The First Day of Improving My Own Education for the Benefit of My Children’s – Month 7 of Learning at Home

I’ve previously blogged about the ‘History of the World since 1300’ Coursera course and why I’m doing it here and my anxiety about whether it will take too much time away from my primary concern; homeschooling the kids, so I won’t discuss it again here, suffice it to say that my anxiety is still there but it’s being edged aside by my excitement about the course, which is nice! Although I did, in my insecurity, send off a question to Rachel DeMille, co-developer of a philosophy of education which I am interested in called ‘Thomas Jefferson Leadership Education’ which advocates homeschooling parents working to improve their own level of education too.  I’ll let you know her opinion on the matter when I get it.

I’ve cheated a bit with the title of this post. It’s not the first real day of the course. The online lectures don’t start until 16 September and the first assignment isn’t due until the 7 October (when I will be extremely busy putting together something to celebrate Edward’s 8th birthday a week later!) but I did receive an introductory email today and access to discussion forums which are already busy! There are, wait for it, 70,000 people from around the world signed up for this course in addition, as I understand it, to the Princeton University students taking it in situ. Wow! People are doing it for a lot of different and interesting reasons but nobody has identified themselves as homeschoolers yet. I have posted a thread asking if there are any other homeschooler doing the course; ‘teachers’ or ‘students’. It will be REALLY interesting to see if there are and where they’re from and if we can support each other through what, I feel, will be an exciting but challenging time.

I always thought doing this course would be challenging as well as exciting but I am a bit more nervous than before because today I found out how, very cleverly, our assignments are going to be assessed. Since one professor can’t evaluate 70,000 of them we will be assessing each other’s – 5 others in fact! This is a huge responsibility! And assessing the other assignments sounds like more work than writing one’s own! I’m daunted. But hopefully I’ll learn a lot too. It’s a clever system – not only a way to get your work evaluated when you’re one student amongst tens of thousands but also a way to learn from others. It will be interesting to see what kind of work other people turn in. I imagine the level of written English might be the biggest problem looking at the English errors on the forums. How to assess that? It’s amazing that people with possibly little access to English language lessons are attempting a course at this level and I don’t want to be discouraging, nor spend hours being somebody’s English teacher, but it is important. We’ll see!

So, back to the books I go. I’ve only got up to 1200 in my Dorling Kindersley ‘History Year by Year’ weighty, illustrated tome, which took me a month – since I also write down the most important/ interesting events of my timeline (it’s now my timeline, not the kids’. I have to admit it!) I haven’t even started on the course textbook yet. I feel a bit panicked because we haven’t even started anything looking like school, since we’ve been in Jordan visiting family for the last 10 days  which came straight after our long summer break in Europe. But, deep breath, this is real life not a homeschooling fantasy and the kids are happy, well and always asking fascinating and thoughtful questions so it must all be good!

Wish me luck!

AFTERWORD: If you would like to make life easier (who doesn’t?!) scroll down the right hand side of the page and click the ‘Follow’ button. Posts will be delivered to your email inbox until such time you may not want them any more.

Don’t feel shy! Please always feel free to email me ( or ideally post comments* on any of the days you read, however old they are. Commenting helps others who may well like to have more ideas or suggestions about the topic concerned or you can ask me a question that you think others might also like answers to.

If you’re too busy to comment that day, but enjoyed what you read, please do press the ‘Like’ button at the end of the post. Again, you have to have clicked on the title of the post to get the ‘Like’ button option at the end of the post. Commenting, ‘Liking’ and Following is much appreciated as it encourages more people to read homeschoolinginthemiddleeast! Any comments about Maths teaching is still especially appreciated and suggestions about resources warmly welcome, as per the plea in mypost. Take care. Have a great day and thank you for visiting.

*How to make a comment  If you are reading posts on the homepage, you will see at the bottom of the post, in tiny grey writing either e.g. ’7 comments’ or ‘Leave a comment’. Click on this to add yours. If you’ve clicked on the title of the post, you can see any comments that have been left already, and space for your own, right at the bottom of the page. Your views are valuable and it’s always good to have debate.

IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!

Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster  – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you! 

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.
This entry was posted in Coursera, Homeschooling, Unschooling and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The First Day of Improving My Own Education for the Benefit of My Children’s – Month 7 of Learning at Home

  1. It sounds very exciting and I look forward to hearing what you think of the course as you progress. I am inspired by the idea of furthering my own education as a role model for the children, and also for myself of course, but I must admit I would struggle to fit anything else in. Four children and their activities take up a lot of time, but I will think about it and try to come up with something that I could realistically do – I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but at the same time I don’t want to limit myself by just looking at the obstacles. Time to dream some dreams I think!

