An advocate relates the 'fulfilling experience' of homeschooling her children.
PETALING JAYA: An advocate of homeschooling has urged parents to consider it as an option if they want to save money and give themselves room for flexibility.
Homeschooling is especially suitable for young children, according to Patsy Woo, who founded the Homeschooling Hub Malaysia Facebook group.
Speaking to FMT, she said homeschooling was becoming popular in Malaysia, with thousands opting for it as a more flexible and cheaper alternative to sending their children to conventional schools.
Earlier this week, it was reported that private child daycare centres would be raising fees by 20% to 50% to cope with increasing costs. Media reports have also highlighted the increased costs of school uniforms and books.
Woo said a clear distinction had to be made between what she called “proper” homeschooling and “homeschooling centres” that teach according to a syllabus.
“With real homeschooling, it is up to the parents what they want to teach their children and whether they want to follow the syllabus of a certain country or not.
“In the case of homeschooling centres, the focus is really just academic learning according to a syllabus, not that much different from conventional schools, with perhaps more extra-curricular activities thrown in and more English lessons.”
She said it was important to teach homeschooled children the fundamentals of reading, writing and counting as well as good manners, good habits, resourcefulness, communication and other soft skills.
“Just because there are no other children at home, it does not mean the kids cannot learn social skills. You can take them out and they will naturally talk to other kids or adults wherever they are.”
She said homeschooling gave parents room to be flexible and creative and the chance to better hone their children’s interests and talents.
“Education should not be confined to a classroom. When we homeschool our children, we can take them on field trips or focus on teaching them the things they are interested in rather than subjects they may have no use for.”
She said homeschooling was especially suitable for children aged three to 12 as it would help them build a strong foundation for their later years.
She added, however, that children must be allowed to choose between being schooled at home and at conventional schools.
Woo said homeschooling was hard work and required a lot of time and patience, but she described it as “very fulfilling”.
“Of course, it is so much easier to just send your children to school, but with homeschooling, you have more control over what and how they learn and you don’t have to worry about your child picking up bad habits from other children.
“I used to homeschool my two children when they were younger until they wanted to go to school. They didn’t have any trouble adapting to a conventional school and we have a lot of good memories. It was actually the best life experience we shared as a family and I would not have done it any differently.”
According to the Home School Legal Defence Association, an international advocacy group, homeschooling in Malaysia is not illegal. Its website says the Education Act makes primary education compulsory for all Malaysian children but allows parents to apply for conditional exemptions from the education ministry.