For the longest time I have kept a low profile on homeschooling.
Of all the reasons I have, perhaps the fear of judgment or being labeled is the strongest.
I didn’t feel like I fit in with the “real” full-time homeschooling mums who didn’t work, and who juggled multiple children’s curricula across different age groups. I wasn’t super like them. I didn’t know of homeschooling co-ops, or special groups that met for forest walks or international conferences. I didn’t have vast oceans of knowledge about the Montessori, playbased or Classical method of schooling.
I also didn’t feel like I fit in with the full-time working mums who worked hard, and struggled with finding pre-schools, enrichment activities, tutors, grandparent schedules, and managing a domestic helper at home. I didn’t know of the schools in our proximity (we kept moving), or the best neighborhoods to live in or the age-appropriate music, dance, drama, swimming, gym classes to drop our kids off to.
I was, am simply a mum who co-homeschools with my husband. I happen to work in public health. I run a non-profit. I have two young children under 5, one of whom is like 3 kids in 1 since hitting her terrific twos. Thankfully, I enjoy cooking, though occasionally it has meant chopping vegetables while muting the audio function, and then unmuting the audio to speak over a meeting while stirring wet rice and scalding a finger. It has meant logging onto virtual talks while clearing emails while walking around the reservoir to clock enough steps for the day because the kids always want Mama nearby, to be carried, to be so close to them. It has meant looking for quick hacks to do nearly everything in life.
I don’t have househelp or grandparenting drop-off support, but I do have an amazing husband who is a full-time husband, father and follower of Christ.
When young people visit our home, we invite them into the chaos not because we are proud of it. But because we know that this is real. This spray of toys over the floor, shower of crumbs, crayons strewn senseless across the hallway, legos hailed down. It is what early parenthood looks like. Brutal, broken nights of sleep after weeks of good rest, sudden meltdowns out of nothing, this self-doubt. A constant self-doubt asking, “Am I doing OK? Are my kids doing OK?”
More than a year has passed since we returned to Singapore. Cliff reminds me I don’t need to hide.
It’s okay if my kids are not in homeschooling co-op, or if we don’t have a helper (“Do you know if you get a helper, you’ll have SO much more quality time with your kids?!”). It’s okay that people raise their eyebrows when they ask “so what does your husband do?” and think I’m a bulldozing, unrestrained feminist. It’s okay that the kids are not enrolled in multiple enrichment lessons or that I really only have about a dozen recipes I rotate all year round.
It’s okay if I really am petrified by colleagues who find out and think I’m not serious about my work to spend my time dabbling in literal child’s play, play that they think can be easily outsourced.
I am learning that the truth is, every child and family are different. Our trajectory has been, will be different. And that is okay.
That is very okay. I try to breathe while saying that.
We are just a normal, struggling young family, like many young families are. We are a cross-cultural family who desires to move into missions intentionally, which means we have moved many times and will continue to, across continents. It means we have intentionally decided to sow into the early years of our children’s lives, to prepare them for some possibly challenging years in the field that only God knows about.
It is also with this that I have decided to, from time to time, share how we spend time at home (and outside) with the kids. This is neither a curriculum for homeschoolers, nor a guide for working mums. It is neither our way of showing how superior nor how creative we are. It is not to showcase one way (homeschooling) being better than another (traditional schooling).
It is simply sharing some of the ways we try to incorporate fun with learning at home, and we hope it can be a small blessing to families struggling to find ways to occupy little human beings with big emotions and big needs.
I couldn’t be more thankful for suggestions from other mum-friends, which have been at times life-saving!
This is just one of many ways.
We follow a Christian-based curriculum called My Father’s World. It follows the bible through the year. We start with that every morning, followed by Chinese penmanship, Chinese storytelling and songs, Letter of the week (which each lasts for 2 weeks), a craft based on the letter, talk about feelings beginning with the letter (think G for grumpy), and then Papa brings them out while Mama works. This could be to the supermarket with a letter-based shopping list or to the zoo with a list of letter-based animals, or simply just to have fun! We lunch together, more craft time with Mama, and then Papa brings them out again for outdoor play while I work. I take them to the playground while Papa winds down. We spend the rest of the evening together.
We don’t welcome unsolicited advice, or personal questions about our family. But we definitely do welcome new friendships and fun ideas. 🙂
If you, like me sometimes, feel incompetent about parenting little ones, and find the idea of teaching them unthinkable, I hope this might give you a glimpse of how it could look like, by a normal parent like me. It’s not always pretty, but it has certainly been rewarding. I’m not a professional educator, my email inbox is constantly buzzing, and I’m far from being a perfect mum.
But I have learned from Cliff, that the most important thing to remember as a mother, is that God chose YOU to be the Mama of your little ones. And there is thus no one else who could do a better job than you, no one who could love them more.
So if you have little ones and are terrified by the idea that you could ever teach them, know this- that God is the ultimate Teacher, and we are merely vessels.
There have been so many mornings I’ve awoken not knowing what I can gift to them, but as we pray as a family before the day begins, we ask God to be our Teacher to show us what He wants us to learn.
And then, a beautiful feather would show up for our week on F, or we’d be blessed by the sight of a beautiful caterpillar on our week for C.
So before the rest of year runs away, here’s posting a little of what we have done in the fortnight on the letter F.
Family Mobile with all of us, bits of twine, and a hanger!
Footprint rocket- a birthday present for Papa Cliff this month!
Fruit smoothie popsicles (Banana, berries and milk- thankful for a blender gifted to us recently, since my firstborn had several food related triggers for her eczema)
Feathery plants during our outdoor play watching kites at Marina Barrage