FAQ on Home Education
Version 1.0 www.familyplace.com.my
Edited by Miss Hafiza Abd Rahman, July 2006
In her book Life is An Education Marnie Larsen-Ko wrote:
Home Learning is not a new concept, but it is just beginning to become recognized in our modern society as a viable and sometimes superior alternative to school settings.
A great deal of research and history in the areas of child development, learning, and intelligence has reinforced the idea that life is an education in itself, and schools may not be successful in accomplishing the goals they originally were meant to achieve.
The numerous problems facing schools today has prompted many parents to re-look at the issue of education and to re-examine their roles in their children’s educational process.
Today there are at least a million children being educated at home in the US alone, and many in countries like Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The home schooling concept is fast gaining ground in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
The Holtian, de-schooling type of homeschoolers and the Christian homeschoolers make up the vast majority of homeschoolers in the United States today. However, there are also excellent, nonsectarian, content-rich, skills-based elementary and junior high homeschool curricula available.
There are many reasons parents may choose to homeschool: religious beliefs, philosophical beliefs, crowded school classrooms, school violence, worries about attitude-based learning, worries about strong peer influences, family solidarity, more time spent with better quality curriculum, character development, small group/ focused teaching, strong family values, and because of strong attachments within the family.
John Holt, a leading and influential advocate for homeschooling, maintained that children have a natural ability to educate themselves. All they need is access to the real world and to educational materials; the freedom to explore; emotional support; and time to think about and assess their experiences.
What About Schools?
Schools, Holt argued, provide none of these key elements of learning. In fact, schools thwart the education and development of the child. The home and the real world outside the classroom constitute the ideal learning environment for the child. Parents, being sensitive to the special needs and abilities of the child, are the best teachers for their children.
It is known that all children learn in different ways, at different speeds, and varying capabilities. In a learning environment at home, the individuality of the children respected, acknowledged, and encouraged.
Homeschooling does not involve “Fail – no child needs to go through life “failing” grade two – it is so much more positive a child to be able to work more on an area until achieving an understanding of the concept, without being compared to other students.
Is Homeschooling Effective?
A Smithsonian Institute study of twenty-three world-class geniuses found three interesting things in common. All the children had warm, loving, responsive parent, little contact and involvement with peers outside of the family, and all were given unrestricted creative freedom under parental guidance to explore their own interest.
Positive socialization is firmly linked with the family and is developed through feelings of self-worth, values, and family experiences. Negative socialization produces children that are self-centered from too much time with peers, and not enough parental contact and time in the home for the first eight to twelve years.
And What About Socialization?
A common objection to homeschooling is that it isolates children socially and deprives them of the opportunity to learn social skills. But is a typical school with children of the same age and one adult a normal social situation?
Homeschooling advocates maintain that schools create an unhealthy social environment that helps foment bullying, elitism, exclusionary behavior, teasing, and conformism to pee pressure.The questions about socialization that have yet to be answered by proponents of schools are: What is the evidence that that children in school actually get along be with other kids?
What kind of socialization should children have?
Do children get positive socialization at school, and do they develop trust, empathy, and affection others while being in a crowded situation with other kids?
It is a parent’s job to model acceptable behavior. The majority of all socialization children begin in the preschool years. This is the crucial period when parents need help their children become sensitive, caring, compassionate, human beings. Enroll children in school is not going to develop a child’s positive socialization if it wasn’t already there.
By the time children reach school age, currently five to seven, their personality and characteristics are well developed. A consistent environment at home, that demonstrates love, kindness, and family values, is going to have a strong positive influence on socialization skills.
The number of children learning at home is constantly growing as more parents become disenchanted with the rising problems in schools. Current evidence states that many schools are using a curriculum that is not compatible with the developmental capabilities of children in terms of content, methodology and structure. Thinking and learning follow a natural course of development. Usually when children begin school this developmental process is pushed before being ready.
As Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge“.
However, for a child without siblings, and for children living in sparsely populated area, the lack of social contact can be a valid issue. Some families meet regularly with other homeschooling families as well as school-going ones, to provide social contact for children and parents.
What Does Homeschooling Require?
Homeschooling requires dedication, patience, and a time commitment on the part of the parents, but does not require formal education in the parent’s background.
John W. Taylor’s national studies found that home teaching success has very little to do with the education of parents.
This calms many doubts about the ability of parents to create a learning environment for their children.
To go one step further, parents don’t have to be “teachers”. They can instead be guides on their child’s adventure of learning, just by involving him/her in their everyday activities, and encouraging the child’s curiosity and exploration.
