Don’t Call Me Shy
“I am really considering homeschooling her!” I announced to my sister. “I have tried every other option, and nothing has given such satisfying results as homeschooling her these past six months. She has blossomed, I can tell she feels whole, accepted and she seems much happier,” I said persistently with determination and certainty in my heart.
“How will she learn to be around other children of her age; how will she learn to defend herself and become a confident person?” she insisted. “Only if her personality was not the way it is, I would have a completely different opinion on homeschooling her.” I felt she was being careful about her choice of words.
Confident, Confident, Confident…
Her words echoed in my head. I felt a sense of despair and melancholy in my surroundings and then in my heart. Was sending her to school the only way to make her a confident person? What did she consider to be confident? This was one of the glimpses of the conversations I had been having with my sister lately.
Later that night after dinner, I tucked the children into bed. I approached my husband, “My heart is leaning towards educating her myself. I have thought about it deeply, and I’ve researched it and I really think it will be beneficial for her” pleading with definite faith in my heart. “We are blessed to be living in Dallas, which provides an immense amount of support and opportunities to home learners in many ways. We do have a support system, it’s not like before,” I emphasized, anticipating one of the objections he might bring forth.
“You have tons of things on your plate, how will you manage? I feel we should give other academies/schools more consistent opportunities. I assure you it will not be easy. It will take an abundance of patience and effort. But, if you are certain that this option will produce the most positive results, then I will try my best to be of support and help in this endeavor by any means possible.” I affirmed and assured myself that observing patience while learning with my daughter would be far easier than the mountains of patience which I used to climb every other day after watching her wilt like a rose. That night, I slept with a settling peace in my heart. Finally, a decision was made.
A Person’s Surroundings Matter
She is my first child and the first and only girl in our family. Hence, she receives an abundant share of love and attention. I had been praying voluntary prayers and asking God for the past couple of weeks to guide us in making the right and best decision. I sought and took advice from my family and close friends. All of whom gave me their considerate opinion and advice full of love and concern for my daughter. The majority of them, leaning on me to make the choice of sending her to school expecting her to become gregarious and societal. On the other hand, some showed me another enticing world of education where the concept of customized education, interest and inquiry-based learning existed. She would not be under consistent pressure of being compared and learning solely seeking the pleasure and approval of educators. I went to school all my life, but this captivating world of education was a mirage to me. A completely new world waiting to be explored and learned about. In the beginning, I felt anxious and fearful yet, peaceful. Hence, I embarked on this journey.
Effects of Labels
In every school she attended, she was told loud and clear that she is shy by her teachers and peers. The more she heard this opinion, the more she became convinced about this trait and the more she internalized it. She began to feel that she lacked something in herself. She was often compared and questioned as to why she didn’t speak like other voluble girls in her class. I truly believe as Susan Cain writes in her book Quiet, that in our society, we undervalue the traits, strengths and capabilities of individuals who are not so outgoing. We do need to recognize the beauty and the positive impact those individuals who prefer to listen more than speak, who enjoy quiet reading and concentration, and who are cautious when faced with risks. I did need to know the feedback on her progress, but what I didn’t want her to be aware of was what her teachers and students perceived about her as an immutable trait. Every morning, she would brave herself to go to school albeit with a heavy heart, teary eyes, and turmoil of emotions. At the end of the day when she would see me waiting for her outside her class, I would see the relief on her face. It was the relief of not being judged anymore, not being forced to speak, and finally being able to be herself. Every day when she would come home, I would receive the child in my arms, the child who has been exhausted from battling with unrest and stimulus. The school was not helping her to discover her true personality. I could see she was not blooming so I put her in a school where she seemed most nourished and happy; her very own home.
I am not rooting for homeschooling compared to other education methods. I do believe that not every child can thrive in a home educating environment and there are various factors to be considered before one decides to commence this journey. Some children thrive in social settings, some in-home learning, and some may choose to do both depending on unique needs and phases of their lives. I am only sharing my own experience of educating/schooling my daughter who was so-called shy. Yes, I did choose to homeschool her at that very specific phase of her life. That’s our personal and thoroughly-analyzed choice, which we made after trying different options, specific to her growth and personality and after considering our family environment, availability, and enthusiasm. Yes, we did take into account, all these aspects and each one of them was significant. My goal is to share my journey of educating my children including the strategies and techniques, which worked for us as a family. If someone who is going through similar circumstances can benefit from our know-how, then my goal will be accomplished.
Urooj Arif is a homeschooling mother of two beautiful souls ages three and six, residing in Dallas, Texas. She is homeschooling her children and pursuing her B.Sc in Education. The main reason she chose to educate her children is to make learning a natural and enjoyable experience that provides a strong connection to God. She firmly believes that by instilling good character and determination, one can carve a fine diamond from a child. The most enjoyable part of homeschooling for her is nature study and crafting. Therefore, she is also a strong advocate of handiwork in a student’s life. She loves to read with her children as she believes that reading can combine many areas of learning. On top of it all, she believes in gentle parenting and making education customized according to each child’s personality in order to instill the love and respect of learning.