[I talk about self-publishers and missing the elephant in the room over at the Sandal Press blog. Why not head on over and post a non-spam comment? It'll be a rarity!]
It’s been a while since I last blogged about our homeschooling adventures, so here’s an update.
The Wast (13 yo) has begun O-Level Maths and English and is doing pre-O-Level Science. (As the O Levels are designed for 15/16 year olds, this places him 2-3 years ahead of his peers.) He plays piano (Grade 3) and is also cooking twice a month.
Little Dinosaur (10 yo) has just graduated to Primary-4 Maths and English. This puts her 1-2 years behind her peers, but it’s better than it was even just a year ago, when she was a full 3 years behind. She plays violin (Grade 2) and is also tasked with cooking twice a month.
It’s been interesting having two such different children in the same “school”. For starters, it tells me that my teaching methods are not the reason that LD is behind. With TW doing so well, I must be doing something right. With the peace of mind that comes from this realisation, I am able to concentrate on finding ways to make things (a) interesting, and (b) memorable for LD, without having to second-guess myself. And, in fact, with LD showing marked progress over the past year, I feel I can give myself a pat on the back. (Thank you very much.)
We have continued with the Enopi extra tuition all this year. It is hammering the basics into the kids and I honestly believe that it’s helped LD’s wonky memory. I have toyed with the idea of switching them to the Kumon system as I’m not 100% happy with Enopi, but we’ve chopped and changed with the kids so many times now that I think consistency may be more valuable at the moment than technical advancement.
Wushu has fallen by the wayside, for the simple reason that we were not impressed with the school. The kids finished up last month and we’re thinking of enrolling them in a different martial art in January. There isn’t any Ju-jitsu around, so we think it may end up being Tae Kwon Do. Hopefully, the Koreans are more dedicated to their art than the Chinese appear to be.
That’s the formal update out of the way. Now for the informal part.
I was talking to a mother recently. Like me, she stays at home during the day while her husband works in Singapore. She said to me: “I really envy you your ability to teach your kids.”
“I don’t know why,” I replied. “You could do it if you wanted to. It’s really not that big a deal.”
I made this point in particular because her kids are much younger than mine, barely out of kindergarten. Imagine my surprise when she laughed and said: “Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I can’t imagine spending the whole day with the kids. I want them out, away from me. If they were underfoot all the time, they’d drive me crazy.”
Good gods, why the hell did you have them, then? I wondered.
So, in order to keep her sanity, this mother is quite happy spending MYR$140,000/year (US$46,000) sending her kids to a private school. A school that already told us, quite bluntly, that “we can’t cater to every child” although, to be honest, I think that might have been a reaction to my comment (to the Primary Head) that I thought his school was nothing more than a glorified social club. Whoops. (Actually, it was not meant to be an insult. He asked who would be enrolled, and I said that enrolling TW was completely out of the question because he would “regress”. If we did enroll anyone, I told him, it would be LD who, we thought, needed more of a social club environment.)
Anyway, getting back to the story, after Doing It for several years now, I am actually reluctant to put the kids back in a “normal” school. That’s what’s changed since my last update, I think. My initial goal was to homeschool the kids until we got to a civilised country and then slip them back onto the regular treadmill. I don’t feel that way anymore. I think I would be doing a great disservice to our kids to throw them back into a system that, more and more, discounts their individuality in favour of placid conformity.
I’m not sure where this new epiphany is going to lead but, at this moment, I’m quite prepared to tutor the kids till they’re ready to enter university. As a concerned parent, I feel I can do no less. Will this pan out? Who knows. We’ll see.