Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Quotables on 12 Feb 2014.
ALL YOU NEED TO HOMESCHOOL IS LOVE
By David Tan
[I shall be sharing a series of posts on 3 essentials for homeschool. Here's the first.]
WHEN WE FIRST BEGAN HOMESCHOOLING our two boys, many parents asked my wife Sook Ching if there were requirements to teaching their own children at home. Did they need certain qualifications? Did they need a college degree to teach or have some teaching experience to begin with? What if a parent was not a good student herself back when she was younger? Is it alright to homeschool despite objections from a spouse (usually the children’s Dad)? Is there a special course to prepare parents to educate their own children at home? Wouldn’t a mother feel bored and trapped at home 24/7 if she homeschooled?
There are any number of concerns, most of which are commonly raised by all level-headed parents – usually the Mom (because she knows she’s going to be the main tutor and facilitator!). I think it’s fine to be asking these questions. I know the feeling: how exciting to break out of the school ‘prison’ paradigm; yet how frightening the thought that my kid’s future is in my hand. What if I threw in the towel midstream when the going got rough?
I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t think there are neat textbook answers for every situation anyway. We are different after all. Nevertheless, I believe the one thing that is essential for every parent is love for their children.
A couple of parents have shared that they “can’t stand children” but they are exploring homeschool anyway as an option to the present education system. Perhaps I am stating the obvious, but the truth is, you can’t teach your children if you don’t love them enough to bear with them! Not the kind of love that comes out in treacly sweet endearments every now and then, or spoils them rotten with an abundance of things. The love that I am referring to is the sort that is as deep and as it is wide.
Love is acknowledging a child’s worth and potential. It is believing in them and appreciating their aspirations as well as their fears. Loving a child is embracing her for who she is – including her foibles, weaknesses, and limitations. The loving parent is there to pick a child up when she falls and quick to celebrate when she does well. It is giving them the necessary space to grow as they are nurtured to become the person God intends them to be.
In the course of your homeschooling journey, there will be bumps in the road (I’ve not met a homeschooling family that has it easy!) Sometimes you will feel like tearing your hair out as a hundred voices echo, “I told you so, homeschool is not for you.” Oh, the joys of DIY education! Hopefully those moments will be few and far in between.
But you don’t give in or give up in despair precisely because you love your children – in the same way that spouses don’t give up on their relationship. We homeschooled because we believed there was more to life than what the establishment was trying to sell us; we were convinced there was a better way to raise a family and give our boys an education. More importantly, we educated our children ourselves because we loved them enough to spare them the effects of what we thought was a broken education system. You could say love overcame fear. So we kept at it through good and hard times, because we knew nothing good ever came easy.
You’ll agree with me that love is what makes any enterprise worthwhile. Now that we have come to the close of our own homeschooling journey, I believe love is also the one thing that makes homeschooling possible.
Have a great year!
David & Sook Ching educated their 2 sons all the way at home until they were both 18 years old. Their oldest Ethan recently graduated summa cum laude with degrees in Political Science and English from Hardin Simmons University, Texas. Elliot their second son completed his foundation year in Mass Communications in KDU and is selecting a major (other than mass comm) when he goes back to Australia later this year.
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Child Development on 10 Jan 2014.
There are so many sides to bullying – both victim and bully carry scars that do not always heal well. Here’s a beautiful collaborative video based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan called “To This Day.” There are lessons to learn and it tells us where hope may be found.
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Child Development on 8 Oct 2013.
David Elkind’s books have had an influence on me ever since I happened on his writings in the late 90s. Books such as The Hurried Child, All Grown Up and No Where to Go, and Miseducation and the more recent one The Power of Play, each had an influence on my own thinking as a parent and homeschooler. Here’s an excerpt from an article on the culture of play that was first published in 2008.
CAN WE PLAY?
By David Elkind
PLAY IS RAPIDLY DISAPPEARING from our homes, our schools, and our neighborhoods. Over the last two decades alone, children have lost eight hours of free, unstructured, and spontaneous play a week.
More than 30,000 schools in the United States have eliminated recess to make more time for academics. From 1997 to 2003, children’s time spent outdoors fell 50 percent, according to a study by Sandra Hofferth at the University of Maryland. Hofferth has also found that the amount of time children spend in organized sports has doubled, and the number of minutes children devote each week to passive leisure, not including watching television, has increased from 30 minutes to more than three hours. It is no surprise, then, that childhood obesity is now considered an epidemic.
But the problem goes well beyond obesity. Decades of research has shown that play is crucial to physical, intellectual, and social- emotional development at all ages. This is especially true of the purest form of play: the unstructured, self-motivated, imaginative, independent kind, where children initiate their own games and even invent their own rules.
