How would you like a school where you dedicate one day for playing sports, plan your own field trips, perform scientific experiments with household items, read books you’re interested in with NO EXAMS?
Why Choose Home Schooling?
In year 1992, the education policy was changed from teaching all science and math subjects in Bahasa Melayu to English. However, the transition only occured when a student enters Standard One and Form One. Katherine Phua’s children were unfortunately stuck in the transition, where her daughter (Petrina) was studying in Standard One while her son (Philip) was studying at Standard Four.
“I was worried about their education. So, I asked them whether they (her children) wanted home schooling. They agreed!” said Katherine who planned to experiment the plan until her son approached Form One. She also wanted them to grow up and learn in a Christian home.
How was their Home Schooling?
At twelve years old, Philip chose home schooling over returning to mainstream schooling because home schooling was so much FUN!
“People believed that home school children tend to stay at home but that’s not true. We went out on many field trips to learn about landscapes, historical places, cultures and views of people in different states,” said Katherine recalling how their books came to live by sightseeing in east and west coast of Malaysia.
Every week, they would dedicate one day for sports such as badminton and swimming, where families of home school children would meet together to play, while providing a strong social network amongst families. And every year, the Phua’s would try a new and different sport, in which they learned scuba-diving one year.
Part of the home schooling syllabus also involved hands-on service for the community. The children would learn how to make breakfast and lunch which included planning the menus, budgeting, buying groceries, cooking and serving their cooked food at church. They also served as musicians in the worship team or helpers in Sunday school.
For science, Katherine used a curriculum developed for missionaries to teach children in rural areas. For example, aluminum foils would be used as wires in a circuit.
Why did your children enjoy home schooling?
“Petrina said that she would never trade her childhood in home schooling for anything,” recalled Katherine.
So, what is great about home schooling?
More Time to Explore Interest
One of the reasons is that her children have more time to explore their interest.
And an interest close to heart is music. Philip (20 years old) is a pianist and guitarist while Petrina (18 years old), among the many instruments she can play, is a concert pianist and a violinist for the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO). Japan International Competitions and Piano Festival also awarded her a scholarship. Phileon (15 years old), Catherine’s youngest son, is a pianist, singer, and a violist under the ETE program in MPYO.
Click on this website link to watch a music video by Petrina’s youtube channel:
Reading, instead of a chore, is a source of delight for them! Voracious readers, each of them read more than 100 books a year.
They learned about different subjects through reading storybooks, following a curriculum called Sunlight. For example, they learned about business and science in the storybook of “Toothpaste Millionaire.” In reading a storybook about a teacher’s experience in Alaska, they learned about the culture of Alaskan- what games the children play there, what they eat and how the landscape is there. They also read about autobiographies of famous people such as the Wright brothers. Every year, the curriculum focused on history of different countries such as China, United States and Europe.
Strong Support Network
“When we first started home schooling, it was a strange idea. Few people home schooled their children in Malaysia back then, so we did not know what to expect,” said Katherine.
But home schooling is becoming more popular today, with strong support networks. Hence, the myth of home school children in having difficulty of adapting socially is really just a myth.
“When families mixed together, the children mixed with everyone regardless of age, such as babies, grandfathers, sisters, aunts and uncles. Hence, I don’t see children feeling uncomfortable carrying babies,” said Katherine.
Little peer pressure
Because they mix with all levels of society, there is little peer pressure in how they were expected to be at a certain age. By mingling with people from all facets, they were also exposed to develop their identity and independence.
Is it difficult and expensive?
Comparing the expenses for home schooling to tuition fees, Katherine thought that they are more or less the same. None of her children went for tuition.
“Home schooling can be done. You just need to be resourceful and creative. You can use newspapers, second-hand books and story books to teach the children,” said Katherine.
When her children turned 12 years old, they became more independent and resourceful in directing their own learning experiences.
“They (the children) would even invent games out of cardboard and marbles, and also revise existing games to make them more fun and interesting!” said Katherine.
The core subjects that she focused on since they were young, were English and Math, based on the Saxon and Singaporean curriculum. She believed that having a strong foundation in these two fundamental subjects would assist them to understand other subjects in the future.
“In home schooling, we believe that it’s important to learn to read, so that later in life, they can read to learn,” said Katherine.
Home Schooling Works!
“Our journey in home schooling is a testimony that through God’s grace, home schooling works,” said Katherine with a broad smile.
Thanking God for making home schooling possible, Katherine said, “I really thank Him for bonding our family through the Word and prayer at the beginning of the day every day. And how God led me and my family. I know that God’s presence would go with them wherever they go…”
What do you think about home-schooling in a Christian home? It is definitely worth considering!
Note: This article has been published on Dec 6, 2012. For the benefit of our new readers, we are republishing this material for homeschooling.
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References for pictures beside the Phua’s family pictures: