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A visit to the park in the evening with my son is a ritual we follow religiously to the extend that both of us would be there even when it is raining, taking shelter under the parking space. Park though is quite ill equipped in terms of play activities but provides excellent breeding space for new friendships. The area is abuzz with kids from kindergarten to middle school going kids in the evenings. I have been observing them from quite sometime. Like all mothers I thought my son was the sharpest kid but my myth was busted soon enough. All the toddlers I realised were the sharpest, eager to learn about the world around them and highly imaginative but as I moved towards the higher age groups the eagerness to learn and explore new things declined. So I started looking for options where we could maintain that zeal to learn. Traditional schooling or the formal education as all of us had, tends to follow a rigid curriculum which might not be suited for every child. The formal education has been in practice since 19 century in developed countries. Before this, all the learning or education used to be homebound either by a tutor or a parent. This is called homeschooling.
Homeschooling tends to follow a certain curriculum more or less adhering to school curriculum but the education is delivered in less formal settings. This might serve as boon to parents who are travelling often, temporarily posted abroad, children with special needs, children who have varied interest not promoted by schools. Homeschoolers don’t have to worry about memorising certain pages for tests but rather can learn from different texts about the topic of their interests. Homeschoolers have been found to perform better in colleges and universities. This is an upcoming trend in India but has been in practice in north America for long time. Homechoolers can choose to enrol, from different boards in India or choose to unschool their kids. Unschooling is a philosophy based on learning at home for child but with no curricula. Unschooling is based on initiative based learning e.g my 3 yr old son asked about a toy which was crab but he thought was spider. So I showed him online images of crab and spider, pointed out the differences and to make it more fun I showed him the cobweb spider made and the crab lying in frozen food section Or u could be working in the kitchen and child is intrigued by flour, the parent can explain about various cereals and how flour is made depending on child’s aptitude and intersts. So in unschooling the parent merely acts as a facilitator for knowledge taking cues from child and there is no set syllabus to follow. Parent has to be present all the time with the child utilising their curiosity to fund learning from day to day activities.
Homeschoolers can choose from following boards in India to study a set curriculum
• IGCSE(International General certificate of secondary education)- This is primarily for classes IX and X. These exams are conducted by University of Cambridge international twice a year. After clearing this students can enrol in any board for XI and XII.
• Cambridge international Examinations- Available for kids 5-19 years. One has to register with a school to take these exams for which school may charge extra. For more information log on to www.cie.org/uk.
• Certain state boards like Maharashtra and tamilnaidu matriculation board provide options for external candidates .
• National institute of open schooling- www.nios.ac.in
Advantages of homeschooling
1. Parent can provide education to the child on 1:1 basis which isn’t possible in school.
2. It provides flexibility in learning e.g you can teach your child regarding numbers , colors while playing in park, science experiment might be in the evening etc.
3. Homeschoolers can blend multitude ideas suited to their child e.g concepts from montesorri learning with CBSE etc.
4. Students can progress according to their aptitude and temperament
5. Cheaper with quality education
1. Preferrably one parent has to be present at home all the time available to child
2. Socialising in early years can be an issue which can be overcome by organising playdates .
3. It might be difficult for homeschooled kids to directly get admission in indian colleges and universities without passing higher secondary from recognised boards for courses such as medicine or engineering.
There is constantly growing tribe of parents in Mumbai , Chennai and other cities who are taking this option to provide quality based learning to their kids. Indian association of homeschoolers has formed an online platform called Swashikshan to interact and improvise ways of homelearning. Do Remember that the purpose of any form of education whether formal or homeschooling is to help a child achieve his/her maximum potential and parent is in best position to decide which is best suited to their child and family .
P.S- This article is to the best of my knowledge which might not be adequate.