Homeschooling In India – What You Need To Know And Is It For You?

Homeschooling in India is having a moment. Parents are opting for alternate methods thanks to cookie-cutter policies and high costs.

Homeschooling in India is having a moment. As families become increasingly weary of traditional schooling thanks to cookie-cutter policies and high costs, parents are opting for alternate methods of education.

Come Monday morning, homes with young families across the country are in a chaotic yet familiar dance. Ceiling fans are turned off, and lights turned on with a vengeance.

Teeth are cleaned, and breakfasts are shovelled down. Uniforms and shoes are thrown on, and heavy school bags are picked up as parents and kids alike make a mad dash for the door.

However, over the past several years, there are many families who have shut their doors to this morning rush.

This piece is about those families, the ones who have opted to educate their children at home. They either adhere to a prescribed syllabus or follow the passions and interests of the child. These are the families who homeschool in India.

Are there joys of homeschooling in India?

Mother of two and Kochi-based Architect Nisha Thomas says homeschooling helped her rethink education as spontaneous and fun.

“Schooling need not be so serious, with uniforms, heavy backpacks, assignments, and worries. It can be a joyful and fulfilling experience, too.”

Homeschooling In India – What You Need To Know And Is It For You?

A sentiment shared by Coimbatore-based Bharatnatyam dancer and mother to a nine-year-old, Senbaga Poonguzhali. She has been homeschooling her daughter from the beginning. Senbaga appreciates how her family is time-rich because of choosing this option.

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“There is so much time in a day, even after my daughter has done all her favourite things. The fact that there is no hurry enables her to enjoy each and everything she does, even if it is the simple act of having a meal.”

She adds, “Also, it helps the entire family to slow down and enjoy every single day together. We get to talk to each other a lot, observe all that is happening around us, and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.”

Why do some families choose to homeschool in India?

While families across the world have been educating children outside the confines of a formal system for years, it was in the 1980s. That ‘homeschooling’ became mainstream.

In 2010, families working with alternative curriculums or unschooling successfully petitioned the Indian Government. They sought to have homeschooling in India recognized as legal.

As per a recent survey, over 300 million children worldwide are homeschooled, and the US education culture has been particularly accepting of this trend. However, in India, homeschooling is not as widespread, with an estimated 2,000 children being homeschooled. The majority of these families are in cities like Bangalore, Pune, and Mumbai.

Most cities with homeschoolers are also places with schools with great track records and reputations. Then what is it that makes a family opt for homeschooling in India?

The National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) has found that the average score of a homeschooler is 15% to 30% higher than that of traditional school students source. This suggests that homeschooling can be an effective educational strategy, despite its non-traditional approach.

“I am not a big believer in the school system or starting early. Also, my husband and I are entrepreneurs and were about to start our company. Home-education provided the perfect calmness and flexibility for us without the worries of hectic school and travel fees when we began our start-up,” says, entrepreneur and social worker Yasha.

Homeschooling In India – What You Need To Know And Is It For You?

Yasha is a mother to two boys aged 11 and 9. Yasha says that homeschooling has helped her give her boys a proactive and child-centred education.

Bangalore-based human skills trainer and mother of two, Srithi Abhinitha says, “Being passionate about lifelong and out-of-the-box learning, I decided to homeschool my kids. I did not want their education limited to a certain educational board or pre-defined subjects and lessons prepared for the masses. I wanted my kids to fall in love with the process of learning, rather than be repelled by it.”

Adaptive Learning for Special Needs

Public Relations Professional Janice Goveas has been homeschooling her ten-year-old son for five years now.

“Aiden was said to be on the autism spectrum and needed a shadow teacher. Since I had moved schools in the middle of the academic year from a government-aided school to an inclusive school and couldn’t appoint a shadow teacher – we moved to homeschooling.

“Now I continue, despite Aiden technically not being on the spectrum, because of the several benefits I see from this mode of teaching. It allows me to be mobile (move cities etc. for work), him to learn at his pace and focus on his interests. And it is economical as well.

Socially, we don’t feel peer pressured into following the herd.”

How do you start the homeschooling journey?

Most new parents looking to homeschool soon find out that while they want to dive in, they are unsure how. Or where to begin.

Identify what your child is interested in and focus on that.

Step 1: Identify Your Child’s Interests

The first step in your homeschooling journey is to understand your child’s interests and strengths. Janice, a seasoned homeschooler, shares her experience with her son Aiden: “In Aiden’s case by now, we know it is maths, science, music, aeroplanes, aeronautics and sport. He isn’t quite the best at languages. I build him in what he is good at and am lenient on the rest. It isn’t important to be excellent in everything.”

Homeschooling In India – What You Need To Know And Is It For You?
Step 2: Understand Different Educational Methodologies

Srithi, another experienced homeschooling parent, stresses the importance of understanding different educational methodologies. She says, “Just take the time to learn about your child, different educational schools of thought and methodologies and make an informed decision on which route you’d want to take.”

