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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Homeschoolers did it again!

Score big on PSLE
HOME-SCHOOLING may have got a bad name in recent years, but pupils like
12-year-olds Mark Tay and David Lim are challenging stereotypes.

In the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), the results of which were
released last week, the home-schooled children scored 248 and 254
respectively, scores which would have secured them places in a number of
premier schools.

The nation's top pupil had a score of 282.

Of the 26 home-schoolers who sat the PSLE this year, nine did not meet the
benchmark set for home-schoolers by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which,
this year, is 194. They will have to retake the examination next year.

Home-schoolers are exempted from the 2003 Compulsory Education Act if their
parents seek permission and provide information on their home-schooling
programme. The children also have to meet a benchmark pegged at the bottom
33rd percentile aggregate score in any given year.

While David still wants to be home-schooled, Mark intends to give school a
try, and his score was good enough to get him a place in the School of
Science and Technology.

The parents of both children downplayed the achievements.

'We are happy, of course, but we were not going to lose sleep over the
PSLE,' said David's father, Mr Henson Lim, 46. 'More important than his
results are his character and his attitude.'

David said he had no idea how easy, or hard, the exam was going to be and,
after taking it, he was unsure of how he had actually fared.

He scored A*s in three subjects and an A in one. Said David, who will
continue to be home-schooled: 'I don't know what it'll be like in a public
school, and I'm used to my mum teaching me. And I'll also miss my siblings.'

Mr Lim, a pastor, said home-schooling was a 'very misunderstood concept'.

'A lot of people think we are not educating our child,' he said. 'We do want
to educate our children; it's just that we see education in a different

He and wife Serene have seven children, all of whom they intend to
home-school. They said their decision stemmed from their Christian faith and
desire to build strong family bonds.

'You get a lot more time with them,' said Mrs Lim, 41, a housewife. 'People
talk about quantity time versus quality time, but you need quantity to get

David and his siblings spend about 2 1/2 hours every day on school work, with
more time for one-on-one 'consultations' with their mother after she grades
their work.

The children follow the local curriculum closely for the four examinable
PSLE subjects, said Mrs Lim.

Agreeing with Mr Lim, Mark's mother, Mrs Tay Pui Yee, 46, said she knew a
home-schooled girl who had not met MOE's benchmark, but was one of the
kindest and most helpful girls she knew.

'You can't test skills like that in an exam,' she said. 'My son did well in
terms of results, but he is still growing in other areas.'

Mrs Tay also said she had nothing against public schooling, but chose to
home-school her children to 'give them time to breathe and grow at a pace
they feel comfortable with'.

'Kids come with different natural capabilities,' she said. 'We don't believe
the exam is everything.'

The Tay family followed much the same method as the Lims. Mark, the third of
four children, also focused largely on the local curriculum, with other
resources added on to give him a deeper or broader understanding of certain

His two elder siblings had been home-schooled for the first half of primary
school and are now in mainstream schools. Mark is the first in the family to
have not attended primary school at all.

Mrs Tay said she did not prepare Mark by means of exam drills or many test
papers and made sure he had time for other activities, such as cooking,
baking and sports.

'Learning should not stop just because the PSLE is here,' she said.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A child's "Quiet moment" with God

We started our kiddos to lie-still-in-the-presence-of-God worship session at home. KB is 3, turning 4, Elias is almost 2-yr-old.

It is a time where the boys lie down quietly and listen to the worship songs being played by mummy on the keyboard. I played and sang "I could sing of your love forever".

After worship, I asked KB "what did God speak to you?". He said ' I love you'. I tried to clarify. "God said, I love you, who?" KB pointed to himself and said "Theo".

Sweet. I learnt about the various posture and expressions of worship at ARISE concert for kids earlier this year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You're Fooling Yourself

You're Fooling Yourself: "You're Fooling Yourself from the Desiring God blog."

There's loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin's first casualties. It's hard to admit, but true none the less: sin reduces all of us to fools. And the fact is that no one is more victimized by your foolishness than you are.

You see the empirical evidence of the foolishness of sin on almost every page of Scripture. For example, you see foolishness in full operation in the tragic story of David and Bathsheba. This is why David says, "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place" (Psalm 51:6 NIV).

You read the story of David's sin, and you say to yourself, "What was he thinking? Did he really believe that he'd get away with this? Did he completely forget who he was? Did he think that God was going to stand idly by and let this happen?" But David is not some extreme case of foolishness gone wild; you see evidence of the same foolishness in each of our lives daily. People could say of us again and again, "What was he thinking? What was she thinking?"

What does foolishness look like? Here are four of its most significant aspects.

1) The Foolishness of Self-centeredness

We were created to live for something, someone bigger than ourselves. We were designed to live with, for, and through the Lord. God is meant to be the motivation and hope of everything we do. His pleasure, his honor, and his will are the things for which we are meant to live. But the foolishness of sin really does cause us to reduce our lives to the size and shape of our lives.

