Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Parents-teachers collaboration enhances students’ growth

Monday, November 4th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Home-School Collaboration (HSC), where parents and teachers mutually communicate regarding school and home affairs, is significantly instrumental in a student’s positive education growth.

Based on research, effective HSC leads to better outcomes for students, said Clinical Psychologist Dr Berney J Wilkinson.

“HSC is the sharing of expectations and values. We can do that through written communication, parent-teacher conference, telephone communication, parent meetings or groups.

“We know that it is going to lead to better grades, better behaviour, increased graduation rates and overall better outcomes for students,” he said.

He said this in his talk on “Overcoming barriers to effective parent-teacher partnerships” during the Second International Conference on Psychology, Counselling and Education at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), here.

Dr Berney said a lack of home-school communication would cause students to have mismatched behaviours at school and home, due to conflicting sets of boundaries and rules in the two settings where the expectations of parents and teachers are not aligned.

“By and large, we want to make sure there is a connection between the home and school.

“When students know that home and school is connected, they know that their behaviour in one setting is going to influence what happens in another setting,” he said.

Elaborating further on HSC benefits, Dr Berney said HSC allows teachers to know what happens in the student’s home, hence enabling themselves to adjust academic expectations.

“For example, if the child’s parents are separated or planning a divorce, certainly that’s going to affect the child’s behaviour at school.

“But if the school has no idea what’s happening at home, they’re going to see those behaviours at school and interpret them as problematic.

“Maybe the child is not doing as much work as they were doing before, or they’re sort of more irritable and cranky, they (teachers) could interpret that as bad behaviour in school when actually that behaviour is reflecting something that’s happening at home,” he said.

Dr Berney added that HSC improves a student’s academic performance, as teachers would communicate to parents what is expected of the students, therefore enabling parents to jointly facilitate the child’s academic progress with the teachers.

However, he warned that one has to be cautious of the barriers to implementing HSC which interfere home-school communication.

“One (barrier) is simply poor communication…jargon and heavy-use of acronyms, which may make sense to the educators, but not to the parents.

“Another major barrier is the differences in expectations. Parents expect teachers to manage the students when the student is in school, so the parent will say ‘Well he’s at school, so he’s your problem’,” he said.

He added that teachers, parents and students all hold different values which could also hinder effective HSC.

“These differences in values that the teachers, parents and students hold, are all working for different things and moving towards different directions, so we need to align values.”

Dr Berney explained that to effectively implement HSC, schools need also to ensure that their alliance with parents are not limited to communicating negative issues.

“Parents know when the principal calls the home, it’s bad. Everyone knows for the most part that communication is negative. We don’t want that to happen because it’s certainly not going to foster home-school combination.

“We need to make sure we’re not just communicating negative things, we’re talking about positive things as well.

By: Anthea Peter.

Life after homeschool

Saturday, June 1st, 2019
(From right) Karlson Tay, Shireen Alyssa, Hajar Onn and Luqman Avicenna together with two other homeschoolers, Maya Katherine (left) and Wayneson Tay, after a forum on Growing Without Schooling where they shared their paths in learning.- NSTP/FAIZ ANUAR

A common route in education for many of us starts with kindergarten before attending primary school, followed by secondary school.

Another route gaining popularity is homeschooling, which is seen as going against the grain.

In Malaysia, a growing number of parents have taken their children out of the public school system and opted for homeschooling.

Prior to 2003, parents in the country who wanted to homeschool their children can do so without restrictions. However, the Compulsory Education Act that was implemented in 2003 requires homeschoolers to apply for permission from the Education Ministry.

Parents who choose homeschooling as the education path for their children are those in favour of taking responsibility for their education. Taking charge can be liberating but how far can homeschoolers go in the next phase of life after homeschooling?

Four homeschoolers, who believe education is a journey and not a destination, share their stories on charting their paths towards adulthood at a Growing without Schooling forum recently.

Hajar Onn


In the last six years, Hajar’s learning experience has been a good mix of liberal arts education. She has also spent a considerable amount of time working for the community.

Hajar started homeschooling after completing Form One and went on to work, gaining experience in fields ranging from theatre and coding to fashion design over the years.

“When I was asked if I wanted to homeschool because my sister was already doing so, I thought ‘why not?’, initially thinking that it meant I do not have to do homework.”

