Expat Parent Magazine November 2015

Page 23

meet the parents she was fun-loving and loved learning. But the homework was excessive, and combined with frequent oral and written testing at the school, she was no longer excited about learning. She also started complaining regularly of stomachaches. At first, we thought she might have a gluten intolerance, and altered her diet. But nothing changed. What did you do? It was very difficult to get her to go to school after each break and she began to miss a lot because of her stomachaches. In May of 2014, two months before the end of the school year, we withdrew Magdalena from school and began homeschooling her. It didn’t take long for the stomachaches to disappear, and we realised they were actually anxiety-induced. Were you worried about homeschooling? It’s a lot of pressure — there was some concern that our kids might fall behind, or that I would fail to teach something they needed to know. I am not an expert on everything my kids want to learn about, but there are so many resources available online and at the library. What I want more than anything is for my kids

to love learning. There are plenty of people out there who think our decision is strange or even crazy, but I’m confident we are doing what is best for our children. Did you feel confident about teaching? I am the primary teacher, but Josh contributes a lot. He is a self-employed entrepreneur and works from home most of the time. When we began homeschooling, I was self-conscious and lacked confidence. It’s scary venturing into unknown territory, and when none of your close friends or family is doing it, it can feel lonely. After years of researching homeschooling and seeing the difference it has made in our children, I am now much more confident. How do you come up with lesson plans? I began by reading books and articles online about different home education styles and approaches. Then I joined some Yahoo and Facebook homeschooling groups and talked to other parents about their curriculum choices. Although we do have a curriculum, we only do a few lessons from it each week. Most of our learning comes through reading and experiencing the world.

What other activities do they do? We do lot of arts and crafts, but our kids also experience a lot of real-life learning and activities outside the home like dance, art, piano, and gymnastics lessons, as well as nature walks, hikes, swimming, and snorkeling. Because our kids are with us all day, every day, they also get to experience a lot of normal, adult life. How do you incorporate technology? Some of the learning resources we use are computer games like Brainzy, Minecraft, Dance Mat Typing, and PBS kids games. We also use lots of mobile apps and online videos — there are so many educational videos available online for free on sites like YouTube. Many people think homeschooling is illegal in Hong Kong. What’s the situation? It’s legal, but part of the confusion is caused because the EDB does not formally “approve” homeschooling and there is not a formal application process. One does not “apply” to homeschool. Rather, they notify the EDB that they are homeschooling by emailing and then the EDB will follow up with questions.

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