Here in Asia, at least, homeschooling is still an unusual type of schooling parents would choose for their children. We are parents who both attend the traditional face-to-face schooling. To be honest, we never envision our daughter attend a virtual school or anything near to homeschooling for that matter. It’s just a given that they’ll be attending a normal school.

So it’s only normal for us to feel VERY uncertain and anxious. The moment we start to consider this option for our daughter, we need to carefully weigh the Pros and Cons. Here’s what we’ve come up and our solutions.

PROS
Gift of Time.

Blessing of abundance in time must be what everyone enjoy this 2020. My hubby had been work from home most months of the year(until now actually). With that, it’s safe to say I had a pretty relaxed year with regards to house chores and kiddos to attend to. Having a partner in life who literally and figuratively do co-parenting and house-keeping with me is really a blessing.

Yet, we know that this arrangement won’t last forever. Soon enough, we’ll be back to our normal schedules. I’ll be the one to tend to the girls most of the time and the hubs goes to the office. That’s why we still made sure this arrangement would work with us, time-wise even if everything goes back to the new normal.

Let’s just say that we’re more thankful of what fate has brought us. Most of our daughters’ peers who got a slot from MOE got to a school a bit far from our home. It would surely be a daily struggle time/commute-wise for me and the girls.

We don’t own a car and never had any issues even during the time we need to clad a double stroller for the girls. Yet, not even a great public transport system can help a momma who needs to be at two locations at one time. Glad we didn’t have to go through that! Imagine a year of everyday chase of a bus just to bring/pick-up you child in another school on time.

Flexibility.

Southville International follows the school calendar of West. Meaning, they start in August and ends in May. We received the letter from MOE last 14th October. So technically, we’re only able to start our Plan B mid-October. It was a week of extensive research.

We actually almost signed-up on one of the cheapest International School here in Singapore. Luckily both offers open-house where we’re able to see if the school is what we’re looking for for our daughter. As you might have guessed, both schools doesn’t offer the ones we’re looking for (a school that offers an experience nearest to the usual schooling we had – this is our personal opinion).

That’s when we found Southville International- Virtual Online Learning and Training (VOLT) Program. And though we’re tad late for enrolment, they very much welcomed us and our daughter. They just finished Term 1 and the target was for our daughter to be able to join her class at the start of Term 2.

Every email is important and act on with urgency. The whole processing went on a breeze and next thing we know, it’s time for our daughter’s interview with their Principal for evaluation. Yep, the principal herself conducted the interview. Their school might be big but we what we experienced was a fully tight-knit community where people are always taking things hands-on.

Since schooling here in Singapore is still on-going and only ends mid-November, we made arrangements for her to only attend afternoon classes for those few weeks of November. They made no qualms about it and assured us that our daughter will still be able to catch-up with the help of her teachers.

A one-on-one session with her subject teachers would help her catch-up everything in Term 1. In addition to this, my daughter has the option to watch their recorded classes online (they record everyday) if we feel worried that she won’t be able to grasp everything at once.

Budget.

In our case, since our daughter wasn’t able to secure a slot from a local school, our only option is for International Schools. That’s a biggie as we’re a single-income family of four and my husbands contract with his company doesn’t include sending our children to school. We need to shoulder all school fees.

The tuition fees of the International schools here in Singapore are too steep for our budget. We needed to find a school that can provide the quality of education we want for our daughter yet not put us to debt.

In the Philippines, the quality of education your child gets is mostly dependent on the financial status of their parents. One of a parents biggest investment to send their children to private schools if they want them to have a better education.

Here in Singapore on the other hand, their public schools really deliver quality education and each school have a facility as nice as the private ones in the Philippines. The downside for us foreigners though is that we can’t just enrol our children. Ministry of Education(MOE) makes sure that they give priority to local residents and Permanent Residents. That’s why, money alone is still useless.

Independence

This is something every parent’s challenge in upbringing our kids. When a child reaches the age of 4, we’re suppose to slowly let go of them. To detach ourselves as parents from our most precious ones is very easy to say but very difficult to do. As parents, creating that invisible line of teaching discipline/values to our children yet still show our affection can be a task.

A 6 year old child attending school at home is every parent’s temptation. Faltering their child’s independence when they interfere with their studies since they are just around wouldn’t help their child in the long run.

Our Solution: We made sure to leave our daughter in the room alone whenever her class starts. There are times during her first week that instead of asking her teachers, she would go out of the room and ask us for help. This is one of the problems we’ve encountered. We would then go with her back to the room and let her ask her teacher instead. This practice easily solved the problem and now she freely asks her teachers whenever she’s in need.

This is one transition a child may go through if they come from a normal school. They may not feel comfortable asking their teachers online for help just like how they usually approach their teachers before.

After 2 months of our daughter attending virtual schooling, I can say that she’s truly improve. Her school training like checking her email or hangouts for messages from teachers might be quite different than children her age but we believe that this is a great training for children of her generation.

Student-Parent-Teacher Collaboration

Growing up attending a normal school, involvement of the parents isn’t much. Since they only drop off their children to school everyday, and they only get a “great or fine” answer from their kids when asked how’s school in the afternoon, parents don’t really have much access to what happened.

In virtual schooling though, life is an adaptation of our present life. You can easily convey every question you have in mind with the tips of your fingers. We may not meet each other personally yet I’ve had more conversations in 2 months with my daughter’s class adviser than the times my mom spoke to my teachers when I was still in school.

Openness, clarity and efficiency is key. To think that we’re based overseas, I nor my daughter never had a problem communicating with the teachers especially during the times when her books haven’t arrived yet.

For parents who want to be involve with their children’s education yet still want to live their life as normal virtual school maybe for you and your child too. You don’t need to give up life just to snoop and wait around the school (oh I had batchmates before who have mothers who come with them at school everyday🙄)

Of course there are some negative points too.

CONs
Screen-time

Enrolling your child to virtual schooling only means that your child will be using the computer/ laptop/pad everyday. This may be the biggest concern for most parents.

If you think about it though, this is one issue that parents and child of this generation quarrel the most. That’s not even with virtual schooling where children learn something.

Let’s be honest, sometimes, we just want to have some quiet time too and let their child watch from YouTube. To bad, this scenario happen more times than we want to and children think this as normal. Parents realise that their children gets expose to too much radiation, way too late!!!

Rule of Thumb: Set boundaries on everything. Children under 10 yrs old should still be under parents supervision and NOT gadget supervised.

For us though, we take this challenge like any other. Our kids are use to having screen time (we try our best to impose this) so we didn’t have much problem telling our daughter that what she should be doing during screen break. She now enjoys some downtime in the patio enjoying feeding our fishes.😄

Lonely Child

Our daughter has always been a shy one. As we don’t want her to miss socialising with kids her age. Since circumstances brought us to virtual schooling, this has been one of our concerns. Luckily she has a sister (1 yr age gap) so she’s technically not a lonely one.

To our surprise, children really are techie than ever! She actually enjoys chatting with her classmates through hangouts. Oh kids are really different nowadays.

Knowing that socialising with others is important too, we plan on enrolling her on other extra-curricular activities. A once a week class would surely be helpful in gaining new friends.

At home all the time

It helps a lot that I’m a stay at home mom and can literally do things my way. This gives me the opportunity to bring my daughter out for walks or a short trip to the playground to burn some of those energy.

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