Homeschooling in Egypt

Many people wonder about homeschooling overseas.  It is more of a challenge.  No libraries, fewer friends, fewer resources. 

I am passionate about homeschooling.  I feel individualized education is much better than sitting in a class of 20-30 kids who are at different levels of reading and math, all taught by one teacher.  I believe that you can influence your children much more strongly by teaching them yourself and spending your days with them.  And I absolutely hate the group mentality that sometimes forms from having lots of kids spending most of their time together. 

Besides, schools in Egypt have a lot to be desired.  The public schools are a joke; dirty, loud factories with underpaid, often unprofessional teachers.  Private schools are too expensive for what you get.  I don’t get the impression that they actually teach.  Parents have told me of their 7 and 8 yr olds having hours of homework, and falling asleep at 11pm while doing it.  This makes no sense to me.  If I have to teach them at home after school, I may as well do it in the first place.

Obviously one of the first difficulties in homeschooling overseas is how to get supplies.  One of the easiest, albeit most expensive is a correspondence school.  There are many, such as Calvert and Laurel Springs (I’ve used them and do NOT recommend them) who will send out supplies and keep records for your kids, as well as give teaching help. 

Another option is what we did, decide on the materials you want to use and bring them with you.  I purchased about 4 years of math, reading, science curricula before leaving the states.  I stocked up again on a visit last year.  You can also enlist friends or family to bring stuff to you when they visit.  Or buy on trips to the states.  The last option would be to buy online and have it shipped over.  Some companies, as well as ebay sellers will ship overseas, but this is the most expensive option.   

Yet another option for curriculum is the internet.  There are free sites such as Amblesideonline and Tanglewood.  There are also many pay and free sites which offer lots of materials for reading, math, science and more.

We are classical homeschoolers.  I try to follow the directions set out in The Well-Trained Mind.  We brought our curriculum from the states, four years worth.  I purchased more when I visited.  I recommend bringing books with you on the plane.  That is the cheapest and most reliable way.  Try and find an airline which allows boxes, you’ll get a lot more books within the weight limit, than if you pack them in the suitcases.  Most airlines allow you to bring extra luggage for a fee.  It’s usually cheaper than what you would pay to ship stuff otherwise.

Libraries here are few and poorly stocked.  Books are available online: 

manybooks.net

gutenburg.org

Before leaving the states,  I purchased a cd from ebay with 5000 books on it.  You can also find new and used books.  New books are pretty expensive.  Used books can be found for decent prices, outdoor stalls, shops, the Cairo International Book Fair.  The book fair is the event our family waits for every year.  You will find adult’s, children’s, textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, everything.  The size is enormous.  The prices are usually pretty decent also, especially towards the end.  There’s also a bookstore in maadi that delivers AND takes paypal!

Outings and socialization

I find outings to be the most challenging.  In the summer it gets really hot to be out.  Transportation can be difficult.  I try to take the kids to visit friends once a week (or every two weeks if it’s hot or I’m busy).  There are swimming trips organized for sisters in the summer.  There are nadis, or sports clubs kids can join for a fee and take classes (swimming, tae kwan do, etc).  We haven’t done the classes yet.  We don’t have a car and I’m tired of dealing with drivers!  Not having a car makes outings more of a challenge even when the weather is cooler.  However, there is still lots of stuff to see and do depending on your stamina and budget.  There are places with indoor rides, but I believe they have safety issues, so we don’t go.  There’s horse back riding in Giza.  There is also a petting farm in Giza, but it’s quite expensive.  There’s an art center, again in Giza, called Fajnoon, where kids can paint, make clay sculpture’s, bake bread, and more.  Not to mention all the nature and historical stuff; the Red Sea, the Pyramids, the Citadel (fort built hundreds of years ago), the desert, the Swiss Canal.  Basically, you can find a ton of stuff, it’s just more difficult (and sometimes more costly) to do than in the states. 

Don’t expect people to understand homeschooling.  Most people believe education begins and ends in a school.  I have met a few people who think homeschooling is doable.  One former Quran teacher has her kids registered in a school, but teaches them at home.  She just takes them to school at test time.  Her reason is she doesn’t want them learning the bad behavior of some of the other kids.  Plus she says they memorize more Quran at home.  Makes sense to me.  She’d probably end up teaching them herself, may as well make a full time job of it.

