Homeschooling in Dubai Update – Month 8 of Learning at Home

So, an update…It’s been two and a half weeks since we landed in Dubai. I was in denial and then full of sadness about leaving Bahrain. I was terribly worried about finding an equivalent home. The intensity of some of those feelings have lessened, helped by spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun with fellow homeschoolers – in the shaded parks and even for a day on the beach, watching heaving tourists sunburning themselves raw.

I feel really lucky to be part of what looks like an active and friendly homeschooling group here in Dubai. And we might have found a home, even if it’s not equivalent, especially in terms of rent! It’s going to take a while to get used to a view of a back wall rather than a vista of green play space with the laughter of neighbourhood children wafting over in reassuring waves. But nevertheless it will hopefully be a good home for us.

I’m meeting some families who traditionally school their children too. I get a lot of, ‘What are you going to do when…?’ questions. “What are you going to do when Edward wants to study algebra, you know, the hard kind? And what about Physics and Chemistry, schools have special teachers for this you know”. My answer is always pretty calm these days, I’ve matured, and I say, “It will be fine. I’ll learn what I need to learn to teach what I need to teach and Edward will teach himself as he gets older or we’ll find someone who can help, including his Maths-Whizz father.” I shrug my shoulders as if it’s the simplest thing in the world. They are completely gobsmacked. Their jaws hang open at my laissez-faire attitude. But I feel truly confident that all will be well and I think this confidence radiates because they just don’t know what to say other than, “You’re amazing!” but you can tell this means, in part at least, “You’re so crazy but so sure I just don’t know what to say next.”

It’s lovely having this certainty. I don’t feel it about my everyday approach. Every day, when things are more ‘normal’, not in the midst of a country move, I feel worried I’m doing the right things that particular day. But overall, I feel extremely comfortable with trusting the homeschooling/learning at home/unschooling processs.  I have no doubts whatsoever. I feel fully at peace and this will help us during our move in Dubai – with meeting new people, with setting up a new home that reflects our joyful approach to learning whatever the kids are interested in that particular day or sharing what I’m feeling especially excited about that particular day. It’s ironic that the house we might be renting is surrounded by schools and I’m sure I’ll regularly get snared up in school traffic which will be especially galling but also a constant reminder of the joys of what we’re doing on so many levels.

So thanks to good weather, outdoor fun, lovely budding friendships and flexible, social kids I’m coping better with my losses. Some memories are almost too raw and painful to contemplate, like the loss of our dear, dear neighbours. But others are being put into context, lovely and cozy but ultimately perhaps we’ll be better off here. Thank you to everyone who is helping us find our way in Dubai and to all those thinking about us wherever you are in the world. We really do appreciate all your kindness and I am determined to make you proud of us as we surmount the homeschooling and other challenges in Dubai.

Sunrise view from our room, Dubai


Sunrise view from our room, Dubai


Dubai sunrise. Emirates Towers Hotel (2 triangular towers) in the foreground with the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, the very thin pinnacle in the background

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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.
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6 Responses to Homeschooling in Dubai Update – Month 8 of Learning at Home

  1. Chris Laubner says:

    I am happy to read you are doing ok in Dubai, I still read your blog 🙂 ! Wishing you all the best, I am sure you make the best of Dubai!

    • Thanks so much, Cris. I am very touched! I hope to start writing more often again once we’re settled. It’s interesting that you read regularly because I think we have very different parenting/educational philosophies. You are never far from a party in your FB pages!! Whilst it’s been a long time for me, sigh! I like that mixture of people reading the blog. It can be very healthy 🙂

      • Christiane says:

        If you look the past my FB life I think we overlap in more areas than you think! And yes, I do believe in the institution school but always like to look at things from a different angle. Your approach is that different angle for me. It has really broadened my horizon in regards to education, it’s possibilities and limitations. So I keep on reading…. 🙂

      • That’s great! I love those different angles. I like reading ‘Teacher Tom”s blog for instance who runs a co-op pre-school. It’s all a matter of time as to how many different angles one can fit in the more the better!

  2. What extraordinarily interesting worlds you are opening up for your children. Moving is hard. Moving to another country to such different circumstances is much harder. But all the while they are learning so much about expressing feelings (sorrow as well as gratitude), about resilience about cultural differences, about establishing friendships, and as always, about the importance of family. These are far more essential for life long success (and happiness!) than physics, algebra, and chemistry. Bravo Penny!

    • Thanks so much, Laura! Sometimes, I think what can I do to stop them being bored in this store? Or I consider leaving them in the play area in e.g. IKEA but I never do it because I think, kids need to learn to manage boring situations. It can be harder on us parents, but it’s a great life skill that I learned as a kid because my parents never thought about how to entertain me as they went about their daily business, we kids just had to fit in. And that fitting in was a great learning experience about making choices, dealing with shop assistants, queuing etc…BTW, I have just written a feature article for my Cambridge college about homeschooling and I added (over my word limit) a recommended reading list. Since it was over my word limit I just decided to list one book, and it was your ‘Free Range Learning’! That article for sure won’t be preaching to the converted, so it would be interesting if anyone picks up your book after reading it! Take care and thanks so much for reading and commenting, Laura!

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