Odds are, if you are reading this, then you have considered schooling your child from the comfort of your own residence.
If that is so, then you are at the right place!
In this article, we shall explore the different reasons why parents opt for homeschooling, and what opportunities and barriers they face along the way.
If you decide that homeschooling best serves you and your child’s preferences, then we shall uncover the next steps you must take to get the ball rolling.
Is homeschooling right for me and my child?
That’s a question whose answer depends on a multitude of factors. To begin with, let’s explore the advantages of homeschooling.
Compared to traditional schooling, homeschooling offers unrivalled flexibility in carving your child's curriculum to match their bespoke set of skills, abilities and talents.
For example, if your child shines in the realm of music, then you have the freedom to devote more class time towards sharpening their musical aptitude.
If, on the other hand, your child happens to struggle with mathematics, then you have the same freedom in devoting more lessons towards filling those gaps.
Oftentimes, the teacher-student ratio at schools simply does not allow for the same level of flexibility, which can hinder a creative and gifted child’s educational nourishment.
And not to mention, children with special needs or disabilities could be amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the flexibility that home-schooling provides.
Furthermore, the parents can utilise this added freedom to instil a set of “religious or ethical values”, that secular-oriented mainstream schools may simply not be able to.
What’s more, this can further widen to include the nourishment of vital life-skills that may be overlooked in schools, like navigating relationships or managing money.
2. A Dynamic Classroom
Whilst mainstream schools conduct school trips to various places of interest, it is a seldom occurrence.
On the other hand, homeschooling boasts endless opportunities to venture outside into museums, parks and natural wonders.
Due to this unbridled flexibility, a child can enjoy a more varied, enriching and engaging schooling experience.
3. Enhanced Quality of Life
As staying at home does not requires tiresome commutes, the school day becomes markedly shorter. This leaves a bit more time for the child to delve into personal hobbies and indulge their childhood curiosities.
Expectedly, a child can enjoy a better quality of life with this arrangement, whose positive impacts could reverberate well into adulthood.
4. Healthy Family Life
Another oft-cited reason why parents choose to educate their children at home is to nurture a stronger connection with their children.
By adopting a frontline role in schooling their child, a parent can not only spend more quality moments with their child, but also understand their personality at a deeper level.
The alternative scenario, which many parents unwillingly endure, is that of spending the majority of their time away from their children, and subsequently unable to build a deep and intimate connection with them.
5. Better Educational Outcomes
Additionally, but no less importantly, an effective home-schooling arrangement can give parents better control on the quality of education that their child receives. This becomes a more pronounced factor if schools in the local area fall short of national standards.
However, as with anything, home-schooling doesn’t come without its disadvantages.
In some cases, the weight of such barriers may tilt the decision of parents against home-schooling, making them ever more important to consider.
Let’s face it, home-schooling is a radical departure from traditional methods of schooling.
It’s no surprise that many parents will have a fair amount of reservations and worries. The disadvantages may be felt by children, parents, or even both.
So, let’s spill the beans and explore them below.
1. Financial Constraints
In the vast majority of cases, parents take a leading role in educating their child in a homeschooling arrangement. This can deny a parent from working or pursuing a career outside the four walls of their home.
If a household’s financial wellbeing hinges on both parents working full-time, then homeschooling may prove a financially challenging endeavour.
On top of that, parents often pay additional sums to hire in-house tutors for subjects that they may not be qualified to teach themselves.
The cost of educational resources like books and digital equipment is also borne by the parents. As a result, home-schooling can become an expensive option if the accumulated cost exceeds that of school fees.
2. Lifestyle Restrictions
Beyond the financial constraints, a parent-turned-teacher will be expected to handle every facet of their child’s development, including the pastoral, educational and emotional realms.
This can be a cumbersome responsibility, leaving little time to spare for priorities beyond child-rearing.
Many parents that have spoken of their experiences with home-schooling have often cited the lack of free time for leisure and rest in their daily schedules.
The success of this option is, therefore, heavily dependent upon the lifestyles that parents wish for themselves.
