Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The disadvantages of homeschooling. And why we will still continue.

Not everything about home schooling is fine and dandy. When you read about homeschooling, or talk to a homeschooling parent, it's easy to get sucked into the idealism of it. As much as many people like the idea, and wish they can do it, it is also easy to get intimidated by it. It looks really far fetched. It looks flawless and perfect.

Our kids have done both. School and home school. In my opinion, both have its pros and cons. Nothing is perfect in this world. I will share with you the disadvantages of home schooling first. Of course, this is my personal opinion. Derived from my personal experience. So I am not generalizing them.

1. The house gets messy more frequent. There have been an increase number of baking & cooking, science experiments, art & craft activities, unfinished (and sometimes abandoned) projects etc etc etc. As much as these are good activities to stimulate their minds and creativity, it can be very stressful for a maidless mom like me. I am not very compulsive about clean house. But when you come back from work, exhausted, it's nice to come back to a reasonably clean house. 

2. They spend more time with each other = more fights = more drama. Sometimes, over every single freaking thing. Especially the girls. And none of them has hit puberty yet. Sigh.

3. It's harder for Medina to pick up Malay language. As a family, we speak more English than Malay at home. And all my kids went to an English medium kindergarten. As a consequence, my kids become a Malay kid that cannot speak Malay. All my kids only started speaking Malay when they started going to school. They learned from friends and teachers. Language immersion. Most of the time the kids would start speaking fluent Malay in 3 months time. Due to our decision to HS Medina, she will not have this opportunity. Now, the responsibility to teach her the language falls on us. She has started going to a Malay play class organized by the HS moms. But it's not the same with the immersion you get from Malay speaking friends in school. So this will be a challenge for us.

4. Your kids and you get asked more frequent on what they have learned, what they are learning, what they are doing, what they have been doing etc etc etc. No offence, I know most of the times it's out of curiosity and good faith...but sometimes it does get annoying. When my kids were in school, I can hardly remember anybody asking them what they learn in school. Most of the time, people are only interested in what exams they are taking and how they did in their exams. I think everybody just assume you must be learning something in school. The fact that Emily was in school for 4 years and can hardly read and write, was never an issue to many people. Coz we viewed the child as the problem. Not the system. 

5. The teens miss their friends. Especially Hajar. She misses her school friends. Although they keep in touch through phones and internet, it's not the same. And when you lead a different life from your friends and you don't go to the same school anymore, there are lesser things to talk about. Luqman is fine with it. But Hajar feels the pinch. I think the friends issue also crops up as a result of Mr O and me being a social retard. The truth is we are not a very sociable person. It would be much easier for them if we socialize more frequent. And they have their own circle of friends outside of school. Although we do socialize more when we home school through field trips, co-op and play group, friendship takes time to develop. Especially for teenagers. And it's harder when you don't meet frequently. Unlike in school when they see your friends everyday.

So yeah. On bad days, it drives me nuts. Having said that, after embarking on home schooling all kids for almost 6 months now, I have no regret. My only regret is not doing it sooner. We have seen them blossom. Much more than when they are in school. 

1. I see their leadership traits emerging. I see them developing into youths with visions to make a difference in this world.
Pic is from Ecoknight.

2. I see them regaining their spark. They become curious again.
They challenge status quo and they discover. They don't conform themselves to what the teachers tell them anymore. Medina with her experiment on senses. She read the book, designed her own small experiments and validate. 
She concluded it's not true. I was impressed not with her findings. I was impressed that she was intrigued to validate the facts from the book. And this is the same girl who was very particular about how things should be done according to what her teacher said last year. And insisted she would not do anything differently.

3. I see them fitting in. I see them comfortable socializing with people. Regardless of age and race. Unlike what most people think, socialization is not an issue with most home schooling kids.
4. They have more time to explore their strengths and interests. 

5. They have more time to learn things that matter. Like attending more religious talk. Even if they are on week day nights.  
Or volunteering on regular basis.

6. Saving money on school fees means we can travel. During off peak time. And kids learn so much from traveling.
7. I see them conquering their fear. Emily started writing. And the huge difference is she enjoyed doing it. Although her writing is riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical error, it's not the same writing you see kids do in school. Where everybody comes out with more or less the same stuffs. Because the end point is to get as much mark as possible by following the marking scheme.
8. I see them becoming more creative.
And I see them turning their creativity into something meaningful. 
9.  I see them slowly becoming self learner. I see them slowly gaining courage to fail. They failed and they tried again and again.
10. I see them happy. And that is the most important thing.
For these reasons, we are going to continue home schooling them. As long as we can. Even if it means we have to deal with messier house and more drama. I think it's worth it.


