Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Home schooling, a new concept- Naveeta Singh

If you are parents and your heart aches when you see your little ones travel to distant schools with a big school bag with no time to play, then home-schooling is something that can lighten their burden. Instead of searching for schools, some couples in the twin cities have adopted the trend of home schooling which is quite common in western countries.
When the Vetanayagams shifted to India six years back with their five kids, they hoped to find some good school. But the various international schools and the overall Indian education system discouraged them from going ahead with the admissions. "The Indian education system is more content-based while we wanted a system that promoted understanding," says Shanti Vetanyagam, a home-maker.
Thus, whatever Shanti learnt in the US about home-schooling from the farmers in the New York came handy to her. "When I was working in New York as an engineer, we stayed in rural areas where the farmers' wives home-schooled their children. I liked the concept and used it to teach my children," she says.
If we think that these children miss a chance on socialising, building friendships and learning values of co-operation, then it is a wrong assumption. "My seven-year-old daughter values her friends more as she gets to meet them for a limited time for they are in school," says Rachana Gala, another home-maker who is also home-schooling her kid.
While most children and their parents struggle to decide career option once in standard 10th or 12th, these parents are already in sync with their children's inclination. For instance, Shanti knows that her son Jeevun (17) is more into electronics and is in the high school (12th standard), Ahnand is more interested in Maths, logic and English. While Karuna likes science, environment and animals, Keerthi is into fine arts and Nithya is an organizer.
"Jeevun is in one of the US umbrella school. After he clears his grades he will get an American school leaving certificate. It is a challenge for us to see him get admitted in the college and he copes with the college education system," she concludes.
What is homeschooling?
Home-schooling is the education of children at home, typically by parents rather than in other formal settings of public or private schools. There is no set curriculum and it is decided by the parent gauging the child's capacity to learn.
If the child is taught subjects and concepts from the second standard and he/she shows more ability, then they are also taught subjects from fourth standard or so.
Their study includes learning through puzzles, quizzes, reading, field trips etc. When the children enter the eighth grade (eighth standard) parents can get them admitted to one of the umbrella schools (distance learning ).

Monday, November 28, 2011


As an ageless symbol of the light of the world and the passage of time until Christmas, the hanging of an advent wreath marks the beginning of the yuletide celebration. As this tradition came down to us by the beginning of this century, it involved three purple candles and one pink candle. The purple and pink candles are placed on an evergreen wreath which symbolizes the eternity of God and everlasting life. The purple candles are lit on the first, second and fourth Sundays of Advent. They represent penance and match the purple paraments on the altar (purple for the royalty of the coming King). The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday, also called Gaudete ("Gaudete" means "Rejoice!" in Latin), which is a time to be joyful and celebrate the approach of Christmas. Some advent wreaths have a fifth candle called the CHRIST Candle - that is white - and meant to be lit on Christmas day.
As the darkness deepens and winter comes, each week we light one more candle to speak of our hope for the coming light. Much has been made of the symbolism of the Advent wreath, each candle given a particular meaning. Actually, it is the action of lighting one more candle in the darkness that bears its deepest meaning. In the face of growing darkness, the church brings more light. Since our sanctuary gathers us in a circle, we imagine ourselves as the wreath, bearing in our hearts the light of Christ.
Light these candles again on all the 12 nights of Christmas.

