Our daughter has been home schooled since the last 8 years. We have seen to it that all three of our children get a solid foundation in all subjects, and most importantly an understanding of what is right and wrong. The Bible has been our reference for what is right and wrong. Parents should teach their own children the most important things in life, since children are given to parents and not to teachers, the school or the government.
We believe the heart of the child is the most important, not his or her mind and brain. So our emphasis in homeschooling our children has been to give them a heart that loves God and loves to do what is pleasing to God, what is right, and not what is popular or pleasing to themselves. This has been a challenge, because as the Bible says, we all have a tendency to do what is wrong, even though we may know it is so. That is the default state of mankind ever since the fall. This sin has separated us from God. We love doing what we think is right.
One can be a genius, but if one does not know what is right or wrong, then any genius can become a threat. We also know that evil company corrupts, and hence we teach our children also to be careful in choosing their friends.
On the academic front, our children also have developed a love for various subjects, [though we do not believe that any subject can be taught in isolation] and we like to encourage them in whatever way possible. Our dream is for each of them to live a fulfilled life, find a career or calling that best uses the talents that God has gifted them with in a unique way, since every child is unique and like no other.
Since our daughter expressed a desire to attend Junior college, we decided to explore the options of giving the tenth grade exams since they are the gateway into Junior college in India.
As we were perusing the different boards with my daughter, we felt that the IGCSE offers a wide range of subjects, flexibility and tries to make the child understand and learn rather than go by rote learning. http://www.cie.org.uk/qualifications/academic/middlesec/igcse/overview
IGCSE is a board whereby children can give the 10th grade exams. Since our daughter is now 13 years  and expressed a desire to study abroad at some time, we thought of her giving the IGCSE exams for that reason too. Cambridge IGCSE is the world’s most popular international curriculum for 14-16 year olds, leading to globally recognized Cambridge IGCSE qualifications. It is part of the Cambridge Secondary 2 stage.
Schools worldwide have helped develop Cambridge IGCSE, which provides excellent preparation for the Cambridge Advanced stage including Cambridge International AS and A Levels and Cambridge Pre-U, as well as other progression routes. It incorporates the best in international education for learners at this level.
So we sent an email to Dr. Vandana Lulla, Principal of Podar School in Santacruz. http://www.podarinternationalschool.com/
She immediately replied, calling us to meet her at her office in Podar School. My wife and I met her on the 6th of August 2012.
She listened to us as we explained why we had approached her. We wanted to have our daughter Grace give the IGCSE exams as a private candidate. She was most open to the idea, and recalled some cases of homeschooled children who had appeared as private candidates through her school, and who also happened to top the exams, without attending a single day in school.
She also mentioned that there are many students who are talented in various other fields and often performing or taking part in tournaments, as a result of which they do not have time to attend classes at all, but still do well in the exams. She also stated the opposite case which was more common, of the majority if kids who do badly in exams inspite of attending school regularly.
She agreed that the child’s grasp of the subject and how they do in exams has little to do with the time spent in school.
We then asked her about the details of the IGCSE exams.
She mentioned that if the child is appearing as a private candidate, she can choose any of the variety of subjects that CIE board offers http://www.cie.org.uk/qualifications/academic/middlesec/igcse/subjects# [except those with BES in brackets as mentioned by Shailaja Karanam from Hyderabad]. The minimum subjects to be taken are 5. She has to only appear directly for the exams, carrying a proof of identity.
The minimum number of subjects a child can choose is five, and the maximum she can give is seven in one exam.
The exams are held twice a year, and the child has to clear all the subjects chosen in the course of 18 months or three exams in that period. For example she can clear three subjects in October, and four in May. The admission process starts in August and Jan for the IGCSE exams 18 months later in October and May the following year respectively, and the school will issue forms for the same.
In case the parents feel that the child needs coaching in particular subjects, then the school refers them to teachers who coach privately small batches of 3 to 5 students. These teachers are associated with her school, but coach independently subjects which the child needs.
The Principal also mentioned that there is a way to evaluate the childs preparedness for the IGCSE in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science, called Checkpoint. It costs Rs. 20000/- and the exams are held in August. The school conducts this exam over a week and it gives a complete evaluation of the strong and weak points, the child’s grasp of these subjects.
We also mentioned about our National Body Swashikshan, and she invited parents and their children interested in IGCSE to visit her so that she can clarify any points they might have. She also agreed to us putting up a write up of today’s meet with her for Swashikshan.
Overall our meeting with the Principal of Podar School went off very well. We would like to share this information with our fellow homeschoolers in India and abroad. If you have anything to add or share, we would love to hear from you.