When she first left school, she was so disillusioned with the concept of learning.

“Every time I thought of learning, it was ‘Oh, I have to sit down in a boring classroom and listen to a teacher talk.’

“But homeschooling requires a lot of patience and exploration besides dealing with the fear of making a mistake.

“There were a lot of times when I questioned what I was doing. Should I just stay in school?”

Homeschooled children have the chance to learn in a real-life context, which could be one reason for their advantageous outcomes. Hajar said her experiences in exploring her interest during her homeschool days have helped her today.

“I started with theatre because it was something I was interested in when I was younger but did not have enough confidence to get on stage. I also learnt coding out of interest and ended up joining a competition with my friends, and won second place competing against university students.”

The skills and traits learnt through all these experiences help her in her everyday life now.

Hajar Onn performing the role of North Star in a gamelan musical.

“I apply the patience I learnt from coding to learning accounting now. When the accounts don’t balance, it can make you lose your mind. It tries your patience as you have to go through everything and identify where you went wrong.

“I hated public speaking when I was in school. But it’s not as scary to me now because I’ve sung and danced in public.”

While homeschooled students may not join clubs for co-curriculum activities, many of them, like Hajar, take up volunteerism which can boost their chances for admission into university, as long as they fulfil academic requirements.

It was while volunteering in Kelantan to train underprivileged women when Hajar realised that she likes fashion design.

Hajar came to a point where she wanted to learn more.

“I took online courses and read textbooks on my own because I was genuinely curious.”

Having decided to sit the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), Hajar started studying two months before the exams.

Last year, Hajar was accepted into Kalamazoo College in the United States and received a scholarship worth US$102,000 (RM427,650) covering half the total cost. However, she decided to pursue accountancy at Sunway College instead.

“One may wonder why I study accounting when I like fashion. But fashion is a high-risk industry and I do not see it as a safe path.

“I want an ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualification as a safety net so that one day I can start earning money and support my interest in fashion..

Shireen Alyssa


The homeschool experience was an opportunity for Shireen Alyssa to be flexible and self-driven in pursuing her interests and education.

She is 15 but has been accepted for a three-year residential programme towards an International Baccalaureate Diploma in Japan. Homeschooled by choice, Shireen Alyssa, the second of four siblings convinced her parents to do so when she was 10.

Although a straight A pupil in school, she felt the stress of attending school when she turned 11. “I felt that school was doing more harm than good. School was just feeding me facts for exams and then I forgot them later on.

“It took me a month to gather courage and ask my mom if I could quit school. She asked me to share the reasons for my request.

“I put up Post-it Notes with my reasons on the wall. On one of the notes, I wrote ‘I am not a robot. I can’t memorise 50,000 facts’. I also commented on the fact that we were not allowed to talk to friends even during recess.”

Her mother agreed to her request on condition that she was not going to be her teacher as Shireen Alisa has one older brother and two younger siblings. The first year became a trial year and a “detox period” for Shireen Alisa.

“I was so used to having everything handed to me with instructions but there was no one to do that anymore. Initially, I felt so lost but I had to discard my school mindset that I needed a teacher to learn.”

So Khan Academy, an online learning platform, became her best friend.

“Being self-taught is liberating but it is also challenging. Sometimes you feel like you are doing nothing and going nowhere.

“When you feel like this, it is time to seek outside help such as online courses by Stanford University.

“People are surprised how I got into the writing course but it is free. You only need the courage to enrol in it.”

On finding one’s passion, Shireen Alisa said: “Try everything and see what sticks. Find something as a way for you to escape.

“I joined a coding challenge with three friends and created an app from scratch which we named Autism Connects, a platform to help autistic entrepreneurs to find buyers.”

It was from that experience she realised that coding was not for her. “But it resulted in a part-time internship to build a website for an independent software company . And that’s still ongoing until today. Even though I don’t like coding, the pay is good and it looks good in my resume.”

It was also through homeschooling that she tried different activities and discovered her passion for language.

“I started off learning Japanese, German, Italian and Spanish. It was over ambitious so I dropped Italian and Spanish to focus on Japanese and German.”

Last year, she went to a summer school at United World College (UWC) in Japan for two weeks.

