2009 and Beyond – Part 1
OUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY
We believe that homeschooling and parenting are intertwined – one involves academics and the other, character-building and morality/spirituality. They overlap and indeed, all parents are home-educators to a certain degree.
We would like our children to be well-grounded in Islamic knowledge and to have a very strong Muslim identity and outlook. Our emphasis is thus on Islamic studies and Arabic.
We follow a slightly modified Charlotte Mason approach to education. We do not use the Christian component since we are Muslims. However, we believe that Charlotte Mason’s ideas and techniques are in line with or highly adaptable to Islamic principles.
The following are what we have taken from the CM approach:
- That “education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” – this is about finding out who we are and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created. This we tie in with our mission to worship Allah, the reverence for an obligation to seek knowledge and the duty to put into practice what we know.
- That the child is able to deal with ideas and knowledge – that he is not a blank slate or empty sack to be filled with information. We believe that children should be challenged and nourished with noble ideas and beneficial knowledge and taught to think critically.
- That “education is the science of relations” and that the child “requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body”; that “the knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite (i.e., curiosity)”; that the “knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form”
- That the child should be instilled with and trained in good values and habits so that he will have a strong resolve to act in a right manner. We have adapted CM’s motto to “I am, I can, I ought, I will, in shaa Allah”.
- That the child should be trained in memorisation – this we use in particular in the memorisation of the Qur’an. In this, our children also meditate upon the meanings of the verses.
- That the child is expected to narrate – this, we believe not only helps us check their understanding but also helps cement the lessons in their memory. Our children also feel a sense of accomplishment and mission when they are able to teach and pass on what they know.
- That the child should appreciate nature and spend time outdoors – we do this to bond as a family but also believe that this is essential for our children to experience first hand and delight in and appreciate Allah’s creations and signs.
- That living books are employed – we do not rely primarily on reference and text books. Rather, creative and imaginative literature are used to bring lessons to life.
- That education is teacher-directed – in this, our children are trained to respect the teacher and the teacher in turn is expected to see her duty to educate as a moral duty. This does not mean that children have no freedom. Rather, they must be given time to pursue their own interests.
- That once the child is able to read fluently, he should read his lessons himself. This is in line with our goals to raise motivated self- and lifelong-learners. As such, we do our best to ensure that they are given authentic Islamic books and quality literature. Comprehension is checked through narration, discussions and project work.
At home – in Singapore and Pakistan – our daughters are surrounded by books. We try to provide them with the tools they need for their learning journey – stationery, toys, manipulatives, crafting materials, documentaries and room to work and create – while at the same time encouraging them to be flexible and to creatively make do with what they have.
We strive to strike a balance between supporting their interests and ensuring they have acquired the essential learning skills. As such, play, reading and being read to, day trips and holidays that incorporate learning opportunities, socialising with people of different ages and backgrounds and creative pursuits are given equal emphasis and value with time spent on academic subjects.
REASONS FOR OPTING TO HOMESCHOOL
Our mission is to raise our children to be self-motivated lifelong learners who firmly adhere to the Qur’an and Sunnah. We believe that home education will allow us to better achieve this goal as it will allow our daughters to have a more self-directed learning where they can study the primary school curriculum while at the same time pursue other academic and extra-curricular interests in depth. We are committed to providing our children with quality education, a nurturing home environment and lots of opportunity for creative and social pursuits.
We believe that homeschooling will help us achieve the following:
(1) Freedom to dictate pace of learning: Home education will allow our girls to have a more self-directed learning where they can pursue her interests in depth and at their own pace. They can go at a faster pace at subjects that they are good at and at a slower rate at those they are challenged in.
(2) Delight-driven Learning: We strongly encourage our children to pursue a wide variety of interests and support them in their initiatives, be they of an academic, religious, social or sporting nature. Our 7-year-old, whom we are officially homeschooling, has so far sought to learn about subjects like The American Civil War, The Irish Potato Famine, World War II and the Holocaust, rainforests, auroras and many others. She also takes pleasure in interests like swimming, art and Qur’an memorisation.
(3) Independence: We would like our children to be passionate and self-driven in their quest for knowledge. We believe that a caring home setting will allow them space for making and learning from mistakes, time to imagine and freedom to dream, plan, conceptualise and manage resources.
(4) Improve & preserve family life: Home-based education will allow us to preserve and improve family life by providing more time for group activities that draw family members closer to each other. The more relaxed pace of home-based education allows for the close relationships and round-the-clock learning that results from a wide variety of family-centred activities. We spend time in both Singapore and Pakistan in order to maintain close ties with both sides of the family. Her father’s job entails a great deal of travel as well and we would like our children to accompany him, not only to maintain family ties, but also to learn about the world at large. Home education allows us to learn without disruption throughout the year.
Mum’s Guide Books
- Nebel’s Elementary Education: Creating a Tapestry of Learning by Bernard J Nebel
- Once Upon a Time : Parenting Through Storytelling by Hoda Beshir
- Advice on Establishing an Islamic Home : New Edition by Shaikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid
- Parenting Skills: Based on The Qur’an and Sunnah by Dr Ekram Beshir
- The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte M. Mason
- A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola
- Charlotte Mason Study Guide by Penny Gardner (Secular Edition)
- When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today
- A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
- More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
- Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook by Sonya Shafer