The learning curve in the UAE reached a new high this month. Homeschooling has been on the rise, but this is the first time the whole country, irrespective of curricula or year groups or socioeconomic background started a home-learning program. As parents and teachers wrap their heads around this new normal, we spoke to one of our homeschooling mums, Mrs.Saeeda Riaz, to learn from her how to manage the learning shift.
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Saeeda Riaz. I have done my Masters in Computer Science (Software). I was working in an oil & gas company in Dubai as the IT Manager but after having my children, I decided to quit. This doesn’t mean I didn’t progress professionally. I started my own IT Consultancy.
How do you balance between your work commitments and children’s learning schedules?
Time management is essential to homeschooling.
My day begins at 5 am where I prefer to complete my consultancy project work. I meticulously plan the day, prioritize my tasks and do my best to stick to the schedule. I aim to finish my work-related tasks by 9 am. Home school begins at 10am.
We focus on three to four hours of pure academic studies. Coming from a conventional schooling background, I think this is essential for my daughters as they are still in Primary. We still do the unconventional education tasks but I keep these for later in the day.
One day a week is dedicated to finishing projects, pending tasks and homework received from other educational programs like UCMAS Abacus from Minds Ahead Institute, earning interest badges from Girls Guide etc.
How do you prepare yourself for homeschooling?
Homeschooling is a huge, life-changing decision for any parent. I had to convince my husband and mentally prepare ourselves for the social pressure of not sending our children to school. I read a lot of articles and guides on homeschooling, researched many curriculums to decide which one to pick for my girls. It also took a lot of time to devise a course outline for the whole year.
How do you know which resources are best for your child?
In schools, studies are led by curriculum and set learning outcomes but homeschool is led by interest.
I select resources based on my children’s interests. It takes a lot of patience and research to find the best option that can benefit the child in the long run. Once the main resource is identified, I add supplement resources to enhance the learning journey.
There are many online schools/ homeschooling websites and apps that allow a free trial for 1-2 months. We utilize the trial period for our shortlisted resources and if we think it is good for the kids, we purchase a full subscription.
Do you think this shift in learning will encourage more parents to homeschool?
There is a significant difference between homeschooling and home learning, which is being done during this health crisis. In home learning, the child has to go back to school so he/s he only has to do assigned work until schools are open. I think this situation will be an eye opener to many parents. They might find their child’s interests, strengths and weaknesses once they are closely involved with their child’s education. They may also see learning gaps that weren’t so obvious before.
Any tips for how full-time working parents can manage home learning for their children?
My top suggestions to effectively manage this scenario would be:
- Be patient.
- Plan your day. Once you have a plan in place, it becomes easier to manage and keep to a schedule.
- Spend some time researching available websites, apps and resources. If the school has assigned online resources make sure you have the required log in information beforehand.
- Be patient. This situation is new to both you and your child.
- Don’t give up if you aren’t able to keep to the schedule. Keep reviewing what is working and what is isn’t and modify your plans accordingly.
Coming up: Mrs.Saeeda’s favourite home learning resources. Watch this space for more.