Dawn Fung is the organiser behind the Homeschool Convention 2017-2018. These are the questions from the homeschool community to her.
Q. Sum up your homeschool philosophy in one sentence.
Dawn : This one is hard. I like unpacking ideas more than summing them up. It always seems limiting to condense something so important and deep into something short and punchy. But I guess I can try for this season’s. My homeschool philosophy is “doing family life with others”.
I am a big advocate of strong families. The family is the foundational block of community, as well as a natural, necessary system for living. Regardless of our family background or blend, human beings have an intrinsic need to belong, to find something familial to root themselves in. You know a group of people has high value to someone when he says “They are my family!”
I cannot imagine successfully homeschooling without growing the family first. Many strong families will sustain a wonderful, vibrant homeschool community.
Q. You seem to have so much energy. Do you ever burn out? What do you do to recharge?
Dawn : I tend to burn out and not know it until I feel nauseous doing a task. Unfortunately, I think that could be the byproduct of having grown up in a Singapore education/work system – we don’t understand how to slow down, rest and enjoy time. We always need to do something – productivity is our nation’s lifeblood. It’s a strength and weakness that we ought to balance from time to time. I’ll admit that I cannot keep still. I even find sleep boring. One of the pillars in my life is my spouse. He tells me the truth, especially when I’m doing too much, or need a break. I learnt from him how to enjoy rest. Honestly, I think I’ve improved over the years!
In this season of life, I am learning how to delegate responsibilities to others. In Strengthsfinder, one of my top strengths is Responsibility. If I have something to do, I will make sure that I see a task till its end. And it has to be executed excellently. This can be insane. For example, if I have to make a decision about the Convention for the keynote speakers, I will think about that decision from all stakeholders of the convention, including all the convention teams to convention attendees. I need to know I covered as many perspectives as I can to ensure a good outcome.
To recharge, I focus on a few things in life – my family, the homeschool community, and 1-2 activities outside that feed my interests. I regularly declutter my social media archives, as well as my home. Piled up things weigh me down, even digital ones. Also, I designed my home with a lot of natural light and materials so that the ambience calms me down.
Q. What keeps you going to build the community of/for homeschoolers?
Dawn : My first activity in the local homeschooling community was the Not Back to School Picnic a few years back at Botanic Gardens. My kids were very young then. I remembered thinking, “this is my tribe”. Homeschooling has been a vision since I was 19. My pastor who mentored me at that time homeschooled his 7 children. That family’s life made such an impact on me that I desired to want to homeschool my future family.
Finding the local community when it was time to homeschool my kids was a moving experience. I knew : I’m supposed to be here. From then on, I just focused my energy on building the community. On hindsight, my journey looks like a 5-year-plan in the making with the Homeschool Convention as a culmination. But really, it’s just about enjoying connecting with other families and doing life together. As you grow that enjoyment with others, you want to share the joy with more people. And see where we’re at now!
Q. What do you hope to achieve through the convention?
Dawn : I want to see homeschoolers inspiring other homeschoolers on a big platform like the convention. It’s because the reach is big – to all religions, backgrounds, curricula – and the opportunity to grow in thought leadership is precious. I am always surprised when homeschool parents tell me their stories aren’t worth sharing – this is the worst nonsense. Who else would inspire us if not one another? My view of each homeschool parent is a super star!
I want to see unity in diversity. I love the different opinions of fellow homeschoolers. We don’t have to agree but our perspectives should be heard; someone is able to reach a group out there that the other can’t.
Last year, it was mostly me running the whole thing. This year, we have about 60 people running the convention, including teens, primary school kids, and SEN kids. I love an inclusive community, because it’s a reflection of a family.
Q. What are some other wild ideas you have for the community?
Dawn : On my to-do list is an upcoming programme called Little U. I want to kickstart a tertiary-like experience for our homeschool community – parents and kids. I think learning is lifelong, and we should help one another find opportunities to grow our interests. I want to work with companies, organisations and individuals in Singapore and beyond, to find meaningful internships and exposure for homeschoolers. In the next 10 years, the education landscape is not one of certification but of apprenticeship.
I want us to give back to Singapore in a big way too. Homeschool Singapore already runs the Children’s Craft Fair at the Singapore Art Museum where kids make things to sell to other kids for kids’ charities. Could our Children’s Craft Fair alumni reach out to kids in other communities to teach or give workshops?
What happens when homeschool parents rise up to organise things for the community based on their interests for the long run? Can we help discover that in one another?
There are so many exciting possibilities. I want everyone to win.
Q. How else do you think the community can better support each other?
Dawn : Kick the shit out of kiasu-ism. I can’t stand FOMO – it’s a terrible lie! Why would you be missing out when you have everything already? Work backwards. If this is your last year to live, how would you do so? Would you still join 101 groups waiting to catch a bargain, or would you focus on your family and make the remaining days worth living? Priorities become clearer when you think of final things.
The homeschool community is small and precious. Be brave, honest, and allow the community to enjoy you as you are. Be the kind of person you want your kids to be. Protect your children by giving them your best time. Grow your family well in Singapore, because the long term benefits of a strong family also contribute to the nation’s health. When our families are doing well, our community will be too.
Photo taken by Hoon Sze Siang.