Prior to mid 2013 if you had told me that you homeschooled your children I would have thought you were nuts and you and your children were losers.
By year end 2013 we had given notice to our kids’ schools that we were done with school.
Well, a few things came together from mid 2013:
- One to one teaching. I realised my kids’ schools weren’t really challenging my kids in maths, so I started to teach my kids maths on the 15 minute drive to school. No structure, no whiteboard, no textbooks but they learned far more during the 15 minutes drive than the school was teaching them throughout the day together with all their homework. So I hired a teacher on Skype for US$5 per hour to teach them maths on the weekends instead of teaching them in the car, and within weeks their maths had progressed way beyond their colleagues. The benefits of one to one teaching were becoming clear.
- School too hectic. We wanted our kids to play sports, learn Mandarin, Urdu, French, and Arabic (all outside school as their school didn’t offer those languages), do their extra maths lessons. Lessons after school, lessons during the weekend, collecting the kids, dropping them off, it all become a bit much, for us and the kids.
- A great example. One of my friends from the UK had visited us in Malaysia, and his 4 kids were homeschooled. I asked myself which kids were the best brought up kids I knew and I realised that they stood head and shoulders above any other kids I’d seen. They were academically years ahead of their peers, social, cheeky, polite, and unlike most other kids were able and interested in talking to adults, and they were great with other kids too.
- US study. I saw a nationwide US study that showed that homeschool kids massively outperformed school kids academically, in social activities, and at college, if that is where they went on to.
In late 2013 I discussed the idea with Isabelle, who is more risk averse than I am on radical ideas like homeschooling, and to my surprise she agreed that we should give it a go over the Christmas vacations and if it worked well we’d try it for a year. She too felt that the kids could learn so much faster if they were constantly challenged and had 1 to 1 tuition. She also felt we could customise every aspect of their education to what the kids wanted and what we wanted for our kids.
We asked the kids. The two younger kids, Danyal, 7, and Sabeen, 5, were all for it. They loved the idea of doing lessons in their pyjamas, and seemed to hate the routine of school. They didn’t seem to care about missing their school friends (rather worrying) despite both being fairly popular and social. The eldest, Maryam, was marginally in favour of homeschool only because we agreed with her that she wouldn’t get homework, she’d no longer have weekend classes, and we assured her that she’d still see friends regularly. That mattered to her more.
The Christmas trial went very well, and so we gave their schools notice and a one year homeschooling trial it was. And since the one year trial started we haven’t even once considered sending them back to school.
Homeschooling was not just good. It was far better in so many aspects than we had even hoped…