I’m thrilled to have Gemma join my Expert Insight panel! Gemma Elizabeth is a homeschooling mother of three from the UK. After qualifying as a Veterinary surgeon in 2009, she now works as a freelance writer, passionately advocating home education and the importance of family. When she is not frantically trying to keep up with her energetic kids, she spends her time reading profusely and writing about their homeschooling adventures on her blog, Our Muslim Homeschool.
Gemma will be sharing her journey of a homeschooling parent, and educating us all on the basics of what homeschooling is and how other parents can benefit from this method of teaching.
What is your educational background, and what made you get into homeschooling?
In 2005 I graduated from Liverpool University with a First Class BSc(Hons) in BioVeterinary Science, and I then went on to qualify as a Veterinary Surgeon (Veterinarian) in 2009 obtaining a First Class BVSc MRCVS.
Whilst working in my first small animal locum job, I became pregnant and found it increasingly difficult to find locum work. When my son was a baby I started working as a private tutor for Veterinary students at the university and discovered I really enjoyed and had a talent for teaching.
This lead me to read widely on education and child-development; and when it came to the time to decide on my own children’s education, I felt passionately that homeschooling was the best choice for our situation.
My children are 5, 3 and 1, so we have only been home-educating for two years. We are only at the start of our homeschooling journey… It’s a very exciting time!
There are no formal qualifications needed to homeschool at this time. Anyone, with any educational background, can home-educate their children.
Are there different styles of homeschooling? If so, what are they and how do parents decide which style to go with?
Yes, there are many different styles of homeschooling. Homeschooling does NOT mean you have to recreate school in your home. There are so many other options.
The most common forms of homeschooling are:
- Charlotte Mason
Many families begin with one method, and switch to another, and may even switch again until they find the best ‘fit’ for their situation. Each home is different and parents have different goals and expectations. In addition, each child has different strengths, weakness, learning styles and interests.
This is what makes home-education so wonderful; that you can develop an education that is tailored to your child.
How do you decide which method to use?
Do your research about all the different styles and then try one. See how it works for you and if you need to change…you can! Homeschooling gives you that flexibility.
Our family began with a classical approach, but have recently switched to Charlotte Mason, as it seems to better suit my children’s learning style, and fits more naturally into our daily lives.
What are some of the challenges you face as you homeschool your children, and how do you face those challenges?
The biggest challenge I have faced has been time-management, not with regards to homeschooling, but with everything else!
As well as home-educating, I have to find time to clean the house, do the laundry, the gardening, cooking, exercise, look after my appearance, pursue my interests and my spiritual development. Finding a balance has been difficult, but one thing that has helped is using a planner. I allocate time in the week for everything that needs to be done, including personal things, and it has helped me enormously to use my time more productively.
What are some benefits of homeschooling?
Whether your children go to school, or not, you as a parent are responsible for their education. Home education give you complete control over your child’s learning.
It allows you to tailor what they are learning, and how they are learning it, to suit them. It also means that you can include subjects that they may not be learning in school (such as Arabic, Memorisation of Quran); it also means that you can exclude other subjects that you do not feel comfortable with.
One of the main reasons we home-educate is that I am concerned with the increasing pressure put on children to pass exams and meet targets. I feel homeschooling gives them more time to play, pursue their own interests and enjoy their childhood.
What have you learned about yourself and about your children during the homeschooling process?
I have learnt to relax (well…I’m trying!), and I have also learnt to take a step back and trust in my children’s abundant natural curiosity. Children will learn on their own and you don’t need to force it. Sometimes, if you push too hard, it puts them off learning. We do have structured lessons, but I have recently introduced more self-directed learning, where my boys can pursue whatever they are interested by reading, lap-booking, art projects, science experiments, field trips etc.
By taking a more relaxed approach, the children are happier and excited to learn and do their ‘school-work.’
What advice can you give to parents who want to homeschool their children?
I would advise you to have faith in yourself and your children’s ability. There is nobody who cares as much about the well-being of your child as you do.
Nobody else knows him, what motivates him, what interests him, as well as you. Not only will you find a way to teach your child, but you WILL find the BEST way to do it. insha’Allah
If, for some reason, it doesn’t work out, the schools will always be there. It is better to try, than to live in regret. Put your trust in Allah, believe in yourself, and go for it!
A huge thank you to Gemma for sharing her insight with us, make sure to follow Gemma on her blog, on Facebook, and Instagram!