Are you a mother wondering whether or not you should homeschool your child? In this post, I am answering questions that you may have while making this big decision.
I am often asked whether homeschooling is better than public schooling and if a mother can do a better job teaching her child at home than send them to school. Well, there are a few things about homeschooling that you should know before you decide to keep your kids at home.
- What is homeschooling?
- Why do people homeschool?
- My experience with homeschooling
- Is homeschooling legal?
- Pros and Cons of homeschooling
- What to do if you have no choice but to homeschool?
- When is homeschooling a good idea?
- Before you decide to homeschool
- Your next steps
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling means that instead of sending children to a school, the kids are kept at home and are taught by the parents (most often the mother).
The parents choose the children’s mode of study themselves – either from a formal curriculum of their choice or they will design their own curriculum looking at their children’s needs.
The mother will teach this syllabus herself at home, and sometimes an external officer (Government official) might visit from time to time to check on their progress.
Homeschooled children might not take exams throughout the year or even at the end. So depending on where you are living, homeschoolers may or may not be required to show proof of education if they want to go back to public schooling.
The mother may keep her children at home all the way till high school and then they will pass an exam as external student to go to college. Depending on your country’s laws and Universities, homeschooled children are accepted in colleges just like others.
What homeschooling is not!
Many parents confuse Totschooling with Homeschooling so I wanted to take a moment to talk about this. They tell me their child is 3 years of age or so, and they want to know if it is legal to keep these kids at home. Yes it is!
Homeschooling between the age of 1 and 4 years (before starting preschool) is called Totschooling. So if you’ve kept your child at home because you think they are too young for school, or you started schooling them before the age of Kindergarten, it is not really called homeschooling. It is called Tot-schooling – a short form to say “schooling your toddler”.
So, if your child is 5 years and up, then you can call it homeschooling. They are required to be formally schooled at that age.
- Totschooling on a Vacation
- Planning activities for children
- The first week of preparing to Totschool
- Easy Play-dough recipes
Why do people homeschool?
There are many reasons why parents may choose to homeschool their children. For example:
- Living in a place where there are no schools or the school is too far away.
- They are traveling and it is not possible for the children to be at school as they are constantly moving. (Ex. military and diplomat families)
- Financial reasons. Schooling is too expensive or they can’t afford a school.
- Dissatisfaction with the curriculum taught or the school environment.
- Mother feels child is too young or needs more time at home.
- The Pandemic. Many parents pulled their children out of school during the Corona period to prevent infections or because they were dissatisfied with online schooling.
So you see, there can be a lot of reasons.
My experience with homeschooling
I get a lot of questions about homeschooling because many people know that I homeschooled my children during the pandemic. But please know that we put them back in school after it was over. I should explain my experience with homeschooling here.
I have had four kids. All four of my kids were tot-schooled from the age of one – three of them until 3 or 4 years old. I would read them books, plan their playtimes, and create sensory and printable play activities with my kids until they were ready to start kindergarten.
After they started school, I supplemented their school learning with printable activities and games so as to ensure they were enjoying their books and syllabus.
Please note my background: I am a Kid Blogger and I have been blogging about kids since 2007. I have a Masters in Science with specialization in Positive Parenting Solutions, Positive Psychology and Resilience from UPenn . I am also a children’s book author who has written books on children’s activities. Playing with kids and documenting our play… is literally my job!
In 2020, when the whole world shut down, my children were 12 , 7 and 6 years old. I had children in grades 8, 3 and 2. Their schools, like so many others, moved online, and until the end of the session (May 2020), we continued with online schooling. It was the most chaotic time of our lives. (If you know, you know!)
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We homeschooled our eldest for one year only because according to the Indian education system, we had the option of Open Schooling (NIOS – National Institute of Open Schooling), according to which children can be homeschooled (here in Saudi) from grade 1-8.
Open schooling is very easy. It is legal homeschooling. If your child is Indian, or has at least one parent who is Indian, you can register at the center nearest you. They give you book lists through which you can teach your child at home, but at the end of the year, you must give exam at a center near you. We found one of their centers in Jeddah.
My daughters open-schooled for two years each because they hadn’t studied Hindi. In the Indian curriculum, Hindi is from Kindergarten level but my kids knew Arabic and French instead. We felt, it would be hard for them to pick up the new languages while public schooling. So, open schooling or homeschooling was our only choice. The kids took the exam at the end of the term.
We put the two girls back in school last year and Alhamdulillah, it was a good decision.
Is homeschooling legal?
It depends on where you are living. Some countries allow homeschooling, whereas some countries have laws against it, so you can get into real trouble for keeping your kids at home if you go against the law.
