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Interview with Rafia

Updated: Oct 1

This was originally posted in December 2015. Rafia currently resides in Qatar and homeschools her four children. BACKGROUND

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?   I have 3 healthy and active kids Alhumdulillah. Ages 8 (son), 5 (daughter) and 2 (son).

How long have you been homeschooling for and do you follow a particular method?

We made the intention to homeschool when our eldest was 6 months old and officially started homeschooling him when he was around two.  My method of homeschooling is majorly influenced by the saying of Ali (RA),

“Play with your children for seven years, teach them for seven years, befriend them for the next seven and then let them go”

Keeping this saying in mind, I avoided formal education when and wherever I could, even if his peers were ahead.  I waited till he lost his first tooth – (studies have shown) which indicates that the brain is getting ready to learn formal education.  We also follow the Waldorf Philosophy and curriculum and still incorporate a lot of it in our homeschool.  Recently I have been exploring Charlotte Mason and been reading The Well-Trained Mind.


Why does your family chose to homeschool? Honestly, there are many reasons!  Initially, because I wanted to be with my kids in the early years and teach them to read and write as soon as they could hold a pencil.  However, as I learned more about different education philosophies, homeschooling methods, motherhood in general my approach to homeschooling took a major turn.  Now, I believe in letting learning happen, and providing an environment that is rich for them to explore.  I feel that children need to be with their mothers in their early years, until they develop a sense of who they are and what there place is in this big world. We as parents and as an Ummah have a huge responsibility on us to raise our children. We all choose what we thinking works best for our families and believe in it.  As Muslim Parents our goal is to raise children to be a sadaqah jariyah for us and want to make sure we do it right.  Preparing them for service and to give back – to people, communities, and the world.  Raising them to love Allah and worship Him and follow the sunnah.  These are all efforts by us as parents but what we need to keep in mind is that the end result is in Allah SWT’s hand, guidance is from Him. I pray that Allah teaches us those tools that will make our children great thinkers. What does a good day look like in your house? As the main foundation of the family, the mother of the family, I feel a major responsibility to be the “mood” setter in our home.  If I take a few mindful moments of gratitude to Allah SWT for all our blessing and set a positive mood for myself, ALL goes well Alhumdulillah.  If I can get up before the kids, pray Fajr, do my prayers, Quran recitation (even if it is a page) and my yoga all by myself.  I am happy, hubby is happy and kids are happy.  Even if we don’t achieve much in terms of productivity and “academics” we still have a good day.  That being said… there are a some daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rituals, and rhythms I like to keep in our family for a sense of harmony. Morning routines – Honey water, herbal teas (in winter especially), some prayer with kids and the audio morning azkar, making beds and self grooming. Homeschooling – Main lesson, filed trips, spontaneous outing or adventure, playdates, co-ops Halaqas, arts and crafts.  Everyday is different.  Some days are more structured then others. Evening – We have a family Halaqa time (its been evolving over the years).  Evening azkar, some oral with kids and the audio evening azkar. Night – I have learned to keep it simple, I add and drop in bedtime routine but some things stay for good and in the same sequence. Pj’s, brush, washroom, duas, story time, hugs and kisses. What does a bad day look like in your house? We as mom’s know our worst days are the PMS days when we lose our cool quickly.  Also when I miss my morning alone time and routine.  Kids are just not willing to cooperate. I keep sneaking to my chocolate bar hiding in the closet to console myself. Loads of dishes, laundry and of course, a missed deadline, despite writing it down in different places (am I the only one?). On these kind of days I make a special request to hubby to take over, and put them to bed. Still at night, when I go to kiss them (after they are asleep) I thank Allah for the fact that we are all safe and survived a crazy day.  And ask Him to give us a better day tomorrow.

What are your three homeschooling essentials? Material – 1. Art and craft supplies 2. Internet 3. Books, reading and workbooks Intangible 1. Patience 2. Dua – Dhikr and Salah 3. Tawakul -Trust / Reliance on Allah What was your biggest homeschooling mistake or set back? I feel going by the book too much, and pushing my eldest to excel beyond his capacity, especially in the beginning.  Reading too much into “what the books say” and not paying attention to my instincts caused a bit of a ruckus in our home.  So Alhumdulillah after learning to follow my instincts I have transformed  a lot. Whats the best part of homeschooling? Seeing the “I got it” expression on their faces is priceless.  Learning with my kids and from their questions.  The freedom to have spontaneity in the day sometimes… it’s refreshing and amazing for the whole family, just being able to drop the “work” and go play in the muddy park, or in rain.  Also love the interaction children get with different age groups of children and adults. Whats the worst part of homeschooling? Not having enough alone and self care time despite trying hard to make time for myself.  At this point in life not being able to pursue some personal and educational goals I have for myself.  I have been taking baby steps to change this a bit for myself.  Also the HARD work I have to put in to be my emulate-able for my kids because they are like a 24/7 surveillance camera!

