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.


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:, 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…

After school…

When we started homeschooling, we thought our kids would do their A-levels when they were 18, like all school kids do, and then, by default, go on to university, and, by default, get a job.

But in the 4 years our kids have been homeschooled things changed. First the A-levels got pushed earlier and earlier, then we decided our kids, by default, would not go to university, and, by default, become entrepreneurs.

It’s worth realising, if you haven’t already, that entrepreneurship is just as varied as employment. There are entrepreneurs in medicine, tech, farming, retail, property, academia, sport, etc… so entrepreneurship isn’t some narrow field we’re guiding our kids towards.

Also note that this is our default position, not a decision we have made for them. If any of our kids want to become investment bankers, doctors, academics, etc… university they’d go.

So, it looks like Maryam (13) and Danyal (11) will be finished with A-levels (18+) in 6 months. Here is our updated plan for them, in each case trying to play to their strengths, interests and the advantages they each have.

Maryam: Internships at tech companies, start a startup 6-12 months later.

Danyal: Learn coding full-time, and then hopefully work on a startup with Maryam.

Now, this is our plan for them. Nearer the time we’ll have a chat and they’ll ultimately have to decide…

Mathematics A-level update…

The kids started studying for their Mathematics A-level in September 2017. That means they’ve got 9 months to prepare for the June 2018 exams.

So it’s self-teaching, although Sabeen gets help from a mathematics Skype tutor in the Philippines.

They’re working through one module at a time, moving on once they get 75% in exam conditions.

Six modules make up an A-level.

Sabeen has completed C1 and almost completed C2. It’s clear that she won’t be doing Mathematics in 2018. Completing six modules will be tough.

Danyal has completed C1, C2, C3, C4, M1 and almost M2. He should be fine.

Maryam C1, C2, C3, C4, and just got started on M1. It’s going to be hard work for Maryam to get there in Further Mathematics, but she can do it.

I only realised the two girls were getting behind a few weeks ago. Since then as a target they study for 3.5 hours maths per day, measuring their time on Jibble. The time target is helping a lot.

Of course, they’re fully aware that 30 mins quality time is better than 90 mins chilled time. Day-dreaming while the clock ticks is only cheating themselves.

Let’s see what they can do in the next couple of months, which is when we’ll decide what exams they’ll be entered for…

Should I let my kids play video games?

Actually, I’m cool with kids playing video games.

I devoted my life, from the age of 7 until 15, to video games, after which I gave up to focus on my exams. I’ve not bought a video games console since because I know it’d take over my life.

Revs, Chuckie Egg 2, Super Mario Brothers were games that my childhood existed for.

The price? I have a really short attention span. If a movie isn’t great I’m itching to get out half-way through. Also, I struggle in long meetings.

Big deal!

On the other hand, I reckon video games increased my intelligence and upped my grades. These studies don’t indicate causality – Smart kids good at video games and Video games mean better grades – but my guess is that causality exists.

When you’re desperately manoeuvring your car to squeeze past two others, your brain’s CPU is in overdrive. It’s intense.

In fact, there were 3 other physicists in my college at Oxford, and all 3 of them were video game junkies. Now that can’t be a coincidence.

It’s important to stop playing in the run-up to exams, but video games are great in moderation…