In infancy and early childhood, play is the activity through which children learn to recognize colors and shapes, tastes and sounds—the very building blocks of reality. Play also provides pathways to love and social connection. Elementary school children use play to learn mutual respect, friendship, cooperation, and competition. For adolescents, play is a means of exploring possible identities, as well as a way to blow off steam and stay fit. Even adults have the potential to unite play, love, and work, attaining the dynamic, joyful state that psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.”
With play on the decline, we risk losing these and many other benefits. For too long, we have treated play as a luxury that kids, as well as adults, could do without. But the time has come for us to recognize why play is worth defending: It is essential to leading a happy and healthy life.
To read the rest of this article go here.
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Announcement on 2 Oct 2013.
HELP College of Arts and Technology is collaborating with the Italian Embassy to host this cultural event. If you are interested in Italian movies, acapella performances and more, keep these dates free!
“ARE WE BREEDING BIGOTRY AT HOME?” so asked a journalist in a recent article. Are kids being conditioned to ‘look down’ on others with different beliefs? A concerned homeschooling parent responds.
THIS ARTICLE IS A GOOD REMINDER for parents to nurture an appreciation of diverse worldviews in their children. Particularly so in a multicultural place like Malaysia- where we share each other’s cultures e.g. food, language, games, movies and stories.
But, what is worrying is the glibness with which the writer points the accusing finger- at the home. No home exists in a vacuum. Children are in school for at least 6 hours a day. Does our school system promote integration? Forget about superficial activities, for example, donning traditional clothing, singing patriotic songs, and reciting pledges. The questions that beg to be asked are: Do our school children – from different ethnic and religious backgrounds- play together? Do school textbooks, teaching practices, teachers and the curriculum forge integration or force us further apart?
Homeschooling has been liberating for us, and for many of the families that we know. Because of a common dream for our children– to nurture compassion, kindness, wisdom and hope – homeschoolers from different religious and ethnic backgrounds pull up our sleeves and actually work hard together to form friendships and interactions. We are often found gallivanting about in parks, beaches, galleries – you name them! – together. Isn’t this what Malaysia should be about? People with shared hopes for the next generation, willing to seek common ground instead of quibbling over differences?
In the article, the teens’ comments sound like thoughtless wise-cracks typical of youths, so I wouldn’t take these too seriously. (How many of our children have made remarks about a certain smell, food, or habit belonging to another community, group, person, etc? We, too, fall easily into the myth of stereotyping another individual, or community). And young people usually have knee-jerk reactions . For example, “You INVADED my privacy!” – when a parent opens a wardrobe door. And bigotry is a hefty word to swing around, especially when referring to young teens whose views are still being shaped.
Also, what did the journalist-teacher hope to achieve by organizing such a trip? Did she prepare them for this new experience of visiting other houses of worship? She should have, especially when these places of worship are so different from theirs.
Did she explain to them the religious practices of each faith-community, thereby bridging the youths’ understanding of how others practice their faiths and how they practice theirs? Good teachers mediate and build understanding.
Without first doing that groundwork, the teacher would reinforce stereotypes and prejudices. She could have guided the youths’ reactions to reflect more deeply about the multicultural society from which they derive their identity, belonging and sense of selves.
Without these explanations, such field trips lose much meaning, and worse, become a poor replacement of real encounters with other faith-communities.
As a teacher, I deliberately choose texts- stories, poems, articles- that reflect the diversity of our world: our capacity for beauty, ugliness, truth, and brokenness. During lessons, the children sometimes react with odd questions, outlandish remarks, and yes, even red herrings about what’s for lunch. But, there have been gems as well.
For instance, we read a story, ‘The Jacket’ by Gary Soto, about a boy from a poor inner-city neighbourhood who blames the whole world for his misery and one day, is given an ugly jacket that is the colour of ‘guacamole’, which was the only thing his mother could afford. The children’s responses were colorful, to say the least.
“Such an ungrateful guy!”
“He deserves the jacket!”
As we continued reading the story aloud, the children’s responses grew fewer, and more muted. At the end of the story, they were silent. Then, these insightful comments came:
“So, he accepts his lot in life.Hmm..”
“I think he was quite brave after all.”
“ Poor thing.”
“I know how it feels.”
“What’s for lunch?”
(Okay, red herrings are omnipresent in my classes.)
I guess learning is a process. Learning to truly appreciate other cultures and faiths is an especially long process, but one that is worth the effort. It takes patient and grace-filled parents, teachers and adults to walk alongside children and to point them in a life-affirming direction.
As for the youths in this article, I’m not sure where they are in their journey of understanding other faiths. But, surely, the journalist could have been more gracious in her depiction of their reactions.
I also find it hard to believe that the responses of the teens were so skewered to one side. Were there positive and affirming responses by the teens at all? Why weren’t they mentioned?
