Home school your child!

Is home-schooling for your child? Linda Hazis discovers the answer, as well as finds out which subjects are suitable for teaching at home.

The classes are getting bigger and whilst the teacher struggles to give each child the attention needed, there simply isn’t enough time and energy to spare for 20 hyper children within an 8-hour schedule. Which is why some parents are choosing the home-school route. By being the alternative to public and private schools, you will be able to tailor and customise the subjects to your child’s individual needs. 

“Sometimes, the best place to nurture their curiosity is from home. I can also customise what I do to cater to their interests. It’s hard to do that in a class with 30 to 35 kids from different backgrounds with different interests,” says Jeremy Yeo, a former national squash player who gave up his career to home-school his two sons.

But is home-schooling the best choice in our fast-paced society? Plus, how do you know if your child should be home-schooled? Home-school is not something to be taken into consideration for the novelty of it; it is a lifetime commitment, based primarily on the time, attention and effort needed to nurture your child. 

Is it effective?
Think back to when you were in primary school – did you find yourself easily distracted by your other peers or were you unable to get the teacher to help you with a problem because they were preoccupied with someone else? If most times, it was the former, home-schooling allows you to control the distractions surrounding your child.

Not only that, you will arm them with the discipline to understand that work comes first before play. Studies have shown that children placed in such a learning environment are able to absorb more of what they are being taught.

Worried that you aren’t qualified to teach your child? What matters is to be able to put the lesson across to your child in a manner that they understand and fits them best. Research has shown that there is no difference in the academic achievements of a home-schooled child regardless of their parent’s formal education.

Are you ready to start home-schooling?

Home-schooling your child does not come without legal paperwork. Under the Compulsory Education Act, Singapore citizens born after 1 January 1996 and residing in Singapore are required to attend national primary schools. Failure to comply with this act will result in a fine not exceeding SGD$5,000 or even jail. (See box)

Other benefits
With more time dedicated to your child, you will be able to supervise what he studies, exploring more creative methods of teaching and learning for both you and your child. Not only that, you will be able to guide your child’s character development. Home-schooling also fosters a deeper bond between you and your child (and even their siblings!).

Unfortunately, home-schooling is not without its pitfalls. Some parents make the mistake of over-doing their role as teacher, often becoming too strict and stern with their child. Remember, a positive learning environment and encouragement go a long way in your child’s success, not simply academically but in their emotional and psychological growth. 

And since they are kept at home most of the time, home-schooled children rarely interact with other children their age, resulting in them being unable to react or behave in social situations. A way to overcome this is to enroll your child in activities organised by the Singapore Homeschool Group – it ‘ll also get you involved and interacting with other parents who home-school their children.

When should I home-school my child?
Knowing your child’s learning style and personality will help you make the decision. Home schooling may not be a good option if:

•    Your child is shy or quiet and could benefit from being around other children their age

•    You have a poor relationship with your child which is not suitable for teaching and learning

•    Teaching your child on top of managing the household is too much of a responsibility

Can my child enter university without having a traditional educational background?
Yes!Although she did not learn the Chinese language and possessed no ‘A’ Level certification, the eldest daughter of a local home-schooler mum, Elizabeth Tan, applied to National Technological University with her secondary school results as well as her exceptional SAT 1 and 2 scores. Despite the numerous questions centering around her lack of experience in a classroom setting, she managed to impress the panel and was accepted to read Mass Communications in the university.

What should I do if I want to home-school my child?

•     You must apply to MOE1 for a certificate to confirm that your child has been exempted from Compulsory Education (CE)
•     You must provide MOE with information on the syllabus and educational outcome of the home-schooling programme
•     Your child must sit for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) at the age of 12 (and before turning 15)
•     Your child will also have to sit for the National Education Quiz before taking the PSLE

If you require more information, there are resources and websites pertaining to home-schooling your child that you can investigate: