Life & Community
Batool Haydar gets schooled in the little-charted area of unschooling
he month of Ramadan is a time of reflection and I’ve had plenty of that to do in the past four weeks! Those of you who follow my articles may be aware that my major concern as a parent revolves around providing my daughter with the necessary experiences she requires to develop a stable, positive character.
is very little I remember taking away from my actual classes. In recent years, as I have worked with children and youth, I have witnessed the huge changes that social media and the internet have brought to our lives. The impact an online presence has on the mind and heart of a young person leave indelible marks that literally last a lifetime.
We’ve been quite firm with the ‘no-technology’ policy and don’t regret that one bit. However, since she passed her third birthday, I’ve found myself having to answer the same question every single time I share her age: “So, is she in school yet?” (No, she’s not.)
Do I really want my child to have to deal with cyberbullying, peer pressure, fashion brainwashing and all the other marketing tripe she will be bombarded with, more so because she is a female? I’ve been having discussions around the same issues over and over again during this month (because Ramadan is when we all manage to catch up for the whole year’s lack of real life interaction, isn’t it?). All of them in some way or another accused me of being over-protective, told me I was stunting my daughter’s social skills and doomed her to be at best a literary recluse if I continued down the path of homeschooling.
I was never really a ‘motherly’ kind of person, but one thing I have always known is that if I ever had children, they would be homeschooled. And this was from way back when the term was barely known, let alone understood. Coming from a strong academic background, I knew I loved education, but having been forced through a secular, structured system of learning, I also know how much I disliked the way I was taught. My best learning came from out-of-school hours and there
The question that floored me over and over again, obsessing my conversations with God, was ‘How will she know what real life is if you don’t send her out
into the world?’ There was an element of truth in this sincerely concerned query. How indeed? Did I really think I could provide every experience she needed all by myself? That was when I began to search for the genuine answers. The ones that would keep me firm on my decision, because if I didn’t have those, then, in all honesty, I would have to put her in a school before the end of the year. Ramadan is only just over, so I don’t have any comprehensive theories, but I have decided on a couple of things. For those of you considering keeping or taking your children out of school, I’m hoping this might help provide a few more thinking points on which to base your decision, God willing. What is real life? This was the first thing to tackle. I want my daughter to first and foremost be genuine. I want her to experience life and understand the good and the bad in it. I want her to be fully aware, especially as a Muslim, that the state of affairs in the world is far from ideal and that her responsibility - from birth - is to do something about that. I want her to know that she can get the best grades and be an