Montessori – IGCSE – NIOS – India Homeschooling methods

I found a beautifully resourceful individual – Vidya Shankar (VS) on the Alt Ed India Yahoo mailing list. This is the first time I am seeing some concrete steps as to how I should begin formalizing my homeschooling journey (For things to do with your younger child  (2-6 years) during Homeschooling – See also this recent article of mine –Homeschool in India – A suggestion)

Here are the relevant conversations (edited for blog)…

Homeschooling in India IGCSE


ME –

This is related to your recent reply on the mailing list regarding NIOS.My child will be two this year and I am very keen on homeschooling. I am based at Mumbai. If I decide to go ahead the formal way of homeschooling (ie with curricula) then what are my exact choices out of CBSE, ICSE, NIOS, IGCSE or any other?

Also how do we as parents go about choosing any of the above? When are we eligible to start? When my child is of what age is he eligible for applying for any formal system? How do we prepare? Any ideas would be helpful. It would be helpful if there is personal reply.

VS –

Hi, yes, this is a personal reply. I am in this education research and analysis work especially for preprimary and primary for a while now, running schools myself, as well as my children’s experiences.

I would personally recommend Montessori, as it will flow into the ICSE curriculum beautifully, and I think that ICSE is the one that is most flexible and strengthens knowledge base, however, the children would be beyond this curriculum if they were going in depth with the Elementary Montessori and would cake walk the IGCSE (which can run parallel) and the NIOS which would need only hours of preparation if the child is already ready with IGCSE.

The flow chart would look something like this

Montessori preprimary – > ICSE Curriculum -> NIOS and IGCSE -> A levels or IB schools

Montessori preprimary -> Montessori Elementary -> IGCSE and NIOS -> A levels or IB Schools

I am doing the International Montessori Elementary diploma, and is the institute that offers it – now for the second time in the country. There are 2 candidates from Mumbai, but I do know that one of them will be happy to associate with you when she completes with me in December. The next course is only in 2012.

The Preprimary Diploma is available in Mumbai itself, besides Chennai and Hyderabad. I would swear by this methodology, as I am seeing the benefits working with children in parallel.

ICSE does not prepare children for any other form of exam or do not entertain private candidates. Let me know if you have any questions.


ME –

I see NIOS website It says – NIOS offers the following courses:-
a. Open Basic Education Programme, Which includes following three levels courses
OBE ‘A’ Level Course -Equivalent to class III
OBE ‘B’ Level Course -Equivalent to class V
OBE ‘C’ Level Course -Equivalent to class VIII
b. Secondary Course-Equivalent to class X
c. Sr. Secondary Course-Equivalent to class XII
d. Vocational Education Courses
e. Life Enrichment Programmes

What does the above mean ? Does it mean that Child has to be taught till equivalent of Third standard and then he should appear for exams. How is the curriculum defined? Is it available online? If I decide to homeschool and adopt NIOS, then I will have to go to a NIOS centre and obtain study materials and also give tests there ? As I see there is no NIOS centre in Mumbai (nearest is Pune) so is there no way I can do this via correspondence or online. I see advert in TOI. This admission process is for what age (it is not mentioned in the ad)

It is very difficult to understand anything on the NIOS website, hence some details would be very much appreciated.

Also I see this notification on the NIOS main page – which says- [It has been decided to continue the Open Basic Education Programme for 6-14 age group. The MHRD letter vide no. DO 10-4/2009-EE-4 dated 7th April 2010 has permitted NIOS to continue its OBE programme for 6-14 age group for a period of three years wef 1st April, 2010.]

Now does that mean in three years time, there is going to be no NIOS ?

VS –

OBE need not be followed, there is no pre-requisite for taking 10th std through NIOS or 12th later (Should have completed one year after 10th std Board to take part of the 12th exams). So do not worry about this – only age 14 years should have been completed to enroll in the previous year July to write the following March. You can take your own course curriculum for the child routing it to cover the 10th std syllabus available in the net, when he reaches probably 13 years and above.


