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Education plays an important role in everybody’s life. While most kids learn by going to school, homeschooling is a less travelled path that is beginning to gain more traction around the world! You might be wondering… “Should I homeschool?” Well if you want to learn more about homeschooling or even how to start homeschooling, then read on!
What is homeschooling?
Homeschooling is where parents accept total responsibility for the education of their children rather than leaning on teachers and schools. Basically, the home becomes the center of a child’s education, rather than a school. Some parents choose homeschooling over school education because they find emulating classroom approaches to education is not as effective as the home-grown version. In homeschooling, parents carefully guide their children through emotional, mental and physical development.
The best part about homeschooling is that each child’s education is designed especially for that child! In a school, most children are expected to follow the same lesson plan and it’s much less tailored (if at all). Homeschooled children often learn how to think and act more independently.
How to get started homeschooling
Here are some simple steps to take if you want to homeschool your kids:
1. Understand your child’s interest
The best way to encourage learning is to identify the curiosities and interests of your child and run with them! Pay attention and listen to them, notice what they’re spending their time on, and recognize those activities that they get lost in. The learning that occurs in this process will be priceless. Sometimes, your child’s interest doesn’t fade away at all, and then you’ll know you’ve really touched on something special. If they do change, roll with it and adjust your lesson plans.
2. Limit distractions that can come in the way of learning
The temptations of passive entertainment like television, video games, are always beckoning to your children. They might feel that their studies are usurping their playtime. Reduce their screen time and clear your space as much as possible. Your child may tell you that they’re bored under these new conditions. If so, resist the temptation to fill their time with gadgets. Let them live with the boredom and, eventually, they will begin to explore and find that spark of interest inside of themselves.
3. Appreciate their efforts and reward them
Some parents dislike offering incentives to their children for doing work, but sometimes you may reach a point where you’re willing to try anything. Don’t pay them or treat them every time they get their work done (that opens a can of worms). But offering your child a simple reward for working for a certain period of time without any complaint is something that you can think about. And the reward doesn’t have to be expensive or anything big. Many children enjoy getting trips to the playgrounds or restaurants. It’s not what they get that matters; it’s that they feel a sense of recognition and accomplishment.
4. Create a school-like environment and a schedule
Many kids thrive on structure and schedules. When they have a solid understanding of what’s expected of them they can work towards meeting those expectations. You can even make a timetable and include activity time, lunch breaks and TV breaks in it to help them manage their time well. And even at home, you should create a school-like environment. Give them a designated space to learn and play. Children may move around during the day but having a dedicated space will help them concentrate and perform better.
5. Flexible curriculum:
One of the best parts of homeschooling is having the freedom to tailor your child’s education to meet their interests and needs. Yet the idea of doing this may seem a bit abstract to those who are new and considering homeschooling. All you need to do is get to know them, observe how they do things, and most importantly, listen to them. It is this freedom and flexibility in curriculum that allows our children to get the learning experience they deserve and need.
Elements of a Homeschooling Schedule
1. Start by mapping out your goals and objectives.
The level of detail and the time period depends on your overall schedule. If you are breaking these down to one week, then let the goals and objectives reflect this weekly progress. And if you have the vision to map out your child’s journey for six months, an entire year, or longer, then make sure that these overarching goals are general and not too specific or rigid. The short-term goals can be more specific but there should be some room for flexibility where the long-term ones are concerned.
2. Get your child’s input on the schedule.
Give your child a say in the process of developing their schedule. They won’t be able to complain about their schedule if they had a hand in planning it. If you enforce a schedule and force it upon them without asking for their inputs they may complain and blame you for overworking them and being too strict with their time.
3. Add some form of physical activity.
Schools are often criticised for keeping the students caged between 4 walls for hours at a time. This has shown to be a major detriment to the child’s ability to learn and also has adverse effects on their health. When homeschooling, give the child some time to stretch out and take some time to play a few physically engaging games. You can even pick more scenic and visually stimulating backdrops like gardens, parks, backyards, rooftops, terraces, etc. to conduct your teaching sessions.
4. Ensure discipline.
A home environment is generally not the most conducive for learning and procuring an education. The distractions are ever-present and a parent, unlike a teacher, may not be able to strike the right chords of discipline in the child. That’s not to say that formal schooling is completely devoid of any distractions. But at the end of the day, there’s at least one strong authority figure in the shape of a teacher or Principal who can subdue the child’s mind from wandering and focusing on a particular topic.
