What is Homeschooling?

Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling is not a new concept.  In fact, most people were homeschooled in the past.  This is especially true for the wealthier echelons of society where private tutors were engaged to educate the children of a household.  Institutionalised schools only became the norm in the 1900s.

In today’s context, homeschooling means children stay home to learn, usually taught by one or both parents at times that accommodate work commitments and activities.  Independent learning centres do not count as homeschool.  Sometimes, more qualified persons may be employed to teach more complex subjects, but this is usually for teenage homeschoolers who wish to prepare for college or such like.

In the 1980’s, the number of ‘modern’ homeschooling families in the US surged because the internet made learning a lot easier.  Plus social problems in schools seemed more prevalent, probably due to the larger numbers of students per class.  Bullying, drugs, unnecessary exposure to illness and other reasons prompted numerous families turn to homeschooling.

Today’s homeschooling families have innumerable resources to aid them on their educational journey.  The internet offers a wealth of support, from homeschool networks and forums to syllabuses and teaching aids.  Educational material can be found on art gallery websites to the National Geographic Kids online magazine.  The Iditarod site has teacher resources and even YouTube hosts many educational videos to teach children things from their ABC’s to frog dissection.

There are many ways to homeschool.  Some families choose to follow a syllabus which can be purchased online or second hand from homeschool forums.  These range from the classical method, the Trivium which focuses on developing grammar, logic and rhetoric to the Unit Study approach, a more holistic method which calls for the teaching of all subjects from one central theme.  Other methods include Unschooling and the Delayed Academic approach. The Eclectic Style which falls bang in the middle allows for the most personal and custom-made education to suit your child’s learning style.  There are also religion centred approaches which are popular among Christians and Muslim families who wish for their children to have a strong foundation in their faith.

Whatever method you opt for, homeschooling is a great way to tailor an education for the needs, strengths and weakness of your child.  It can also promote closeness within the family and remove your child for potentially negative influences at school which you would otherwise be helpless to protect them from.


As I keep getting asked to provide more information on ‘homeschool centers’, here is a post from April 2011 which deals with it.


I am not a homeschool centre. You cannot send me your children.  They cannot enrol with me. I am not qualified to recommend any nor am I a directory of homeschool centres in PJ, Kajang, Ipoh etc. I am a mother doing her level best to let her children learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn, where they want to learn.  I don’t use a syllabus and I don’t have a timetable.

Homeschooling is a personal choice for parents to take responsibility for their own children’s education. A homeschool centre (like any other one size fits all school), in my opinion would be anathema to this.  While they are different to mainstream schools, they are still schools. If that is what you want for you child, that’s fine. But please understand the difference and realise that you are wasting your time asking me for help or advice.

See how short this post is? It’s because I don’t know much about the topic :)


39 thoughts on “What is Homeschooling?

    • It is almost an impossible question to answer. It depends on how and what you want to do and what’s ight for your family.

  1. If you were to home school, how would you take examinations such as o-levels and so on? Do public examination centers still run these days?

  2. So, with homeschooling, how do i sign up my boys for the SPM and PMR exams? Do the authorities accept just some kind of form application from me saying that i am opting for the home and not a school? What about Science lab work? Where do i get my boys to document such work for any exam requirements?

    Thank you very much for this blog. It gives me and my boys great reference and advice.

    • That depends on whether or not you want them to do a local syllabus. You could choose anything out there and then sit exams as independent candidates. I think it could be hard to do local exams independently as the Malaysian gov has yet to state it’s offical position on HS in a comprehensive way.

  3. Hello Alicia,
    My daughter is currently in a private school. She is 11. We moved here from the US. I would like to home-schooled her, but I have no idea where to actually start. I’d like for her to continue studying any of the American curriculum. Any ideas?


    • You could buy American curriculums online. Calvert is popular but I have never used it so don’t know how good it is.

    • I have been using Alpha Omega from US for my 10yr old for a month now. Quite structured and systematic. Am also considering using ACE from US for next year. These are Christian curriculum. THey have trainers from US doing a conference on the ACE prog. end of Nov.

      homefrontiers website – resources on all sorts of homeschooling material worldwide.

      We too have recently moved from oversea, Australia. It will be great to meetup. Annie

  4. Dear Alicia,

    My 14 yrs old son drop his Form 3 this August, I’ve advice him but he insist not to go back to school, he tried to look for a job but nobody willing to hire him. i would like know is it a proper way for me to have home schooling for him? if yes, where and what should i get the right tools for starting?
    I really need some advice, Thanks.