ME –

I am seeing this link-

There is no mention as regards to Indian Government recognition. Is it not an officially recognized board in India?

The above page leads me to this link –

I also wrote to CIE and got the reply that homeschooling can be done for IGCSE level only. Not for earlier levels

See my article where I put up that official email –

Now there are lot of links to syllabus materials on the CIE website starting from 5 years to 11 years. I am suppose to download them and then order books and other things and homeschool my child with that? Which links and editions to follow? If my child wants to learn through CIE methods via homeschool, then he will not be able to give any exams till IGCSE O level ? Any guidance would be appreciated.

Also the same issue of RTE saying that all children between 6 and 14 should be in a school will hinder this plan?

VS –

IGCSE O levels is the only official Board exam your child can write with the Cambridge board, not before that. It is followed by A levels. RTE Does not blatantly put down homeschooling. So looking at the PILs and replies, meeting the minister etc, it is not ruled out that the child can be completely homeschooled.


VS / ME / VS –

VS – I would personally recommend Montessori
ME – Montessori as teaching methodology for homeschooling? From what age? What resources (on & off the net) you recommend? Or are you recommending Montessori schools?
VS – If you can take a full time course at TATA institute it will be great, the course is for being a teacher to 3 to 6 year old children.

ME – Option 1 given by you ie
Montessori preprimary – > ICSE Curriculum -> NIOS and IGCSE -> A levels or IB schools
Will it involve my son going to a formal school for purpose of ICSE curriculum ? Or is it that I have to only find resources for the curriculum (like books, etc) and give no exams to my son or not associate with any institute ? You are saying ICSE does not have private candidates – that means no homeschool candidates??

VS – No private candidates are allowed to write ICSE, may change over time, when your son is older perhaps
ME – Option 2 given by you ie
Montessori preprimary -> Montessori Elementary -> IGCSE and NIOS -> A levels or IB Schools.
Does this option mean that my son can be entirely homeschooled? At what stages he needs to interact with institutes for exams, etc. A general guide would be appreciated.
VS – Yes, he can be completely homeschooled and only for 10th through NIOS Board as well as parallel O level – he needs to register for exams

VS – I am doing the International Montessori Elementary diploma, and is the institute offers it – now for the 2nd time in the country. There are 2 candidates from Mumbai, but I do know that one of them will be happy to associate with you when she completes with me in December. The next course is only in 2012. The Preprimary Diploma is available in Mumbai itself, besides Chennai and Hyderabad. I would swear by this methodology, as I am seeing the benefits working with children in parallel.
ME- I am little bit confused with these statements. Are you recommending I should do a course ? Or associate with someone who has done the course so that this person is like a “private teacher” ? Please advise.
VS – There is a lady from Mumbai who is completing the course with me. She and you can perhaps collaborate, she can help you for the Elementary (6 to 12 age material and methodology). I would recommend you to do the 3 to 6 course at Mumbai – You can start looking at how to do the course now itself, since the child is in the right stage to look at something called ‘sensitive periods’ which will lure him into learning something which he cannot grasp so well much later. You will learn more, if you can visit and speak to Zarin Malva, the trainer.


ME / VS –

ME-It is not possible for me to join a course. Hence is it possible that Montessori Pre-Primary / primary and Elementary can be taught to my son through online sources (either free or pay)?. Can you recommend?
VS – you can go through Montessori resources in the net, and get material available with manufacturers to start the right approach for him – may help to some extent. But when you can, do the preprimary course, as usually it is for 8 months, and the child can go to the school attached to the training centre.

