How we started homeschooling
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Homeschool on 14 Mar 2014.
I received an email asking how to start homeschooling now that they’re close to a decision. Instead of a point-by-point reply, I thought it best to share how our family started to homeschool.
IT STARTED WITH A LETTER from my sister-in-law who wrote about homeschooling her then 9 year old daughter. My brother was completing his Master’s in the US and his family would be heading home to Penang soon; is education compulsory, she asked, and are there laws in Malaysia that forbid educating one’s own children at home?
Why would anyone want to be their own children’s teacher?
This is so strange, we thought to ourselves. Why would anyone want to keep their child away from school? Who would have imagined that in a few years we would abandon conventional schooling and leap into that happy unknown called homeschool!
By divine circumstance, much of what we wanted to know about being our children’s educators came together in one extended serendipitous period.
Our boys were 4 and 2 years then. My wife Sook Ching attended a workshop on homeschooling conducted by an American couple; I found a book by Gregg Harris that made a compelling case against an education system that had more in common with the military and the factory floor. More damning was his take on the casualties of that broken public institution called school. We were sold!
It didn’t take a lot to convince us of the benefits of homeschooling. After all, the messy reality of schooling in Malaysia was common knowledge. The effects of an education system suffused with the toxic mix of race and religion was the subject of incessant rants in the media. Besides, every one we knew had a horror story of their own about incompetent teachers and dumbed-down curricula.
You never have all the answers
Did we feel sufficiently confident or equipped to teach our children at home? Would we be able to survive on one spouse’s salary and endure the long haul of homeschooling? Should we be worried about legal implications, if any?
In retrospect, we did not have all our questions answered. We only knew what was at stake: what would our children be like after 12 years of schooling (or as we saw it, indoctrination) under a flawed education system?
Sure, there were initial fears and the usual queries about oh, fractal equations (what if we’re idiots at math?) and science labs (so do we need to get an electron microscope?). But we knew in our hearts that the call to parent and raise our children to be all that God wanted them to be far outweighed our natural instinct to take the easy way out.
At some point a line was crossed. We stopped vacillating. What now? Putting away the what-ifs and maybes and with a heart full of prayer, the grand experiment known as homeschooling began for our boys.
Next: Starting out, digging in
David and Sook Ching Tan have two adult sons who were homeschooled all the way until college. Ethan (24) recently graduated and got married to a wonderful girl Katie. Elliot (22) is thinking through his options and will be down under to do creative writing before the year is up.