During the interview by the RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) about my homeschooling life in Hong Kong, they asked me tons of questions about the reasons I decided to homeschool, challenges I faced, and how I homeschool my kids, etc. My belief and value of homeschooling changed. I realized I was defending the ideas of homeschooling and gaining stronger testimonials and firmer beliefs during the interview without knowing. Those interview questions forced me to really think through what I am doing with my kids right now.
In this blog post, I would like to share more details and behind-the-scenes from the interview and my homeschooling life in Hong Kong. Also, you can read the transcript of the interview video in English at the end of this blog post. Enjoy.
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Table of Contents
I had never heard about “homeschooling” until I was in my early twenties in the US. As a full-time homeschooling mom, I had never considered this method to educate my own children before.
It was a very crazy idea of a totally different lifestyle that what we are talking about. Life is always full of surprises. Here we are, I am proud that I am a bilingual homeschooling mom of four.
Let’s go back to the interview from RTHK. a lot of questions were cut out from the official video. So, I would like to add them back here to this blog post.
The Reasons I chose to HOME-SCHOOL my Four Kids in Hong Kong
I was raised and born and graduated from high school like a typical Hong Kong girl. We were always told that studying is our responsibility as students. We must work hard, get good grades, go to a good school, so we will be able to find a better job.
I finally realized I am a robot-like product from the Hong Kong education system.
This is not the education and learning experience that I want my children to have. Here are some reasons that I mentioned during the interview.
- Uniqueness in the background we have: My children are half American and half Asian, so they are not a typical Hong Kong kid anymore. Since English is their mother language, and Cantonese is their second language, they aren’t fit for the local public school anyway. Plus we can’t afford to put them into any of the international schools in Hong Kong. So homeschooling is the best alternative option for us.
- The public school system is not ideal anymore: The public school system does well to provide everyone a chance to learn and be educated, but it’s not an ideal system for us. We want more flexibility to choose our own curriculum, teaching methods, daily schedules for each of my children. With just my four children, they each have different personalities, learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and interests as well. Public schools won’t be able to give them the best education they want and need.
- Better socialize environment: I know that’s one of the biggest concerns for everyone. I love the idea of a mixed-age learning environment. Kids should not be limited to socializing with just their peers most of the time. There are so many amazing adults, teens, and elderly with different races, gender, and interests that my children can learn from. Homeschooling provides them more opportunities to have the courage and be interested in different ages and types of people from all over the world. That’s real social life.
- A more well-balanced family life for us: I really can’t imagine my life like this: Get my three children ready to school, drop them off and pick them up from schools 5-6 days per week. I can do chores, nurse and play with my youngest child, and prepare all the meals. In addition to helping my three kids finish all their homework and quizzes and texts daily, and even consider taking them to join some music or dance classes on the weekends or after school.
I am SO GLAD this is not my life at all. My kids get to play and learn at home all day, and I don’t need to worry about taking the time to pick them up and drop them off that often. No homework of course for younger kids. We have more time to spend as a family, and we can go to visit museums or other places during the weekday, away from the crowd or even at a cheaper price.
This list can keep going, but these are my favorite reasons and benefits of homeschooling my children.
Challenges that I have during my homeschooling life in Hong Kong
Breaking through the norm to be a homeschooling family with four isn’t easy at all. And homeschooling is not really supported by the government or anyone. These are the challenges that we face while we are homeschooling in Hong Kong.
- Lack of knowledge of homeschooling: Since homeschooling is new to everyone, people often don’t understand it or have never heard about it. Most people think it is illegal while others have no idea homeschooling exists in Hong Kong. So, I have to provide a lot of explanation when I’m asked where my children go to school.
- People can’t see the benefit of being a homeschooling mom: I am used to people asking me why I have so many children my own and amazed I even keep them and home-school them as well. They often suggest me take a break from my children and put them in school, so I will have more personal time or even get a full-time job and earn more money. I’m sorry to say that’s not my priority at all. Having a happy family and well-educated and happy kids is my ultimate dream and future that I want both for my family and myself.
