Homeschooling and remote learning not the same, says homeschooling advisor

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Fiona Rajkumar –

ADVISOR to the board of the Homeschooling Association (HATT) Dr Fiona Rajkumar says there is a distinct difference between homeschooling and the virtual school environment many parents have come to know during the pandemic.

Rajkumar was speaking during a webinar hosted by The University of the West Indies on the Management of the National Education System on Friday.

She defined homeschooling as the educating of children primarily by their parents, or legal guardians, at home instead of delegating responsibility to an institution.

“Parents and legal guardians may utilise the assistance of tutors, but remain actively involved in the teaching and learning process.”

She said this was different from the emergency remote-teaching currently taking place since the onset of the pandemic.

“When the Government declared that parents and teachers should engage in ‘homeschooling’ they were really urging people to engage in pandemic schooling or emergency/remote-teaching during the lockdown phases of the pandemic as traditional schooling was transferred to the home.”

She said there are almost 200 families in TT who are now homeschooling, amounting to a couple thousand children being homeschooled.

“There are numerous reasons why parents homeschool their children,” she said. “Parents usually have or choose a philosophy of education and outcomes upon which to base the education of their children.

“Parents then choose curricula, times and methods of delivery based on the outcomes that they want to achieve. These do not always follow the traditional format as laid out in the public and private school system.”

She said examples of homeschooling philosophies include wholistic education, unschooling, world schooling, or interest-lead education.

Rajkumar also said since parents have been more engaged in their children’s education due to the pandemic, more parents have reached out to the association to enquire about homeschooling.

“There is a diverse range of people much more interested in homeschooling now because they feel public education system has failed their children.

“From personal experience, I enjoyed my educational experience, but I can see the clear gaps in my own education and I did not want that for my children (such as) the integration of the theoretical and the practical.”

She said more parents are interested in being more involved in, and support, their child’s education.

“Parents who homeschool do not need the same kind of qualifications as trained teachers,” she said. “There are curricula created with parents as teachers in mind…I’ve reviewed some of them. We can learn a lot from (these curricula) in terms of integrative, holistic approaches to education.”