It’s impossible to cover everything, but if you are considering homeschooling in Egypt, drop me a line and I’ll try to answer specific questions.

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18 Responses

  1. Mashaa Allaah jazakillaahu khayran for such useful information. I am actually bracing myself for the primary level, since I too heard that the quality and level of teaching goes down aftger the KG’s!!! I am keeping an open mind…and open eyes! I feel that my kids all have a lot of potential (don’t we all?), and would hate to waste it away in a poor, unchallenging learning environment. But homeschooling scares me, I really never want to do it, LOL!, but will if I have to I guess! Alhamdu lillaah my kids’ school offers the option of homeschooling as well, so that would probably be how we do it, IF we do it.

    Thanks again for such a beneficial post!

    Asiya

  2. Wa iyyaki. If you teach the kids at home do you get a discount? Cause I’d like to have some records in case the kids pursue higher education in Egypt. Don’t be afraid of homeschooling sis! However, I wouldn’t try it unless you really want to. That is one of the most important factors, that you want to have your kids in the house and that you like teaching them. I won’t lie, it can be difficult even if you want to, but NOT wanting to makes it more so. But I understand that, wanting part of the day to yourself, lol.

  3. Salamu alaikom warahmatulah,

    I enjoyed reading your blog and noticed you did NOT recommend Calvet? Do you mind stating why? I am thinking of enrolling my sons this year, as a Canadian living in Jeddah, Calvert seems o be the best option since they have certificate available upon completion. I really do not want to send my boy to the international schools here as they cost alot not to mention all the horrible stories i hear. Please let me know how your experiance with calvert went.

  4. Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullah wa barakatu

    I actually used Laurel Springs. I have never used Calvert, but have heard a lot of good from them. Maybe in the future, inshallah.

  5. Asalamu Walaikum Sis,
    It’s so weird to me that people happily rely on the government to educate their children. Home educating is the original way folks learned, government run schools are the new phenomenon that should NOT be trusted…Granted not all people with in the last few generations had access to the skills and materials (which you can get with skills!) to educate their children, but alhumdiallah…we western families especially have it easy and really have no excuses not to home-educate our kids.
    I also don’t understand homeschoolers that order their neatly organized packets and educate 8:00-3:00 just like school. Anyhoo-about the certification and similar stuffs, many universities in the west are now encouraging homeschoolers to apply and they don’t need “proof” that they have learned the same curriculum as everyone else. There are SATs, assessment tests and some ask for “portfolios.” MIT is looking for homeschoolers! Also, I try to remember to pray for a lot of guidance regarding my kids’ educations and planning for their futures.
    Great post!!! Masha Allah.
    Love and Salam,
    ~Brooke AKA Ummbadier

  6. Salamo Alaykom dear all
    i am Om Obaydah and i am egyptian leaving here in cairo
    i have 2 kids Jowayreya almost 3 years & Oaydah 1 years old

    actually me and my husband was planning to educate them using homeschooling but we don’t have any experience yet in this field

    so as i found here “asiyasmom” and many other…using this method so i would be appreciateany help Jazakom ALLAH Khayran

    please consider that this topic is really v.important for us

  7. assalaamu alaikum,
    there is a yahoogroup for people homeschooling in egypt. It doesn’t seem very active but if a few of us join, maybe it can become a nice place to discuss these issues!
    join at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HMIE/
    (HMIE · Homeschooling Moms in Egypt)

    My husband and I are leaning towards homeschooling when we move to egypt inshaaAllah, even though our baby is only 6 months right now. The schools really seem like a waste of time and energy, and I would love more free time to focus on islamic studies.

    Is there any way to contact Om Obaydah? I would like to get in touch with her inshaaAllah.

    wassalaam
    Asma

  8. Assalamu alaikum,

    My friend Kate gave me your blog address. We are homeschooling here in Cairo, and I don’t see any problems. There is another, very active, yahoo group: IHSU@yahoogroups.com.

    I would love to be in contact with you, if you are interested in getting to know each other, since we are both homeschoolers here. 🙂

    Patty

  9. Wa alaikum salaam Patty

    I would love to be in contact, but unfortunately we aren’t in Egypt right now. I’ll try to contact you if, and when we return. Dh is already thinking of ways for us to go back!

    Dalia

    There is a group that has started homeschooling conferences in Nasr City. I don’t have much information, because I’ve never been. I’ll try to get some contact info for you. It seems there are plenty of homeschooling families there, but very spread out.

