Beginning Homeschooling, Classical, WTM, and Islamic
August 10, 2009 by bint Curt
This post is an answer to questions I was asked from a Muslim mother who wanted to begin homeschooling her child using the Well Trained Mind method/ Classical education. There were a few other points I wanted to make in addition to adding some insightful quotes to elaborate on a couple things I wrote from books I have read. I will look that up, inshaAllah and edit it soon, so please come back. I feel my advice is better when I quote the source, who may word it much better than me 🙂
ANSWER : You know, I truly feel that parents are almost always better suited to teach their children then teachers in schools. There are of course, some exceptions such as an abusive parent or one who does not at all wish to teach their child. The latter would probably not have a positive impact on their child’s education and may even damage or stunt that child’s ability to learn or love learning. However for the capable and willing parent, homeschooling is certainly a wonderful and viable option than being taught in public school.
Teacher’s training is not really about knowledge and wisdom they acquire and pass on to their students; but time, lesson management and how to handle many children at once. I had also joined some teacher groups online and if you read what really goes on in schools and what they say you would never want to subject your child to that! Also, it’s always a “one size fits all” approach to educating school children. To illustrate that point I recommend you watch this very short, excellent film called “Animal school” I liked it so much I even ordered the book and gave it to my local Islamic school –
www.raisingsmallsouls.com and click on the little box for the film in the middle.
I am going to go look at my bookshelf and write you back on some recommended articles or books on homeschooling but what really got me thinking is what you said about can you really give your child a good education and do better than the “best” schools. That is the first subject Jessie Wise covers in her book, The Well Trained Mind.
I pulled my daughter out of kindergarten after a few months and taught her to read in two weeks while by the end of the school year, most of her class could not read yet. I started the day in the morning, structured and intending as many hours as “real” school. It didnt take long to realize that 1) my daughter wouldn’t stand for that much instruction, nor cooperate and 2) she could learn in less than four hours a day what took eight hours to days of “real” school instruction.
This is because most of the time in school is spent in line, switching classes, going to the bathroom, lunch, break, recess and “busy time” where the teacher just gives the class “busy work” to keep them occupied so she can grade papers or plan the next lesson.
I really believe that a child will be most successful in learning by following what interests them and having some encouragement, guidance and structure from the parent in that area. (This is sometimes called “child led” or Unschooling.)
I was so rigid in the beginning, trying to make “school” at home. Sakina is very strong willed and always has been and she knows what she wants and doesn’t like. We fell into a pattern of learning 2 or 3 hours in the morning and a few in the afternoon or evening. That worked best for her. Now that she is older and her attention span longer we would definitely do most of the work during the day before four.
Honestly, if you feel the regular stuff you are doing with her now, like people have suggested is not enough, start her on memorizing Quran. That is what the WTM talks about in the elementary years, they are in the “parrot” stage and will copy and memorize everything and the time to memorize grammar and math rules and poems at it’s best. The book says even if they don’t understand what they are memorizing, they will draw upon it later and understand it more.
Does she know daily du’a? The ones for going in the bathroom, leaving and entering the house and beginning to eat? Those are short, easy things for her to learn that are not only important but invaluable. Allah and his prophet, salla lahu alahi wa salam told us the many rewards and protection from sin and shaytaan by remembering Him. We do this by saying the du’a in all situations and learning the du’a of the prophets, in the Quran.
I would start her with the story of the Creation. Read her stories on it and you said your daughter could read and write some, I would have her practice her writing at least 5 to 15 minutes a day. If you want to get her started more than what you’re doing now, she should be able to write because the WTM by grade 2 and especially 3 starts them copying passages. I had my Sakina copy passages on Creation and then the prophets, in order and other persons in history. There is a series called the Story of Civilization at the library and subhannaAllah one day I found a used one The Age of Faith for sale at the local used bookstore and I had her copy short passages from there.
Asking me about starting to homeschool made me think of another important first step to homeschooling your child: deciding what your goal is and what you hope to accomplish by educating your child at home. I read that when you set out to homeschool, the first thing you should do is decide what you want your child to gain and learn and what are your goals and your focus? Islamically, this is called “intention” and we know “actions are by intention”
For instance, some people actually take their kids out of school because they don’t want then saying the pledge of allegiance or be taught about God in any way because they are atheists and want their children to have no other influence but this belief. We, on the other hand, do want our children to know their Lord and want to arm them with the correct knowledge and belief so that they cannot just make a life on earth or earn a living but prepare themselves for the day of judgment and the afterlife.
So, think to yourself: What are your goals for your child? what do you hope to accomplish in homeschooling your daughter? Some parents simply want their child to memorize the whole Quran. Even though you may want her to have an “excellent” education you also need to consider your child’s interests, temperment and character. Study the sunnah of our Prophet and how he treated and related to children. There is a lot of psychology in Islam! After you yourself have learned more of the Prophet’s (saws) behavior, action, and advice towards children you implement that in raising your child.
Lastly i want to say i am not perfect, I have made mistakes and I’m no expert on teaching children. I do have and have read many book and do have experience teaching others and my own children. I do not nearly have the patience I used to, may Allah forgive me. I had so much energy when I was younger! But I try to remember that there are few things that will benefit my scale after I die and one of them is having righteous children that will pray for me after i die. Even though I know that I have failed in many things, I try to improve my own self and give my children the correct aqeedah and love of learning. This is a trust that Allah has given me and my responsibility to raise them as Muslims. All else and other “ilm” (knowledge) besides that is secondary.
I will look up helpful articles I have saved and my favorite books. Off the top of my head two REALLY helpful and insightful were by the teacher Ron Clark. One book was The Essential 55 and the other had an eleven in it. Read the “11” one first and it’s much shorter. I will add more books to this list of beneficial books on teaching and parenting later, inshaAllah. Oh, and everything I read said not to go out and buy too many books but that’s what i did. I really had too many and went overboard especially when i was homeschooling my friend’s three boys. Research, research and choose carefully what you buy and plan or you’ll be overwhelmed! END
To everyone who reads this : O my brother and sisters, may Allah guide us and be with us and may we give our children the correct aqeedah and the tools to succeed in this life and the akhirah! I hope some of what I said has helped. May Allah forgive me if I said anything wrong.