Homeschooling in Singapore is uncommon and not many parents adopt the idea of being fully responsible for their child’s education. However while homeschooling is uncommon, an increasing number of parents are choosing it for various reasons. Singapore’s compulsory education is touted as one of the best in the world due to its rigorous and effective academic structure, thereby producing top-notch students year on year. As such, most parents and students opt for a traditional learning environment given the result that it produces. However, not every child is suited to excel in Singapore’s education system and sometimes learning at his/her own pace is better. This article will explore the pros and cons of homeschooling in Singapore and discuss why some parents opt to choose this path despite the cons.
What is homeschooling and is it legal in Singapore?
Homeschooling is essentially what the name suggests, it means the child receiving education at home through the guidance and teachings of parents and or tutors. Homeschooling has been made legal in Singapore since 2000.
In order to be approved for homeschooling, there are criterias to be met. Firstly, it is mandatory for homeschooled children to take the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) in four subjects (English, Maths, Science and Mother Tongue Language). In addition, they must meet the PSLE benchmark at the 33rd percentile of all students taking the national exams in that same year. There will also be checks by MOE to see if the academic curriculum the child is subjected to at home is in line with the current syllabus and structure.
PROS OF HOMESCHOOLING
Ideal for children that are not suited for the rigorous education system
Oftentimes, public schooled children have really hectic schedules. On top of their regular school curriculum, they have to attend classes and classes of enrichment just so that they would be in the top 10% for that school examination or test. Some may be overwhelmed with stress as competition amongst classmates can be intense. A child’s self efficacy and confidence level can also take a beating if they struggle to catch up in class or with doing assignments.
As such, being homeschooled allows these children’s learning styles, interests and needs to be met. Doubts can be clarified on the spot and they are able to learn at a suitable pace. In the long run, homeschooling can boost their self confidence and motivation to study. A less hectic schedule would also imply having time to explore their interests and hobbies.
For homeschoolers, learning is definitely accelerated given the one to one teaching. It is more efficient since more can be covered in less time. More time can be spent on their weaker subjects and less time on their stronger ones, thereby making full use of time. This will allow the child to choose his or her own curriculum depending on their strengths.
Parents or caregivers are able to plan the academic timetable to fit the family’s preferences and schedule. School would not be revolving around school hours, exams and school holidays. Parents are able to plan field trips, outings and workshops for their children without having to worry about a clash in timings. Essentially, it provides for a more portable education system and this homeschooling journey is highly advantageous for adventurous families that love to travel the world!
Ability to spend more time with your child
One of the best parts about homeschooling is that parents are able to witness firsthand their child’s learning milestones and celebrate their successes with them. Homeschooling parents would be able to bond and strengthen their relationships with the child, making the experience a fulfilling and enriching one.
Having the luxury of time also implies more opportunities to instill values that are priorities for one’s family. This is also one of the main reasons why some parents opt for homeschooling as it gives them greater autonomy to cultivate their character and spiritual life. For some families, parents homeschool their kids as religion plays a significant part in their lives and as such would like to extend the importance of religion to their kids as well. Therefore the time factor is definitely an advantage of homeschooling.
Opportunities for socialization
Many naysayers of homeschooling argue that homeschooled children do not get to hone their socialisation skills. However, contrary to popular belief, they in fact do get socialization but are subjected to the planning of their caregivers or parents. Oftentimes, homeschoolers attend regular social events, sports activities and workshops. In such public settings, they interact with others and learn social norms and skills under the guidance of their parents. In fact, there is a plethora of homeschool communities in Singapore where parents can collaborate on weekly group lessons or to share resources with each other. Singapore homeschool group is a perfect example of a non-profit organisation that provides help and support for homeschooling families.
Homeschooled children are more self-directed and take charge of their learning
Homeschooling takes away the stress of competition and the unhealthy desire to achieve academic success. It lowers peer pressure levels and homeschooled children are often more motivated to do well as they are studying with a genuine interest and passion. More often than not, parents of homeschooled children include a broader range of subjects, delving deeper into a certain concept. Thus, homeschooled children grow to be more independent and inquisitive, with a hunger for knowledge. As they abstain from blindly pursuing academic qualifications, they grow to have a better clarity on their vocational preferences and are unafraid to take risks.
CONS OF HOMESCHOOLING
High Commitment level for homeschooling parent
A lot of sacrifice needs to be made by homeschooling parents. Their role is more than just an educator, but also a parent, a mentor and a friend. It takes a lot of energy, planning, brainstorming and time to provide an education for your child. If teachers take years in order to be certified as a qualified educator, you can imagine how much hard work it takes for a parent to fill the role of an educator. Managing homeschool and home care is not an easy feat and requires some experience and time to be sustainable in the long run.
Homeschooling parents may suffer a burnout if there is no extra help or if the responsibilities are solely on them. They may not have the time for themselves especially if the child is still young and requires more attention.
Lack of socialization for homeschooled children
The opportunities for socialisation is very much dependent on parents, the child socializes only when the parents create opportunities for it. If there are no frequent chances for interaction with others, homeschooling can possibly stunt social activity and growth, in turn these children have diminished contact and experience collaborating with peers. Organisations such as the Singapore Homeschool Group organize social activities such as ice skating, learning journeys to zoos, concerts and science fairs in a bid to create valuable opportunities for interaction. It is highly recommended for parents to enrol their children into such programs for a more holistic growth and development.
Pressure to prepare your child well for national examinations
In order to homeschool your children, one has to be academically competent to do so. School teachers have a niche and expertise in a subject and they are specialists in the subjects they teach. A homeschooling parent however will probably be competent in one or two subjects and mediocre at the rest of the subjects. Preparing them for a national exam can thus be stressful and highly daunting since the passing mark for homeschool students is much higher than for public schooled students.
However, this is not a big issue as there is a strong support system for homeschooled families and forums that provide support and resources. Parents can also consider engaging the help of tutors and enrichment classes to tide through weaker subjects.
Homeschooling may be expensive
In public schools, fees for schooling are heavily subsidised for students. Textbooks, assessment books and enrichment courses can be expensive for homeschooled children since there is no edusave funds to draw on. Fiscal resources are also channeled towards pursuing interests such as ballet classes, gymnastics or ice skating classes. It may take a toll on the family’s financial situation as one parent needs to stay at home to homeschool the child. As such, the family would be dependent on a single income. This problem may be resolved through sourcing for ways to earn passive income or even taking on a freelance job.