At Home with Homeschooling


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At Home with Homeschooling

  1. 1. coverstory me withngat ho schoolihome BY NIRUPAMA RA GHAVAN -time , whether part H omeschooling reschooler or or full -time, with a p ng seems a daunti a n older child, ol ear-total contr task. Taking n ot education is n o ver your child’s at e made lightly a decision to b re, e moment. He the spur of th at sorting the then , is an attempt nt to arents may wa basic factors p meschooling. consi der, before hoW hy do you want to that covers a plethora of options in reading/researching/asking around/ homeschool your breadth and nature. Many parents googling; so take the time, and do child? homeschool up to the first standard; the work. Not only will it make yourThere are as many reasons for some up to the sixth or eighth; others work easier when you begin, you’llhomeschooling as there are past the twelfth, as my parents did. The find yourself more confident of yourhomeschooling parents. Some choose safety net that the Right to Education ground, and more relaxed withhomeschooling for geographical Act provides, should eliminate most your child.reasons (isolation, emigration); some parents’ worries about enrollmenthave gifted children who may not do possibilities. Curriculum covers a range However clear you may be on how youwell in group schooling; some have of methods from traditional instruction would like to homeschool your child,children with various mental/physical to Waldorf, Montessori and Doman there are some basic pre-requisites forchallenges; a surprisingly large number methods, from Vedic math to Abacus. the plan to be a success:withdraw their children from school in Some even enroll their child in a school,response to bullying, discrimination and and then take partial responsibility for A well-educated primary parentplain old dissatisfaction with teaching, only sending the child to (PP): This refers only tangentially tothe system. school for tests and exams, with the formal education; given the state of administration’s blessing. education in this country, I wouldWhat type of homeschooling consider it infinitely more importantare you planning? Finding full and comprehensive answers that the PP is extremely well-read, a‘Homeschooling’ is an umbrella term to these questions may require some logical and organized teacher. The10 Parent Circle / January 2012
  2. 2. Important external resources: Libraries, TV shows, museums, galleries Expert Speak and the internet are important. They provide you with sources of Mohana Narayanan, information, both for your child and Psychological Counsellor, for the research that you will need to Aatmika Centre for complete in order to teach. Cable TV Counselling and the internet will rapidly become your best friends for video clips, articles, Even home schooling has its documentaries and research; you can flipside. A regular school provides teach music by using YouTube or an environment where the child practice organizational skills together learns to give and take, and through Farmville. The box is only as develops other soft skills which Nirupama Raghavan idiotic as the priorities of its user. are often missed out in home- schooling. School life also has anpool of knowledge required to teach While the basics are universal, organized structure with rulesa young child is extensive, more than homeschooling offers virtually unlimited and regulations - this is whatwhat is expected of any one teacher in possibilities for tailoring them to the makes the child self-disciplined.any primary school. learning style and preferences of the A child feels safe within this child. A quick google search or a visit structure.A supportive and enthusiastic to a bookstore specialising in textbookssecondary parent (SP): Ideally for will enable you to cross-check the The children need to blend withthe emotional stability of the child and boards that cover the topics you want, the present day education systemthe family as a whole, both parents and in the style that you prefer. to know its importance. I knowneed to be involved in educating the of some children who do notchild. The secondary parent, however, How to bring about Learning know even the importance of amay not have as much time to invest in the child? graduation and shun it, and might have to take over With each topic, list out what your childmore household/logistical support, as has to know, what else is connectedis the case with most homeschooling with it, and what more is available if hefamilies that I have seen. These roles are is interested. He could just develop acompletely gender-interchangeable; my deep interest in a facet of Taxonomy!father handled half of my primary and a Don’t be surprised if your child developsgood chunk of my highly arts-oriented obscure and highly specific interestssecondary education, and I don’t think and skills; it’s an advantage - somehe is an exception that proves the rule. say a side-effect - of getting to learn the way one likes. You may have toA consistent and comprehensive bear in mind that your child may notsyllabus: Whether you choose to necessarily be interested in pursuingadopt a syllabus (IGCSE, CBSE, State some - or many - things beyond theboard, etc) or integrate multiple basics. Do not push too hard when thatsyllabuses, do have clear three-year, is the case; but don’t compromise onone-year, and half-year plans; these them learning what they needshould be tailored to your child’s gifts, to know, either.needs and preferences. This preventsthe classes devolving into interesting A most important tip: Branch outbut goalless meandering, which is from textbooks! The best way to learnalways a risk when everyone is is from an expert (who writes from ahaving fun. place of passion and expertise)8 11
