“I homeschool my children not to prepare them for exams, but to prepare them for life”- Tamara L. Chilver.
Normal schooling could be fun and interesting because kids get to specially handpick their favorite teachers and their lunch tables. As for learning at home, kids naturally tend to comprehend faster because they have one teacher who knows their weaknesses and has a smaller class or school to cater to, and they can learn from the comfort of their homes with normal clothes; not school uniforms, shoes and socks. Normal schooling, as we know, entails the traditional method of schooling: the classroom setting, whiteboard, tables, chairs, and a system that prepares students to only pass tests and examinations. Homeschooling is an informal education given to kids by their parents or guardians.
Following the global pandemic, most parents have had no other option than to homeschool their kids themselves, due to the long break that schools are already witnessing especially in under-developed countries. Before the pandemic, homeschooling had already become a common and accepted practice in most countries in the world because most parents feel that there are benefits in homeschooling their kids. They get to know their kids more; help their kids manage their weaknesses more effectively than others (school teachers) would; get their kids engaged in schoolwork, household chores, extracurricular activities, and so on. Some parents have also considered the act to be a more affordable and effective way of educating their children as they can teach their kids proper time planning, management, and hands-on-skills. These perks would be more if we go on and on, but the major purpose of this article is to remind us of the challenges faced in homeschooling.
Whilst the act of homeschooling is being given thought and encouraged, most parents and guardians find it difficult to cope with the hurdles, rubbles, and surprises that tag along. Most parents find it difficult to balance the parent-teacher role seeing that their kids may not take them seriously all the time because they are their parents. Some parents take the wrong problem-solving approach by becoming overly strict and enforcing absurd disciplinary measures which in turn may get the kids so scared to speak up when there is a need to and may cause emotional detachment from their parents. One of the best ways in handling this difficulty is by setting a timetable or routine to be followed seriously, with mild punishments for offenders and lessons to learn.
It has also never really been easy for homeschoolers who try to juggle between doing the housework, professional work, and school work. This can be so frustrating as parents/guardians may try to multi-task and lose concentration. As it is better to be a jack of one trade and be a master as well, some solutions to this problem are: parents should create a plan mapping out days and time to go out or attend to ‘outside’ affairs; parents should be able to assign house duties to their children, this, in turn, will teach them responsibility (homeschooling 101), and so on.
One of the major challenges in this practice is that both children and parents may feel isolated. The kids are not allowed to socialize with their peers which may affect their developmental stages of growth; they do not have that ‘school bestie’ who they can compare their grades with or ride back home with. The kids would miss an opportunity where they get to meet their mates, make friends, and form their own ‘clique’. Parents, on the other hand, do not have the time to catch up with friends and family. The best solution would be to arrange playdates, lunch dates, and meetings with other homeschoolers, and to make provision for their kids to mix up with other children (fellow homeschoolers kids) during these arranged gatherings.
Most parents are mainly career professionals but have had to become teachers during this period. Some find it difficult as they are not able to cover all subjects as a trained teacher would. A piece of advice to be considered is to do an appraisal with the kids from time to time asking them how well they (the parents) are doing (in terms of teaching) and the subjects they feel are not being taught well. The parents can take online courses to improve their teaching abilities in the subjects their kids may have listed.
Finally, most parents have to go through humiliation and abuse from friends, family, and neighbors who do not support homeschooling and always have negative things to say to discourage them from the practice. One best way to address this issue is by ignoring some comments.
Coronavirus has made homeschooling the new normal in almost every part of the world, and everyone is adapting to it because we do not know how soon the virus is leaving us.
Author: Jennifer Ijeoma Innocent
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