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Our Homeschool Chronicles

I never thought in my widest dream that I would opt to homeschool my boys. It was just never really an option. I have several mommy-friends who homeschool, but they were all stay-at-home moms. I was different. I worked full time as a public health researcher, making my rounds of international travels, and also juggling the completion of my doctorate. I was busy, to say the least, and homeschooling was just never a viable option for our family. But here I am, a newly minted stay-at-home / student mom, happily homeschooling the kids.

Our first kid, Umar al-Farouq, just turned 10 years old and is in the 5th grade. Our second kid, Hanif al-Amin, is 6 years old and in the 1st grade. Our third kid, Abdullah al-Muhsin, is still a baby, turning 3 years old soon. Umar and Hanif have been in private schools since pre-school. We moved cities almost 18 months ago, and also changed their school this past school year. I was in love with the new school. It was our slice of heaven-sent apple pie that the Hubs and I had been craving. I mean, it had everything we could ask for:

  • It was a brand new building that looked like a college campus, boasting brand new roofs that would not get leaky in the near future and a boiler room that was in excellent shape.

  • The school levels were set-up as learning communities with 1:15 ratio...that is, teacher-to-student ratio.

  • It had a good size pool, which immediately put an end to our late evening swimming lessons (our boys love the water).

  • A functioning gymnasium, so we did not have to worry too much about physical activity.

  • An International Baccalaureate (IB) program for added prestige.

  • Art and entrepreneurial education fit for the 21st century.

  • And most important to us, a vibrant Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) program that included partnership with a major state university.

On a "good traffic day," the school was exactly one hour and one minute away. I made trips there several times before the kids were officially enrolled and made sure to time it on every trip! But, if you know anything about the DC, Maryland, Virginia (DMV) commute, you would know that a "good traffic day" doesn't apply to school runs. It's simply a fallacy! The school opened from 8 am to 4 pm on Monday through Thursday, and 8 am to 3 pm on Friday. Our actual commute turned out to be 3-4 hours daily. Yes, this meant plenty of time was spent on the road, but remember, we had hit the private school jackpot after all. I justified the commute with what the school had to offer. I even made good use of our travel time by having the kids do their homework during the commute.

Seriously, we really thought we had hit the private school jackpot! This was until we got the announcement that the school's programs were being overhauled and the STEM program in particular, our primary draw to the school, was pretty much being downplayed. This announcement came to us towards the end of the summer. No usual town hall meeting or some way for parents to lodge their concerns. It felt like our slice of heaven-sent apple pie was snatched away, just like that. After mulling over the news, it became increasingly difficult for us to justify a 3-4 hour commute with no slice of pie for dessert. We mulled over various ideas and the only one we could live with was homeschool. I was a bit nervous at first, but about a day or two before my eldest was to resume the 2017/18 school year, the Hubs and I decided that we would make homeschool work. I was to become a full fledged stay-at-home mom, homeschooling our boys, all this, while completing my doctorate. What will follow in this series of blog posts will be accounts of our experience as a novice homeschooler.

First day of school 2017/18, also Swim Lessons day for homeschoolers

First day of school 2017/18, also Swim Lessons day for homeschoolers


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