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The Homeschooling Hype...

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent”

The above quote emphasizes on how parents can influence their children more than anyone else. It shows how parents can be the best teacher for their kids. What is homeschooling? Homeschooling is “a parent-based education system in which parents educate their children at home instead of sending them either to a public or a private school”. Unlike students in conventional classrooms, homeschooled students can study in their own space and parents are in charge of choosing the curriculum, finding learning resources and monitoring the education of their kids. Homeschooling first emerged as an alternative to the traditional public school education system and later it became a movement somewhere around the 1970s when some authors and researchers such as John Holt introduced homeschooling as a solution for oppressive public classroom education. Homeschooling is even mentioned in some movies and films such as Nim’s Island, God’s Not Dead: We the People and Captain Fantastic. Nevertheless, one can argue that homeschooling was not introduced in the recent past because it was even visible in the earliest periods including the Victorian era, but in a different form. At the very beginning of the Victorian era, only a few children attended school and at the age of ten, boys were allowed to go to public schools. Most often children from wealthy families were educated at home by a governess. This is more evident in the literary piece “Jane Eyre”. For instance, Jane Eyre goes to Thornfield Hall as the governess of Adèle Varens and she teaches Adèle things like drawing and playing piano etc.

It is worth noting that the rank or status given to homeschooling can differ with the context. Homeschooling is a legal alternative to public and private schools in many countries of the western world. Some countries have highly regulated homeschooling programs as an extension of the compulsory school system. Few other countries, such as Germany have outlawed it entirely. In some other countries, while not restricted by law, homeschooling is not socially acceptable. The National Home Education Research Institute of the United States reveals that there are now more than 2 million children being homeschooled in the U.S and homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. However, this is not the case when it comes to other parts of the world such as South Asia.

How is it practiced in South Asia?

Homeschooling is still an alien concept for many countries in the South Asian region and education is often centered on public schools. Furthermore, public schools are believed to provide standard education for children and most South Asians thoroughly believe that public school is the place where people are civilized. One might argue that homeschooling is unpopular among South Asian parents especially because they cannot afford it and they are not educated enough to handle their kids’ education. As a result of that, in almost all the South Asian countries, governments are in charge and responsible for providing education. No matter how different alternatives are being introduced, in many South Asian contexts, public schools not only stand for education but also ensure the safety of children. For instance, in India, public school plays a vital role when it comes to rescuing kids from child labour, child abuse and underage child marriages. In Sri Lanka, school education is compulsory for students from Grade 1 to 13. There are laws under which the government can file legal action against parents who fail to send their children to school. As accorded by Article 25 A of the Pakistani constitution, elementary and middle school education is compulsory for children. Education in Pakistan has been made free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 5 and 16.

Although public school education is established in South Asian countries, homeschooling took more public attention with the Covid-19 pandemic because children had to spend much time at home during the lockdowns. Since online learning also had some disputes and it was not that effective at the school level, some parents determined to support their kids to continue with their studies. Experts including child psychologists encouraged parents to help their children with learning. For instance, the Nepali government came up with the homeschooling concept during the pandemic and their program was to assign an educated senior member in a family to facilitate and monitor the learning process of children in that particular family.

Pros and Cons

Homeschooling is flexible and can therefore be tailored to better suit special needs and further encourage emotional freedom. It provides children with a more familiar environment where they can learn at their own pace without having to deal with the comments of sometimes not-so-nice classmates. Mental health can also be addressed with homeschooling, as parents can know what their children are going through and take measures accordingly. Homeschooling may seem like children have fewer interactions with other groups of children, but that’s an oversight. Several researchers have found that being homeschooled doesn't affect the social skills or interactions of children.

For many families, homeschooling is an excellent option, but it is not without flaws. There are several drawbacks to homeschooling that should be considered before deciding to homeschool one's child. The majority of the responsibility for homeschooling falls on the shoulders of the parents. Homeschooling parents must spend the entire day with their children. When youngsters become agitated, it can be tough. Friends and family who are unsympathetic or puzzled about their decision are frequently asked why they are homeschooling their children. Investing a lot of money in books and other educational materials can be hard at times. And not every child is always at ease with the learning process at home. Therefore, it is hard to determine whether homeschooling is completely beneficial or detrimental to the child.

Finally, we can infer that homeschooling and public schools are two sides of the same coin, with the ultimate goal of both being to educate children. Homeschooling is viewed from a variety of perspectives, and there are several interpretations of it. Even though there are some caveats to homeschooling, when done correctly, it can be extremely beneficial to children who require it. However, for this to happen, parents must be aware of what they can provide and what their children require.

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