Homeschooling is still a new concept in India. When I tell my friends and family I homeschool they come up with many questions. I’ve tried to answer here some of the questions that I’ve been asked.
Some basic questions:
What syllabus do you follow?
I have bought books from class one to class five in ICSE and CBSE syllabus and stacked them up in the bookshelf where my kids can reach. They randomly pick books based on what they feel like and read/study. I also get for them books from the Primary Olympiad site for their exams. In addition to these books, we also pick books from any book festival/exhibition that we go to based on the children’s interest, even if might appear that it is of a higher level. So my children have a wide variety of books to pick from when it comes to school books. In India there is no need for any assessment for homeschooled children so we are allowed to follow any syllabus that we want.
Do you have a schedule?
The answer is kind of “Yes” and “No”. We do find time to read/write/draw everyday, but we might not do the academics everyday. Our reading might involve “story books” and not academics in the sense that the rest of the world sees it. But for us it is more like reading practice and it is ok not to pick up a Mathematics or a Science book everyday. We learn a lot through travel too.
What about Socialisation?
This is one question that comes up time and again. Actually, this should have been on top of my list. I ask one question back to people that ask me this question. How much of socialisation happens in schools? My kids went to school by bus, so they got a bit of socialisation there, but other than that, once they reached school, it was time for them to run for the assembly, then it was time for class where they were not allowed to talk to other students. The only time they got to socialise was during the breaks which were short enough for them to run to the restrooms or have a snack/lunch. If they were slow eaters then they got absolutely no time at all.
Compare that to being homeschooled. They get to go with the parents wherever the parents go. To shops, to the market, to the library, to the park, to many places and meet people from all different backgrounds and ages. Which is what real life is like. Other than school and college, we never spend time with people our own age, so why should socialisation happen with people our own age alone?
For those who tell me that children learn a lot from watching other children their age, yes, homeschooled children do get out. We go to the park where we get to meet children the same age as my own. My two go to karate, swimming and a lot of other arts workshop and stuff. The result is that while they do get to mingle with children their age, socialisation is not restricted to just that. They get to see real life scenarios, mingle with people of all ages.
And What about discipline?
First, what is discipline? Many people mistake the children sitting in class quietly with their hands folded and mouth shut to be discipline. I think this is so wrong at different levels. Children should be encouraged to ask questions, to research answers for questions that they do not know answers to, to think differently. All this is not possible in the current educational setting. I find homeschooled children are much more disciplined. They know the value of time and they have to do it all themselves many times without a teacher telling them what to do.
What about board exams?
In India it is possible to do the 10th and 12th standard board exams through NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) http://www.nios.ac.in/ and students can do IGCSE board exams too, though it is expensive.
Is Homeschooling legal and recognised?
Yes, Homeschooling is legal and recognised in most countries. (It is illegal in Germany to homeschool). In some countries the requirement is to register with the government and the student should be assessed on a regular basis. In India, though this is not required.
Can homeschooled students go to colleges abroad?
Yes, many universities including Harvard and Princeton accept homeschooled students.
What about all the annual day, sports and other kind of stuff that they usually do in school?
These days a lot of housing societies give opportunities for children to display their talents during festivals or their annual days.
Children can join schools where they are allowed to participate in certain activities alone and not attend full time school like the others.
Children can join clubs/classes separately for sports, dance, music, etc.
Any help or homeschooling groups in India?
These are groups which you can join, ask questions and get answers about homeschooling / unschooling.
Of late many newspapers and radio stations have been covering homeschooling as well.