When Kor Kor was very young, I had thought I would be sending him to preschool like most kids. I had even decided on the school. A few months before Didi was born, my mummy friends whose second child was also due around the same time enrolled their firstborns in schools. But it was then that I first felt the reluctance. Mine, not Kor Kor’s. He was about 1.5 years old then, and I didn’t want him to be away from me for so many hours everyday. I felt that I might be able to manage taking care of two young children on my own.
As he grew older and as I read more, I became more certain that I wanted to homeschool him.
More Time With Siblings
This sounds crazy, right? We are all living in the same flat, Kor Kor and DIdi are sharing a bedroom with their beds right next to each other, and that’s still not enough time together? Hmm, one of the common reasons for sending the child is for socialization and to learn social skills. I think the kids need to spend more time to learn how to socialize with one another first! This is the reason why I have three kids close in age – so that they have playmates (socialization) and learn how not to kill one another despite being together ALL the time.
More Time For Rest And Play
If the kids are going to school, I would have to plan their naptimes and activities around schoolhours. And waste time traveling to and from the school. As it is, I am already having a hard time juggling three kids’ naptimes, especially since their KO time keeps changing as they grow. By homeschooling, there is no need to wake them up in the morning – they can sleep till they wake naturally. We can customize our schedule, e.g. if we have had a busy weekend, we can rest on Monday. When there is an interesting exhibition in town, we can go on a weekday and avoid the crowd.
The Age To Explore
One of my guiding principles for choosing activities and books for the children is that it should preferably be something they do not get to do in school. I mean, if they are going to do it when they go to primary school anyway, why do it now? That’s double ‘work’!
I Can Teach My Children
Ahem, fact is.. I am probably more highly educated than preschool teachers. And I have the great advantage of being the mother, and mother knows her child best, ya? I am confident I can teach my children at least as well as preschool teachers, though it is not likely that any parent can teach her child everything. And it’s ok, my children can learn as they grow, there is no need for them to learn everything right now.
More importantly, it’s not just about academics, or even things like independence or social skills (important as they are). I don’t see myself as a control freak, but I would sure like to know and to control what my children are learning and whom they learn from. I think I would absolutely hate it if they came home with a bad habit and I couldn’t trace where they picked it up!
Protect The Love For Learning
This is not such a good reason… because it stems from fear.. and it’s never a good reason to do something because of fear… I believe that all children have a natural love for learning, and I am scared that premature formal schooling would drown this love. It’s not that children should not be stressed, but I believe it makes a difference whether the child is ready. For example, if Kor Kor were in kindergarten now, he would have to write. From what I observe as a result of him never being made to write, he CAN’T write yet. I am not sure how well he would be able to write if he had no choice but to do so, though I have no doubt he would definitely be able to do so under pressure from teachers and peers. Yet, it is developmentally appropriate for him to only write around seven years old, so why force him?
Given that I do not want to do academic stuff with my kids at the preschool age, if they do go to kindergarten, I would not go through their homework or spelling with them. (And please, no chance of me doing their projects for them!) But… what happens when they do badly on the tests? What if the teacher labels my child as learning-disabled or lazy? What if the classmates laugh at him for his low scores? How will his self-confidence suffer??? A caterpillar cannot fly, and if it is told that it will never be able to fly, it might not even try to fly when it becomes a butterfly.
I don’t wanna hothouse my seedlings. I wanna greenhouse them until they grow into tall, strong trees. A small seedling cannot survive the heavy rains and strong winds out there, but the tree can.
I will be letting the kids start formal education at primary one though. Because by then, they will be old enough (and hopefully tough enough) and developmentally ready to do what the P1 curriculum expects of them. Which brings us back to the preschool curriculum… I think most preschool curriculums are not age-appropriate. If I could find a preschool which does not really school the kids, I might be less worried. But such preschools are rare in Singapore… and I have other good reasons to keep the kids at home! See above : )
One fine day, Kor Kor suddenly wrote his name, and Didi’s name, then ‘Mummy’. I know of many 4.5-year-olds who can already write way better by now, but what Kor Kor did was totally unguided (we have never taught him or asked him to write) and he did it when he was ready. I have faith that when he is ready, he will write more and write more legibly.
Baobei, mummy wait for you : )