    • Does he want to continue studying? You indicated that he wanted to work. What interests him?
      As parents we want what is best for our children but we need to realise that especially in the case of your teenage son, he may have a fair idea of what is best for him. While he may be wrong, he is young. Making mistakes is a great way to learn too.

      Talk to him.
      if he wants to continue studying, then i’ll point you in the right direction

  5. Thanks a lot for the advice, he intereted on auto-repair, he been work at a workshop about 3 weeks a
    go unfortunately he gave up to work and the reason is too far from home(he need to cycling
    about half an hour to reach the place.)
    Before he went to look for a job, I’ve told him that I can look for the vocational school for him if he
    want but at that period all my advice is just like a shit to him. Now he felt dissappointed and start
    asking me on the reschooling issue, but he don’t want to go back to this type of school.
    I hear from my friend that we need to get at least PMR to go in to the vocational school but my son
    didn’t take the PMR examination…. so I’m not sure he can enter or not.
    What I’m think is if having a home school for him, may be is the proper way to get him study willingly.
    but I’m not sure is it a right ideal to do so.

    Thanks for your time.

  6. Hi guys,

    Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve posted another free lesson on my website. It’s called ‘Me, Myself and I’ and is a character lesson for young children that helps them explore who they are and what they look like, through 3 activities – a poster, jigsaw and really sweet poem to illustrate.
    You can get it for free on my website (http://www.lesson-library.com). Just look for the Daily Free Lesson tabl.


  7. Hi,i have a question.I’m not sure how to get started,I’m a 15 year old girl currently waiting for my PMR results and would like to start homeschooling next year,but have absolutely no clue how. I mean,what about my SPM and stuff???

  8. Dear Alicia,
    We are a group of students who are doing an academic writing on homeschooling in Malaysia. We would really appreciate if you can answer a few questions related to the writing. If possible, we would like to have a phone conversation.
    Anyway, you may SMS us to contact you later. We can be contacted at 019 2795663(Rose) and yusliza 0192628277. Your participation is much appreciated. Tqvm.

  9. Hi I have a daughter who is now 17. She finish her PMR in 2010 & after did not want to continue with the national school. I have been checking around for private schooling & discovered you could do the American education syllabus here but its an online system but you still have to go to class every day. What do you think? Will she be able to fit in & apply for uni& or college locally or only American ones?

    • You’d have to check what the qualification amounts to. Do your research and contact the online school providers. They are usually more than had got to help.

      But honestly, getting into private colleges is a matter of proving intelligence, literacy, numeracy and the ability to pay the fees.

  10. Alicia, between sonlight and icgse, which is more “marketable”
    I think sonlight has a system which would make it easier to follow but I don’t want a christian program.
    ICgse doesn’t have a program or system and depends a lot on the homeschooler’s own planning and initiative to figure out how to go about it.

    Correct me if I am wrong

  11. wow, after reading all the posts and comments, i really inspire by this HS idea.

    im currently a teacher in govt school. i have to agree with you about our education system today.. it been detriorating.. the quality of learning and teaching is no up to the standard.. nowadays teacher have alot of paperwork and task which is not related to our core business (educate children). sometime i felt im not doing my job well because too busy working on other thing and neglected the children. very exam oriented.. if a student can understant what we taught them, then we told them to memorise it.. without understanding the meaning of the whole concept. is so shameful for an educator like me have to ask them to do such a way in order to get good grade.

    So i decided quit my job by end of this yr, my husband wanted me to move back home be a stay at home mum.. i hv a 18months boy.. very active and curious about the world around him.

    so im very happy i found this blog.. many sharing their exprnce here. TQ ..
    i would like to try HS for my son ..

  12. i have a sister 18, just finish her form 3 (this is her third time re sit form 3 but sill fail) from private school. do not want to go back to this type of syllabus cause this is not her interest, but looking for other way to continue her study. please give me idea anyway she can have continue her study? because of no form 3 PMR paper, she not allow to go national vocational school. she only good in Chinese.

  13. Hi,

    I’m an ex-govt. school teacher who quit after two years of teaching. This was due to the frustration that I had when I was teaching. It is not because of the students but mostly because of the system itself. After four years of doing nothing related to education, I further my studies in M. Ed (Curriculum Development). As I love sports so much, my thesis would be how to design homeschooling curriculum to produce world class student athlete. I would like to interview you for my thesis.

