Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More homeschool thoughts-in-progress

I got the form today for reserving Basbusa's place at preschool next year, and much as we both like the school, I think I'll be returning them a "no, thank you"... Insha'Allah we're going to give 'homeschooling' a try next year, and see how it goes. She will only be four, so it's hardly accurate even to call it homeschooling! But I want to try a little tiny bit of formal learning and some semblance of a routine, just to reassure myself that we'll really be able to implement a homeschool lifestyle once Basbusa is old enough for 'real' school. And I also want to reassure other family members that she will, indeed, be learning and not falling behind!

So, my plan for next year is just this, insha'Allah: Five days a week, in the morning, we'll do a little bit of Quran memorization (just one line a day would be great, not even one full aya), and work a little bit on Right Start math. That's it. The rest of our 'homeschooling' will just be what we do already: lots of reading and stories, lots of drawing and pretend-writing, lots of time outdoors, trips to fun places, and playdates with other kids.

I think this plan sounds ok, in theory... But I still have a bunch of worries, both about the plan itself and about how I'll put it into practice. Here they are, just for the record:

First, regarding the plan itself: is it 'enough'? I think it is, but I keep coming across all these amazing, elaborate pre-K curricula online, and suddenly doubting that I'll be doing enough for Basbusa. I've read blogs of people who follow FIAR and BFIAR, for example, and their kids seem to be enjoying it so much. Whenever I sit down and think hard about whether that would work well for us, I end up deciding that what we're already doing would be better... but what do I know?!?

Second, regarding putting the plan into action, I have two more concerns. I'm not sure how to go about setting up the "playdates" part, and that's really the part I care most about. I know there are a billion ways to set up opportunities for Basbusa to interact with other kids, but what I'm really aiming for is opportunities for extended free play with the same group of children on a very regular basis. If I could manage to arrange that two days a week, I'd be totally comfortable with our plan, but I haven't found a way to set it up yet. Almost all of Basbusa's current friends, unfortunately, are leaving the country in a few weeks, and her new friends from preschool will be, unsurprisingly, in preschool. I guess what I'm looking for is a preschool-age homeschool coop, not to far away from here, that involves only a little (or no) structured activities. Hmmm. So I have to work on that, between now and September, insha'Allah.

My other worry about implementing this plan is that I'm not sure what I should do if Basbusa isn't thrilled about studying Quran and/or Math. Maybe she won't be interested in the whole idea; maybe she won't like one half of it; maybe she'll be willing to do it one or two days a week but not five. Then what? On the one hand, she'll only be four, so there's no 'need' to do anything formal yet, and I believe very strongly that children's learning should be led by their interests as much as possible. But on the other hand, she is old enough to be doing some Quran, and doing a tiny bit of Quran once or twice a week isn't really enough for anything to "stick." And also, if we don't follow through on this plan, family opposition to homeschooling for Kindergarten will increase dramatically.

Hopefully she'll love it, and I know that I won't force the issue if she clearly hates it. But I haven't yet worked out what I think I should do if she falls somewhere in the middle.

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