By Dawn Fung
Previously I listed some online homeschooling communities on this page. After some thought, I decided to replace a list with guidelines instead.
Definition A community is a group of people with a common interest. The community can be of any size as long as the people in the group feel attached and have their needs met. A successful community has a vision, and is intentional about providing a good experience for its members. A homeschooling community can be as small as a co-op of a few families, to a dedicated interest-based fee-paying group (e.g. kayaking club), to social media groups for members to connect conveniently.
Depending your family’s vision and needs, you may need just one or a few communities to complement what you are looking for.
CHECKLIST FOR A HEALTHY HOMESCHOOLING COMMUNITY
Use this checklist as a guide since there seems to be many homeschooling groups in Singapore. Homeschooling communities generally are :
- Serious about serving homeschoolers. Communities that seem to want to attract everyone will not be able to meet your needs. Read the community’s guidelines before you join, and ask questions. This will reduce misunderstandings and disappointments.
- Trustworthy. Check that the leader of the group is reliable. Can you speak to him/her and get an honest answer? What do others say about him/her? These are good questions to start with. I will not recommend communities led by people I do not personally know. The homeschooling landscape in Singapore is small. Word gets around if a leader is good or unreliable. Because homeschoolers move around as families, the children and parents deserve responsible leadership.
- Active. There are ‘dead’ communities online simply because people’s lives have moved on. Don’t try to revive a community if you do not have the resolve to make it succeed. It is better to close it down and start a new one.
- Nurturing. It is not interested in the number of people it attracts, but the welfare of the members. Homeschooling involves the whole family. If you and your children do not feel valued, move on.
- Inclusive. Expats, locals, SEN, parents of diverse opinions are welcome. Some communities only take in homeschoolers for a specific purpose e.g. religion based. But they will be upfront about it, so you can make an informed choice. This is a good thing because everyone should be free to create their own communities for their learning purposes. If you feel you are in a community that does not meet your needs, you should move on. You can’t change the vision of the community you are in to suit you, but you can build your own, or find another that fits.
- Honest. Once you are out of the mainstream system, you will find it easier to speak your mind. Homeschoolers generally are accepting of one another’s opinions. Only a handful may come across as afraid or people pleasing. (This posture usually happens when you’re new or are still looking for a tribe to like you.) Veteran homeschoolers are very steely. They will tell you the truth. They will not flatter you. There is simply no desire to ‘fit in’ as you would have in a mainstream school environment.
- Not greedy to make money off you. A good homeschooling community does not seek to make profits off you. I run away when I see a community providing a platform for advertising or acts like an MLM. When a community is not focused on growing its homeschooling members, but using members to earn money, the community is not healthy. Always seek to find out how money is used if your community collects fees for membership. Homeschoolers tend to stay with a community for a long time. You will have spent a lot by then, so just be careful and opt to be well informed.
If you encounter a group that is using homeschooling as a front for profit making and not offering quality membership care, you may comment on this page to warn others, or to review for others. This will help us keep a lookout for unsavoury places.
Got a community to recommend us? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.