SHAH ALAM: Brothers Jason and Jonnie Chuah had a lot of laughs when they recently picked up their International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) results.
The brothers achieved A*, the highest exam mark, for both papers. Jason scored 94% and 92% on math and biology, respectively, while Jonnie scored 97% and 93%, respectively.
What makes their achievements all the more remarkable is the fact that Jason is only 12 years old and Jonnie is nine. For those unfamiliar, the IGCSE is Cambridge-certified, while the SPM is a national exam in Malaysia.
The boys, who have been homeschooled since April last year, are now preparing for the physics, chemistry and accounting tests in October and November this year.
“During lockdown, when they started learning online, school wasn’t fun anymore. Even though the teachers are good, I saw my kids sitting in front of the computer six to seven hours a day and it wasn’t inspiring to them,” the boys’ mother Annie Wong, 42, told FMT.
Unsure how long the pandemic would last, she and her husband Chuah Chong Chiew, 42, decided to homeschool their sons. The duo also sold their consumer goods retail business and became full-time housekeeping parents.
They enrolled the boys in five jobs: math, biology, chemistry, physics, and accounting. “Homeschooling became a learning journey for us, and we created a simple class schedule for the boys,” recalls Wong.
Using resources obtained online, they initially focused on mathematics and biology. Chuah taught the former, Wong the latter.
According to Wong, after the boys made good progress in both subjects, they were introduced to physics, chemistry and accounting.
“My husband also teaches them physics and chemistry,” says Wong, adding that the boys have their own accounting tutor.
So how was homeschooling for the boys? Chuah admitted there were some initial hurdles, but after overcoming them the boys showed good progress.
“It was tough, but they were very determined and never gave up,” Wong explained, adding that after completing the curriculum, they focused on tackling the issues of the past year.
Alongside studying, the couple made sure the boys had plenty of time for outdoor activities and music, which they seem to love as both can play the piano, drums, violin and guitar.
Looking back on her home school trip, Wong said, “We had the opportunity and decided to make good use of our time. Instead of just jumping a meter, we wanted to see how far the guys can actually jump. We also felt that a student does not need to spend 11 years to prepare for SPM,” she added.
They chose to only register their children for five IGCSE papers to ease the pressure on them. Parents also felt that a certain level of maturity was required before their sons were ready to tackle the language work.
“Even if you excel academically, I don’t think you’re creating value in society, because today’s society rewards those who have the ability to create – content creators, for example.
“After that, I would leave it to my boys to figure out what they love. In the future, if they decide to become an engineer or an architect, they can continue their studies,” Wong said.
She explained that the family planned to travel the world once they were done with all five IGCSE papers. “Then my kids can create content to educate people about different cultures and share their experiences.”
A head start
How do Jason and Jonnie feel about their achievements?
Although Jason said he was confident of scoring high for both papers, there was still “something special” to see his grades in black and white.
“In the beginning, when I started studying math, it was tough. But now it’s my favorite subject and compared to the other subjects I would say it’s the easiest for me,” added Jason.
Meanwhile, Jonnie shared, “I have a great feeling of accomplishment.”
Jonnie also found homeschooling difficult at first, but said it got easier over time. And like his brother, he said math was the easiest of the five subjects.
The boys also revealed what it was like to take exams with much older candidates. Jonnie said he was prepared to get surprised looks – and there were plenty of them. Jason said some students asked her her age and how many other papers she was studying for.
Now the boys are preparing for the next three works and hope to get top marks here too, although there is no pressure from their parents to repeat their success.
“Our mom said she’ll be proud of us as long as we do our best,” shared Jonnie. And right now that seems to be the only motivation the boys need to keep going.
Continue to follow Jason and Jonnie Chuah’s home schooling adventures Facebook.