  10. Salamo alaykom All

    well i am the Husband Of Om Obaydah “left a comment b4”

    well actually i was thinking of homeschooling my daughter but in the same time subscribe her to any school just to pass the exams and get her channel in the school , coz otherwise how she will get into college or get a certificate ?

    if anyone who did this idea already would u please contact me?
    or if there’s any committee by the homeschooler plz inform me

    JAk

  11. I am considering a homeschool year for a student who has just been diagnosed with Lupus. He needs a stress-free environment. I am a Canadian retired teacher from Toronto and would appreciate some input as to where and how to start.I live in Heliopolis and so does the student. He is young in grade 5.He was with CAC but I think the stress of that place would be too nmuch. Many thanks for any help. Lyla

  12. we are looking to put our son in home school, we are living in cairo and can agree with the comments above regarding the so called international schools

    Please can you assist with some advice and contacts

  13. Hello, my name is Angela and we live 1 hr east from Toronto, Canada. I have home schooled my 4 boys in the past and this year we are attempting public school. We hope to homeschool agian sometime in the future, but in a different way. WE are hoping to do unit studying and focusing on a country and region and surround all subjects around that country. I think children have a better understanding of history when it is told as the story of life.My husband and I thought that we would start in Egypt.
    Our boys are presently 6,7,8 and 10 yrs old. Our dream or hopes is to one day soon be able to go there for 6 weeks (or so) and live with another homeschooling family. Emerse them into the culture, food, language and see history unravel in front of their eyes ( visit the pyramids, tombs etc.) Every childs dream!!! Has any family ever consired hosting another family? And the hosting would be reciprocated. This wouldn’t happen this school year but perhaps next. Anyone interested???

    Have a lovely day 🙂
    Angela

  14. Salam everyone, i am so happy to have found this website and have found it very useful. i just wanted to know, if you homeschool, do you register the children in a language school as all their teaching will be in english or what do you do? Plz tell me as i’m very lost.

  15. Assalam alaikum,

    A sister who know’s you (Kate) gave sent me a link to your blog. I thought she was HS’ing in Egypt but, she said I could contact you with any questions. Could you possibly email me?

    Jazkallah khair….

    Um N

  16. Assalamo alikom
    I am moving with my family back to Egypt after living in the US for 11 years. I have been always fascinated with the idea of homeschooling, but scared of applying it with my kids. When I found this Forum I was so glad and I felt as if I found a treasure; especially that I think homeschooling will be a necessity after our move.
    Given that I still have less than six weeks before the move I am in hurry in collecting more information about homeschooling, and I appreciate any help with that. I am convinced that buying the curriculum before I leave the US is a good idea, but I also want to register my kids in one of the accredited online schools. Currently, I am searching for a school with reasonable (inexpensive) fees, and at the same time I want to buy the materials as soon as I can to pack them up and not worry about them at the end. Now my question is: do the curriculum and materials vary from one school to the other? If they do, then probably I should wait until I know which school I will be using.
    Is there a good school you know about or recommend? My kids will be inshAllah in fourth and second grades.
    Excuse me if I asked a naive question; I have very little background on how the homeschooling system works.
    Thank you and Jazakum Allah Khair

  17. Assalamu alaykoum,

    I came across your blog while trying to find out about homeschooling in Egypt. I currently live in Australia and homeschool my children, however, we are looking to build a house over in Egypt and moving over there. I just wanted to know if it is possible to homeschool over there. I read that it is compulsary to send your children to school, but I couldn’t see any options for homeschooling. How do you handle it in a legal way? Over here, they have people who come and visit you every so often to check to make sure your children are up to standards and give you guidance if they aren’t. I don’t suppose they have anything like that over there? Also, how do those who are homeschooled over there get into higher education? Can they just sit tests and if they pass they can get in? I am really confused about the state of education over there, but I really need to know because we need to make a decision about moving over there very soon and the education of my children has a big sway over my decision. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  18. I am a Canadian retired teacher living here for the past 14years. I too am interested in homeschooling. The schools here are inadequate to say the least and the CAC school is good, not perfect, but very expensive. I tutor and am interested in kids using their right brains as much as possible with a focus on creativity and parallel thinking. I always used the 7 intelligences when I was teaching and Dan Pink seen on TED Talks .com is a wonderful motivator for all ages. Good luck to all of you and if I can be of any help please ask. Lyla

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