Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Decision Validated, yet, the Journey Continues…

The beginning of the year brought us an important piece of information which called for a decision and in a way opened an avenue for home-schoolers. We at our coaching institute often came across school drop-outs after grade nine who were compulsorily expelled from school in order to maintain their Grade Ten 100%  results.

The school only gave them the option to apply for form 17  which meant they still could give their tenth the same year. They would appear as private candidates and aided by the government allotted centre to get through the formalities of giving the board exams (like internal assessment and practicals and receiving a Leaving Certificate. It meant that the child will not be on any Register  of the schools but still can give exams. Now, whoever says our government is not supportive must look at this beautifully carved out system which enables a ninth grader who is a risk for the school can still give his tenth. What a win win!

Using their logic, we checked out if our kid can avail of the same facility and to our pleasant surprise, he could! The choice was this year, or next…??? The Self-starter fella that Shahen(my elder son) is, he was raring to go. He already had solved board papers of English from various boards and knew he could face any exam. So technically when he was chronologically in the ninth grade, he decided…We shall conquer Tenth! One of the benefits of Home-schooling…we could decide when, and if at all we would give any exams!!!

 No school would have even considered letting him have a go at it because he felt confident. We did approach a principal of a reputed school of the SSC board and requested her to take him on board as we were so hopeful he will bring glory to the school and 17 does not enjoy very heavy popularity, but… the Principal so trained in school ways still insisted he go through the ninth and only then she would consider his tenth and since  Form 17..!!! The centre where we had applied was so understanding and accommodating ... we decided to let the school option go…Silly Home-schoolers we are...stickler for working around Norms to suit the Kids’ Sensibility and Potential.
Here is a Technical Lowdown on Appearing as a Private Candidate and its benefits.

* If your child has minimum Fifth Grade certificate Maharashtra State Board has a Facility of applying for the Tenth Grade Exam as a Private Candidate.

*Board has appointed few centres where one can Avail of Form 17, ONCE your ward has completed 14 years of age ( which Shahen had)

* They send your child's Documents to the Vashi Board Centre to Confirm 
*This Local Centre where you applied from is responsible for your child's internal assessment and practical exams.

*They Procure your child's Hall Ticket and do corrections as and how it is required.
* Your child's Mark-sheet has to be collected at the Local Centre and they give you the Leaving Certificate required to get admissions to the college.

*Nowhere in the Mark-sheet is it mentioned that your child is a Private Candidate. The child is as equal to any other child appearing for these exams.

*Do not depend on this centre for coaching of the subjects unless they specifically take the responsibility. Generally your child is not required to attend the Centre regularly and will be summoned as and when required.

Decision made, paper work attended to and then textbooks bought. More or less, Shahen prepared all by himself for memorising answers and stuff. I, as a Mom was called in to help with Marathi Grammar and the French subject and Dad’s help was availed in Algebra and Geometry. Rest all was his domain where we as parents never entered. He was the perfect epitome of “It’s my work and I shall manage it and manage it well but let me do other things as well!

Home-schoolers use their freedom to pursue Activities that Stretch them and give them immense pleasure. Shahen ventured along with his Dad into creating content for his YouTube Channel bLOGiMLY.

Check out bLOGiMLY here:

 He made Reviews Of Previews of upcoming films which he called ROP. They made a short film “Dabba which delved into looking at hunger issues at the grass root level instead of sermonizing and preaching…another one that came out recently Khwaab Not Out which was written by him. With his YouTube channel, he has gone on to create a web-series where he even shares his experiences of his studies, how he coped, how he trolled his subjects…in a straight-jacket humored way he pointed flaws of the system and yet how he went on to overcome them, accept them and conquer them with Aplomb. He applied for an internship at Youth Incorporated and is in the Junior Editorial Board for their July 2016 issue. He already has his own blog and has written for Parsi Times. He appeared on Radioone 94.3 where he shared his views on homeschooling and his webseries #MeThinks .

