Updated: Aug 20
The year 2020 has taught us many things which have certainly influenced our thoughts and the way we look at life. It has forced us to desperately modify our lifestyle. This Pandemic year has changed our outlook towards life, relationship, and situations.
COVID has hit almost all strata of society and families both psychologically and financially. We all have done our own adjustments by cutting down our necessities, luxury commodities, etc.
During this period we came across many parents who dropped their child’s education considering online or virtual classes ineffective . They felt the fees taken by education institutes are not justified and will do no good to their child’s development. They are comfortable with the thought that dropping a year or two will not hamper their child’s education. They can rejoin when the school reopens physically. This thought prevailed more among the parents of Pre-Primary children in the age bracket of 2.5-6yrs. Although the percentage is more in this bracket, Primary grades students are also not far from this trend.
As the Head of Admission, I meet hundreds of parents every academic session and witness all queries, demands, requests, and sometimes weird excuses. The last academic session was exceptional. I came across parents with a new set of vocabulary other than a webinar, zoom call, online class, virtual platform. The words now commonly used by parents are Homeschooling and Unschooling.
The dropout year (2019-20 and 2021-22) is now addressed by parents as the year of homeschooling. Now ‘Homeschooling’ was never a popular concept in India, unlike U.S and some other countries.
Homeschooling or Unschooling? This is what we need to understand. Both the terms are entirely used in different contexts. Are parents trying to cover-up their decision and justifying a dropout year as homeschooling? What about the importance of schooling? Can the advantages of schooling be ignored? A structured curriculum, timely evaluation, feedback from the teacher, guided support system, counseling, exposure to various age-appropriate activities, and most important is the bonding with a peer group. These things play a major role in the cognitive and emotional development of a child. The support system of school is inevitable for parents because at times parents feel demotivated, frustrated, or confused after all ‘it takes a village to raise a child”.
We are not saying that all parents fall in this category but quite a percentage are still in the illusion that giving tuition at home will replace the need for a school and their job is done for the entire year.
The major difference between unschooling and home-schooling is the approach towards learning. In a home-schooling environment, parents act as teachers. Guided by state and national standards, they plan lessons, assign homework, and grade assignments.
An unschooler’s day is whatever the student wants it to be. Unschooling operates with the faith that children are naturally curious and will follow their interests in their own way, free from the controls and burdens of traditional education. Most of the parents are following a middle path. They choose a curriculum from different resources and either take charge in their own hands or hire a tutor. Sometimes they rarely follow any structures rather they prefer to engage with the child as and when they are not occupied.
This article can go long but I know parents reading this can easily Google and find what homeschooling is and for the term unschooling readers are smart enough to understand what I meant in this pandemic time.
With the announcement of Nursery admissions for session 22-23 soon (July-Dec), parents must give it a serious thought about - Schooling, homeschooling, or unschooling, keeping in mind that this choice will impact the future of their wards.