…and a new start
An Important distinction I made recently and lesson learned was to put Aqeedah and Quran first, academics second. I don’t just mean schedule-wise like lessons on religion first or Quranic memorization in the morning before academic subjects are covered I mean philosophically, practically and mentally first. Of course with learning everything is connected and can be experienced together but that’s a whole ‘nother post;)
Days I awake alert, pray, and began the day cheerfully reviewing our lesson plans and my to do list, the day goes smoothly, is productive and I accomplish the goals i set for myself and my children’s learning or activities for that day.
I realized for quite a while now those days are infrequent and in the past. Lately I felt little was accomplished and that our whole household was dragging through the day, starting later and later, not getting into the swing of things till the afternoon. I became frustrated meals were no longer on time or in a reasonable period (breakfast before 11, lunch before 3) I was annoyed their chores weren’t done, I had return to nagging and criticizing and by ‘asr, only a couple lessons had been finished.
That overwhelmed feeling became worse and worse: the house wasn’t the way I wanted it, the kids were starting the day too late, we weren’t getting enough done, in my opinion. And no, I’m not going to say the common revelation that unschoolers have was that we needed to slow down, de-school, have less schedule or structure or enjoy nature. Thank God, I have realized a lot of these and my children have shown me the error of my way that my idealized picture of a schoolroom complete with textbooks, desks and posters replicated in our house did not appeal to them nor yield much result. I mean, they go in there to get supplies or grab a book and read on the small, comfy IKEA couch or perhaps even play with our cockatiel but sitting at the antique desk I bought and letting me “teach” them…..no.
The word that comes to my mind is liberation. Once I was able to ‘let go’ of all the common, erroneous ideas of education and release my faulty way of thinking, my children and I were so much happier. Really, I am not trying to copy the word of the title from one of the most appreciated and well written books in the history of education*…it is just the perfect word. To know something is to know it’s opposite and the opposite of liberation would be in my mind, slavery.
My mind was held captive to the idea that learning must be represented as a schoolroom in my house and that was the only way my children would learn. Silly, because that was not the way i was raised but it was how i was ‘schooled’.
Back to my original point, realizing the tone in our home had shifted from following interests, open discussions, and harmony to one of drudgery. That nice flow and balance we had that comes when you’re free to learn or pursue what you want, when you want, while still setting goals was gone. Being carefree and the lightness in our chests but still feeling our time was well spent, meaningful…the positive charge exiting in our home was absent.
So I decided to forget worrying about the lesson plan and announced we would start the day by reading or memorizing Quran. It made a difference immediately. It wasn’t just in the kids attitudes and what they finished, it was MY mentality and demeanor changed. After all, the feeling in the home usually reflects the mom. I mean, the husband can set the tone and he is the leader but the mother is the the love, the example and the teacher.
What a relief! It’s not that I took charge and we got the house in order, or that our prayers were on time, but that I felt confident that if I put God first, everything would be all right. It goes without saying of course, the importance of fajr prayer offered at it’s prescribed time.
Once I began having them work on their surah memorization or having a short halaqa discussion, I stopped feeling that weight becoming heavier throughout the day; that familiar, nagging worry ceased. I knew if we began our school day right, in worship and remembrance of Him, subhana wa ta’ala, my children would learn whatever academics essential for their future.
When I experienced that certainty, that comfort, I relaxed, the scowl on my face replaced by a smile, and the light-heartedness returned. I rediscovered just the simple joy of being with my kids. Once again i felt the liberation.
Instead of dragging through the day, with that feeling of defeat by dinnertime, I was relishing each moment with my kids. New thoughts, more reflections, revelations how history, science and current news were all connected and explained through Quran and hadeeth, were easily discovered and shared among us. maa shaa Allah. There was less arguing, more play and camaraderie, and more wonder in the world around us.
I mentioned to my teenage daughter what a pleasure she was to be around lately “I’m glad you noticed,” she retorted. I didn’t take offense, in fact the opposite. I could tell by her tone she appreciated my words but was hurt. I had betrayed her. After the long journey of discovery and realization that culminated in allowing her the freedom to learn on her own I had backtracked and returned to ‘do this, do that’… ‘why haven’t you…..
I do believe children should obey but I also believe adults should apologize to children when they are in the wrong and I try to do that. My wrong had been returning to the negative, hostile mom from the past instead of the positive, encouraging, and relaxed one as I was after my ‘enlightenment’. Instead of my usual need to make this into a lesson, with a minimum statement (lecture) responding to her, “I’m glad you noticed” I remained silent and just ‘took it’. I think that meant more to her than any admittance or promises I could have made. and Allah knows best.
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