  14. Hi. Im a 14 yrs old girl currently looking for home school but i can’t find it. Im staying at Shah Alam, Subang Bestari. Can somebody help

  15. Hi, I’m 15. years old and currently still at a public school, i figured out that public school cannot meet my needs , i want to home school but do we need to inform MOE and what is the process that i have to make? can i use online teaching as my parents wont have time to be my teacher? please tell me.

    • Compulsory schooling in Malaysia is only till 12. After that, it’s your choice. I’d look at online courses or apprenticeships eigenfunctions on your interests and goals.

  16. Hi Alicia, just wondering, I’m thinking of starting my daughter on homeschooling. The problem is, I don’t know where to start and most of my colleagues or friends’ kids don’t do homeschooling. I’m very confused with the syllabus thing. Also, how do I apply her for the iGCSE examination after she’s ready?

  17. the meaning of ‘homeschool’ in our country has been so misleading now, i believe you have pointed out clearly here in your site and thanks for educating parents here.

  18. Hi,I’m Nadhrah,15.I am in a private school now but I really can’t catch up because the teachers won’t teach me a lot of times and I am too scared to ask it’s embarrassing.I would prefer homeschooling because Its like a private tutor.idk how it works? please help me.

    • You need to speak to your patents and tell them you’d like to look into being independently educated. There are online syllabuses you can use. Or you can big the books and study yourself. Or you can take a break and study something you enjoy.

  19. Hi, im Christy. My daughter just turned 6 last December. She is due for primary 1. But i’m realy contemplating on the idea of homeschooling, but not sure on how to get about with the syllabus. I would prefer her some day to finish her IGCSE, A-LEVELS and pursue a degree in a field of her choice. Can I get some assistance on how to choose the syllabus.

  20. Dear All, like to share my personal experience that could be a good guide to every parent out there.
    My daughter was going to a homeschool in PJ until recently i moved her to a Private school in Pudu. Here is my observation and experience and could give you some guidance if you are choosing a homeschool.

    Date joined homeschool- mid 2014 – Level 4 ( she was in standard 5 from Sri Bintang Selatan School)
    Reason to join homeschool – she was a bright student, but dislike going to school bcos, most of the days the teachers does not come to class..she got bored.
    Able Learner HomeSchool – met the principal who promised many wonderful things.
    1 – yearly Science Exhibition 2 – personally teaching English to make sure maintain high level of english 3 – trained teachers 4 – weekly outdoor activity..blah..blah…blah..end of the 2nd year, we realise none of the above was done.

    Homeschool Environment – Below average. Not creative..running the business from some shoplots
    Teachers – Not too bad. Mainly from India. I doubt they are qualified. Once in a blue moon, the principal turn up to teach english
    Teaching standard – below average. She got bored on the 2nd year. Classes conducted with a mix of kids from different level. No homework given, She was too free and spend most of her time in TV and iPad
    Exam standard – far below below Low. Exams revisions with same questions given and trained for at least 2 weeks prior. Off course kids, can answer everything perfectly.

    So -2016. My daughter came to me and said, she wants to go back to Government school. Reason being, she feels no interaction, same friends who are younger, not challenging. We felt something was not right

    We took her to a Private KBSM school and she took an assessment exam. Then we really knew her standard.
    1 – she wasn’t able to answer simple mathematic questions
    2 – She was struggling with her English exam. Which is not right as iGCSE level should be better.
    3 – She did really bad in Bahasa.

    Off course, as parents we realised the HomeSchool was not performing as expected and expensive too considering the facilities and level of teachers.

    Without further discussion, we moved her in to the Private school ( cheaper ) and been 3 weeks now, we really see that she has shown so much improvement.

    SO – for the parents out there…HomeSchool is not a school. You need to make sure your kids get the best out of the schools if you decide to send to one. Make sure you keep an eye on the school and your kids progress, else they are not going to gain the best from iGCSE.

    All the best to you.

    • Homeschool means parents teach their children at home. I am doing that. I teach my sons at home. This is our 7th year.

  21. Hi Alicia,
    We are planning for homeschooling for our boys (7 & 10yo). But both of us still working. My wife in Kemaman with the boys and I’m here in Shah Alam. She has a contract for 2 years there. Any suggestions or forum/website that you can share?

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