The first I heard of Sophia Ong was that she was outstanding and I had to interview her. I reached out to Sophia about her experience and involvement with this year’s Homeschool Convention and she was nothing short of delightful and endlessly gracious. I hope you enjoy reading over her thoughts and experiences as much as I have.
Spotlight Senior Editor
My background to home education
While I desired to homeschool my firstborn child when he was but an infant, we let him try out preschool first. We ended up adoring the kindergarten he attended so much that we only began homeschooling him after he graduated. He is 11 this year, and we have had three more children since.
How I came to be involved with the Homeschool Convention 2020
I attended the inaugural Singapore Homeschool Convention in 2017 as a participant. At the 2018 Convention, I was asked to speak at the Chinese breakout group. The following year in 2019, I had the privilege of being one of the keynote speakers. This year, 2020, I was honoured to be one of the facilitators in the Homeschool Village.
The topics assigned to us were based on what our keynote speech topics were. My keynote speech dealt with boundaries because I realized after many informal conversations with fellow homeschoolers, that they hada tendency to dwell on boundary related issues.
On my involvement and experience at this year’s convention
This year, I was involved with the Homeschool Village. Having it online was an interesting experience, I wondered how it was going to happen. Having to pick up new technology was a little intimidating in the beginning, (I am somewhat of a tech-idiot!) so the thought of taking the workshops onto Zoom didn’t sit easily with me. In the end, however, Zoom was a breeze to use. I loved how we all were required to run test runs before the actual day. When the Village facilitators sat in for one another’s sessions, the test runs evolved from being about gathering our thoughts and honing our facilitation skills, to being blessed by other facilitators, and even blessing them in return. There were ample learning opportunities and I felt like I got to know fellow facilitators better.
The highlight of every convention has to be catching up with old friends, getting to know acquaintances better, and meeting new people. Having the Keynote and High School Day speeches online was a special bonus this year. Tuning in online turned out to be a real blessing because even though the kids were at home, I could wait until they were in bed before listening to the speeches. I could pause in between messages and get back to it again, as opposed to sitting for just past an hour, listening to speaker after speaker, and then being unable to recall anything but the most pertinent bits, which might be four or five speakers out of eight. For these reasons, having it online this year was great! I could digest messages at my own pace and repeat portions as I wished. That was a real blessing.
What do I see coming out of this for our local community?
I see coming out of this convention the encouragement and affirmation of those who have been called to speak each year. I think as homeschool parents, we often feel that we are nothing special and that we have nothing to teach or to share with others. That changes when you are invited to speak. Being invited to share is a form of validation that can be very encouraging to weary hearts.
I think it is also a good time for the organizing community to come together. As we serve together, we get to know one another better and we grow tighter as a community.
My hopes and dreams and the growth I saw
The growth I witnessed with Convention 2020 was how everything was taken online in a matter of weeks. There were people who worked the technology front, people who trained themselves to speak in front of a small group while the camera rolled, people who had to work the administrative side of things, people who had to put aside everything they had planned for. The whole community grew because of the pandemic.
I hope and dream that the Homeschool community will be an inclusive, closer-knit one and that we will be able to be a blessing to others. In some way, I also dream of homeschoolers coming under the radar of MOE and being known to the general public in a brilliantly positive light. I would love for others to hear of homeschoolers and recognize us as an organized group of people who have a burning passion for true education of the whole child and not merely for doing “school at home”. I think it would be fabulous if MOE and society in general, would see that we, parents that homeschool, are experts in our own right.
So at the end of the day, I hope that out of this comes greater respect and appreciation of what home education truly is.