Transitioning

437

Today is my last day of teaching at the university.  When I hand in the grades, I’m finally free to be a full-time mom.  It’s so strange to embark on this “jobless state.”  My husband would disagree because it is a big job looking after kids but what I mean by job in this case is paid work.

After graduating from university, I can only remember two times when I didn’t hold a salaried post.  The first was one month between working in Congress and starting work at the Department of Social Welfare and Development.  It was one of the longest, most excruciating month at that moment because I hated the uncertainty of not knowing what to do next.  Being in limbo didn’t agree with me and towards the end of the month, I hit upon the idea of listing down names of people I admire and dream of working for, contacted the first one on the list and got my next job with her as an executive assistant, a case of the universe conspiring to give you what you want.

The second jobless period was the one year I battled cancer.  Oddly, it was not as excruciating as that month in employment limbo.  Because I was pregnant with my second child, I was hopeful, optimistic and jubilant.  My miracle baby was born healthy despite my going through chemotherapy while he was in my tummy.

After two years working as an English teacher in a Chinese university, I am now again entering but this time deliberately – an indefinite, no-formal-job status zone.  On my own volition, I chose to give up my current “stable” life for adventure on the road with my husband and sons.  No more tension between wanting to finish my work and wanting to be with my children.  Now at last, family always comes first.  How many times have I felt guilty preparing lessons for class or grading papers before attending to Jimmy who wants to play or preventing world war two from erupting between two warring factions.

There would still be tensions but they would be of a different cause and nature.  For example, my husband and I both agree in principle to homeschool and roadschool our kids.  However, we sit at different points within a wide spectrum.  Thankfully, at least we’re not at opposite or extreme ends.

He leans towards unschooling and while I believe in this as well, I am not keen on going all out unschooling during the first few years.  I believe the three R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic — should be acquired first, using more curriculum based methods like homeschoolers, unlike unschoolers who do not have a curriculum since their curriculum is whatever the child is interested in.

In primary school, the kids would spend around seven hours in class.  Now, they only spend less than an hour a day getting lessons from my husband and me plus tutorials thrice a week.  I would like to expand that to have daily tutorials but my husband prefers to teach them on our own.

While it’s wonderful and rare that both parents are able to be at home for their children, I believe we can learn a lot from others who have more experience and patience teaching young kids.  They say it is easier to teach other kids than one’s own. Watching others teach my sons would allow me to see other perspectives that can only enrich my way of instruction.

So I hope and pray that my husband lets me to arrange tutors for our children — both face-to-face and online to able to compare techniques.  Eventually, we might have to rely more on Skype tutors because we would be travelling a lot so it’s good to try them out to find a good fit.  Other homeschoolers and unschoolers around the world depend partly on tutors for their children.  Parents combine teaching subjects they are most comfortable with and getting experts in other areas.  For instance, my sister who homeschools her thirteen-year old daughter, teaches her science, history, English and the bible but hires tutors for math and Filipino.

Perhaps there is more pressure on me to undertake a more structured format because I am responsible for enrolling the kids at TMA, a homeschool provider in the Philippines that helps families comply with government regulations regarding education.  Beacause of this, I am more conscious than my husband about fulfilling academic requirements.  This September, Joshua is scheduled to take a test at TMA so that he can be enrolled in Grade 1.  From then on, the kids will take tests at TMA every year and we will have to submit quarterly portfolios of their work.  In the future, should they wish to attend high school or university, they can more easily do so even if they are homeschooled because of the records and documentation of TMA.

 
My friend and fellow-homeschooler, Grace told me that it is important for husband and wife to communicate about and agree on the methods of homeschooling because children are very clever.  They can spot if there is a difference in styles and can use it to get their way.   At the end of the day, my husband and I both want what’s best for our children.  We may disagree about the definition of “best” but we can always negotiate the details.

438

Advertisements

我们的环游世界之梦

Slide1.PNG我们的梦想是环游世界,于是我和丈夫还有我们两个儿子踏上了追梦旅途。鉴于我丈夫对越野驾驶的浓厚兴趣,我们打算租借多功能越野车或是敞篷露营四驱车充当我们的旅途座驾。我们的孩子将在路上接受教育,大千世界就是他们的课堂。有家庭选择这种方式和孩子在旅途中一起学习、成长。Zapps他们一家刚出发的时候还是夫妻俩,然后在环游世界的途中迎接了四个新生命的诞生。十五年来他们一直都开着一台老爷车环游世界。还有其他家庭也有着类似的环游经历,环游时间有一年的甚至几年不等,他们还通过网络和书籍来记录他们的环游故事。我制定的第一条路线太过野心勃勃,后来意识到这条路线无法在一年内完成,所以我又进一步简化了路线。然后我又突然有了一个想法,写一篇以非传统教育为题的博士论文。于是,我就详细精确地定位了这些学校,使我的这次旅行更具有目的性。我们深知这一路上变数颇多,但我们能行随时迁、随遇而安。我们制订的路线并不是长期旅行,而是许多短期旅行。这样我们旅行一段时间后就可以回到云南新家养精蓄锐,为下一次出发旅行做好准备。目前,我们住在天津大港(位于中国北方部)。

Slide2

与澳大利亚教授的相识,使我灵机一动,也许我可以把环游世界和博士毕业论文(非传统教育)相结合起来。起初,我以为这只是个离谱的想法,不过,随后我弄清了一些的细节性问题,我找到了一个成熟的研究课题,阅读了一系列的文献,完成了概念性的框架研究并且找到全世界20所非传统学校及学习中心,在这一切完成后,这个想法越来愈成熟。

为了寻求指导和建议,我给许多教授和作家发了邮件。我论文的题目是《当瓦尔登湖遇到肯与格雷——在旅途中对自然,创造力,娱乐进行探索》,《瓦尔登湖》是亨利·戴维·梭罗关于人与大自然共处的名著。(Ken)肯·罗宾逊先生,他在教育创新方面卓有建树。(Gray)盖瑞彼得·格雷,是一位心理学家,同时也是《自由学习》的作者。我给Ken和Peter两人都发了邮件,阐述了我的想法,很可惜只有Peter回复了我,他说今年七月会到台湾参加亚太民主教育会议。当然,我已经迫不及待地想在现场听他的演讲。为了能够见到他本人,我和我的朋友Donna早就预定了演讲的门票。

我给两位美国教授发了邮件,他们都认为我的论文开题报告太过于宽泛,因此我开始思考还有没有其他可能,比如写一篇关于”项目教学法”的期刊文章。我一直以来都对此教学法很感兴趣,也是我在中国教学课堂上所倡导的。除了论文和期刊,我还有出书的想法。其实最终的结果如何并不要紧,重要的是不断深入学习和探索的过程, 并且,永远都要把孩子们的教育问题摆在第一位。在旅途中我们想做各种尝试,比如沙发客、空中食宿、换工旅行、实惠旅社及其他一些活动,这样还可以帮助我们节省开支。我丈夫说我可以和大家分享在我身上发生过的奇迹,我曾经战胜癌症,在患癌期间怀孕,还生下了一个健康的宝宝。如果有人对我的故事感兴趣的话,我们可以通过癌症康复协会交流,或是对我故事感兴趣的任何机构都可以和我联系。不过要去环游世界,我们面前最大的障碍和挑战是该怎样说服在中国和菲律宾的家人。对他们而言,这个想法太疯狂了,他们自然会担心甚至反对。

435

我一生都在追寻生命的意义,活着的真谛。我曾经尝试过接触各种各样的东西,尝试过很多种工作,在商业上也四处碰壁,也曾在迷茫和不安中期盼自我顿悟,明白究竟该何去何从。我渴望获得那样一种前所未有的充实感,这种充实感在韦恩图中体现的淋漓尽致。我认识一些人,他们的生活中,各个圆圈都很和谐的融合在了一起,浑然天成,他们找到了自己存在的意义;于我则不同,虽然我对生活充满热情,但各个圆圈始终四散游离,总是无法彼此碰撞重合。这个项目给了我希望,那就是我的各个圆圈也将会慢慢靠近彼此,最终产生一个交集,即我存在的意义。

Slide10

这篇文章是由李松柏同学翻译而成的,同时谢谢陈颖利,李燕和任艳芳同学的热情帮助。我非常感谢她们。This article was translated by Eve (Li Song Bai) with help from Poppy (Chen Ying Li), Donna (Li Yan) and Sally (Ren Yan Fang).  I am so grateful to them.

如果你想阅读原来的文章,你可以点击我原来的微博:The original article in English appeared in a previous blog entry here:

Speaking in Slides (Dream Drive Around the World)

毕舟怡

Between Two Moms

Two Christian homeschooling moms talk with each other.  This dialogue may be helpful for mothers who struggle with some homeschooling issues and challenges.  One mother is new to homeschooling while the other has years under her belt.

427

D: How do you encourage your children to do things that you want them to do?

G: I found a book called The Secret Garden which is made of elaborate and detailed drawings to color.  I printed out the book hoping my daughters could color it but my daughters thought it was too hard to finish so they refused to do it.  I didn’t know how to solve this problem.  So after some time, I decided to color it myself.  I spent two hours coloring it and showed them how amazing it was after.  They realized how beautiful it could be and they asked me to print more pages to color themselves.  After that, I didn’t have to ask them.  They did it by themselves.  If you want your children to do something, you have to do it yourself and let them see the amazing results.

D:  We are homeschooling our children but I think my husband allows them to watch TV and play games in the tablet too much.

G: The most important thing about the home education is the communication between the husband and wife.  You must agree with each other about the education method because children are very clever.  If one parent uses one way to teach or influence the children but the other parent uses another way that is the opposite, the children will choose the easier way for them.  So the most important thing is you should talk to your husband and tell him your opinion.  In the beginning, I faced this problem in my family but now we can discuss and stick to one way that we chose.

First of all, you must understand why your husband allows your children to watch TV a lot. I think a lot of Chinese people do this because they want to keep their children quiet and not make a mess.  In this way, the parents can relax more.  So maybe this is also your husband’s reason.  Look at the reason behind the problem and then you can find solutions to the problem.

D: Do you let your children watch TV and play with gadgets?

G:  In my family, I don’t let my children watch TV but I let them watch shows online. My husband likes watching shows on his mobile phone and he spends a lot of time on his phone.  I don’t like that so I talk to my children how long they can watch TV and we set the clock.

D: What’s the role of fathers in homeschooling?

G: I think in China, most fathers don’t want to raise children.  Fathers want to work and earn more money.  When we were growing up, most of the time, it’s the mother who takes care of us.  It’s the same probably with your husband.

D:  My husband doesn’t work and he is not like the other Chinese men who want to earn money.  He also gets angry easily but he really loves to spend time with the children which is very good.

G: You should understand him.  This is the most important thing and then you should express your own opinion.  As a wife, you must appreciate his help.  Some Chinese men, when they talk to their wife, they easily get angry.  I think this is a problem with Chinese husbands.  After they get married, they fight with their wives.  But don’t worry too much because you are a good mother.  You are doing your best to educate your children.  You are teaching your children to read and that is very important.  After they learn how to read, they can do it on their own.  I hope you and your husband will be able to balance things.  You should appreciate that your husband likes spending time with the children.  Not too many Chinese fathers are like that.

D:  What’s the biggest problem you face now?

If I don’t work, I don’t have money to pay for the meals and rent.  I usually try to set a strict schedule for our children and myself but it’s really hard work.  You know when God closes a door, he opens a window for us.  Sometimes the hard situation is good for us and for our children.  It will all be okay.  I’m sorry about your relationship with your husband.  The communication between the husband and wife is very important.   God also teaches us that we should not try to change our husband.  We can just influence him but not change him.  If you try to change him, he will go crazy.  Some people disagree with other people’s criticism of them.  The most important thing is you do the best that you can do yourself. Your husband will do what he does but he will make the change only if he sees that he must.

Before last year, my husband and I also quarreled.  But I want to listen to God’s words that I should follow my husband so I changed myself.  I began to let him do what he wants to do.  I give suggestions but most of the time, my husband does not accept my suggestions.

We quarrel with each other less than before.  We can sit down and talk about education, daily life and different ideas.  Sometimes he will follow his own opinion, not mine but in fact, I wish he can follow me so it’s really hard.  I accept everything so in this way, he is also changed.  As wife and husband, we should follow God’s word and not worry too much. Everything will be okay.

D:  What other suggestions can you give me?

G:  Let your children spend time playing with other children.  It’s very important because we are part of society.  Everybody needs to learn how to communicate well with each other so it’s good to let children play with others.  It’s important that we should be a happy mother.  If the mother is happy, the family is happy, the children are happy.  If the mother is worried, the others will be worried.  So you must be a happy mother and have a happy family.  God told us, worry does not change anything.  I am a happy mother.  We should also pray a lot.

Monkeys and Mowgli’s

415

Like monkeys and Mowgli’s, the kids climbed the trees, expertly hugging the trunks with their arms and legs because that’s what they’re built to do.  They scooped up tiny fishes using a bottle and net, caught insects and dragonflies and frolicked under the sun while the mothers and fathers sat in the shade chatting and eating.  Last Sunday, a few Chinese homeschooling parents from Tianjin gathered at the Water Park organized by the lone foreigner in the group –me.  I was proud because it took one foreigner to get them together.  I was happy because I’ve been aiming to meet homeschooling parents in Tianjin for quite some time and all my online research finally paid off.

Mr. and Mrs. Wu brought four out of their five children whom people generally stared at disbelief because it’s not often in China that you find families with more than one or two kids.  Their youngest, still a baby was being cared for by the grandparents in their hometown.  Mr. and Mrs. Wang have a boy and a girl who graciously distributed the homemade sushi into paper bowls.  Hope’s daughter and son, pre-teens, were older than the other kids so they rode on their hoverboard while others ran around.  Donna’s daughter, Chong Chong was so excited by the picnic that she forgot to eat breakfast and spent the whole morning cutting melon and preparing potato salad by herself.  Jason, Joshua, Jimmy and I arrived late because we were the only ones coming from Dagang.  Everyone else was from the city.

It was a good turn-out and the little kids had the most fun playing but the parents had a good time too exchanging stories among kindred spirits.   Hope’s 10 and 12 year old children go to school only to take final examinations but they study at home and do not attend regular class.  Donna wondered how this could be done and Hope explained that she personally wrote a letter to the headmaster explaining why her children have to stay at home to study.  Fortunately, the headmaster agreed and allows them to join the final exam every year.  Not all headmasters and schools can accept this arrangement so most parents face a lot of difficulty when they decide to homeschool.  Hope plans that her children will study abroad someday so they don’t need to worry about the gaokao (Chinese university entrance exam).

For Mrs. Wu, the most important thing is not the academics but how to build up discipline and set boundaries.  Parents believe that when they homeschool, they are able to pay more attention to shaping their children’s character.  The children spend less time studying and more time doing housework.

Through homeschooling, the children have more time to do things which they are interested in such as sports and other hobbies. The parents can give individualized education according to their personality by discovering what they want to learn and what they are good at.

Donna’s daughter, Chong Chong attends regular school and is now in Grade 3.  Donna asked her if she wanted to study at home but Chong Chong prefers to go to school.  In the future, if Chong Chong decides to stop school, Donna is prepared to do homeschooling.  Maybe when Chong Chong reaches a higher grade where the homework and school pressure becomes too much, then she’ll choose homeschooling, but Donna will leave the choice to her daughter.

In China, most parents worry about how their child will enter primary school, middle school, high school and university.  They are very much focused on getting high grades.  In homeschooling, there are no documents, reports and grades so most parents do not even dare consider this method.

After this summer holiday, Mrs. Wang plans for her daughter to attend primary school for one whole week.  After that, she will attend classes only for half a day and spend the afternoon at home.   Hope also did this in the beginning with her two children but now they have switched to whole day homeschooling.

The mothers in the picnic talked about balancing the dream and reality.  Parents need to earn money to support the family while they nurture their dream of homeschooling.  Both need time so like anything in life, it’s a challenging balancing act.

416

Note:  Thank you very much to Mrs. Wu and Donna for translating the Chinese discussion into English for me.  I wouldn’t be able to write this article without their help because I get totally lost when several people speak in Chinese. 

417

Video Links At Last!

403

We have arrived on YouTube and Youku (the Chinese equivalent of YouTube)!   All thanks to Jason Dee and Eve Lee, without whom this wouldn’t be possible.   Jason has been toiling for two weeks editing the video excerpts from the talk I delivered last June 1 at the Tianjin Foreign Studies University in Dagang.  He was introduced to me by one of my students, Eve, a translation major who volunteered to work on the subtitles for the video.

After watching the raw footages of the talk, I thought it wasn’t worth working on them because the sound quality and camera work left much to be desired.  Plus I hated the sound of my voice.  But then Jason’s eagerness and willingness to edit was just too sincere and earnest to put down.  He didn’t feel the two weeks pass by because he loved what he was doing.  Ever dependable, Eve’s commitment to the project was quite touching.  She was also the one who took charge of the auditorium where the talk was held.

The whole lecture was over thirty minutes long followed by twenty minutes of Q & A.  The edited videos capture only five minutes from the entire talk but I told Jason that I preferred producing only a few short videos as well as could possibly be made rather than a lengthy one that would entail way too much time and effort.

Seeing Jason labor over his laptop took me back to a quarter of a century ago when I was editing videos using what looks like ancient dinosaurs compared to today’s compact but powerful gadgets.  My classmates and I spent hours and hours of sleepless nights in the editing room with Mang Tony so I knew the time needed to produce the video I wanted with all the inserts and cut aways.  I didn’t want to take too much of Jason’s time especially since we approached the examination period.

I’d also like to profusely thank my husband — the other Jason in my life, who did the camera work. As Eleven, another one of my students said, we are indeed very fortunate to have found each other because we share the same dreams.  And we are so blessed to share them with you now.

Following are the YouTube video links:

Dream Drive Around the World (Talk Part 1)

Dream Drive Around the World (Talk Part 2)

Dream Drive Around the World (Talk Part 3)

It’s quite strange, almost surreal to see our faces on YouTube since I’ve been so addicted to searching for videos there.  It’s even more surprising how easy and uncomplicated it is to upload videos.

For the Chinese people who don’t have access to YouTube, here are the links courtesy of Jason Dee.

环游世界之梦(第1部分)

环游世界之梦(第2部分)

环游世界之梦(第3部分)

402

在家教育经验分享研讨会 Points from the Homeshooling Workshop

378

这是我第一次在博文中用中文!

This is my first blog article in Chinese!

我于6月10日至11日在北京参加一个关于在家教育的研讨会,下面是一些来自演讲者幻灯片中的要点。这个研讨会是中文的,所以我用谷歌翻译了目录部分。但在线翻译实在太烂了所以我让我的两位学生帮了忙。感谢陈颖利和徐晓悦。

Following are some points from several power point presentations of the speaker at the homeschooling workshop which I attended in Beijing last June 10 and 11.  The workshop was in Chinese so I just translated the content using Google Translate and asked help from two students when the online translation was just too awful.  Thanks to Poppy and Candice.

 

父母学识不够,没有教学技巧和经验,或者不够属灵等等,都属于对父母不够专业化的质疑。

同样很多的父母也如此怀疑自己的专业化能力,并认为这是自己做在家教育的很大障碍。

Parents feel that their knowledge is not enough, that they lack teaching skills and experience and that they do not have the capacity to meet the professional challenges of homeschooling.
我们深受学校教育模式的辖制

我们不理解在家教育、学校及真正的教育

The school system puts students under a lot of burden and stress.  At the same time, we really don’t understand homeschooling and true education.

根据孩子的成熟程度,每天学习时间从几分钟到几小时不等。 手工工作时间至少跟学习时间一样多。 每天至少一小时的家庭或社区服务。集中于孩子的兴趣和需求,在一致性、好奇心和耐心方面要竖立榜样。与他们一起经历。

Depending on the child’s maturity, daily study time ranges from several minutes to several hours.  There can be as much time doing household chores and study.  At least one hour a day can be for community service.  Focus on the child’s interests and needs.  You must be consistent, patient and curious.

真正的教育更多的应该是有乐趣的:轻松、有治疗作用、不贵、低压而且成功,只要你热爱并能够阅读、写作、计算和清楚的讲话,你就是高级教师

Real education should be fun, easy, have a healing effect, inexpensive, not stressful and effective.  As long are you love to teach and are able to read, write, calculate and speak clearly, you can be a master teacher.

一次加州大学洛杉矶分校(UCLA)针对1016所公立学校的调查发现,教师们平均每天用于跟他们的学生进行个人交流时间,在一整天中总共大约为七分钟。这仅能允许对每个学生产生不超过一至两个个人反应。相比较而言,在典型的家庭学校,经我们统计,每天的反应次数有五十到近三百次之多。

In a UCLA survey of 1,016 schools, it was found that public school teachers on average, communicate with their students directly for only seven minutes.  This doesn’t give that much opportunity for the teacher to respond to each student.  In contrast, in a typical home school, the number of daily interactions is nearly three hundred fifty times more.

和孩子一起享受阅读、学习。阅读是知识学习的核心。坚持每天给孩子至少朗读15分钟,可参考《朗读手册》。孩子自主的学习是根本。按次序训练听说读写技能。父母是孩子学习的引导者、帮助者。一般不需要学校授课模式,而是父母安排孩子学习内容和资料。孩子有问题、需要找父母。一般书本知识的学习2-3个小时候就足够。

Children enjoy reading and learning.  Reading is the core of knowledge and learning.  Read to the child at least fifteen minutes a day.  It is fundamental that children learn by themselves.  Train them in sequence to speak and then to write.  Parents are their children’s learning guide and helper.  Generally, you do not need to apply school teaching methods but the parents can arrange the learning content for the child.  If the child has a problem, the can ask the parent.  Two to three hours a day is enough for general book knowledge.
从小训练孩子整理东西、买菜做饭洗碗扫地、洗衣晾衣等家务,先旁边看着学习,然后和他们一起做,后他们自己做。照顾弟弟妹妹,甚至帮助弟弟妹妹的学习工作。

Train children from an early age to finish things, clean the house, buy food, cook, do laundry and other household chores.  They can first study by looking and then they can do things on their own.  They can take care of younger brothers and sisters and even help them study and do housework.

生怕伤害儿女,或者耽误儿女?育儿理念看了很多,且杂?没有完美父母。追求完美父母就是把自己等同于上帝。也没有完美的孩子

Parents are afraid that homeschooling might harm children or delay their progress.  There is no perfect parent just as there is no perfect child.

儿童有强劲的自我发展生命力,和抗压、修复能力,天生是学习者探索者。

Children have a strong capacity for self-development, self-healing and can cope with stress.   They are born learners and explorers.
没有学校、没有教科书的时代,甚至没有书本的时代,人类如何学习语言?婴儿如何学习语言?

In the time when there were no schools and no textbooks, not even books, how did humans learn language?  How do babies learn language?

声音是语言的躯体,文字是语言的外衣。 婴幼儿学习母语都是从聆听开始!婴幼儿与儿童有强大的聆听能力和聆听专注力。

Voice is the body of language, and characters are the clothes.  When babies learn their mother language, they always start from listening. Babies and children have strong abilities in listening and focusing.
总之,听书具备种种优势。A.好的朗诵引起且增强我们的兴趣,更帮助我们理解;B. 听书轻松,不如读书那么容易累;C. 如果听书听累了,正好可当催眠曲;D. 可以在很多场合与各种活动同步进行,例如,散步、做家务、洗澡,开车,都可以听书;这些场合你无法同步读书。E.不伤眼睛。等等。调侃地说,听读是一种“富人”学习法,视读是一种“穷人”学习法。古代贵族常常雇书僮为自己朗读,当代高官也常用秘书来读文件。我等平民百姓雇不起书僮或“小秘”,但大朗诵家之经典朗诵水平比小秘高百倍,其音频唾手可得而免费使用。为什么不善用呢?

Anyway, listening to books has a lot of advantages. A. Good recitation can provoke and enhance our interest, helping us understand better. B. Listening to books is more relaxing and not as tiring as reading books. C. If you are tired and sleepy, the voice can serve as a lullaby. D. You can literally listen to books wherever you are and whatever you are doing. For example, when you are walking, doing housework, taking a shower or driving a car.  For all the occasions where you can’t read, you can listen. E. Listening to books doesn’t damage your eyes.   Some people tease that listening is for the rich while reading is for the poor. In the past, noblemen used to hire a servant in the study to read books for them. At present, top officials have secretaries to read documents for them. For ordinary people like us who can’t afford to hire a servant or a secretary, why not make good use of audio recordings of excellent speakers? They are accessible online, totally for free and way better than a secretary!

还原本原的自然语言学习,自然、轻松、有趣。摆脱对学校教材模式的依赖与束缚。有更多时间空间利用更生动丰富的经典与大师资源。

使在家上学更轻松易行,高效率高质量同时,成本低廉。

Let’s go back to the earlier and more natural way of language learning which is relaxed and fun.  Get rid of the habit of depending on school methods and textbooks.  Have more time using classic resources which are rich and alive.  Homeschooling can be easy, efficient, high quality and affordable.

Chinese Homeschoolers and the Super Power Blog

370

Blogs must have some kind of built-in super power.  Immediately after writing an entry about wanting to attend a homeschooling workshop in Beijing, the doors rushed open for its fruition through an inadvertent mistake.  Due to my clumsy reading of Chinese characters, I incorrectly pegged the date in July but it was actually June.  As soon as I pressed the blog publish button, I realized the mistake and made a split-second decision to take the train to Beijing.  In my excitement, I also misread the address in Chinese.  I thought the venue was near the Beijing South Station when it referred to another south station all the way at the opposite end of the city.

Anyway, I made it to the workshop and finally met the people whom I’ve been wanting to meet for the longest time – Chinese parents who homeschool their children.  I arrived a little after five o’clock when participants were sharing their own homeschooling stories.  Everything was in Chinese so most of it flew over my head; I could only catch some words and concepts.  Even if I couldn’t understand most of it, the parents’ spirit of enthusiasm didn’t need any translation.  They were so eager to share that even if they were given only ten minutes to speak, most people expounded beyond that.  I expected more moms to be in the audience of around forty people, but the fathers turned out in full force, while children played in the background creating not as much ruckus as anticipated.

The most surprising participant was Mrs. Wu who had five children whose ages ranged between seven and one.  She and her husband take care of their children during the day and during the night, they tutor other people’s children.  I also met Mrs. Wang who has a son and daughter.  Her very own supportive mother came to the workshop to help take care of the kids.  Mrs. Wang teaches computer in middle school and does not let her children watch TV or use gadgets so that they appreciate studying more.

Majority of the people were Christians and the guest speaker from Huizhou, Guangdong was a pastor who had three children.  Following are points I gathered while talking to various parents in Chinese:

  1. If you have points of disagreement with your husband then listen to your husband. This is a very Christian and biblical perspective of marriage.
  2. One mom plans to homeschool for the first nine years of her children’s life but she will eventually enroll them in middle school.  She explained that before, this couldn’t be done but there is a new law that allows parents to combine homeschooling and regular schooling.  As long as you register your child in a school, you can homeschool and then later, if you choose, they can join the formal school.
  3. Make studying a reward, not a punishment.  Make it something they want and look forward to.  But what if it’s already the opposite? What if it’s already a chore?  Maybe it’s because they use the tablet or watch TV too much so when compared to those, studying is not fun.  Studying competes with gadgets and TV so studying can lose by default.
  4. There are a number of homeschoolers in Dali, Yunnan where we plan to move. One mom pointed out to me the forum for Dali homeschoolers in the China homeschooling website.
  5. A mom with four children shared that the most important thing in the first year is to build the relationship between parent and child and to train them to obey the parent.  This is more important than teaching them knowledge.  In the second year, you can then teach knowledge and train them to study on their own.
  6. Another mom started homeschooling only when her son turned sixteen.  Her son does not have to take the gaokao because he is planning to major in Bible Studies and attend a Christian University in Beijing where the gaokao is not a requirement.
  7. Is it possible to attend top Chinese universities like Beida and Tsinghua without going through the gaokao?  It’s possible for people to attend classes without enrolling.  You don’t get a certificate but there are people who sit in the classes for the sake of learning what they’re interested in.  Makes me want to try that out myself.
  8. Relax. Don’t stress about things. Don’t put pressure on yourself or on the child especially when it comes to reading.  It’s easy to feel pressured about reading but you should remove the pressure so learning how to read becomes pleasant.

While I was attending this talk, Jimmy spent time with his Gugu (Aunt) while Jason and Joshua trekked up Wu Tai Shan.  We were each in our own homeschooling world, learning the way we felt best.

After the talk, I need to assess, change and improve some of my techniques.

373

372