Homeschool 2.0

Since starting homeschool our original plans for our kids have been tweaked.

We’ve decided to get their GCSE’s and A-levels out of the way as soon as possible, so the kids can focus on their passions. Exams are a stressful part of childhood, for many the worst part of childhood. The hard laborious work, constant pressure, expectations, competition, and public shaming and condescending advice if you get bad grades isn’t exactly pleasant, and nearly all the stuff learned is useless. To this day I occasionally wake up, in a cold sweat, worried that my university finals are around the corner and I’ve forgotten to prepare for them – that’s how stressful they were.

Hopefully Maryam, 11, will have finished her A-levels when she’s 13, Danyal, 9, will be done by the time he’s 12, and Sabeen, 7, should finish when she’s 12. The reason Maryam finishes later is because she started home school the oldest. They’ll only take exams if we feel they’ll get A*s, so if they don’t look like they’ll get the A* they’ll wait until the next exam date.

A significant benefit of doing the exams early is it sounds way more impressive on a CV, so everyone will assume they’re hyper-intelligent, when they’re not.

For those that haven’t read my earlier blogs the odd thing about this all is that my kids aren’t working hard, unless it’s the period leading to public exams. They do work intensively 7am until noon, five days a week, but that is pretty much it – they have very little homework – and so the weekends completely off. The effectiveness of 1-to-1 teaching is what is driving things. Isabelle and myself, for that matter, aren’t working hard either.

Most good schools make 9 or 10 GCSE’s and 3 A-levels standard. We’ve decided on 5 GCSE’s, and 4 A-levels.

We’ve reduced the GCSE’s because when one has A-levels, the GCSE’s become fairly irrelevant. Students do an impressive number of GCSE’s because when they are applying to universities they do not yet have their A-level grades, so universities base their offers on the GCSE grades, but if our kids apply to university, they will have already finished some A-levels.

Another thing that we’re doing different is staggering the exams. Schools make their students do all their GCSE’s at one time, like over a summer. This is just plain stupid. That’s the best way of making students do as badly as possible.

So Maryam recently completed 3 IGCSE’s – Maths, Biology, French. She’ll do Physics in 3 months time, in November 2016, and two months later she’ll do an IGCSE in Accounting (taught by Isabelle, a Chartered Accountant). Getting an A* when she’s going to be spending the prior few weeks focusing on that subject suddenly doesn’t sound so stellar. So after her Accounting IGCSE, she’ll do 2 A-levels in the middle of next year, and a final 2 the following year.

Note Maryam is not doing an English GCSE – compulsory in schools in the UK. I checked up with the top universities and none have it as a requirement.

For Danyal the plan is for him to start his maths A-level after he’s done his Physics iGCSE which he’s hoping to do in November 2016. So he might have finished an A-level or two before he’s done with all his GCSE’s. He’s good at maths (like his father before him!).

We don’t yet have much of a plan for Sabeen but I’m hoping she might be ready for her IGCSE maths next year, in June 2017. We’re kind of assessing her aptitude and interests.

Finally, the kids are continuing to learn their languages and play their sports, as per Homeschool 1.0, but once they start going for the GCSE’s and A-levels the hours are somewhat reduced, with exams the clear focus. We just want to get the exams out of the way…

Author: Asim Qureshi

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

24 thoughts on “Homeschool 2.0”

  1. Hi Mr and Mrs Qureshi,

    May I ask for your personal advise in matters related to homeschooling more than one child?

    I have two kids, boy aged 10 and girl aged 7. I am a Malaysian and am currently residing in England. My kids still attend loc school but I do supplement their academic studies during term break. Full time homeschooling is in the plan. I find getting both kids to study together is painfully difficult, they may either argue with each other or having fun non-stop. My daughter is defiant and very moody, getting her to do work is always a great challenge. How do you manage so many kids and still able to keep them focus for so long ? Do you have some kind of punishment for bad behaviour?

    FYI, we only allow 30mins gaming time everyday and no TV at home.


    Kind regards,


    1. Sam, funny enough we’re in the same boat! We have no TV, give about 30 mins game time a day, our 7 year old is moody, defiant, and difficult to get to do her work, and our kids try to either fight our play non-stop with each other!

      What Isabelle does is give a warning, and if the kids do not respond to the warning they do not get sweets after dinner, and if they don’t respond again the video game goes, etc…

      For maths, with the 7 year old, I give her a set amount of work per week, and if she doesn’t do it she has to do it over the weekend with something extra as she’s inconvenienced me, and she knows I’m serious.

      Basically the kids need some incentive to work. Studying is boring!


  2. Asim I am impressed with your with your kids home-school initiative. I desired my children to have such training with keen interest in learning languages (English, French and Mandarin).
    I will appreciate if i can get to learn more on the model you used in training them to attain this level.
    I have done several studies on children’s mind and it is highly productive from age 0 to 6 years which will require maximum investment in teaching them values.
    If you don’t mind you could share some of your experience with me and it will be my pleasure as I found your blog highly resourceful.


    1. Adenkunle, thanks for your kind words. With regards to sharing my experience it’s all on the blog. What else do you want to know?


  3. Hi Asim
    I found a particular sentence of interest
    “To this day I occasionally wake up, in a cold sweat, worried that my university finals are around the corner and I’ve forgotten to prepare for them – that’s how stressful they were.”
    I get a similar recurring dream 13 years after my 12th grade exams. Want to discuss your experience. Can we discuss over mail?


  4. Really inspiring post, but puts me to shame! In Year 11, feels like the education system has screwed each and every one of us over.


  5. really it’s impressive, I am passionate about your work and decided to make my future children home learned.
    create the entrepreneurship insides their thoughts.
    thank you


    1. WS. U don’t need to register to study, just need to register for the exams. Google to find a centre in your country. In Malaysia it’s at the British Council of Malaysia. There are also schools that allow their halls to be used as exam centres.


  6. Salam Asim,
    Thanks a lot for the inspiring experience.
    Just have a question, to register for a iGCSE, do they require any prof of previous studies ?
    I mean for example , they would ask if the student is registered with a official school or finished previous elementry exams?

    Thanks in advance


    1. Rasha, anyone can sit an IGCSE by simply registering for the exam at a centre and paying the fees (around US$200 per IGCSE, but I can’t recall amount)


    2. WS Rasha, you just need to pay the fee and prove identity. If they haven’t studied for the exam they’ll just get a fail.


  7. Salam Asim,
    This is such amazing blog, thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts.
    I’m reading this blog right after my decision to start homeschooling for my 10,8 kids, and this blog really inspiring me.
    If you were to give me only one advice before starting my journey, what would that be?
    Kind Regards,


    1. Mohamed, good question, WS.

      I think my wife and I are very driven. For example when I taught my kids multiplication I was relentless. I remember I’d ask my kids three multiple question (e.g. 5 x 6) literally 8 or 9 times a day – I mean every time I saw them. And they learned it really fast – I think within weeks.

      Your own drive will reflect on your kids’ achievements. However, you need to balance that with making sure your kids enjoy it, and feel passionate about it too, else it won’t work.


  8. Dear Asim ,
    I read your posts on quora and I always find something very valuable and intresting. This blog is nice . Lastly you and Isabelle both make a great team. Happy homeschooling ! I really liked the way you enjoy and school them .hats off to both of your patience levels


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