When I first began thinking about putting my daughter in school, I sat down and began thinking about how one goes about choosing a school for their child. So I asked myself the following questions:
1. What kind of education do I want for her?
2. What do I "not" want for her?
3.What kind of child is my daughter?
4. What have I observed about the way she learns that would steer me in a certain direction?
I realized that I had to make a choice based on Ameera's personality and learning style. It couldn't be about what I wanted. It had to be about her and what was in her best interest. I couldn't blindly choose to put her somewhere without knowing all the details, the ins and outs. I needed to ask questions and get them answered. I also realized that this journey was going to be alot harder than I expected. I became anxious; nervous that I would make the wrong decision, nervous that I could possibly scar her love of learning for life if i didnt put her the right place! A little dramatic? YES! But that couldn't be helped....the feelings were there. "How do people do this?" I would ask myself and friends over and over again. The responses: "It's really hard!" or "It's a tough decision...good luck!"
I then had the sit down with my husband. Together we came up with a list of options. There are public schools, islamic schools, alternative schools, montessori schools and homeschooling. Then there was the issue of if we chose not to put her in Islamic School, how would she learn proper Arabic and how would she learn about the religion? Basically the conversation ended on this note: My husband was going to leave all the leg work to me and come back to him with my findings. Overall he is placeing complete trust in me to do what I think is best, but if I decided not to go with an Islamic School then I would be responsible for incorporating Arabic and Religion into her daily life. It was alot to take in, and I suddenly felt a ton of pressure.
So I started to answer my questions.....out of order. What kind of child is Ameera? She is someone who is independant yet stubborn, she is very competative and is easily frustrated. She has a vivid imagination, loves bugs and animals, loves to paint & do puzzles, loves books etc. What have I observed about the way she learns? Well, she seems to be a fast learner, is able to figure without help to solve basic problems, memorizes quickly, uses new vocabulary, can carry out mature conversations, is a hands on type of person and is also very visual.
Ok so now that I had those questions answered I was starting to get somewhere.
Last two questions: what do I want for her? I want her to be able to continue doing the things she loves to do at home, to explore further topics that interest her, I want her to be able to run freely and have lots of physical activity and play, to eat healthy, to rest when she needs to, to interact with othes of all ages, to understand, interact, and observe the world outside the classroom, and i wanted learning to be student geared etc.....
I stopped here and began to wonder if there was such a place that existed! It seemed and still seems impossible. But I was finally able to answer my last and first question. What do I not want for her? I guess based on my answers that I did not want to place her in a traditional style school setting. And by traditional I mean 26 kids in a classroom, row seating, and whiteboard and teacher lecturing etc. I did not want to really confine her to a classroom 7 hours a day with 45min of recess. I also felt that it would be healthy for her to interact with muslims and non-muslims alike.
I was one step closer. Now my next step would be to research and visit the schools that met my criteria.