In India, while a complete lockdown has been announced only recently, a certain section of parents and guardians have been homeschooling kids as a norm. With schools being shut across the country, even as some conducti online classes and tests, it has forced parents to find a balance between their work, their children’s education, and their own personal time.
If you are a parent, who is struggling to strike a balance, fret not. You are not alone. Across the world, many parents are doing it for the first time, too. They are also perplexed, confounded and worried about these developments. As such, they are trying to do their best with the resources they have.
If you are looking for answers, maybe you will find them here. Indianexpress.com reached out to some parents who have been homeschooling for a while now — learning from their experiences. We hope this helps; read on.
Shahla Siddiqui Paik, freelance journalist (currently in Lucknow)
“I have been a regular homeschooling parent and am pretty familiar with the concept. I have a four-year-old son and homeschooling, for us, is majorly learning while having fun. I usually set a monthly goal or target for my kid to cover the basics, and to then follow his cue on a daily or weekly basis for activities or games. We try to dedicate one to two hours for formal teaching like writing practice, or reading, that requires him to sit at one place. But again, it all depends on the kid and forcing is a strict no.
I get time for myself, because I already have a system that keeps my son engaged. Right now, because of the lockdown, I am stranded at my parents’ place, so I have a lot of time to relax and do my own thing. But mostly, it is about getting the child engaged in an activity, and not stressing much. Do not stress about dressing them up or getting them to finish their meals first, or having to follow the routine. Be easy on yourself and your kids; remember it is their first time dealing with a pandemic, too.
There is no dearth of ideas and resources on the internet. We read an actual book once a day, and watch videos on the tablet. To make him practice mathematics, we play board games like snakes and ladders, UNO and such. Parents with older kids can play monopoly, scrabble, and chess. Also, it is important to teach your kids life skills like sorting the laundry, cleaning up after they are done playing, cooking up a basic meal, dusting, mopping, washing the dishes, and so on.
To all the parents who are doing it for the first time, follow your child’s interests and do not expect them to spend four to seven straight hours of schooling. Stay positive and set an example for them.”
Supriya Narang, blogger and full-time homeschooler (Bengaluru)
“Our days are mostly child-led. I cook with my six-and-a-half-year-old, and after all that is done, we either read or play some indoor games. Since going to the libraries or meeting friends is cancelled, we have been watching a few shows on TV together, when the day gets dull. We all have our moments; no one has stayed home for so many days. But, self-care is crucial. Without caring for myself, I wouldn’t be able to care for my son. I spend my time in silence whenever I can. Music is another great stress-buster, when I feel the need to let off steam.
We use the kitchen for practical learning. We already have books, art supplies and games at home. We use Netflix for fun shows and Curiositystream for documentaries.
I would want to tell other parents to just keep it simple. This is not how we usually homeschool — we get to go out to parks, libraries, museums, etc. But, these are stressful times and kids also feel it. So, do not try to turn your home into a school. Instead, use this time to build a relationship with your child. Play with them, read with them, cook, dance, paint and be silly. Working parents don’t have it easy, which is why there are apps, audiobooks and free comics to read online. Times are scary, but you are not alone. Be kind to yourself.”
Kirty Harit, writer and editor (Jaipur)
“The best thing about homeschooling is the fact that there is only productive time spent in teaching. On some days, the child may be interested in studying math, on other days, he may want to learn about outer space; the flexibility works pretty well and the child enjoys the process of learning thoroughly.
As a parent, the goals should be clear, like what should be the learning outcome for the week or the month. While I prepare activities and lessons beforehand, there is no pressure on the kid to adhere to the timeline. The learning is self-paced. In fact, my seven-year-old daughter and I have become more self-disciplined. Setting a clear division of time, working out a timetable that suits every family member, and staying proactive as a unit really helps in staying sane. I must confess: homeschooling requires efforts. But, those who enjoy painting, playing instruments, reading, writing, working with kids, will definitely turn out to be great at this. I am able to take time out for myself because of the joint effort put in by me and my husband.
Before doing this, I referred to everything around the world about curriculums, teaching techniques, DIYs and a lot more. The internet has turned out to be a great resource.
To fellow parents, I would like to say that it is important to understand your child’s temperament, and also yours as a teacher. Not all parents can be excellent teachers. And not all kids can be taught in the same fashion.”
Sarah, design engineer (Bengaluru)
“My kids, aged nine and six-and-a-half, usually know a day in advance what their day will be like. It is comforting for them to know what the plan is. They are involved in deciding their own goals. It is great if we can stick to the plan, but even if we don’t, we don’t sweat it. There’s always cooking, books, games, lots of educational videos and hobbies to the rescue. At the end of the day, it is important that we read a book and go to bed happy and peaceful.
Self-care is important, and this is where partners come into the picture. Both my boys love spending time with their father; he is a very important role model for them. As a family, we are all on the same page. When I need my space, I make it clear, and when the children say they want to be left alone for a while, their choice is respected.
Our house is basically like a learning centre with several tools, be it carpenting, gardening, robotics or sewing. All of this is based on the kids’ interests.
For parents who are doing this for the first time, it is important to find your own pulse. What works for one, may not work for the other. So, do what you love and what comes easily to you. Your children will learn from your passion and find their own. Do not try to replicate school, and don’t be rigid in your approach.”
There is no fixed formula, really. As mentioned earlier, most parents are figuring things out on their own. Some are acing it, some are doing a fair job, and some are struggling. But, it is all okay. What matters at the end of the day, is that you have your child’s best interest at heart. And that you did whatever you could, to the best of your ability. And tomorrow will be a new learning day, again.
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