Q. Why should Muslims homeschool? A. The immorality, bullying, Islamophobia and violence that plague many of our schools are neither conducive to learning or developing Islamic character and values. That is the short answer to a complex question. When cities arrange special police patrols to help children safely arrive and leave school . Or when hijabis are taunted and told to “go back to where you came from.” When children endure months of bullying with no relief from their school. When relationships of every kind, straight, bi and gay, are accomodated at schools. When students are allowed to freely walk through the halls, holding hands and kissing. You have to ask yourself, how much learning takes place? Are our students spending their day navigating, avoiding and sometimes participating in these situations.
As Muslims we can all spout off hadith where the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. encouraged learning even if you have to go to China. Or where he ordained the freeing of captives if they would teach someone to read. Every Muslim knows that the first word of the Quran was “iqra,” usually translated as “read”. This established the link between Islam and education forever. Education in Islam is both an obligation and a duty. We understand this, but do we understand what real learning is?
Learning is not just the processing and memorization of facts and ideas. Schools today are navigating the same issues as their students, and very little learning is taking place. Instead teachers focus on teaching the common core. Facts and ideas that students are expected to learn, memorize and master. Mastery of these facts are gauged on achievement tests. The higher the score or grade marks a child as successful or not. But learning is more than success on a test. Your child has learned when they can take the facts of various subjects and pull them together to generate new ideas, conclusions and apply that thinking to everyday life. Taking what they have learned to the “next level”. Next level thinking requires creativity and critical thinking. Two critical skills not taught in schools. It was this next level thinking that allowed early Muslims to take ayats from the Quran and make revolutionary advances in diverse fields like algebra, astronomy and optometry. Are we raising the next generation of Muslim inventors, scientists, philosophers etc? Are we raising community leaders and activitsts?
Teachers in today’s schools don’t have the time or the manpower to help children achieve their individual genius and potential. To help each child find and master their potential takes individual learning in one on one or small group settings. Teachers also are not equipped or even encouraged to help children facing moral dilemmas. Teachers are not there to help your child stay on the “siratul mustaqeen. (the straight path). Everyday your child is in a “jihad” a struggle against forces that want to take him away from his deen. That struggle may be overt or subtle. But it is a relentless daily pressure, to conform and “be like everyone else.” Is it any wonder, given this unrelenting stress, that many of our children leave the deen by the time they are in college.
There are many alternatives to the traditional schools that are failing our children so badly. Many communities have full time Islamic schools that educate children very well in safe, smaller settings in an Islamic environment. There are also some private schools which although not Islamic, do provide a safer place to foster true and creative learning. Some times these options are not available, either because of location or expense. Homeschooling can become another possible alternative. Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family. It is not easy. It is time consuming and can cost money. But for those who are able and willing the benefits can be enormous and rewarding.
Should you homeschool your Muslim child? The answer is YES!!! If it will help protect your child’s iman, give them a better academic and Islamic education and provide learning in a safe enviornment. If you can provide these three things then you should homeschool.