Evangeline from Handmade Beginnings
Welcome to my first (of hopefully many) interview feature. Recently homeschooling has really been increasing and I believe there are now more than ever, new families out there looking for answers. And, there are also homeschoolers, such as myself, who have been doing this for a few years but still need that extra boost. That’s what I hope to achieve through publishing interviews with fellow homeschooling Mommas. There are so many hidden gems out there that have so much to offer to the world.
I hope by giving you a glimpse into their lives, you can become even more motivated and inspired.
Here we go, Welcome Evangeline! She is a fellow homeschooling blogger from Handmade Beginnings and has lots to offer, grab a cup of tea (if the kids let you) and enjoy…..
How many kids do you have and what are their ages? How long have you been homeschooling for and do you follow a particular method?
I have 3 daughters, aged 8, 2, and 1, Alhumdulillah. I’ve been homeschooling for 4 years now, ever since my eldest started SK. In the past I did not follow any particular homeschooling method, but I used a variety of resources from the library, bookstore, online, or our own handmade learning materials. As my eldest is getting older I’ve been doing more research and have been leaning towards Charlotte Mason, and Project based learning.
A PEEK INSIDE YOUR LIFE
Why does your family chose to homeschool?
A few years ago, I taught at an Islamic school as a JK teacher, and my eldest daughter was in my class. Alhumdulillah I took a lot of beneficial things away from that teaching experience, but at the same time, I felt that the school system didn’t align with my own ideas of education and young children. In the end my family and I decided homeschooling would be a better fit for us.
Homeschooling has provided us the opportunity to follow our own educational approaches, have flexibility in our schedules (allowing us to spend more time with my husband who works night shift), given my daughter the space to learn at her own pace, and has allowed us to make the world our classroom and playground.
What does a good day look like in your house?
A good day would be, me taking some time to care for myself in the early morning. Praying and reading Quran, then doing something else I enjoy, like typing up a blog post, doing my morning walk, or crafting something. I’ll make some pancakes or eggs and then the girls will wake up around 8am and get dressed, eat their breakfast, and have a bit of free play. My eldest and I will start off our day with morning duas and reading her qaidah. I will set up a busy bag activity or craft for my two smaller girls to keep them engaged. My eldest and I will continue with math and as many subjects as we can until dhuhr time. While I clean up the kitchen and get lunch ready the girls will have free play again. We continue with school work for a bit and have a snack, then walk to the park. Later we will meet up with friends, or do extracurricular activities. I start dinner preparations after asr salah, and have everything set when my husband wakes up and gets ready to head out to work night shift. We pray maghrib together, tidy up our day’s messes, and start winding down for the day. We say our evening duas, the girls have their baths, we read a bedtime story, and then I tuck them all into bed by 8pm. I have a bit of free time for myself before I pray Isha. I call up my family, catch up on emails, read a book, maybe do some knitting. Then sweet dreams.
What does a bad day look like in your house?
A bad day, would be my daughters waking up extra early right after Fajr, still tired and cranky. I will have missed my alone time to do my self care and I will be unprepared for the day. I will put on a video for the kids while I get breakfast ready. After breakfast we’ll start our school day in our pyjamas. There will be piles of laundry that need to get washed, and I will bring all 3 girls down to ground level of our apartment several times for the next three hours to get it all washed, brought back home, and hung to dry. We will get back to homeschooling after that, but halfway through math time I’ll remember all the things we are short on for lunch and dinner, and have to load all the kids in the car and head to the grocery store. After that I will have to bring one of my daughters to her appointment. And since we’re already out, we may end up doing other errands. When we head back home, I unload the groceries, eat lunch and pray dhuhr salah. I’ll hand wash the never ending pile of dishes, 3-4 loads, while the girls play. Dinner will be something out of the freezer, stuck into the oven. And I’ll be tired of running around all day with 3 kiddos that we will miss our walk to the park, and I will probably skip a lot of things I would like to get done, and just let the kids do their own things, while I try to play catch up. Kids and I will probably go to bed late.
What are your three homeschooling essentials?
What was your biggest homeschooling mistake or set back?
Pushing my daughter too fast. The knowledge will always be there, it is not going anywhere, and every child will learn when they are ready.
Have you ever had any ‘aHa!’ moments on this journey?
I’ve been reading Simplicity Parenting
and I’ve been taking a lot of time to become more organized and decluttered. Our family is growing, but our living space is not. I knew simplifying our environment would be a positive thing but I just didn’t realize how MUCH more productive and calmer we are because of it.
Whats the best part of homeschooling?
Being together: creating family bonds and memories, and growing and learning together.
Whats the worst part of homeschooling?
Being judged or criticized. Somehow homeschoolers and their children are judged more harshly by family and friends because they’ve taken the unbeaten path.
Blog(s): Aasiya’s Homeschool. And my mother’s blog Old Muslim Woman in the Shoe.
Place to shop for homeschooling supplies: Believe it or not, I find A LOT of my homeschooling books, educational toys and school room furniture from the thrift store.
Children’s book: The hungry caterpillar by Eric Carle– I just love this Author/Illustrator, and he has always been an inspiration to me since I was a child.
