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Opinion: A parent’s perspective on homeschooling in Phuket

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Homeschooling mother Papatsorn Sompranon, 44, is a Trang native and the proud parent of daughters Nattaya, 14, and Phimphan, 10, whose invention of a ‘Smart Watering Controller’ for house plants won them a bronze medal at the Malaysian International Young Inventors Olympiad last month.

Mrs Papatsorn graduated with a nursing degree from Prince of Songkla University and worked as a nurse for four years before setting up a business in Phuket. Here she shares experiences on home schooling, especially for children with ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’ (ADHD) and other learning issues.

PHUKET: There are 30 families homeschooling in Phuket, and not all have children with special needs. Some parents just want their children to focus on whatever interests them.

I do not think ‘normal’ schooling is bad. In our case, our daughter Phimphan was just not doing well in school.

She was struggling with Thai language skills and couldn’t keep up with the other kids in class, even though she excelled in other subjects.

Even so, the school put pressure on her to increase her performance, which I couldn’t stand. After three years, I pulled her out. She was eight years old.

I understand that teachers do their best to teach all their students. They are under pressure to have the class perform well, and don’t always have time to help individual students. Then, if the children can’t perform as expected, they and the parents are judged for not being able to fit within the system.

The most important benefit of homeschooling is that we, as parents, instinctively know the needs of our children. We have more freedom to focus on subjects that our children need to work at.

Although Phimphan doesn’t speak Thai well, she is good at art, English and engineering. At home she also learns important life skills, like cooking, which actually involves disciplines in several areas.

In ‘normal’ schools though, students do the same thing at the same time and memorize facts.
What’s the point?

It limits their imagination and creativity, whereas homeschooling focuses on personal development.
There are, however, many criteria and standards that need to be met for a parent to be allowed to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling comes under the purview of the Phuket Primary Education Service, in order to ensure that all children receive a proper education. It is a legal requirement to get permission before homeschooling. You can’t just take your children out of school and teach them whatever you want without informing anyone.

Officers assess the parents’ educational background and their ability to teach, as well as financial circumstances. I have to keep detailed records to ensure my daughter passes each grade. Then I take everything to the education office once a year for approval. Everything has to be under the control the Education Service.

The most challenging aspect of homeschooling is making sure our children develop social skills. I send Phimphan to join in sports, English classes, art lessons and other activities so she will meet and interact with new friends.

As a result, Phimphan seems mature for her age. She interacts easily with older kids and she is still comfortable mixing with kids her own age.

Each child has unique skills and abilities. Phimphan has definitely benefited from having her particular needs addressed. I hope other parents with children in need of a more flexible education system will have the confidence to consider homeschooling as a viable option and worthwhile investment of time and energy.

Phuket’s first generation of homeschooled students have now gone on to university and are doing well.

I just want the same for my kids without the pressure and limitations of a conventional classroom education.

— Kongleaphy Keam

 

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