- Underestimate my qualification of teaching my own kids: Since people here view homeschooling qualifications heavily based on how much schooling one receives, the only people who have the most schooling should be the teacher of their children. That’s not the idea of homeschooling. The ultimate goals of homeschooling are to educate my children so they will enjoy learning and learn how to learn independently. Most of the time, I am not the teacher for my children but historical people, famous authors, and composers, etc. from books they read. I am not the only teacher in their life.
- Lack of Support: There are only one or two homeschooling organizations here as well as a small amount of Facebook groups to join. Most of the activities occur far away from our home. Therefore, it is pretty much impossible to take all four young children on public transportation on my own. And owning a car isn’t an option for us either, so we mostly invite other homeschooling families to our home, or we meet them in the nearby parks.
My Typical Day Looks Like Homeschooling in Hong Kong
I would like to show you the life of kids compares with homeschooling kids to Hong Kong kids going to public school.
Isn’t that shocking?
Even though I am the product from the Hong Kong education system, I don’t realize how crazy my childhood was until I home-school my own.
What Do Kids Learn from School that My Kids Don’t Learn at Home?
How to line up in school!
It’s true. I remembered my children got complaints about not being able to line up nice and straight while they were really young. I’m sorry that because my kids didn’t spend hours every day to practice lining up and sitting still in the classroom.
On the other hand, there are things that our kids will do that others won’t do, so my kids will sometimes be told that they are wrong.
For example: playing in the rain will get you sick, climbing in the playground is always dangerous, or touching dirt and plants is gross and dirty.
I try my best to teach my kids to respect others. However, I also teach them to find out the truth for themselves. So they will look at books or go to the internet research “Does playing in the rain cause sickness?”
There are a lot of cultural and social skills to learn from this part. I’m glad it is part of our life to be different even though it’s not easy at all.
Our future of Homeschooling Plan
We have many reasons to home-school while we are living in Hong Kong. How about after we move back to the U.S.?
We are still planning on homeschooling our children.
I’m sure we will have better support and awesome activities to back me up, so we can truly embrace the homeschooling experience.
About the Interview & the English Transcript
I’m thankful to be in this video interview, so I can help spread the word and tell the world that homeschooling, even in Hong Kong, is possible.
I’ve known that I have the option of moving to the U.S. from the beginning, so I don’t really stress out about taking the public exams in Hong Kong. However, my friend, A-Yan from the interview, is my inspiration. She cares for her children so much that she drew her kids out from public school as a Hong Kong mom. I don’t know if I would have had the courage like her at all.
I also hope more people will gain more understanding and respect for homeschooling families from all over the world. And for families who are considering homeschooling, you can be inspired and encouraged to try it out.
It is not easy or a short-cut at all, and it takes a lot of hard work, but the rewards are fruitful.
I hope you enjoyed reading and watching it and gain more understanding of homeschooling life in Hong Kong in 2019.
Watch The Interview’s Video here
Starting in September schools are back in session. While You’re getting to know the new teachers, your kids are breaking in their new uniforms. But the students I am visiting today have neither because the parents I am visiting with today have decided on an alternate schooling system.
Bilingual Homeschooling in Hong Kong
Po Tim has four children, ages ranging from one and a half to eight years old. Being home-schooled means they don’t go to a school outside the home, instead, their home becomes the school. Where the parents or others become the teachers. Where lessons and materials are created based on each child’s needs and abilities.
Po Tim: Normally, we wake up, eat breakfast, and then start our school day. Usually each day, we do one group activity. Things such as crafts, drawing, dancing, and so on. We do one theme per month. We use themes because it makes learning easier for kids.
Po Tim: Right now, our theme is about the Royals, and in just a minute we will be having a tea party. The goal is to have them learn about manners, how to cook together and so on.
QUESTIONS: Hi, Po Tim, what made you decide to home-school?
Po Tim: I decided to home-school because I believe that children shouldn’t be forced to learn and that we should encourage them to learn naturally through their own curiosity. My kids are half American and half Chinese, and I don’t feel that schools here are a good fit for them. This allows me to accommodate their own learning styles whereas schools will not.
