To reign them in, or to let them soar?

It’s the end of the year and parents are frantically searching for answers to the big question: “Which school are you sending your child to?” Be it kindergarten or Primary 1, learning center or homeschool, public school or private, it is a terribly stressful time for parents trying to decide which one is the best choice.

Here’s my take on this: Do not be pressured to make a decision – even if your child has reached school-going age. The important things to consider for school are:

Is your child ready for the daily grind of schooling? This involves getting up early (before the sun is up), putting on uniforms, lugging a heavy bag that weighs more than their body weight, joining the daily morning rush hour jam, attending up to 6 different subject classes together with 30-40 other same-aged kids, precisely timed by the screaming school bell? And cutting out all previous pleasurable activities to make time for homework, studying and exams.

If the answers are yes to all of the above, your child is ready for school. Probably. Good luck! Just make sure YOU are ready for it too – ready to surrender your child to the institution that takes orders from “above” irregardless of whether they are helpful or detrimental to the students; your time will not be at your command but the school’s; your holidays will now be programmed according to those set by the “above”; your child will no longer be wholly yours because you have no say in what and how she learns……

Ok, if that sounds scary, you can defer your decision to a little later, (yes, you can do that as a parent to your child who knows and understands him or her best) and consider, perhaps, the option of doing it your own. The important things to consider for homeschooling/unschooling/self-directed learning, or whatever you wish to call it, are:

Does your child enjoy spending time at home? Is your child ready for self-initiated, self-directed and self-organized learning? Will your child play computer games the whole day? Will your child be poorly socialized without any friends? How are YOU the parent/teacher going to teach your child? Can you do with a packaged curriculum? Can you do without one? Can you cope with the fact that you will be spending practically 24 hours everyday of every year with your child and having to manage EVERYTHING from daily meals to lesson plans and field trips and co-op activities etcetera? If you are confident of doing it all and surviving them, then congrats, you can be assured of the non-existing award of a successful homeschool parent at the end of your homeschooling journey (which can span a couple of years or a couple of decades!). If you are terrified by the notion of teaching your own, yet would like try to give it a shot, then by all means, give it a go! Never try, never know. You will not be alone as the number of homeschoolers in the country is on a rapid rise. You have nothing to lose. Just lots of life experiences to be gained, and your family that you have now reclaimed from the institution called school.

Whatever choice you make, you can make it work as long as your child is motivated to learn and that motivation comes from seeing the relevance of what he or she is learning and enjoying the long process of knowledge acquirement and skills-building. How? By exploring living and learning together. Not everything will be great, but life is like that, isn’t it? You get chocolates some days, and some days you get worms. Or nothing. But there is always something to be learned, even in nothingness. Or shall I say, because of nothingness.

“I understand some people get worried about kids who spend a lot of time all alone, by themselves. I do a little worrying about that, but I worry about something else even more; about kids who don’t know how to spend any time all alone, by themselves. It’s something you’re going to be doing a whole lot of, no matter what, for the rest of your lives. And I think it’s a good thing to do; you get to know yourself, and I think that’s the most important thing in the whole world.” – Robert Paul Smith, author of How to Do Nothing With Nobody All By Yourself.

It is all in the mind. How we think will effect the outcome.

If you think homeschooling or unschooling is too difficult, too unpredictable and too ambiguous, you are probably right. The truth is, it is as difficult as you make it out to be.

Here’s a sample of a once reluctant unschooler, who enjoyed a brief stint at school and loved it, but chose to go back to unschooling because the other option of exam-oriented schooling is less appealing than doing what she liked doing – which was exploring song-writing in her tiny room – and subsequently, after spending her high school years making music in her room, she has an album to show as her graduation trophy. You can follow her journey on http://www.amritasoon.com and either be totally shocked that this can actually be done in this country, or be totally inspired!

“CLUES” Music Video

Enjoy and share, Thank you

http://www.amritasoon.com

Amrita Soon’s First Album, “Clues”, Launched!

Our eldest daughter, Amrita, just launched her debut album entitled, “CLUES” on Sunday at the Zest Cafe in Bangsar.

We would like to the the opportunity to thank every who came and everyone who have supported Amrita to achieve her dreams.

THANK YOU!

for more pictures and stuff check out

http://www.amritasoon.com  (you can order a copy here)

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Amrita Soon – from clueless teen to singer-songwriter

Launch of Amrita's CD

Like most little girls, all Amrita had wanted to be was a ballerina. Together with her younger sister Sam, they sang and danced all day and everyday and that was very much their childhood. One day, little Sam declared that she wanted to be a singer when she grew up. And she wanted Jie Jie to be a singer too. But Jie Jie was worried that her voice was not good enough. She related her concern to her mother, and her mother told her: “Keep on singing and one day your voice will be beautiful!”

And that was exactly what she did. She kept on practicing in her room, with her guitar,  which she picked up very much on her own and even learned to write her own songs. But none of these really meant anything more than a good hobby.

Until her songs started to get noticed by artistes and songwriters locally as well as from abroad through singing competitions and writing workshops (she raised her own funds for her Nashville trip this summer and spent two months there in Music City improving her songwriting craft). Her song “Goodbye” was selected to be included in the Rock for Ronan project to raise funds for paediatric cancer research in the U.S.