5. Have a separate room reserved for academics.
To make homeschooling a success, you need to separate yourself from the fun-loving parent and turn into a strict academic figure during the hours of academia and study. Try assigning a separate room for academics alone, so that the moment you enter that space with your child they know that they have begun the day’s studies formally, similar to a school or classroom. If you just carry out the child’s studies in the usual playful corners of the house, then their mind might wander off, wistful for the games and activities they enjoy in that particular space or set-up.
Benefits of Homeschooling
- Homeschoolers perform better on standardized tests.
- Because homeschool is focused on children as individuals, their education can be tailored according to their talents, capabilities and personality.
- There are no cases of bullying, being ostracized and substance abuse. It removes a lot of stress as children never have to “fit in” and give into peer pressure.
- Parents never have to struggle to help their children with impossible and lengthy homework.
- Flexible schedules make life easier for the parents and children. They can decide the length of lessons and also decide when to take holidays.
- Children don’t have to start adjusting to the new environment as they get to learn in their own comfort zones.
- This type of learning helps to promote practical knowledge.
- Homeschoolers are much more independent in their approach to life and learning as they never feel the need to follow the crowd.
Disadvantages of Homeschooling
- Regardless of the curriculum type chosen, if it is taught by one parent, the focus is inherently narrow. And in the long run, children will be at disadvantage if they go to college because professors with numerous opinions may be confusing for them.
- Children who are home-schooled can feel friendless, isolated and lonely. They remain isolated from the exposure traditional education gives unless some form of social interaction is intentionally added to the curriculum.
- In traditional schools, children are given periodic tests, which prepare them for the next level but homeschoolers have to take an ANNUAL assessment before proceeding to the next level. And it leads to tremendous mental pressure on children when appearing for the ANNUAL assessment.
Homeschooling during this pandemic
Homeschooling has always been an unconventional means of pursuing and receiving an education. People tend to have strong opinions and a strong stance on this. Where some are vehemently opposed and almost appalled by the concept of homeschooling, some view it as a more efficient and flexible means of educating the progeny, where the control lies in the hands of the parents.
But regardless of where you stand in this debate, one aspect that all parents can agree on is that homeschooling your child is a time-consuming and brutally challenging task for any parent. Parents don’t usually find that kind of time in their lives, to educate their children full-time.
Now, thanks to the pandemic, this scenario has been shifting and parents are realising that they might be able to shell out a few extra hours by dividing the load around themselves, and providing their child with an education of their choice and preference.
At some level, all parents have become more involved with their child’s studies during this period of time. Online and virtual learning is useful only to a certain extent; after a point, parents have to get involved and lend a physical and human touch to the entire learning process. This is especially true for younger children. For most kids, you can’t just hand them a device and expect them to sit there and learn! In a way, many parents are being forced into a semi-homeschooling situation.
Reasons you might seriously consider homeschooling
1. Bullying or harassment:
If you fear that your child has been a victim of any form of bullying or harassment, or know for sure, then it might make sense to homeschool your child for a certain period of time. Children often need some time to reflect and recover before they are ready to go back to the scene of the assault or harassment. With homeschooling, you make sure that their education doesn’t come to a complete standstill and that they gain some additional time to rejuvenate their self-confidence and esteem.
2. Learning or physical disabilities
Many institutions lack the ability to provide children with learning disabilities a quality education. They lack the personnel, curriculum, and means to effectively impart knowledge to them. Even if the child is not suffering from any learning disabilities, but just has physical impairments, even then the schools might not be able to accommodate their needs to the fullest. This problem is felt even more in smaller and rural areas, where the means for such form of an education remain virtually absent.
3. Pandemic like COVID-19
Many children have been facing a tough time learning through a computer screen. There is only so much a teacher or educator can do for a child virtually. If the child is not responding to this style of teaching, then you might not have a choice but to choose homeschooling.
Another topic which has caused a major divide amongst parents has been the screen-time that has accompanied these virtual learning sessions. Realistically, there is no solution to this problem other than homeschooling.
Another incentive for homeschooling children, happens to be the almost negligible amount you need to spend on teaching your children yourselves. With the pandemic, the economy has taken a hit, and many families are not in the best of position, financially. If you have been let go, then you’ll also be having a lot more extra time on your hands. Why not save money and use these hours productively by taking your child’s education into your hands?
This will also solve the debate/conflict between parents and school administrations where school fees have been a major concern as parents feel that they shouldn’t be paying full fees for online lectures and material, and schools aren’t relenting in terms of any financial relaxation.
About the Author:
Yamini Gola is a wayward glutton who is deeply fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos. And she absolutely adores kids, as long as they aren’t hers.