Homeschooling is a system in which families choose to educate their children at home rather than sending them to traditional public or private schools. Parents opt for homeschooling for various reasons. Some believe they can offer a more enriching and higher-quality educational environment at home compared to conventional schools. Others aim to provide their children with a religious education that may not be available in public schools. Additionally, many families have an instinct to protect their children from potential negative influences present in the school environment.
We spoke with Nayma Köse, who has been homeschooling her children for approximately seven years. Nayma Köse is a dedicated educator and entrepreneur, born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and raised in Kuwait and the USA. She holds a BS in Biochemistry with a minor in comparative religions from the University of Rochester. Although she was accepted into the MBA program at Syracuse University, she decided to prioritize taking care of her children.
How would you describe homeschooling in your own words?
Teaching my kids science, math, etc. while instilling the teachings of our Prophet (SAW). Seerah and the Quran have the same emphasis as science and math.
Do you believe that homeschooling could work for all children?
Yes, all children are capable of being homeschooled. It really depends on the level of commitment parents are willing to make. Homeschooling is a full-time responsibility and can lead to limited socialization opportunities. It may even entail losing touch with friends because finding time for even a simple phone conversation can be challenging. I know of families who began homeschooling their children in high school, especially when their children expressed a strong desire for it. If a parent is unable to handle homeschooling personally, they have the option to hire a tutor.”
What are the benefits and difficulties of homeschooling?
Challenges, as I mentioned, include a lack of ‘alone’ time for the mother. You don’t get the typical 8-hour break from kids; you’re with them 24/7.
The benefits, on the other hand, are countless. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world. Instead of constant sibling conflicts, they learn to love and care for each other. They become each other’s encouragers in doing good and gentle reminders when one strays from the right path.
Integrating Islam into every subject they learn becomes possible. They discover Allah’s miracles in mountains, the vastness of space, and the astonishing growth of plants.
Furthermore, you can allocate more time to subjects they naturally excel in. For example, one of my children focuses on poetry writing, another on storytelling, and yet another on art. This allows you to nurture their talents in a way that only a mother can.
How do you grade your students?
I give them tests regularly just like in school.
Do you believe that children who attend home schooling are getting a higher education?
Homeschooled children will definitely miss out on the latest lab gadgets, experiments, etc. But they do get one to one tutoring. And Alhamdulillah nowadays everything is online.
Although not a requirement, you can also send them to college courses for lab once they are in high school.
How do you teach the students in different grade levels at the same time?
Every morning, I hand out each child’s schedule with timings. They look it up and follow it. I go from one child to another, helping them when they need it. We also do Islamic Studies together.
Do you think homeschooled kids would become anti-social?
Many parents have that big concern. Are we not depriving them from their peers and social interaction? Will they not be cut off from society and unable to deal with others? Alhamdulillah my kids turned out to be very social and active leaders among their peers.
Families can instill in their children the social and leadership skills we learned from our beloved Prophet (pbuh) through homeschooling. They can also organize social activities for children to participate in. It is also necessary for their personal development. We, the parents, should play an active role in providing positive guidance instead of others deciding the social environment our child is in for 8-10 hours a day.
I want parents to take an active role in their children’s education, whether they homeschool or not, as it is only through this active involvement that our children will truly succeed.
A few girls come to study with my oldest daughter for first grade three days a week. This brings up another good thing about homeschooling. Many times I will have the older kids do a science or social studies chapter with their younger siblings. This accomplishes two things: They get to review their facts and also spend time with their siblings. In turn, the younger ones respect their older siblings because of their efforts in teaching them.
Do You Have Anything To Add?
In fact, it doesn’t matter where kids study or what environment they are in. I strongly disagree with the notion that we should only begin to focus on their Islamic upbringing after they reach the ages of 11 or 12. Through my experience teaching my own children and other young individuals, I’ve come to realize that children are often more receptive to learning at an earlier age. Their character begins to form and develop from a very young age, and they start to acquire essential values such as respect for others and problem-solving skills from as early as age 2. Waiting until they are 11 years old can make it considerably more challenging to shape their character, and sometimes it may even be too late. Therefore, we must be exceptionally mindful of the environment in which we place our 7-year-olds. It’s worth recalling that our Prophet, peace be upon him, advised us to introduce them to prayer at that age, underscoring the importance of early guidance in their spiritual development.
Thank you for your time and for these beautiful reminders Nayma.
Interviewed by Rabia Yener