3. Lack of Social Engagements
Taking a glance from a child’s perspective, however, can reveal another set of challenges. The shortage of peers and classmates can make it a socially isolating and lonely experience for the child.
This could hinder the child’s emotional and social development, if not adequately mitigated against. However, on the brighter side, this isn’t as large of a problem as one would perceive.
Many homeschooling parents are aware of this; As a result. they tilt the social balance in the child’s favour by sending their children to sports clubs, evening dance recitals, or whatever socially intensive activities are buzzing in their local area.
And, if you are reading this in 2020, perhaps this disadvantage has, very ironically, turned itself on its own head due to the current circumstances with Covid-19. In fact, a homeschooling arrangement may be the safest option for families for the foreseeable future. Read MOE's webpage: FAQs for Covid-19 Infection in Singapore.
Forging a school at home, will not only fortify your child’s physical health, but also their education, as they will be immune to any ‘school closures’ that would disrupt their education.
So, having read that, if you are confident that the advantages outweigh any potential disadvantages, then read on, as the next section will arm you with tips to confidently embark on your home-schooling journey.
How can I get started?
Below, is a little overview of what the process looks like, in a nutshell, and what steps you will need to take to make this decision a success.
1. Apply for approval from the Ministry of Education (MOE)
Primary school attendance is compulsory for all children in Singapore. As a result, any alterative arrangement like home-schooling requires approval from the Ministry of Education.
You can read up on MOE's regulations on 'Exemption from Compulsory Education'.
Prior to granting an approval, the Ministry of Education assesses the qualifications of the parent or to-be-teacher, the conduciveness of the home as a classroom, and whether the curriculum you have designed matches the approach of the MOE’s regulations.
Once you have the green light from the MOE, you will be expected to regularly provide them with updates on your child’s progress.
This will take place periodically as part of a long-term arrangement to ensure that your child is truly reaping the rewards of home-schooling.
2. Design a curriculum
The next step is to plan your child’s personalised educational path, based on their bespoke needs, strengths and weaknesses. You can also avail a variety of off-the-shelf curriculum options like ‘Oak Meadow’ or ‘Five in a Row’.
At Primary Six (11-12 years), children are examined for their basic numerical and literary skills through the PSLE exam. You can get additional help from PSLE tutors if your child falls behind in English or other subjects.
Home-schooled children are not exempt from this exam and must therefore be given sufficient time to prepare for it beforehand.
3. Establish a classroom-friendly environment at home
With a curriculum in hand, and an approval from the MOE, you are ready to get started with home-schooling!
Now is a propitious moment to consider the practicalities, like designing a study area, and purchasing the right equipment.
Aim to nurture an environment that is free from any outside distractions.
4. Set goals and measure progress
To make a success of your home-schooling venture, draw a roadmap of goals and targets to achieve in every respective subject. Monitor your child’s progress in conjunction with the targets you have set.
As the child’s strengths and weaknesses become more apparent, then feel free to adapt the roadmap accordingly.
5. Enjoy the journey
Remember, that homeschooling is a journey of self-discovery and growth. It will inevitably have its good moments, and its’ not-so-good moments.
With time, you and your child will begin to discover a sense of flow and the road will become smoother. Once you have mastered the ‘ins and outs’ of homeschooling, your child’s educational development flourish and prosper, much to your satisfaction.
If you have made it this far, well done!
The transition to homeschooling may sound somewhat challenging, but don’t feel taken aback. The rewards, firstly, can be huge, and secondly, the journey will only get easier with time.
You will not be treading this path alone, either. The fruits of homeschooling are becoming increasingly apparent to many discerning parents.
As the world demands more and more from our succeeding generations, homeschooling's popularity is only poised to grow further. Many parents also join homeschooling communities online to share their wide array of experiences and stories.
These communities serve as useful fora for exchanging ideas, tips and tricks to ensure that the benefits of home-schooling never go astray.
So, in closing, I hope I have been able to clear any pressing doubts and provide a glimpse of the journey ahead with home-schooling.
For whatever path you choose - Good luck!