He proved to be perfect example of a low stress but right and efficient learning. Even on the days of exams he was as cool as a cucumber, getting up peacefully two hours before the departure time and getting by his morning chores. Studies??? Revision was done thoroughly. Now what was the need to get hyper over nothing at the last MINUTE??? Well that was a huge relief! For we never want to put our kids into any situation that will bring them discomfort or frowns. The basic philosophy of Home-schooling is let kids be free to pursue what they want and if they must do certain compulsory stuff, then with minimal discomfort!

At this juncture, someone questioned “Why give exams of any sort when you homeschool?” Well there are Radical Homeschoolers who have done away with exams and pursue Life in a different hue. But we peg ourselves as the guided home-schoolers bunch. The Idea is to observe the child and give him or her freedom, at the same time prepare to deal with the conventional thought structure of the society in which they will be absorbed as they grow. The idea is not to rebel but to gently question an outdated system…do something transformational and prove or validate the new methodology implemented.

To summarise the idea is, not to show a thumb to the world and say your way is dumb, but to show that an alternative exists and can be executed through the very system…So many secretly thought that our kids run wild and waste their time. We were way too out of sync.

All this changed with one simple demonstration of results…Shahen scored a whopping 93.6% !!!

When the news was broken to the committee of the centre where he appeared as a private candidate, all stood up unanimously giving him a standing ovation. For this was the first time a 17(A) student at their centre had managed this feat. For our home-schooling community too it brought hope and a proud tale to recount. They now have an example to narrate. A success story changes everything. Shahen gave them, and us, that success story. Generally 17 form was always for a failed ninth grader or a drop out…no more…Shahen’s success story lends dignity to this form as now a facility to be availed and not something to look down.

Does the dude rest on his laurels…Nope…he does not! He has taken another different decision.  He is going to take Arts as his stream of further studies. What 93.6% and Arts??? He is a boy and Arts???? As a Mom I now smile amusedly at all the reactions. When we do something new, well let our accomplishments and time tell the story…why argue or convince??? Like it happens now, when Times of India gives him a mention in the Achiever’s Section!!!

 The Asian Age Gives a half page Coverage to the entire family applauding the decision!!!
 Perception changes!!! 

Queries regarding how to home-school, what is home-school increase…Home-schoolers look on hopefully to duplicate the phenomenon.

And yet we suggest to all who seek Home-schooling, this…Do it not as a fad!
It is a solemn decision which requires deep thought on the part of the parents. This requires you to view your children with a fresh perspective capable of unique contributions. If you label your children as immature, lazy or disobedient something needs heavy introspection. Blaming neither the children nor the school is going to sort out anything. 

If you view your children only through the Lenses of their marks; their academic achievements or lack thereof…do not even peep into Home-schooling! For Home-schooling is about celebrating your children…their Childhood…respecting their limitations…finding another alternative path for their happiness if the school path brings them Misery. They are capable of a lot only if you believe in them. As parents and primary care-givers, you ought to extend a confident and unconditional acceptance of their choices. If as a child you loved reading a certain literature but you see your child hell bent on audio visual medium, accept it, respect it…

You have to be responsible…dedicated…hardworking…these are commands that cannot be enforced…they have to be naturally inculcated as a process where freedom of choice and love of their uniqueness is expressed!

So while we sit content at having helped the elder son carve a lovely opening to a life which he looks up with possibility and confidence...the younger one continues to home-school and grow in the freedom  offered. He learns languages, Social Sciences, Math and Science…along with acting in short films and one part of him always stuck in his Clash of Clans…and another part devoted to Cricket…we have now to find a different academic get away for him too, as the SSC 17 FORM requires a minimum mandatory fifth grade certificate. He opted out after second grade. We are looking at the NIOS option for his final as well as interim assessment of in between years. Much is likely to change and much we need to change.

Always remember the children have only one childhood and let us not lose it in the rat race of getting him the first rank…score forcibly that entrance test…Let us gently hug them...kiss them to sleep with security that world is a lovely playground where all shall play and all have room to win and make a niche of themselves and be the toppers of happiness!!!

By Sonnal Pardiwala

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