In school at home

School is a significant part of a child’s life. Today, however, there are quite a few who have never been to school, yet they successfully appear for board exams. The emerging trend of home schooling among parents has provided kids an opportunity to study at home. However, the trend throws up many questions...

Why home schooling?

“Home schooling provides us with an opportunity to mould our children as per our value system during their formative years. The children also get one on one attention, which is not always possible in a public school with large number of children in a class,” says Harison Cota, Assistant Professor in Physics, who opted to home-school his four kids.

Agreeing with Cota’s viewpoint, Surabhi Deshpande, who runs a catering business and has home schooled both her daughters states, “Most importantly there is no pressure on the kids to match-up with the rest.

They can learn subjects of their liking, unlike in public schooling where they have to compulsorily learn a fixed set of subjects, whether they like them or not.” She also goes on to add that in home schooling the timing is flexible, which for a businessperson like her provides a much-needed breather.

“Family plays an important role in helping kids find time to foster loving ties between all family members. Teens seem to benefit enormously from this interaction, and rebellious, destructive behaviour often begins to diminish soon after home schooling begins,” opines Grebian Alemao, Counselling Psychologist.

She puts forward two main reasons behind the growing trend of home schooling. “Firstly, it is disturbing to see how peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies are all part of a typical school day. Children who are home schooled, because they were bullied in school, do find home schooling an extremely positive social experience. Secondly, with their lives no longer revolving around school hours, homework, and the school, parents who home school experience a real sense of freedom,” shares Alemao.

The challenges

“The biggest challenge lies in reasoning out to your family members why you are home schooling the kids. Most often they have a misconception that by not sending kids to school, they would remain illiterate,” says Cota. He also stresses upon the need for one of the parents to be at home throughout the day.

Deshpande highlights the fact that at times children do not take their parents seriously. “Maintaining discipline all the time becomes an issue. If we overdo it then kids feel we are enforcing things upon them,” she utters.

“The child is isolated and does not come in contact with other kids their age, which can hamper their social life,” feels Lea D’Souza, Principal, Gurukul Academy, who has 22 years of teaching experience.

She further adds that kids’ loneliness often results in them playing with electronic gadgets or watching TV, which further blocks their intellectual growth.

Flossy Fernandes, a retired schoolteacher, feels that the biggest challenge for home schooling parents is to make their kids follow a set timetable. “Kids who are home schooled have a tendency to play more and study less. School provides ample opportunities for extracurricular activities, which helps in their overall development, which is not possible in home schooling,” articulates Fernandes.

“Home schooled children do not receive the level of socialisation they need. For some their opportunities for social interaction are so limited that they develop social phobias or experience extreme social awkwardness,” states Alemao.

She adds that home schooling may also lead to over-parenting where the child finds it difficult to identify his or her strengths and weaknesses.

What kids say

“Many of my colony friends used to tease me for not going to school. They would not understand that I am studying at home just as they do at school. But after I won an elocution competition organised in our colony recently, they are more curious to know about home schooling,” says Jennifer, who plans to give her board exams next year.

“Honestly, I do not miss going to school. I’m actually free to innovate and do things differently which mostly does not happen in public schools where all the children are taught the same thing in the same way,” says Omkar, who studied up to class 5 in a public school.

Final statement

The passing of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) makes formal education a Fundamental Right of every child between the ages of 6 to 14. With this, the debate over school or home schooling has intensified.

However, if we go by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which India is a signatory, quote: “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”