Inside my world of homeschooling

THE LAU FAMILY

Laura and Ting relocated the family from Hong Kong to Singapore in 2020. Laura is a Fillipina and was brought up in America and Ting is British born Chinese. They have a daughter (13) and a son (6). Laura is a stay at home parent and Ting works in the Finance sector. Laura has been homeschooling her children since 2022.

What was the reason for taking your daughter out of formal schooling?

 

Our daughter has been playing tennis since we relocated here and she has shown great talent  and achievements in the sport, she was a champion title holder for Under 12 several times and currently (July 2024) she is Rank 1 Singapore Junior Under 14. Her ambition is to go pro and since she’s just turned 13 she has joined the International Tennis Federation as a junior tennis player. To get to where she is, she dedicated many hours to training and it got to a point where she wasn’t getting enough rest and down time. It began to get very hard with managing her actual school life and work and her tennis schedule.  We wanted to utilise her time better and realised precious hours was wasted commuting to and from school, when this could have been more rest time for her. As a family, we have been traveling to different countries to support her playing in tournaments, therefore homeschooling has given us the freedom to do this.

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Have you noticed any differences between the IB curriculum at her previous school and what she is learning now?

 

With homeschooling it is about meeting credits and so it offers the flexibility in learning, however there are core subjects that students must follow. I noticed that she had learning gaps especially in History, Geography and Literature – she has been having extra support on these subjects. I find that the IB curriculum is great in real life applications such as team building skills, communication and being well versed in technological applications such as Google sheets. I was surprised to learn that her grammar and spelling was weak even when she was reading many books at school. As much as I love the IB philosophy of exploration and self discovery, I have found that my daughter needs structure and guidance to learn at her full potential.

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After making the decision to switch, what was your next step in setting up home schooling?

I followed support groups on social media and would see how parents arranged it for their children. For the first year, I signed up to a Homeschooling Academy where they provide the whole curriculum along with record keeping, assessments and transcripts. Being new to the game, I wanted to keep it fuss free. Now, we are in the second year, I am much more confident and I  have been mixing and matching curriculums from different sources and being more hands on and organising it myself. My daughter found some of the subjects that were delivered by the Academy not engaging enough and so I spent time on researching ones which would suit her. Being child led, I believe that I have handpicked the best and I enjoy building a unique educational experience for her and I love seeing that she gets joy out of learning.

How does your son find homeschooling?

 

He attended formal school for 1 year only and he wasn’t really thriving in the environment. The teacher would say that he was “active” and “energetic” and it was like he wasn’t able to gel at school, therefore I wanted to give homeschooling a try with him. My son definitely prefers being homeschooled and he has refused to go back to “normal” school. With my son being younger, his curriculum is literature based, where he is learning through books. There are no tests, he completes a journal through drawing and writing to detail his learning journey.

 

He absolutely loves books and I feel excited when I source interesting books with engaging illustrations – I find that school text books are no way near as pleasing to the eye and frankly just plain boring.

 

There are days when he doesn’t feel like learning a new topic and he may want to look back at previous subjects, which is absolutely fine, because he still has the drive of wanting to learn. He enjoys reading his favourite books over and over again and this is how he absorbs information and gains a deeper understanding.

 

 

There’s no stress or time frame to learn a particular topic and I guess that’s why he has taken to this way of schooling. As he progresses through then there will be more structure introduced but at his age, the space to explore is all he needs to feed his curiosity.

 

 

 

He’s learning from day to night and he’s not set in the rigid school timings. It’s just paced out differently and this way really suits our family’s rhythm.

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Let’s talk costs - is handpicking the best curriculum expensive?

 

No not all. I have chosen some free curriculums which the standard is very high and for others the price range varies – from USD45 to USD300. Both of the children’s education totals USD6,000 per year. This is a considerable saving compared to putting both in International school in Singapore. For context, for our daughter alone, her previous school charged approximately USD30,000 per year. With the money we have saved, it gets put into their higher education fund and we get to travel the world giving them this interactive way of learning cultures and diversity. This immersive experience cannot be learnt through formal schooling and as a family we have strengthened our bond, which no money can buy.

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How do the children get to socialise with their peers?

 

I find that my children don’t need a big group of friends to socialise, and I like that homeschooling removes my children from peer pressure and bullying situations.

Singapore is filled to the brim with extra curricular activities and classes! My son attends a few in the week and has made some very close friends this way. Though they don’t see each other every day like in a school, he is able to form meaningful relationships. 

My daughter has her core friends from tennis and she has set a really good foundation of friendship with them. They are all occupied with their goals and support each other gracefully in matches. I couldn’t be more proud of her for surrounding herself with positive energy. She initially missed her friends from school and it took her almost 6 months to get used to it. It’s natural that over time her life moves in a different direction than her friend’s life and this lesson has taught her the value of friendship.

Homeschooling obviously works for your family’s lifestyle, what other benefits have you seen?

I cannot stress enough the importance of sleep. My daughter, as an athlete, requires an average of 10 hours sleep. It would have been impossible for her to have this time if she were still in formal schooling. The children need sufficient sleep in order to have optimum mental and physical health and this to me is paramount. I firmly believe that sleeping more in childhood and adolescence is associated with growing taller and generally having a higher wellbeing. This is then a knock on effect of having an overall positive view of life despite any hardships they may face, making them much more resilient and just being happy children.

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Writer's Notes

Laura’s goal of homeschooling is to educate her children so they will enjoy learning and learn how to learn independently. Laura is teaching her children that she is not their only teacher in their life, but historical people, famous authors, artists and composers, etc. from books they read. Travelling as a family to enrich the children’s global perspective is my ideal way for my own children to learn about different cultures and languages, and I absolutely envy Laura and Ting’s worldschooling for the children, using the journey to enhance their children’s education.  I I highly respect homeschooling families from all over the world. It is not easy or a short-cut at all, and it takes a lot of hard work, but the rewards are fruitful.

 

June 2024