Day 7 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – Ours is more than a home education story; it’s a ‘What Kind Of Human Being Do You Want Your Kids To Be?’ story.

When I ‘admit’ that I home educate (or used to ‘admit’, I’m so happy with our decision that I’m finding it easier not to have to ‘admit’ to home educating, in a tremulous tone, waiting for the venom to spew)  I’m asked how they’re going to get into University! Now when I say joyously that I home educate a 7 year old and a 3 year old (my 7 year old would still be attending ‘Infant’ school until next year remember) they leap years ahead and can’t believe it’s possible for home educated kids to go to University, let alone good ones. OK, so I thought about it too. But it never ceases to amaze me how total strangers think of it first. Well, second or third after ‘How will your kids be socialized’ and ‘Are you a qualified teacher? No? What makes you think you’re qualified to teach then?’ Why would someone educated at home not be a much more attractive applicant than a spoon-fed, taught-to-test traditionally educated child? Why wouldn’t a self-motivated, self-directed learner not be a far MORE attractive applicant? Well, apparently a bunch of studies show they are.

‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon discusses a report in a periodical called ‘The Journal of College Admission’ that “reports that homeschooled students are not only well prepared for college, they also have developed distinctive qualities. Joyce Reed, associate dean of Brown University, “They’ve learned to be self-directed, they take risks, they face challenges with total fervor, and they don’t back off.” The article also noted that Stanford University admissions officers are impressed by the high incidence of a trait they call “intellectual vitality” among homeschooled students and link it to the prevalence of self-teaching. J. Gary Knowles, A University of Toronto professor, has been researching home education for twenty-seven years…Knowles finds that homeschoolers bring certain broad advantages to adulthood. Their backgrounds foster autonomy, resourcefulness and independence. They tend to be highly motivated and are less susceptible to peer pressure. He says that home-educated people are less likely to work for institutions, many choosing self-employment.”

Sherri Lisenbach says in ‘The Everything Homeschooling Book’, “Many colleges today not only welcome home-educated students, they actively seek homeschoolers. Impressed by the level of maturity, independence, well-rounded education and, and self-directed study habits of homeschoolers…” She also refers to the famous U.S. University, Stanford (where my first cousin got his PhD if you need more evidence of my suitability to be a home educator ;)), “As Jon Reider, a Stanford University admissions officer stated: “Homeschoolers bring certain skills – motivation, curiosity, the capacity to be responsible for their education  – that high schools don’t induce very well.” Michael Donahue, Director of Admissions at Indiana University-Purdue University (IUPUI) in Indianapolis, adds, “Homeschoolers are well prepared. They’re self starters. Faculty, in general, enjoy having them in class because they know how to do things independently.””

I found all this reassuring but I didn’t really need to read it to know it’s true. It’s just common sense. Kids that are self-educated are going to be highly self-motivated people, at least by the time they’re considering University – but perhaps not at 7 years old after less than one week of home education! And I must keep reminding myself of that when Edward just wants to go and build amazing creations with Lego instead of looking at the incredibly interesting, well-illustrated book about Ancient Egypt or something!

My common sense tells me that not only would home educated kids be incredibly attractive University candidates but also better members of Society. Again from ‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Weldon, “Studies indicate that adults who were homeschooled: Are more likely to vote, volunteer and be involved in their communities than graduates of conventional schools. Read more books than average. Are more likely to have taken college level courses than the population as a whole. Tend to be independent and self-reliant. Nowadays homeschooled youth are gaining recognition as innovative, self-directed thinkers…” I like that. Home education for us was not so much about what kind of education we want for our kids but what kinds of values; what kind of human beings we hope they’ll be in this ethically-challenging world.

Laura Weldon’s aforementioned book ‘Free Range Learning’ was reviewed by someone called Carlo Ricci.  When I googled the name it came up with several of course, but I think he’s a Canadian Ricci who founded and edits the, ‘Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning’. He said, “If we want to live in a more peaceful, democratic and humane world we need to re-think our child rearing practices – this book provides the groundwork and inspiration for this type of revolution. If you love children and humanity this book is a must read.” I loved this and I will certainly look into Ricci’s work further. Weldon herself says in her book, “All the obedient, high-test-scoring students our schools churn out haven’t solved the big crises that face humankind” and she thinks “…seems to have caused many of the problems in the first place.”

We absolutely hope our children will contribute to Ricci’s ‘peaceful, democratic and humane world’, doing a better job than we’ve done so far (we don’t think we’ve done a good enough job because we were/are still part of the corporate world for instance). Home educating is a massive step that we’ve taken in this direction and it feels GREAT! For us, this is more than a home education story; it’s a ‘What kind of human being do you want your kids to be?’ story. And that is certainly worth some hot debate, deep consideration and the loss of friends and acquaintances with very different values now what we’re so ‘out’ with ours! Yes, my husband and I are out and proud and hopefully our extremely articulate children will soon be joining us!

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!


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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10 Responses to Day 7 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – Ours is more than a home education story; it’s a ‘What Kind Of Human Being Do You Want Your Kids To Be?’ story.

  1. Anisa says:

    SOooo true. I do have an early childhood education background and set up and manage a day care / child development center, but still believe that the at-your-own-pace-of-learning philosophy produces adults that are much more confident and self-understanding. Tonight, while my older two were getting ready for bed, I tried to explain to them that we are not what other people tell us we are; instead we are pure love and light, coming from deep inside us. And my 6 year old asked: “how can we be doing the wrong behavior (we avoid labeling the person, instead we talk about the behavior) but be good?” I tried to explain subjectivity (is there such a word?!) and that really, there is no good or bad, nearly everything is subjective. And I went on to explain about how time is subjective and how when you’re having fun 5 min feels like a second but when you are afraid or in pain, it feel like forever. And they both dropped their jaw, had stars in their eyes and said: “yaaaaaaa!” Now that’s an education!

