Monday, June 10, 2013

Homeschooling 101.

After my Open Mic 101 post, I think I shall do another! There are a lot of questions about homeschooling going around lately, so I thought I'd write a quick guide to homeschooling from a homeschoolers point of view instead of a homeschooling parents point of view. I'm homeschooled, and I get asked tons of questions by people my age and even their parents sometimes, about what homeschooling is.
Section A: What is homeschooling?
There are actually a few kinds of homeschooling, and I took the liberty of organising it by the level of structure: 1 being the most structured for a homeschooler and 4 being the least.

1. Homeschooling in a learning centre: I think it's more like an alternative to regular school where there are classes, timetables, exams and all that.

2. Homeschooling at home: Essentially just studying at home. Mum and dad's the teacher, occasionally other tutors as well.

3. Community-based homeschooling: Learning with other families and not just your own, learning together in a group which is less formal compared to homeschooling in a learning centre.

4. Un-schooling: Anything and everything goes. Absolute freedom. Study about bugs for an entire month? Sure!

Now that you know what homeschooling is, I'm guessing you might want to homeschool or homeschool your children, because you are reading this blog post. I'm no expert, but I'll tell you based on what I know, if you don't mind. Note that this is just my opinion. Once you've read mine, please form your own opinions and decide how you want to go about your homeschooling journey. Here are some questions my parents and I get asked a lot. And I mean a lot. 
That leads me to...

Section B: Frequently asked questions.

1. What curriculum do you use use?
I feel that this is like asking someone what pencil they use to write because no matter what kind of pencil, the words are still written. Whatever curriculum, you'd still learn.
My siblings and I don't follow any curriculum at all. I do enjoy learning from Khan Academy though. For pre-schooled or younger homeschoolers though, my mom and dad advocate the curriculum of play. Yup, just play until they're ready to learn. It saves a lot of stress of trying to get little children to sit down to write when they are already learning so much from playing.

2. OMG homeschoolers are anti-social, aren't they?
That's what my friends thought. And they weren't afraid to tell it to me either. Just because we study on our own most of the time doesn't make us anti social. I'm shy, but not because of homeschooling, it's just the way I am. I actually find I have a lot more opportunity to interact with people of different ages being homeschooled because the people I learn with are not all the same age and level like in regular school. That gives us the opportunity to help one another and learn from each other. There are tons of networks of homeschoolers online, so there's no way possible you'd feel like you're alone :)

Here are some homeschooling blogs in Malaysia, if you are interested in finding out more:

http://learningbeyondschooling.org
http://homeschoolhomefrontier.com
http://malaysianhomeschoolingnetwork.blog.com

Also, if you'd like to hear from homeschoolers/unschoolers themselves:

http://karencuppycake.blogspot.com
http://sleepyheadsonly.wordpress.com
http://hafidzyoungscientist.blogspot.com

3. What are some homeschooling success stories?
Does anyone ask that question before they sign up for regular school? There are many success stories of people who have dropped out of college too, but it doesn't mean we'd do the same. I guess the success stories of homeschooling is like proof to doubters that what you're doing is right and that you're on the right track, like some kind of reassurance for them and yourself. I think a homeschooler or regular schooler is successful when they are happy. Happy with who they are, and happy with what they are learning.

4. What if my spouse/parents/friends/family/neighbours/classmates don't agree?
Show them this blog. Haha I'm kidding.
It might take time, and if you can't homeschool, make the best of your time and explore the wonderful world of learning outside a regular school. And be positive. My grandparents used to constantly interrogate us; "What are your parents teaching you?" and they'd say things like "You should go to school." now they seem okay with it. Although my grandmother would be delighted if I decide to become a doctor or something along those lines. (Doesn't seem like thats going to happen though...)

5. Exams and college- How do you go about doing that?

When I tell people I'm homeschooled, they reply:

"What?! You don't go to school??"
"Is that possible?"
"What about UPSR?"
"What about PMR?"
"What about SPM??"
and then inevitably...
"What about college??!!!???"


There are actually many homeschooling centres preparing students for the IGCSE's. There's also SPM, SAT's and so many more that can help someone get into college. You could also self-study the subjects you want to take and enter as a private candidate. There is also a movement called Uncollege, which is an alternative to regular college. Because regular college is just too mainstream.
WARNING: Watch out for what I'd like to call 'Panic Mode'. 'Panic Mode' is a point where parents freak out and think their children have not done enough as they approach their teenage years. They'd start frantically looking for alternatives and sign them for IGCSE programs or other programs, and sometimes too early. Please discuss with your child if this is what they want to do, or more of what you want them to do before you sign them up. There's also no age limit, so even if you're 20 and want to take IGCSE's it's not "too late" despite what many people say.

There is no standard way of homeschooling and I think thats the beauty of it; you get to decide. You could even be like a double agent by going to both regular school and homeschooling at the same time (I tried that for a while until I found music and couldn't possibly think of anything else). As much as the future is scary and unpredictable, try not to over-plan your homeschooling journey. I think it is important to communicate and not just assume. Listen to what your parents/children have to say because you may be all for regular school, but your parents might want to homeschool you. So explore your interests. Draw, or dance, or figure out mathematical equations. Oh, the possibilities are endless! Homeschooling an adventure. An adventure of self-discovery and becoming who we want to be, becoming independent.

Thanks for reading! And if you have any questions, I'm on ask.fm now: http://ask.fm/AmritaSoon

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