What is Home Schooling?

(* The correct use of the “home school” term:
Home school is on its way to becoming a compound. For now, when home school functions as a noun, it is still two words, without a hyphen. When it functions as a verb, it usually takes a hyphen (?) e.g.: I home-school my children; my children are home-schooled. “Homeschooling” is the term commonly used in North America, whereas “home education” is more commonly used in the United Kingdom, elsewhere in Europe, and in many Commonwealth countries.)

Note: CIE (Cambridge International Examination board) has its name changed to CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) since October 2017.

Home schooling or home education is a form of education based at home. You can teach your child at home, either full or part-time. This is called home schooling.

Parents give many different reasons to home-school their children. The three (major) reasons selected by parents of more than two-thirds of students were concern about the school environment, to provide religious or moral instruction, and dissatisfaction with the academic instruction available at traditional schools.

Numerous studies have found that home-schooled students on average outperform their peers on standardized tests. Home schooling Achievement, a study conducted by National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) in the US, a home schooling advocacy group, supported the academic integrity of home schooling. Among the home-schooled students who took the tests, the average home-schooled student outperformed his public school peers by 30 to 37 percentile points across all subjects. The study also indicates that public school performance gaps between minorities and genders were virtually non-existent among the home-schooled students who took the tests.

Choosing an appropriate curriculum for home schoolers is extremely important. Parents that chose home schooling are usually not satisfied with their local schools’ syllabus. As such, IGCSE becomes increasingly popular as home school curriculum due to its high quality syllabus and being recognized worldwide.

Another BIG advantage of choosing IGCSE as home schooling curriculum is, home schoolers could sit for exams at any time whenever they are ready for exam, and in any British Councils worldwide or any registered Cambridge Schools which accept “Private Candidates”. List of registered Cambridge Schools can be found HERE.

IGCSE exams are available twice a year: in the May/June series or in the October/November series. The exam time table is being divided into different administrative zones. Search for your administrative zone HERE.

Home schooling is legal in many countries. Countries with the most prevalent home education movements include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some countries have highly regulated home education programmes as an extension of the compulsory school system; others, such as Sweden and Germany, have outlawed it entirely.

Misunderstanding of Home Schooling

It has come to our attention that many private tuition centres in Malaysia are offering IGCSE programmes as “Home School” / “Homeschool” centres.

These private tuition centres are running the centres as a school. IGCSE is used as the main teaching curriculum, and there is a full-day “schooling schedule”, from Monday to Friday. Thus many parents misunderstood it as an alternative “school” to the Malaysian traditional school.

Since the fees are way much cheaper than the international schools which also offer the same IGCSE curriculum, parents are rushing to send their children to these private centres ? thinking that they are sending their children to a “formal school” offering IGCSE curriculum. They started this process from Year 1/Grade 1.

After some years, for some reasons, when these parents wanted to send their children to an international/private school or national government school for Secondary education, they could not admit their children into any formal secondary school. These formal secondary schools were asking them for a formal Primary school certificate, which is not available from these private tuition centres.

The below message is just one of the many messages that we received all these years from the desperate Malaysian parents who do not know what to do:


Please help!

Hi, my son is 12 years old and currently studying in a small learning
centre taking Cambridge curriculum / syllabus for his full day
learning. I am trying to apply a bigger private school for him where
they also offering Cambridge curriculum, but the problem here is they
now reluctant to accept my son as their reason is they prefer Malaysia
public school (which they don?t offer Cambridge curriculum at all). Can
you please help us to direct to them (since that bigger school also
using the syllabus of IGCSE), or give my son a test and get a primary
IGCSE certificate in order to have strong supporting document? Please
help. Much appreciate for your prompt reply.


So how do you start the home schooling process?

Step 1: Decision

It is important to know that, when you start home schooling your children, either part time or full time, you as a parent is going to take up the responsibility to ensure your children is having the needed education.

If you are not able to educate your children full time, you could always get assistance from some private learning centres / tuition centres in your local area. But please bare in mind that these private learning/tuition centres are there to help, they are NOT a formal school.

