the want to see you fail; it is what children do. They test their boundaries.

I don’t really know what it is like to be a mom whose kids attend school, but of course I have close friends and family who are. I imagine that their relationship with their children is like a garden. A British one. Beautiful and well cared for. It takes a lot of work to keep it looking good and tidy, especially in the Spring and Summer. And at any time of the year there are jobs to do if you want those flower beds to be healthy and those trees to bear fruit.

In a homeschooling setup, on the other hand, the relationship you get is like the jungle: a tangle. It grows in such ways that it cannot be tidied and managed aside from hacking a path through it. You have to forage for spontaneous fruits, which it gives plentifully. Sometimes they are colorful exotic things you have never seen before. Its greenery is such that it is perfectly capable of gobbling up whole cities (huge pyramids and all!). It is hot and humid and bothersome. Its abundance supports more life than anywhere else. And, although some of its fruits might give you the odd bout of diarrhoea, it is the place where tremendous things are waiting to be discovered.

You tell me, which one of the two scenarios holds more mystery, more interest and more life?

7. It is flexible

Glorious flexibility: one of the main factors in many people’s choice to home educate. What not everybody considers though is that, while it is generally speaking an advantage, in some settings the lack of a given framework can turn out to be a liability. It is down to us to enjoy the freedom of homeschooling: it is a good “power” and one that must be employed wisely if we want to harvest its fruits. Too much structure kills the enjoyment and excitement of learning; it must also be said though, that complete anarchy is not very conductive to learning either. Homeschooling allows you to choose what to study, when, where, how… and in certain cases even “if”. However, to avoid education and family life spiralling into mayhem, some organization skills and sticking-with-it-ness are needed. You don’t have to have a schedule, but having a routine in place can be very helpful (If you are wandering what’s the difference between “schedule” and “routine” watch this video or this one by Julie Bogart from Brave Writer). Some families are very comfortable going with the flow, and that too is absolutely fine, as long as you “go”!

8. It comes with multiple rewards

The lightbulb moments you will witness on your children’s faces will abundantly make up for all the time you felt overstretched, over tired, over everything! But there is another side to rewards, a deeper, more meaningful and more lasting one: The reward from Allah.

Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

{One who guides to something good has a reward similar to that of its doer.}

[collected by Muslim]

Be the one who directs your child to beneficial knowledge and action upon it: he gets rewarded and so do you.

Be the one who who teaches your child do pray salah: everytime she prays she gets rewarded and so do you.

Be the one who teaches your child to read Arabic: everytime he reads Qur’an he gets rewarded and, (you guessed it) so do you.  

Be the one who teaches your child a hadeeth from the Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) and clarify to her what’s the use of it and how to apply it in her life. Her good deeds will pile up and so will yours, insha’Allah.

Let’s not underestimate this absolute bounty from Allah and consider: Why share it with a teacher if we can do it ourselves?

9. It is part of the job description

I am not saying that all parents whose kids go to school are failing to fulfil their parental duties. There are families whose circumstances genuinely make it impossible to do.

What I am saying is: Let’s not be of those Muslims that just automatically dump their kids in whatever school is around the corner without giving any thought; or of those who hink homeschooling is great in principle but, because they are not qualified teachers or don’t have a university degree, they are somehow “off the hook” and school is their only option.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

{O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whose fuel is men and stones.}

[surah at-Tahreem 66:6]

And our Prophet (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

{Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. […] A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them.}

[collected by Bukhari and Muslim]

The scholars of our time have also guided the Muslims to avoid letting their children being educated in the schools of the non believers for fear their nature and their faith would be corrupted.

Knowing the above, the least we can do is to think and consider what options are really available to our family when it comes to the upbringing of our children.

Academics are not the only aspect that must be weighed in the decision: the priority should be the quality of the environment we consign our kids to for 7-8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 14 formative years of their life; years in which their characters are at their most malleable and their minds at their most susceptible. If you have looked around and we are not happy with the local schools, do not accept it as an inevitability that your child must attend public school. Why not consider taking charge of their education yourself?

It is not mandatory for every Muslim mother on earth to home educate, but it is part of her duties – and a big part at that – to give the highest priority to raising her children well, even when some personal or professional ambition may need to be scaled down or put on the back burner for a while, to make space for this new job.

10. It is a job

Have you ever met or listened to someone who truly loves his job? I remember an elderly scientist in a documentary, in a jungle somewhere, hanging from a rope up in the canopy, chuckling with the utmost delight as he collected what – to the untrained eye – looked like the umpteenth, unremarkable, little bug. He was grinning from ear to ear as he explained the absolute wonder that was that bug; I wouldn’t say I envied him, but his passion was quite infectious!

This all consuming passion for learning is what we all aspire to and work for in our respective homeschools. But even the most passionate and committed worker sometimes has a “bad day at the office” (or in the canopy, in the factory, in the kitchen, etc…). The homeschooling mom will have to face plenty of those, but the believing mother knows that:

  • She is not helpless: she knows she has a Lord who is can do anything and listens to even the faintest whisper of the heart; she supplicates Allah for guidance, patience and ease.
  • She is not unprepared: her kids haven’t just suddenly dropped from the sky, she expects challenges in parenting.
  • She is not alone: in her city, maybe even in her same street or block of flats, another woman is facing the same difficulties.

While it is true that sometimes you might feel like hiding in the bathroom for a good sob, most days – around your dining table, on your floor, sofa or wherever else you congregate with your children – there will be contentment, warmth and excitement; and learning will ensue.

If you are an experienced homeschooler, what would you add to the list?

Are you are thinking to start home educating? which aspects do you find the most exciting and which the most worrying?

But most importantly: do you ever get out of your pyjamas???

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

10 Fact about homeschooling for the homeschool novice How to start homeschooling for Muslims