“It was like a leap of faith as I had to put my trust in school again. It was absolutely terrifying to go back to school for even just two days.”

The experience turned out so well that she joined the Cambridge Creative Writing programme for two weeks.

“I also applied for a three-year International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme which is equivalent to A Levels. I got in the second round and attended an interview on Skype. UWC College has awarded me a scholarship but I need to spend a significant amount on air travel and pocket money.

“My mom and I wrote and published a memoir. We are on a book tour to raise funds for my studies.” For details, visit

Luqman Avicenna.


Luqman went through a diverse integrated learning experience and spent a considerable amount of time working for the community. His spirit of curiosity and independence helped to shape his education.

His homeschool journey started after sitting the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) exam in Form Three at a public school.

After scoring straight As in PMR, Luqman decided on homeschooling as he felt that he spent his time memorising for exams when at school.

“I scored 7Bs and 1E in my trial exam. After getting the not-so-encouraging results, I decided to study intensively for the real exam.”

But he felt that the hours spent preparing to score in the exam was a poor use of his time.

“I should have focused on other more beneficial experiences,” he said.

He believes empowering one to educate oneself can be done through exposure to different experiences.

Last year, Luqman was offered a US$120,000 scholarship to pursue a liberal arts degree at Warren Wilson College, US. However, he decided to continue working full-time as a graphic designer for EcoKnights, one of the leading non-governmental organisations for environment in Malaysia.

Luqman Avicenna (right) promoting the reduction of plastic use with a tote bag he designed for the River of Life Programme.

“I studied for college admission tests, received a scholarship offer but we had to decline it because it was still beyond our financial capability. So I decided to join the workforce, applied for a multitude of jobs before I got an offer as a graphic designer.

“A degree is not the only path to a successful career. There are many opportunities for anyone who wants to find them. You just need perseverance to look for them and have the courage to ask,” said Luqman who has travelled to Bali and San Francisco on cultural exchange programmes.

“I have rubbed shoulders with corporate figures in swanky hotel ballrooms and dirtied my hands building houses for the Orang Asli and fed the urban poor on the streets of Kuala Lumpur.”

The perception of homeschooling is that it is very difficult to get employment.

“I know what it’s like to be a homeschooler trying to get a job without a degree. I am not going to lie. It’s not easy.”

But Luqman managed to secure a job by challenging himself in the belief that it can create value, in addition to paper qualification.

“When you go into the workforce, it doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t sell your idea. Of course, it does not work for certain professions such as architects and doctors. But most industries will value the ability to get the job done.

“For my job interview, I went to the next level by preparing in advance. I went to the firm’s Facebook page, scrapped it and downloaded Adobe Illustrator, which I learnt in a free trial, to create rudimentary infographics for the firm in three days.

“I said ‘Here’s what I see impacting your company and here’s what you can do with the infographics.’

“At the end of the day, if you can secure the interview, and you can show, you can demonstrate, you can provide value to your employer on a consistent basis, most of them will have no problems with your lack of a degree.”

He thinks that “following your passion” may not be the best advice.

“You don’t know your passion until you really do it as a job. At times when I tell people I’m a graphic designer, they go like ‘wow, you must be so passionate’ but I’ll be like ‘um… ‘.

“When you wake up to go to work in the morning knowing that this is the third bunting you have to design in a week and tomorrow is the deadline, it won’t be your passion.”

Karlson Tay


Homeschooled since the age of 13, it offered Tay ample free time to pursue various interests. He self-studied and obtained 8As and 1B in the IGCSE exam. He took a gap year before deciding on his next adventure.

“I first heard about homeschooling when I was 12. The year I was supposed to enter secondary school, I started homeschooling.

“My initial homeschooling days involved reading books, doing math following the Singapore syllabus, cleaning the floor, cooking, washing the dishes, and doing my laundry which I believe is a diverse and balanced schedule.

“I read history, geography, science, literature and Malay books. I listened to music, played video games and watched hours of anime. I joined co-op (homeschooling families who come together to learn from and with one another) with two families and we gathered once a week to learn and study together. We started with Malaysian history, expanding to world history and eventually to French.”

Although he procrastinated, motivation played a crucial role for him to study and sit the exams.