Often our living has no greater purpose than self-satisfaction and self-fulfillment. Does this sound harsh? Well, ask yourself, "Why do I ever get impatient with others?" "Why do I ever say things I shouldn't say?" "Why do I get discouraged with my circumstances?" "Why do I give way to anger or give in to self-pity?" The answer is that, like me, you want your own way, and when things don't go your way or people are in your way, you lash out in anger or you turn inward in discouragement.

2) The Foolishness of Self-deception

We're all very good at making ourselves feel good about what God says is bad. We're all very skilled at recasting what we've done so what was wrong doesn't look so wrong to us. I'll tell myself that I didn't really lash out in anger; no, I was speaking as one of God's prophets. I'll tell myself that that second look wasn't lust; I am simply a man who enjoys beauty. I'll tell myself that I'm not craving power; I'm just exercising God-given leadership gifts.

Foolishness is able to do something dangerous. It's able to look at wrong and see right. Had David been able to see himself with accuracy and if he'd been able to see his sin for what it really was, it's hard to imagine that he would have continued to travel down that pathway.

3) The Foolishness of Self-sufficiency

We all like to think of ourselves as more independently capable than we actually are. We weren't created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others.

Our lives were designed to be community projects. Yet, the foolishness of sin tells us that we have all that we need within ourselves. So we settle for relationships that never go beneath the casual. We defend ourselves when the people around us point out a weakness or a wrong. We hold our struggles within, not taking advantage of the resources that God has given us.

The lie of the garden was that Adam and Eve could be like God, independent and self-sufficient. We still tend to buy into that lie.

4) The Foolishness of Self-righteousness

Why don't we celebrate grace more? Why aren't we more amazed by the wonderful gifts that are ours as the children of God? Why don't we live with a deep sense of need, coupled with a deep sense of gratitude for how each need has been met by God's grace? Well, the answer is clear. You'll never celebrate grace as much as you should when you think you're more righteous than you actually are.

Grace is the plea of sinners. Mercy is the hope of the wicked. Acceptance is the prayer of those who know that they could never do anything to earn it. But the foolishness of sin makes me righteous in my own eyes.

When I tell my stories, I become more the hero than I ever was. I look wiser in my narratives than I could have been. In my view of my history, my choices were better than what they actually were. Often it isn't my sin that keeps me from coming to God. Sadly, I don't come to him because I don't think I need the grace that can be found only in him.

Here is what all of us must face, sin really does reduce us all to fools, but happily the story doesn't end there. The One who is the ultimate source of everything that's good, true, trustworthy, right, and wise is also a God of amazing grace.

You don't get freed from your foolishness by education or experience. You don't get wisdom by research and analysis. You get wisdom by means of a relationship with the One who is Wisdom.

The radical claim of the Bible is that wisdom isn't first a book, or a system, or a set of commands or principles. No, wisdom is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ. When you and I are graced into acceptance with him, we're drawn into a personal relationship with Wisdom, and Wisdom begins a lifelong process of freeing us from the stronghold that the foolishness of sin has on us. We aren't yet completely free, but there will be a day when our every thought, desire, choice, action, and word will be fundamentally wise!

It makes such sense then, that a repentant man (David) would reflect on his need for wisdom. Sin, in reducing us to fools, causes us to do foolish things, even though we think we're wise. And for this we need more than information, education, and experience. We need exactly what we find in Christ—grace.

Wisdom is the product of grace; there is simply nowhere else it can be found.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Out of the woods

After a bout of sickness with our 2 boys, with one being admitted to the hospital and the other not poo-pooing for four days, and mummy's voice gone! There is no way mummy could do any read-alouds. Mummy needed to rest, so there was no way kids are going outdoors.

Fortunately, things will change tomorrow. Both boys are officially out of the woods! And mummy is still working on hers.

I'm sure the boys missed their outdoor time. Tomorrow, mummy is planning yummy apple pancake for breakfast, topped with whipped cream. Then we will be off to our playground. Yeah! And just for this month, mummy will have to go to the library alone (without the boys). Because mummy is still technically unwell so will not be able to tag 2 boys out.

During this time of being indoors alot, my elder boy learnt what to do when someone has a fever. Sponging.

He learnt that when someone is not well, that means she needs to rest.

KB also learnt that even though he wants stories to be read, he can't, because mummy is having a cough and can't do it. So KB has to wait for daddy to come home for his dose of daily read- alouds.

It was a nice way of learning about putting others first, and caring for others even though we also have our wants met.

What happened with our usual "outdoor" time was taken up by the boys playing by themselves indoors and creating lots of make-believe, although KB still asks for art and craft everyday.

Mummy still have plenty to cover and a super Christmas themed preparation to do with the boys, and we are honestly running late! But well, like I said, at least they are out of the woods with some real take home lessons at such.