Home education is a marathon. You can?t give up halfway before reaching the finish line; for example wanting to send your children ?back to school? when you feel you cannot or do not have time to continue the responsibility anymore. Chances are, your children would get rejected due to the absent of formal primary school certificates.

So you may wonder, when/what is the finish line?

The finish line is the final exam at the end of the secondary level education ? IGCSE / O Level.

It is NOT at the primary level. Most parents make this mistake, thinking they could home educate their children up to the primary level, then send them to a formal secondary school later.

This is called ‘half way marathon’. Primary level is not the finish line.

So, make up your mind that you will finish the marathon. You can also take the ‘half way marathon’ ? continue reading to find out how to do that.

Step 2: Choose Your Curriculum

You can always follow your local government school?s curriculum. Otherwise, IGCSE / O Level is a good choice for home schooling.

IGCSE syllabi are written for the current international audience. You will find interesting content addressing the global arena, as oppose to the more locally oriented curriculum such as O Level and GCSE.

Children who learn global facts at an early age would be more likely to be open minded and able to mix with and respect other cultures.

(This is NOT an advertising for IGCSE. We do NOT represent IGCSE, nor any other exam board. We are providing suggestions based on our years of experience in the international secondary education field and exam boards.)

Step 3: Plan Your Teaching Programmes

Once you have chosen your curriculum/exam board, you need to plan your teaching programmes from start to finish.

It might sound intimidating for a start, however, if you plan well, it would be very fun and rewarding.

Here are some suggestions you could use:

Primary Stage:
Generally, primary Year/Grade 1 would start from age 6/7, depending on which country you are residing. In our example, we will stick to age 7 as the standard Year/Grade 1 age for most of the countries worldwide.

You may choose to educate your child for 6 year primary programme ? that is a norm practice and minimum requirement internationally.

Your child would finish primary programme at age 12.

Your child would NOT obtain any primary school leaving certificate, nor any formal primary exams certificates.

If you think these certificates are important, you may plan to enter your child into a formal primary school at Year/Grade 5, just to proceed to Year/Grade 6 and sit for the formal primary exams.

The reason why you should do it at Year/Grade 5, that is because no schools in the world would take new students in Year/Grade 6.

These certificates might be helpful if you suddenly can?t cope with the teaching nor have anymore time to complete the secondary programmes by yourself, and want to register your child with any formal secondary schools, you certainly need those certificates.

This is for the ‘half way marathon’. Please put this in mind from the start.

Lower Secondary Stage:
Once you have accomplished primary programme, it?s time for you to start ?Lower Secondary? programme. At this point of time, it would be Year/Grade 7 for schooled children.

Lower Secondary programme can be quite flexible if your child has very strong basic and could cope faster.

The general Lower Secondary programme lasts for 3 years ? Year/Grade 7, 8 and 9.

If you think your child could do 2 years only, then proceed to the Upper Secondary programme, you are more than welcome to do so.

But please know that, we do not encourage speedy zooming through this stage just to get your child graduate faster. What?s the point at the end of the day? Is entering university at very young age a vital and meaningful goal to achieve? Guess not.

If your child follow the normal 3-year Lower Secondary programme, he/she would be 15 years old at the end of the programme.

If you make a short cut, just do a 2 year programme, then your child would be 14 years old at the end of the Lower Secondary programme.

Again, your child would NOT obtain any formal Lower Secondary certificates, nor this is required for the final exam in IGCSE / O Level.

This is where the stamina to keep going on for home education gets low, and problems would arise if you want to send your child to any formal second school. Since your child does not have any formal primary certificates (assuming you did not get one for them from the suggestion above), no schools would accept him/her.

Upper Secondary Stage:
This is a 2-year programme, generally. This is where the IGCSE / O Level programme starts. For the schooled students, it would be Year/Grade 10 and 11.

Again, you might accomplish the whole IGCSE / O Level programme in just 1 year ? that is entirely up to the capability of your child (not how parents want it, sorry 🙂 )

Once your child is ready to sit for the final exam, search for the nearest exam centres in your local area. Your local British Council is the best option for private candidates. If you can?t find any British Council near you, you can always try to approach any Cambridge School which accepts private candidates to sit for the exams HERE.

