Friday, October 8, 2010

Forever Asked Questions

Many families are reluctant to opt for educating their children at home, due to the extensive society/family pressure they would have to endure and the numerous questions they would have to face. One of the homeschooling mothers in our Karachi group decided to start a string of FAQs, which would give some idea of what exactly the home educating families are facing in Pakistan. Arm yourself with humour to read her write-up followed by additions of other mothers.

As-Salaam Alaikum,

Wide eyed disbelief? Sneer of contempt? The word "crazy" hoovering over someone's head? "Did I hear her right?" over another's? Expect these expressions and more, once you enter the mysterious world of homeschooling parents... I agree that we need to put together a FAQ (Forever Asked Questions - many a homeschooling parent rechecks the FAQs to reassure herself that there are other insane parents around too:)) So let's get the ball rolling with some true statements we parents often hear, when people realize our kids don't go to school:

- "Homeschool"? Where is that school?

- Your run a school at home? Could you tutor my kids, too?

- Do you use books?

- Are you qualified to teach (your own) kids?

- You must be a doctor/professor.

- What about socialization? (while the kids are playing with others at a park)
- What about socialization? (while the kids are having converstaions with adults at a dinner party)
- What about socialization? (when the kids are returning from a football match)

- How do you test them?

- But all they do (at home) is play!

- It's just so hard to wake them up in the mornings (at this end, the kids get up at Fajr on their own on every bookworm book club day and then wake up their parents, too!)

- Don't they miss school?

- She's shy? Oh, that's because she's never been to school... Oh, she did go to school last year?...

- You can't protect them from everything by keeping them indoors (you are being over protective). They go to the Masjid on their own? But things are so dangerous outside!

- Don't they get lonely? (with 6 siblings?!!)

- Oh, so they will be able to go to college?

- You mean you have lunch on time? Even though they are at home?

- It's ok for you to stay late at the wedding - the kids don't have to go to school (kids are yawning)

- But when do you get the house work done? The kids help?

Feel free to add your experiences to this and later we can file it as an ever growing list. This list is not meant to dicourage anyone from home education; rather, just to give new home educators a taste of what kind of response to expect, when people find out you teach your own, and to give those who are already educating their kids a few chuckles.

How to respond to these questions? Keep in mind, who the person you're addressing is and your reasons and your goal for home education and infuse it with Hikmah... You may hear these from people, who are genuinely curious or concerned about your kids, or don't really want to know but must say something (in which case it doesn't matter what you say)... So keep a Dua on your lips and your goal in sight and, Insha'Allah, as you face the questions, you'll find them easier to answer, too, Insha'Allah.

Was-salaam alaikum


1. "But children need to go to school to develop social skills!"
2. "Why not just put them in a cheaper school?" (Assuming it was just the money that schools charge that made us decide to homeschool).
3. "Going to a good school is very important for future success."
4. "They study from you? They actually study when you teach them? They do what you tell them to do?"
5. "Your children will miss out on the healthy competition that exists in classrooms, which makes one child want to do better than the rest." (....uh, 'healthy'?)

Last but not least, the most amusing aspect is how, when we go somewhere where people expect kids to behave like kids (i.e. to only be interested in watching silly cartoons, not show interest in adult pastimes, dumbly believe silly lies when they are given as excuses e.g. "Don't go up those stairs, a bhaoo will get you.."), it is a very amusing situation because my kids act a bit like grownups and are not afraid to do things that adults do, and everyone gets a bit scandalized by this e.g. they insist on drinking in actual glasses ("But he'll break it! Give him a plastic one!") and then when they're done, they want to go put the glass back on the kitchen sink (at home, my 3 year old tries to wash it with sponge and detergent, WHILE HANGING OFF THE EDGE of the sink!!), they'll try to make the tea/cornflakes themselves, they will try to read the newspapers and magazines on the coffee table, they'll try to answer the phone...

And of course, my 5 year old's endless questions also get a bit much for others sometimes... :) (even me!)

As for Umm Baps, when her seventh was born and was an infant, her 4 year old and 2.5 year old would pick him up and carry him confidently, which sometimes got some onlookers in a bit of a worry, that why she allows them to pick up their baby brother. :)

But seriously, the Baps household is very unique, masha'Allah. I have seen very few boys who are so mature and "manly" at such young ages. Baarak Allahu feehim.


Sadaf Farooqi


1) You are a control freak... you want to control your son's life - that is why you are not sending him to school. (While yelling at their own kids.)
2) You'll make him a "mummy boy" (while their own son is sucking his thumb and constantly saying: mama, mama, mama, mama).
3) It's easy for you - I have to look after 3,4,5, etc. kids. When you have more kids, you won't be doing it. (Well, Allhumdolillah, I belong to a good support group where people are actually homeschooling there 7 kids, Masha'Allah.)
4) You can homeschool him. He is obedient. I can't - my kid is very hyper... :)

And I don't know why people constantly try to pursue me to send my child to their child's school (it is very good they have lots of extra curricular activities etc.). If it is so good, then why were you complaining about that school when you did not knew about my homeschooling...

Umm e Hashim


The most basic question I have faced is : "But WHY do you not send your children to school?"

I think many new homeschoolers find this hard to answer , specially in the suspicious, contemptuous way this question is usually asked. If you are not pre-prepared for this, it can put you on back foot. It's not easy to summarize all that you read in those convincing, wise articles and many a times the situation doesn't allow for a detailed answer (e.g in a book store, during travel, in a park).

My simplest answer is "Coz I believe education at home is the best option for my children". Or "Well, schooling is optional, only education is necessary".

The confident, into-the-face, yet encouraging tone of your answer should say these things unsaid:
"Don't think that I'm a fool who doesn't know how to raise her own kids"
"I have done my research"
"You cannot convince me of anything else, so don't try giving me advice"
"There are options other than typical schooling"
"If you want to know more on homeschooling, I'll tell you"

Sr. Mahera


Great advice Mahera!
Excellent points. Jazaki Allahu khair.

It could also help face people's questions and concern better by using common language terms that are more easily understood by Pakistani's. E.g. instead of saying, "I am homeschooling," you can say, "I am privately educating my children, as we believe it is best to tutor them at home". Using words such as "private" and "tutor" gives them a better concept, whereas sometimes the term "homeschooling" gives the impression that the children are always confined at home playing and studying very little.

Lots of people give O and A Levels privately and take private tuitions either at home or at tutors' homes, so this is a trend in Pakistan that actually relates more to homeschooling than other countries.

This is what I have seen in my short experience, especially with members of the last generation, who have never heard of the word "homeschooling" before.

For those who are contemplating homeschooling their children but are concerned about the opposition they'll face, just remember that after a while, your children's personality, vocabulary and knowledge will speak for itself and silence even your worst critics. For example, my daughter recently launched into a monologue about germs and how she read in her Science book that we should wash our hands before eating to prevent disease etc. and her grandparents were so in utter surprise at her use of vocabulary that they remained silent. :) Since then, my mother has started supporting my decision to homeschool, and even said to me, "Don't teach her too much, you know, she is still a child." :-D


Sadaf Farooqi

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