Isn’t homeschool for losers?

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.

What happened?

Well, a few things came together from mid 2013:

  1. 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 10 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…

Author: Asim Qureshi

Passionate about tech startups, home schooling, barefoot running and squash.

45 thoughts on “Isn’t homeschool for losers?”

  1. Great to read your blog. I am also homeschooling my kids in Lahore, Pakistan. Mine are younger. Boy 6 and the girl 2 years old. The difference is that I had decided to homeschool right from the beginning. Never thought of sending them to school. I am planning to start a blog. I hope it will be up in my lifetime 🙂


    1. All sounds very cool and smart , but dont be tooo focussed on academics and homeschooling is not a new idea , its been practiced for centuries yielding kids who may be intellecutally smart but who lack social skills.A school isnt just for academics, its a beautiful experience in a child s life.Geographies apart m still connected to my school buddies and its a special connection and m sure u have experienced that too. Let ur children go to school ,waste time ,bunk classes ,and enjoy.Dont steal their childhood by trying a proven failed experiment on them.


  2. AlSalamu Alaikom, found this blog through Seekers Hub, quite amazing to be honest 🙂 Just wanted to comment to save it for future reference, might need it when I get children of my own some day, Insha’Allah. Perhaps my little brother can be persuaded to leave his school and start learning from home? Anyways JazakAllah Khairan for your efforts Sidi!


  3. Salaam alaikum Asim,
    I’ve been an avid reader of your answers on Quora. I’ve been thinking about starting out with entrepreneurship and your posts are very beneficial. Not very long back, I was having a conversation with my wife about whether we should homeschool our kids or not. Thanks for helping out in so many different ways.
    Jazakallahu khair


  4. Salam Alykum,
    Thank you for your sharing your thoughts about homeschooling.
    I have been thinking about homeschooling my 8 and 12 years old children but I was not able to decide since both are not exciting about it as well as my wife. They all scared. This year is different since our 12 years girl noticed she is wasting time between moving around classes and beer pressure affecting her negatively.
    They are almost willing to try it, but since we don’t know how and what to do on daily basis “no framework” to follow, it’s worrying us.

    As a software engineer/entrepreneur I like the Lean Startup ideas. And would like to know how would spend a day with your kids and they apply such an idea on their study.



  5. Real food for thought. What do you do when you’re kids are really energetic and don’t want to sit and learn though? What about group games and sports? Do other families want to socialise outside of school friends?


  6. Hello Sir,
    I’m really intrigued by the idea of homeschooling, and I come from a place where this is just a concept I came across in movies, none of my friends had been homeschooled. It’s only logical that students being homeschooled outperform others because the teaching process in school entails imparting education that takes into account every students’ cognitive abilities, which slows the process and the quality of every student.

    I have a slight doubt regarding your approach. It worked fine for you and I am really glad about that, but what if the children refuse to the idea of being homeschooled?


    1. If your kids refuse to go to school, school would be difficult. If your kids refuse to homeschool, then homeschool would be difficult…


  7. Hi
    I just started following your blog. This first post has gotten me excited. Cant wait to read all the other posts. I love the idea of getting teachers on skype. That would solve my problem of finding best teachers since it means the teacher can be anywhere around the globe.

    i am still not sure how you short listed the teacher or you knew someone in advance ? anyway thats just a minor detail. The idea is great.


  8. Don’t you think that the purpose of school is not just learning but to develop socially as well? How does developing socially work when getting homeschooled?


    1. Katie, school can destroy kids socially. What I’ll say is this. I know 4 other kids that were homeschooled. One reason I started homeschooling was those kids were incredibly confident and social. My own kids are far more confident than most school kids. They meet kids regularly. Their friends had a sleepover only 2 days ago. You don’t need to meet 100 kids a day to develop social skills…


  9. Hi Asim. I found and follow you on quora. You’ve inspired me to homeschool my child. She turns 3 in a few months. What is the right time to start? Where do I start?


    1. TJ, this is a copy and paste from another answer but added a few things…

      Start at whatever age they can start learning. But start only with maths and languages – as many as possible. Don’t do biology, geography, etc… You don’t need any books, but you can use them if you want.

      When they are good enough to learn maths for an exams (roughly when he/she is 7 or 8) start gearing the course towards the maths exams by doing past papers – see my blog on how I did that. Then you can also do other subjects such biology, geography, perhaps a language or two, etc… but all geared towards exams. I hope this helps…


  10. Thanks
    i knew little about homeschoolin, i like it but i might have some difficulties in my country lows
    i plan to read all your blog articles
    Gazak Allah Khayra


  11. HI,
    Found this from your Quora post. Very interesting to read your posts.
    Although I agree home schooled kids can learn fast and master the subjects, I am just wondering how home schooling affects their social aspects. In fact, through the course of my own education I have realized that to acquire knowledge, one doesn’t need schools. However, will the kids not miss out on the whole process of meeting new people, interacting, school functions, competitions etc..
    It will be great if you could share your thoughts on these, and how you managed to provide an enriching social life for your kids.
    Best wishes for your wonderful kids,
    With warm regards,


  12. We are grappling with the idea of Homeschooling our twins who are 2 now. But I like Isabelle and your idea to give it a shot for a little time and then take a call.
    Sometimes it seems scary to Homeschool them for 12 years!
    Glad I read your blog ….


    1. Amit, just try it out! It doesn’t need to be for 12 years though. We’ve done it for 4 and only a couple of years left for the youngest.