  1. Just out of curiosity, can't Hajar meet up with the school friends? I mean like hang out at the house or friends' house, something like that?

    This is also one of my concern, but still not an issue cause my kids are still young. But I foresee them having the need for peers later on. I'm hoping that's where church friends come in, or friends from extra activities or classes that they will take. Need to create some kind of regularity...

  2. Wei yun,
    Even with 2 kids myself, I find arranging playdates (just picking & dropping kids off) almost an impossible feat. Not to mention that Haslinda has 4 kids! I find most school going kids (Hajar's friends I believe are still in sch) have lots of homework, tuition, after school classes, etc and many parents are afraid if kids take time off to play, they will miss the important tips at tuition class, cannot finish homework, etc.

    I find although Anna goes to school, they only have about 15 mins to chat during recess time; other times, the students are expected to be silent, listening to teacher.

    So I do try to arrange for playdates (although it is very difficult to get a time when Anna's friends are free).

    Haslinda, you are doing a great job. Your children are glowing and they are learning so much more. You are my inspiration!

  3. Has, this is a beautiful piece. You should put the picture of your kids with the trophy as the icing to the cake but I understand why you may have not. Love to you and your family xx

  4. Hi dear. Your blog is very, how do i say it, insightful. I think that the best one-word description my limited vocab can offer. Thank you.

  5. The love for exploration and expression you've grown in your kids is homeschooling's best and most enduring testimony. Well Done:)

  6. Wei Yun, Yee Send is right. It's hard because her friends will be very busy with school stuffs. Not to mention that being a homeschooler can be pretty busy too. After a while, it just fizzles off.

  7. Thank you all for your encouraging words. All of you are my inspirations too. One of the great things of homeschooling is it get me connected with like minded people like all of you. It has been a great blessing to us.

  8. It is tempting... let me talk to my children and my husband again.. thanks for the sharing Haslinda.

  9. I am not homeschooling my child but i come to your blog to inspire myself.
    I learn a lot by reading your blog.
    Amazed with what you are doing and looking at your homeschooling kids blossomed and happy.

  10. Hi, I came across your blog from the Homefrontier facebook page and I shared this post on my Twitter. I'm a teacher at a secondary school who is against compulsory schooling (the irony) and I thought your blog is very informative. I try to make my students and others out there realize that compulsory schooling is harmful to their development. Getting there step by painful step, mainly by twitter. Wish you all the best in your homeschooling and please send my regards to your wonderful children. ST

  11. You are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing and please keep on writing.

  12. Hi, I got the impression that Medina did not enroll for school at all. I'm researching on the consequences of this move as I do not plan to send my kid to school. Will the gohmen come hunt me down or something? Is there a penalty?

  13. Medina went to a Montessori kindergarten for 2 years. She only started home schooling this year. That's how I am able to compare her "schooling vs unschooling" progress. For more details on legality of homeschooling in Malaysia, please check out this link: http://homeschoolhomefrontier.com/resources/hs-legal-research

  14. Hi Haslinda,

    Thank you, this a fantastic account and very insightful.

  15. Hi, I am new in this blog. I saw from your photos that your HS is well-equipped with lab equipments. You must have invested a lot in buying all the teaching aids. Does it cost a lot?

  16. Tim, I am a PhD student doing research in a university. Sometimes, I bring my kids to the lab. The pic u saw is the uni's lab. Not my home lab :-)

  17. I am curious.. which Homeschool program is your daughter attending? I am interested to know.. THanks

  18. PaulOS, my daughters are not attending any specific program. I am more skewed towards unschooling at the moment. Which means they are leading their learning process. Apart from doing things on our own, we join a few co-op initiated by homeschooling parents. And there are also plenty of excursions and events organized by HS parents from time to time.

    1. Thanks Melly.. I asked because I am curious to know which homeschooling syllabus options are available for Muslim students, as we may well know most homeschooling syllabuses are Christian in nature. Thanks for your prompt response Melly.

  19. Why your kids are learning musical instruments?

  20. Hey Maddie,

    I came upon your website when I was googling around looking for how to link up with homeschooling needs in Malaysia.

    My name is Shern Chong, and I am a game design lecturer, and writer, looking to be a homeschool educator for English creative writing, public speaking and general language training, and going to their homes to offer personal tutoring.

    Was wondering if you can direct me to where I can go to link up with parents for that, and share my background information for their assessment. I may be exposed to traditional education, but I am not a product of it, so I understand the need to rethink how the posture of learning can be inculcated in the young. I had my fair share of being branded of little worth because I was not 'exam smart', but we all know the fallacy behind that perspective.

    My thanks to you for your time.