It is always good to know all the exams registration key dates, so you don?t missed out the registration closing dates. Bookmark this exams registration key dates page, and know all the dates by hard. 🙂

If your child follow the normal route, he/she would be 17 years old when he/she sits for the final exams. Otherwise, cutting short a year, would make him/her sitting for the exams at age 16 ? that?s the benefit of being home educated.

Finally, this is where your child obtain the official IGCSE / O Level certificates as a home-educated child. This marks the end of your journey in home education for your child ? congratulation!

As you can see now, home education is a marathon actually. You need to have the strength and stamina to keep going for 10/11 years (starting from Year 1-Year 11) until your child obtain the one and only official exam certificate in your child?s life, that could be used for further studies ? either A Level or any other equivalent level.

We hope this article could save some lives, as we are heart broken to hear stories like the above Malaysian parents.

All the best in your marathon!

166 Replies to “What is Home Schooling?”

  1. hello,
    I’m a 14 year old. can i get home schooled and write o level igcse? is there any online teachers u can recommend? and what is the minimum no.of subjects i should take in o level?

    • Hi Iris,

      First of all, we’d like to clarify that O-level and IGCSE are of equivalent qualifications. You choose either one of them. Furthermore, you should decide on the subjects based on what you want to study in the university. We strongly suggest you check with the university you wish to apply to as each university and its programs has their own set of entry requirements.

      You may consider subscribing to our online Revision Course. These courses had produced many A* candidates worldwide. You can find out more here: https://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-revision-courses/.

      Lastly, we advise the candidates to register only when then are ready. As a private candidate, your local British Council is the best place to sit for your exams. Alternatively, you can also locate any registered Cambridge schools that accepts private candidates. You may search Cambridge schools near your area here: https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/i-want-to/find-a-cambridge-school/

      If you have further questions, feel free to write to us again. Thank you.

  2. Hi ,
    we are from India. My son is 9 years old and gifted. He is preparing slowly at his own pace . He wants to appear IGCSE Mathematics subject only to test his knowledge and skills. Because he loves mathematics. His school is cambridge registered school and they do teach IGCSE at higher age group for 15 years students . But school does not know the process of how to allow 9 years old to write IGCSE only mathematics subject paper.
    1) Could you please let know what is the process for him to write IGCSE mathematics that we can follow up with school ( because school department said they do not know the process )

    2) What are the books available for primary, secondary and IGCSE preparation students in india.

    • Hello Kumar,

      Thank you for writing in. Please kindly read our suggestions below:

      1. The formal requirement is candidates must be at least aged 14 to sit for the exams. However, we have also experienced some countries do accept private candidates registration below age 14. We suggest that you check with your local British Council.

      2. For reference books, you may want to search on Amazon UK site. For IGCSE preparations, you may want to register your son with online courses here: https://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-revision-courses/

      If you need further clarifications, please do not hesitate to write to us again. Thank you.

  3. Hi there,
    I have two kids 11 and 8. They have studied at different school/ countries. Now, we are traveling a lot and I think homeschooling would be the best solution. I would like to get some information about Cambridge / IGCSE programs.
    Thank you.

  4. Hi,
    I am thinking of home schooling my 3 year old daughter. To start with I want to home school the pre primary section and if I am able to continue I will go forward and proceed.

    I am planning a mix of IGCSC and Cambridge board. How do I choose the subjects? For pre primary what’s the content children that age can grasp? Where do I get the study materials? Does home schooling involve real visuals?

    • Hello Revathy,

      Kindly read the article above to guide you with the homeschooling process. You decide the subjects, together with your child, based on what your child want to study in the future. You must understand that, there are no Primary exams nor Lower Secondary exams for private candidates. Checkpoint exam is only available in Cambridge School for schooled candidates. As such, If you have decided to homeschool your child you must continue the homeschooling until IGCSE level.

      You may want to contact the exam board, CAIE, and ask them for the pre-primary curriculum. CAIE’s website is: https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/

      Hope this helps.

  5. Hi my name is Laura
    I have done 2 of my O levels in the 10th grade ( passed ) but the I left school ( dropped out in the 11th grade )
    I have done 7 subjects through the British council. I have also done my A levels through them. Is my education certified? Am I considered high school pass, even though I haven’t done my 11th grade in a school rather through the British council

    Please help me !

