The term ‘Homeschooling’ has gained momentum in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic period. With this term, confusion in the minds of parents has also increased, especially among the Indian parents. Homeschooling is not something new. It is already a practised and a legal form of learning and imparting education in some countries. According to ‘Right to Education’ (RTE) Act, 2009, under the article 21A of the Indian Constitution, education is the right of every child and is compulsory till the age of 14. It doesn’t outline the mode of education or teaching methodology (Homeschooling or sending to school or virtual learning) decided by parents for their child. Things are good to go as long as the education of the child is in place. In India, Homeschooling is still a grey sphere.
Homeschooling is a mode of education and a way of imparting knowledge to school-aged children at the premise of their own home, instead of schools. Homeschooling gives the parents a chance to provide a tailored teaching experience to the child with lots of hands-on activities. Studies suggest that a homeschooled child perform academically better and score more percentiles than regular school students.
Homeschooling is a big responsibility and life-alerting for both parents and the child. Parents get a chance to relive their life while helping the children discover their passion. But it can feel daunting, unstructured and puzzling at times. The path is full of enlightening, fun, adventurous and challenging experiences, for both, parents and the kids taking on the world.
Children love learning new things. Besides regular studies in Homeschooling, it offers flexible time to kids for exploring different aspects of life, including social conduct and personality development, etc. and allows uncover their passions. Parents need not be certified teachers to homeschool their child. Parents are aware of the child’s progress and develop a syllabus that fits suitable according to their child’s learning style & psychological state.
Homeschooling is a bigger segment and should be better organised. Parents who are Homeschooling their kids can help each other through online groups and forums, regular meet-ups, and coordinated activities like zoo trips, museum visits, excursions to religious places etc. Thus, kids interact with other kids and share their knowledge and do not lack socialisation. Homeschooled kids are socialising by virtual means like online tours, virtual playdates and video calling, during the Covid-19 period, which is quite a similar experience for formal school goers at this time around.
Homeschooled kids have a strong sense of autonomy. When they were reviewed on topics related to leadership, care for community, self-discipline, peer play, and on various course related subjects, their answers were promising. And they performed well on measures of emotional intelligence and mental well-being. The real world is as bright for them as it is for everyone else. Home educated children go on to do challenging work even, as adults. They stand out, and their involvement in social activities and community building is thorough and sincere too.
In recent times, a growing number of families have started considering Homeschooling as an option. However, home schooling is not widespread in India but slowly catching up in major cities like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune and Bangalore. Safety concerns and exorbitant school fees kindled interest about Homeschooling among parents in metropolitan cities. Indian parents prefer Homeschooling over formal education to provide religious and moral instructions, also due to their concerns about the learning culture in the schools. They are uncomfortable with the large volume of homework after school, mugging up the textbooks without understanding the concepts and the lack of time for the kids to read beyond the syllabus.
Parents in rural areas prefer homeschooling for transportation convenience. Public transport may not reach the students home or, if they do, they may take long hours over the poor roads. Rural parents have an opportunity to instil in their children an acknowledgement for local values and places and integrate the local economy into education.
The common question most parents ask is about the legalities of Homeschooling in India. At present, no formal institution or body governs Homeschooling in India. Nonetheless, parents who wish to home school their children can do so. RTE does not put-downs or rules out Homeschooling in India. Children studying through homeschools can appear for board exams through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), IGCSE or state boards.
Presently, where we in India stand in terms of universality and versatility of education, full acceptance of Homeschooling is still afar. It will require multidimensional progress in terms of economic, social, and political culture. And even then Homeschooling will be able to replace schooling; we have our concerns over that.
Conventional schooling, too, provides a plethora of benefits, which schooling in other modes may fail to deliver. Schooling allows our children to learn among peers who come from various diverse backgrounds. It not only helps our children learn social skills but also develop deeper relations like friendships. Extracurricular activities ranging from athletics to theatre allow children to recognise their interests, which many a time turn into a passion they wish to take ahead in life. Learning from teachers who are experts in their domain adds to the quality of learning, helping develop an interest in subjects that might form the basis for career choices. Also, the school environment helps children learn to handle and cope up with a multitude of situations on their own, adding to their growth and sense of individualism.
In my viewpoint, a feasible and practical approach to educating our children will bring together the best of both worlds, where the essential elements of schooling like peer learning can align and mix together with the right ingredients of Homeschooling!
A model of education where formal schooling continues but is joined by Homeschooling in a complementary role, in certain areas depending upon the individual needs of our children and spheres that can incorporate learning in the form of fun activities might pose to be an ideal one!
The unlock period provides a good opportunity to experiment around Homeschooling!
There are quite a lot of resources available for parents turned into Homeschooling educators. Many apps are available online to support parents and children with home learning. Whether full-time Homeschooling or just to support a child’s education. Here are few apps most beneficial for everyone.
Khan Academy and Khan Academy Kids: It offers interactive exercises and lessons on all topics. The lessons can be of great use to parents and students.
NASA for students: This website includes a free catalogue of articles and topics related to space exploration and aeronautics.
Homeschool.com: It provides information about getting started, lessons, links to local groups makes this site a great resource, especially those who are new to Homeschooling.
Project Gutenberg: It has a large collection of eBooks, children’s classic literature. It is an amazing resource for starting their own library on a budget.
Xtramath: It lends free math videos, lessons and activities for teachers and parents.
Technology can enable educational curriculums and students can educate themselves on the go. They can learn anything they like from their parents, friends, teachers and the community. Parents can understand the kids better than anyone and can give their child the best to shine.