School's Out! Thematic Issues

Giving Back as a Homeschooler

Homeschooling Alumni member Rebecca Teoh looks back at her homeschooling journey in her last two years including being the organiser the Homeschool Convention 2021.

From the Editor’s Desk:

While homeschooling entails a wide range of approaches from the prescriptive to unstructured forms, conversations on education in general are typically led by parents. This article highlights how the youth also aspires to offer their take on matters like approaches and attitudes to education.

One such individual is Rebecca Teoh, who shares how events like homeschool conventions have provided a platform for homeschoolers across the globe to connect and share their unique perspectives and ideas. Despite homeschoolers being a minority in the world of education, conventions like these offer a valuable support system for a diverse selection of homeschoolers. Her recent roles in local and international conferences also made her reflect on her role in the homeschooling landscape.

Giving Back as a Homeschooler

By Rebecca Teoh

In 2020, I was given the opportunity to be a speaker on a panel at Global Home Education Exchange (GHEX) Convention. It was a tremendous privilege to be part of an international homeschool convention as a youth. Magdalene Hoy, the founder of Homeschool Alumni SG, was also on the panel, along with homeschooling students and alumni from countries like Indonesia, Taiwan and the United States.

The choice of panelists and variety of topics featured at the GHEX Convention was impressive. The sessions were structured such that we could gain perspectives on a single focused topic from homeschooling parents, high school graduates and adults who were homeschooled. This created opportunities for listeners to have more exposure to what homeschooling is like at different stages. The question and answer format of the convention allowed for frequently asked questions to be answered about a specific topic and gave panelists the opportunity to share life stories related to it. The categorization of sessions by topics allowed those listening to pick and choose what they wanted to listen to based on their needs and interests. This ensured that panelists could engage the audience and answer their questions more effectively. In addition to that, having the conference live with different panels scheduled on different days and times also enabled attendees to listen to multiple panels.

Following my experience at the GHEC, I organized the Homeschool Convention SG in 2021. By studying previous Singapore homeschool conventions, I noticed how its attendees range from the newly initiated to veteran homeschooling parents. As we have such a small, tight-knit community, focusing on sharing the stories of homeschooling individuals to refresh, energize and connect the community was the goal. The convention was first brought online in 2020 and it was great that we had some experience in adapting to the various changes in restrictions. That experience was helpful in tweaking and refining the process from start to finish for the 2021 convention. 

Image credit: Homeschool Alumni SG website

This year, the convention was organized under the Homeschool Alumni, which is a new initiative. After seeing how the GHEX Convention had young people on their panels and reflecting on my experience as a homeschooling student, I felt the need for the representation of homeschooling youth during the convention. Typically, besides the handful of youth speakers, most of those who serve and attend the convention are adults. Since homeschooling involves both parents and children, and teenagers ought to be encouraged to take charge of their education, I would love to see more teen representation during events like the homeschool convention. 

I also realized how some of my friends had homeschooled in small communities, or even alone, and had chosen not to venture out and connect with the larger homeschooling body. This made me think about how I could make an event like the Homeschool Convention appealing to everyone and encourage the young people to connect with us and join the network. While some of the plans we set to achieve this were not executed during the 2021 convention, the Homeschool Alumni team shares similar goals and plans to grow the community and focus on the young people who need to be refreshed, energized and connected as well.

The start-up team of the Homeschool Alumni SG. Rebecca Teoh is first from the left. Image credit: Homeschool Alumni SG website

Having the experience of representing homeschoolers on various platforms has been beneficial to my growth as a student and as a homeschooler. It made me reflect on my personal homeschooling journey, and how the educational lifestyle of homeschooling has allowed me to evolve and grow as a person. By venturing out and connecting with the larger homeschool body by going to events, curriculum fairs, group outings and so on, I’ve been able to see how different people in the community can contribute to the sustainability and growth of the community and the individuals in it. When we are able to see a greater purpose in what we do, it makes the long and sometimes tough journey easier because we know why we do it and who we are doing it with. 

As I grow older and give back to this community that I have grown up with, I have also gained more perspectives of what happened behind the scenes. Hence, I have immense respect for those who have contributed in various ways, from coordinating co-ops, events, outings, and making so many other activities possible. I believe that homeschooling teenagers have so much potential to impact those around them by stepping up and leading in various ways. Because they have been the ones who grew up in this community, they are equipped to make it a better place for other homeschoolers.

I am extremely excited to see how our upcoming conventions can work with the various facets and groups in the homeschool community to showcase different opportunities and stories of those involved.