How do we help parents?
What help do teachers want?
I spend a lot of time thinking about this. The edutech market is crowded with products that solve ‘a problem’ but, in my opinion, not the right one.
When we started this journey, we aimed to support the most vulnerable children in education – those homeschooled. These courageous families had little or no support in their educational journey. Why would the state or province ignore them? I wondered. My kids attend public schools, but should their peers be disadvantaged simply because they opt out of the model? Should parents be punished for choosing what is best for their students? How long are we going to continue fueling the ‘homeschooling stereotype”?
While I don’t homeschool, I know what it is like to controlled by a system that values academic scores above the development of the individual – to be quickly labelled and pushed aside if you don’t fit it. Growing up in Singapore, I wished we were homeschooled. The school was not fun; I still live with that trauma.
So, when COVID created an opportunity to jump into the fight to help students, I dove it head first without any life jacket. In the worst case, we only impact a small group of students – best case scenario, we change the world. I’ll take those odds any day.
“How can we help?” – More than curriculum and shiny new technology. We wanted our parents to know we see them and their struggles. We designed our products to be the educational foundation they can depend on – AND build upon. We wanted to remove some of the anxiety and stress that this lifestyle brings – as a parent now, I make a conscious effort each day before walking back through the door of my home to ensure I don’t bring home my stress and concerns around my children. Our kids learn from watching us – interpreting our actions. Over 100M kids are homeschooled globally, and playing a small part in their early-stage development is a privilege we take very seriously.
Similarly, our community of teachers faces a growing threat – lack of time. When I think back to my favourite teachers, my fondest memories are of when the teacher took interest in my life – took the time to SEE the real me! As the ‘system’ puts more and more pressure on teachers to take on administrative tasks, growth in class sizes, and lack of resources and support, the attention that young people need at that critical K-8 age is lost. It’s not about the grades at that age – it’s about being encouraged to play, to fail, to get back up and be the motivator – so often, the rat race of the system pulls both the teacher and student onto its wheels too soon, and everyone loses.
How can we help teachers? Not another curriculum guide or a better ‘math’ program; no, we need to find a way to give them back TIME; that is their real purpose, in my opinion. Time to learn what makes my kids excited to learn. Time to help my kids learn independently, fail and try again. Time to inspire and motivate my kids – your kids. If you are shaking your head in disagreement that teachers don’t ‘give a shit’ anymore – I disagree. Teaching is a calling – it takes commitment, dedication and patience to become a teacher, and like the homeschooled students who get ignored by the ‘business of education’ the system also sucks the ‘why’ out of teachers – even the best of them, eventually, lose their purpose.
As I return to meet investors, the typical starting question is, “So, you guys are a homeschooling company?”
No, we are in the business of preparing students for a future that is evolving too fast for the current education system to be the ONLY choice – our focus is to provide parents and teachers with educational products that are organized, relevant, adaptable and future-ready – a personalized ‘school’ per student. By helping WIN back their time, Schoolio empowers parents and educators re-invest their time and attention back onto their students – the change-makers of tomorrow.