Their parents made a decision for them— that they should learn from home. Years later, these children speak out on what this meant for them
Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra
When it comes to education, many parents want the best for their children. They collect fee structures, brochures, and other requirements while asking online and offline friends for referrals of the best education system.
Still, another group of parents consider homeschooling. And while these parents make this decision on behalf of their children, who are, sometimes too young to understand, what do these children, some of whom are now all grown up think?
Neezar Achoki, 25, has been a home-schooler for the most of his education journey. In as much as he went through International General Certificate Education (IGCE), he admits it wasn’t as easy as everyone thinks. “I started with homeschooling at the age of three years. I had teachers coming at home.
Then at one point, my parents travelled out of the country and I joined Blossoms School, Nairobi, at Grade Seven for a short while. When my parents came back, I went back to homeschooling.
I really wanted to be like any other student. But my parents were for homeschooling. So, I didn’t have another option than follow what they wanted of me,” says Neezar.
The advantage of it, Neezar says, is that he was able to learn at his pace, especially on topics he wouldn’t understand quickly. But it wasn’t an easy journey.
“Anytime I got out to play with my friends, it was hard to explain why I was homeschooling. I frequently got questions such as why I would want to study at home. Or whether I was a slow learner. I must admit those questions irritated me,” he explains.
The fact that he interacted a lot with his neighbours helped a lot with socialising. Also he had a talent class that he attended once a week, especially on Saturdays that helped improve his social behaviour.
Currently, Neezar is pursuing a law degree at Strathmore University. The transition from homeschooling to university was easy for him partially because he’s a social person and a quick learner.
While it was a bit easier for Neezer, it wasn’t the same for Billy Kambua, 29, who was homeschooled due to her parents’ insecurity. “I started homeschooling when I was in Class Four. It wasn’t something I was used to, so making it my daily routine became difficult,” Billy recalls.
Billy, who is a mother of one, says there is no way she would want to use the same system on her three-year-old child. “I enjoyed learning at my own pace, and picking out my best subjects as my area of specialisation, but it was never that easy.
I had to deal with the fact that it was affecting my social skills. It got to a time I didn’t even have friends. I became more of an indoor person— watching movies and eating became my hobby,” she laments. She admits that she was lonely until her other sibling was born nine years later.
Homeschooling continues to grow in popularity. The fact that it focuses on learning and mastering concepts, not scoring good grades has made it even more acceptable. There are numerous local and international curricula to choose from.
The student, parents, and tutor set goals at the beginning of the school year and progress is measured against these goals.
And now, to address the socialisation need, several homeschooling groups form support systems called co-ops, where they get together once in a while and engage in activities that require a group setting, such as field trips, sports and arts and crafts.
However, Dr Geoffrey Wango, a psychologist, strongly believes that homeschooling denies the children social interactions and learners may have problem taking instructions in future. “When children go through what we call ‘normal’ schools they learn how to live with other people. Many a time, interaction helps in learning,” he says.