Advice to Homeschooling Mothers – Continue to Educate Yourself

July 5, 2010

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,

As Muslim homeschoolers – we are truly blessed.  There is much knowledge available that is extremely beneficial for the homeschooling mother – whether it is directly related to homeschooling or not.  There is a lot of knowledge that can truly be a blessing and a motivation in your homeschooling life.

We have a very important task at hand – raising our children in Islam. We don’t just teach our children what the answers are – or how to figure them out – how to add or how to spell – but insha’Allah – we help our children learn how to think about the world around them – how to find proof of Allah’s existence even in the tiniest of creatures – we help our children to realize their place and purpose in this world – realizing the importance of even small things like the smile upon one’s face and the importance of greeting with “Asalaam ‘Alaikum” to even those we do not know – we help our child realize that they have the potential to make this world a better place – to live their lives as dawah and to treat others with kindness and patience – even to those who are unable to treat us the same. This, my dear sisters, is no easy task. In order to be prepared – in order to have the right tools, we must educate ourselves and strive to improve our lives and the lives of our children, insha’Allah.

I am certain that there are many beneficial sources of knowledge available nowadays – and even the books that I read and enjoy are only a small part of them. However, even with the few books that I have available to me – first and foremost being the Qur’an – there is much guidance for the homeschooling mother contained within them.

Take, for example, the Stories of the Prophets and the many stories contained within the Qur’an.  We need to reflect on those stories – why was it important to share those stories with us – how do they relate to us?  Think about the story of Prophet Musa (Peace and Blessings be upon him), for example:

“…and he lived among them one thousand years less fifty, then the Flood seized them and they were evildoers.”  Surat al-Ankabut: 14

After all this time, his people still stubbornly refused to follow him.  Whenever a generation would pass, the people would advise their young not to listen to Nuh (alaihi as-salâm) or to believe in him.  They also taught the younger generation to fight him and oppose him.  Whenever a child was grown up, he was warned by his father that he should never believe in Nuh (alaihi as-salâm).  Subhan’Allah – can you imagine?  It must have been very difficult for Nuh (alaihi as-salâm) to continue spreading the message, but he was patient and never gave up.  Masha’Allah!

For One thousand years – less fifty – he continued to share that message.  How does that relate to us?  Think about it.  Ask yourself, “what does the story of Nuh (alaihi as-salâm) teach us about patience?”  How should this story help us be better Muslims – better parents – better teachers for our children?  It is stories like these – in the Qur’an and other beneficial Islamic books that can help us pause and reflect about what is most important – and how we can be successful teachers of our children.

I recently found a book that I want to purchase entitled “Enjoy Your Life: The Art of Interacting with People . . . as Deducted from a Study of the Prophet’s Life” by Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi. There is quite a bit of good advice contained within its covers, masha’Allah – on dealing with other people and interacting with them.  Even though this is not a “homeschooling” book – there is much advice that is helpful for the homeschooling mother.  For example:

We tend to be experts at noticing other people’s faults and commenting on them. But we rarely tend to be experts on noticing the good they have and the right things they do in order to comment positively.

Take, for example, a teacher with his students. All teachers tend to criticize the lazy student who does not do his work and is always late to his lessons. However, not many teachers comment positively about the student who is hardworking, punctual and has good handwriting.

We often criticize the faults in our children but praise them little when they do good. This makes us lose many opportunities through which we can win over hearts. Therefore, from the most important of all skills is to praise the good that people may have.

One morning, the Prophet (saw) met Abu Musa and said to him, “You should have seen me last night as I attentively listened to your recitation. You have been given one of the flutes of the people of David.”

Abu Musa became overjoyed and delighted upon hearing this. He said, “If I had known that you were listening to my recitation, I would have recited even more proficiently.” (al-Hakim, Sahih. Its origin in in al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Think for a moment how much of a difference we can make as teachers if we can just try to focus more on the good that our children do.  What if we tried to focus less on the difficulties they may have (it’s just another obstacle we need to overcome) – and, when they lose faith in themselves because of these difficulties – we remind them of the many things they are able to do well.  How confident would our children be in that environment – would they strive even harder to do better?  What things can we do – what positive changes can we make to ensure our learning environment is a good one for our children?  Let’s not wait until after the fact to think of ways it “could have been better” but work now – one step at a time – to improve ourselves.

Sometimes, you might find a book that actually lays down all the rules for successful homeschooling.  However, many of those books relate only to that one person’s experience – it only relates to their methodology on homeschooling or it relates to their way of seeing the world.  Many of them are just guides on “Buy this curriculum,” “Buy this product” or “Buy this methodology” but nothing can guarantee your success.

While those books are helpful – especially for those trying to find out HOW they are going to homeschool – it is not enough to keep you going on this marvelous journey.  It’s like finding a wonderful book on hiking.  This particular book contains a wonderful description of each of the hikes and makes you want to just get out there and start hiking but forgets to mention how to get to the trail and what path to take.  What provisions do you need? – how long is the trail? – is it a strenuous hike? – where does the path lead you?  While you may know you want to homeschool – while you may already know what methodology you want to use and you may know what curriculum you may want to use – you still need something else to keep you following that path – to help you through your roughest homeschooling days and to help you continue to strive to be successful in your endeavor.  This is where continuing to educate yourself Islamically comes into play.