    • Hi Laura,

      You do not need to go to a formal school in order to finish your secondary education. Homeschooling is recognised as such.

      Normally, after completing A-level, students proceed to university.

    • Hello Lana,

      If you are a schooled student, you ought to follow the schooling year. If you are a private candidate, you could start IGCSE programme whenever you are ready.

      The whole IGCSE syllabus takes roughly 1-2 years to finish. You are free to spread out your exams in different examination series.

  6. Hello, my son is almost 13. We live in Sweden and he attends an IB school. Unfortunately we are not satisfied with the school delivery of the IB programme, many children are graduating without passing grades and are not being accepted into the DP. As you mentioned home schooling is not permitted in Sweden and relocating to attend another IB school is not an option for us. One solution is to top up my son’s education with IGCSE. The curiculum is easier than IB but more focused than the tuition he is currently receiving at school. He attended UK school upto and including year 5 then studied pyp5, myp1 & 2 in sweden and will enter myp3 in August. I am thinking he can afford 1 hour of study to IGCSE per night without compromising his commitment to IN work. Perhaphs one subject per year, there is no rush? My question is should I start him on IGCSE straight away (maths & science are the priorities and his favourite subjects) or year 9? What would you recomend. He is very very bright but lacks focus.

    • Hello Clare,

      Thank you for writing in.

      We would suggest you to enrol your son into a registered Cambridge School. You may locate the schools here: https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/why-choose-us/find-a-cambridge-school/ . Alternatively, if you wish to follow the home education route, you may also locate (from the link) any registered Cambridge School which accept private candidates to sit for their exams at the school.

      If we understood your question correctly: “… without compromising his commitment to IN work.”, you intend to start him on IGCSE besides his regular IB school’s work. In this case, one subject per examination series is quite ok. There are 2 examination series in a year: June series and November series. You may register one subject per examination series, depending on his readiness.

      IB and IGCSE have similar syllabi. You may download the subjects syllabi for comparison: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-subjects-syllabuses/ . Your son just need to familiarise himself with the exam papers and the style of questions.

  7. Hi there
    My daughter left a private school at then end of February this year as she is a talented tennis player and wanted to join a tennis academy. She started her IGCSE level in the beginning of March: English, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Biology (all extended) and just want to know is it possible for her to right in October/November or should she perhaps just write 3 of the 5. I am worried that she is over extending herself and putting extra pressure on herself as she is a high achiever. English 29% completed, Math 39% completed, Chemistry 34% completed, Physics 30% completed and Biology 21% completed. She thus far got 85% for all her subjects but just thinking if she could write them all in October/November or should I rather tell her to focus on 3 of the 5 for now. She lives away from home and do this online but I am worried about her.
    Please could you help and guide me where she should be at this stage for her to write October in all her subjects.

    • Hello Elodie,

      We always suggest candidates to register for their exams whenever they are ready. But it is always good to split the subjects in different examination series, so your daughter can have full concentration in less subjects in one go. Please remember, IGCSE is a 2-year programme for schooled children. Do not attempt to rush, always take your time as there is no maximum age limit to sit for IGCSE exams.

      You might want to consider enrolling her into our online A* revision courses. These courses had produced many A* candidates worldwide. Our next revision course will be in August-September. Kindly subscribe to our newsletter for the announcement. Please find out more details here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-revision-courses/

      You may also be interested in our exam model answers. Many students scored A* by copying the style of the answers. Please check them out here: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

      You may also try our “Mark Your Paper” service in order to know how her papers would be marked. For more information, kindly read this post: http://www.igcsecentre.com/mark-your-papers/

  8. Hello…thank you so much for such information….my child is 7 …I would like to homeschool him from first beginning….wanted to ask where can I find Cambridge program books for primary…..second, If I enter him to school at level 5 to obtain a primary certificate, what would be the proof can we give to school that he has passed all past 4 previous level….again thank you for your time .

    • Hi Mara,

      Please kindly google on Amazon UK site for primary level reference books. If you intend to register your child with a formal school in Year 5, some schools would require him to take entry tests, some might not accept kids that haven’t attended any formal school.

