Formal schooling has been the norm for a child’s education ever since most of us remember. However, one can also come across a growing community of parents homeschooling their kids and many more are expected to follow, after the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Homeschooling can be a better option, says Vidya Shankar, Founder & Chairperson of Relief Foundation & Cascade Training Centre. On an interview with Parent Circle She says, “The process of educating a child cannot be rested with a rigid regimental school”.
Although homeschooling has many perks, it is not a child’s play.
Here are some of the challenges faced while exploring homeschooling firsthand.
Taking the First Step
Many parents are unable to decide the right age to begin homeschooling their child. They are also left to wonder if this is the right way to educate their child.
As the saying goes “education begins at home”, children begin to learn right from birth. They observe, listen, explore, apply, and question. So, homeschooling starts very young. It does not have to be a curriculum, but basic everyday tasks. Parents should continue homeschooling and introduce new skills in the child’s own pace.
Setting a Schedule
When a child begins homeschooling, setting a schedule for learning is the next big task. How long should the learning schedule be? When to teach what? How long should I teach each subject?
If a strict schedule is the need, it is better to stick to formal education. Homeschooling is not bound to any strict schedules. Veteran homeschooling families have devised their own schedules with each being diverse. Some families teach for a couple of hours in the morning and dedicate the afternoon for personal pursuits. Others arrange workbooks and let the child decide what he/she wants to learn. Some families go with flow and take advantage of the teachable moments.
Homeschooling parents are always concerned about education gap. Is the child up to the mark? Can homeschooling match the curriculum of formal schooling? What are the subjects I need to teach? How many subjects should I teach? What about Mathematics, English, Science, History? Should I teach a foreign language along with a local language?
Instead of teaching many subjects, homeschooling encourages teaching a child how to learn. Prompt the child to ask questions and gain knowledge. When the child encounters a knowledge gap, he/she will try to resolve the gap.
e-Learning: Tools & Resources
Schools have tried and tested tools to teach. They bank on books, structured syllabus, and planned schedules. This can be a huge roadblock in homeschooling as parents think they are to figure out everything on their own.
In the digital world, there are many resources that help parents in homeschooling. Just like this article. Parents can plug-in online and take help from many homeschooling groups and e-Learning platforms.
e-Learning platforms can present a complete package for homeschoolers. Learning platforms like Byju’s have a K-12 learning program that provides easy access to educational content from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Byju’s focuses on creating an environment for self-learning. The application identifies a child’s learning speed and builds a personalized learning path.
Keeping Distractions at Bay
Many households have babies, toddlers, or siblings who can distract a homeschooler. Not to mention the television, computers and other gadgets that are within reach.
With a little care homeschooling can turn these distractions into opportunities. Creating co-learning tasks and hands-on activities can turn playtime into learn time. Computers and other gadgets can also be effective tools of education, but they must be used in moderation.
Sports and Physical Activities
A popular belief amongst some parents is that homeschooling lacks access to sports.
Homeschooling has equal exposure to sports as schools, if not more. Parents can enroll their child to any sports camps or coaching classes based on a child’s interest. There are also several support groups to indulge homeschoolers in regular sports and extra-curricular activities.
Open Schools: Certification & Higher Education
Will homeschoolers ever get a degree? What about college and a Job? Even the most confident homeschooling parents stress thinking about higher education possibilities for their child.
Homeschoolers can pursue higher education if they wish to. In India there are a couple of open school boards such as NIOS and IGCSE through which they can earn a recognized high school degree. The enrollment process is available online and offline. A homeschooled student can also appear for the board exams of secondary (Xth) and senior secondary (XIth & XIIth) courses in both the boards.
Children with learning disabilities or special needs often require special consideration. In this case parents tend to be more cautious before choosing homeschooling.
Fortunately, in homeschooling, support groups can connect you to other homeschooler families with a similar situation, their advice can be vital. Through homeschooling parents can personalize the education as per a child’s special needs and abilities.
Homeschooling parents can feel self-doubt or encounter many those who doubt. Sometimes they can even fear if their own limitations could hold back their student.
This is where home educators need to stay motivated. Making a long term or short-term goals can help parents and the student to have roadmap to their learning experience. If both the parent and the student are motivated, the whole world could be a classroom for homeschoolers.