Sabeen’s Physics IGCSE…

Sabeen just found out that she got an A* in her Physics IGCSE (UK 16+ exam).

Aged 10, she’s the youngest girl in the 30-year history of the GCSE to have achieved this!

But, and if you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know this, Sabeen is no genius – in fact, she isn’t even particularly naturally talented at physics – she just used a technique that you too can use in your work and life.

Essentially, it’s the same technique Tiger Woods used to become great at golf, Albert Einstein leveraged for his physics, and Jeff Bezos used to become the richest person in the world.

So, Sabeen did the 2-year course in 5 months – studying around 3 hours a day, 7 days week – she put in enough hours per day which rapidly increased her rate of learning. 1.5 hours a day for 10 months wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.

For the most part, Sabeen just did past-papers – practising what she wanted to become good at – and looking up stuff on YouTube when she was stuck. And that’s another part of it – she had the drive to go figure things out. If you aren’t driven, nothing will work.

But at its basic level the technique is incredibly simple – to become great at something focus intensely on it – and actually do it rather than observe.

Life Beyond School…

So Danyal (12) and Maryam (14) are enjoying retirement (ha ha!).

Well, Danyal spends a few hours learning to coding (programming), an hour or so for his languages on Skype, plays tons of football and squash, and spends the rest of the day reading, playing video games or meeting friends. He also goes for a swim with me most mornings.

Maryam has taken a liking to public speaking, so she’s doing a lot of that. She too is learning her languages, does a bit of self-defence, some coding, and spends most of the rest of the day reading – she loves reading. Of course, and I do seem to need to mention it as otherwise people get concerned – she too meets up with her friends.

Both of them are constantly looking for one-off courses or activities near us – Maryam recently entered into a debating competition, Danyal’s been playing football with some Korean team as it’s the Xmas holidays.

Sabeen (10) is studying for her IGCSE French which she’ll be taking in mid-2019 – but she doesn’t seem to be studying much – we have taken it easy with her. She’s doing her other languages too, but it hasn’t been the same push we had with Maryam and Danyal – as someone told me “You proved that it works, now you’ve got nothing left to prove to yourself with Sabeen” and there is, unfortunately, an element of truth to that. She’ll probably start studying for her A-level Mathematics pretty soon.

One thing is clear – the kids now have incredible levels of freedom and lots of time. They arrange lessons for when they want, they do what they want where they want (home, cafes, my office, with friends), and they work as much as they want.

Without the huge exam pressure we put on Maryam and Danyal a few months ago, it all feels rather chilled. And we want to keep it that way.

Else, all is well! Hope you are too…

Do homeschooled children lack social skills and emotional intelligence?

Some kids are homeschooled because they were bullied or had other social issues at school. And, from my experience, these kids do tend to be a little socially challenged. And then people observe these kids and assume it’s the homeschooling that is the cause when often it’s the school that was.

My own 3 homeschooled kids, aged 10–14, are socially fine. My two daughters are highly-confident. My son is slightly reserved but less than I was at his age – and I went to school. They meet friends frequently, but, sure, they don’t meet 500 other kids for 150 days a year like school kids do.

In fact, a reason I started homeschooling the kids was that I spent some time with a homeschooled family and was shocked by the fact the kids were so confident. It blew away my misconceptions.

You see, homeschooled kids aren’t usually bullied, so they have an inner confidence that bullying often knocks out of school kids. And that helps them socially.

One of my daughters was briefly and lightly bullied when she used to go to school – and for those few weeks, her confidence collapsed. The problem was resolved after a gentle discussion with one of the teachers, but I can’t imagine the effects it could have had if it had happened more aggressively and for years.

I believe that this inner confidence actually makes homeschooled kids better prepared for the real world than schooled ones.

Another thing. I’ve noticed my kids are softer than most kids and seem to be more loving. I sense that’s a result of them being homeschooled. When I come home, they run to greet me every time. They love doing things as a family. They really care about each other. And other people. They’re just softer than most schooled kids.