A Wreath of Kindnesses
Make a wreath for each child in the household from a paper plate with the center cut out. Attach one pink and three purple candles made of cardstock colored with markers by bending the bottom of each about 3/4 inch and gluing them down. Glue a paper flame to the top of each candle. Cut out dark and light green slightly elongated construction-paper hearts, and give each child a thick stack. Each time the child does something kind during Advent, he can write the deed on a heart and glue it to his wreath. As the acts of kindness mount, the wreath gets nice and full.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Last year, 12-year old Shreya Sahai dropped out of class and decided to be homeschooled. Not unusual. But she hit a roadblock with The Right to Education Act (RTE) stipulating formal schooling for eight years. When she approached the Delhi High Court, the court dismissed the petition, telling the petitioners to approach the Human Resource Development Ministry to clarify its stand on homeschooling.
There is a reason why a tiny fraction of parents, dissatisfied with the state of formal education in India, didn’t figure in the larger context of the Act. There aren’t many parents who homeschool their children in the country — conservative estimates put the number anywhere between 500 to 1,000 children In many cases, it is disabled children who are homeschooled because the education system is not geared to provide special education to all disabled children.
Homeschooling is “education of school-aged children at home rather than at a school.” Homeschoolers argue that children who are homeschooled are able to learn more, and turn out be more culturally sophisticated and are able to excel in their natural abilities as their learning is more broad, and not just confined to a school environment. Shreya Sahai’s father pointed out that the Delhi region IIT-JEE topper, the 14-year-old Sahal Kaushik, was homeschooled, and that shows homeschooling is not just a fad. The modern-day American homeschooling movement began in 1969 and has now become one of the great populist educational movements of the past century. But it evolved over the years: laws were formed, regulations were put in place, and the state worked with parents who wished to provide home-based education to their kids. In India, it is more of a reaction rather than a well-thought out option
Whether the RTE Act has scope for such a mode of education, and whether the government can govern such private choices is not what should concern the handful of parents who are agitated about the Act’s focus on “formal schooling.” What should be their concern is whether home-based education, given the lack of any monitoring agency or an organisation that can bring such parents and children together on a platform, is the right choice for their kids.
In 49 out of 50 US states, homeschooling is regulated. According to the Washington State homeschooling law, it is necessary to file a “declaration of intent” and follow certain requirements. Parents who are homeschooling their wards must be deemed qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district or complete a parent-qualifying course or meet with a certified teacher for an average of an hour a week. In the UK, since last year, a government report sharply criticised unregulated homeschooling. In Germany, it is altogether banned.
In India, where homeschooling has only recently started gaining some momentum, it does not require any registration, recognition or regulation by any agency or authority. Most parents, who have chosen to homeschool their kids either follow the CBSE curriculum or opt for the respective state board syllabus. Washington State homeschool curriculum also requires parents to include 11 subjects in their curriculum. The home-schooled children are also required to appear for annual testing — standardised or one-on-one assessment with a certified teacher — annually. Similarly, in New Jersey homeschooling is allowed as long as the home-based education is comparable to that provided by a public school
There are, however, no special requirements that a parent must qualify for to begin homeschooling. But in case there is litigation about whether the education that the parent is giving to his/her ward is equivalent to that of a state school, the onus is on parents to prove their case to a local school superintendent. Besides, in most places where homeschooling is a success, parents who homeschool their children have formed clubs where they meet weekly to discuss curriculum and where their children can socialise and make friends. One criticism against homeschooling has been that it produces social misfits. In India, except in the virtual space — blogs, internet forums — homeschooling parents have not set up such organisations or social clubs. But then, in order for homeschooling to become a successful movement in India, there needs to be some supervision, because after all it boils down to whether those who are educating their wards are qualified enough. It is true that given the quality of our own teachers, the lack of infrastructure to produce quality teachers, dilapidated school buildings, and many private schools promising a good deal but delivering little, parents have the right to decide on the mode of education for their child. But is homeschooling a viable option in the country today?
The HRD ministry will meet the parents of the homeschoolers soon, and discuss their issues. But lost in this maze of arguments on democracy, freedom of choice and dissatisfaction with the education system, is a simple point: why can’t parents supplement a child’s experience at school with more learning at home? Besides, if parents prefer homeschooling, they must first collaborate with the state to set up regulations so at least the system gets standardised. As it is, enforcing the RTE act will be an administrative nightmare. The option of unregulated homeschooling might be a convenient excuse to unwilling parents or lazy officials. Homeschooling in India is a nascent phenomenon. The inherent danger, as with all trends, is that it can attract many followers simply because it is the next cool thing to do.
That’s where homeschooling is in India today. The desire in a country that is teeming with millions who can brandish degrees is to stand apart. India needs to have to evolve the regulatory mechanisms that exist in other countries where homeschooling has been successful. Besides, even the worst of schools have their advantages. Growing up together teaches a child how to compete, yet work in a team.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TREK TO VALPOI- report by Homeschooler Avinash Almeida

On 20th November we went for a trek organized by ECO treks. The pick up was only from Panjim and Mapusa. It was too far for us. We went to stay at our cousin’s house, and he too joined us for the trek.

On Sunday we woke up at 5:15am to go for 6oclock mass. After mass we went home, picked our bags and rushed to the meeting spot. The bus came at 7:30am. The journey was very pleasant, thorough just harvested fields and over grown jungle

We reached Valpoi at around 9:15am. Had breakfast, but we didn’t eat much because we already had eaten at home.

We started our trek in right earnest. Trek was through a dense forest. There was no path, so we had to keep in sight of the person in front of you. It was nice and cool. The trek was uphill and when we reached on top, we climbed a rock, from where we could see Western Ghats speared out in front of us. Too soon it was time to climb down because 5 people, could, occupy the rock at a time. We went a different way which led us to a stream. Some people went to have a dip in the pool, while some people just sat back and watched as an entertaining show.