And if the reactions to the houses of worship were as negative and ‘bigoted’ as stated by the article, could this be attributed to a lack of guidance and explanation on the part of the journalist-teacher prior to the field trip?
Also, the terms ‘Chinese’ and ‘Christian’ were used so often to pigeon-hole these youths and their families. Well, my family is Chinese and we are followers of Jesus. But, some of our beliefs differ from that of other Christians. And as for being Chinese, I don’t even know where to start because our ancestry’s so mixed up. Therefore, in labeling (that’s what the repetitive references seem like) this group of youths and their parents as ‘Chinese’ and ‘Christians’, and thereby ascribing some false sort of homogeneity to them, it seems like the journalist-teacher herself is making the error of stereotyping her students and parents.
SIEW HOONG educates her daughters in their PJ home and conducts creative writing classes for other homeschooling children
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Homeschool on 21 Aug 2013.
Here’s another interesting infographic on homeschooling in the US. Thanks, Katherine Rose.
As you can see, public schooling is a recent phenomenon. Apparently it was Thomas Jefferson who argued in favour of an educational system after the American Revolution. It also appears that Martin Luther, the German reformer came up with the idea in the sixteenth century. In 1524, Luther wrote a letter “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools” to teach reading and writing so common folk could read the Bible in their own language.
Hmm. To think that today, people with religious convictions (among whom are Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist families) are leaving traditional public schools to homeschool in order to nurture faith!
Planning to study in a US university?
Kuala Lumpur’s MACEE (Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange) is starting English Improvement classes, targeting students who intend to apply to US universities.
These classes will help students prepare for entrance exams they need to enter a US university. Topics for each week include Vocabulary, Critical Reading, Writing, and Grammar. Students will receive help to prepare for ALL verbal sections of required English tests.
Classes will be held every Friday starting August 16th, from 2 to 4pm.
INSTRUCTOR: Lauren Parsons, EducationUSA Advisor
WHEN: From August 16, 2013
FEE: RM50 per class
WHERE: 18th Floor Menara Yayasan Tun Razak, 100 Jln Bukit Bintang, KL, 5100
Send an email to: email@example.com
1) Type “English Test Prep Registration” in the Subject Line.
2) Write 2 sentences about why you are signing up for the class.
3) Give your name and hand phone number.
4) You will receive a confirmation email.
If you have any questions, please contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Announcement on 19 Jul 2013.
Why do families choose to educate their own kids at home?
Has the Bible anything to say about educating your children at home?
How do you begin to homeschool your own children?
If you are among the many Christian parents who are asking these questions,
this Homeschool Dialogue is for you.
Email your details to register your attendance. Click on this Google map for the location of Hope EFC.
Please be advised that we shall not be providing baby-sitting. If you have young children, you may choose not to bring them so you can better concentrate and participate in the dialogue.
David and Sook Ching are parents of 2 adult sons who were homeschooled all through their years. Ethan will complete his double major in Political Science and English in Texas end of this year. Elliot has left for Perth to complete his twinning programme in Mass Communications. David and Sook Ching are founders of the homeschooling network, HOMEFRONTIER.
Joseph and Debra have been homeschooling for the past 6 years and their primary motivation is in building a Biblical worldview into the raising of their two daughters – aged 10 and 14. As a family, they have started Answers Academy – an apologetics ministry focusing on equipping believers with real answers for skeptical questions in today’s world.
Weng Hou and Gaik Suan are active members of Full Gospel Tabernacle. They have 3 children who were homeschooled after their early years in government schools. Natalie 22, is doing an online degree course while helping with the family business. Nicholas 19, is in Pre-U, MCKL, while Stephanie 17, has just completed her SAT and preparing for her O Level exams.
This Homeschool Dialogue is the 2nd in a series of occasional sessions hosted by Hope EFC as part of its ministry towards families and the homeschooling community. As a family-friendly church, we are advocates of strong families and support homeschooling as a viable option for Christian parents.
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Announcement on 12 Jul 2013.
Josh Kam here! I would just like invite y’all on Homefrontier to StART Society’s “My Story” charity concert, on July 20 and 21. I’ve recently started volunteering here at StART -a society devoted to providing fine arts lessons to underprivileged kids.
This year, we’re presenting a musical medley at Dewan Sivik, MBPJ, featuring the kids themselves, and some other pretty-darn-cool artists -including Juwita Suwito and Prema Yin. There’s a performance on Saturday at 8pm, and a matinee on Sunday afternoon, 3pm. I’ll be helping out on the Saturday performance, so if you come then I might be finding you your seats!
Students/children: RM 30 per ticket.
Adults: RM 40
Premium: RM 55 -if you purchase a premium ticket, we’ll also give you a limited edition Start Society Touch n’ Go card custom-made with your name on it!
Tickets can be collected on the evening itself, before the show.
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