In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal to keep your kid out of school. Previously they used to allow you to pull your kids out for a year and they’d take them back; but now, since education details for your children is included in Absher, it is now not possible to skip years. If you pull out one year or don’t give an exam, you have to repeat the year. This holds true for Saudis as well as expats.
In the Indian curriculum, as I mentioned above, we have the Open Schooling system – NIOS. It is supported by the Government of India.
You can’t just homeschool and show up to give exam at the NIOS though… you have to register first. Registration is open from October to January every year. In Saudi Arabia, they have a center in Jeddah at IISJ. Click here for more info.
Open schooling or private examination is actually available until grade 10 ad 12 but only for those living in India. If you are an expat, you may need to check if they allow the higher grades in your country.
In Europe, homeschooling is illegal in most countries but conditions apply. So you should check with your own country. If you are in Saudi Arabia and you are European, you need to follow your Embassy’s guidelines or enroll in an International school here.
In the UK, homeschooling is allowed part-time and full time. But you have to get permission before pulling your child out. You can homeschool children up until their GCSEs and A and Levels too.
In Saudi Arabia, if you want to homeschool according to the IGCSE curriculum (for any nationality), you can register through Emkaan as a private candidate or visit the British Council for more info. But please note, that although private IGCSE candidates are allowed in Universities around the world, at the moment, the colleges and universities here don’t accept private students. (Things may change in the future. )
In the US, homeschooling is legal in all the 50 states but they all have their own legal requirements. You can learn more here. In Saudi Arabia, only people of certain nationalities are allowed to take SAT exam privately.
Pros and Cons of homeschooling
I get this question very often – do you think homeschooling is better than public schooling? What, in your opinion, is better – public school or homeschool? Don’t you think homeschooled kids are more creative?
In my opinion (and experience), they are both two different things. There is no comparison at all.
Homeschooling is studying at home with your mom and siblings. That means just one teacher and a free learning, exploring and experimenting environment. While public schooling is an opportunity to interact with the world, different people, different ideas, collective exploring, exchange of thoughts, teamwork and so on.
Homeschooling is exploring and discovering on your own and in your own free time. Public schooling is sending your child outside and letting them explore people and thoughts. It’s a lot of different people and experiences for the children. Since there isn’t one teacher, they have an opportunity to learn and see more than one perspective.
Homeschooling may mean (but not necessarily) just one view of the world. Public schooling means your children will for sure experience all views, perspectives, thoughts and ideas. It is like a buffet of ideas and your child can choose or reject any of them.
I know many parents who homeschool because they are afraid of bullying and safety issues. But I also know parents who tell me they send their children to school so the children can learn to thrive in different environments and learn from the beginning how to “fight back” and “survive”.
And I know many parents who believe schools are the best place for kids to learn about the beauty in diversity – be it culture, religion, looks or language.
What to do if you have no choice but to homeschool?
Sometimes, due to unavoidable circumstances, you may have to choose to homeschool. The best course to take is to first explore your options in local schooling and then, if none of the options above apply to you, try to enroll in an online school. (There are many these days.)
When is homeschooling a good idea?
There is no one model fit all to answer the questions. What may be applicable and suitable for one family may not be right for the other. You have to think long and hard about this question.
For some people, homeschooling may be the only choice they have. For others, it may not be an option at all.
One mistake that I often see in homeschoolers is that they equate homeschooling to good parenting. This is not true.
Your child’s schooling and your parenting them are two different things. It doesn’t make you a bad parents or a lazy one, if you send your child to school.
Nor does it make anyone an excellent parent to be schooling your child at home by yourself taking all responsibility. Please don’t think this way. Don’t bring ego and competition into your child’s schooling.
The decision to homeschool or not, should be made with a clear mind, focussing on your child’s needs and your circumstances only. Don’t make this a matter of pride or parenting.
Before you decide to homeschool
There are six things that I think every parent should think about before they make the decision about their children’s schooling – whether it is homeschooling or public schooling.
- What are your parenting goals?
- What are your goals with your child’s education ?
- What are your schooling options?
- What do you like and don’t like about the schools that you have around you?
- If you decide to homeschool, what is your big WHY?
- What is your ‘how’? Make a plan.
Your next steps
Are you thinking about homeschooling your child? Here’s what I recommend you do:
Finding a school for your child or even choosing to homeschool are big decisions that mustn’t be taken lightly. To help you in your journey, I have prepared a free mini guide and planner that you can download instantly. It will help you in making an informed decision about your child’s schooling.