Home Learning




In 2006 we – my husband Micky, my one-year old son Nick and myself – moved permanently from The Netherlands to the UAE, Dubai to be precise. My husband had been working there for several years already, traveling back and forth from Dubai to Amsterdam and other places. I had been visiting Dubai many times before but this time it was different. We were grieving the tragic and sudden death of our daughter Isabelle, Nick´s twin sister shortly before she turned one year old. Personally, I wanted only one thing and that was to run away from the place where this tragedy had happened, focus on my family and try to get out of the deep dark hole I had fallen into.

My husband, tired of staying in hotels or furnished apartments whenever he was in Dubai, had bought a boat about a year earlier: An old American Sports Fisher Boat with a berth in the coolest Marina in Dubai and…… a license to live aboard! It had everything we needed: a small cabin, a big double bed in the bow, a separate small room with two bank beds on the port side, a tiny bathroom on the starboard side and (crucial in Dubai) air conditioning! “The Free Spirit” – who can ask for a better name – became our home and sanctuary for the next few years.

Apart from being located in the middle of Dubai´s Newly Build High-Rise Marina Area, our Marina was part of and next to a five-star resort with all the facilities one can think of: multiple pools, restaurants, tennis-courts, beach and last but not least, the best kids club in the whole of the Emirate. We called it our garden. While Micky was working, I spent my days with Nick between the boat and the resort, taking naps when he did and spending time with him outside when he was awake.

Soon I realized that the number one question for a mom with a young child was: “where are you planning to put your child to school?” Being from The Netherlands and a first-time mother, this question struck me as unusual. I had never thought about it and I wasn´t ready to start thinking about it yet. Nick was not even two years old! But all parents with young children, babies even, seemed to stress about it, afraid they wouldn´t get their kids into a school with a “good reputation.”

We don´t believe that College should start already in Kindergarten and decided to not register Nick at any schools, follow a no plan best plan strategy and enjoy our lives one day at a time as well as we were capable off, trusting that we would find a way to educate our kids when the time would come.

We loved our life on the water. We were living in the heart of where Dubai Life was happening and could escape to our peaceful little sanctuary in the marina within a 5 minute walk. However, with our daughter Gina on the way, we were facing a bit of a space problem and considered for an instant to move to a house or an apartment, only to decide very quickly that that wasn´t a serious option. We bought a bigger boat instead and stay where we were. The “Isabelle Star”, a beautiful Lagoon 440 Sailing Catamaran, named after the daughter we lost, arrived in Dubai in 2007 after a long journey from France and became our new home.

It was not until 2009 that we started considering homeschooling. Our youngest son Joey was born so we had a newborn, a two-year old and a four-year old. We totally enjoyed our live on the boat with the freedom to go for long summers to Europe and the flexibility to travel whenever we pleased. In the resort, our garden, the kids were surrounded by their friends all the time, spending time in one of the pools, doing sports or activities in the kids club. We made life long friendships with Dubai based families that were members of the club and families vacationing there.

We didn´t want to give up our lifestyle to start the rat race so we started looking for alternative ways to educate our children. An International Academy had just opened an office in Dubai and after researching their program and several meetings with staff members, it felt like a perfect fit for us and that´s how our home schooling adventure began.

A glimpse of

our life on the boat from Joey’s perspective.

Have a look at the overview below to find out WHAT choices we made at the beginning and WHY we made them:

Curriculum, Program




  • We had no plans to move back to our countries of origin.
  • We wanted an international program.
  • We preferred the American curriculum over the British one because of:
    Focus on sports & arts
    Less rigid
  • Micky studied in the US himself (Hawaii).
  • Accredited in the US and licensed in the UAE. This was important to us as we initially thought we were only doing this for a year or two.
  • The academy provided report cards.
  • As a new home school mom, I preferred a set curriculum to hold on to, show me the way and compensate for my lack of experience and confidence.



Combination of Online & Traditional


  • A powerful blend of old (the best research on how children learn) and new (engaging content and interactivity).
  • Complete and detailed timeframe with online lessons available.
  • Books and instructions for traditional lessons provided by the academy.
  • Online help from a teacher when needed.
  • Very flexible and easy to take “on the road.”





  • We lived on a boat most of the year.
  • We lived in a house during long summers in Europe.
  • We continued to “learn on the road” while traveling through Europe, US, Australia, Asia
  • While traveling, we world-schooled our children eating local food, meeting local people, visiting cultural landmarks as well as hidden treasures.

Comment (1)

  1. Shannon

    So proud of you and want to follow your work as you bloom into this new phase of life and living!!

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