Years ago, when I was a new homeschooling mother and new to Pakistan, I felt quite alone. It was just me and my two girls and we were quite the oddballs. I didn’t have a master plan, I didn’t have a lot of experience and I sure as anything didn’t know if I could pull teaching my own off. I just knew that I loved my kids and I wanted us to be the best of friends.
Then, I met a lovely sister, Umm Shanze, and she very kindly reassured me and told me that my ideas weren’t harebrained and I wasn’t off my rocker. Unfortunately, she was living in a another country and was only on a visit. I continued reading with my kids and as they grew, they often wished they could have special friends they could call and have long conversations with. Our frequent travels had made it a little difficult for them to sustain close friendships.
After a short stint in my home country, I returned to Pakistan when the girls were 7 and 4. Since I didn’t have many (OK, ANY!) friends, I spent a lot of time on my homeschooling blog. I checked my dashboard one day and saw that someone in Islamabad had left a comment. Umm Aymun said that she had children the same age as mine and that they too had been homeschooling. Like me, she felt like she was all alone too! Coincidentally, my old friend Umm Shanze had moved back to Islamabad.
So we met and I remember that day so vividly. My girls could not come as they had contracted chicken pox. We gathered at Umm Aymun’s – I had pasta, Umm Shanze had salad and we ate and talked like old friends even though we knew very little about each other. Our kids remember this day too – my girls came later with their dad to pick me up. They remember how they met their new friends for the first time – they could only wave from afar through the car window. They apologised as they were ill and excitedly made plans to meet again soon.
Alhamdulillah, things grew from there. We met regularly, shared books, conducted co-ops and became comrades on this oft-difficult homeschool journey. At an event recently, I spoke to a new homeschooling mum who was worried about her children not having companions. When she heard that I’d been homeschooling for some 10 years, she asked if my kids were lonely. I pointed them out to her… they were laughing and chatting animatedly with their buddies. I remember telling her, “Those are my girls with their friends. They have known each other for about ten years now… they have grown up together, really.” I stopped then… because for that brief minute, my heart just brimmed over.
I realised then what a blessing this journey has been – I have made many, many mistakes, but I have learnt many, many lessons as well. The best part of this learning journey has been that, as hard as things have been, my children and I have had friends who have helped us along the way… true friends we have grown with and grown to love.
Now, the same group of homeschool mums and new friends have come together to promote a home-centred education here in Pakistan. Brave Learners hopes to run small group workshops to support parents as they embark on this bold and beautiful journey called homeschooling. We hope to empower parents with an Islamic worldview and a deep love for family and learning, bi idhnillah. We hope you will join us as we grow and learn together. So watch this space for our upcoming events and resources. Let’s be brave together!