  2. Shaema says:

    Hi! Thank you for introducing this post to me! There is a lot of stuff here, I will have to visit again to read more. There was one point about libraries, there is more than just one! Perhaps you were referring to the National Library? Hidd has one, Muharraq has one, with a CPR card, you can take out some books. Apparently, each town has one, I know Isa Town has one. They are small, but the people there seemed really friendly and open to ideas. I have found the Mums in Bahrain facebook page to be a good place to find out where stuff is.

  3. There is one point I didn’t get in the article, are homeschooled kids NOT allowed to universities?
    Actually, I love your inspection of the tiny details and questions that strike the minds of people who are willing to homeschool their kids. Yet, I still have a main question regarding real steps in the homeschooling process: What curriculum are you following? And how do you follow that on daily organized basis?

    • Hi Imane, I don’t really understand how you got that homeschooled kid aren’t allowed to go to Universities from my post? Of course homeschooled kids can and do go to University! And I even discussed the fact that many Universities, especially in the US which is the country with the most experience with homeschooled kids, prefer applicants that have been homeschooled than kids that have been schooled! I don’t follow a curriculum. You don’t need to. If you want to, you can but it’s not necessary. We have a variety of resources that we use/play with. We don’t do ‘school at home’ which is why I prefer the term ‘home educating’ rather than ‘homeschooling’. When you learn about homeschooling there are about as many homeschooling philosophies and approaches as there are families!

  4. Oh, that was really stupid of me … lol!
    Ok, laugh at this, I am too phobic that if I followed homeschooling or home education, my kids won’t go to university because as I before told you Egypt does not know the term. So I thought your discussion suggests that nowadays homsechooled aren’t taken to universities and you hope in the future that universities will find out they are the best fit for university education. Somhow complicated … don’t know how I got it that way … 😀
    Ok, so I now I understood your philosophy in home education, yet, I have other questions : ). I would like to know how you make sure your boys are well educated about everything: scienc, geography, maths … etc? What are the universities that accept homeschooled kids and which basis do they accept them (since there are no exams nor scores)? How do you know that at a certain age your kid has got the suitable amount of info needed?
    I am sorry for being so much interrogating and demanding about it!

    • Let me have a think about good answers to your good questions. I do believe there are never any silly questions. I have to keep telling my son that he doesn’t need to keep saying ‘Sorry’ when he gets something ‘Wrong’ because it isn’t ‘Wrong’ it was just an opportunity to get it right next time – except if he was hurting his sister or something! I think he got this ‘Sorry’ thing from school. He is really afraid of being wrong which is not good for experimenting and I hope he’ll come more relaxed about this. I write again soon!

    • Hi Imane, There are so many curriculums out there that you can get some idea of what your kids ‘should’ know and a useful website, although you have to subscribe to have access to all of it is
      Regarding Universities, I did a bit of research and even in the US, where there are considered to be about 2 million homeschooling families, nobody knows how many homeschooled kids go to University because no-one tracks how many homeschooled kids there are in the first place.

      What I plan to do is when my oldest is around 15, when we have some idea of their interests (including whether they want to go to University rather than pursue a life in art or music for instance), I will start contacting Universities we might be interested in, whether in the UK, Canada or wherever and ask them what their entrance requirements are for homeschoolers. They may say they have their own tests and give examples of them or they need to get certain certificates which you can either teach at home and then take the test at school or through a local community college or something. If you search the net, homeschooled kids have got into University without trouble various ways.

      You might like to start contacting University Professors directly in Egyptian Universities, take them out for a coffee and get their perspective. I wouldn’t bother with the Administrative staff. That’s what I would do.
      You might be pleasantly surprised. At the end of the day, if you can demonstrate the kids are well-educated, why would they not take them? They may even be happy enough with examples of their work at age 17 or whatever or just to meet them and discuss eg Mathematical problems with them. Who knows.

      At the end of the day, I feel confident that my kids’ natural thirst for knowledge, along with a very stimulating and resource-rich environment will be all they need to learn what they need. You would be shocked how little they learn in school given the amount of time kids spend there. We have SO much more time and hopefully the kids will remember what they’ve learned because their interests were catered to and they were taught it in a more personal way.

      I was looking at a Maths curriculum today, ‘Life of Fred’ and you could be Maths ready for University from start to finish in 4 years!! That means I wouldn’t have to do any Maths with my son until he was about 13 years old if I didn’t want to! But I will, hence why I’m probably buying this. He enjoys Maths, to an extent, if it’s imaginatively taught. Many homeschoolers don’t read until 12 years old. It’s not a race. It doesn’t matter. By the time they read, within six months, they’re reading advanced stuff that the rest of the kids that started reading at 6 years old will take 6 years to read.

      When you start researching and doing homeschooling, your assumptions are totally turned on their head. You start thinking outside the educational box, and so many other boxes as well. It’s great! But then I’m the sort of person who’s always trying to get out of the boxes we’re all placed in, so this suits me, it feels comfortable whilst for others it’s just too scary. My kids seem happy being a bit different too so we’re a happy family.

      My thoughts for today! Take care!

  5. Pingback: Day 27 of Homeschooling in the Middle East – More on University/College and Whether Kids Have to Learn Certain Subjects by Certain Ages | homeschoolingmiddleeast

  6. Thank you again for the inspiration and also for the resources:)

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