Day 1 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – Today is the first day of the rest of our lives…or that’s how it feels anyway!

Day 1 of our Home Education Adventure

We did it! Yesterday, Edward, aged 7, finished his last day of school before he started half term…except that last night, I finally decided, with much encouragement and support from my husband, that he won’t go back in 4 days, when half term finishes. He won’t go back at all…not ever. We’re hoping that yesterday was the last day of school, forever, for either of our children. Our daughter, Petra, is 3 and she’s never been to school. Lucky her. Poor Edward – who’s suffered through various schools, in 3 countries (Canada, the UK and now Bahrain) for the last four years. Yeah! I’m so excited! I’m psyched. I’m not even nervous or doubtful or scared. It really does feel like a momentous day. A day for celebration. A happy, positive day for our family. A day that really chimes with our core values. I look forward to sharing this exciting time for our family in the hope that it helps and supports others either thinking of doing the same or for those who have already embarked on this exciting journey.


About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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9 Responses to Day 1 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – Today is the first day of the rest of our lives…or that’s how it feels anyway!

  1. I am just joining your journey. I am really excited to hear your story. I remember making the decision to home educate (I like your terminology) my fourteen year old. I did not have the support of my husband but did it anyway. I was scared and confused but knew it was the right journey. I am so glad to hear that you are a collective team moving forward on this.

    I am also glad for the world wide web that you can reach out and find support if you need it and that the rest of us can look to you for support that you are doing this on your own with no community network to lean on when needed.

    I can’t wait to read more!

  2. Hi Marlene, That felt quite strange for me… I just read your post, with your excerpt from ‘Sunshine’, (anyone reading this comment, I recommend reading Marlene’s post about how we get too defined by our roles, too lost to ourselves, to be happy in our roles or in ourselves. ( when I found your comments on my blog. I was so immersed in your world and then read you’d recently been so immersed in mine! And of course, our worlds, though so different I’m sure (something I just posted about in a guest blog are so meaningful to each other. So interesting!

    I am so, so happy if you can take away any kind of supportive feelings from me. That makes all the time and effort I put into my writing worthwhile (and not just a guilty pleasure!!) BTW, where possible, I’m moving away from the term ‘home educate’ to ‘learning at home’, it sounds even gentler with even fewer expectations attached somehow.

    I really feel for anyone without spousal support. I would rather have that than community support although at least I don’t have to face both as some people have to. I just hope you get the latter at least. It would be nice, I must admit! Although, some people scare me, even on blogs, with their ‘school at home’ ethos and very accommodating kids who seem to do everything they are told to! It would never work with mine! Edward especially has such a strong, independent will and I want to nurture than crush it, but it means being much more thoughtful and skillful to engage him!!

    By the way, regarding Emily, have you come across this blog? I did a couple of days ago and LOVE it. I am sure Emily could write to the author if she wants. She seems extremely welcoming. Good luck!

  3. Sarah Sia says:

    Hi Penny.
    The first time my husband and I were contemplating to home educate (love how you coined this word), we were a bit apprehensive and at the same time challenged to do something out of the norm. With all the readings and internet-checks later, we found your blog and a host of others very informative. I was in and out of your blog the last few months and yet it brings me back again and again as it has a nice ring to newbies like me. Knowing your story is like knowing mine as well. Similar story yet different journey.

    Love it!!!

    • Hi Sarah, Thanks so much for your comment! It is so great to hear that you’re enjoying my blog. I hope that I can help as many people as possible by being honest, open and friendly! I would love to hear your story too. Do you blog? Which country are you trying to homeschool in? Are you one of the luckier ones in the US or s’where odd like me?! Very best wishes, Penny

    • Sarah – are you the Sarah who I met on Thursday at Kidzania? If so, how nice to put a name to a face and how nice that you were one of my early readers! I met your kids a few times around Kidzania that day and they seemed lovely! Best wishes, Penny

  4. Angelica says:

    Hello! My DH is Middle Eastern and I plan on home schooling for Pre-K and K since I can get away with that much in his country (KSA). From what I understand home school is illegal in all ME countries except being legal for expats in UAE. I gather most Middle Eastern people haven’t heard of home schooling before which could be why people think it is illegal. Looking forward to reading more. Feel free to check out any of blogs and follow them/comment. Will be following you! It’s a scary decision to literally change your lives from something you have known but it sounds like you did what was best for your kids. You can access all my blogs in my blogger profile.

    • Hi Angelica, great to hear from you! The legality of homeschooling in the Gulf is pretty grey. It seems to possibly be illegal for Gulf nationals but having said that some countries allow it for ‘special needs’ which could encompass a huge range of possibilities and I’m sure most families wanting to homeschool could get their kids to fit this and so homeschool legally. In Bahrain, I have a friend married to a Bahraini who’s daughter ‘should’ attend school but they said they teach her at home and gave the address of the curriculum provider in the US (and it’s not even something she’s registered with) and they are totally fine with this. I’d love to check out your blog some time 😉 Very best wishes and do keep in touch with your progress! Penny

  5. NicoleM says:

    I homeschooled my daughter for kindergarten last year but she wanted to try first grade at the public school this year. Next year we will probably be going back to homeschooling. As I type this, my husband is applying for a job in Dubai. I’ve done some research but I’m so happy to have found your blog. I’ve only just started to read your posts but if there is any other information that you feel I should know before making a decision to move our family over there AND homeschool please let me know.

    • Hi Nicole, I am so pleased my blog might be helping you in some small way. Thank you for reading!
      It’s very hard to say what information you might need! I don’t even know where you might be moving to Dubai from!
      One issue though is the cost of schools is high here (in fact many things are expensive here so make sure your husband is offered a good package including, ideally, a sizeable housing allowance and school fees). In other words, even if you’re thinking of homeschooling, try and get fees covered for a school like JESS or DESS or Horizons for example and then you have flexibility. Another thing to consider is that schools and the government here are very unsure how to organize themselves to accept kids that have been homeschooled. They ask for school transcripts. However, I think most schools, if you pass their assessment will accept all kids. But it’s a bit of a debate in the large homeschooling community here. I don’t think anyone has not got their kids into a school after homeschooling here, on the contrary some have got their kids into a school, but others worry they won’t. Many people love living here and make good livings. Anything more specific I can help you with?

What do you think? Please do let me know. I would love to hear your opinion!

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