Did you know, there are about 2.3 million home-educated students in the United States? This is up from one estimate that there were about 2 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated. It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years).(www.nheri.org)
Last year, Khadija and I decided to homeschool our children. It was a decision each one of us made separately. My local public schools were high performing and diverse. I decided to homeschool because I wanted to be able to choose a curriculum that best meets my children’s learning styles. I also wanted to give them an upbringing that will focus on the purpose of life and the principles and traditions of our religion and our way of life. The decision allowed me to monitor my children’s spiritual and growth and academic performance.
Please help us welcome Dr. Gemma, a homeschooling advocate, who will be sharing a holistic approach to homeschooling.
Homeschooling: The Holistic Approach to Education
By: Gemma Elizabeth
“A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.”
Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) collected by Tirmidhi and Al-Bayhaqi
Education is not merely the training of the mind. The best of education is one that nurtures the mind, body and heart of a child, allowing him to achieve his God-given potential.
School v.s. Homeschool
Unfortunately, the modern education system is fragmented and is falling short in so many areas of education. Increasingly aspects relating to the “body” are neglected as children spend less time outdoors or involved in organized sport. This education system in the U.K. unashamedly ignores anything to do with the “soul” or heart.
Instead, for eight hours a day, the focus is entirely on training the child’s mind. However, the focus of this training is almost entirely on the memorization of facts. Children are not taught how to think, or formulate their own opinions; they are not permitted to pursue their own passions during school hours. Rather the school dictates what they believe as “experts” is important for the child to know; i.e. what facts he or she needs must memorise.
As teachers are put under increasing pressure to meet targets, the focus of what a good education is has become warped. Instead of looking at that child and assessing if he is engaged, articulate, interested in learning; children are tested on how much they have been able to commit to memory. Good character and manners have minimal importance in the education, and faith none. As a result, children are leaving school with their potential-selves stunted, and their God-given individuality destroyed.
This is why so many parents, seeking a holistic approach to education, are choosing to homeschool their children. When parents are responsible for the education of their kids, and given the freedom to create curriculum and learning experiences that suit the needs of their child, the children have the potential to flourish in all aspects of themselves; mind, body and heart.
One of the many joys of home-education is seeing these three aspects constantly at play during the “school-day”. There is not a time when we are focusing only on the mind, or only on the body; rather this holistic approach to education means that these different dimensions are continually being addressed.
For example; when during the study of butterflies in science, the mind is engaged with great books, and looking a beautiful photos; the body and mind are engaged in writing, drawing, and with observations in nature; and the heart is awakened when we bring it all back to Allah (S.W.T.), and recall how he created everything. We may discuss what lessons can be learnt from the transformation of caterpillar to butterfly, or even talk about death and the afterlife during out study of the lifecycle. We may talk about how the Prophet (S.A.W.) treated animals, and this could lead onto Prophet Suleiman (A.S.). The possibilities for exploration of this one subject are endless; with the mind, body and heart engaged throughout and effortlessly intertwined.
We know from the teaching of the Prophet (S.A.W.) that the heart, mind and body are all linked in a metaphysical way. In one such hadith the Messenger of God is reported to have said,
“Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all of it is diseased. Truly it is the heart.”
There are many homeschooling methodologies that claim to be holistic in their approach. These include: Waldorf, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, amongst others. If you intend to home-educate, it would be worth researching some of these homeschooling method for inspiration.
Mainstream education is fragmented and does not educate the whole child; It only addresses a small part of his mind, in a very restricted and controlled manner. Rather than allowing the child to flourish, it actually becomes a barrier and hindrance for the child reaching his potential. When he leaves school he must to rediscover his spiritual-self, re-ignite his creativity and rebuild his individuality. The only option for parents seeking a holistic education for their children, is to stop trusting the “experts” and take charge of their education themselves.
“There is no school equal to a decent home, and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” Mahatma Gandhi
Do you think the school-system is failing us? Or do you think it is possible to give your child a holistic education whilst they are at school?
Maybe you don’t think holistic education is that important?
How do you educate your children?
We would love to hear your opinion of this topic. Please let us know in the comments below!
Dr Gemma Elizabeth is a homeschooling mother of three from the U.K. As a passionate advocate for home education, she writes widely on the subject for various publications and speaks to mothers across the country about the benefits of homeschooling. In between the science experiments, read-alouds and math drills, she finds time to film videos for Youtube and writes on her blog OurMuslimHomeschool.com.
You can find her here: