While my hubby, my handyman is in the high DIY spirit and assembling our new bookcase, chest of drawers and organizer for the new baby, I decided to write this post about homeschooling. There’s only one electric drill anyway, so I’ll just let him be Angus the Constructor. When I was still single, I used to assemble the furnitures myself. Now that I have him, I have so much more time on my hands! (Admiring hubby)
Ok, back to the subject. Homeschool.
Ever since I have been in Taiwan and was surprised to see junior high students still going to class in the summer, I’ve decided that my kids should enjoy summer and being young.
Another point is that I would like to have a bilingual (Chinese and English) environment for the children. While there are still good bilingual options in Taiwan, I still need to look into them.
On the other hand, Taiwanese kindergarden and some elementary schools are pretty impressive and would give the children a good educational experience without compromising their childhood.
Good news is that I have some 4-5 years to think about it. Being curious me, I attended a “Homeschool Seminar” organized by the Tainan Education Department.
Homeschooling in Taiwan
Unlike homeschooling in Canada or the states, teaching kids at home is still a relatively new (maybe around 15 years) concept. More families are getting involved in homeschooling and the government is putting frameworks in place to help make this work.
In Taiwan, the government is responsible for every child’s education from 6-15 years old. So, if your child is past 6 years old and not attending school, the government’s in trouble, and so are you. Therefore, all children have to be registered for some kind of education.
Homeschool cases are supervised by the Department of Education for each county. Every family who wishes to homeschool must write a proposal and apply to the government.
The proposal itself is quite extensive. It includes sections on “Education Theory” and proposed education plan, curriculum and schedule for the period that the parent intends to homeschool their child. Some people apply every year as they change their curriculum on the way. Others might write a proposal for the 9 years of homeschool. However, if changes are made, the proposal need to be modified and re-submitted.
Proposals could be submitted in two time slots for Tainan, one for fall/winter semester and another for winter/spring semester.
Parents are allowed to be quite flexible and free with what they decide to teach their children.
Local School Resources
When the proposal is passed, each case is paired with a teacher from the local school and the child is registered under that school. The child is also part of a class of his age.
What I like about this system is that the school is a resource for parents. Parents can choose to let their children participate in classes, school events, competitions or school insurance programs. For example, if the parent wants the child to only participate in physical education classes, then he will be a regular for those classes for the semester. The schedule and level of involvement at the local school could be discussed with the teachers and principal. The school is also responsible for informing parents on any school events and activities.
At this point, only about 10% of schools are dealing with homeschooling families. Most likely, your child will be the first case the school would have dealt with. However, the government has an intensive training and supervision program for new schools with homeschool cases.
Basically, the parent(s) would grade their children according to their curriculum. They then need to translate their grade or scores to the format used by the local school. Of course, the Department of Education trusts that all parents would be fair and not give their children straight As. Parents grade according to their child’s efforts and realistic strengths and weaknesses in the study area.
How About Getting into College?
One of the main concerns for homeschooled kids and parents is whether or not their curriculum would be sufficient for the child to qualify for higher education. In Taiwan, it’s a yes and no. Basically, in Taiwan, there is probably no university that has a special enrolment procedure or requirements for homeschooled students. The criteria for university entrance are based on Taiwanese curriculum and test scores. Students would still need to undertake the gruelling national examinations like other high schoolers.
In Canada and the States, most schools have spots for homeschooled students. Schools could ask students to take certain exams, such as SATs in the US or other validating credentials. There are also online colleges that do not require a high school diploma. Apart from high school grades, the emphasis is on personal development, self-learning abilities and involvement extra-curricular activities, which are in the favor of homeschoolers.
Who knows, maybe in a decade, the system in Taiwan might be more accommodating to students who choose to have alternative education. This would be a giant step forward for the education system.
Here are a few resources about homeschooling in Taiwan and the application process.
Taiwan Homeschool Advocates (Chinese)
Tainan Non-School Experimental Education Website (Department of Education Tainan in Chinese)
OK, so what did I actually learn from the homeschool seminar? I’ll write this in the Part II of this post, which will be out in a couple of days. Until then, have an amazing, out-of-this-world week!