  3. 3. coverstoryrather than a textbook author (who encyclopedias and educational CDsis primarily focused on being readily come in.comprehensible). I learnt geographyand zoology by reading Gerald Durrell’s Some resources: DK’s encyclopediasbooks on his expeditions, James and Picturepedias are a treasure trove;Herriott’s stories of country veterinary so is the Childcraft series, which coverspractice, and watching/reading David poetry and literary needs as well asAttenborough’s The Living Planet. I science and general knowledge. Collectlearned world history through reading posters, flashcard sets and quiz-basedJames Michener, Leon Uris, Jawaharlal board games; they will always comeNehru; science - from Isaac Asimov’s in handy. At a more advanced level,books on basic astronomy and physics. you can find the Time-Life series,Of course, this approach leaves gaps National Geographic archives, and ain knowledge (particularly in the raw plethora of Discovery Channel andbasics), but that is where the textbooks, BBC documentaries on everything from aardvarks to zygotes. up by 3:00 pm, I had a whole eveningMeet some On the internet, Youtube is a valuable to run around with other kids, climbhome schoolers resource (when used right), as are other trees, play in fields, get very muddy, child or information-oriented websites play in irrigation canals, photographS Esha is a 12-year-old girl living such as the BBC’s, or the USGS (United cloud formations, or even just sit andin Pondicherry, who did not like States Geological Survey), or NASA. read and listen to music, if I was inregular school. She is being home- the mood. I was not athletic, but wasschooled now and also runs her A quick Google search will run up very interested in getting wet/muddy/own magazine Raindrops in which enough math or grammar exercises to covered with stray foliage and dog furother children contribute articles. keep even the most grimly industrious in the shortest amount of time. MyAsk her whether she misses school little quiz-lover occupied for years. For loneliness – and I was, at times, veryand she says: I do get irritated that I the literary-inclined and an older child lonely – had more to do with being farhave to wait for a weekend to meet with a computer, Project Gutenberg more intellectual than my age group.a school-going friend. But I feel uploads, html and notepad versions of There are millions who have undergonegood when most of my friends say all books with expired copyrights, are a perfectly traditional education whothat they would prefer to be home- cheap, efficient and legal alternative to have felt precisely that isolation.schooled like me. spending huge amounts on buying up the classics. The socialization and social skills thatRuchir Raju Deepthi lives in Koba, children need, are not always acquireda village near Gandhinagar, Gujarat. For the rest... keep your eyes open by passing out from the modernHe is 23 years old now, has been and keep looking. For every resource Swargavaasal (Gate to heaven) ofhome-schooled, and publishes his in here, there are a hundred out there, schools. They come from spending timeown online magazine, care4nature. that your child might adore. Have a with other children, and around their“Everything in regular school was wonderful time exploring! mental/emotional age group, whichso mechanical; other students were may be quite different. They also comejust repeating what the teacher said. Can homeschooling bring from spending time with adults.They had no ideas of their own. about loneliness in a child?I learnt better when I went along There were other children around for NIRUPAMA RAGHAVAN WAS HOMEwith my parents to conferences. me, for a significant chunk of the day. SCHOOLED. SHE WAS 16 WHEN HERAlso, there are many professors and I attended Tamil, civics and physical TRANSLATION ‘PARTHIBAN’S DREAM’engineers in my family. Whenever sciences classes with other children; all WAS PUBLISHED; SHE HAS WRITTEN ‘PAVOthey had lengthy discussions, I picked my extra-curricular activities were in AND CAVO’ A PICTURE STORY BOOK FORup a lot of information,” he says. groups. Since my school-time wrapped CHILDREN; BESIDES A NUMBER OF POEMS.12 Parent Circle / January 2012
