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.