      If you have such plan, it is wise to gather all required information with the school from now, in order to prepare your child for the Year 5 entry.

  9. Hi I am homeschooling my 11 year old daughter in blore. I am keen on knowing as to what subjects she can choose for igcse exams. The challenge here is that she is not interested in any foreign languages. Except for English she has great difficulty in following other languages. So can she just take only English as her language and to make up the list can she choose subjects other than languages.

    • Hi Sowjanya,

      The core subject groups are: English Group, Maths Group, and Science Group. She may choose any subjects inside the core groups. As long as she fulfil the core subject groups, she doesn’t need to take any foreign languages, if it’s not necessary for her future studies.

      We strongly suggest you to check on the university entry requirements for your daughter’s future studies, in order to choose the right subjects from now.

  10. Hi to the IGCSE team!
    I have two children aged 13 and 14.5 years, and we’ve been homeschooling ever since. Currently we live and cruise on a boat in the Caribbean.
    I gradually started my kids on Cambridge curriculum about 2 years ago. We are now at a point where we could get started with IGCSE. But the magnitude of information is quite a bit intimidating and confusing.
    Both my children are aiming to go to university after school. As I understand they will have to do IGCSE for (more or less) two years concluding with the IGCSE exam, and thereafter they will need to do their A/AS level for another one/two years to gain access to university?
    I’ve read some of the questions/answers regarding IGCSE subjects and their value for applying at universities, and now I’m confused whether IGCSE might also be a university entry level qualification? What qualification does the IGCSE represent in international terms?
    I’d be very grateful if you can shed some light on a currently pretty foggy area….

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Judith,

      Thanks for writing in. The normal process would be: after completing IGCSE, proceed to any A level/IB/any equivalent qualification, then university. Each country may name it differently. You ought to check with your local exam board, or colleges.

      If you wish to enter university after completing IGCSE, there are some universities that offer foundation programs which do not require A level. However, it?s best to check the entry requirements either from the university?s website or contact the university directly.

      We suggest you to start from finding out what do your kids want to study in the university, check on the course entry requirement, further check if this university does offer any foundation course by accepting IGCSE as entry level, then finally decide on the required subjects at IGCSE and AS/A Level.

      For more information about IGCSE and A Level, kindly read these articles:

    • Hi Shash,

      You may proceed to A Level, if you?ve finished high school or if you?ve completed equivalent qualification as IGCSE (e.g. O level)

    • Hello there,

      Thank you for your kind words. CIE and CAIE are the same entity. CIE (Cambridge International Examination board) has its name changed recently to CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education).

  11. Hi,

    I would like to know whether I can separate the igcse exams into 3 or 4 times over the years?

    And I heard there?s diploma course which only need 3 credits. So, that?s mean I can take only 3 subjects?

    • Hi Jenny,

      Yes, you are free to spread out your IGCSE examinations. We suggest that you register yourself whenever you are ready for the exam. Do take note that once the Cambridge IGCSE has been awarded it remains valid indefinitely. However, if you are planning to use the IGCSE result to apply for university/college, it’s best to check with the respective university/college if they accept the result on a certain year. Furthermore, you must also get the confirmation on required subjects in accordance to the course you would like to study in the university/college.

  12. Morning
    My daughter is currently in Grade 9 in South Africa (Jhb), she is interested in home schooling to start IGCSE
    How can she be registered?
    Where to buy books?
    Are there any centres around to attend when she needs assistance?
    What is the best way to do this?
    Dates and all important information?

    • Hi Ahmed,

      Formal education generally applies to the education which occurs within and under the traditional brick and mortar schools. On the other hand, homeschooling is the type of education where students learn outside of a school setting under the supervision of their parents or a tutor or online teacher. As such, homeschooling is not considered as a formal education. However, homeschooling is seen as a viable alternative to traditional schools.

      But in the end, if you?re a student taking AS/A Level, there is no difference if you are attached to a school or if you are homeschooling, the results stays the same especially if you will apply for further studies.

      We strongly encourage you to check the university?s entry requirement and get confirmation from them if they do accept homeschooled candidates.

