By Nalina Ramalakshmi, Founder, ParentCircle
Though homeschooling is a trend in educating young children abroad, it was never an option for a majority of Indian parents a year ago. But COVID-19 has changed that stance. Today, many parents see homeschooling as a viable option as they primarily view it as a way to keep the children safe in a post-pandemic world. In an online survey conducted by ParentCircle recently, 46% parents said they are ready to homeschool their kids in the coming academic year.
Now, this is where the challenge begins – if you are a parent who mentally ticked ‘yes’ to homeschooling your children till it becomes completely safe to send them back to school, stop right there – homeschooling is not a stop-gap arrangement.
The pros of homeschooling:
- Ability to tailor curriculum and lesson plans to child’s needs and pace of learning
- Flexibility to pursue child’s interests
- Setting your own daily schedule
- Nurturing self-driven, self-motivated learners
- Focus on learning versus exams and grades
- Opportunities for experiential learning as you can take your child on trips
- Less expensive than private schools Homeschooling Can homeschooling be a conscious choice of parents in the post- COVID era?
The cons of homeschooling:
- Requires fulltime commitment from both parents and children
- It is a lot of work for parents
- Lack of peer-to-peer interactions
- Lack of exposure to multiple perspectives
- One parent may have to stay home
Who will supervise your children? Parental supervision is an essential aspect of homeschooling – especially for young children. If both of you are working parents, you’ll have to return to your respective places of work in due course. Who’ll be there at home taking care of your children and supervising their learning in the daytime? Will the two of you have flexible worktimes so you can take turns to be home with your children? Who else can help when you are away at work? How will you ensure basic education skills for your child? Just like in traditional schooling, homeschooling requires you to ensure your child is acquiring some basic skills in reading, writing, math, science and social studies that will lay the foundation for future learning.
This is true even if your child is focused on pursuing her passion and inner calling. There are many homeschooling organizations that provide support for homeschoolers to plan the curriculum, lessons and assessments. And there are wonderful online courses your child can enroll in to learn. What about your child’s social skills? Homeschooled children do miss out on many opportunities to interact with other children and adults when compared to those who attend regular school. So, it becomes necessary to plan activities for your child that involve social interactions – team sports, extra-curricular activities, group classes, field trips with other home-schooled children, play dates and so on. Have you thought about higher education/exams? Homeschooling does not have any regulatory body in India yet, and students who want to get into colleges and universities in India need to take the board exams as private candidates.
However, recognized boards such as CBSE, ICSE, ISC or International Baccalaureate (IB) and even state boards do not allow private candidates to sit for their exams. So, the homeschoolers are left with the option of taking the exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), an autonomous institute under the HRD ministry; or the IGCSE exams, which is the more expensive.
Conclusion and key takeaways
So, there you are! Homeschooling is evolving as a ‘stress-free’ education model for young children, especially in the post-pandemic world. You could be one among the increasing number of parents who are ready to shun traditional approaches to education and help their children embark on a holistic and experiential way of learning. According to United States National Education Research Institute, there are more than 2.5 million children being homeschooled in the US currently, and the number is steadily increasing. But will this become a trend in India, too? On this note, let me leave you parents with some points to ponder:
- The new National Education Policy 2020 is all set to emphasize the importance of creating an enriching learning environment at home, where parents are an integral part of a child’s formal learning process.
- According to parents who homeschool their children, it provides for a wonderful child-led learning environment enabling the children to accomplish more in his or her academics.
- Homeschooling can enhance parent-child and sibling relationships.
- It can be a safe learning environment for children, free from the fear of comparisons and bullying. • In countries such as the US, Australia, France, Canada, Japan, Hungary, and the UK, homeschooling is becoming a part of the mainstream education; it is no longer seen as an ‘alternative education’.