ME-Is it the case that I have to compulsorily associate with some school, organisation or teacher to go ahead with Montessori Pre-Primary / primary and Elementary. Please inform for both – Primary & Elementary.
VS-There is nothing like doing a real time course. Elementary may come in only in 2012 in India (Chennai)

ME- The time period when I am homeschooling, as I have heard that people use mix of techniques – ie montessori, waldorf, any other ?? etc. Exactly what does that mean ? Do you have any opinions on this ?
Use of different techniques may be confusing, as each have their own approach, I would not recommend. Better to stick to one. Waldorf has very less schools unlike Montessori, which is more that Waldorf, and kind of has an extended curriculum till 18 years (Thought the 12 to 18 is not available in India at all)

ME – I also understand that any specific procedure I adopt should be atleast when my child is of 3 years of age. Am I correct?
VS – Go through the website I mentioned, Its useful, but not accepted in conservative Montessori AMI community,however you can use it till you get to a course.


ME –
I really want something like this. Right now I am considering this as Montessori. But it could be any other option if you or anybody suggests. Start with a formal system when my son is 3. Right now is he is 2. So from Sep 2011. The formal system should have online links saying for 3 to 6. It can have play suggestions, assignments, whatever. If it has tests. then that too. But main point is classification that this is to be taught from 3 to 4 or this from 5 to 6, etc. It can recommend books, toys, whatever which I can make at home (like art projects) or books (which I can buy from flipkart / amazon) or any other cheaper or costlier alternatives. So which website for Montessori can give this ? Say I find lot of resources on CIE website for 5 years onwards. Now I really don’t know how to use them since I can’t relate to it my child now, I am asking your opinion. Whether this CIE is giving study materials or book references or what…?? So when you find time, tell me these things as regards to Montessori or anything else –

Like 2 to 3 – Do nothing, just play
then 3 to 4 – Do these things, follow these links on websites, art projects whatever
then 4 to 6, etc.. etc…

So I am asking is I need a curriculum which can be done from home, i can buy books, whatever, i can send my son to camps, etc when he is older say 5 or something. But basic requirement is I can teach him from home. The places you have suggested like TISS and RTI are not feasible for me to attend.

VS –
Since you will be unable to take a course, would you be then able to associate with a Montessori house (school) that has all the material, a small school perhaps so that your son can have sensory experiences of learning. You can be a volunteer there. This is crucial for that age. For ages 6 and above, lot of joint work in the house can be done. Think about it…


ME –
I saw a Montessori Online Recognized Course ? Whether this is real and recognized? What is your opinion? It says – You can teach children from ages 0-9 years.

VS – There is no course of Montessori that is “recognised”, please see websites which offer Montessori for homeschooling and read Montessori books, that should give you a basis, till you can take on something more concrete sometime later perhaps, or take the help of a trained person (like I mentioned)

I hope the above will guide me to a suitable path. Please put your comments and share / help out….

20 thoughts on “Montessori – IGCSE – NIOS – India Homeschooling methods

  1. plz…help someone….m in IXth standard(C.B.S.E.)…..i HATE my school…i want HOMESCHOOLING..!!…..m right now in Chandigarh??….how shud i start homeschooling in d middle of the session??……..PLEASE HELP!!

  2. hey nitya,
    take a gap year from school. don’t call it entirely homeschooling. just take a gap year and see how it feels. u can do all sorts of interesting things in that year. its good that u know that u hate school and want to do something about it.i have lots of friends who left school to do their thing and are doing great work now. u can write to me if you want help-
    also there are some websites you can see- swaraj university, shikshantar, banyan tree blog. you can also do an google research on gap year.

    • @harshita – Care to introduce yourself ? What do you do yourself? and your friends? Could you write something as a comment or a guest article ? specify and write below…and by the way many thanks for reading this blog. Do you find anything useful here ?

  3. lovely blog, can you get me some more perspective on NIOS – the Mont school I want to put mychild into is affiliated to NIOS. The NIOS website is simply the most un-useful stuff I have ever read – someone needs to make it simple and direct to understand!!! What are the possible repurcussions of going through a Mont method and then giving a NIOS board exam?

    • Thanks for the compliment. Tell more about yourself. Where are you based? How old are your kid(s) ? Are you into homeschooling or anything else?

      Above and most other articles are based on help provided by others on the various groups I am on. My so is just two.