There is no evidence whatsoever that indicates that parents are not “qualified” to teach their children. A degree in teaching does not make a good teacher.
A parent who is caring, involved, constant and truly cares about a child for who he/she is, will be their child’s best teacher.
Homeschooling families are not much different from other parents. Mostly, they are just responsible, concerned, caring people who want their child to be in the most nurturing environment conducive to learning.
Most Homeschooling families are living on one income, but they are willing to make the financial sacrifices to do so. It is commendable that parents are willing to take responsibility for their children’s education, and at the same time are providing individualized attention, self- paced progress, and an environment free of demoralizing grading systems.
Homeschooling children are often thought to be sheltered. All parents are responsible for nurturing their children and keeping them safe, healthy, and protected. The most logical and effective way to do this is to be present.
It is so much better for children to cope with negative experiences in life if they had the benefit of positive time with their family. It is very important to children’s healthy development to have parents that will be willing to help and guide them through the rough times in life. How wonderful it is for parents and children when they can be together every step of the way … loving, laughing, learning.
Children are not empty vases to be filled with water before they will bloom flower. They do not need teachers to fill them up with knowledge and force them to learn.
Children already have an insatiable hunger to explore the world and the only thing they really need is someone to make sure they get lots of sun and water, in the for loving, nurturing parents.
What about materials and resources to use?
This is, perhaps, the most difficult question to answer–be prepared for your ideas change over time, and be aware that you may make choices that won’t work out.
Before you think about what you need, think about what learning means to you.
School curriculum and methodology have evolved to reflect an environment where or 40 children learn at the behest of one adult. Curriculum developed by experts of this usage has been designed for ease of teaching, but not necessarily for sparking interest of the individual child.
As a homeschooling family, you can accept as many or as few of these materials you like. Some families like the ease and security of having a prepackaged curriculum, while others choose to make their own decisions about what is important to learn and what is useful and helpful in their daily lives.
Discuss this with your children. What do they want to do? How do they learn best? Look at sample copies of materials before you choose.
As homeschoolers, you will be in charge of your learning–take advantage of all the adventure has to offer!
What if my child wants to learn something I can’t teach?
Children have the most amazing ability to want to learn the one thing about which we know absolutely nothing! It’s a universal attribute.
Homeschooling families are blessed in having the “world as their classroom.”
There are classes (correspondence, video, support groups, community centers, colleges, etc.) taught by experts, but many children are very capable of teaching themselves, just as adults do when they have something new they want to learn.
One of the most powerful learning experiences for a child is to have a parent learning right alongside him or her. Parents, thankfully, do not have to be the expert in every area. Learn with your child, or search your community for resources that will help your child learn. And when searching for “teachers,” don’t overlook friends, acquaintances, and business people in your community. Most people are delighted to have a young person around who is sincerely interested in what they do and know.
Is Homeschooling Legal in Malaysia?
Worried that you will get in trouble with the authorities for not sending your children to school? An official with the Education Ministry says formal schooling in this country is not compulsory by law.
“We encourage parents to send their children to school but we can’t force them to do so since education is voluntary,” he says.
On the issue of home schooling, the official says the ministry has no jurisdiction over the matter. (The Star, Education Section, May 6, 2001).
If this is the case, then we can safely say that homeschooling is indeed legal in Malaysia and it is the right of parents to educate their children in whichever way they deem best for them. However, be aware that anything can happen and that the authorities could change their stand at any time that they deem fit. But so far, there has been no indication that the homeschooling status would be jeopardized.
Is there a homeschooling network in Malaysia?Homeschoolers in Malaysia have mainly been on their own. Apart from the Christian Homeschooler network and possibly some Muslim ones, there had been no homeschooling network for the general public.For this reason, FamilyPlace.com.my and a few other homeschooling families have started informal homeschooling network to help all those interested in homeschooling.
Basic steps on how to get started on Home Schooling:
- First, the big decision. Read and find out as much as possible. Understand it and be prepared to commit to the practice.
- There are concerns about home schooling and it legality in your country.
- Get in touch with a support group in your area who can help you with certain aspects of home schooling, i.e. choosing curriculum, record keeping, activities for the students. Even if you aren’t going to join a support group, it might be helpful to contact one in your area and see what they have to say.
- Choose and purchase your curriculum. What curriculum do I use? This is the hardest part. You can spend a fortune or get by on just a little. You can purchase complete curriculum from a publisher or mix and match. You can buy your books new or used.
- Set up a record keeping system. Your record keeping can be as simple as the journal or as complicated as setting up daily and weekly goals.