Monthly Archives: August 2016

School Grades in Indonesia

Kids in Jakarta may start school as early as 6 months old! Well, they call it ‘school’ in a way or ‘baby gym’ or ‘baby class’, but formally school starts for kids at the age of 4 or 5 years old for 2 years in Kindergarten, K1 and K2. We call it Taman Kanak-kanak or TKA and TKB. Then 6 years in Primary school, we call it Sekolah Dasar or SD kelas 1-6. Then 3 years of Junior High School, that we call Sekolah Menengah Pertama or SMP 1-3. From SMP students can choose either to go to normal Senior High School which name has changed a few times either Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) or Sekolah Menengah Umum (SMU) for 3 years or to go to somekind of a college called Sekolah Menengah Kejuruan (SMK) for 3 years too. The difference between these 2 is that Senior High School students will need to continue and are prepared to go to University and college students can go directly to work field. Undergraduate university normally is about 4 years or 3.5 years if students rush to finish faster. Postgraduate university ranges from 1-2 years. These are the normal national education in Indonesia. It applies for all public and National private schools. For each end of Primary, Junior high school and Senior high school there is a final examination. This is can also be called package A for Primary, package B for Junior high and package C for Senior high.


Though school should start at the age 4 or 5, most parents would put their children in some kind of ‘school’ since their children are 6 months old, 1, 2, or 3 years old. Usually they are called Baby class (6 months to 2 years old), Pre-Nursery (2-3 years old), and Nursery (3-4 years old). Each school has their own definition or class names, which basically are more or less the same. Then switching from Primary school to High school, some schools depending on the method it takes, may have varieties in the names or levels. Some schools call it Year 1 to 12, some others use Primary 1 to 6 then 4 years of Junior High and 2 years of University preparation.


There seems to be a big gap in how the education system in Indonesia in reality. It is highly opposed that kids learn to write and read before the age of 6, yet entering Primary school, kids HAVE to be able to read and write. Now, how could it be? Are they going to read and write in one night? Or maybe during the one month long holiday? Definitely not. Therefore many kindergarten do not only have fun playing, but school also teach them to read and write, and also do some simple mathematics.


This is one of the reason for us to choose homeschooling. I love the freedom not to teach my children too early to read and write. Some of my friends’ children are stressed at the demands of the Primary schools. Some choose to move to another school or most will put their children to extra after school lessons. If I see my child is ready to read or write, I will teach them, but if they are struggling, I will definitely slow it down and wait until she’s ready.


From the very beginning, we already decided that we will let our kids go to normal school during their kindergarten years, then we will do homeschooling for their Primary years. For their high school years, we choose to put them back to normal school. We will see and decide for sure when time comes for us to decide either to put them back to school or just continue homeschooling. This is our 4th year homeschooling, later close to Joy’s 5th or 6th year, we will need to decide either to continue homeschooling or put her back to normal school. One of the reason for putting her back to normal school is that we want her to have school friends and catching up with normal school curriculum. We will also assess our situation later too. We need to decide to have package A for Joy or not. If she is going to a normal school that needs her to have it, then we need to have her pass it. But if she wants to continue homeschooling or if the school she goes into doesn’t need Primary school certificate, we can just skip the package A.

Why we choose homeschooling

I never thought life would be like this. I never really planned for 3 kids though I’ve mentioned it jokingly in the past.

I’ve had some experience teaching dance and English since I was in high school until a year after I was done with my University. I’ve seen how kids turned out at school and it made me think about choosing homeschool as how I would school my children. After reading some resources from books and talking about it to Garth, he agreed. We both agreed on how school in Jakarta stresses out kids, cost a fortune and which school your kids go to will surely determine your level of expenses. Our current situation enable us to adjust to homeschooling. This is a choice we choose to do as a family. Situations may be different in other families. We also decided to do homeschooling for the first 6 Primary years only. We put our kids to normal school for Kindergarten and plan to put them back to school during their Junior and Senior High School years. For the time being, this is our decision, but later when we have reached the time to decide whether to go back to school or continue homeschool, we’ll just have to see the situation then. We may still change our mind, as we go along this journey in our decision, we face some challenging situations with relatives who disagree with our choice, challenges in managing children, and being able to manage some time off for ourselves too. I enjoy all this though, by the grace of God we are still standing. Many times we face challenges, tiredness and boredom. These are just normal daily life, right?!


I am truly grateful to have a supporting husband, I couldn’t have done all this by myself. I am grateful also that we are a great team together. There are many things that we do together in parenting our kids that is may be difficult for others to understand, but we have our own ways of getting things done. Most of all, I am grateful to have Christ in the center of our family and marriage. He is the One who keeps us together and enable us to do all things.

Simple homeschool net Growing up around the world

This blog is the answers to the questions on the Growing Up Around the World

I am very excited to participate in the global adventures. This is my first blog and I am sure it will give a lot of information about us.