      I would be happy if you share details about your Montessori school affiliated to NIOS.

      Yes. NIOS website is very confusing to me too.

      I hope you are part of the groups – the Facebook group I have created and the Yahoo group (not mine) which exists since 2001. You may try reaching out to people there…

  4. Dear sir/madam,

    My name is Sonu Sharma live in east Delhi.
    I want to know about NIOS board,this board
    is fully valid in every states & eligiable for
    delhi ete,dp,ssc,b.ed,upsc etc exams
    plz reply as soon as possible.

    :- Thanking You
    :- Your’s Obidently
    :- Sonu Sharma

  5. Hi-

    My child went to CBSE school upto 3rd standard and since last year she is being homeschooled, studying 4th std CBSE books by her own at her own pace, with a bit of help from us.

    I called NIOS today to find out about appearing for 10th std exams directly. I faked a bit for clearer understanding.. saying my child is already age 15 and she has studied upto 3rd std. and also that she is a US citizen (which is true, she was born in the US). I also asked if there is a pre-requisite that the candidate must have completed formal education upto 8th std?

    The rep. said no issues; there are no pre-requisite other than the age being min. 14 and since she is non-indian citizen, she will have to get a letter from US embassy.

    I asked what should be content of that letter, she said something like that she was born in the US and wants to appear for 10th exams here in India (?) Does anyone know the actual format and/or content that should go in that letter from embassy?

    Also, any other information about appearing for NIOS directly would be greatly appreciated. We are in Andheri, Mumbai. Any close by center where we can go personally and inquire?


    • Hi,i think u should get ur child to do igcse instead of nios. the syllabus is suited for a ‘thinking’ child and would bring out the best in them.the text books are very informative too.

    • hi, myself binda mother of 6yrs old son. We decided homeschooling for him since next yr. currently he is completing his 1st std. We r trying to connect with d people who r from same mind set.

    • hi sanjeev,

      i am binda, mother of 6yrs.old son from thane. As u mentioned abt ur kid, it means now he must be around 5th std. age. I would like to know wht finally u did. We r planning homeschooling for our son since next yr, as he in 1st std. now. Trying to find out same mindset parents. We are Confused abt 3rd/5th/8th std exam. Is it possible with NIOS. Is there any nearby centre of them as i am staying in thane.


  6. Hello,
    We are parents to a 5.5 year old girl. She is currently in UKG (at a renowned CBSE school in in Chennai). I get a feeling there is a lot of academic pressure already. She enjoys working with numbers and finds cursive writing stressful (they are at 3-letter words already, homework is given only during the weekends but that’s around 4 pages in English and 4 pages in Math). I don’t think so much writing is really required at this stage. I feel fine-motor skills and sensory training is what a child needs most.
    I feel changing the school is not the solution because any CBSE school will be like this more or less at some stage or the other.
    I wanted to put her in a good Waldorf school but I don’t think there is any, in Chennai. I considered home-schooling but I don’t think I have it in me. I feel one needs a lot of self discipline and control to do this well.
    What is your advice for us? How do we select a good school? At the time of admission, how can we assess if the school is child-friendly?

  7. I aslo want to homeschool my 3.5 year old son and have doen lot of research but I still dont know from where to start…which curriculum to follow or activities.Can you please guide me through good websites and books

  8. I want some guidance for home schooling my 10 year old son, who is currently attending a regular ICSE school. He is struggling with the tests and exam schedules and grades never improve. Too much stress is resulting in health problems, which are difficult to cure. He loves to learn when taught one-to-one at home. I want some information for private tutoring for IGSCE board exam in Bangalore. Please help.

  9. i dont wanna go to school..its soo gud at science and not math..i wanna be homeschooled so i can put more time on football..i jus need help…and i dont know how to be homeschooled..HEELPP ME!! im in 9th grade..

  10. Whether foreign citizens of Indian origin can appear for NIOS ?
    Any special formalities required…. Help appreciated:)
    My son is home schooled & we only have his birth certificate, foreign passport with OCI card

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