After some time the whistle was blown for everybody to trek back to the village at 2:45pm. Gave us good vegetarian lunch. We played ‘catching cook’ and then we went home.

We enjoyed the trek. Especially because our cousin was with us. We didn’t see any wild animals except for one snake and a scorpion. It was nice being in the jungle and forgetting all the noise in the city.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Michelle Duggar on Home Schooling

TLC: There are a lot of people who are really interested in home schooling. Is there a curriculum you can recommend as well as any tips?

Michelle: Well, nowadays there is so much available for homeschoolers. Back when we were starting 18, 20 years ago, it was a much more difficult task. But we have a lot of great links on our Web site to homeschool curriculum and resources where you can find out more about homeschooling.
Of course, our goal has been to do a Christian-based curriculum. One in which there’s a lot of character emphasis, character building like responsibility, honesty, self control. All those kind of things are woven into the stuff that we use. I find that there are so many things out there that you could look forever and probably not exhaust the opportunities for what you want to do.
I spoke to a veteran home school mom before I started home schooling, and her kids were quite a bit older, and she wisely told me because — because I had Josh, who was four at the time and then I had a set of twins. And I was so excited about starting this venture of home schooling, and she could tell my excitement — and she told me, “I just want you to know for right now don't go overboard. Don't go and just buy up all this stuff for your library because nine times out of 10 you won’t use it.” [Laughter] She was wise to tell me that because I was chomping at the bit to get started with them.
I would’ve gotten all these resources, and, honestly, we wouldn’t have used them because what she said was [at that age] you get a simple phonics program, and you get a simple math workbook, not something that has these huge teachers' manuals and all this kind of stuff. And she said for the first year that you're working with them, just have fun. Their attention span is limited, and they’ll do a 15-minute chunk of time here and then go back later and do another 15-minute chunk of time. But once they grasp the letters, the sounds, the phonics rules and then begin on the concept of math, they'll be farther along than most at their age.
And I was amazed. That’s exactly what I did with Josh, and we didn’t spend a huge amount of money that first year with him. But by the end of that year he was reading — by the time he was five, he was reading. We’d play phonics games and we’d play Go Fish and learn the names of these letters and the sounds. So I just think back and I laugh because I thought I probably overloaded him, but he didn’t know any better and neither did I.
Once they grasp the ability to read, it’s like the whole world opens up to them, and I will put them in a certain curriculum and just move through it. And it’s a self-paced curriculum that we use so they can just move right along. I can use the A.C.E. curriculum. And once they complete those paces, they're done. And some of the kids can complete them rather quickly. And, of course, the kids that are excellent in math will just whiz through their math lessons and then they're still working all their English and their spelling and all those other things later on.
But I think it’s fun. It’s just amazing watching them as they learn and take it all in. It’s just a lot of fun.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

WOW! What a day it was. Glenn & I got up really early to complete the cooking for the luncheon. Two families couldn't make it so we cooked less. And everything was enough (Sigh of relief). We left at 2 pm for Be-Attitudes, Porvorim,where we had our meeting.
After that, the kids had a treasure hunt and then they had to enact a short skit based on the story that the treasure hunt revealed to them in the form of 7 clues. Gr8 work Nadisha!(Pat on back).
In the meantime,the parents were given a talk no the Meaning of the MASS by Valentine Coelho.
After the kids had enacted their skits amidst peals of laughter at some funny costumes, Nadsiha enthralled us all with her puppetry skills. Amazing, NADISHA, simply amazing. (Another pat on back)
Then the kids got to flex their muscles to try and break a sealed box of chocolates, with a cricket bat!! Who says Homeschool kids miss out on sports? :)
All in all, a delightful evening and we are looking forward to the next one which by God's grace will be on New Year's Day.

This is Auriel Ribeiro Sa signing off from Goa Can Homeschool.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hi Homeschoolers,
The next homeschool meeting will be held on 13 Nov 2011 at my place from 12 noon to 4 pm. Please let me know in advance that you are coming so I can cater accordingly as I will be having lunch to celebrate Daniel's baptism and the inauguration of Goa Can homeschool. For those who don't know this, the word CAN stands for my three homeschooling children - Charis, Aaron and Nathan. Soon Daniel will join them but I will not change the name as it it special to me, kind of like a brand name?
All those who have informed me already, see you at the meeting. PTL!