Good day! Magandang araw sa inyong lahat! In Singapore, school year 2017 will start this coming January. My wife and I are quite excited and overwhelmed with our eldest daughter passing the PSLE with Express results. But that’s one thing, next is where & what public school should she end up going? We are given 6 choices or options and the results would be known by 21 December. Finger crossed.
Our challenged now is our 2 little kids aged 7 & 4, as they apparently we’re not accepted in public schools here in Singapore. Our limited options is to go to Private Schools or Homeschool. Private School is out of our list as we can’t afford the cost with minimum $12,000 per year. But will our child thrive in a homeschool environment? There are many considerations that have to be taken into account and we are just starting.
Recently, my wife has been doing the research and reading a lot of articles about family’s personal experience in homeschooling. We have some friends in the Philippines who are homeschooling their children and it’s very encouraging too. It really got me thinking about our children’s future. I had considered private school for our son but life just don’t allow for it.
Now with my wife current career setback, the idea has resurfaced and encouraged us to do a lot more research. While I might not ready to do homeschooling, she will be more focus and me as supporting cast does appeal to me more.
Before deciding whether to homeschool our children or not, reviewing at the pros and cons seemed the best place to start. We have a few months before having to make the final and only option that we have while we are here in Singapore living together, and at time many things can change in our lives…location, finances, etc., so I creating this list a few times and re-evaluating our position based on the current situation.
Pros of Homeschooling
I determine what my child learns
Being able to teach our child the real truth on our history, and teaching him to question everything that is not available, nor encouraged, in public schools and/or media.
With our eldest child in public school, I have seen plenty of stress and anxiety observed from her. This will be lessened by homeschooling, I believe, would make for a happier child, one that wants to learn. Getting up in the morning and being rushed off to the bus at some ungodly hour, pressured to learn in a certain way because that is what the teacher says is right, afraid to ask questions because they may seem stupid (there are no stupid questions), upset over homework and staying up late trying to finish it, and more…this is what I see from my girls on a regular basis.
With homeschooling, there is no rushing around in the morning, time for a proper breakfast and preparation for the day. There is no specific schedule to learning. There is time to spend on topics that the child is having difficulty with. And there is no waiting for other children to catch up to move on to another topic that is understood. That leads to less boredom and more learning!
Personalized and individualized learning
Every child learns differently and at varying paces. In a classroom, teachers often have 30-40 children, most in my school district are overcrowded, making it very difficult for children to receive any type of individual instruction or assistance should they need it. Teachers are forced to take the middle of the road – in teaching styles and pace at which they teach. This inevitably means that some students get left behind while others sit bored and can potentially become disruptive because of this boredom.
Being homeschooled, our child would be able to learn at his own speed, and any difficulties would be quickly identified and addressed before they become an on-going issue. Additionally, this would mean that we could tailor instruction around what interests our child. If he says that he wants to learn Japanese, or about another topic that is not available in public schools, we can add that into the curriculum, whereas that is not possible in public schools. There are many resources available throughout the internet that can provide support to teach these extra topics that teaching our child almost anything they want to learn about would be possible.
Violence in schools in notoriously on the rise, bullying has become a very real and serious problem, drugs in schools are prevalent in our area. None of these would be worries any longer with home education. Even twenty-five years ago, I got into a couple of fights in high school. I was bullied throughout middle school and high school. Not intentionally do I project my experiences onto my child, I just don’t want him to have to unnecessarily go through what I did.
Peer pressure becomes a thing of the past, with children no longer feeling the need to “fit in”. They are free to dress and act (within reason) how they feel most comfortable, being able to find themselves without the fear of ridicule.
While public schools do offer field trips once or twice a year, homeschooling provides that opportunity on a much more frequent basis. Educational trips can be based on whatever is being learned at that time….nature parks to learn about wildlife, museums for science and social studies, and other such places for geography, language arts, foreign languages, and much more. The possibilities are endless. Local homeschooling support groups are also great ways to socialize and teach at the same time. Group trips and meetings are beneficial to both the parents and the children.
Closer family relationships
Spending additional time together (rather than rushing off to school, then homework, dinner, and bed, after school), helps to build a tighter relationship between the children and parents. If there is a sibling also being homeschooled, as a “classmate” their relationship frequently grows closer as well. Being able to enjoy learning and teaching makes a happier, more stable family and the child is learning more than just what is taught in a classroom.
