Homeschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Homeschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. It encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, home-schooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximizing the education of each unique child.
While homeschooling has been subject to widespread public debate, little media attention has been given to homeschooling in particular. Critics of homeschooling see it as an extreme educational philosophy, with concerns that homeschooled children will lack the social skills, structure, and motivation of their peers, while proponents of homeschooling say exactly the opposite is true: self-directed education in a natural environment better equips a child to handle the real world.
Traditional home-schooling generally involves children following the same structured curriculum taught in schools, but from the comfort of their own homes, and at their own pace. Urmila Samson, Senior Guide at Indian Association of Homeschoolers.
- Children are natural learners: A fundamental premise of homeschooling is that curiosity is innate and that children want to learn. From this an argument can be made that institutionalizing children in a so-called “one size fits all” or “factory model” school is an inefficient use of the children’s time, because it requires each child to learn a specific subject matter in a particular manner, at a particular pace, and at a specific time regardless of that individual’s present or future needs, interests, goals, or any pre-existing knowledge he or she might have about the topic.
- Learning styles: Homeschoolers note that psychologists have documented many differences between children in the way they learn, and assert that homeschooling is better equipped to adapt to these differences. People vary in their learning styles, that is, how they acquire new information. Students have different learning needs. In a traditional school setting, teachers seldom evaluate an individual student differently from other students, and while teachers often use different methods, this is sometimes haphazard and not always with regard to an individual student.
- Developmental differences: Developmental psychologists note that just as children reach growth milestones at different ages from each other, children are also prepared to learn different things at different ages. Just as some children learn to walk during a normal range of eight to fifteen months, and begin to talk across an even larger range, homeschoolers assert that they are also ready and able to read, for example, at different ages, girls usually earlier, boys later. Traditional education requires all children to begin reading at the same time and do multiplication at the same time; they believe that some children cannot help but be bored because this was something that they had been ready to learn earlier, and even worse, some children cannot help but fail, because they are not yet ready for this new information being taught.
- The role of parents: Parents of homeschoolers provide resources, support, guidance, information, and advice to facilitate experiences that aid their children in accessing, navigating, and making sense of the world common parental activities include sharing interesting books, articles, and activities with their children, helping them find knowledgeable people to explore an interest with and helping them set goals and figure out what they need to do to meet their goals. Homeschooling’s interest-based nature does not mean that it is a hands-off approach to education.
- Socialization: Concerns about socialization are often a factor in the decision to homeschool. Many homeschoolers believe that the conditions common in conventional schools, like age segregation, a low ratio of adults to children, a lack of contact with the community, a lack of people in professions other than teachers or school administration, an emphasis on the smarter children, shaming of the failing children, and an emphasis on sitting, create an unhealthy social environment.
Homeschooling in India:
- स्वशिक्षण – Indian Association of Homeschoolers is a non-profit initiative of homeschooling children, parents, guardians and friends. The members of this association include homeschoolers residing in India, irrespective of nationality and homeschoolers of Indian origin, irrespective of location.
- Swaraj University is India’s first university dedicated to regenerating local cultures, local economies and local ecologies.
- Alternate Education India is an online resource that provides a list of some alternative schools in India.