Education is an essential process for the evolution of a child. From ancient Indian Vedas, we have learned the value of education, and Indians have given utmost importance to the education of children. But now that a pandemic has devastated the entire globe, and parents are seemingly clueless about their child's future. Although several states have allowed schools to reopen, parents are not very keen on sending their child to school at a time when the infection is at its all-time high. This is where the advantage comes in for a child who is into homeschooling. But it's shocking to know, according to HSDLA (US-based NGO) that in India barely 500-1000 families have dared to take their child out from the formal schooling system and teach them at home.
Every parent has thought about taking their children out from the traditional schooling system and considered homeschooling as an alternative. But the thought of giving children sufficient time and quality education scares them the most. Due to the asperities that we are facing right now, it has become very difficult to chose what's right.
One of the main reasons why parents don't think of taking children out from the formal mode of education to homeschooling is because of the extracurricular activities and the exposure to the outside world that they get in school. But looking at the current time, where education is just limited to online classes, does homeschooling look like a better alternative?
Problems with conventional schooling
"The main problem of traditional schooling is its rigidity, education is not anything which is supposed to be rigid. The basic purpose and meaning of education is flexibility. Education is not something you can standardise. That's a point where homeschooling has an edge. In homeschooling, we can twist and mould a child in a way the child needs. School teaches us competition, not cooperation," said Sukanto Sinha, a tutor from Kolkata.
We spoke to one of the parents who opted for homeschooling as an alternative, who said, "The purpose of schools is to churn out graduates, the schools have a set pattern of education, and for today's fast-paced world, schools should have a holistic approach rather than just educating the students from the books."
Anand Jain, an IT professional based out of Indore, said, "I prefer that kids study by themselves. Its been four years now that my kids are into homeschooling. I opted for homeschooling because I realised that they were actually wasting a lot of time. After all, they were not studying what they wanted to study. Schools don't have good English teachers nor a good curriculum. This is the one major reason which led me to get them to homeschooling. Another reason is that they are not exposed to global knowledge."
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone. The traditional ways in which our life used to function has completely changed to an extent we could have never imagined. According to the government guidelines, offices are supposed to work with only 30 per cent of their actual staff. This solves the majority of the problem that parents used to face of giving attention to the child. The current situation allows at least one parent to be at home and look after the children's education and well being.
Does homeschooling have an edge over traditional schooling?
Any parents can opt for homeschooling and start teaching the child on their own. For grade 10th and 12th boards, the child can still appear as an independent candidate and give board exams.
Homeschooling helps the students to become self-learners. It gives them a wide array of options to choose from. Doing this, they will know what interests them and then accordingly they can pursue a career of their own choice. Whereas, in the traditional schooling system, it doesn't allow the child to chose subjects which interests them, stream for higher secondary are given on the basis on marks. This restricts the child's learning process. We also have to break the stereotype of science being the best stream followed by commerce and arts. A child is not allowed to opt for science stream if he doesn't get the qualifying marks. Although thanks to the NEP, now the child is allowed the child to chose the subjects he/she is interested in. Whereas in homeschooling a child can learn whatever he likes.
Anand Jain added, "Education has changed forever. A parent has to now prepare his kid for self-learning. There are platforms like Coursera and Udemy for professional courses. For instance, if a child wants to learn writing, he better learn it from the best writers in the world sitting at his home, rather than paying a hefty amount of college fees."
Overcoming the myths associated with homeschooling
Another problem that comes with homeschooling is that how a child will socialise? How will he meet different people if he doesn't go to school? On asking this question to Anand Jain, he said, "A child doesn't need to learn to socialise in a school only. For a child who is homeschooling, he joins various classes of his interest. For example, if my child loves to play basketball, he is going to basketball classes and socialising with people with similar interests. In school, a child is exposed to 100 odd students and his core group which he daily interacts with is just limited to four or five people. So in school, a child is talking to these limited four to five people throughout his schooling life. On the other hand, if my child has joined various classes, he is meeting more people that too with similar interests, which will help him learn more about the same subject."
The traditional education system is churning out graduates with no entrepreneurship skills. Homeschooling provides the student to know his interest and pursue a career in the same field.
Now that every student is sitting at home and attending online classes, parents are confused between the two schooling methods. The main advantage of traditional schooling of the student getting to socialise is diminishing by attending online classes. It is the right time that parents take their child out from the traditional schooling system and see if homeschooling can be a better alternative.