Sometimes it can take a week or more to cover a topic in public school, much of this time being spent on busy work because the teacher is helping other students. Subjects can often be covered in just a few hours at home versus days on end in a typical classroom settting. This means that more information can be covered in a shorter time, allowing for additional extracurricular activities, group get-togethers, field trips, etc. And without the homework that is typically brought home, causing stress between parents and children, evenings can be enjoyed and family quality time will be more relaxed. Any school related questions that arise can be addressed during whatever hours (flexibility!) are scheduled for learning. This is the parent’s perogative – learning hours can be throughout the day, a specific time, blocks of time, whichever works best for the family and is most beneficial to the child.
Having a one-income household is not possible for everyone. Currently, I work from home and blog (on Steemit) and my boyfriend has a regular day job. Whether or not I will be able to continue working from home and be successful at homeschooling is a question. In today’s economy, it is difficult to adequately provide for a family with one income, unless you are a doctor, lawyer, etc. This is one of the reasons that I am exploring the home education option so early; if we are to do this, it will take a lot of planning and budgeting financial resources. Homeschooling is not free, but there are ways to do it inexpensively without sacrificing your child’s education. There are a plethera of resources online and in Florida we have a virtual school available at no cost to students with most courses starting at 6th grade. Although these may seem like positives, they can also be negatives in that we, as parents, are spending money on events, supplies, etc that may be covered by the school district if the child were in public school. To be considered is the amount spent on various school supply lists, not only for your child, but for the entire class.
This is often touted as the biggest downfall to homeschooling. Children do not have the opportunity throughout the day to interact with other children and make friends. This also includes learning how to deal with disagreements and building their social development. Even with support groups, outings and the like, these will doubtfully add up to the numerous hours that a child will interact with other students during the typical school week. This may lead to behavioral issues in the future. Along these lines, the child will not be able to have the back and forth discussions during learning times, which can be a valuable learning tool.
This includes the child and parents. There is a lot of extra work that goes into planning schedules, outings, keeping portfolios and documentation required by the state, gathering learning resources and creating a curriculum. This is all in addition to actually teaching your child. This can lead to exhaustion of the parent, creating additional stress that must not be carried over to interactions with the child. The teaching parent and the child will also have no time away from each other during the day and night, except for possible time with the other parent and playdates. Not having a break from each other can be quite exhausting for all involved.
Team sports and extra-curricular activities
Depending on the school district and state, participation in school sponsored activities may not be an option. Team sports, debate team, chorus, band, etc. – these all help to build self-esteem and teamwork skills. The skills learned during team activities can form a very important base that is needed during careers later in life.
In Florida where we live, the laws have been changed to allow homeschooled children to have most of the same opportunities as public school enrolled children:
To participate in “inter-scholastic extracurricular activities”, Section 1006.15 F.S., requires that
home education students be given the same opportunity as public school students. The law prohibits
any requirements that would make participation less accessible for home education students and
creates a broad definition of “interscholastic extracurricular activities” that covers any activity
occurring during or outside the regular school day.
Although we have more research to continually over the next few years, the answer seems to be clear what would be in our child’s best interests. Both his dad and I have college degrees, at opposite ends of the spectrum. I have a B.S. in Justice Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Sociology as well as a J.D. He has a degree in Graphic Arts design, specializing in logo/branding. If one of us doesn’t know the answer to a question, the other probably will, and if there is a case where we are both stumped, there are plenty of resources across the web, along with support groups to seek assistance from. Home schooling doesn’t mean that the village isn’t raising your children, it means (to me) that as a parent you have more control over your child’s education, rather than the school district. My older two girls have spent the last few years being taught what the government wants them to learn, basically being taught how to take the FSA (formerly FCAT). Unless, as a parent, we choose to use a standardized test as the annual evaluation tool for our homeschooled child, he will not take the FSA. We can focus on what is important for success later in life, rather than what will get the school district a good grade.
We will being re-evaluating the feasibility of homeschooling periodically, as life does change in unexpected directions. I am specifically speaking of finances and the school district in which we reside when it comes time for kindergarten registration. As a mother, I would enjoy being able to guide my son through his early years in a way that was not available to me before. To educate him, to provide for him in a very unique way. Although homeschooling may not be for all, I believe that it is a direction that would be positive for our family.
I would love to hear your suggestions and comments, there very well may be some pros and cons that I have not addressed here. I welcome input from others!