A community is a group of people with common interests coming together on their own free will to share and do activities together. Members of the community also help and support one another in times of difficulty so it acts as a safety net or supportive net for parents and children.
Schools often lack this aspect of a community where parents, students and the teachers work hand-in-hand together for a common good. The problem is that schools are expected to do the job of teaching stuff to students and the only role parents have is to send and pick up their kids from school. And yes, not to forget the all-important role at the end of each exam term: putting their signatures on their kids’ report cards! Parents hardly know one another and other than the occasional birthday invitations that their kids get from their classmates, there are hardly any occasions where parents actually get together to meet the teachers for a friendly chat.
As homeschoolers, learning at home (especially for the single-child family) can be quite a challenge. Having a community of homeschoolers that meet up regularly for social and educational activities can be very helpful in terms of socializing and sharing of learning resources. You feel that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Parents, just as much as children, need to feel inspired and reassured that the path that they are taking is also joined by many other families. Together we are walking the path less traveled but the co-travelers who are joining in are increasing by the weeks. It is natural that along the way, some may slowly drop out due to various reasons. But it is reassuring to know that there are always willing new members coming in to experience this wonderful journey of joyful learning together.
It has been one year since we mooted the idea of the Community Learning Initiative which started from our humble home with a few families coming together once a week to do activities like music, art, baking and calligraphy. As the group got bigger, space was an issue but we soon found a ready venue for our activities: the Kota Kemuning Buddhist Center. There are classrooms with white boards and chairs all ready for use. And yes, and a functional kitchen for cooking! CLIC started with great expectations. We had no predecessors to fall back on. Only our own instincts about what a learning community should do and have. With a single generous donor of books to the library, Ida Idris, who donated most of her only child’s book collection to us, plus our own children’s collection of books, we had very quickly set up a pretty good children’s library, which we will be naming after her daughter, Irina, meaning PEACE.
At CLIC, parents and children come together for joyful learning and playing. We are like one big happy family, sharing food and resources, planning activities and going for trips together. There are no expensive packaged curriculum to buy and follow, or exams to take or homework to do (although they are occasional assignments given out for creative writing, Chinese and science projects). The older kids, namely Amrita and Samanta, become role models for the younger kids, and together they learn from one another like brothers and sisters. Our youngest “student” is 6-month-old Chi Ern, baby sister to 4-year-old Xuan. The kids take turns to carry the baby! Having a baby at the center certainly adds a lot of excitement and joy to the place. This will definitely not happen in schools as children are segregated by age and babies are NOT allowed! Neither are parents unless they have good reasons to go see the principal!
Here are some of CLIC’s activities: Tuesdays: ice-skating@ Sunway Pyramid, Wednesdays: science projects with Intan&Fred, Chinese with Chee Keong, Fridays: art@the park with Wai Leng. Also occasional outings organized by Yu Ling such as zoo education program, science lab @ the National Science Center and recently, puppet-making workshop at PJ Live Center!