QUESTIONS: So how do you separate lessons?
Po Tim: First, we help them establish their foundation skills, such as reading, and math, that way they can start to learn from books on their own. When they get a little older more subjects like English, and History are added. After lunch and clean up, they sit down and read books for quiet time. This helps them calm down and get ready for a nap. Most of the time my oldest will read to the others, but now her younger sister will take turns reading English books.
Social Skill + Play-date
Parents can teach them many things but to teach groups and social skills it requires the help of others. To do this, home-schooling parents will work together and set times where their kids +can learn together.
Today, A-Yan has come with her three kids to join in so the kids can learn and play together.
Hong Kong Homeschooling
QUESTIONS: I want to ask you; I know that your daughter attended a local elementary school and quit after second grade, what prompted this decision?
A-Yan: She was very unhappy and rude. She would complain about headaches and stomach aches. We took to see specialists and participate in emotional support groups but there wasn’t any real improvement. We got to know some homeschooling families and had the chance to have our kids play together. When I saw their kids, I thought “why are they so bright and happy?” This is exactly what I wanted my kids to be like. So, after that, I decided to withdraw her from school and give homeschooling a try.
QUESTION: But Hong Kong law says that kids aged 6-15 must attend school, how do you register with the Board of Education?
A-Yan: When we first started, we tried to register formally with a letter or by phone, but after calling more than 20 different departments, no one could tell how to. It was a bit concerning, so we asked a lot of different families that were already homeschooling. They said that once your kids stop going to school the board of education will contact you. Now the Board follows up with me on a regular basis, and always say they have the right to investigate us, and that there is no way to register.
QUESTION: What are your future teaching plans?
A-Yan: That’s hard to say, there are too many possibilities, like 10 years ago there was no way of knowing there would be so many You Tubers or that online shopping would be so big. I think the most important is for them to understand their potential and value. Knowing this they’ll be able to achieve their dreams and be successful.
Field Trips for Homeschoolers
In addition to learning at home, parents will take their kid’s other places to learn. Not only do they go to science and other museums they go and take tours of other businesses and places.
Po Tim takes care of her four kids by herself until her husband returns from work. While dad helps take care of the younger kids, mom doesn’t get a break yet. She holds another class for her eldest daughter.
Po Tim: I feel that 1 on 1 time with each of them is important. The oldest gets a bit more since she is older. Normally, after the other kids have gone to bed, I will spend another 30-60 minutes teaching her things, she needs like Chinese. I don’t expect her Chinese to be like other kids here, but I do want her to have the basics of reading and writing down.
You Might Be Interested:
- How to Write a Year-Long Bilingual Homeschooling Plan
- 13 Tips for Surviving Both Homeschooling and Working from Home
- Homeschooling In Hong Kong (Little Steps)
- Homeschooling Your Kids: How To Do It In Hong Kong (Sassy Mama)
- HK Education Bureau (EDB) contacts our family–and our first 3 visits with the EDB (Homeschooling in Hong Kong)
- Teaching Chinese with Theme-Based Approach: Chinese Theme Packs
You are not doing it alone
Join my Facebook support group to meet and get connections with parents and educators with the same goals.
身为职业妈妈的我,常常牺牲睡眠来自作教材。版主全方位学习的新年教材真让我省下不少宝贵的时间找资料。四岁的女儿对中文学习有点抗拒。我们善用版主提供的迷你故事书和生字卡来增强她对语文的认识。版主的中文单词棋盘游戏更让女儿投入学习, 因为她想赢嘛！版主的教材可让小孩边玩边学, 太棒了。
This is the second 5-Day Challenge that we have done with Fortune Cookie Mom. Both have been very beneficial to our family. I am a homeschool mom of three little kids. We are not Chinese and do not speak any Chinese. With the help of Fortune Cookie Mom, we are slowly learning! The challenges have given me fun activities to do at home with the kids. Each one has reignited my kid's interest in learning. It has been a fun experience for everybody!