    • Thanks for the comment! I totally understand where you’re coming from! I saw that on this course the assignments are not obligatory. If you don’t submit one, you won’t get others to ‘mark’ either. So in theory you could just read the book and listen to the lectures which would be interesting enough. There are no course credits or anything even for those doing the assignments. I had never thought this was possible. There must be other courses available that might be of interest to you that are both free and that aren’t too onerous? Worth a wonder about 🙂 I hope to do the assignments and yes, I’ll keep you posted! Very best wishes, Penny

  2. Yes, I am sure I could find something suitable – and free, or at least reasonably priced. Not much point me looking wistfully at the Open University’s “Reading Classical Latin” course, though I would love to do it, as it costs £1250! I think I remember looking that one up this time last year too, and feeling annoyed that it was so expensive. Need a more realistic plan, I think!

    • I looked at the OU too. My Mum got her BA with OU and is now trying for her MA – in Latin actually! – and my brother got his MBA with them! All their first degrees. I was looking at a PhD but you have to be resident in lovely Milton Keynes 😉 Anyway, consider coursera sometime, esp. if you can opt out of the assignments like I can. Other people love the MIT free courses. I can’t remember the web address and I think TED offers stuff too??? Good luck!!

  3. Zeba Baig says:

    Hi penny, Plz help me out. I am a indian expat living in Bahrain for the past 30 yrs. My daughter is in the 4th grade in Indian School. I want to homeschool her but don’t know the legal status of homeschooling in Bahrain. How should I start… what should I do… plz suggest me….

    • Also Zeba, you can buy plenty of books (FREE delivery to Bahrain on or .com – they are the same price. I buy SO many books from that website) about homeschooling. I have blogged on those I’ve read but they are books that follow the philosophy I use, unschooling, which is very relaxed and may not be what you want. One I got very cheaply for my kindle is called ‘Homeschooling for Excellence’ by David and Micki Colefax – they got 3/4 kids into Harvard! I adore ‘Free Range Learning’ by Laura Grace Weldon. I tend to buy books for myself on my Kindle because it’s cheaper and books for the kids from bookdepository 🙂

  4. Hi Zeba, The Bahraini authorities don’t care at all what expats do with their kids – if they are in or out of school. I even have some Bahraini friends who homeschool. Bahraini authorities allow homeschooling if kids have ‘special needs’ – this could mean anything – they specially need to be at home to flourish for instance! All they do is call my friends once a year, my friends say they are enrolled in an online course (even if this isn’t true, they just give the name of one, the Bahraini authorities don’t seem to check) and they’re good for another year!

    Don’t worry about friends, with homeschooling you have plenty of time (because you cover the material so much faster) to do extra-curricula activities and hopefully you’ll meet other homeschoolers too!

    Where to start? Decide what’s important to you. What sort of an education you want to give your daughter, what’s the end goal? I suspect your end goal and mine are very different but that’s an assumption about Indian families being very grades and career oriented so I apologise if I am wrong for you 🙂 Decide what, if any, curriculum you want to follow. Start looking online for people following that curriculum. Decide if you want to ‘teach’ your daughter or if you want her to have lessons online for instance or if you have money to spare, some private tutoring. There are lots of Indian families homeschooling in Dubai. You could ask someone to contact you and chat about their experiences. and here are some general articles – and and and

    Let me think if there’s anyone else I can think of who might be helpful. I’m SO glad you contacted me. Feel free to email too Best wishes, Penny

    • Zeba Baig says:

      Thanks a lot Penny, you have just been a lifeline for me… I could not find any place except this blog of yours…God bless you for helping out others… The main set back for me was the legal issue. Now that being solved, I will work on the other issues like curriculum etc. God Willing I’ll manage that. Thank You a lot…. Hope to keep in touch with you… Will surely inform U when I embark on this journey. I will surely need a lot of support then…
      Thanks once again…

  5. Hi Zeba, They say there are as many reasons for homeschooling as there are homeschooling families i.e. people homeschool for lots and lots of different reasons – they want to accelerate their kids, they want a less pressurized environment for their kids, for religious reasons, because people travel a lot, because schools offered aren’t good enough or are too expensive etc… I’m just curious, what’s your reason? Best wishes and always happy to help 🙂 Penny

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

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s