Most homeschooling centres in Malaysia are licensed as a tuition centre, but can be described more as a ‘mini-school’. Some even make it mandatory for students to wear uniforms. These centres often utilise international syllabus, with Cambridge being the most common. Some homeschooling centres will take children as young as 3 or 4 under their early childcare cohort.
They are usually open to taking into students all-year round and your child can go in for an entry assessment at any level. Those following the British syllabus for example, will provide the option of Checkpoint in Year 6.
If language is an issue, parents are advised to allow the child to be put behind a year in order to catch up. Some centres tend to have a few age groups in one class, which can help them pick up the language faster since they are learning from older children.
If you are not comfortable with that idea, find a centre which places children in their appropriate age groups.
Homeschooling centres need to have a license to operate.However, there is some confusion as to what license is needed. Currently, there is no distinction between a homeschooling centre and other types of learning centres. Under the Ministry of Education, there are 18 types of licenses that can be used to certify learning institutions.
Ensure that the homeschooling centre of your choice is properly licensed. There should be a certificate issued from the Ministry of Education displayed at or around the centre.
Technically, under the current definition, a homeschooling centre that teaches an international syllabus will be licensed as a tuition centre. Those that are licensed as a private learning centre are only allowed to teach the national syllabus.
There are a lot of these centres around however, so it is best for you to do your due diligence and inquire about the number of teachers, methods of assessment and if the fee involves extracurricular activities for your child.
Technically, there is no body that governs homeschooling centres (hence the confusion over licensing). However, it’s up to you, the parent, to ensure that the centre is up to the standard you are paying for. It’s important to speak to the school management to have your doubts cleared.
At the very least, one would expect the homeschooling centres to employ teachers who have a teaching diploma.
Many homeschooling centres have been founded by parents or teachers (and in some cases, both). Hence, they are very passionate on the subject of education, which means that they are open to hiring teachers who don’t have teaching qualifications, but are experts in their subject matter and most importantly, are extremely dedicated to the teaching vocation.
Most teachers will go through a trial run with the head of school present in order to be practically assessed. If you prefer your child to be taught by someone with the right qualifications, then not all homeschooling centres will meet your requirement. There is also the argument that those with teaching diplomas are quickly absorbed into the public school system, hence there is a real lack of qualified teachers in general.
However, on the other hand, because most centres will offer a small teacher-student ratio, it is guaranteed that your child will receive adequate attention in both his/her strengths and weaknesses.
As a parent, you need to be comfortable that you are making the right decision. Request for a trial class if you’re still in doubt or ask the parents who have been sending their children to the centre.
Depending on the syllabus that is followed at the centre, the entry assessments given will be to ascertain where your child stands in relation to that syllabus. Their reading, comprehension and writing skills, in addition to their mathematics should match up according to their level. If the centre follows the British system, then your child will be assessed by Cambridge standards.
Homeschooling centres don’t just rely on final exams, there are continuous internal assessments as your child progresses through.
Most children adjust quite well and if they are with a reputable centre, you will notice that they provide plenty of tutorials with dedicated teachers. More often than not, if there is a language barrier, the teacher will take the time to coach them so that they can keep up with their peers.
It is worth inquiring about this before enrolling your child, and if in doubt, it is best to prepare beforehand so that your child doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Most importantly, it’s vital that they understand why they’re being pulled out of school. They should know that it’s not because of any shortcomings of their own, but that you want to give them the best education possible.
Generally speaking, children who transition from international school find it rather easy to adjust to a homeschooling centre. From an academic perspective, the syllabus would mostly be the same.
They might miss their school environment, the facilities and their friends, but they are mostly able to adapt very quickly and easily.
It’s important that they understand why they are being taken out of their school. As the parent, it is your responsibility that they don’t take it as a punishment and that it is due to the fact that you want what is best for them.
Most homeschool centres will promote themselves as all-rounders and will usually try to partner with associations, or even other schools to organise sports or musical activities.
However, it’s very important to clarify this with the homeschool centre of your choice. Bear in mind however, that this might bear additional costs, in addition to tuition fees.
The other option is to keep them active outside of the centre’s hours. This way, you have more choice over the life skills you want them to learn, based on their interests.
If your child has been identified as a child on the spectrum of learning disabilities or special needs, homeschooling can be a viable option. This is extremely valid as not all schools cater to children with special needs. Some children have often gone for long periods of time before receiving the right kind of education for their condition.
Children who are training to be athletes could definitely benefit from homeschooling as it is common for them to conduct their daily training during conventional school hours. Having flexible hours to study according to their training schedule will ensure they can keep up academically while not losing out on crucial training hours.
Venus and Serena Williams are an example of celebrities who were actually homeschooled so that they could focus on their sports abilities.
Gifted children can stand to benefit by learning at their own pace, instead of waiting for their peers to catch up. Children who are exceptionally high in IQ may also prefer their own environment and a flexible schedule.
As long as homeschoolers sit for the required papers needed for their university applications, this should not be a problem. There are many centres that offer internationally-recognised exams such as the IGCSE or SAT.
In fact, research has shown that homeschoolers often score above average for these examinations and easily get accepted into colleges and universities.
Start a conversation with university advisers if you are really concerned about this, and put your mind at ease.
Parents who choose to homeschool their children are already of the mindset that they don’t learn enough life skills at school. Most schools are overly-focused on academics and not enough time is devoted to teaching children about coping with life. Things like basic cooking, or financial literacy are equally important as learning how to add or subtract.
It gets trickier when it comes to finding a balance between the two. How much is enough?
It would help if parents have some sort of schedule where the hours spent on each subject are monitored. If a child is lacking in one area, it makes sense to spend a bit more time on that subject, but it shouldn’t take up more than a few hours per day.
According to recent findings, Malaysian parents who practice homeschooling want their children to turn to be mature, independent, creative and critical thinkers.
The upside of homeschooling is the flexibility of creating your own schedule. You can use trips and excursions as a way for kids to learn via observation and by doing. They will also have the opportunity to learn skills such as cooking, baking, pottery, fencing, learning an instrument, dancing, martial arts and more, by not having to adhere to conventional school hours.
Since the modern homeschooling movement began in the United States about 60 years ago, parents have championed the right to choose their children’s form and method of education.
According to recent research, parents tend to choose the option of homeschooling because they are dissatisfied with the type of education that their child is receiving.
This is important because it means that parents already know what they want their child to learn in order to become a well-adjusted adult in the future. In most cases, parents are concerned that their child is not learning enough life skills, such as financial literacy, or there’s an over-emphasis on academics. In other cases, parents were not comfortable with the lack of values and morals being taught at school and wished to build character in their children.
In terms of being qualified however, not all parents who homeschool their children have teaching qualifications. Many are degree holders who choose to stay-at-home or manage their schedules in order to teach their child, in addition to getting tutors.
Don’t worry too much about having a teaching qualification in this case. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Reach out to other homeschooling parents and join co-ops that organise activities together. Get online and download materials or find forums for homeschooling parents.
For subjects that you struggle with, or don’t have the confidence to teach, plan for this in advance and hire a tutor.
What’s important is that you want the very best for your child. As the person responsible for raising them so far, that is the best qualification you can have to successfully educate your child or children.
Read these articles to gain better understanding on legalities and tips on successful homeschooling.