Day 2 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – How did I choose to home educate?

I felt sick when our now 7 year old son, Edward, started school four years ago. I didn’t want him to go but two things changed that resolve; I caved into pressure from friends that he needed ‘socializing’, because he was my first and therefore an only child and, because I was desperately tired and under-supported, it meant a short break. But he was never happy and so nor was I.

Until yesterday, I was now facing Petra, currently aged 3, starting school later this year. She’s a very different child to Edward and may very well have enjoyed school but I still felt mortally sick. I felt panic stricken at the thought of her going (and at least held back a year so that she wouldn’t start until age 4). When I visualize her going to school, I break out in a cold sweat. Why? Because I just don’t think school is where my kids should be! I think they should be near their father and me. We are the ones who cherish and adore them and will do everything in our power to protect and nurture them – not some total stranger in a room full of 25 other kids.

Friends with kids in ‘Nursery/KG’ told me that they could see that a lot of time is spent in KG moulding the kids to the behavioural standards expected the next year, when a bit more real learning takes place. I saw kids go home wearing ‘listening ears’ that they’d made themselves. Hopefully they just saw it as a fun arts and crafts project. I saw it as frightening school manipulation to get kids to do things their way. Of course this is understandable to some extent, how else will 25+ kids learn anything in a class, especially a bunch of 4 years olds? Or so it would seem, but somehow kids in Montessori or Steiner schools, for example, seem to manage without this sort of early management.

And yet a friend, who knows that I am keeping my daughter at home this year (until the decision was made yesterday to home educate both children from now on, I was delaying her starting school rather than having her never go to school) still told me when a space in Nursery became available. Of course, this could be that she’d like to see a friendly face outside the classroom every day (and I’d certainly be pleased to see her because I like her very much) but could also be to help her justify her decision to send her little 3 year old away from home every day (although she appeared to enjoy herself at school). People just can’t stop trying to get everyone else to join the crowd. It’s the herd mentality. Most people feel comfortable when they’re doing what everyone else is doing and they are friends with someone doing something fundamentally different, this challenges their decisions and values and people find this very threatening rather than simply interesting.

Please always feel free to post comments on any of the days you read, however old they are. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate. If you’re busy but enjoyed that day’s blog, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. It would be much appreciated as it helps encourage more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Any comments about Maths teaching is especially appreciated and suggestions about resources warmly welcome!

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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 pjmontford@hotmail.com. 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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10 Responses to Day 2 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – How did I choose to home educate?

  1. You speak to me. Yes, I have been the one to break the trend more than once and have felt tension from my friends. Not because they didn’t agree or support me but because they felt they were stuck in the middle of me and the rest of society. It is hard to have to continually state that you are staying where you are over and over again even though people keep offering you opportunities to join the norm, like your friend letting you know a spot opened up.

    When I pulled Emily I found support in the strangest places and others, that I thought would for sure be on my team were not there. People can surprise you.

    • It’s true. People can. That’s why it’s always good to keep meeting new people, opening ourselves up to new experiences. My son is being driven mad because I’m taking them here and there, trying this and that for this reason. It’s not particularly working out. Whatever I take them to seems to only include much younger and not very communicative children so both my very outgoing kids are frustrated. But since Edward is extremely verbal, I sure know about his frustration and disappointment!! But I do believe I have to keep doing it, because you never know! One gold nugget of a new friend or contact will be worth it! And it’s all good learning on the way!

  2. Rana says:

    Penny, its Rana from the bookstore. I’m loving your blog! It seems serendipitous to have been directed to it, especially when I read your comment above about how people feel comfortable doing what everyone else is doing and how it challenges their decisions and values when someone does something different. Its a nice bit of reassurance when you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision, so thank you! Good luck with the journey, and hope to see you, Edward and Petra in the bookstore soon!

