Homeschooling more ‘affordable and flexible’ for many parents in UAE
Education starts at home
Education and the costs attached to it is a hot topic in the UAE.
With fees rising year on year, many parents question whether their children are getting the correct level of learning for the money they are shelling out. But what’s the option? Homeschooling appears to be one avenue that is growing in popularity.
According to Ekta Dhameja, digital marketer at K12 Middle East, the number of UAE families choosing home education is increasing as “parents are taking a more active role in their child’s education”. Other reasons, she says, are affordability, flexibility and tailored learning.
Diane Menzies is a mum of four. She says her two eldest kids adapted well into the UAE school system, but it wasn’t the same for her younger ones, so they gave homeschooling a try. That was seven years ago. Now, they are in high school and happy with the progress they have made.
“Their academic grades have risen, their confidence and self-esteem are far higher,” Diane says. “We have decided to homeschool them until both graduate as I think the brick and mortar schools here have become far too expensive and the teaching support is just not there.”
So what are the benefits of homeschooling? Diane says: “They don’t have to sit at a desk the whole day, my daughter can often be found lounging on a bean bag in her sleepwear doing her school work. We also get one-on-one teaching from subject teachers, which is a huge help for kids who need extra support. I also found that much of the brick and mortar school days were filled with non-academic activities, book week, practising for plays and dress up days. Although this is good for the children I do think that it takes up too much time. We still have fun days, but academics is the main focus.”
With costs rising, parents are crunching numbers and, while it isn’t free, they see homeschooling as an affordable option. In K12, the tuition fee from kindergarten to grade eight is Dhs18,332 per annum.
Diane says she is saving about Dhs80,000 in school and extra fees: “We don’t have to buy uniform or school shoes, we don’t pay for trips or extra activities.”
But about the social disadvantage of having the kids at home? This is a misconception, according to K12’s Ekta, who says: “We organise monthly trips/excursions and these are available to homeschooled students as well as students studying in the Learning Centre at Dubai Knowledge Village.”
Diane also feels a social classroom environment can be distracting. She adds: “I may sound harsh but the main reason a lot of children can’t concentrate is due to the noisy and busy environment of a classroom. “Both of my children are social, my daughter will happily go up to someone new and say hi.”
But studying at home is not at easy, as some would think. They say hard work, commitment and dedication from both parent and child are needed. “The main challenge is getting them up in the morning and keeping them on schedule, I have to be very organised to ensure that work is handed in when it is due,” Diane says.
Mum Jenny also homeschooled her son for three years. “It can sometimes be hard to separate being a mom and being a teacher. He did not have the option of coming home from school and complaining about his teacher,” she quips. Her daughter, on the other hand, was never homeschooled.
But in the debate between homeschool vs traditional school, the important thing is providing quality education for the child. This year, Jenny is enrolling her son back to regular school. She feels this is the best for him as he now enters the fourth grade. “Each child is different, and each year is a new start to evaluate what is best for that child at that time. As with most things there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I loved homeschooling, but I am looking forward to hopefully being a really supportive parent to the teachers my children will have this year.”
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