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“O Humanity. Behold, We have created you out of a male and female, and have made you into nations and tribes so that you might come to know one another.” (49: 13)
I have been taught that this verse from the Glorious Qur’an is a prescription for us to embrace language and ideas which will build relationships between all of members of humanity.
With this mindset, I want to propose a new term into our discussions – multi-schooling. Our family “multi-schools.” Likely, so do many more. Whether we choose to attend Islamic school, public school, private school or home school, many of us do a little of everything. The beauty of our society is that we have many opportunities to try different learning environments and paradigms.
If we choose to speak about schooling decisions with a multi-schooling mindset, it may foster better relations between mothers and families who have made different schooling decisions. Unfortunately, the way we choose to educate our children and/or categorize our choices can isolate families from one another. Education is a life long continuum. There are many paths towards the same goal. Choosing to speak about multi-schooling might be one bridge to understanding mutual commonalities and each others’ strengths. Working moms need homeschooling moms and vice versa. Private school moms can benefit from public school moms. We should not isolate ourselves into intellectual ghettos neglecting others who school differently.
Families make choices based on their circumstances and children’s needs. No matter where our children are during the day, many of us do extra tutoring on evenings and weekends to cover academics, Qur’an, Arabic, Islamic studies and more. To work on socialization, health education, leadership goals etc. many families participate in community sports teams, masjid activities or public homeschooling/ community library groups. A multi schooled child can learn to shift gears to accommodate to each learning environment. This is an essential life skill. To multi-school reminds me of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” which was brought back to the national attention by Hilary Clinton’s 1996 book with a similar title.
I know an 8 year old boy named Adam. The family sends Adam to a private, non denominational school. However, there is a great enrichment class with the county public schools. So once a week , they take Adam out of private school to attend a public enrichment class for 1.5 hours. Further more, on some Fridays when his class has few activities scheduled, they pull Adam out to go the Jumma’ salaah. Adam also attends Qur’an and Arabic classes 3 times a week at the masjid and is home schooled in Islamic studies and extra academics in the evenings. Adam enjoys boy scouts, fencing, soccer and basketball teams. For some children, this is a good fit and utilizes many types of learning environments. Also, Adam’s learning is paced out with different activities during different seasons. This ensures that he has enough time to rest, reflect and play on his own. Adam’s mother is able to dialogue and co ordinate well with other moms of different perspectives because she has a multi-schooling mindset. Also, she often invites other mothers over for tea.
There are so many combinations and each family can tailor it to their individual needs. I know some of us dream of our children having a very specific kind of learning environment and circumstances do not allow for it. Know that Allah SWT is aware of your intention and that as a parent you are only expected to do the best with what you have been given. After that, put your trust in Allah SWT, stay close to His guidance and keep making dua. May Allah SWT give us all a good end.
Sharda Mohammed is a Canadian-born mother of two children. She has a keen interest in learning to foster leadership, self esteem, and empathy in young children. She works part time as a physical therapist.
(Originally posted September 2, 2011)