Princess and The Rock

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Friday, 4 July 2014

The Battle Starts Now.

I don't even know how to start this post and I contemplated not writing this at all until I've achieved victory but I thought it may be useful to document the process so that people who will be or want to take this route can get a glimpse of the whats, hows and whys.

What battle am I referring to?

The HOMESCHOOL battle.

Now is the period for Primary 1 registration, which is also the time I need to apply for exemption from Compulsory Education (CE) exemption. CE Act was passed in 2000 and was implemented in Singapore in 2003. It states that a child, who is a citizen and resident of Singapore, of compulsory school age born after 1st January 1996 has to attend regularly as a pupil at a national primary school.

Homeschooling a pre-schooler is one thing, taking the step to be the main educator for my child for her primary school years is another. In fact, as I am writing this, I have not officially made an application for CE exemption, although I will do so. I'm not sure if the application would be approved but as I think through this decision (with my family, of course) I am looking forward more and more to learning together as a family. Having said that I still have a great amount of self-doubt, unsurety and feelings of inadequacy and that's when I draw on the joy, memories and experiences of the home learning we've done. In fact, the main reason we want to homeschool is to encourage joyful and self-directed learning for as long as possible. "Horror" stories of the stress of mainstream education is not new but the decision to homeschool is not only to avoid educational stress (because a healthy dosage of challenge is healthy) but really, to enjoy the journey of learning.

Why battle?

My husband and I foresee strong opposition from our loved ones and if I may add, the authority on education in Singapore. We have received questions of doubt and outright disagreement when we so much as drop hints on our inclination towards the homeschooling route. Let's just say that I've never felt more unskilled, unequipped, unable... you get the idea. I've even heard comments like, "You're so good meh? You think you are Evelyn Tan ah?" For those of you who are uninitiated, you can read about her here.

Yes, I may not have been an educator before nor do I hold any qualification specific to teaching but I find it hard to believe that a degree holder (that's one of the prerequisites of a homeschool educator in Singapore) would be incapable of delivering a primary school syllabus, if, he/she wants to and the child wants to be homeschooled too. To put it more candidly, many students in tertiary education have tutored students for pocket money, right? So what's the biggie about tutoring my seven year old?
Update: I think I risk sounding arrogant here and I'm sorry if you are offended. What I'm trying to say is that delivery of content is usually the least of worries, it's the other issues (one of them mentioned below) that are more challenging. The greatest for me is probably to answer the question of "Would she have done better if she's in school? Is she shortchanged in any way?"

The bigger challenge to me is the fact that I would be with my children almost 24/7! That's like shooting myself in the foot, isn't it?

There are so many seeming contradictions. Finally Princess is of "official" school-going age and I can have my freedom back and yet I battle to keep her home. Our family chooses to homeschool so that she has the freedom to learn about the world. Socialisation with her peers would be comparatively less than school-going children but people from all ages and walks of lives would cross her path every so often.

I can go on and on and it would seem like I'm trying to justify our decision but the truth is I'm scared shit! (This is not my usual language but I can't find a better way of putting it across.) But, and that's a big BUT, my desire to be part of her discovery and learning (pretty much like watching her take the first step, utter her first word etc.) is greater than my fear. And I'm not afraid to admit that I'll like to be one of the the first few to celebrate her achievements and see the glimmer in her eyes when she gets those "Aha!" moments.

So pray for us or give us support as we go through this battle. I guess for the next instalment I can share more on how I battle. Hopefully it won't be much of one!

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