  13. Hello Mr Asim Qureshu,

    I don’t know if you will still be able to see this, but I’m from the Philippines and to just give you an idea of where I’m from: Homeschool is a taboo here (esp the way you’re doing it) most of those who actually do, just enroll in schools for online courses done at home.
    So, I’m really having a hard time as to getting it started. I’m just happy to see that it you’re putting everything as detailed as possible.
    I have some questions:

    1. What do you use to check your children’s progress? Do you have a standardized test or do you just base it on how quick they are able to answer the next exercises?

    2. I haven’t taken any IGCSE’s nor A-LEVEL’s. I just basically read about them. So, how do I check if my son’s ready for the exams – particularly, IGCSE? Is there like a mock test I can use for him? Or some ways to prepare him of how the exam is gonna go about?

    3. I have decided to give homeschooling a try for my son this year and since we aren’t native englsih speakers, I decided he could first learn and practice more of English and Math. Is it a waste of time to just focus on 2 subjects?

    4. My son’s 9 and we don’t know anyone else here who are homeschooled. He wanted to learn Biology as a third subject – he has’t learned it before, but he shows interest in it after showing different videos in Khan Acad. Do you think it’ll be overwhelming or too advanced for him?

    5. Any tip aside from Khan Acad that I could use to help me with homeschooling? With the schedule and subjects?
    I had just tried otsourcing a math teacher but that’s it. I teach written and oral English (and reading).

    I hope you’re able to read this.




    1. 1. Early on I mark their papers. After a while they mark it themselves. For the UK system, exam papers, mark schemes, etc… are all available online for free.
      2. Just see a paper and ask yourself if you think your son is ready to start. We often make the wrong decision and then we might stop after a few weeks or months.
      3. No, I think that’s the best way to do it. Focus. Maths and English are absolutely key. I’d add another language in there, like Mandarin.
      4. No, if he’s interested he’ll be fine. Perhaps Khan Academy won’t be ideal, but you have to try. It’s all about trying.
      5. My kids only used Khan Academy for Maths. For Biology it was textbook and exams. You might need a teacher to help here if you can’t do the stuff yourself.


      1. Oh wow! Thank you so much! I am planning to have him learn Mandarin as I plan to work in China soon. But yeah, you have really been an inspiration. Thank you for responding! It means a lot.



  14. Salaam,

    How did you go about finding a math tutor online, or more precisely the right tutor for your kids?
    Would appreciate your input,


      1. Not really – if they’ve done well in the same exam your child is studying for that would be ideal


    1. Assalam ualaikum

      Would homeschooling work if you weren’t very educated yourself . As an eg , maths , how would you go
      Past the fractions and percentages and teach the kids beyond that if you didn’t have knowledge of it yourself .

      A fantastic idea and would
      Certainly try it but I didn’t make it past secondary school and fear there may come a point where I’m no longer able to teach them because I don’t know much myself


      1. WS, it may not work as well but the problem isn’t education as much as it is confidence.

        If you feel education and teaching is some art that only teachers can teach, yes, it all becomes much harder (in your mind). If you ‘realise’ how easy studying is for the person that really wants to do it, then it all becomes easy.

        Isabelle and I basically creamed our exams throughout most of our lives and so we just think exams are easy (if you work hard). And, yes, I think that was critical. But it’s more about attitude than the education itself.


  15. Hi Asim,

    Nice to read this. My elder kid is in 2nd standard, but I feel school is not doing justice to his talent. Could you please guide me on the process of homeschooling so that I can explore this option.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Asim ,
      This is fascinating especially since I hate the school runs as it takes a chunk out of my productive time. Curiously, why did you only started on Maths alone and not anything else besides language. What was your rationale? Thanks.


      1. CL, the kids did various subjects, but for the 16+ and 18+ exams we did one at a time, and started with maths, then the others.


  16. Beautifully curated blog (even the idea of blogging about the way you parent your kids is AMAZING!!!)

    My kid is 2.5 years and has been in day care since she was 10 months old. The primary reason why we decided to leave her in a daycare is due to our schedules- me being a post graduate student and my husband having a full time job. Although I regretted the decision initially we had no other choice, so swallowed the tears and kept sending her back. She’s settled well now and loves to go there.
    The reason why I wanted to reach out was to ask how you and your wife manage your energy in a day? I mean 3 kids itself is a handful. What are some good habits to cultivate in kids in order teach them to be good decision makers?
    (Just to add context- my daughters a bit of a hard nut to crack, I mean she’s been a very independent thinker and doer right from her early days and although I admire that in her, most often than not I can’t really be in control coz she’s got her own way for everything)


    1. Thanks Aishwary (I’m guessing that’s your name) for your very kind words.

      Isabelle is French and I think French mothers tend to make their kids independent younger. For example, from as soon as they could manage they were given their food and told to eat it – no pretending the spoon is some aeroplane landing in the child’s mouth kind of thing. Similar kind of thing with sleep, breakfast, etc… In fact, all 3 of our kids regularly cook and cook really well.

      I guess we’ve done the same with study. 90% of the time my 12 year old says she’s stuck with maths, I tell her to go away and figure it out herself! Eventually she usually does – using the internet, YouTube, textbook – when she really can’t do it I explain.

      Remember, neither of us commute, no dropping and picking up kids from school, I think the question I could be asking is how do you manage to find the energy!?

      BTW, it sounds like you have a strong-minded young daughter!


  17. Couple of questions
    Who is the primary carer?
    Do you work? Does your wife work?
    You are certainly simplyfying the life.
    Just not sure if simple is what I want.

    Anyways interesting read. I am glad its working out for you.


    1. Sara…

      Who is the primary carer?
      My wife, but the kids are kind of old enough to look after themselves.

      Do you work? Does your wife work?
      We both work from home.


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