If you are considering just keeping your child out of preschool or are looking at the long haul of homeschooling, Homeschool 101: What to Expect Your First Year is an indispensable resource for Muslim homeschoolers. If you are still undecided as to if you should homeschool, author Abu Muawiyah Ismail Kamdar’s illustration of contemporary schooling’s failures and his own reasons for homeschooling are especially convincing – share this book with a doubtful spouse. As he suggests, “Step One: Do your research with your spouse.” It’s not just Kamdar’s solid advice on the practical aspects of homeschooling, his centering of his advice on a deen-based life is what really makes the book helpful.
“Children by their nature are energetic, curious, and playful. The school system tries to kill this but fails miserably. I do not understand why we would want to kill this. It is the nature of the child and it is also a child’s strength.”
One of the many homeschooling issues Kamdar addresses in a different light is dealing with the parents of potential or new homeschooling parents. While the grandparents’ concerns was something I never considered when deciding to homeschool my own children, as Sadaf Farooqi also addresses in this edition of Fitra Journal, extended Muslim families can be deeply involved in a wide range of decision-making for children. Kamdar is on point to advise how to compassionately and effectively deal with them. He also does a great job of explaining children’s dispositions and psychology, and that parents need to learn how to work well with children instead of following many of the poor authoritative or permissive styles of parenting modelled to many of us. Kamdar is even frank that not all parents are fit to homeschool. He includes plenty of warnings about difficult areas of homeschooling, which I haven’t seen elsewhere, perhaps in attempt to not scare homeschoolers off, Allahualim.
One issue that is especially astute of Kamdar to address is part of what I call the Homeschool Prodigy Myth, “When one begins homeschooling, it is very easy to get caught up in the zeal and excitement of things and want to learn and teach every day all day long. This method however is not productive and will lead to burnout.” Yes! On a couple of occasions I have hired overzealous tutors who either thought they were playing school instead of focusing on the one subject they were hired for or maybe they were just so excited to have their own clumps of clay to mold, but nope – being homeschooled shouldn’t be mistaken for having endless hours to dump every and all information possible into your child’s little repository. Really, I think this is a common pitfall, I have seen my husband and even my children do this with peer-tutoring. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment and the possibilities, and not even be able to see your child’s disinterest and both you getting very frustrated. For most work sessions, I find it helpful to have a goal of 40 minutes with flexibility to go over that time if things are really gelling, but there will be those days when you find yourself just burnt-out and going nowhere, later realizing you were at it for far too long.
With homeschooling mostly being the realm of moms’ doing, it is great to hear from such a knowledgeable and involved homeschooling father. This is one area I would especially like to hear Kamdar speak more to, insha Allah – the father’s role in homeschooling. Kamdar also writes extensively on issues around self-help, time management and positivity, his works are available through http://islamicselfhelp.com/ebook-store/
This article originally appeared in Fitra Journal｜Muslim Homeschooling Issue Number One.