Homeschooling journey – by Sharmila

Being part of a journey is more important than destination. If journey is joyous and satisfactory with all its ups and down , the destination may not be very different from it.

Sharmila and Chaitanya are unschooling parents to 3 human children and four non humans. Sharmila is active in the homeschooling / unschooling community and contributes her time and effort in supporting parents through her parenting circles, Saturday lives and individual chats. She is also a dot artist. Chaitanya works in the public sector industry and is a cartoonist by hobby. He loves carpentry and tinkering with his bike and is the handyman at home.

Their oldest Aditya is 15 and started unschooling at the age of 12. He is currently interning for a film making and social media project headed by another unschooler. Siddharth (12) loves gaming and playing football. He enjoys the outdoors and looks forward to meet other homeschoolers and unschoolers. Tara (6) is our butterfly who is currently enjoying doing everything that she wants to. She loves hoola hooping, skating and cycling and playing outdoors with her friends.

There have been many questions around “Homeschooling – especially the younger children in the age group 2 to 4 years age. How do we start? what activities can we use? When do we start to teach them to read and write? what about skills in numeracy? What and how do we teach them? How do we assess them? How do we know whether they are at par with other school going children of their age? Then there are questions that enlist so many issues and concerns – my child doesn’t listen. He doesn’t like to sit in one place. She isn’t interested in activities I plan, doesn’t want to write. This list goes on and on…

When such queries feature on the Homeschooling India wall, I witness many educational businesses promptly reply – “I have the best homeschooling kit, or we have solutions for all homeschooling woes, or check your inbox – I can help you. When this happens and such comments come to my notice – I promptly delete them and if I see such responses recurring, I remove and block the member. It feels terrible to do so. This harsh decision is taken keeping in mind the cause and the purpose of the group. I guess one cannot win it all…

so coming back to all these questions, I would like to suggest a few points to the parents of children in this age group –

  1. Homeschooling is a philosophy, an approach, a lifestyle change and it definitely is not about creating a school at home.
  2. Homeschooling is not about seeking ready made curriculum but finding your own learning and living rhythm. It is about customizing learning to suit the needs of your child.
  3. Homeschooling is not about buying curriculum and forcing your child to go through something that someone totally unconnected with your child has created and has vouched that it is the best solution to your child’s learning needs.
  4. Homeschooling is not about wanting your child to be at par with the schooling children. It is not about adhering to learning milestones set by curriculum. It is about being happy and comfortable with what your child is learning without comparing whether they are have achieved a milestone or not.
  5. Words such as slow learners, learning difficulties, attention deficit disorders, learning disorders do not have a place in Homeschooling. Each child is unique and learns at their own pace. The problem doesn’t lie in the child – but the adult who makes standardized demands.
  6. Homeschooling parents need to do their own research before entering this journey. Read books, blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts. Design, develop and direct a learning program along with your child. Enjoy and have fun in the homeschooling journey.