Family movie: My family and I really enjoy watching documentaries together.
(Board)Game: Race to the Kabah. It’s a cute board game I got as an Eid present as a kid. It helps you learn the 99 names of Allah, and my family and I have a blast playing this- sometimes we offer each other hints, and we try and see who can remember the most.
Looking back on your homeschooling career, what advice would you give to yourself when you first started?
I would tell myself not to push my daughter too hard, or compare her to her peers, but to know that every child excels at their own time and in their own way. I would probably tell myself to do more research on the different educational philosophies, and see which method would work best for my family. I would tell myself to envision where I want to be 5 years from now, what my goals are, what I want for my child, what I want for my family, and equally important, what I want for myself.
Something I know now that I didn’t know then, is how important it is to care for our own personal health, self education, growth, and wellbeing.
It seems like such an obvious thing, but when you’re in the thick of being a mother, wife, and homeschooling educator it is so easy to put yourself last. We really need to take the time for ourselves, so that we may in turn be the best version of ourselves, so we can better take care of others.
Have you ever thought about giving up? When, why, and what got you through?
I think because I’ve already been there done that, i.e., I’ve already been in the education system as a teacher, and my daughter a student, that I’ve never really had the thought about seriously giving up. I mean everyone has their off days, but I never thought I would put my daughter back into school. I’ve also personally been homeschooled as a child in 6th, and 7th grade, and I was old enough to appreciate how my life differed as a student in the public school system, and as a student in homeschool. I just know deep down that homeschooling is the right thing for us, and we are very blessed Alhumdulillah to be given the opportunity for me to stay home and continue educating my children.
Who or what is your biggest homeschooling support?
My biggest homeschooling support is my local playgroup, and also the Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers network. My playgroup sometimes gets together, or we band together to have small classes for our children. And Toronto Muslim Homeschoolers offers monthly support meetings, a yearly conference, and lots of field trips, classes, and advice. Alhumdulillah all of this, along with amazing blogs, websites, and pinterest has really gotten me through it.
How do you manage to juggle all the demands of motherhood and housework while homeschooling?
Honestly, I really really struggle with this. Especially since my husband works 12 hours night shift, I don’t often have his support with even small things like getting the laundry, or buying the groceries, or carrying the groceries up from the basement garage. I mean I can do all these things but it is just that much harder when I have to bring two babies along with me. Alhumdulillah Allah does not burden any soul more than it can bear. I’ve been really reflecting on how I can change, to make my life easier. How I can simplify our environment so I have less cleaning, like do we really need this many clothes, toys, dishes, you name it?! Also, I’ve been looking at simplifying our schedules- do we really need to attend EVERY field trip or class offered? What can we realistically do on our own, so there is less chauffeuring happening? I believe we all make our lives more difficult than they need to be. I recently went on a trip for a week, and my daughters and I were living out of one suitcase. I thought to myself, this is all I really need. I wasn’t even missing all my stuff and all the work that goes along with caring for that stuff. I wasn’t even missing my busy schedule, and my children had more time to play outdoors, and I even had time to relax and read 2 books in one week! So I’ve been taking a hard look at what is causing me stress and hardship in my life and working at cutting it out, or at least scaling it back.
What does your family usually eat for breakfast?
Cereal, oatmeal, waffles, or paratha and eggs. We may even have all at once, with each person eating a different thing.
Where was the last place your family went to enjoy some quality time together?
Vancouver, BC to visit my brother-in-law. It was a much needed vacation, and it was really fun and relaxing Alhumdulillah. There is just something about being surrounded by that much natural beauty that uplifts the soul.
What is something you do for yourself to feel good?
Exercise. I’ve been trying my best to exercise daily, and I just feel so great for the whole day when I do. I was a very active person before having children, and I just miss being able to move fast and my body responding and doing what it used to. Before getting back into exercising I was so out of shape that I couldn’t keep up with my 8 year old, and it scared me. But, I recently raced with my daughter from the park to the car, and I beat her! That’s how it should be right? I mean I do have longer legs and all!
Can you share a confession of something you let your kids do that others may not know or approve of?
Hmm… I have to say I let my kids do a lot of things that probably a lot of parents wouldn’t. Like use scissors when they’re a toddler, or use a sewing machine when they’re five, or paint with only their diaper on and just give them a bath afterwards. Or, I may bribe my kids with arts and crafts… “once you get your homework done, you can do your sewing.”
If you were an animal, what would you be:
I would probably be a bird, because I love: to travel, freedom, not staying at one home too long, the feel of the wind, the beautiful sights in nature, exercise, singing, independence, solitude and time to reflect.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Aasiya for inviting me to be the first one to be a guest on her blog! I am truly honoured, I really am. A little history: I was 17 when I got married, and I was new in town, and I didn’t know anyone at all. I remember meeting Aasiya at the local mosque, and Alhumdulillah we got to know each other more, especially when we both became preggos and had our first child the same year. We started up a playgroup for our kids, and she was the one who introduced me to blogging way back when! Without her there wouldn’t be any Handmade Beginnings! She is such an inspiration to me. May Allah bless her and her family with the very best Ameen! Love ya lots Aasiya <3