Homeschooling: Children develop their social skills in school, say principals

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Homeschooling recently bagged spotlight after 17-year- old homeschooled Malvika Joshi was accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Although it allows you to learn at your own pace, Mumbai school principals said attending a formal school is necessary to develop social skills.
There is a growing club of parents in Mumbai, who are choosing not to enrol their children in a formal school as they find them ill-equipped to handle above-average children or they want them to become independent learners.

“Children are born with abilities to learn anything on their own, but schools make them dependent. I want my kids to be self-driven,” said Navin Pangti, a parent who pulled his daughters, Mrinal and Kritika, out of school at a young age to homeschool them.


Educators and child development specialists are divided over the benefits of homeschooling. “It is a good idea if children are self-motivated and parents have time to invest in them,” said Paul Machado, principal, Campion School, Cooperage.
But some principals argued that regular schooling helps in developing social skills, while homeschooling isolates kids. “School is not just about academics, it is a place where children learn to interact with others, share and care and co-operate,” said Ranjini Krishnaswamy, director, Billabong High International School, Thane.

Homeschooling might not be suited to everyone, they added, as it needs time commitment from the parents. “In the fast paced world, not all parents can find the time to dedicate themselves to their children’s learning. Just hiring a tutor or sending the child to coaching classes defeats the purpose,” said Rakhi Mukherjee, principal, Utpal Shanghvi School, Juhu. “I know cases where parents have given up their careers to pursue homeschooling.”
Mukherjee added that since most families are nuclear nowadays, schools also play a role in value-education. “When a child is in school, he or she unknowingly imbibes social skills and values. Schools are teaching values to kids as there is no one at home to do so,” she added.
Parents, who are homeschooling their children, however, pointed out that social interactions are limited even in schools. “If a child talks in class, the teacher punishes him. So where is the time for socialising in school? It is restricted to a few minutes in recess and school bus rides,” said Saraswati Chavali, who has been homeschooling her son, Anand for several years now.