Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Yesterday, I listened to a radio interview of two homeschooling parents who are among the pioneers of homeschooling in Malaysia. They started homeschooling their two sons 15 years ago and both boys are now in college/university. They provided clarification on basic questions about homeschooling and shared their experience and knowledge. Here is the podcast if you'd like to have a lsiten.

I'm also awed by this story. How does one have so many children and successfully raise and homeschool all of them? And study for an engineering degree too?! I guess if you love your family, you will find a way. Both husband and wife need to work together to make it work. And it would help if family and friends are supportive of your decision to homeschool without making uninformed judgments and comments. One of my fears if we decide to homeschool C is that I may lack the courage to face negative comments by certain parties who do not understand this system of education.

The homeschooling concept is more common in the US so it's accepted more easily. Although it is growing in Malaysia, Asian parents and grandparents are not convinced and could even be mortified that the children are not getting a 'proper' education if homeschooled. They have no confidence that the parents have enough knowledge or skills to teach, believing that qualified teachers at schools can do a better job with a structured curriculum. Many also think that being homeschooled means you lack socialisation and are not in touch with the real world.

If you click on the link, there's the tv news clip about it that helps you see how things work for this family of seven children. I've also copied and pasted the text here.

AURORA - When you're in a family with seven kids, you need to be quick at the dinner table. You need to be patient with your siblings. But, you don't always need more than one letter for everyone's name.

"Jayde, Jeven, Jhia, Jarec, Jake, Jenna, and Jordan," said Janelle Henderson, mother of seven. "And, my siblings and I are all Js. So, everyone in my entire family starts with J."

Everyone, except dad.

"My name is Wayde Henderson, Junior. I have a "J" in my name," Wayde Henderson said.

The Henderson family likes to do things a little differently than most. Not only does Janelle Henderson have to keep up with the whereabouts of all seven kids, she homeschooled all of them.

"I've been homeschooling for 21 years now," Janelle said. "There was a time where I worked all night and came home and homeschooled my kids in the day."

Janelle tries to play the role of mom and teacher while drilling her kids on math equations and spelling tests. She says the homeschooling happened by accident. While shopping at a school supply store, she heard the store owner talking about it, which piqued her interest.

That's when she decided, homeschooling could work for her family.

"I just took it very seriously that I really have to make sure they're getting everything they need to know," Janelle said.

So far, it appears to be working. All of the older kids have gone on to college at the age of 16.

"What people say is impossible really isn't," Janelle said.

Jarec and Jake currently take classes at the Community College of Aurora.

"I've been excited for college since I was probably three or four," Jarec, 18 said.

The three oldest siblings went on to 4-year colleges to get bachelor's degrees and more.

"I don't think there was ever a time where I didn't know I was going to college," Jhia, the third oldest of the seven, said. "Growing up in this house, it was always expected that you were going to finish school and go to college."

Janelle believes strongly in sending her kids to community college first. She says not only is it saving her "hundreds of thousands of dollars," allowing her to kids to have a full education, she says it's a natural transition from homeschooling.

"I just think that community college gives you the opportunity to graduate into adult life," Janelle said. "Without community college, it would've been a different path."

All of her children have high expectations. They are seeking careers such architecture or engineering after receiving their college degrees.

"I want them to have a story to tell," Janelle said.

When you're in a family with seven kids who are involved in sports and other extra-curricular activities, mom says, you better have an organized schedule.

"While we're doing this, Jhia's at school. Jeven's at school. Jayde's at work," Janelle said. "I actually have on the computer, like a detailed a schedule of where everybody is."

Jake says he is still amazed that it can all work.

"To me, it seems stressful for my parents," Jake said.

So, each kid helps with a different chore everyday to help. They prepare half the meals. They take each other to and from basketball practice. All this while dad works three jobs including counseling folks at the Denver Rescue Mission.

"That's my way of supporting the family by doing whatever is needed and what it takes," Wayde said.

And, even though the family does not have a lot of money, Janelle says her kids belong in school instead of working to help the finances.

"I don't think it's my kids' job to support the family," Janelle said. "I think if we decided to have seven kids, it's our job to support the family."

In the meantime, Janelle also works on getting her master's degree in mechanical engineering from Metro State University of Denver.

"You only live once. I don't want to be like 60 saying, I never did anything," Janelle said.

When you're in a family with seven kids, you expect the house to be loud. That is not the case at the Hendersons.

"It's actually not very loud at our house at all," Jake said. "We were raised not to be loud and obnoxious."

Janelle says if all seven kids were boisterous, it would feel like the house would explode.

"I'm not going to have a crazy household," Janelle said. "I am simply not going to have it."

The kids say mom rules the roost with a system of tough love and laughter.

"It's like you will do what you have to do," Jarec said.

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