Our family consist of my husband, Garth, me, Lucia, Joy our eldest daughter who is 8.5 years old, Grace our second daughter who is 5.5 years old and James our son who is 3 years old. We are a Chinese-Indonesian family. Our grandparents came originally from China mainland, they married native Indonesian and have children in Indonesia. Chinese-Indonesian are about 4-5% of the whole ethnics in Indonesia. Chinese culture is quite obvious in some Chinese-Indonesian families like us, whereas some may choose to disregard the culture, but very much similar to the common Chinese family around the world.

We live in Jakarta, but we both came from smaller cities outside Jakarta. Our parents moved to Jakarta and so we stayed here and breed 😀

I have lived here for about 25 years, previously in Surabaya and was born in Medan. I’ve only lived abroad once for work for 1.5 years in Hong Kong.

Living in Jakarta means dealing with the traffic all the time. I am grateful that I can choose to schedule my day trying to avoid the rush hours or commuters, but sometimes we just need to jump into it and deal with it. People here mostly live in houses, though they are getting so much more expensive, but the apartments are even more expensive. Many are moving towards living in flats, but my husband and his love for automotive still finds it difficult to part with his garage. Also the simplicity of parking our car in front of our house rather than having to live in a much smaller and much more expensive space of apartment. People say that you can have just about anything you want in Jakarta. Specially nowadays people are very familiar with ‘gojek’. It is an online service that uses motorbikes to deliver or pick up our online shopping, food, or just about anything you want to pass to others. That beats the traffic! Ha!

Bahasa Indonesia is spoken in Indonesia as our national language. Our second language is English, though it is not as widely spoken in the society. English is mostly passive here, unlike people from some of our neighboring countries which can use their second language alternately. Here are some phrases in Bahasa Indonesia:

Good Morning : Selamat Pagi

Good Afternoon : Selamat Siang (before 3 PM), Selamat Sore (after 3 PM)

Good Evening or Night : Selamat Malam

How are you? : Apa Kabar?

Nice to meet you : Senang bertemu denganmu

Good bye : Selamat Tinggal

There are plenty of choices of traditional food here. Indonesia is very rich in culture and culinary. Here are some of the local Jakarta traditional food: Kerak Telor, Gado-gado, Nasi Goreng, Asinan Betawi, Soto Betawi, Kue Cubit, Kue Pancong, Getuk, Ongol-ongol, Onde-onde, just to name a few.

Indonesia has two seasons, hot and rainy. Our country is a tropical country, exactly on the equator. Most of us wonder what snow is like, as we have average temperature around 30-33 degrees Celsius the whole year through.

In Jakarta most kids go to either public school or private school. Here there are so many choices for private school, they use the term National, National Plus or International School. National school both public and private are conducted in Bahasa Indonesia, the school subjects are more challenging as in the high standard of the Indonesia National curriculum. National Plus School use both Bahasa Indonesia and English for their spoken and written language, school curriculum depends on each schools methods. Some may use IB, Cambridge, Montessori, etc. In International School everything is done in English, using either same or different methods or curriculum as in National Plus Schools. I grew up with only the choice of either public school or National private school. I went to either one of them along my school years.

We are one of just a few families that does homeschooling as a choice to teach our kids. It is still very rare but quite common for many celebrities or special needs children. Our children is none of those, we just choose homeschooling because we want to be able to give a better form of education for our kids. To have a closer relationship with them and helping them to learn a lifelong love of learning. We find that the school we had in the past was very stressful, and the other options are too expensive. School in Jakarta is very, very expensive. Most kids go to even more additional tutoring for school subject after school. It is very common that children here are lack of play during their Primary school years and too stressed during the whole higher education years. Though homeschooling is growing in Jakarta, most of the families join a certain group of homeschoolers or they belong to a certain group of the same curriculum users. We choose neither of those, we have been doing our homeschooling on our own. There are many after school activities to choose from that we call lessons or courses. Some of the options are school subject lessons, English, swimming, art classes, dance or even a choice of a whole sports activity membership for gymnastics, dance, ballet, tennis, swimming, etc. Most parents enroll their kids to at least one of these after school activities.

The highly anticipated day of the whole year is Hari Raya Idul Fitri. It is a Moslem celebration at the end of the Ramadhan month. What is not told much is that it has a huge impact on the city Jakarta. Most families in Jakarta hire helper that comes from many different areas outside Jakarta, during this time of the year, they all go back to their hometown. Jakarta becomes less crowded, less traffic jam, there is about two weeks of holiday and most families use that time to have holidays out of town also.

If I had to move away, I don’t think I will miss anything. I love new things and look forward to changes all the time. I may miss the food that I can have here. Most people say that they would miss Nasi Padang (food from one region in Sumatra) and Indomie (a very well known instant noodle)! Hahaha….

Many books are folk stories and legends about how a place is formed. Some of the famous ones most Indonesian would know are Malin Kundang, Sangkuriang dan Dayang Sumbi, Bawang Merah Bawang Putih, Keong Mas.