Homeschooling in Dubai, the Early Days – Month 9 of Learning at Home

Thank goodness for Percy Jackson books on CD! In the guise of trying to homeschool whilst driving hours a day shopping for new-home furniture, I bought a few books/stories on CD. One of them was ‘The Lightening Thief’. I had had the Percy Jackson books recommended to me many times as good reads for Edward, given that he adores the Alex Rider books (kids in ‘real-life’ adventures) and ‘The Hobbit’ (mythology, even if it’s made up). I felt a bit sad that he wasn’t going to read the first one but needs must and so he’s heard it first. It’s been a God-send. Percy really keeps the kids quiet in the car. As soon as we get in, from some hopeless shopping expedition or another, they clamour for ‘Percy! Percy!’ and that includes 4 year old Petra. Wow, her powers of concentration really amaze me, modeled in part by her big brother. I think books/stories on CD are great for learning; to concentrate, to understand complicated stories and vocabulary aurally, to be exposed to dramatization without pictures. It relieves a little of my guilt over the lack of stimulating learning experiences let alone book work.

Having said that, Petra is happy to do pages and pages of her ‘Maths U See’ programme and that is book work, even if there are manipulatives alongside it. She loves it. But then again, she loves anything! She is desperate to learn literacy and numeracy. Her writing is really coming along. She writes everywhere there’s a blank space! It’s developed from illegible scribbles to real letters, sometimes even coherent words, occasionally even correctly spelled real words! It’s amazing! Watching it happen is like a kind of magic. It’s incredibly satisfying. I am so, so happy to be a part of it. I just wish I could give her more attention but on the other hand, there’s no rush and at least she never feels pressurized and I think she feels my excitement with what she’s doing which makes her very happy. I think she knows I’d like to do nothing more than hear her read to me or read to her all day, instead of housework or house preparation tasks.

Although I think I can confidently say that Edward is now a happy reader, of his own free will (thank you homeschooling), he’s not voracious. It has to be the right book, which is fine. Our wonderful homeschooling group runs a monthly bookclub for the kids. This month’s read for his age group is ‘Twenty-One Balloons’. The lady who usually runs the club will be away this month and, to her astonishment, I offered to run it for her, despite having just arrived in Dubai. This doesn’t feel like a pressure, just a joy. I’m really looking forward to it. However, the book is really dull. Actually the story is incredible, extremely imaginative, but it’s written very badly. This is of course a great lesson for the kids and I’m going to enjoy discussing it with them, but Edward can’t see it this way and is protesting vociferously about ‘having’ to read the book. He doesn’t ‘have’ to do very much but it would be embarrassing to run the book club without one’s own son having read the book and sitting sulkily at the back of the class, actually at the back of the group of kids lounging around in the park on a sunny winter’s morning.

Despite not having our own home settled yet, although it has been found, I am settling in a bit more. And I’m actually going to miss my ‘Blade Runner’ view from the 40thfloor across miles and miles of rapidly filling-in desert. I saw the most exquisite sunrise this morning at 6am (aided by Dubai pollution)

November Sunrise over Zabeel and the Khor, Dubai

which can only be fully appreciated 40 floors up with a 180 degree view of the city. Later I enjoyed watching the racehorses spinning around and around the sand track like tiny toys in the pale early morning sun. Dubai is an extraordinary place, the best of which I hope to uncover and fully experience. Homeschooling should give us ample opportunity and a nice community to do it within.

Sunrise over Emirates Towers, Dubai

Reflection: Sunrise over Sheikh Zayed Road, looking towards Deira


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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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4 Responses to Homeschooling in Dubai, the Early Days – Month 9 of Learning at Home

  1. Linda says:

    When you said that Edward liked to read “real world adventures” I remembered a site called Homeschool LIterature. Sometimes the real world of homeschoolers and unschoolers does not match the world that their institutionalized education peers experience. It is good to have books by homeschoolers, for homeschoolers, because they understand more of the real world of a homeschooler. I have found a number of great reads over there and thought I would mention it to you. I hope your home education adventure continues to progress and bring joy!

  2. shaema imam says:

    I looked up the website, looks promising! Great news about your four year old. My four year old has really blossomed recently after a “slower” three years. In one week, MashaAllah, he has progressed in swimming, started riding a two wheel bike, written his own name unasked and drawn a stop animation picture of sorts!

    • Got the internet at home at last! Wow! I can’t wait for P to start riding w/o training wheels. Of course, it’s up to us to teach her to do so 🙂 Love it when they write their name, and mine (Mummy)! xx

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