Home Schooling

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Home schooling enrolment skyrocket as parents seek to protect children from public school brainwashing – was the headline on a European news channel.

The idea is yet to gain acceptability in our country where parents engage in the rat race of getting their kids into the most ‘prestigious’ school; a struggle which has more to do with ‘fitting in’ to specific social circles rather than ensuring healthy growth of the kid. What prompts me to say that?

Admission in such a school usually sets to sail, the desire to wear branded shoes, carry designer bags and even, come to school in expensive cars which confuses a child about the whole purpose of attending school. The healthy competitive debates and other such intellectual arguments are replaced with more intense competition which surpasses the boundaries of a class room. Which car is dad driving and what is his turnover are questions asked in the 8th grade! Intermingling with children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds often makes it difficult to keep a child rooted in his culture and to respect his own familial background.

Then there are many more apparent demons that prompt parents to ‘protect’ their children from exposure to school environment – the greatest being drugs. Yes, from age 10 onwards, if your child is becoming reclusive and is shutting himself in the room, chances are that he is intoxicated. Too much competition and peer pressure drives the kids into drugs! Children in their early teens want to experiment with everything including smoking, drinking, sex and drugs and if they land in ‘wrong company’ (although it is unfair and unjustified to label another child as ‘wrong company’), the damage can be irreversible. A Delhi school kid was asked how can one source hashish, ganja etc. and he said there are more than 15 spots on his way from school to home from where he can access just about anything! To top it all, is the unrestricted access to internet and television that gives children ideas to experiment with a lot more. Boys will be boys, and web provides free pornography; they haven’t heard of protecting and respecting the fairer sex and chivalry is a word that does not exist in their dictionary. With all this ruling the mind, studies are the last priority and if the parents get busy in their jobs or coping with unhappy marriages, these innocent lives are doomed! What comes out of such a chaotic school environment, are depressed, disoriented and confused young adults.

No wonder home schooling is gaining popularity all around the world. Educated and reasonably financially comfortable parents are opting to tutor their children at home, either themselves or by hiring private tutors. A Gurgaon-based French air hostess gave up her job to raise her kids and she decided to home tutor them herself. It is a very tough call but she feels it is necessary to create a potentially bright future for her children. Another friend in Slovenia decided to do the same for her only son and at that time (5 years back) it seemed highly irrational and impractical but looking at today’s social environment it seems to be a good option.

Of course, there is a down side to it, what about qualifications and certificates? They probably give exams privately for 10th and 12th but the fact remains that ultimately they have to get out and function in the world. How will kids raised in the sheltered and protected environ of a home cope with the war of earning their daily living? They will then be like rabbits let loose in a lion’s den! I suppose a right balance of home and school would take us in the right direction. Giving birth is easy but bringing up another being is a very big commitment and requires passion and dedication. School is not mandatory at least till a certain age, and that age should not be calculated in years but in the attitude of your child. Can he/she distinguish between right and wrong influence? Can he/she retain respect for moral and cultural values in spite of peer pressure and all other kinds of influences? If not, then consider home schooling.

No one can educate and nurture a child better than the parent, to enable them to realize and achieve their own potential. The need of the hour is to get home schooling some kind of recognition in India. In some countries, there is a system of enrolment and exams are conducted annually but in India only the seed of this thought is being sowed. So give it a thought.

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