Reflections

Raising Children on Words | Literature-Based Homeschooling

road through the woods rudyard kipling

The power of words, their ability to turn hearts and move men should never be underestimated.

In fact, it has become one of the few truths that I stand by: that words can change the world.

One of the greatest proofs of this are the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims, along with Jews and Christians, are called the “people of the book” and it is through the Divine words of revelation that God chose to guide us; words that forever changed the world.

“It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book (Quran), confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (Quran) (of judgment between right and wrong).” – Holy Quran 3:3

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Words, in their ever varied and beautiful forms, also make up the backbone of our literature-based homeschool. It is by the craftsmanship of the many great authors we read, that my children gain knowledge and are inspired to learn.

Through the words of others, they are taught what it means to be human; the good, the bad and everything in between.

The beauty of well crafted words sometimes catches me off guard, as if placed in my path for a reason; to remind me, teach me or just to make me smile when I need it the most.

road through the woods rudyard kipling

One such occasion was when we were visiting a local park. Despite having been to the same park for years, it was only on this visit that I noticed a small second-hand bookshop hidden above the ice-cream parlour. After the ice-creams were enjoyed, we all ventured up the narrow wooden staircase in the lofted roof. Tucked up under the eaves were hundreds of second-hand books, neatly arranged on old mismatched bookcases. The delight of finding this “secret” treasure-trove was not lost on my children, who quickly set about scouring the shelves looking for “the” book for them.

Tucked upon the first bookcase were two gems; the first of which was an old copy of Enid Blyton’s “The Enchanted Wood published in the 1960’s. The second was Discovering Poetry: Vol 4 Freshfields,” a collection of nature poetry collected by E. W. Parker.

In addition to these, my youngest son carried home a hardback copy of Stories from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne as though it was the most precious thing in the world.

Back home, over a cup of tea, I opened the poetry book and the first poem that met my eyes made my heart flutter. I can’t make out if it was a pang of recollection from a distant childhood memory, or simply the power of the poem’s vivid imagery.

Road through the woods

This is the poem I read,

The Way Through the Woods 

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

By Rudyard Kipling

road through the woods rudyard kipling

I read it over and over again, and it made me smile.

Words can do that; they can bring joy and delight when before there was none.

Then I read it to my kids. With their eyes closed and the room quiet, they felt it too. They told me about, “The lost road,” and “The horses hooves,” and they talked together about how roads were different in the olden days. They got it. They saw it in the minds and they felt the words.

Together we enjoyed those words, written many years ago by a man we never knew. Those words brought us closer. That poem is now something we share, like an inside joke or a happy memory.

By exposing my children to these great authors and poets, who are masters of their craft, I hope that my children will one day be able to yield the power found within words and use it for a noble purpose insha’Allah.

One day, when they are grown, and they hear the words of that poem again, it will trigger something within them and make their hearts flutter as they remember; and then perhaps they will pass these words onto their children.

Words connect us, they move us, and so too can they shape us. That is why I raise my children upon the best of them.

raise children on words dr gemma elizabeth

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

My Journey Towards Slow-Living | Homeschool Reflections

slow living homeschool reflections

Last night, when the little ones were asleep, and it was just me and him in the living room, my eldest son turned to me and said,

” You’re like your old self again Mummy…You’re knitting.”

I could have cried.

He’s right. I am starting to feel like my old self again; that silly, impulsive, fun-loving girl, that girl that thought and cared deeply about everything, that girl who loved practical jokes and being goofy!

slow living homeschool reflections

But she got  pushed aside so I could become responsible and capable; to be a “better” mum and wife; or a least in the same way everyone else seems to be.

But instead of becoming more capable, I just became hurried. Instead of cherishing those special moments with my family, I hurried them onto the next one without taking the time to experience it; without truly living it. In an effort to be perfect, I forgot to be present.

As my old self re-emerges, my relationships with those around me is growing. I’m no longer just functioning as a wife and a mum, but I’m learning to connect on a deeper level and be vulnerable again with those I love.

What happened to cause this change?

Simply, I’m slowing down.

Instead of striving towards doing more, I’m seeking out quiet. Less distraction, less disruption and more time to reconnect with those I love the most. Instead of trying to fill every “empty” space and time slot in my life, I am embracing the silence. Instead of doing more and more, I’m doing less but with more meaning and more heart.

And so to dear boy, my old self said back, ” Yes,” I told him, “I’m back.”

If. like me, you have been feeling frantic and frazzled for too long; if you are exhausted with the pace of the life you have created for yourself; if you miss your old care-free self and those relationships of those you love, then perhaps you too need to slow down.

 

“It’s about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.

It’s about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving.

It’s about about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.”

– Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect.

If this seems completely irrelevant  to your life, then I’m happy for you…I really am.

But I wish someone had told me long ago, before I wasted all those years, that what you seek is not achieved or found by hustling and busyness; rather, it lies in the silence within you.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool