What if some kids are better off at home? Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Amid a pandemic-related cash crunch, homeschooling is a viable alternative to mainstream schools in the UAE.

On average, annual school tuition fees can range from Dh30,000 to Dh100,000 in the UAE, depending on the curriculum. On the other hand, parents can get good homeschooling options for $1,000 (Dh3,672) to $3,000 (Dh11,000) per year depending on the curriculum.

There has been a surge in interest in homeschooling from established online service providers whose tuition can be 90 per cent cheaper than what parents are paying brick-and-mortar schools.

Options for homeschooling

Parents who opt for homeschooling can either purchase a full curriculum and materials, hire tutors, subscribe to online courses and add extracurricular activities such as sports and music or find free online resources.

However, with homeschooling, it is also essential that one parent must always remain at home full time to facilitate learning. This reduces homeschooling families to single income households. So, depending on the income of the parent that has to leave a job, homeschooling can be more expensive.

Homeschooling parents also complain that most companies in the UAE that offer school allowances do not cover homeschooling expenses. This needs to be looked into as homeschooling turns out to be a much cheaper option for companies.

Upfront costs for homeschooling

Depending on the child’s age, homeschooling costs can be minimal, matter experts reveal. For younger children, the investment should be in story books, but most activities can be found online. The older the child gets, there is more probability of costs increasing with computers, musical instruments and online courses. If accreditation is important to a family, experts add they should check with the accredited institutions if there are upfront costs.

Perks/Risks of homeschooling

Some of the advantages are that children develop into independent learners, they are free to follow their passions, there is more time and learning flexibility and children can spend more time with families, which creates strong bonds, especially between siblings.

Some of the disadvantages are that it takes a lot of time and dedication from the parent and several times, the parent who is the main educator, will abdicate his/her career to stay home and educate his/her children.

Challenges of homeschooling

Making the transition to permanent homeschooling requires careful thought and consideration. This is undoubtedly an attractive option for parents, in terms of finance and flexibility. But, experts add that they must understand that there will be gaps in their students’ social and personal development that must be addressed.

Particularly in the younger years, home schooling requires the very active and daily participation of a parent. The questions that need to be asked is once COVID-19 clears, what kind of experience do you want your child to have? How well will home schooling prepare them to work in teams, develop their emotional intelligence and transition to a physical classroom environment?

So it therefore depends not only on the homeschooling curriculum, but also on the parents’ support and the student’s personality.