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Book Review: The Home Education Handbook

Home Education is a practical alternative to conventional schooling as we brave through the unprecedented COVID-19. Although my kids are quite young, I was a bit bothered by the fact that they have too much time in their hands and no solid structure of navigating the day due to PKP. PKP is the Bahasa Melayu abbreviation of Restricted Movement Order outlined by the Government to control the coronavirus pandemic. Good thing that I saw The Home Education Handbook while I was browsing at my neighbourhood Borders. To my surprise, many of my friends were also interested in Home Education when they saw I posted a picture of the book on FB.

I had created a video for this review as well on YouTube. But if you are keen for more details on home education, I suggest supplementing the video with this blog.

While reading The Home Education Handbook by Gill Hines and Alison Baverstock, I realised that there are many salient points in this book that is related to other books that I’ve read. I was happy to know that home education is a huge enabler to a child’s ability to learn about their aptitudes, abilities, and interest. And that is because generally, the school system relies heavily on obedience and order to have a smooth schooling day. As opposed to keeping a focus on developing a child’s individual strength.

The first book that I could relate The Home Education Handbook to is an article in The Essentials by The Harvard Business Review, titled Managing Oneself, which you can read here. The points outlined by Peter Drucker in his article led to me thinking, “Isn’t home education a way to train a person to manage his/herself?”. It is without a doubt that effective home education is a path to excellence when executed well.

The second book that I could relate The Home Education Handbook to is Brian Grazer’s A Curious Mind. Brian Grazer is an Academy Award producer whose name is behind the creation of A Beautiful Mind, 8 Mile, the television series 24, and many others. His book talks about how valuable curiosity is and how curiosity can lead to a bigger life. I believe home education can milk a child’s curiosity to ignite a lifelong learner in them.

The third book that I find could relate to The Home Education Handbook is Totto-Chan by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi. This is a memoir by the author herself on her experience as a child had gone to an unconventional school, Tomoe. One of the interesting bits I read from this book is how the school session is handled. Instead of having the usual periods for dedicated subjects, Tomoe’s schooling session begins with a list of questions of problems that the children will need to solve by their own efforts.

The fourth book that I find could relate to The Home Education Handbook is Originals by Adam Grant. In his book, this Wharton professor mentioned a study that showed that children bounded by fewer rules are more creative. With the chance of PKP, our children have a breather from the long list of rules that are normal for schools. Home education is a chance to influence more creativity in our children during PKP.

There are five essentials that I discovered from my reading in The Home Education Handbook. These are the basics that you need to be aware of when embarking on a home education journey with your kids. Keep in mind that, these aren’t rules but simply a guideline that could help you to structure a non-rigid home education that is more focused on the child’s growth and self-discoveries rather than focusing on lesson targets and achievements.

  1. Benefits of home education.
    Parents as home educators need to be aware of the benefits of home education. There are plenty of benefits that can be listed but the best would be in preparing your kids for the challenges of the 21st century. A child who is aware of their unique capabilities, inclination, and strength is on the right path to becoming resilient, flexible, self-reliant, and enterprising adults. Other than that, the more flexible learning session allows for more time to focus on a child’s talent, for example in art or music.
  2. Create An Appropriate Learning Environment
    Many parents thought that home education would require special desks or a dedicated area. To my surprise, The Home Education Handbook prescribes the use of the dining table as a perfect place for home education. The children will need to bring their school materials in a bag or a trolley that can be easily stored away. It is important that the children store away their learning materials after they are done as a form of discipline.
    Many parents question the use of gadgets for home education. According to The Home Education Handbook, a computer or laptop or tablet is a must as such gadgets provide the easiest access to information. However, home educators need to support the child’s experience in sailing the sea of information. It is important that the child develops the skill to discern between accurate information and sensationalised information.
  3. Quality Learning
    Home educators can refer to the KPIs of quality learning as stated in The Home Education Handbook. First and foremost is the home educator himself/herself should be aware that they are providing a safe place for the children to make mistakes, present their opinions, and express themselves without fearing punishment, being shamed, or being less valued.
    It is also important for the home educator to ensure that learning is done in a suitable context and in an environment that fosters the creation of an interested learner. Other than that, a home educator should support the understanding of a child’s learning process.
    As for the child’s KPI, that is leaned on a widely used tool to encourage critical thinking called, Bloom’s Taxonomy. The effectiveness of a child’s learning can be gauged by six aspects which are Know, Understand, Apply, Analyse, Evaluate, and Create.
  4. Social skills
    Social skill is one of the most important aspects of child development and is somewhat limited with home education. The truth is, every child has limited contact with their friends during PKP and they can’t get feedback on their behaviour from their friends. Hence, it is important for the home educator to revisit the topic of social skills often. This can be done by discussing probable situations and social cues and what is expected of them, appropriate to their age.
    An easy suggestion would be to provide books for children that revolve around moral values.
  5. Maintaining Your Life as A Home Educator
    Feeling helpless when trying to make a distracted child sit still doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Reach out to other home educators who can relate to your experience and validate your emotions. This can create a strong bond if not just to give you a solution to your problem.
    Creating your own personal space with a physical boundary is important. This is also for the child to be aware that they can’t expect the parent to be available at all times, and also need to have time alone.
    Have a list of pre-decided things to do for fun as it is important to avoid burnout. This can be a simple cook-out session in the kitchen with the kids on Saturday or two-uninterrupted-hours to yourself on Sunday. Having something to look forward to makes the day-to-day tasks as a home educator easier.

Remember, the days are long and the years are short when it comes to parenting. And the same can be said about home education.

In conclusion of this review, I only recommend The Home Education Handbook for those who are interested to pursue home education even after PKP. And for those who are interested to make good use of PKP to beef up their child’s education can read any of the four books that I had mentioned above. After all, this might be our only chance to spend as much time as we want to get to know our child’s interest, that we can support to develop.

Now I would like to hear from you. What are the challenges that you face with your child’s education since PKP? You may leave a comment below or you may reply directly to me if you’re a subscriber of The Baini Mustafa Weekly Email. If you would like to subscribe, you may do so here as this is where I share most things that I don’t share anywhere else.

Until then, stay safe, wash your hands often, and practise social distancing when out in public.

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