Yes, you’ve been worrying about your child’s well-being and struggling with their academic pressures. Yes, it made you explore the different options available.
Now that you have, here comes the even bigger challenge! How do you deal with those nagging questions! Are you doing the right thing? Will it work for your child? How will you manage? What if something goes wrong?
Vineeta Sood homeschooled both her children and has been an educator for the past 20 years. In a 2-part series she explores the different educational systems and opportunities available, the importance of parental mindset, financial implications, support groups, and resources available to parents.
In Part 2 here, she shares her personal experience and understanding about what it takes to homeschool one’s children.
1) A child’s life today revolves around waking up early, attending school, hobby classes, tuitions, playing (in or out), eating and back to sleep. Even when parents want to opt for a different way of learning, what holds them back and makes them play safe?
As parents and teachers, we’re conditioned by our own experiences of growing up and learning. Our understanding of the child and their needs is coloured by that conditioning leading to a huge disconnect between ourselves and our child. It’s imperative therefore to pause and examine what’s going on with us so that we can reconnect with them.
As parents, we’re the main stakeholders in their process of growth. Yet individually we’re also a part of societal norms and expectations. It takes a lot of reflection and clarity of thought to challenge one’s own conditioning so as to be able to see the real need and inclination of the child. And it takes even more courage to see the fallacy that is promoted by media, social and economic structures. But it’s not impossible.
2) What are the main parental challenges when homeschooling?
The main challenge is our own conditioning as parents. It is challenging to constantly examine our own anxiety and conditioning and refrain from telling a child what to do and how to do it. As adults, we have a tendency to interfere and impose our own agenda on them. This interferes with their process of discovery. Also, since it’s not a structured approach to living and learning, it’s more about following our heart and exploring, providing conditions for enabling structures to evolve, finding and creating resources, keeping that fire and faith alive within and to stay open to learning through these challenges. And when the child has been our partner in navigating and finding solutions to these challenges, this enabling experience becomes a part of child’s personality.
3) Does homeschooling call for a different mindset amongst parents?
Yes, homeschooling calls for a different mindset. Firstly, one has to be disenchanted enough with the mainstream education system, to be able to step out of it and walk the path less travelled. There has to be an openness to question one’s own conditioning and motivation, to question expectations and norms of the system we have grown up in and to stay open to learn from what the child brings in. It requires us to have a capacity to allow children to feel their way through what interests them, to allow a space for the process of learning to emerge. It requires a willingness to develop our capacity to be comfortable with being questioned by what is prevalent and to trust self, the child and their process of learning. As a parent navigates his/her own conditioning and forms a relationship with self, with the child and with the process of learning, any parent can find ways to develop the skills required to facilitate learning.
Homeschooling can be both enriching and overwhelming. Like with any other choice, it has its own pros and cons. A willingness and internal resolve to enjoy and encash upon pros and to handle cons in an enabling way are essential. One can find materials and books online and offline to see things from a different perspective.
4) How do homeschooling families deal with mistakes and failure?
This is a very tricky question. As parents, we have our own set of expectations. Failure and mistakes are always seen with respect to these expectations that we’ve set for ourselves and for others. Some of the things that change the concept of failure and/or mistakes are:
It’s all about exploration and learning. If we’re open to the process of learning, we will observe and correct our course of action. Mistakes become our stepping stones to further our learning and there is nothing like failure.
5) What kind of preparation, skills, or abilities are required?
Children are learning all the time. They learn when they disengage or withdraw, they also learn when they engage with what interests them, when they explore their curiosities and from what we model for them at home and in school. For engaged growing up and learning, it helps to:
6) What are the financial implications of homeschooling?
Money spent on homeschooling mainly depends on how you engage with available resources. Managing within the resources you have and exploring other resources with a positive and enabling attitude, in itself is a life skill. Many road schoolers learn through travelling. Some people make nature their main focus. Others leave everything open-ended. People use public spaces and libraries. Today, there are many homeschoolers in different cities who share physical resources as well as the expertise to facilitate learning for their children. So, money is required to explore and build resources at home or in the homeschooling community, for children to pursue their interests and for travels.
7) What’s the future of homeschooled children? Is it necessary to gain credentials? Can they compete for regular jobs?
As parents, what we are interested in and what we engage with in our life gives a direction to the path our children may choose. This process of learning and growing up is about who we are and what we’re creating for our children. When children are younger, often parents take decisions for them. As they grow, they can take enabled decisions if they have grown up feeling safe to be authentic and spontaneous.
Some children after a stage start exploring academic learning and join a regular school. In some cases, parents arrange for testing their children at different grades like 5th, 8th, 10th, 12th. Some homeschoolers join alternative education institutions to continue their education. Once they clear a public exam (class X and/or XII exams) they are at par with other students who have appeared for the same and can pursue all academic options for which they fulfil eligibility criterion.
Some children don’t go for formal academic stream at all. They explore their interests, develop skills through mentorship and start working. A lot of learning happens on the job, which in any case is the experience of every graduate who enters workforce.
So, what do you think? Are you up for the challenge?
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