Homeschooling in the UAE: Things you should consider
When schools across the UAE were forced to close in March last year to combat the spread of COVID-19, students were suddenly expected to learn from home – while sticking to class schedules and rules. Parents had to quickly create the ideal learning environment at home, ensuring access to internet services, computers, and other learning requirements. Fortunately, home learning makes it possible for students to carry out their lessons outside of school. So much so that some families have considered homeschooling once the pandemic is over. This Pacific Prime Dubai article discusses what you should consider when homeschooling in the UAE.
What you need to think about when homeschooling in the UAE
Increased competition for places at the top schools and rising school fees are just a couple of reasons why parents in the UAE are considering homeschooling now more than ever. Many schools in the UAE, such as K12, are offering home learning programs. In fact, K12 homeschooling costs are much cheaper than regular schooling. While parents don’t get paid for homeschooling, and may have to work fewer hours to facilitate it, this can still be a money-saving option.
However, homeschooling is not exactly straightforward and can be a sensitive topic of discussion. Aside from the educational and legal drawbacks, homeschooling heavily relies on the personalities of the student, parent, and anyone else who is involved. Even with the best intentions, not everyone is cut out for homeschooling. The following are some considerations for parents to keep in mind before going the home learning route.
The social aspect of going to school is important
The first issue that most educators are concerned about when it comes to homeschooling is the social aspect. Homeschooled children often miss out on the interaction they’d have with their peers if they were in school. In fact, most children say that the highlight of their day at school is playing with their friends or having break time with their classmates, stressing the importance of these relationships.
While a child’s natural competitiveness comes out when they are surrounded by their peers, homeschooled children often do not have the same opportunities for play. Consequently, they may have a hard time dealing with disappointment and coping with problems. There are steps that can be taken to correct these potential shortfalls though, such as more after-school activities like music, sports, and art.
External education that allows children to interact with other children and experience some competition amongst their peers is beneficial. Similarly, children are likely to form friendships in these places, which is essential for healthy emotional development. It’s important for homeschooling parents to prioritize providing opportunities for their children to make friends and maintain friendships that would be more natural in a school setting. That way, children can be involved in childhood activities such as birthday parties.
In addition, children who homeschool may miss out on the opportunity to perform in school assemblies or plays, which can have benefits such as increased confidence, overcoming stage fright, working as a team, practicing, and other important life skills. While this cannot be replicated in a home environment, drama class or performance arts school is a good alternative.
Homeschooling does not mean an easier curriculum
With a more complex and diverse curriculum, homeschooling is not as easy as people often assume. It used to be said that the core subjects are the cornerstone of any good education. While they are a good starting point, many skills are actually passed on, such as the ability to think, estimate, cooperate, conclude, and share.
Only a handful of parents have the expertise it takes to handle various subjects like drama, music, sports, or foreign languages. In the UAE, Arabic as a foreign language presents a problem for homeschooled children. When researching “is homeschooling allowed in the UAE?” parents quickly realize that all children being schooled in the UAE are legally required to learn Arabic. Consequently, homeschoolers must have the right level of Arabic if they ever intend on joining a school in the UAE later on.
On top of that, curriculums change over the years, which means what parents learned and their child is learning can vary significantly. Different governments and exam boards also have their own unique standards, which means educational autonomy can be far from what homeschoolers imagined.
It’s easier to assume your child is doing well with no one to compare them with
Parents may think that their child is performing well at school, though this can be because there are no peers to compare them with. In school, there are students who sit at the top of the class, those at the bottom, and the rest somewhere in between. However, homeschooling makes it more difficult to gauge where children stand, not just in terms of how well they perform on a test or assignment, but also their understanding of a topic, how they approach a topic they can’t grasp, and so on.
Homeschoolers can pick their own schedule
Homeschoolers have the opportunity to create their own schedule. They are no longer forced to travel to and from school during rush hour, allowing for a calmer beginning to the day. Likewise, they no longer have to waste time sitting in transportation. Children who have a hard time getting started in the morning can start their schooling a bit later in the day. They can even have six school days a week, with shorter days, or full days focused on a single subject or topic.
Another bonus of a customizable schedule is that it makes planning easier and generally cheaper, whether that’s a holiday or trip to the museum. Holidays can be taken any time of year instead of when schools are closed. Homeschoolers often feel a greater sense of peace that comes with the flexibility of their own schedule.
Homeschooling is recognized by the KHDA
A common question parents ask is, “can I homeschool my child in Dubai?” Homeschooling is recognized by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which means there generally won’t be any issues. It’s quite common for homeschooled students, or private candidates, to show up to school-leaving exams in not only the UAE, but around the world.
Keep in mind that students will have an easier time re-entering formal education if they follow an accredited program. In Dubai, there is a special government-supported homeschooling program for students from grades 7 to 12 who missed their early years of education. Through the program, students are provided with books and various learning materials, as well as support from supervisors in the respective educational zone.
Another option is to join a home study program from an international distance education institute, with some of the most popular ones being:
- iCamedy Middle East
- Khan Academy
- Englightium Christian Academy
- Bridgeway Academy
Parents can get in touch with these institutes for more information on the curriculum and accreditation.
Homeschooling can be a wonderful experience for children and parents alike, with advantages such as flexibility, engagement, and cost-saving. Before you decide to embark on the homeschooling journey with your child, be sure to consider the factors mentioned above so you can make the best decision as a family.
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