Alumni Stories

Alumni : Joan (S.J.I International)

Homeschool mum and writer for our Alumni series, Lynda, talks to our fourth interviewee, Joan. She homeschooled during her primary school years. She is currently studying at SJI International.

Since the tender age of 3, I’ve been home-schooled up to 12 years old: The last year of primary school. Many question why I home-schooled, and there are many reasons for that, but most importantly, home-schooling has been a joy for me, and even a way of life. When asked whether I regret being home-schooled, I would grin, and give a firm and definite no. I’ve learnt so much from home-schooling, it’s hard to forgo it. However, when the time comes, we eventually have to move out of our comfort zones, and interact more with the world around us, and not just live in the sheltered dome home-schoolers are almost always in. That’s when I made the decision: I was going to a school. 

Tell me a bit about your family and a typical homeschooling day in your house!

I have two incredibly supportive and encouraging parents, and two mischievous younger brothers who make disturbing me their favourite past-time.

A typical home-schooling day consist of waking up and doing morning routines, doing any school work necessary while setting small, bite-sized goals to help me achieve a certain standard in my work. I would have a rather long lunch break- 1 hour, and would then get back to work until approximately 4. Once I’ve finished all my homework, I am free to do whatever I feel like doing that day (e.g. art and craft, piano).

What difficulties or challenges did you face whilst home-schooling and how did you overcome them?

Although home-schooling has helped me to set decent goals, because of the relaxed environments, I ended up delaying and not dong various things. Time management was also a problem: I could never wake up on time, and as such, is still a huge problem I face now. However, over time, I was pushed by various deadlines I had to meet, and eventually got better in those problems, even though I still have much trouble with that. In addition to that, I didn’t do much physical education, which results in me having a weak sports foundation, and a dislike for most sports. This is still a problem I face up to now.

What curriculum did you use in your primary years and what are the pros and cons?

Throughout my primary school years, I used the ACE curriculum, in which we did PACES for 6 subjects: English, Literature, Word Building, Maths, Science and Social Studies. The best thing about the ACE curriculum is that we could learn to self-study and set achievable goals. Due to the nature of the curriculum, which involves reading a passage about the topic and completing a worksheet, we could efficiently learn how to self-study and not be “spoon-fed”, unlike mainstream students. As such, when I moved on to Secondary School, revision for tests were not an obstacle. In addition to that, ACE has cultivated my love for English by making us read various types of books regularly, and encouraging creative writing. As of now, English is my best subject, and most of the credit goes to ACE.

On the other hand, the ACE curriculum is particularly weak in Maths and Science, as compared to the Singapore syllabus. To give a guideline, Grade 7 maths would be the level of a Primary 4 Student, and so when I transitioned to secondary school, maths became a particularly hard subject for me to overcome. As for science, the curriculums are worlds apart, and thus, the ACE curriculum is not applicable to any Singaporean science.

Despite these cons, I would still stand by my point that using ACE and home-schooling was an extremely valuable experience.

What activities did you take part in while home-schooling and how do you think they benefited you?

I took part in 3 main activities: Swimming, Piano, Scouts, and am still doing these now. Art was picked up for approximately 2 years before I quit.

As a child who did not like sports (especially those that made you sweat), swimming was the perfect way to keep in shape for me. I go for a lesson once every week, and that has helped me to strengthen my legs and arms, and most importantly, learnt a crucial survival skill.

Piano has helped me tremendously, musically, as I now know how to read music notes and am able to apply these into my music lessons in schools and new pieces I learn.

Finally, Scouts was the one time every two weeks, that I would socialize with over 30 people, and play with them. I’ve found some of my closest friends from this scout group. It helped me overcome my fear of speaking in front of a large audience, speaking up and not worrying about being laughed at, as well as socializing and getting to know new people.

Though I did art for 2 years, it didn’t prove particularly useful for me. Maybe art just wasn’t my flair.

I understand you are in Secondary school now. What was the transition like? Any advice for primary homeschoolers going on to mainstream secondary school?

I am currently studying in Saint Joseph Institution International. On the first day of school, I was incredibly nervous. Worries plagued my mind: “Since everyone else here has been in school for 6 years, won’t they all have something to talk about except for me? Am I going to be excluded?“

However, that was not the case. Everyone was just as green and lost as I was, and all looked nervous and scared. The first few days were nerve racking, like having to find the way around school and nearly being late, and making new friends. That was admittedly the hardest part. I could cope with all the work and topics we were learning, but the biggest challenge for home-schoolers when transitioning is nearly always making new friends. I believe in having a handful of close friends that will build up over time, and eventually, these close friends will introduce you to other friends. The best thing one can do is speak up, smile and listen to them. Of course, there’s also the challenge of getting through Physical Education (For me at least).

Coping with the new syllabus can be challenging. However in my IB syllabus the grade 7 maths and science are a copy of PSLE maths and science, and are incredibly easy to get through. Of course, things will be different in a normal mainstream school, but I guess that’s not my story to tell.

My tip : When in secondary school, we should work hard, but not overload ourselves with commitments. Build friendships and enjoy the learning process. Try your best, make the most of your time and you’ll never go wrong!

Many parents are worried about whether homeschooling their children will enable them to achieve paper qualifications required in Singapore. ALUMNI are stories from parents and homeschooling children who are now adults, who have “been there, done that”. If you have a story, email