Chinese parents opting for home schooling

(Xinhua) -- Unlike other parents whose nerves are stretched to breaking point by the new semester, Beijing citizen Leng Shan has no worries about the the school run at peak time, or any other of the normal cares of parenthood. His 8-year-old son is educated at home.

Dissatisfied with traditional schools, Leng, who graduated from the prestigious Peking University, quit his job to take his child's education into his own hands a few years ago.

He wrote up proposals for his son's home instruction and gave basic courses such as English, French, German and math. In his spare time, if he has any, the househusband is a freelance translator.

"It's really competitive to get into the best schools in Beijing, but home schooling can save lots of trouble, and you need not to worry about your children's safety either," he said, adding his son will be home-schooled until he goes to college.

Leng is not going it alone. Home schooling is being chosen by more and more Chinese parents, especially those from economically developed regions like Guangdong and Zhejiang, and of course Beijing, as quality education is still scarce and doubts about the China's education system have been growing.

According to the latest report by the 21st Century Education Research Institute, roughly 18,000 people are considering or already practicing home schooling in the Chinese mainland. More than half of those chose home schooling because of dissatisfaction with educational philosophy at school.

Yuan Peikun from the city of Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province, is also opting for home instruction rather than a traditional classroom setting.

"We just felt like the system was failing my son, and much of what the school is teaching is useless," said Yuan.

Yuan has paid much attention to ancient Chinese masterpieces, like the Analects of Confucius. He said it's a must for children to learn the classics which contain a lot of profound philosophy of life.

In addition to parent-to-child home schooling, small-sized private home schools have emerged in China. Zhang Qiaofeng, 48, started such a home school in Beijing which is open to a maximum of eight home-schoolers each semester in 2012.

Zhang teaches math and English with materials used by German and American schoolchildren respectively.

Zhang, who also graduated from Peking University, describes his teaching style as "elite education" and decided to pull his son out of school in 2010.

"I hope my home school will become China's Eton to foster talent with the integration of virtue, culture and courage," Zhang said.

However, parents also raise concerns that home schooling can have a negative impact on psychological development due to a lack of communication with their peers.

"I take my child to participate in various activities held by community organizations as much as possible in order to cultivate his communication skills," Yuan said.

Dissatisfied with the education system and seeking something different, many parents choose to educate their children at home, which is expected to bring reform to regular schools, said Xiong Bingqi, vice president of the institute.

Xiong added that there are no laws to standardize such education in China, or professional evaluation of parents' teaching ability which are much needed.


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