Experts discuss the benefits of home schooling

Updated: 2013-08-25 23:53

By Jin Zhu (China Daily)

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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-year-old 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.