I personally think that being gentle, loving, more human is a very positive trait. But if you don’t then, yes, homeschool may let you down there. Then again, I don’t know any parent that wants to send their kids to a rough school.

The next thing…

The two elder kids, Danyal (soon 12) and Maryam (14), have been chilling out for a few months now. After their fairly intense few months of doing Mathematics we’re encouraging them to spend more time with friends, bring them back up to speed with their languages, and let them get on with coding in Python.

Yesterday, I started thinking they’ve been chilling long enough, so I came up with the idea that they might as well start a tech startup now, rather than in a few years as previously planned. I explained to them that they’d enjoy it, will learn tons on the way, and if it does well it could sort them out financially for life – possibly by their mid-teens – which is a little hard for a soon-to-be 12 year old to quite grasp!

But both were immediately sold on the idea.

We agree they will try to do all the coding for this app themselves. They’ve learned Mathematics A-level themselves, I told them, so they can do this.

So, since we came to that decision yesterday morning the kids have indeed been coding with much higher levels of intensively – I guess that purpose for coding is now there.

I’ve suggested they build an attendance app for schools, as I know there is a pretty big demand for that kind of product, and their social media presence will help with publicity (Maryam has 7k followers on Quora), and they’re up for it. It’s just an idea, we’ll explore others ideas.

So, Maryam will be the CEO, Danyal the CTO, each will own half the equity.

Their studies are over. But their education is getting going.

A-level results yet again…

Again, the A-levels were, frankly, a little disappointing yet incredible.

Danyal got an A in A-level Mathematics (I was expecting an A*), so he’s now got 2 As in his A-levels. Maryam got a B (I was expecting an A) and so she’s now got 2As and 1B.

Incredible, because they’re now done, aged 11 and 13 respectively, and they self-taught their mathematics (for which I get a lot of slack from Isabelle for as she thinks they could have done better with my help).

So what now from here? Is it worth Danyal doing another A-level to make it 3? I don’t see the point.

Here’s how we see it playing out. They’re doing their coding, learning their languages, and learning basic business skills – right now they’re on a project selling 7,000 T-shirts that I’ve managed to end up owning – it’s a long story – but they’re learning a ton about marketing – and soon they’ll go on to other business projects. And they’re enjoying their lives and spending time with friends – something they didn’t do much of for the last few months.

They’re basically spending all day doing what they want, and the great thing is most of it is productive.

If they can make a success of business over the next few years, and they enjoy it, that’s what they’ll probably end up pursuing in their teens and twenties. They’re loving the freedom they already have and I don’t think they’ll ever want anything else.

But if they don’t get anywhere in business then I reckon they’ll spend a year doing their A-levels again, aged 18, and then go to university. Universities don’t accept A-level results that are more than 3 years old and I don’t want them to go to university early – I reckon fitting in is a key part of the university experience.

Chillaxing…

Since the end of their exams the kids have been loving it!

They do their language lessons every day but apart from that it’s chilling.

Well, Sabeen, the youngest is doing a little physics every day helped by whichever elder sibling she’s not fighting with at the time and a lot of reading.

Danyal spends way too much time chatting to one of his friends in Morocco over Skype (they’ve made got a terrible blog: https://footballhub2018.blogspot.com), he’s trying to get reconnected with some of the neighbours of the same age, and he’s doing some cooking with Sabeen which they both love – yesterday they made a fantastic dinner.

And Maryam seems to be doing nothing but reading.

At some time they’ll get bored. In fact, this morning I got a call from Danyal whether he could use my carwash wax. I think the kids are going to see if they can start a carwash business to make a bit of money – Isabelle has been suggesting this to them for a while.

A Morning Run…

Yesterday, Danyal put behind him a pretty amazing chapter in his life. He finished his A-levels (UK 18+ exams) aged 11.

