Our initial vision for home school 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…