“Fear also played a part. My father threatened to send my siblings back to school if I didn’t do well in my exams.”

It took him two years to prepare and study for IGCSE on his own.

“I spent three months reading half of a biology textbook. I picked it up again after half a year and had to start from the first page again. It took me a month to learn biology again and I took notes this time.

“I attended tuition for English and additional mathematics, each taking three to four hours a week for half a year.

“During that time, I also studied physics and chemistry textbooks. With six months to spare before the exam, I watched Khan Academy chemistry videos because I found the subject difficult.

“I answered past exam questions to gauge my skills.”

He is now working as a technician at a company that installs access cards, CCTVs and alarm systems.

By Hazlina Aziz.

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Another Explanation For Why We Are Home Schooling

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Over the years, there has been a lot of doubt surrounding homeschooling, and whether it is a viable alternative to the public schools. Zachary’s peers, (seven-year-old first graders) in the Davie County School System at Cornatzer Elementary School, watch cartoons on Smart Boards during school, but Zachary read the following paragraph aloud during his study session night. For legal reasons, we do not comment on how little time we really need to spend studying in order to surpass the public schools, but most readers would be shocked to know how little effort is needed. Do you know any public schooled first graders who could read this?

The Heroes, Or Greek Fairy Tales for my Children

Some of you have heard already of the old Greeks; and all of you, as you grow up, will hear more and more of them. Those of you who are boys will, perhaps, spend a great deal of time in reading Greek books; and the girls, though they may not learn Greek, will be sure to come across a great many stories taken from Greek history, and to see, I may say every day, things which we should not have had if it had not been for these old Greeks. You can hardly find a well-written book which has not in it Greek names, and words, and proverbs; you cannot walk through a great town without passing Greek buildings; you cannot go into a well-furnished room without seeing Greek statues and ornaments, even Greek patterns of furniture and paper; so strangely have these old Greeks left their mark behind them upon this modern world in which we now live.

by Sarah C. Corriher.

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Why Home Schooling is Becoming Increasingly Popular

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Parents choose to home school for different reasons.  The reason is most commonly a need to provide moral instruction to their children, followed by a concern about public school environments.  In increasing numbers, parents are home schooling their children to evade state interference in the raising of their children, and to avoid the demands by school systems that their children be placed on anti-depressants, or other drugs that effect their minds.

Teachers have become the doctors in many schools, immediately making an A.D.D. diagnosis for any child who is defiant, disruptive, or who has difficulty focusing.  Then the teacher, with the full backing of the school, will direct the parents to a specific school-friendly doctor who is known for prescribing drugs after these referrals.  When parents refuse to comply, then the school systems often threaten to contact social services about the parents’ purported “abusive medical neglect”.  Of course, in reality, it is the schools which are abusing children in these cases, by denying them their basic human rights to be individuals without forced psychiatric medications.

Sending a child to an environment in which he is labeled as being ’sick’ whenever he shows any signs of individuality is bound to result in long-term emotional problems for the child.  Parental refusal to medicate children usually results in constant harassment by teachers.  A recommendation for drugging is made when a child is too quiet (needs antidepressants), too loud (A.D.D. drugs), defiant (anti-anxiety drugs), has difficulty concentrating (A.D.D. drugs), or is impulsive (A.D.D. drugs).  However, no testing is ever done on these children before the diagnosis and drugs are provided.  It remains evident that these ’symptoms’ are present in completely normal children; but nonetheless, the creative children with leadership abilities are a constant inconvenience for teachers who are fixated upon power and control.

Fears That Surround Home Schooling

There are plenty of parents out there who spend a lot of time considering home schooling, but always waiting until next year to make the leap.  In some cases, this is delayed forever.  One of the most common reasons is that parents worry about the costs involved.  However, home schooling can be free, especially for younger children.  The only pricing involved is that of books, and if you perservere, you can sometimes get those for free, too.  Compare this with the cost of moral degradation of children, forced prescriptions and constant battles with the school system.

Some parents fear that they do not have the knowledge to teach their children.  This only really becomes a problem at high school levels.  When that time comes, most home schooling parents simply buy the books necessary for their own refresher course, and use it to teach their children.  The internet is also available to teach anything that you wish to know.

by Sarah C. Corriher.

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