The switch to homeschooling in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is gaining popularity. One reason, in addition to the fact that private school fees are on the rise, is that parents are often unable to secure a spot for their children at their preferred school in the UAE.
Unlike many other countries, there are regulations that dictate homeschooling procedures in the UAE; but these apply only to Emirati citizens. Expatriates who want to homeschool their children are not governed under any legal framework in the UAE. However it is recommended that children follow an accredited programme, making it easier for them to re-enter mainstream schooling or attend university at some point in the future.
For higher education, children would require a transcript of their courses, a self-made portfolio and SAT results.
Homeschooling your children can be challenging and even though the UAE government does not currently provide much support or regulations, you can still get help. Before I tell you about the resources available to support you, let’s focus on how you and your child can benefit from homeschooling in specific ways.
- Academic Excellence – Children get one-on-one attention and progress is according to their individual needs. They develop independent learning habits.
- School Phobia – Children who suffer with social anxiety can feel comfortable learning at home
- Bullying – Cyber bullying can be monitored closely and physical bullying is non-existent.
- Child is gifted – Lessons are tailored for your child according to how advanced he or she is, if he or she is gifted. The full potential can be realized.
- Child is ill – Chronic illness or long-term injury can affect a child’s physical and mental well-being. Learning at home will help with the healing process and places less pressure on the child in this regard.
- Flexibility – Your child studies at his or her own pace. He or she can spend more time on topics not understood immediately and schedule lessons when convenient.
- Traveling Families – Families that travel for work or other reasons can homeschool their children as it is more convenient. Lessons are not missed as they are conducted according to the family’s schedule.
- Child has a learning disability – Despite having a disability, each child has strengths that can be tapped into to aid learning.
- Maturity Level – Homeschooled children have been seen to approach tasks and conversations at a more mature level than their mainstream schooled counterparts. They comfortably associate with others and can speak on a wide variety of topics.
In recent years, a number of homeschooling associations have been started with the aim of supporting expat parents that choose to go the homeschooling route. One such organization is the Abu Dhabi Homeschoolers Association (ADHSA). Other online resources for homeschooling include iCademy, Khan Academy and Clonlara. There is a popular homeschooling group in the UAE called Homeschooling in the shade and beyond. The group can be found at this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/abudhabihomeschoolers/
Challenges with Homeschooling in the UAE
Although expat parents are allowed to homeschool in the UAE, they must be aware that it may not be recognised by the education authorities. If you choose to put your child into a school after being homeschooled, he or she may be asked to repeat a grade. Abu Dhabi is particularly strict on this. Dubai is not as strict and it is dependent on the individual schools to use their own discretion.
KHDA in Dubai does recognise some online schools in fact, a school like iCademy Middle East is a fully accredited online school operating in Dubai. Since the pandemic there have been more of these types of schools springing up.
It is also important to know that if you do not follow an accredited curriculum online, your child may find it extremely hard to enter the mainstream school system or to matriculate to higher education institutions.
If you are considering homeschooling your children while in the UAE, make sure you have a long term plan and always check with your home country or your onward country to ensure that your child will not be left behind or miss any opportunities because he or she has been homeschooled.