Can home become a school? Some parents would say, ‘yes’. Homeschooling is a concept that is increasingly being talked about recently because of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has forced both parents and children to be at home, away from work and school. It would be natural for the parent to wonder about homeschooling at least temporarily in these times.
Homeschooling is, simply put, schooling at home. Parents educate their children at home instead of sending them to school. The curriculum and methods of teaching are chosen by the parents, but the children are taught at their own pace, unfettered by the demands of a standardized curriculum or assessment. Some parents let their homeschooled children take standardized tests at specific points in learning. Some other parents wait till the child is at high school. At that point, they might want to be assessed by an internationally accepted Boards of Examinations such as the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), to show grades on college applications.
Parents choose homeschooling for a number of reasons. They may not be happy with the school settings available in their area, or with the traditional school system itself. Some other parents might want to follow an unusual or unconventional educational philosophy. In some cases, the child may have special needs, being extremely bright or otherwise, and may not be able to be accommodated in the typical classroom. Then there are parents who are passionate about education, and are well-qualified to teach any subject at school level. If such parents have enough money to spend on teaching material and plenty of time at their disposal, they will think of home schooling as a better option than traditional schooling.
Many parents who opt for home schooling tweak the standard curriculum to suit their children’s needs. The key is flexibility. The timing of the lesson and the pace at which a certain lesson proceeds is entirely up to the parents. They do not have to stick to a typical school academic calendar. Flexible teaching also means that when there is more than one child being homeschooled, the same topic may be taught but at different difficulty levels. There are plenty of resources available for home schooling including animated stories for young children.
There is no doubt that home schooling will strengthen the bond between parents and children. There are endless possibilities for creativity, imagination and innovation for the parent, to teach a particular topic in a fun and interesting way. Education can be made more meaningful for a homeschooled child, with hands-on activities tailor-made for the child. In the 21st century, there is no dearth of learning resources if one is connected to the internet. Moreover, there are no constraints on a homeschooled child to learn a particular topic by a fixed deadline, so learning can proceed at his pace. Besides, even in a large family, a child will get more attention than he would ever get in a school classroom. Home schooling also shelters children from bullying, drugs and other negative behaviors that they may be subject to, or pick up at school.
Home schooling, evidently, is not for all parents. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and perseverance for a parent to homeschool her children. Typically, children become restless and misbehave in a home setting with parents, more often than they would in a formal school setting. Besides, one should have the necessary resources, such as large amounts of money to spend on learning materials, and plenty of time to spend with the children. Also, very few parents know about the different teaching methodologies that only a trained teacher will know. Another oft-mentioned disadvantage of homeschooling is that homeschooled children do not have the opportunities for socialization with their peers that school-educated children have. Also, it benefits children to be used to the discipline that a school provides, not only in social behaviour, but also in personal routines such as a fixed time for learning.
Some experts argue that with many adults working from home nowadays, children not leaving their home for school will become the norm in the future, at least partly. In the age of even robot teachers, it does not make sense to travel to a particular building every day and learn stuff that one can access freely on the internet anyway and have a parent to guide at home. However, there is also the opposing view that the human connection between teachers and students is too precious to get rid of.