Each month I get between one and three emails asking me questions about living and homeschooling in China. Mostly these messages are from moms whose husbands are moving to China to work. They ask me about homeschooling — is it legal in China and how do you get homeschool materials? Another frequent issue is learning language — how did you and your daughter learn Chinese?
Click on the button to see all the posts in this series.
This first post will address the question, “Is it legal to homeschool in China?”
Short answer: Yes, it is legal for you to homeschool your children in China.
Wasn’t that easy? Aren’t you relieved?
Any laws about compulsory school will apply only to Chinese children and not to you. No one (official) will ever ask about how you educate your child.
The compulsory school law states that citizens must attend school for at least nine years. This law went into effect in 1986, by the way, so it’s a relatively new law. It is still not fully implemented in all rural areas, but progress is consistently being made.
Of course, people will find it totally inconceivable that you homeschool. You will have to explain it multiple times, using various phrases to describe what homeschooling is. There isn’t really a common term for homeschooling in Chinese. And even after you do describe it, be prepared for a complete lack of comprehension.
It’s just unheard of, and so it’s hard for people to understand. It’s as if someone told you that she knits baskets with cooked spaghetti for cancer research. That’s what homeschooling sounds like to the average person. It’s just incomprehensible. So be patient and use the chance to educate them.
You may wonder if Chinese people can homeschool. I’m not absolutely sure, but I’m guessing no. There are probably not any provisions in the law for alternatives to public schools. But since the concept is so alien, there is no one who would attempt or even consider homeschooling.
Chinese citizens see school as a great privilege, and not providing an education for your child would be one of the highest forms of neglect. So when you share with your friends that you homeschool, just be sure to emphasize that you use a quality, English-speaking curriculum and that you are preparing them for college in your home country.