    • Hi Rana, We’ve been living in Dubai for 6 months and I still miss ‘Words’. There are some lovely little bookstores here, my favourites being secondhand ones, but nothing that matches yours. It’s the atmosphere. The coffee shop. The natural light. Elmer’s friendly, helpful smile. I miss the author talks you organized. I hope all is going well. I am still loving homeschooling 🙂

      • Rana says:

        Dear Penny, we do miss you at the bookstore although it sounds like you and the kids are settling in really well in Dubai! If Edward has any great book suggestions for boys, please let me know! And please do come and visit us if you’re back in Bahrain for a visit. I enjoy keeping up with your news via your blog …

  3. Tracey Marshall says:

    Hi (again)
    Having found your blog am starting to read from the very beginning. What a fantastic and brave thing to do! Having worked full time (and lived in the UK) since leaving school myself, I have never questioned whether going to school was right, wrong or indifferent for my 3 boys. Having moved here (Bahrain) in November and not working for the first time in 20 odd years I find myself questioning our need to send our children to school younger and younger. I guess I used it as a childcare facility when I was working full time (I had no choice but to work) but now feel that I have missed out on so much of my elder 2 boys growing up. My youngest son was 2 and a half when we arrived (now just turned 3) and I have been considered quite an oddity for not immediately sticking him into “nursery” and have discovered that at 3 years old he is a rarity for not being there 5 days a week. (By the way I am still not keen on sending him full time in September). My feeling has been that I am now not working and having missed out on his first 2 1/2 years, I want to spend time with him – we have fun, we learn as we go along and he has 2 great older brothers to teach him too. I am a little surprised (shocked even) at the age that some of the children go to nursery here. I think I know why but am reluctant to say so out loud as most of my friends fall into this category.
    I will read on with interest.
    Again I applaud your braveness.
    Tracey

    • Tracey, let’s meet up. Can you post a comment on the MIB FB page under my comment and I’ll try and PM (private message) you with my mobile number? I totally agree with you and even though most people know I homeschool Edward they are still totally shocked that I am not sending Petra to school (who’s just turned 4). Soooo annoying!

      It’s only been 6 months for us and we came to the homeschooling decision very quickly but I feel like I’ve taken the blinkers off and see the world in a whole new, fantastic way. I LOVE having my kids at home. I feel sick when I think of Edward being unhappy at school for so many years and felt just as sick when I contemplated sending Petra, even if she would have been ‘happy’ it isn’t the best place to be if you have home as an alternative. I have posted on this issue – if you get chance to read it later on 🙂 I’m sorry, I can’t remember where it is. You could put ‘Nursery’ in the search engine on my blog?

      Mothers say they want the best for their kids and this is why they send their kids to school so early, they especially use the totally bogus ‘socialization’ argument but actually, I am very sad to say, A LOT of mothers here want their ‘me’ time, hours and hours of it, to do what? Hair appointments, the gym, coffee with friends, shopping?? That’s more worthwhile than spending time with your kids?? But the truth is they don’t love spending actual time with their kids, they don’t enjoy the kids’ company, their little personalities – as much as they profess to love them. I adore spending hours and hours with my kids. We have so much fun and learn so much. And we are meeting some awesome homeschoolers here in Bahrain who offer far more meaningful friendships than the limited ones on offer through school. It doesn’t feel like a brave decision, actually, I feel it’s so right, we’re all so happy and it’s so easy that I don’t quake in front of all the crazy, stereotypical snide comments and criticism. The way the kids and I radiate happiness on this subject is proof enough I think 🙂 Yes, I get insecure but it’s about the details and in my heart I know it will all work out right!

    • Hi Tracey, I have started re-reading my blog from the very beginning to see whether I have changed my mind over the last year about anything I wrote previously. I think this will be an interesting exercise and hopefully a useful one for my readers when I post about it. I was reading your lovely comment and wondered how you’re getting on. Did you send your little one to school yet? As you may know, we live in Dubai now but I’m still loving homeschooling although I miss Bahrain! Very best wishes, Penny

  4. Katie says:

    I am loving your blog Penny and agree with everything you say about homeschooling!

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