  13. How can I test my child?s understanding if a lower secondary or primary stage private candidate can?t register for checkpoints exam? Is there any other exam that we can register for?

    • Hi Heidi,

      Checkpoint exam is only available in Cambridge School for schooled candidates. If you have decided to homeschool your child, you must continue the homeschooling until IGCSE level. Then register your child with your local British Council and sit for the IGCSE exams whenever your child is ready.

      Alternatively, if you think having a test is necessary, you may search for some private tuition centres and register your child to sit for the tests. However, it depends on whether the private tuition centre would accept such arrangement.

  14. My son attending Year 8 in one private school.
    Due to personal matters I would like to home school him at home. Any suggestion how to get online study for continuing him on IGCSE till O Level exam.

  15. Hi,
    My son is 12 this year. He is home-schooled since age 7.
    We have been using Sonlight (an American program) all this while.
    May I know what are the steps to take to transition him to IGCSE next year?

  16. How does Delhi University, India or other Indian universities convert A-level grades into a percentage for undergraduate admissions?

  17. My Son completed grade 8 IGCSE. We want to pursue him with home schooling for grade 9&10. Does he need to take lower secondary or upper secondary? Also how to train him for practicals? Please advise.

  18. Hello there,
    My question is – my younger brother is in 8th grade, he gave the half yearly exams but missed out 5 months of school due to medical problems and now the school are not giving his 8th grade marksheet. So, how can I enroll him to 9th grade homeschooling, do they require previous grades marksheet?

    • Hi Ankur,

      We suggest that you get a school leaving certificate from the school. However, if you will homeschool your brother, you do not need to enroll him anywhere. Please read the above article carefully.

  19. Hi my fourteen year old child is studying in ninth class I wanted to shift him to home schooling in 10. Is it possible? And if yes will he get normal certificated in 12th as he will get in LOCAL schools?We r living in india

    • Hi Vidz,

      The minimum age to sit for IGCSE is 14. However, you can check with your local British Council if they do allow candidate at age 10.

  20. Hi,
    I have 3 kids, (12,10 & 8 – As of 2018).
    Question is my 12 & 8 is Dyslexia and are currently in the centre for training for 3 months starting today.

    We actually came back from overseas last Jan,2017 and I enrolled them in a Chinese Medium school and they can’t cope with the subjects.

    Can I change their schools now or just do a homeschool for all my kids?

  21. I am from Bangalore, India in a dilemma between Regular or Homeschool I hope all parent in all stage has that. So do you have any community in my place with whom i can have a connection and get more clarity. Also If we decide Home School through IGCSE is the age a criteria for kids to learn the level. I have see kids passing IGCSE is very young age and getting graduation from college at the age of 10 to 13?

    • Hello Mathi,

      The minimum age for taking the IGCSE is 14.

      Please read this article carefully and follow the step-by-step guide: http://www.igcsecentre.com/what-is-homeschooling/

      You decide the subjects, together with your children, based on what your children want to study in the future.

      You may get the reference books from Amazon UK site. Just browse through the site and find out more on the costings.

      Here are some exam resources that might help you:

      Model Answers: http://www.igcsecentre.com/igcse-exam-resources/

      Online Revision Course: http://www.igcsecentre.com/cambridge-igcse-revision-courses/

      If you decide to have your kids be in a regular school, you must follow the rules & regulations of the school. However, if you are a private candidate, you can always sit for IGCSE exams anytime whenever you are ready. You do not need any prior qualification.

      Concerning graduating from college at a very young age such as 10 or 13, this is purely personal preferences. You must consider these important factors:

      What is the purpose of graduating from college at age 10 or 13?

      Is this merely a competition, or is this a healthy growing stage for the kids?

      What is the goal your kids would like to achieve by graduating college at such a young age?

      Always follow your kids heart, they know the answer. 🙂

  22. Goodday. I wish to fast track my boy’s education. He is about to enter Year1 next year, but I already planning to exit him from formal edu by the end of his Year 3. I am planning to put him in homeschooling with the target of IGSE after 5 years thereafter. Workable?
    Also, can I turn my home (a corner unit of a condo) into homeschool? Can I engage tuition center help in teaching?

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