FAVOURITES Facebook Pages: Mufti Ismail MenkThe Artful ParentDrama Mama YouTube Channels: Crash CourseMake Me GeniusRichard HammondYasir QadhiSophie UlianoHamza Yusuf Blogs: Aasiya’s Homeschool, Simple HomeschoolThe Magic Onion Place to shop for homeschooling supplies: Thrift stores, Dollarama, Amazon, Book Depository and Rainbow Resource. Children’s book: O there are so many… Ayat Jamyilah and all Julia Cook books. Book: Quran, Purification of the Heart, The Secrets Of Happy Families, Simplicity Parenting (Board)Game: Snakes & Ladders. Family Movie:  Documentaries. ADVICE/ SUPPORT Looking back on your homeschooling career, what advice would you give to yourself when you first started? I feel at one time (in the beginning of our journey) I spent too much time explaining why we made this decision.  Now I would politely ignore the critics. No one should ever feel the need to explain why they have made a decision for their family.  We did what works for our family after consulting with The Best of Planners, and others knowledgeable in the field. Have you ever thought about giving up? When, why, and what got you through? No, not really.  I always wanted to school for at least the first ten years.  So, we are still under that. Who or what is your biggest homeschooling support? My first biggest support has been my Husband, alhumdulillah.  Secondly, being a part of TMH.  Thirdly, like minded friends when it came to the tarbiyah (upbringing) of our children.  And a handful of close homeschooling friends that I have stayed in touch with where ever we have been. How do you manage to juggle all the demands of motherhood and housework while homeschooling? There has been one thing that has helped me a lot, which is talking to the kids about how we are family and we all have to share the chores.  Or Mama’s body will give up and I wont be a happy and fun Mama you want. I read the book Cleaning House and found many tips and ideas which have helped me a lot.  After reading it I decided to bring a major change in our home, and decluttered and purged. Over the years I have also learned to let go of many minicule details of housework.  I constantly tell myself to not expect perfection from myself and the family, so I have learned to let go of much, and still am. Delegating and encouraging kids to take care of their belonging really helps. My kids have been folding laundry since they were three years old.  Now mashaAllah they are pros!  We have been working on ironing now.  They make no-cook-breakfasts too. Alhumdulillah my husband has taken over certain roles that were new to him to bring a sense balance in our family dynamics and chores.  He helps in emphasizing household responsibility in the kids.  I say the azkar (prayers) Rasolullah SAW taught Fatima when she asked for a helper, every night with the kids. RANDOM What does your family usually eat for breakfast? What we eat really varies on what we have ahead in our homeschool day.  Usually I try to keep breakfast simple but nutritious, and let kids help with breakfast prep during the week.  On Friday and Saturday mornings we usually have a nice big breakfast, pancakes with caramelized fruit, gourmet omelette, fresh juice or green smoothies.  It's one of those rhythms of our family that we try to keep.  That being said we have many only cereal days too. Where was the last place your family went to enjoy some quality time together? We had a road trip from Toronto to South Carolina.  Alhumdulillah we love adventure and we had a very memorable trip.  When we lived in Saudi, we use to go on road trips a lot.  It’s amazing Subhanallah how different the scenic views are in both places.  They range from barren dessert and breathtaking rock formation and sand dunes to North America’s awe-inspiring lush green forest and Appalachian mountain range.  They both are so refreshing in their own unique ways.  I love outdoors!

What is something you do for yourself to feel good? Go for a dessert by myself with a good friend.  I am also a craft hobbyist at a heart so, calligraphy, painting, zentangle, adult colouring pages, knitting, felting in the quite night with a good audiobook, lecture, documentary/movie or plain silence makes me feel good.  Yoga is a nice feeling especially when done with others. Can you share a confession of something you let your kids do that others may not know or approve of? Well… I have to say we have used the internet as a baby sister especially when we have a lot of packing to do.  My kids have used  adult craft supplies, needles, calligraphy pens and coloured sharpies etc. If you were an animal, what would you be: I would be an Orangutan.  I find it to be so like me – I am breastfeeding, baby wearing, and nature loving kind of a mother. Orangutan are known to keep their little ones close for the first 2 years of there lives and nurse them till they are 5! I could also see myself to be a long distance migration bird because I love to see new things and places.  I could venture with my flock. I love travelling InshaAllah Allah SWT grants us many opportunities to travel.

Jazakillah khair Rafia for your time.

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