Step 3: Prioritize Play and Life Experiences

For young children, learning comes more from play and life experiences than from writing or reading. Srithi advises, “Up until 6, children need to learn more through play and life experiences than writing or books. So let them play and soak up different experiences.”

Step 4: Let Go of Competition

Neha Sharma, a textile designer homeschooling her 5.5-year-old daughter in the Andamans, views homeschooling as a way to move away from competitiveness. She believes in letting the child take charge. She says, “Homeschooling is about letting competition go, letting your child rise to the occasion and take charge.”

Step 5: Be Careful with Curriculums

Neha also warns about the potential pitfalls of sticking too closely to a curriculum. She recommends, “Curriculums can take over homeschooling life if you let it, I would highly recommend staying away from them as much as possible unless you find one that encourages your child to further what their interest is.”

Step 6: Legalities and Documentation

In India, while homeschooling is allowed under the Right to Education Act, it’s crucial to understand the legalities and documentation involved. Researching your state’s specific laws and guidelines on homeschooling is a necessary step before beginning this journey.

Not always fun and games

But despite this, homeschooling is not always an idyllic scene reminiscent of the Sound of Music.

Challenge 1: Balancing Freedom and Responsibility

Chennai-based Marketing Manager Gracelyne Fernando, who homeschooled her seven-year-old boy for 2.5 years, warns about the potential pitfalls of the educational freedom that homeschooling offers. She says, “With great educational freedom comes greater responsibility and fun! The ride can get lonely at times. The lack of structure can be a source of blessing or stress.”

Challenge 2: Financial Independence

Homeschooling in a country like India requires a certain level of financial independence. Resources such as books, field trips, and other learning materials can add up. Fernando adds, “A lot of the cons completely depend on your vision for homeschooling, and what the ideal school day looks like for you… formal homeschooling also requires financial independence – books, resource materials, field trips, etc. and not to mention the luxury of time.”

Challenge 3: Limited Social Interaction

Homeschooled children might have limited exposure to a diverse peer group, which can impact their social development. Srithi, a homeschooling parent, suggests enrolling your child in other social activities to counter this. She shares, “The child is exposed to a limited peer group. I homeschool in a co-op system with other moms and their kids too. So my kid has 3-4 other peers only.”

Challenge 4: Time Management

Homeschooling requires a significant time commitment from parents. Managing your child’s education while balancing other responsibilities can be challenging. Utilizing online resources and homeschooling communities can help ease this burden.

The invisible burden of homeschooling mother

Adding to the challenges of homeschooling in India is the unequal load mothers carry.

Challenge 1: The Invisible Mental Load

Mothers often bear a greater share of the responsibility when it comes to homeschooling. Gracelyn, a working mother who homeschooled her child, says, “As mothers, we tend to shoulder more responsibility all the time – the invisible mental load of motherhood is real and often less acknowledged by their partners.”

Challenge 2: Juggling Multiple Roles

Homeschooling requires commitment, planning, and the ability to juggle multiple roles as parents, caretakers, and teachers. Gracelyn shares, “Homeschooling requires commitment, planning, and juggling different roles… The bulk of the internet research, planning, and preparation consumed my time.”

Challenge 3: Stepping Out of Comfort Zones

Senbaga, another homeschooling mother, points out that homeschooling often necessitates stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. She says, “In addition to the regular mother duties, a homeschooling mother has to take up more roles that are new, difficult and totally out of her comfort zone…The mother has to learn and unlearn so many new things along with the child to keep herself updated.”

Challenge 4: The Emotional Toll

While homeschooling can be a rewarding learning process for both parent and child, it can sometimes become overwhelming for the mother. Senbaga reflects, “Although it is a wonderful learning process for both the mother and daughter, the burden gets a bit too much for the mother, at times.”

However, despite all the challenges, anecdotal evidence after the pandemic shows that more and more families want a different form of education. And in the absence of meaningful formal education reform, homeschooling in India in Inmay be the way forward.

As Gracelyn puts it, “Your child has a lifetime of learning ahead. The most important thing you can teach them is how to love learning and how to live a life of love. This is definitely a time our children will remember, so GO make some happy memories.”

While the homeschooling journey can be challenging and often falls heavily on the mother’s shoulders, it also presents an opportunity for a unique and personalized educational experience.

Image Source: Author, and shylendrahoode via Getty Images, free on Canva pro

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About the Author

Shweta Ganesh Kumar

Shweta Ganesh Kumar is a writer, blogger and creator of the modern Indian parenting blog ‘The Times Of Amma’,and 'Inkspire' - the digital platform for aspiring Indian writers. She was awarded the prestigious UN Laadli read more...

26 Posts | 118,955 Views

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