Over the last few months, there’s been a rise of #homeschooling queries on my inbox and I hope to address most of it, factually and from our personal experience.
It’s that time of the year for parents! 😬 Admissions season sure brings a lot of confusion especially now with the looming uncertainty about when schools will reopen amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And even if it does reopen shortly, how safe is it for children to go to school? And if you’re anything like me, a pandemic homeschooler chances are you might be reconsidering extending your journey.
If you know me, I HATE doling out advice on things I don’t have certified expertise or at the very least experience in. So here I am almost a year later, to share what I know (by research/speaking to friends in this space) to answer these, over a series of posts, that I hope is helpful to those interested in this. When we embarked on this, it was a leap of faith and I’ve been looking to support groups and online forums for advice and I hope to give back what I’ve learnt so far.
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is an alternative to the traditional education system where parents make the conscious decision to not send their children to school, but instead educate them in a home environment.
Parents may choose to teach the children on their own or appoint tutors. But it is not just about educating them at home. It involves various approaches to learning that are led by the child’s interest, ability, learning style and pace, where one can learn what he likes instead of learning the standard set of subjects in stipulated time. Some children get enrolled in educational institutes or centers to attend specialized courses or workshops or get tutored at home by tutors of their choice.
Do we need to register for homeschooling in India? Is homeschooling legal in India?
While India does not have a regulatory body for homeschoolers, it is legal to home-school in all states and you do not need to “register” anywhere to home-school as of now. Things might change in the future.
Steps to Start Homeschooling
- Do the groundwork: Research. Connect with parents who are already homeschooling. A lot of idea exchanges happen in homeschooling Facebook communities.
- Introspect to understand what you and your family’s goals are, for the journey.
- Observe your child’s learning style. Explore your teaching preference and your educational approach.
- Find your child’s curriculum.
- Decide where you will homeschool and create your unique school schedule/rhythm.
- Enjoy the learning process.
- Reevaluate and tweak the process depending on how it goes.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
Common learning approaches (aka educational philosophies)
- Traditional Homeschooling or School-at-Home
- Classical Homeschooling
- Charlotte Mason Homeschooling
- Eclectic Homeschooling
- Montessori Homeschooling
- Homeschooling with Unit Studies
- Waldorf Homeschooling
While there are plenty of options when it comes to homeschooling, you need to keep your educational goals and learning styles in mind, before you decide on a method.
PS: This can evolve through the course of your journey.
Approaches to Homeschooling
The majority of homeschooling families follow a curriculum. How they choose to educate can broadly fall under one or a combination of these approaches:
- Parents as teachers
- Tutor Services
- Online programs
- Child-led learning & growing
- Homeschool coops and learning centres Some families form local groups and facilitate homeschooling through homeschool coops or learning centres where children or families gather regularly or irregularly.
- Unschooling families usually do not feel compelled to have a set curriculum or teach proactively for learning to emerge.
Can my child go back to school after being homeschooled?
- In most cases, your child should be able to return to a school setting without too much hassle.
- You may want to talk to someone in your local school before withdrawing your student if it’s a big concern.
- Ideally, a child should be accepted in an age-appropriate class after homeschooling for 1 or more years or if the child has never been to a traditional school.
- In most cases, schools conduct baseline assessments and admit students according to the grade levels.
What India’s Education Policy under RTE (Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act 2009) obligates?
- The provisions of RTE put obligation especially for Government schools and state to accept every school-age child (between 6 to 14 years) in school in the age-appropriate grade. Schools admit children provided there is a vacancy. Usually, as there is an over-supply of private schools in many locations, finding a school that accepts may not be a challenge, albeit at times you may not get a school of choice or may need to join a relatively expensive school.
- If the child has dropped out for Grade 1 and wants to join back in Grade 2, the child should be admitted in Grade 2 without having the obligation to have a Transfer certificate or exam certificates and the preparation for the next grade would be facilitated by the school.
- Alternative schools or learning centres can be more receptive to homeschool families.
Do I need a teacher’s certification to homeschool?
Getting training is a nice-to-have and not mandatory. You don’t have to be a genius to homeschool. You don’t have to know everything to educate your own children. That’s why there are curriculum providers. In the age of the Internet, you have to be smart enough to find a way to teach those hard subjects.
- If you aren’t inclined to learning a new language to teach the child, hire a native language tutor.
- If you feel the need for supplementing or need to take things off your plate, get help from experts or get in a co-op!
- All you need is love to facilitate their learning as part of your role as parents naturally.
Do homeschoolers have exams?
Homeschoolers can appear for the IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) exams as private candidates, or write the Class 10/12 Examinations of the National Institute of Open Learning ( NIOS ) which gives students the option to get a degree or certificate and is conducted at private centres.
However, homeschoolers are not eligible to take ICSE and ISC exams.