For homeschoolers, we normally take on all forms of education and try to achieve them at home, in sha Allah. The question still remains though on whether our children should take part in a weekend program for the sake of gaining more exposure and knowledge in Islam, or whether their education at home is enough.
Let’s explore why one or the other option would be beneficial, in sha Allah.
Meeting other Muslims
I respect this goal, and think about it for my own kids often. Here’s the thing, though: Bringing kids to a weekend school for the purpose of meeting Muslim friends assumes their families practice Islam at home.
That’s not always a safe assumption.
Alhamdulilah, parents bringing their kids to Islamic school on the weekend are making an effort to raise their kids with Islam. In my experience though, and granted it is limited, there’s a considerable portion of the families attending weekend school that don’t practice Islam at home. From my experience teaching at a weekend school, and from when my oldest attended a weekend school, some of the kids only experience Islam on Eid and at weekend school. During the rest of the year and the rest of the week, they live quite secular lifestyles.
I’m not trying to demean the families that attend weekend school, but we can’t assume that just because we pray at home, and we talk about the Prophet (sws), that everyone else does. Other kids might not actually be a “Muslim” friend by many accounts, and their parents might not hold the same values.
Simply, we can’t make assumptions.
Also, it’s far better to have a few close friends than to have many acquaintances. If your child attends a Muslim homeschool group, or they have friends they can see on a regular basis, a weekend school might not fill any need of yours in this regard.
On the other hand, I have to speak my great respect to the teachers and administrators I have come across at the various weekend schools, and how they are mashaAllah great mentors for the children there. Each person I have met has a vested interest in sharing Islam to the younger generation.
I do think it is valuable to introduce our children to other adults that encourage our kids the same way we do.
Just the weekend
While I try not to make definitive choices for other people, this is where I’ll break the mold.
Islam should permeate your life throughout the week.
Even if you struggle with prayer throughout the day (the most obvious form of Islam for children staying at home with their mother), learning du’a to share at mealtime can help kids remember that yes, they are Muslims! For young children, coloring pages, kids’ nasheed CDs, Islamic movies, and books all help them see Islam as something normal, and help them build a strong Muslim identity, in sha Allah.
If your children are entertained by things that remind them of Islam, in sha Allah it can help bridge those times where you might be struggling in your practice. Weekend school should not be the only place they encounter Islam.
Learn Islamic etiquette
There are some fantastic resources available to learn proper etiquette in Islam, like the Mini Mumin series, and their free online du’a printable posters. Still, how are kids supposed to remember du’a specific to the masjid if they never attend?
It’s hard to bring kids to Jummah or halaqas when they are very little, so a weekend school is a great way to bring them to the masjid in a kid-friendly way.
Let’s not teach our kids that the masjid is only about being silent and sitting down. If we do, they’ll never want to come! In sha Allah a weekend school is a great way to introduce the masjid to little ones, and help them feel like it’s a comfortable place for them to be, and a place they desire to go as they get older.
Just like the secular subjects in homeschooling, finding Islamic curriculum is far less intimidating after you have explored a few options. The weekend schools do not have a monopoly on Islamic curriculum. Everything that is available to the weekend schools is available to you at home, too. You’ll start to learn valuable resources that are affordable or free, and the ones that are well worth their price. I’ve compiled some of the best kids’ Islamic resources I know of, and in addition, here are some options from bloggers for free:
- http://tjislamicstudies.blogspot.com/ – Dig through the archives, and use the labels in the sidebar to find what you’re looking for. This is a wealth of information, and the sister who runs the blog is actively working to make it easier to find everything, in sha Allah.
- http://yemenlinks.com/blog/ – This blog hasn’t been updated in quite a while, so if you find something you like, download it. It’s unknown whether this domain will continue being renewed. In sha Allah it will because there are lots of great resources!
- http://islamicbulletinboards.wordpress.com/ – Another awesome resource, this time focusing on bulletin boards, like what they have at the weekend school!
- http://ummabdulbasir.wordpress.com/ – This site is a little harder to navigate (you’ll find good in the sidebar), but she also has a list of Muslim homeschool websites in the sidebar. Again, most of these are outdated, but still have tons of great activities to do with your kids, in sha Allah.
In the end, a weekend school can be a great supplement to your homeschool, but should never replace Islamic learning at home.
I know that for kids going to a traditional school, or even using a virtual school, it can be hard to find the time to fit in Islamic studies, but in sha Allah with a little creativity, you can fit it in to your regular routine, even if it’s 15 minutes a day.
Do your kids attend a weekend Islamic school? What are your thoughts?
Image courtesy of Bschwehn
Article originally published on Muslimommy.com