Our initial vision for homeschool is essentially something we have stuck with.
We wanted to teach the kids maths and 6 languages up until around the age they could start preparing for high school exams and once their English, logic and maturity was at a level they could prepare for the exams they would start doing them.
Note that meant no sciences, history, geography, etc… up until essentially 9 or 10.
Here is how we taught the languages and maths:
Maths – I taught my kids maths using Khan Academy for 1 hour every weekday. It wasn’t a case of letting the kids get on with it – I was very much involved in explaining all the concepts to them.
English – my wife, Isabelle, just gave the kids exercises from various books and marked them. The kids started reading so much, as they had so much time, that we did not need much beyond that.
French – Isabelle is French. So she spoke to the kids in French from an early age. And then she started giving them written exercises. All she’d do is give the exercises and mark them, explaining what they got wrong.
Arabic, Chinese – tutors came in twice a week and taught each kid separately. We realised that the kids weren’t improving their conversational skills nearly quickly enough in either languages. So then we hired native speakers to just chat with them over Skype for 20 mins each twice a week, and this worked wonders in terms of their ability to converse.
Urdu/Hindi, Malay – these languages we decided to focus on the spoken only. So it’s just chatting over Skype for 30 mins twice a week.
After they reached a certain maturity, we would then started going for high school exams.
They work 7am until 12pm flat out, and then they’re done. No homework, no work on the weekends.
The kids chose a few sports and they’ve stuck with them, and become good at them. We didn’t want them to become jack of all, masters of none.
For Danyal it’s middle-distance running, football and squash. Maryam and Sabeen haven’t been too keen on sports and they’ve just done rock climbing and they often join Danyal on his runs.
Most days my wife would take them out just so they meet other kids. For sports, to meet friends or for other group activities – often with other home schooled kids.
So all of this has been our plan from the beginning and we have stuck with it. We think it’s worked – Maryam could speak 5 languages well (Urdu/Hindi got left behind) by the time she was 10, all 3 kids are around 5 years ahead in their maths, they play their chosen sports regularly and to a high level, and have a great social life. They’re confident, cheeky yet well behaved when they need to be. And they have plenty of time to do what they want (read, cook, etc…), and are among the happiest, if not happiest, kids I know. I call that a result.
It’s the post 9-10 age where we have somewhat changed our vision, but I’ll discuss that in another post…
26 thoughts on “Homeschool 1.0”
Sounds great. My reservation would have been with regard to social development of the kids. But you have that covered, that’s great. Also, as an expat, my back up and some of my good friends are the parents of my kids friends. How have you guys managed this aspect?
I guess Isabelle knows lots of expat mothers from all the home school and other activities she’s involved in. If you home school, you have to make sure you still get out of the house very often, else it’d be pretty painful for the kids.
That is all great mashaa’allah
I want to ask if it cost you alot? And what about certificates.. Unfortunately here in Egypt certificates are more important than the quality of education itself
And I want to ask about sources of science history and how did they apply to exams
Reman, anyone can do IGCSE and A-level exams. Google it to find a centre where you can sit the papers. In Malaysia it’s at the British Council.
May I know where do I get native speakers through skype ?
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Vivien, via UpWork.com. It has no teaching section, just go to translation instead and post your job details…
Your education plan of giving intense math/science/language education in the first years and then moving on to more practical stuff is pretty interesting. Did you actually envision this as a way to build general-puprose work ethic and intelligence (as well as putting standardized tests out of the way), or it was just pursing the apparent talents and interests?
In Russia, there is an actual elementary school curriculum program (developed in the 90s) which is slightly similar in its approach to your plan. Not going into some tragicomic details, this program was very badly conceived and executed, showed worse results across the board than a tamer traditional program, had an even worse middle school continuation that was quickly scrapped and is generally unpopular with teachers. I was lucky to avoid it.
Yet the website of that program has some of the grandest ideological diatribes I have ever read. Not that they create a strong justification for the program and its unpopularity. It’s a strong contrast with this blog, where you make strong and crisp points throughout, don’t turn into philoshophical waters and don’t show any hauteur towards regular pupils. It’s weird and tragicomic that people creating a national curriculum couldn’t get their point across, while you, as a homeschooling parent with a financing/business background, tell here what is probably the most magnificent and wonderful pedagogic story I have ever seen.
It was first maths and languages, and then exams. Seems like the logical way – what’s the point of learning physics if you can’t do maths or English properly?
Thanks very much for your kind words – and thanks for teaching me a new word – pedagogic!
I think many others have had similar stories – I’m just someone who’s gone fairly public about it.
Salaams Asim. I have been reading your blog and am throughly enjoying the positive and optimistic tone. We have a bright 2 year old and another on the way and have been having much discussions on Home schooling. The logic you have employed makes a lot of sense to me as I have always thought that maths and language are the fundamental branches of knowledge. One thing a lot of homeschooling parents have not been able to share with me is their overall plan on their childrens education – ie the 10 to 15 year plan. Perhaps you have already written on this. If you have not can you share it? Thanks.
Assalamu Aleikum Asim, is there any curriculum you have followed while teaching the kids?? Did you have any milestones??
What about music? Dance and Art? Maybe the girls would enjoy these more than sport?
wow thats such a simple and easy to follow plan. Only problem is that I dont have a french wife 🙂
But nonetheless, I think we can always get tutors. Will have to think more about that. But the idea of just sticking to language and maths sounds such logical. I wonder why schools burden kids with so much stuff that they dont even remember later on. so much wasted time..
Shane, I totally agree.
Asim, never mind I found the answer. thanks!
I think homeschooling needs at least one dedicated parent, right?
Deena, yes, I think so.
Salam alaykum can you help me with more details about teaching English to your children I have 2 kids and I want them to learn French and English.Any advice please.
Omari, WS, I would suggest reading, watching films and speaking English to a native. Perhaps find a native English tutor to simply chat to them over Skype from UpWork.com.
what is the best age to start learning my son math and English..it’s 2 years now and i trying to learn him counting and English alphabet, we are Egyptians
Yasmin, as early as they can start learning but don’t push them at all. They need to enjoy it…
What about philosophy/critical thinking? Do you think it would be a good idea to focus in this area as well?
They can learn it in their own time when they’re older, if they’re interested
Asa I will keep it brief as I’m sure you’re busy and I would really appreciate a reply!
I would like my 5 year old to learn just spoken mandarin and Spanish –
1. DId your children start learning all the spoken languages in tandem? Do they not get confused between the languages?
2. For the spoken languages did they do anything else apart from the Skype session two times a week?
3. How long did it take for the them be fluent in speaking with only two Sessions a week?
WS. Tandem is fine as long as the person they’re learning from is different. I read a book about this long ago. Kids get confused if the same person teaches them multiple languages.
They don’t need anything but the Skype lessons to speak. Frankly, 2 is not enough. I’d say 4 sessions a week for 2-3 years will get them conversant. Our kids’ progression was slow because we only had 2 lessons a week. We’ve increased it to 3 recently and I want 4.
There is no doubt your blog must have inspired alot of parents in homeschooling their kids and I am one of them :). Will appreciate if you can share a little more info on the language tutors you had hired for your kids. Any recommendations for a trusted tutor?