Ex­perts dis­cuss the ben­e­fits of home school­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By JIN ZHU jinzhu@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ed­u­ca­tion an­a­lysts and ex­perts are call­ing on the pub­lic to have an open mind on a new way of ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren in China the home-school.

“It is pos­si­ble that a ris­ing num­ber of Chi­nese par­ents will choose to ed­u­cate their chil­dren at home in­stead of send­ing them to pub­lic schools in the fu­ture,” said Chu Zhao­hui, a se­nior re­searcher at the National In­sti­tute of Ed­u­ca­tion Sciences.

Chu’s re­marks fol­low a re­cent sur­vey show­ing that about 18,000 chil­dren on the Chi­nese main­land now re­ceive their ed­u­ca­tion at home.

Chu said the trend is mainly the re­sult of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion among par­ents who are highly ed­u­cated and have stronger opin­ions on ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren in an al­ter­na­tive way, he said.

The sur­vey, is­sued by the 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute on Satur­day, showed that the top three re­gions in China where peo­ple choose to ed­u­cate their chil­dren at home are Guang­dong and Zhe­jiang prov­inces and Bei­jing.

The re­searchers es­ti­mated the to­tal num­ber by col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion through putting out ques­tion­naires on its web­site and vis­it­ing some on­line home school­ing as­so­ci­a­tions.

In Guang­dong, the num­ber of such chil­dren is up to 1,459, ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey.

The sur­vey re­sults showed nearly 61 per­cent of chil­dren be­ing home-schooled in China are 4 to 10 years old.

In China, chil­dren those ages are in kinder­gartens and pri­mary schools.

The sur­vey found about 62 per­cent of chil­dren that age who are re­ceiv­ing home school­ing had had pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion be­fore.

The sur­vey said that the top three rea­sons that par­ents de­cided to ed­u­cate their chil­dren at home are that they do not agree with school’s ed­u­ca­tional con­cepts; the schools’ slower teach­ing meth­ods; and a lack of re­spect for chil­dren in pub­lic schools.

Also, nearly 82 per­cent of the in­ter­viewed chil­dren who en­gaged in home school­ing said they like or like very much be­ing home-schooled, it said.

Yuan Fangyan, a re­searcher from the 21st Cen­tury Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search In­sti­tute, said the sur­vey re­sults aren’t sur­pris­ing.

“It is nat­u­ral to see more peo­ple will­ing to have mul­ti­ple choices on ed­u­ca­tional for­mats to meet the needs of their chil­dren since ev­ery child is unique,” he said.

In 2010, the num­ber of chil­dren re­ceiv­ing home school­ing in the US was more than 2 mil­lion. By con­trast, the num­ber in China is quite limited, she said.

Not just at home

“In China, par­ents who are ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren at home put more fo­cus on read­ing, learn­ing prac­ti­cal skills through var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties, and tak­ing trips to dif­fer­ent places. For in­stance, par­ents al­ways se­lect world-fa­mous books and the Chi­nese classics for chil­dren to read,” she said.

Yin Tiehong, a fa­ther in Shang­hai who has an 8-yearold boy, moved to Dali, Yun­nan prov­ince two years ago, and lived in a yard with six other fam­i­lies from dif­fer­ence re­gions.

“I once sent my son to a fa­mous kinder­garten in Shang­hai, but he was un­will­ing to go there any­more af­ter only about 10 days. I be­lieved dis­cov­er­ing his real in­ter­ests is a top con­cern, so I chose ed­u­cat­ing him by my­self at home,” he said.

“But home school­ing does not mean iso­lat­ing him from so­ci­ety. I re­al­ized my first mis­sion is find­ing friends for him, who can live and play to­gether. Then, I found other fam­i­lies via the In­ter­net and we de­cided to move to Dali, a place that we all like,” he said.

How­ever, the de­bate over the le­gal­ity of home school­ing con­tin­ues in China, where nine-year com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion al­ready cov­ers nearly all stu­dents.

“At present, there are no spe­cific rules and man­age­ment mea­sures on home school­ing in China. But it is widely rec­og­nized among ed­u­ca­tors that par­ents have pri­or­i­ties of de­cid­ing how to ed­u­cate their chil­dren,” Yuan said.

Chu agreed. “For par­ents, home school­ing should be a ra­tio­nal choice since it may af­fect their chil­dren’s whole life,” he added.

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