The first time I heard of the term “homeschool” was when I was in my early 20s, when I met a lady in Malaysia with 5 impressively well-behaved and intelligent children. She had resigned from a high-flying corporate banking career to devote to her children’s upbringing. It was a brief contact with her and her children but as you can tell, the impact was lasting. I wasn’t sure who I was more impressed with, the mom or the kids! I think it was also because of the world of possibilities they provoked in my thoughts that I had never considered before at that point of time.
While working in Shanghai between 2012-2014, I met several non-Chinese families of different nationalities (they weren’t expats but were living for undefined period of time in China) whose children homeschooled. I was most impressed with a young Singaporean teenage boy. While I interacted with his parents, he did not shy away as most teenage boys do but listened, observed and interacted comfortably, intelligently and maturely with the adults.
There are a lot of uncertainties in the path The Mister and I have chosen to be on. We would not be surprised if there were several international moves in the next 10-15 years of our lives.
I could be considered a chronic country-hopper since I’ve been relocating across different countries every 3 years on average for the last 10 years. I love the instability, the feeling of being a foreigner and the learning curves one goes through in acclimatising to a new environment! I love that being a foreigner reminds me my citizenship is in heaven and not on earth. My home is ultimately where the final destination is and I’m on one of the most scenic routes.
But I’m aware that while my personality thrives in such instability, my kid(s) may or may not get to the same frame of mind I developed as an adult. Relocating and uprooting our kid(s) during a young age could be disastrous if not handled properly and so my mind is fixing itself more and more on having them homeschooled so that there is some form of managed stability.
However, I really don’t know much about the finer details of homeschooling and what it means to be outside “the system”. So I’ve started to explore and enquire with different people about what homeschooling entails. I’ve been jokingly accused of being “kiasu“, a Chinese dialect term characterising a core Singaporean mentality, which refers to being afraid to lose out to others so becoming over-competitive. This is because my first kid is still in the womb and won’t be introduced to formal education for a few more years at least!
But I’m starting early more for the sake of The Mister and myself as we need to start thinking constructively of what the future will look like for us as a family. As homeschooling is relatively uncommon in Asia, there are misconceptions around what it is and what it’s not and I think it would be good to work through that now before we commit ourselves to whatever system we will get ourselves into.
Case in point: The Mister initially thought homeschooling means that the parent(s) need to teach every subject one might learn in school. How could either of us be adept enough to teach excellently in every subject?
Homeschooling is not about the parent being the subject matter expert. The teaching can be co-managed with other teaching centres (which happens with public schools!), other parents in an ideal homeschooling community or even resources in the Internet. The parent(s) facilitates and guides the learning process of learning but it is about building up the child(ren) to be responsible over their learning journey, which is what one has to do once they reach the stage to enter university.
Now it’s The Mister who’s pointing out other details of homeschooling I’ve not thought of! It’s enforcing the positivity I have over it. Homeschooling may not be for everyone and it has been pointed out that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It can be used to supplement a certain season of being in a formal school system, i.e. the child can be homeschooled for primary level education and enter a public high school or the reverse.
However this pans out – whether we do end up with homeschooling or not, just thinking through our game plan for our kid(s) is teaching me to learn. And feeling like such an adult. Even though I’m definitely way over the age to feel like a non-adult.
Yes, I am aware that being a full-time mom is going to be really tough. That’s why I’m trying to think through our options in the calm before the storm. Who knows what lies in the future eh. We just take things step by step!