Raising Our Future Generations: (Part 5): Strengthening the Foundation
Children need a great deal of attention and parents have to realize that raising kids is a 24/7 job.
Children need a great deal of attention and parents have to realize that raising kids is a 24/7 job. Throwing them into child care just so you can relax and for whatever other excuses we come up with is truly an injustice and cop-out. I do understand that in some cases people don’t have much of a choice, but for the most part we do and so I speak in these general terms. Particularly for those of us living here in the West, the vast majority of daycares are run by non-Muslims or “non-practicing” (I hate this term but use it only because the masses are familiar with it) Muslims. It is quite rare to find good daycares run by adherent Muslims who will assist us in raising pious children. Therefore, unless you have the good fortune of having one of those around, avoid sending your kids to daycare as much as possible. Unfortunately, they will be exposed to a great deal of un-Islaamic activities and beliefs and they will not be taught Islaamic manners and etiquettes. However, if they are under your watchful eye, you can instill in them all those wonderful Islaamic morals and habits; they’ll pray with you, you’ll be able to recite Quraan to them, teach them the du’aas (supplications) we say at certain times and so forth. Do you really think they’re going to learn this from the daycares available to us? Parents, no one ever said raising kids was going to be easy!
The children are now ready to enter school. Most kids enter kindergarten at the age of five. So which school will you be sending your kid(s) to? The local Muslim/Islaamic School, the public school, a private school or the “home school”?
If there is a Muslim/Islaamic School in your area, then before sending your children with eyes closed, look into the school; find out how “Islaamic” the school is and what the (educational) standards of that school are. Sadly, many “Muslim/Islaamic” schools are very un-Islaamic and actually corrupt our kids and aid in confusing them as to their identity. Therefore, do research about the school and ask qualified people of (Islaamic) knowledge about the school before sending your child to it. If the school seems to be acceptable, send your kids to it, but remember to be an active part of your child’s life and follow up on what they are learning. Communicate with the child’s teacher and the school and try to get involved as a volunteer to benefit yourself and your community.
As for public school, then avoid sending your kids to such schools to the best of your ability. However, since some will find themselves in a position where they have no option but to send their kids to such schools (or circumstances are somewhat difficult), then be aware that you really need to be on top of things. From the outset let the school and teacher know that your child is Muslim and that you have certain restrictions/guidelines that need to be followed. Send this in writing and communicate it to the school verbally if need be. Inform them of things such as your child’s dietary restrictions [so no sharing lunches with others and making certain that your child is not given foods/candies containing particular ingredients), the fact that they cannot take part in music and dance lessons, that they will not draw images with full facial features, that they cannot take part in any celebrations (i.e. Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine's etc…) and so forth. Explain these things to your child well and on a regular basis check to see what they are learning and if they are adhering to the guidelines you laid out.
With respect to homeschooling, this is usually the best and safest option for us as Muslims living in a non-Muslim society. It isn’t easy, but it sure is safe. Let me admit though that this requires a great deal of work and a strong commitment. But if we aren’t willing to make sacrifices and exert the efforts for the welfare of our own kids, then for whom will we be willing to do so? This isn’t the time to go into any details regarding homeschooling, but remember that you are likely not the only ones in this situation. So look at your community and you are bound to find other families who have similar concerns and perhaps you can have a group of kids home school together.
As your kids get older, you need to talk to them more and more about the importance of salaah, fasting, hijaab etc… in the life of a Muslim. Alhamdulillaah, they have seen you praying and maintaining your (religious) duties so far and thus this should not be very difficult. Let them know why they need to observe these rites and that the payoff is huge (i.e. al Jannah). Teach them the purpose of life (to worship Allaah) and what this means in our everyday lives. By the time they have reached age seven, you need to insist that they pray regularly (even at school since in the winter months the time of Thuhr has passed by the time they return home) and by the time they reach age ten, you need to discipline them if they are negligent towards the prayers. Apply this to other duties such as fasting and hijaab as well. For those who send their children to public schools (I imagine they are the majority), remind them of this duty everyday before they go to school and ask them if they prayed as soon as they get home from school. This in and of itself will show them how important this matter is. However, if we ask about what they learned in Math and Science (and we should) first and only ask about salaah afterwards (or not at all), then this will send a wrong message to the kids. Talk to them regularly and remind them what a great thing it is that they pray while others don’t. Let them know that this is part of who they are.
In terms of Islaamic studies, then if your kids are in a Muslim/Islaamic School, they are receiving instruction there (but you still need to follow up and complement what they’re being taught). Homeschoolers too will receive instruction in Islaamic studies throughout the day. However, those kids who are attending public schools also need to be instructed in Islaamic studies and it is the responsibility of the parents to provide it for them. Perhaps the parents themselves can do this by finding good resources to assist them, or they may choose to send them to Islaamic studies classes being offered in the community by qualified and trustworthy individuals. Rest assured, Islaamic studies are more important that any other subject, no matter what that other subject may be.
The matter of friendships will continue to be an issue throughout the life of your child. What was said concerning it in earlier articles still applies at this stage and will continue to apply later on as well. Just be very cautious and extremely careful of whom your child befriends and who they hang out with. Help them choose friends and know who they are.
Now come the preteen years and what a challenge they can be! In the next article, we will begin discussing matters related to preteens Inshaa Allaah.
Source: Al-Madinah Academy