And now, the moment she has been working hard all these months for – the launch of her first studio-produced album is finally ready! The defining moment for her as a singer-songwriter will be evident for all to hear.

We are proud and excited to announce that Amrita’s first album “Clues” will be launched on:
Do join us at her launch party where she and her friends will be performing their songs!
Thank you and looking forward to seeing you there!
Regards,
Wai Leng & KV Soon

Self-directed learners at their best!

Last weekend we were involved with the Art for Grabs at the Lake Gardens, KL. The kids were picked to have a table selling their hand-drawn stones and hand-made wands. And Amrita held her first TreeHouse Open Mic event since her return from Nashville! It was a dream come true for her to have her TreeHouse Open Mic amongst the trees at the park. And the response for it was very encouraging indeed!

Sam also got involved and even performed at the open mic and did a song together with her sister! It was very well-received!

So was the reception to the children’s stones & wands. They even had a special visitor to their booth – Marina Mahathir! She took interest in their artistic work and even bought wands and stones from them!

This was their first public testing ground for their entrepreneurial project, which previously was limited to homeschooling events only. And they were the only kids having a booth there amongst very established artists and designers! We were keen to see how the general public would respond to their products here.

For two days, the kids worked hard setting up stall and talking to people and closing up at the end of the day. We parents are very impressed with their discipline and dedication towards their “job”, especially the girls who showed greater persistence when it came to selling. The boys were more keen to have a good time riding their bikes in the vicinity of the fair. All in all, they all cooperated well to make this sales outing a success!

Looking forward to more future art sales and outings with the kids! Do visit their FB Page Uka Wands and Meila Stones and Bake!

This is self-directed learning in action! An exhausting but exciting weekend of art and music. Good job everyone! You deserve a pat on the back :)

What do homeschoolers do all day?

The question we get asked a lot when people find out that we homeschool is: “What do you do all day?” Well, I have been tempted to throw that question back at the questioner thus: “I don’t know…….what do YOU do all day?” Well, apart from trying to live normal lives like everybody else – sleeping, waking, eating, working and playing – we also fill our time with activities that few people would come up with (except bored homeschoolers who have nothing else better to do with their time!). So here is one of the projects that the kids got involved in recently to fill their many hours of unscheduled, unstructured and unschooled time!

History project – A history fair was organized for the homeschooling community and we chose to do a topic on “Down Memory Lane – a nostalgic visit to the past”.

To go back in time, we would need the essential time-machine of course! And the kids built one :)

After going through the time-machine, one is transported to the past era of kerosene lamps, charcoal stoves and rotary dial phones!

And for childhood memories, games and toys! What nostalgia for the parents!

Oh and not forgetting the old-fashioned snacks and candies which were so cheap!

What do kids learn from projects like this?

They learn that history (or whatever subject for that matter) can be fun and interesting when it is approached with a fresh and curious mind!

They learn to look at old things with new eyes and to value them because they are our clues and links to our past.

From interviewing their grandparents and relatives, they learn to appreciate their elders more because of the struggles they went through in a time where life was a daily struggle to keep alive and to make a living. A loaf of bread cost 20-50 cents 40-50 years ago.

But one had to walk many miles on foot because cars were luxury items beyond the reach of many. The other option was to take the town buses for a few sen per ticket. The jobs that our grandparents had were mostly related to tin-mining or rubber tapping – two of the most lucrative businesses that were British-controlled then.

Most of all, they learned to appreciate and to enjoy history! Hopefully this would lead to more adventures through the time-machine that they built!

Here’s a featured piece of our self-directed approach to learning with our children published by Oriental Daily.

http://www.orientaldaily.com.my/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=141559:&Itemid=241

What Would a ‘Slow Education Movement’ Look Like?

In our fast-speed world where the country’s advancement is measured by how fast its broadband internet speed is, and the measurement of IQ and exam grades are grave concerns of a national scale, what do our kids really need to “survive” in this rapidly changing environment? The answer may not go down well with many “experts” who rigorously market all kinds of educational programmes and packages to parents eager to have their kids prosperously prepared for the privileged few in a world of rapid riches and exclusive wealth. Nor would it make sense to those who have been systematically and skillfully programmed to think in subservient conformity.

But think we must! But not how to be like everyone else and live ordinary lives to be led by others who proclaim to be our leaders. We need to start thinking as leaders unto ourselves and to nurture future generations of thinking and caring individuals who have the greatest desire to give their best to the world.

And to do that, we have got to slow down and make every moment count. How we educate our young will determine the future world that they will inherit. There is wisdom in slowing down.

Here’s a very wise article on why and how we can all do that for ourselves and for our children!

May the Slow Force be with you!

“So what does the Slow Movement mean for education? It asks us to reimagine what it means to be a community of learners. It requires us to embrace the organic messiness of learning. It requires admitting that a large part of what is happening isn’t good for our children, our teachers, or our communities. Rather than a top down industrialized and homogenized assembly line, we need a grass roots Slow Education movement that takes into account what real learning looks like and why children really need to learn more slowly, freely and thoroughly.”

Read the rest of the article below
> http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/08/what-would-a-slow-education-movement-look-like/ >

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