How many of you like school? Or better to ask, which subjects you like the best?
Have you ever wished that you were taught only your favourite topics elaborately in school?
Are you a student who wishes that the teacher should take some more time with each concept so that you can have better clarity?
Or are you a student who likes school in general but wishes that you would have more time to play, draw and pursue other non-academic activities?
Many of these questions can pop up in your mind due to the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach taken by most of the educational institutions nowadays. They offer a fixed curriculum to all students with a little leeway for any improvements.
Here is the crux – some of these issues can only be overcome by homeschooling the child.
What is homeschooling?
Did you know that several geniuses such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and Albert Einstein were homeschooled? Interesting, isn’t it?
Homeschooling, as the name suggests, involves teaching children at home rather than at a specific educational institution.
This trend began in the late 20th century, in western countries, by parents who felt that children’s education was their right and not the government. The modern homeschooling movement was started in the 1970s by John Holt, an American teacher and leading education writer. He wanted to customise the curriculum as per the child rather than fitting a child into the curriculum.
The pros and cons
Academic flexibility – The curriculum can be designed based on the attitude and aptitude of a student. For instance, if the child inclined towards visual learning, a lot of video-based content can be used in a curriculum to help him grasp.
Parental control – Since the parents know about their kid’s interest best, the schedule, grade level, learning model and in most places, even graduation requirements can be decided by them (after taking the legal aspects into account). This approach is especially useful in the case of gifted children with special needs (who have specific interest to a subject) or who are getting trained for advanced athletic pursuits (e.g. Olympics).
Efficient and meaningful learning – Since there is a low student-teacher ratio, time is utilised wisely. Your parents can assign you more time to play, outdoor activities, projects, hands-on experiments and for several other kinds of practical training.
Current needs meet immediately – Since learning happens in a family environment, you feel secure, and all your mental, emotional, behavioural and physical health necessities can be taken care of immediately.
Family bonding increases – You become close to your parents, learn their interests, imbibe their cultural/religious/social values when you find that they are willing to lend you an ear every time. You get to spend time with your relatives too, depending on the schedule.
Time for community works – Your parents can also involve you in other activities such as community services, volunteering, and entrepreneurship, to hone your interactive skills.
Safe from negative behaviours – You can also be sheltered from violence, drugs, peer pressure or other negative behaviours, which might be associated with traditional school life.
Scope of befriending like-minded – Your parents may also collaborate with other families who prefers homeschooling to arrange joint sessions for enhancing the extent of learning and interaction, where interests or curricula coincide.
Helpful in particular situations – Homeschooling works very well in favour of families who belong to the military background, those who travel, or those adjusting to specific illnesses/allergies and unpredictable work schedules.
Scope of entering the mainstream is open – For higher studies, homeschooled children can begin mainstream education by taking the appropriate certifying exams at an institution of their choice.
Despite so many advantages, homeschooling may not be for everyone. Here are some of the disadvantages:
- Though a lot of money is spent on various study materials for homeschooling, your parents might waste a lot of time in understanding what curriculum or method suits you best.
- Not all parents can teach well, and they may also lose patience with you more often than you expect.
- You might find it challenging to stay motivated all the time, since many times, your parents could spend more time than usual school hours with a motive of updating themselves along with you. But, extra tutoring in ‘difficult’ subjects can be helpful.
- As you will be around your parents the whole day, you may get bored in a homely atmosphere.
- As some lifelong friendships can be nurtured only in traditional school setups, you may miss out on those. However, as mentioned before, you may find a few like-minded friends amongst other homeschooled children.
- Your relatives or other children in the neighbourhood may not give equal respect to homeschooling as it is given to conventional schools. But, to keep yourself motivated, you can always take inspiration from successful personalities who were homeschooled.
- You may need to adjust to the fact that other children may know more about a particular subject that you haven’t even heard of. However, you can think this way – you need not have that information at this stage. For instance, Queen Elizabeth II, United Kingdom, was homeschooled as she had to learn all the legalities for handling a monarch title. During her childhood, she didn’t learn politics, current affairs, economy, etc. However, when the queen was crowned and began dealing with government matters, she acquired knowledge about those topics again at her home. And now she is the longest-reigning monarch in history.
Or, on the contrary, you may have a better grasp on your favourite subject as compared to the peers who attend a regular school.
The legal aspects
Some of the countries where homeschooling is permitted include Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Indonesia, India, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, and the United States.
On the contrary, in countries such as Germany, Turkey, Cuba, Croatia, Greenland, Greece, and Cyprus, homeschooling is banned, and public education is mandatory.
In Poland and Hungary, though homeschooling is legal, the laws are very restrictive.
In countries where it is legal, the number of homeschooled children has been steadily increasing. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education reported that nearly 1.69 million children were homeschooled.
However, to make an informed decision, it is crucial to know about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling.
The bottom line
Based on the aspects we mentioned above, no wonder many parents who are willing to commit themselves to their child’s holistic growth, are opting for homeschooling. Hence, the boom in homeschooling is expected to increase in the upcoming years.
However, irrespective of the style of education, imparting joyful learning is a prime responsibility of all the people involved, be it schools, parents or individual educators.
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