I grew up in Uganda. I attended a primary school and did very well in my ‘Primary Leaving Exams’. When we abruptly moved, I was put into a single-sex Catholic school in a brand new town. It was a bit of a challenge to say the least. It was at that time when I began to think a lot more critically than before. I began to understand more things than usual, and I was usually very excited about new things, topics, and issues. I was particularly fascinated by geographical features and seismology, and all the related technology. Unfortunately, the school curriculum was very rigid. There were 15 subjects that were supposed to be learned in the first two years of secondary school, and then the student is suppose to choose 10 for the next two!
Then appeared this life altering newspaper article about a curious system of education that I was told people in America love. Homeschooling. It felt like a godsend. Ha! The writer was telling me that I could study what I wanted, at the pace I wanted, and the way I wanted? Not real! But it was. While disgruntled orthodox parents wrote letters and lengthy opinion pieces in the very newspaper ranting about how this ‘Western’ invention could destroy traditional education, I got in touch with helpful teachers, tutors, and The British Council who helped me get started.
Who schools at home? Why?
Various people! In fact, millions. These are children from all sorts of socio-economic backgrounds. A lot of people choose this method to give their children a more religious education; others do it to give the children a more liberal education (like me!).
The key to having a rigorous school experience is research. In fact, a lot of research. The first step is to check your country or state’s rules and regulations about students not enrolled in a conventional school. Some countries, like America, are a lot more accepting of the idea and have very accommodating laws. Others, like India…not so much. You also need to sit down and think hard about the curriculum you want to follow or if you want to follow one at all. You can request nearby schools for theirs or you can look for some on the Internet, like British School Curricula. Others opt to mix and match, like A Level Biology and AP Psychology and IB HL Math, and some opt to follow none and read from a wide selection of books.
If you live in a place that is less accepting or understanding of non-traditional schooling, I would advise that you sign up to take more ‘formal’ examinations where they are held. CIE IGCSE (Grade 10 level) and CIE A Level (Grade 12 level) are particularly popular. I feel that these exams concentrate less on what you’ve memorized and demand more understanding of the curriculum. They are also not crazily expensive. If you wish to appear for them in your area, just call up the nearest British Council.
When you choose homeschooling, there is no rigid to-the-second kind of schedule. Everything is more relaxed and you can always spend a little more time on one subject and a little less on the other. As far as I am concerned, I prefer to-do lists to timetables. It is always a great idea to write down all tasks for the next day before going off to bed. You will be efficient and you will also feel challenged. There is also nothing out-of-bounds. If a video is going to help you understand a concept better than the book, you watch the video instead. If done correctly, home schooling is very challenging. It also enables you participate in extra-curricular activities with a lot more dedication.
Things I am tired of hearing when talking to people about homeschooling.
1. We smell and don’t bathe. Well, no. We shower and dress up and look fantastic while studying very hard
2. Only teachers can home school their children. No. Engineers, doctors, business owners, people who are unemployed, people in all sorts of fields home school their kids.
3. It is an easy way out. You wish!
4. Home schooling does not prepare you enough for college. You’ll be surprised! Home schooled students consistently outperform students from conventional schools in all sorts of tests.
5. Home schooled students don’t socialize. False! Utterly false. Home schooled students socialize quite a bit; in fact, numerous places have home school clubs that regularly meet up to discuss issues. Also, many of us manage to attend interesting functions and concerts, and then compensate by studying at night. We are cool like that.
6. Home schooled children don’t know the world. This one enrages me the most. Home schooling has given me the opportunity to read a lot more about all that is happening and all that continues to happen. It has also made me realize that I am responsible for learning and doing my part in the long run. I know what’s up and I am going to do all I can to make it different. Of course, I might not know how to handle high school drama, but I know a lot more important things, thank you very much.
The bottom line is, home school might not be for everybody, but for many, it is the best thing that could ever have happened to them.