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Former China Olympic champion who homeschools children to allow more play time criticised for depriving them chance to socialise

On March 12, he shared a video on his Douyin account, which has over 2 million followers, titled: “What is the experience of not attending school for the first grade and having all private lessons?”

In the video, Yang disclosed that his twin daughters, who are old enough to start first grade, are currently being home schooled, a decision he made after they fell seriously ill three times last year.

Former Olympic champion Yang Wei says his teaching method allows his children more time for extra-curricular activities. Photo: Douyin

He said his wife has taken on the role of head teacher, customising a special curriculum for the children, and he drives them to their lessons with private tutors.

Every week, Chinese and mathematics lessons are arranged with different tutors, and their classroom is a meeting room at Yang’s company.

Besides academic studies in the mornings, Yang arranges for his daughters to attend gymnastics practice in the afternoons, saying: “It’s equivalent to a whole afternoon of physical education.”

Yang highlighted several benefits of the private tutoring approach.

He said because the tutor has only two children to focus on, it enables meticulous attention to detail, while also noticeably improving his children’s study efficiency.

“Before, I was bombarded by endless messages in parent online groups. Now, in our parent group, there are only three people, and we receive concise learning reports about the children,” Yang said in the video.

“After classes, the teachers provide them with suggestions about study methods. It feels like the children’s learning efficiency has improved significantly,” he said.

The learning method allows for additional leisure time, which Yang says he fills with other meaningful activities.

“I take them to do housework, outdoor activities, getting close to nature. it makes their childhood more fulfilling,” he said.

Also, Yang finds home-schooling far less stressful than sending his children to school.

“I used to worry endlessly about them contracting various viruses from the outside, they repeatedly caught colds. Now, with them constantly under my watchful eye, my mind is at ease,” he said.

The release of the video quickly made headlines, sparking a debate online.

Some voiced support for his approach, expressing frustration with the intricacies of the current schooling system.

One of Yang’s twin daughters gets ready to take a nap. Some online observers have criticised the former Olympian’s decision to home school his children. Photo: Douyin

“If I was able to do it, I would. I’ve wanted to leave those messy online school groups for a long time. I’m tired of all those messages about arranging homework and tasks,” one online observer said.

“Even though education is compulsory, everything from the classroom brooms to the children’s homework exercise books is paid for by the parents – and at the start and end of each term, parents are asked to clean the classroom. It’s so annoying,” the person added.

Others argued that children should experience school life and develop their social skills.

“The best education is at school, not just for Chinese, maths and English, but also for other subjects. The interaction, cooperation and competition among classmates are things that home education simply cannot provide.”

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