The Singapore Homeschool Convention this year was not able to run per usual due to COVID-19 and Circuit Breaker restrictions. Instead, the convention team worked tirelessly to move it online and preserve our experience. We asked Dr. Cheryl Kam Rossiter to give us a look through her eyes as she comes with a fresh perspective having never attended one of these conventions in the past.
Jessica Shepherd: You recently attended the 2020 Homeschool Convention in April, this was your first experience with a Homeschool Convention, how was that for you? What was it like encountering the convention for the first time, completely online?
Dr. Cheryl Kam Rossiter: I very much valued the opportunity to attend the convention with so many people who are in the right community for me. Currently, I partially homeschool my 3-year-old son and I’m looking to go into it more and more–especially in the primary years when it really defines you and sets you apart from the usual crowd–so having a community is the most important thing for me.
It was completely online, which of course is not what I envisioned–I imagine the organisers felt this way too–but I was thoroughly impressed with how every aspect of the convention was made available online.
Overall I think it worked, but I gave feedback that the instructions could be a little less wordy–especially as busy parents who were also navigating the COVID changes, we had a lot of information overload already, and little bandwidth for reading long instructions.
The presenters respected their audience well in the way they prepared their slides and the topics. It was great because it was not too overwhelming per topic–just enough to jog our memories and observe our own resources, and quickly touch on curriculums. To be honest with you, a lot of those things are a lot better face-to-face, but then again I have no basis for comparison.
With very specific questions on homeschooling and such, I think 1-on-1 and face-to-face would be great as it allows us to get to know each other properly. Having said that, I didn’t go through the workshop material with each person’s blog or Instagram contact, but someone more into specifics would have found it very useful to be able to directly contact the person to whom they needed to ask a specific question.
All in all, I’m in massive awe of how everything was put together. My husband and I attended two workshops each and got a very good overview of homeschooling from our time spent there.
Jessica Shepherd: Can you share with us a little about yourself and your background with Homeschool Singapore? Do you homeschool currently or are you looking into it? Have you been involved with the community for a while?
Dr. Cheryl Kam Rossiter: I am acquainted with a few homeschool families from being a Forest School mummy and through a few online resources, including my seriously considering doing this full time for primary school.
Jessica Shepherd: As you’re coming to this with fresh eyes, how did the convention seem to you? What were some aspects you think translated well, and what are some things you think would be meaningful for next year?
Dr. Cheryl Kam Rossiter: Pre-recorded keynotes were really good and I could see that they were well-rehearsed. A lot of the keynotes were recorded and presented in a way that was very moving and showed passion behind homeschooling. Their fervour was very contagious, and I could really identify with them where the heart is concerned.
Not having to travel for the convention was one convenience, and I imagine not having to battle with a crowd was another. Having said that, I’m not sure that it would completely replace the cross-pollination of ideas that face-to-face offers.
The only suggestion that I see is simply to pre-record the Village sessions and make them run as courses on Teachable or Kajabi for say, 14 days. There was a wealth of information covered in the workshops that I feel was worth about two weeks, and because we were not immersed in the convention environment, a trickle of information would have been just right. That might be a better way to go completely online because it’s digestible. I ran out of time to go through all the keynote talks after the Village and then they expired, so my suggestion if you were going to go completely online next year is to spread it out.
Jessica Shepherd: It’s helpful to get a glimpse through fresh eyes. Thank you for speaking with me; taking the time to share your thoughts and your time.