Questions and discussions surrounding schooling at home have increased in the last few months in our network. The year of the pandemic has provided an unprecedented opportunity for children attending school from home. This situation has made parents think about schooling children at home. At the least, curiosity on this topic has been heightened. Children attending school from home, children being schooled at home, and homeschooling are all very different things. I will write elaborately on this topic in another article.
In this article, I elaborate on questions to ask yourself if you are thinking about schooling your child at home (do not mistake this for homeschooling).
Why are you considering schooling at home?
Identify the ‘why’ first. What is your primary purpose to think about schooling at home? Are you doing it because other parents in your circle are doing it? Are you unhappy about the existing schooling system and want something different? Have you explored options other than main-stream schools before? Are you thinking about it because it appears to be a popular topic of discussion?
Get clarity on this first. Based on your ‘why’, it is entirely possible that you could explore something other than schooling at home (Eg: alternate schools). However, if your introspection tells you schooling at home is the way to go, then be clear about why.
Does your family ecosystem support schooling at home?
Who all are part of your family? If you have more than one child, are you considering homeschooling for only one or all of them? Are either one of the parents (or other responsible family members) available to engage the child all through the day? Do you have the required financial and emotional support?
Your entire plan revolves around your family ecosystem. This will form the foundation of your child’s learning journey.
Are you prepared to commit a significant amount of time and energy?
In addition to having family support, as a parent, you will need to spend a considerable amount of time and energy on your child’s overall education. Inside the school ecosystem lies a host of invisible work that has got nothing to do with academic learning. The school environment is built to engage your child at multiple levels – both academic and non-academic. A large majority of these activities and engagements have intangible consequences. Educate yourself about this its effect on the journey with your child.
What learning environment do you plan to create?
Do you plan to follow a prescribed academic curriculum? Do you plan to create your own learning curriculum? How structured and/or open do you plan the learning environment to be? What learning outcomes do you plan to achieve? Who will be the key decision makers in creating and implementing the plan? What kind of environment will be most enriching to your child based on their age and cognitive development?
Think about these things at a birds-eye-view level. Consult experts and explore options before deciding on a plan. Be open to flexibility.
Do you know your child’s learning needs?
What learning environment will work best for your child? Do you know your child’s dominant intelligence and learning style? How will you plan your child’s learning activities based on these? Can you assess your child’s abilities and needs objectively? Are you willing to ask for help at the right time from the right people?
This question is extremely critical to ask and gain clarity on. Addressing a child’s learning needs appropriately is a make-or-break situation in the child’s learning journey.
Who will be the educators?
What is the subject matter content that will go into the learning plan? This will depend on the age of the child, your plan of curriculum, and related factors. Based on this plan, who will facilitate the learning in multiple subjects?
Be critical about your own abilities in teaching your child multiple subjects. It is important that the child gains conceptual clarity in everything she learns. Most technical concepts (Maths, Science, Grammar, etc.) are introduced at primary and higher primary school age. Therefore, any errors in the child’s understanding will be carried in their entire academic journey.
Assess your technical expertise and teaching abilities and decide whether you want to teach any subject at all. If you decide to teach one or more subjects, create a pool of tutors for other subjects. This will provide the child a diversity in facilitator relationships.
These questions are only the beginning. Based on the answers, each child’s learning journey will be unique.
Even without the consideration of schooling at home, asking ourselves these questions can make us better aware of our children’s learning journeys.
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