So, he taught himself Mathematics mainly from YouTube videos, and, of course, last year he did his Physics A-level and got an A.

This morning we went for a run and discussed what he’ll do next with his life. He’s thinking about a combination of:

1. Play football up to 3 hours a day to see if he has a realistic chance of playing in the Premiership one day.

2. Try to get his squash to national-level.

3. Try to break the world record for 5km for an 11-year-old – he’d have to go damn intensive as he’ll turn 12 in 4 months.

4. Become damn good at coding – to start a tech startup.

5. Brush up his 6 languages – some have been very low priority in recent months due to exams.

6. Spend a lot of time loafing around with friends.

Now, all of this was possible because my wife and I just decided to TRY to homeschool our 3 kids 5 years ago. We just gave it a two-week TRIAL after which all of us loved it.

If we hadn’t TRIED he’d still be learning algebra at school.

You gotta try in life. And keep trying. Sure, trying usually gets you nowhere but if you keep at it, embrace it in every aspect of your life, it will eventually pay off in ways you never imagined possible.

Thinking ahead…

For the two elder kids, Maryam and Danyal, they’ll be done with their A-level exams in a few days. If they don’t mess up, that’s it! NO MORE EXAMS!

Here you can see Sabeen and Danyal on the morning of Danyal’s exams. On the day of the exams the kids take it easy, so they’re fresh, but in the days leading up to exams Danyal has been targeting and achieving 11h30m of study a day. Maryam hasn’t been as regimented but she’s also doing about the same number of hours.

I’ve told them many times that they just need to work hard for a few more weeks and they’ll never have to study again. Of course, they can study further if they want to.

As their exams draw to a close we’re all discussing what they could do afterwards. The kids’ passions are a major factor but they listen to our guidance about what’s best for them too.

Danyal wants to become amazing at football, squash, and running. He might do each of them almost every day. Maryam might write a book.

But they both also want to start a business. Before they do that I am pressing them to learn coding, so they might go on a 3-month intensive coding course. And then some other core skills such as internet marketing and public speaking.

They also need to brush up their languages – particularly Mandarin – which they’ve neglected in recent months.

These exams have been tough – I’ve been impressed by how much grit these kids have shown – being this driven is not normal for 11 and 13 year olds. My regular talks to them are instrumental – I’m a good motivator.

I can’t wait. Their lives are going to change and improve drastically a week from now…

How to study Mathematics…

 

Danyal, who’s only 11, will be done with his Mathematics A-level (18+) exams in a few weeks. In practice papers he’s been getting As – so fingers crossed.

So this is how he’s got here – and it’s remarkably simple – he tries a past-paper question, checks his answer and then Googles it if he doesn’t understand, often finding the solution on YouTube.

And then he repeats.

No classes, no tutors, no homework, no textbooks.

And yes, he learns new topics in exactly the same way – it’s all there on the internet, after all.

A laptop, some passion and a comfortable sofa is the best way to study mathematics…

Another Mathematics A-level update…

Things are not quite going to plan. Instead of pushing the kids to hit their targets for this year we’ve decided to ease off.

Frankly, it’d be an uphill struggle that would likely end with bad grades and/or demoralised and overworked kids.

Sabeen, 9, isn’t going to do her A-level Mathematics this year – her little brain is struggling to understand the concepts. So she’ll now be looking to do it next year, possibly with IGCSE Physics and French. It means she’ll have way more time for friends, hobbies, interests over the next few months to a year.

Danyal, 11, is going to have to work hard to do well in his A-level Mathematics, but he can do it. After that he’s done with studying completely, as long as his grades are good.

Maryam, 13, will no longer do A-level Further Mathematics – she will instead just go for Mathematics which she should find fairly easy. Like Danyal, after this she’s done with studying, subject to a good grade.

It’s exciting. The two older kids are really looking forward to getting on with their lives and not having to study any more…