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 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.
  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.

18 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 🙂

  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…

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