  4. 4. the differentshades ofhomeschooling BY SHASHWATHI SANDEEPR uchir Raju Deepthi is a 23-year-old who has his own publication and so does 12-year-old Esha S. The other commonlink between them is the fact that theyhave been home-schooled. Contraryto perception, home-schooling has itsshare of successes, and brings out theindividuality of a person to the fore.The term homeschooling has beenunderstood vaguely by the generalpublic. They perceive it to be a systemwhere the child is taught at home byhis parent with the same kind of textbooks and even a blackboard. It isusually understood and followed as ‘thehome replacing the school’, followinga similar syllabus, having similar goals,preparing for exams, etc. daughter what subjects/areas of life second home, why would any parent“For us, homeschooling means that are more important than others,” want to home school their child?there won’t be any syllabus. This explains Sangeetha Sriram, a writer,is because we feel that ‘setting a an urban farmer and a parent who is Homeschooling need not have fixedsyllabus’ means deciding for our homeschooling her child. timings, and it gives you many choices. “Thanks to its flexibility, holidays and Genie Kids (a school emulating home- vacations are not dictated by the schooling) in Bangalore encourages school schedules. Learning happens and practises the kind of learning at the child’s pace and there is no where there are neither text books nor stress to keep up with the grade levels. a syllabus. “There is no teaching that Competition is only against oneself, so happens. No faculty, equipment or there is no one-upmanship or bullying. activity imposes learning on children. Learning happens for the joy of it,” Over here, children construct their says Meena Srinivasan, a software own learning. All children learn in their professional and a stay-at-home mom own style, in their own way, at their from Puducherry. own pace, in different quantities and intensities,” says Aditi Shah Mathur, Some parents also feel that schools founder of Genie Kids. have a distorted way of measuring a child’s intelligence. “We don’t really Why homeschooling need much of what we learn in school, When school is considered to be a and most of what we need to learn 8 13
  5. 5. coverstoryin life, we learn from life. Yet,children start believing themselvesto be clever or dumb, basedon what a few teachers andeducators decide as life-skills.Students are carefully mouldedand measured according to theirability to conform,” says VidyutKale, a parent from Mumbai.When to start“I would personally advise parentsto start as early as possible.Just as children express freelytheir hunger for food, they willalso express their desire forlearning if parents listen andlearn with them,” says VidyaShankar, who is setting upCASCADE (Creating AlternativeSystem for Children AidingDevelopment Experientially), acommon platform for the home-schooling parents of Chennai andPuducherry.How does the child actually instead of resorting to remote facts WEBSITE RESOURCESlearn from a text book. Often we end up 4www.alternativeeducationindia.comWell, from everything that is around devising our own curriculum”, 4homeschooling creativelyhim! “We prefer a child led - project says Meena. (Yahoo group)oriented approach. We use an eclectic 4living math forum (Yahoo)collection of material – textbooks Some other children learn from 4living science forum (Yahoo)from different schools, workbooks their day-to-day activities. Explains 4www.indiahomeschoolers.ning.comthat we find in second hand stores Sangeetha, mother of a two-and-a-etc. The internet is a huge boon with half-year-old daughter, ”Our ‘method’its unlimited resources. We have is to expose our daughter to varied becomes the chemistry lab, the gardensubscribed to a couple of sites which environments like the beach, park, the biology lab and so on,”gives us access to grade level and railway station, bus journeys, buying explains Meena.subject level worksheets/books when from vegetable markets and small road-we feel a need for them. side shops, family functions, temples The option of writing exams is also and even our maid’s home, where she left to the child. There are exams atWe are part of several online groups can see and experience sensorially, two levels - the 10th and the 12th.and forums. We support each other a variety of things. She soaks it all in “Children can currently write the NIOSby sharing our thoughts, concerns and and ask us questions and thus makes (National Institute of Open Schooling)more importantly, resources. Materials sense of the world around her. We also and Cambridge board exams with ease.and resources cost a lot of money and involve her in work, as in the kitchen.” I would suggest that children writewe get very creative when it comes to the NIOS exams for the 10th gradestudy material. In our case, we would “As for the Sciences, most of the and both the Board exams at the 12thalso like the curriculum to be relevant experiments are performed hands-on grade level,” advises Vidya the child’s immediate surroundings with day to day materials. The kitchen IGCSE is also an option for children.14 Parent Circle / January 2012