Homeschoolers Convene for Conference, Networking

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There is no one single right way to educate your child, as each child is different. That was the consensus of the Homeschool Organization of Muslim Educators (H.O.M.E) conference:

“Education in an Evolving World".

On July 29, 2017, a full day conference and youth workshops was held at the Diyanet Center of America in Lanham, Md., for parents to gain a better understanding of their children, communicating with them and educating them in an empathetic manner.

Moira McGuire of Maryland, who homeschool all her children, says her family did a different curriculum every year. She was on the panel, “Education begins at HOME” with Monique Robinson and Najaah Lee. They discussed schedules, homeschooling through life experiences, and challenges. Robinson involved her sister-in-law who was an English teacher. She homeschools year round. “As they got older the children got involved with building a curriculum,” she shared with the audience.

“Every parent wants an Einstein, but there are millions needed to support that Einstein,” said McGuire, who has 6 children who are “not Einsteins”, as she puts it. “Your child is brilliant and it is your job to figure out how they are brilliant.”

Some parents are interested in homeschooling as they cannot afford Islamic schools, yet others are tired of their children being bullied and surveilled in the public school system. Homeschooling is now also attracting parents who disagree with the incessant testing that comes with the Common Core, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states. Maryland is a pioneer of the Common Core.

“Amongst Muslims, I think the first concern is the child’s deen and the second concern is the quality of education,” said founder of Kinza Academy, Elizabeth Hanson. She was the featured guest speaker and said that childhood sets the stage for the future. She emphasized the need for mothers to invest in raising their children.
It wasn’t all about mothers, significant sectitons of the conference were dedicated to the involvement of fathers in the lives of the children, including a lecture by Dr. Aamir Sheikh and Dr. Kashif Yahya.

Dr Madiha Tahseen, of the Family and Youth Institute, shared communication tips for parents based on developmental stages of children.

Safia Hassan majored in education in university and homeschools her younger brother and has started a homeschool co-op in Springfield, Virginia. Sitting in the cafeteria of DCA with the family of her students, she explains how it is a perfect solution for her brother’s personality type. “We also wanted to teach him the religion in an orthodox way,” she said. She urges people to network, as every parent is gifted in a different way and when they all come together they can set up a superb program. She looked forward to Jose Acevedo's lecture on communicating with teens.

“Br Jose was an informative speaker and clearly an excellent advocate for teens,” noted an audience member.

Nahiya Saeed and Dr Kashif Yahya are part of the team which started H.O.M.E.. They started homeschooling about 10 years ago with their eldest child to try it out and when he thrived, they continued with their other children. “I was quite surprised when I was doing research on various educational philosophies and came across the classical philosophy and saw how similar it is to the Sunnah of raising our children. It just seemed to go so hand in hand with what our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu ‘alyhi wa sallam) taught us...play until the age of 7 and start the formal education from 7 onwards,” said Saeed. “Alhamdulillah, I saw the wisdom and benefit in this and have been a proponent of the classical philosophy ever since.”

H.O.M.E. was established as a means of networking and support for the growing homeschool community. “We have plenty of resources in our area and we should utilize them for the betterment of our children, our future. There are always parents looking for advice on how to start homeschooling, which curricula to use, how to communicate with your kids and so much more. When we come together, we can help overcome problems and build new ideas,” suggests Saeed.

The idea of the conference was to bring a few of the many valuable resources from the community together so they can share their insights on their topics of expertise.

As the conference was taking place, simultaneous workshops with related topics were held for children. For instance, there was a workshop for children on how to communicate with their parents effectively and respectfully. There were also writing workshops, a college prep workshop and a Sunnah Workshop with Q & A.

The conference ended with Laurel’s Imam Javid Bhaiyat giving the keynote on the Prophetic example and tarbiyah of children.

Afreen Nadeem, mother of a 5, 4, and 3-year old boys, came from Alexandria, Va. She is part of a low-key co-op formed on a Whatsapp group. “I wanted my kids to do hifdh and the only way they can manage that full time is through homeschooling,” she professed. As she fed her boys she shared how much she enjoyed the panels. “I learned that the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility,” she said. “Everyone has their own brilliance,” she added.

“Alhamdulillah, the attendees had great feedback and said they benefited immensely and would like to this become a yearly event,” said Saeed. H.O.M.E. does plan on hosting more events in the future, including hands on workshops for parents.

Many who came also participated in the used book and curriculum sale. Several books were available free of charge.

“We would like to see more people get involved to help make this more beneficial for the community. There was one lecture specifically about homeschooling, but the rest were for everyone, homeschoolers or not,” said Saeed.

For more information please visit https://www.homeducators.org/