Homeschooling in Beijing: What you need to know
Originally published by – Beijing-kids.com – June 3rd, 2020
Last week, we reported that due to uncertainty around school enrollment for the coming year, 8% of surveyed Beijing parents have decided to homeschool their children for the next semester. While the majority of surveyed parents are still planning on sending their kids to regulars schools, this is a significant percentage of people who may be homeschooling their kids for the first time.
In light of this unusual situation, we decided to get down into the nuts and bolts of homeschooling, so if you and your family choose to pursue that path, you are fully equipped for the road ahead.
What exactly is homeschooling?
First of all, ‘homeschooling’ is a broad term with more than one meaning: It can mean that a child’s education is controlled by the household/parents, with the curriculum either online or text-book based; or that tutors are hired from agencies to help with the student’s academics (either online or offline). Beyond these two broad categories, there are a wide variety of approaches to homeschooling which can be personalized for each child.
The stereotypical perception of homeschooling, in which uneducated parents in far-flung rural environments lecture kids about Flat Earth theories from around the dining room table with no oversight or training is just that, an outdated stereotype. These days, the majority of homeschooling families purchase curriculum programs with reputable international education companies. Many bigger names are also affiliated with brick-and-mortar schools, which can provide everything from textbooks to online support and examination grading.
How is homeschooling regulated in China?
Homeschooling is actually illegal for Chinese passport holders due to the 1986 Law on Compulsory Education, which states that children must be in school for nine years, starting from the age of 6. Yet despite this fact, it is a growing industry in urban China, and data from the 21st Century Education Research Institute claims that the number of homeschooled children in China tripled from 2013 to 2016. Evidently, some Chinese parents are willing to take the risk, mostly because of their dissatisfaction with the state education model and the overwhelming expense of enrolling in international schools.
Foreign passport holders, however, aren’t subject to such legislature and are free to homeschool their children. (In fact, there is no legal obligation for foreign children to go to school in China at all.)
Why choose homeschooling?
There are several advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling, and parents should know that some children are more suited for homeschooling than others.
- More personalized learning
- Flexible schedule
- Generally cheaper than International Schools
- Possibly less stressful than public schools
- Allows for more family time
- Students likely have less difficulty adjusting after experiencing distance learning
- Plenty of online learning resources (KhanAcademy, IXL, Education Perfect…)
- A smaller circle of friends and social contacts
- Possibly fewer educational resources (theatre, technology, lab equipment…)
- Cannot join school athletic teams
- More stress and responsibility for the parent
How much does homeschooling cost?
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly the cost of homeschooling, as different types of homeschooling can vary greatly in cost.
One common misconception is that homeschooling is very cheap, or even free, but unless you are planning on following the aforementioned ‘sitting around the table learning Flat Earth’ model, you should expect to pay good money for your children to take part in a reputable program.
Ok, I want to try homeschooling. Where do I start?
If you are seriously considering homeschooling in Beijing, it is advised that you follow a few simple steps to adequately prepare you and your child for homeschooling. First, find a local community of homeschoolers in your area. Being an isolated homeschooler can make homeschooling more stressful than it needs to be, while being part of a local community of homeschoolers means you can all share experience, advice, and activities. Ask around in your network for any homeschooling WeChat groups, or contact the Beijing homeschoolers Yahoo Group and Facebook Group.
Second, before choosing a curriculum for your child, explore the different homeschooling methods and choose the best one for your child based on the child’s learning tendencies and personality. Deschooling, an adaption period designed to gradually liberate the child from public or private school culture, is often necessary for students and parents who need to transition from school learning to homeschooling. Learn more about homeschooling styles here.
Third, based on the homeschooling method, start researching a suitable curriculum for your child, including learning resources both online and offline. Some companies that provide English online curriculums are Calvert Education, K12, ABCmouse (Ages 2-8), Acellus Academy, and Time4Learning.
Finally, establishing a support network with family members and get excited about the new adventure your family is about to embark upon!
If full-time homeschooling isn’t an option, online tutoring can relieve your worries about your child’s academics. Tutoring is more personalized and very efficient, and two available services in Beijing are SFD Education and Shanghai Expat Tutors. Tutoring can also serve as a complement for homeschooling as tutors can clarify and assist the child with questions about their learning.