Our series about Homeschooling moms in India is an initiative to help all the parents who are confused about the whole process of homeschooling in India. Its great to see that there are many parents who are homeschooling their kids and are ready to share the inputs. We recently met Sandhya who is one such mom who not only is homeschooling her kids but helping other parents. She is an admin of two main groups related to schools and homeschooling in India.
Let’s get to know Sandhya and her journey as a homeschooling mom –
When did you start homeschooling for your kids?
We started homeschooling in 2009.
What led to this decision of homeschooling your kids?
When we started out, our older son was in Grade 4 at a regular school and doing quite well. He seemed to be gifted in music and we wanted him to spend more time on it. That is how our home-schooling started out. The younger one was only 3 at the time and he just became a part of the journey.
What are the differences between convention schooling and homeschooling according to you?
I Can’t generalize about conventional schooling or homeschooling. So, difficult to compare. As the admin of the Bangalore Schools forum on FB (35k members), I am aware of many schools in Bangalore that are mainstream yet maintain a balance and no academic pressure. Other schools follow a pedagogy that is different and suits the needs of a child. Besides this, there are alternative spaces. Of course, there are more established missionary schools, as well. As far as I am concerned, homeschooling is just another option that is available to educate a child.
Your kids are 18 and 12. What curriculum you chose for them and the reasons to choose it?
The younger one is unschooled and no curriculum has been decided upon. For the older one, we sat down to decide the curriculum when he was 12-13 years old. Since homeschoolers only have 2 options (NIOS and the IGCSE/AS/A levels), we only considered NIOS and IGCSE. After a discussion, our son decided on IGCSE. We then started preparing for the exam.
What are the struggles in India for parents who want to homeschool? and did you face any problems initially?
We, fortunately, did not face any struggles as such. We tend to accept situations and find a way around that works for us. When we started we didn’t know anyone who homeschooled though I had read about it. So, there was no interaction or support and we just winged it.
A lot of parents complain about convincing other family members about their decision to homeschool. Some complaint about no support system though it is now a lot better than when we started out. The lack of a package or a program for homeschoolers is another challenging area.
Share the tips and tricks to keep them focussed while studying at home.
We don’t ‘sit and study’ as one does at school. So, I do not have tips on that. Learning happens all the time. When a learning opportunity comes up in another event, I use it.
One major concern which parents have regarding homeschooling is the social interaction with other kids. How do you take care of that aspect while homeschooling?
Socialization is the least of our concerns and almost always the first question that people ask. The truth is that homeschooled children have more opportunities for social interactions than school going children. Depending on the parents and the nature of the child, one gets exposure to the real world outside. Children get to make friends based on common interests and wavelength rather than chronological age.
Once people remove the misconception that homeschooling means that a child is stuck at home and studying all the time, this question will never arise. Homeschooling is not for everyone. If one is sceptical, I wouldn’t suggest taking the step at all. Suggestions would be on a case to case basis. There is no one size fits all solution. I suggest making an informed choice and what suits your family and your child.
As an admin of popular homeschooling and Bangalore school groups, you are very active in both. Please share your role in both the groups and what was the reason to start these groups.
I am admin of the Homeschoolers’ Nook and Bangalore Schools. The Bangalore Schools was started by Shweta Sharan and I was requested to join the admin board based on my input on schools and education.
The Homeschoolers’ Nook was started by me and initially known and Homeschoolers Bangalore. It was started as a support system for practising homeschoolers in Bangalore and one place where we could share resources and events/activities happening across the city. I plan to organize it better soon.
Any other suggestions for parents who are confused about the whole system of homeschooling or other homeschooling moms?
Simply put, homeschooling means that our children do not go to school. What each family does beyond that is very diverse.
Families homeschool for different reasons and we don’t homeschool the same way. Some of us are disillusioned by the current system of education, some have children with special needs, some believe they need to get back to nature as a way of life, some wish to allow their child to follow their passion early on and many other reasons. Coming to the actual homeschooling, some of us prefer structure, some are totally unstructured and many of us are eclectic. If a child has been to school and the family then decides to homeschool, I suggest they de-school as a family first. Deschooling is to get the school out of our system first.
My older son is into music. He plays a couple of instruments. However, he now sticks to the keyboard and is composing. He can play by ear and also by sight though he prefers playing by ear. He has taken a gap year after A levels. Also, he interned at an MNC, learnt to code and also composed the anthem for the company. He is presently working with his mentor in his startup. My younger son is into sports and got coaching for cricket and soccer. Taken to squash since 2016. He is Kerala State Under 13 Champion.