Fitra Journal is so thankful to Samar Asamoah for taking the time to share her experience for Issue One ‘Getting Started’ (available here or through Amazon). This is her full article –
“It’s not about the pros and cons, it’s about what suits us.”
For me, homeschooling is about taking responsibility for my children’s education. I’m not saying that parents who choose to send their children to school are irresponsible. What I’m saying is I’m not afraid to take it all on myself. Recently a family relative suggested that… or actually they ordered me to send my children to school. They said that they are scared that my children won’t be able to go to university or study sciences if they are homeschooled. I could tell that they had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about the many opportunities that homeschooled children have compared to those in school. When I started to explain the process and to send them links showing cases of home educated children going to uni as early as the age of twelve, it still didn’t seem to reassure them. Is it perhaps because I’m a single parent?
I started homeschooling about five years ago. My daughter was seven at the time and both she and my son, then age three, had just come back from a long family holiday of about five months. I felt that I needed to get my daughter back into school because that’s normally just what you do. My son quickly got a place in nursery but I was told I would have to wait a few weeks before I found out if my daughter had been accepted into a school. I decided that in the meantime we would work at home together so she wouldn’t fall behind. I bought some books and found some online resources. My daughter and I worked together doing maths, English, and science. I found it quite easy, it was like helping with homework after school. Since she was only seven, it was simple enough stuff. When we did get the acceptance letter from the school my daughter looked at me and said: “Mama I don’t wanna go back to school I want to be homeschooled.” Remarkably, I simply responded: “OK then”.
It wasn’t a difficult decision for me to take as I was unemployed at the time, so having the time wasn’t an issue. Not only that, but I was more than happy to continue as we were because really I had wanted to homeschool my children before I even had them. When I gave birth to my daughter I was at university and it was just easier to put my daughter into nursery and school than follow my preference. As for my son, I kept him in school; he finished nursery and went onto reception. He was doing very well and seemed to enjoy it for the most part, he had friends, an excellent school report and exceptional social skills for a child his age. However after seeing all the fun things that his sister was doing at home and hearing about our homeschooling trips, he started asking if he could be homeschooled too.
I didn’t want to take him out of school before the year was over so I told him to wait till it was over. I actually thought that he would change his mind but he never did. To be honest I have been both surprised and pleased with my children in this respect: they rarely change their minds about what they want to do and are quite driven once they decide something. This has been a very useful trait with regards to their home education. There is a three-year gap between them and my daughter being the elder is very good at tutoring her brother as well as self-study. One of the best ways to reinforce your own learning is to teach others. Educators know this, but schools seldom have the time or resources to engage in peer-tutoring activities. I do spend one-on-one time with each of them but, my daughter does a lot more self-study on her own inclination. She is currently learning Japanese by herself. My son also enjoys learning different languages and diverse subjects such as graphic design, sciences, and arts.
I actually feel that as a single parent I can spend more time with my children because I homeschool them. I no longer have the burden of the morning or afternoon school rush. I’m not confined by the school holidays as to when I can travel with my kids or not. Education is a way of life for us, it is not just confined to a particular building time or place. I can juggle my self-employment with homeschooling pretty easily. No doubt it can be hard sometimes but that’s probably more because I take on other activities not related to my home life because I’m quite driven as an individual. These are usually short-term projects though and I think as a parent it’s good to show your children that you are also trying to improve yourself.
I’m sure that two-parent families also have their struggles as well as their strengths. I think the most important thing as a family is working together as a team. Once you have good teamwork in place anything is possible.
Samar Asamoah is an African Caribbean revert and self-employed single mum raising multicultural kids in the north of England. Her artwork and Eid cards for Syria are available at etsy.com/shop/Yezarck.
This article originally appeared in Fitra Journal: Getting Started, available in print and digital here or at all Amazon shops.