A conversation with Dr Gemma Elizabeth, founder of 'Our Muslim Homeschool', a popular blog to assist and inspire Muslim families interested in home education, positive motherhood and mindful parenting. Dr Gemma also has her own Podcast 'Raising Mums', and is the recipient of numerous blogging awards.
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Where do I begin!
I’m a wife, a homeschooling mother of four and a pretty average cook! I’m ridiculously passionate about helping Muslim mums get more involved in their children’s education. My work online encourages mothers to raise their children mindfully and empowers women to own and thrive in their role as mums.
What led you to this passion?
Becoming a mum changed me. It tipped my world upside down; as it does to so many of us. Going through the struggles that so many new mums face, I realised there was no-one online offering help to women like me.
As my children got older, I realised that the mainstream school system was far from perfect; and so I looked into homeschooling. Once again, I was struck by the lack of Muslim women voices out there about education. We took the leap into home-educating when my eldest son turned 4, and I could not imagine living any other way now. As soon as I was able, I began sharing our homeschooling journey online and everything took off from there.
"With the right intention, something as simple as washing the dishes or driving to the shops, can become an act of worship. It can elevate the everyday to something other-worldy."
What’s a common myth about homeschooling - and can you debunk it?
There are so many misunderstandings about homeschooling. The one that I hear most often is “Oh, you must be so patient. I could never do that!”
I often encounter this idea that homeschooling mums must be these calm, serene, mild-tempered women, who patiently tolerate every temper tantrum and sibling argument that comes their way. I wish! We are just like everyone else; some days we ARE patient with our kids, and some days we’re not.
What’s a great habit you’ve picked up over the years that’s really helped you in your career?
I’m working hard to develop the habit of making intentions throughout my day.
With the right intention, something as simple as washing the dishes or driving to the shops, can become an act of worship. It can elevate the everyday to something other-worldy. When you remember why you're doing something, your intention, then it puts every difficulty into perspective. It makes me more content, and also gives me the mental space I need to find solutions to problems I might be facing.
Being a mother/teacher, what’s helped you manage your time effectively?
I make a lot of to-do lists! I have lists for homeschooling, lists for my online business, lists for housework, lists for my reading...you name it, I’ve got a list.
What’s the biggest motivator in your life?
Time and time again, I come back to the fact that we only have one life; we only get one chance at this. When the day is gone, the day is gone. You will never get it back. Aside from faith, time is our most precious gift. I don’t want to waste a moment.
"I often encounter this idea that homeschooling mums must be these calm, serene, mild-tempered women, who patiently tolerate every temper tantrum and sibling argument that comes their way. I wish! We are just like everyone else; some days we ARE patient with our kids, and some days we’re not."
Any advice to someone who is new to homeschooling, especially with recent lockdown measures?
Homeschooling is not school. You don’t need to work from nine to three. You don’t need to have 40 minute lessons, You don’t need to do the same subjects or teach them in the same way. YOU GET TO CHOOSE!
The school model is not the only way to educate your children. In fact, I believe there are better ways to do it. So when you find yourself teaching something, and facing resistance from your kids, ask yourself, “Do I have to do it like this, or could I find a better way?”
Let’s talk fashion.
In your own words, what does modesty mean to you?
Modesty is beautiful. It acts as a reminder to myself, and others. of what’s important in life, and what is not.
What’s your favourite piece from the Aab collection?
I really appreciate that the Aab collection considers nursing mums in their collections. I recently bought the Freestyle Shirted Cotton Maxi and I love it!
Where can people find you online?
We also now offer online courses to guide and support mums who want to homeschool their children!