Friday, November 13, 2015

Homeschooling The Non Traditional Way

QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION
  • What is the best education to give my children?
  • Which school should I send them to?
  • Government/Public school? Private school? International school? Chinese school?
  • Should I send them to school?
  • What about homeschooling? Homeschooling centre? Homeschool at home?
  • What syllabus should I follow? Do I need to follow a syllabus?
  • What about exams?

These are the questions I've asked myself. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

When did educating our children get so complicated?

I haven't talked much about homeschooling my daughter. She's now 14 and we started homeschooling last year.

I don't claim to know what I'm doing. It's like an experimental journey with her and circumstances keep changing. Anyway, below is MY reason for deciding to venture into homeschooling with her.

REASON FOR HOMESCHOOLING

  • There were certain subjects in school she was not very enthusiastic about learning. I've learned that kids don't excel in things they don't like to do. You can force them to learn and tell them to endure but you'd kill their love for learning and creativity along the way.
  • I don't want my children to be in a system that don't allow their true potential to shine through. School is a "one size fits all" idea.
    Albert Einstein says it perfectly: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

  • I want to give her the freedom to learn things she will never learn in school. Once in school, she won't have time to do the things she like e.g. playing piano for fun, learning different languages, computer coding, reading books, playing badminton etc.... I don't want to criticize teachers but you have to admit that sometimes the homework they give is just a waste of time. I am not a fan of rote learning. I'd rather my kids play a puzzle or problem solving game on the computer than have them copy their exam paper on to their exercise book.

  • I hate the idea that kids are learning just to pass exams and stressing out to get As. Learning should be about gaining knowledge, feeding curiosity, nurturing creativity or gaining a skill.

  • You can learn almost anything online these days.

  • She is able to work independently. I just need to point her in the right direction, and she can learn on her own. I don't need to carry a cane around, threatening to bring down the house just to get her to study. 

MY FEAR OF HOMESCHOOLING

Even with my many reasons to homeschool, I still have my fears. 
  • What if I don't do her homeschooling correctly and screw up her future, and she can't get into any university? But then, does she really need to go to uni? There are so many ways to earn a living right? Which leads to the question... "What does she want to do?" and "How do we get her there?"
  • There is safety in doing things the "traditional" way ie. follow a syllabus, sit for exam. But that's what I don't want in the first place... learning just to pass exams. It is scary to do things differently than what others are used to. It's like taking an unknown road hoping it leads to the right destination. 

MY HOMESCHOOLING PLAN FOR NOW 

Homeschooling my daughter is like playing with playdoh. We both discuss what we want to do and then we 'mold' the learning to reach the goal. 

Sounds straightforward but it is not, because our goals change as circumstances change. 

Initially we decided that she will sit for the Cambridge IGCSE when she's 16. That's what most international schools are doing anyway. I got her the KS3 books: English, Math, Science, Geography, History. 
PROBLEM:
  • We still need to know the right format in answering the exam questions. I'm not qualified in that area. Of course I could probably hire a qualified IGCSE tutor.
  • It is still the rigid way of studying to pass an exam.
  • Malaysian currency is dropping. The price to sit for 1 paper has gone up considerably. Before it was like about RM300++ for 1 subject. I was told it is now above RM1000? I'm not too sure about this so don't quote me just yet. 
THE NEW WAY
So we decided that maybe IGCSE is NOT for us. Taking a step back and looking at how the world works these days, it seems that being specialized in a certain skill is much more valuable than having a general degree. 

Seeing that my daughter has no ambition on becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer (or whatever profession that requires going though the "traditional" education route), we can maybe skip high school exams like IGCSE, GED, or SPM. She's into computer coding, web design and that sort of stuff. So, our goal now is for her to be certified in those areas. There's opportunity there for her to find work online too to build up her portfolio. 
Another skill for her to master is English writing. If she can write well, she has many different work options too. 

At first I wasn't sure if this is the way to go but a recent conversation with my US based cousin who interviews candidates for the company he works with assured me I'm on the right track. He says nobody wants to hire a graduate that needs to be trained. They always look for people who already know how to do the job, meaning hiring people who already have the necessary skills. Interestingly, the last thing they see is where you graduated from. So you could say that a certificate in Linux, AWS or any other IT course would carry more weight than your graduation scroll from "XX" university. 
Well, that's the message I got anyway. 

So, homeschool for now is taking online courses such as from UDEMY and also other foundation studies such as math, English, science, occasional geography n history.  

Start learning on Udemy today!

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CONCLUSION
There are so may factors to consider when it comes to our children's education. What works for one family may not work for another. 
#1 Factor - Consider the child. Will he/she enjoy homeschooling? What is he/she comfortable with? My eldest opted for homeschool but my 2nd son would rather stay in school. 

#2 Factor - Work backwards. Meaning start with career choices, then see what your child will need to do to get there? At a young age kids may not know what they want to do in the future. So it would make sense to play safe at first and plan to sit for the common exams. Once they have an inkling what they would like to venture in, you can "modify and adjust" your education plan. 

I'm sure you can come up with many more factors. There are many different options, it's just a matter of which one you DARE to take.




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