Friday, March 23, 2018

The homeschooling diary - An year of homeschooling iya

An year back I had decided to pull Iya out of school to home-school her. In this past 1 year, I have faced immense amount of opposition - direct on my face types, subtle types, the fire-is-on types, cold war types, sarcastic commenting types and so on. I've also had many parents and their children ask me with fairytale type wonder how I could manage it and what I had been doing with her.

This blog is dedicated to all those who have questions, doubts, sincere questions and sincere doubts about home-schooling and about what Iya and I have done in the past one year.

In the past 1 year, Iya and I did a lot of things together. We studied things meant for much larger classes. We studied things meant for much younger classes. We did loads of art and craft. We traveled for weeks together with no particular agenda. We worked on social change projects.We worked on our spiritual development. We had loads and loads of fun. We studied with a schedule. We studied without any schedules. We learnt while eating dinner at the dinner table. We read lots of books - fiction and non fiction. We played a lot. We also fought a lot. We got angry a lot. We slept late and got up really late. We slept early and got up really early. We didn't sleep at all some nights. We had sleepovers. We went around exploring the city - sometimes with friends whose mum made them bunk school so that we could all have fun together and sometimes just by ourselves. We found a great new set of friends - some of them home-schooled. We spent a lot of time with the new friends. We learnt a lot of new things through different activity classes. We lost a pet. We got a new pet. We shopped till we dropped. We watched movies one right after the other. We cooked together. We cleaned together. We laughed together. We cried together. We each took time off each other. We each wanted to take longer time off each other. We designed new board games. We played many other games. We went to paint streets at night. We went to demonstrate for a social cause early morning.

The list can go on and on.

But in a nutshell, the past one year was exhilarating.

All that I was guided to do during this past one year was based on intuition. One day I'd wake up knowing that it was time for Iya to start learning something new academically. So, I would design a lesson plan and for a month or so, we'd follow that. Then we'd take a break from that routine for 2-3 months, where no structured learning was happening and we were both taking each day as it comes. Then again a phase of structured learning was happening.

The journey so far has been wonderful. But wonderful does not mean it didn't have its own share of ups and downs. 

We had a lot of doubts. We had a lot of disagreements. We had plenty of moments of extreme emotions.

There was a time when my family including me, started questioning if the extreme emotions were because we had too much of each other, which was a by product of homeschooling. That made me wonder that if iya was schooled, wouldn't any of us have felt any anger? Or frustration? Do parents who send their children to school always have only roses, and no thorns?

And I realized that these emotions had nothing to do with home-schooling. These emotions need to be balanced. But it has nothing to do with homeschooling or schooling Iya.

The only one limitation which I felt in home-schooling Iya, was that I felt that Iya learns some concepts better in a peer group than individually.

But each child is different and learns differently. Also each child learns differently in different ages. A few years older, and Iya might want to be completely self taught.

Whatever I have experienced in the past one year, has given me some insights into home-schooling and I shall now share that for the benefit of those parents, who are seeking answers to some of the questions that I had had before I started home-schooling Iya.

So, here is a list of questions to ponder upon while musing about home-schooling:

1. Do you have enough time to give to your child? Having enough time, does not mean that you are bound 24 hours to your child, but rather that time is free to use as you (and your child ) please and it can be bent to suit your changing needs.

2. Are you open to learning? Homeschooling is not just about your child learning - it is also about you learning. Your learning may be academic (as in, you might have to revise all the stuff you learnt at school to able to teach it to your child) as well as non-academic (like being able to listen to your intuition, develop faith, patience and Joy).

3. Are you open to unlearning? To be able to home-school, you need to unlearn a lot of things - a lot of conditioning that you've had since you were a child. Are you ready to unlearn so that learning can happen afresh?

4. Do you have a plan to take some time off your kids everyday - for sometime? If you do not have any help/ classes/ plan to have time off your kid, then its like a concentration camp for both you and your child. To be able to come to your child with a freshness, you need to take time off her/him. So ensure you have a plan to have enough time off each other each day.

5. Are you dis-satisfied with the school your child goes to? There are many alternative education schools nowadays that are almost as good as or even better than homeschooling. If your child goes to one of them, then you may not want to pull them out of school.

6. Are you going to hire tutors for everything your child will learn at home? If yes, and if those tutors are like the conventional school teachers, then you are hardly going to make any difference in the way you are educating your child.

Once you have answered these questions, then you can work on the home-schooling plan.

There are many ways to home-school your child:

1. You can home-school with an online curriculum. There are plenty available online.

2. You can home-school without any standard curriculum but your own self built curriculum.

3. You can un-school - where you don't teach them anything at all but let nature and their own natural instincts teach them things in Divine Perfect Timing.

4. You can teach them a bit and un-school them a bit.

You can choose what suits you best. And you can change your choice when you feel one no more fits you. But overall, you need to follow your intuition on what is best for you, your child and your given circumstances. You need to have the strength to make changes when you feel the need for a fresh approach.

Also, I have learnt that home-schooling has to have a lot of freedom in scheduling. That is the beauty of it. School routine gets tiring for the child - the same thing everyday. Home-schooling doesn't have to follow that. You can have a lot of freedom in the way you structure your day - and in the way you structure it the next day or the next season. Winters have shorter days and so the daily schedules have to be made lighter to fit it easily into the daylight time. Summers have longer days and so more stuff could be done during the day. Winters could have a lot of outdoor day activities but summers would have to be a lot of indoors during the day. And the monsoons - you can actually go out and get wet without having to fear that you'll fall ill and miss school attendance :).

Home-schooling is not about learning everything the way school going kids do.

Home-schooling is not about competition or comparison.

Homeschooling is not about rote learning.

Homeschooling is not about just following orders - but rather learning to take lead in decision making.

Many parents comment that home-schooling needs a lot of discipline from the child and parent and since they or their child lack that discipline, they dismiss the thought immediately. But home-schooling does not demand any more discipline than a school going child does. In fact I would say it needs far lesser discipline. What it needs is freedom. Freedom to explore. Exploration of not just academic stuff but also of your own emotions, your feelings, your wishes, your choices. The exploration can be guided. The exploration can be mentored. But exploration has to be there. Discipline which cuts off the enthusiasm that comes with exploration is what schools do. That kind of discipline, probably needs to be kept away.

Is school better or is homeschooling better? I can't say. But I know for a fact that if you want to home-school your child, you have to have time to spend with your child. Whether you study in that time or not is not important. It is not about spending all the 24 hours with your child. That can become suffocating for both parent and child. But I wouldn't recommend it for those families where both parents are working. 

Lastly, I feel that each family has different circumstances. Each parent and each child has a special purpose in their life. For some, home-schooling is suitable. For others outsourcing of learning in the form of schooling is suitable. There is no right or wrong here. 

Some eat food made only by their moms. Some eat food cooked by their hired cooks. Some eat food served in restaurants. Each choice satisfies hunger. What one chooses in a moment is right for that moment. What one chooses in another moment need not be the same as what they chose in the earlier moment.

An year back, home-schooling Iya was the best option I had. The coming year, looks like schooling her is going to be my best choice. The year after this, looks like she'll be joining her own alternative education school.

As time comes, the path will be clearer. The answers will be shown. 

Home-schooling your child does not require you to hold a road map for the rest of your child's life - not anymore than it requires of a parent who schools their child, to hold a road map of their child's life.

Here is a 4 minute audio visual of a well spent year, homeschooling Iya.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing. Love it and very inspiring. The video as well.