I know – I know – you are saying to yourself “where will I ever get the time to read?”  However, if you realize how important it is – you will make time.  You really don’t have time to read?  Then find a beneficial lecture online and listen to it while doing the dishes – or cleaning the house.  I’m assuming – if you are like me – that you still need to do those things – right?  You don’t have to do it all the time – you don’t have to do it every day (although that would be beneficial) – but you really need to do it – as often as you can – for yourself and for your family.  You want to be successful homeschooling your children – then you need to do it, insha’Allah.

Now, you don’t need to find a special book on homeschooling to find advice and knowledge regarding this difficult task ahead of you.  The benefit of educating yourself and expanding your horizons Islamically is that even when you are reading a book that is completely unrelated to homeschooling you will find gems of wisdom that help you to be a better parent – a better teacher and a better Muslim, insha’Allah.  You just have to continue to find ways to gain that knowledge – and to read with an open heart and mind.  Then, you will realize how much advice and wisdom is available to you on this homeschooling journey.

For example, one of my favorite books is entitled “You Can Be the Happiest Woman in the World” by Dr. ‘A’id al-Qarni.  I like to read this book often, as it is full of good reminders as well, masha’Allah.  For those of you not familiar with the book, it is not a “homeschooling book” but it contains advice that is helpful for the homeschooling mother.  For example:

My sister, verily with every difficulty there is ease (Qur’an 94:6); after night comes the day.  The clouds of worry will be blown away, the darkness of distress will be dispelled, and calamities will come to an end, by Allah’s leave.  Remember that you will be rewarded, and if you are a mother, your children will be a great support and help for Islam, if you bring them up properly.  They will make du’a for you when they prostrate and at the end of the night, just before dawn.  It is a great blessing if you are a compassionate and kind mother.

I think all of us have had bad homeschooling days – days when we just wondered “what was I thinking?”  “why am I doing this?” or  “It’s just too hard!”  If you haven’t had a day like this, then you are truly blessed, masha’Allah.  However, if you have a bad homeschooling day – remember these words – remember the lesson and how it relates to your current situation.  Yes, it may be difficult – but it will get better.  Yes, being home with your kids every day – day in and day out can certainly be a test of your patience – but some day your child will realize how blessed they were because you made that sacrifice – and they will make dua for you.

Remember when you first became a mother – remember the pains of pregnancy and then childbirth – didn’t it remind you of your mother and all she had to go through with you as a child?  Didn’t it make you feel a gentleness towards her and remind you of how thankful you are to have had a mother who sacrificed so much to raise you?  Think of how that relates to homeschooling – not only are we blessed to be able to do this for our family – not only will we reap its many rewards, insha’Allah – but some day our child will remember us – when they are going through difficulties or perhaps when they are successful – perhaps even when they are homeschooling their own children – and, insha’Allah – they will be thankful.  Just remember – this day shall soon pass . . . this day shall soon pass . . .

I also have another book written by Dr. ‘A’id al-Qarni that I really enjoy entitled “Don’t Be Sad.” This is another book I like to read from time to time.  Reading it is like getting advice from a good friend. While not a “homeschooling book” it has a lot of excellent advice for the homeschooling mother as well.  For example:

Those who meet hardship with a strong bearing and a patient countenance are in the minority.  But we must consider this, though it may seem obvious: if you or I will not be patient, then what else is there for us to do?  Do you have an alternative solution?  Do you know of any provision that is better than patience?

Those that achieve greatness have to surmount an ocean of difficulties and hardships before finally achieving success.  Know that each time you escape a difficulty you will have to face another.  Through this constant conflict, you must arm yourself with patience and a strong trust in Allah.  This is the way of the noble-minded: they face difficulties with firm resolution, and they wrestle hardship to the ground.

Therefore be patient and know that your patience is only through Allah.  Have the patience of one who is confident of forthcoming ease, of one who knows that there will be a good ending, and of one who seeks reward from his Lord, hoping, that by facing difficulties, he will find expiation for his sins.  Have patience, no matter what the difficulty and no matter how dark the road ahead seems.  For truly, with patience comes victory, and with difficulty relief follows close behind.

Homeschooling is not easy – that is the truth.  However, homeschooling is an amazingly rewarding experience, masha’Allah – and the rewards make the difficulty seem so small.  Is homeschooling for everyone – no, I guess not – because I know many people who say that it is just impossible for them to do it.  Allah knows best.  However, if you have the right attitude – the right intention – and you are willing to keep striving to do your best – you will find that it is not only NOT impossible – but that you and your family will be richly rewarded by doing it, insha’Allah.

If you are having difficulty – if you are uncertain – if you are burned out – remember there are those who have gone before you – and they too, have experienced these things.  You are not alone – and just like those before you – if you remember to take care of yourself – if you remember to strive to do your best – if you remember to make dua – it is possible for you to succeed.  Everyone’s path is not the same – we don’t all come to homeschooling the same way – we don’t all have to homeschool the same number of children or in the same type of household setting – we don’t all have the same influences around us (whether for or against homeschooling).  However, insha’Allah – we can all strive to do the best for our families and for our children.  We can all share in this wonderful journey and come out not only providing our children with an education – but also growing and learning, ourselves, in the process.

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,

Sumayyah Umm SAA

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