We have found many parents who are eager to educate their children at home often confused about what is the process involved in getting started with homeschooling. In this chapter, I will try to give a roadmap for you to begin your journey.
Legalities of Homeschooling in India
The most common question parents ask is about the legalities of homeschooling in India.
The simple answer to that question is that presently, there is no formal body that promotes or governs homeschooling in India. However, parents who want to homeschool their children can do so.
Mr Kapil Sibal, the minister of Human Resource Development, gave this assurance in 2010. An article in Times of India, Pune dated 8th September 2010, published a report by Neha Madaan about Kapil Sibal’s views on homeschooling with regard to the RTE Act titled “RTE: Homeschooling too is fine, says Sibal”. Here’s what the article said.
“The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act,2009 wants every child to be in school, but if somebody decides not to send his/her children to school, we are not going to interfere. The compulsion is on the state, not on the parents. Parents are free not to send their children to school, but teach them at home. We cannot be micromanaging.” Sibal told TOI on Tuesday. The Act stipulates eight years of formal education for all children between 6 and 14 years of age. Homeschooling parents believe in individual skills and want to nurture them in their children at home rather than in schools.”
Since the time we started homeschooling, there has been a lot of new developments. The recent one, being the announcement of ‘Open SSC Board’ by Maharashtra government, an initiative that encourages students to pursue schooling from home.
To know more about the legal side of homeschooling in India, I suggest that you visit www.homeschoolers.in. ‘Swashikshan – Indian Association of Homeschoolers’ is an informal organization that will guide you on legal questions and share the latest developments.
Decide on the approach
To begin homeschooling, there are a couple of approaches you can take. You need to decide which one suits you and accordingly plan ahead.
Approach #1: Take your child out of regular school and start educating them at home without any affiliation with a School or Board. Currently, this is how we’ve chosen to homeschool our boys.
The reason we chose to educate our children independently in this manner is so that we don’t have to stick to a particular curriculum but have the freedom to explore various other resources and methods available nationally & internationally.
Later, as we progress, we will choose which Board is suitable for them to appear for their 10th examination and accordingly, we will introduce them to the curriculum. As of now, we don’t know which direction we want to go with the Board.
This approach fits best for children who are in their elementary or middle school years. For children who are close to the 10th grade, you might want to look at other approaches since you don’t have enough time in hand.
Approach #2: Some schools allow parents to enroll their children as a private student. In this approach, parents can choose to teach their children at home but have to follow the curriculum and examination process of the school.
In this approach, Parents will have to personally approach the schools, that have affiliation with the Board you desire, whether IB, SSC, IGCSE, NIOS etc. But you will have to follow the standards, curriculum and method of teaching adopted by the school.
On the other hand, parents who take the first approach will have to find ways on how to enroll a child to the desired Board when he or she is ready to switch. We know of quite a few families who’ve taken this approach whose children have successfully finished schooling and are now pursuing other creative courses from different Universities and Institutes or are in regular college seeking higher education.
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Start with a Plan
Homeschooling our children for the past seven years have taught us one main lesson – everything is less complicated and chaotic when we have a plan in place.
With kids growing older, assignments expanding, and our memory stretched, we place a lot of importance on planning at the beginning of each academic year. The teaching plan might be a bit rough and not too detailed, yet it serves as a meaningful guide for the entire year.
We don’t usually do things in a highly standardized or systematic fashion. However, we think that planning supplements a rather flexible way of learning followed in our home. Planning provides us with a more precise roadmap, keeps us sane and ensures a smooth flow since a hot cup of morning tea/coffee, and common sense can only take us so far.
Even though we know how crucial planning is in almost every area of our lives, we tend to ignore this step. But in homeschooling, we can’t expect order and accomplish tasks without proper planning. It doesn’t matter if we failed to stick to every detail of it, but a plan at least defines our goals and gives a start to the road ahead.
We should bear in mind that the goals should be specific, viable and time-based. We found out a lot of times that we started off with an impressive list of what we want to achieve but would get discouraged within a very short span after executing it only to realize that it’s unrealistic and far-fetched.
So, we ended up getting disappointed and frustrated. Instead of enjoying the whole learning experience, it would, unfortunately, become burdensome and stressful. Therefore, it’s good to set goals or objectives that are attainable and write them down so that the whole family is on the same page and has clear expectations.
List down goals like what you want your children to learn in the new year. It could be to read more, write essays or book reports, master certain Math concepts, do more art projects, science experiments, and so on.
Once you have done that, you can focus on which subjects you want to teach them this year. Write them down against each child’s name so that you can start looking for the resources and curriculum that you’re thinking to purchase.
Then think about the number of days you plan to homeschool. Our state government requires 180 days per school year. We align our schooling days accordingly. However, we have the flexibility to either teach our kids year-round with breaks in between or follow the academic school calendar, which ends before the summer break.
As homeschoolers, we have many options for an annual schedule. Take into account vacations, unforeseen events, sickness, other obligations and prepare the teaching schedule accordingly.
We spend five days a week following our homeschool routine and decide on which subjects need to be covered each day. Once that’s done, we break down the week to the specifics of how each day will look.
For instance, what time should we start? What subjects will we learn in the first half and second half? How many breaks will we take? While teaching the older child, what activities/tasks should the younger one be doing and vice versa? Which day of the week do we participate in certain programs, attend homeschool Co-ops, shop for groceries, and so on? Considering any obligation depending on the time of the day, we will consider moving our lessons around either in the afternoons or evenings.
As mentioned earlier, we don’t cover every subject each day. Days that are limited to a few subjects have assignments that take longer to complete, and when there are more subjects to cover on other days, there are shorter assignments. That keeps everyone in the family from feeling defeated or falling under immense pressure. We have found that it’s helpful to keep Mondays less packed as it sets the tone for the rest of the week.
Homeschool goals that are broken down monthly, quarterly, and yearly are good but preparing plans in small chunks too helps us being mindful of what’s required ahead as well as keeps us in the present. It’s simple, decide on the approach, plan well and you are ready to roll.
The Homeschooling Indians – Book
This book is an opportunity to inform parents seeking guidance regarding the concepts, nature and methods of homeschooling from an Indian perspective and how to progress as Homeschooling Indians.