Could home schooling be right for you and your child?
More and more South African parents are turning to home schooling for their children’s education. According to the 2011 census, just under 58 000 learners were receiving a home education at the time, and according to Association for Home Schooling in SA chairman Bouwe van der Eems, that figure increased to 75 000 in 2014. Home schooling is estimated to be growing at a rate of around 20% per year. If you are considering this option, it’s a good idea to be aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks that home schooling offers.
When considering this option for your child, think carefully about your reason for doing so. Some reasons that parents give for home schooling their children are:
- They have struggled to fit into a traditional schooling environment.
- It gives them the flexibility to accommodate travel or sports requirements.
- They feel that their child has a specific need for one-on-one focused tuition.
- They have religious reasons for not wanting their children to be in the mainstream schooling system.
- They have concerns about the quality of education or numbers of students in government schools, and the cost of private schooling.
Your reason for opting for home schooling will help you decide whether home schooling is for your family, and, if so, which type of home schooling to go for.
There are different ways to home school a child, with more or less input from you as parents, and in a more or less formal environment. These are some of the options:
Teach your child yourself: You can register your child with and purchase a curriculum from an organisation such as Impaq, and teach them yourself. Organisations like this also host educational events or field trips that families can attend, and run exam centres where children are tested to ensure that they are meeting the requirements.
Register your children for an online curriculum: You can register your child for an online teaching programme. This is better for older children who require less tactile learning and can handle independent study, but programmes like Virtual Schools do have a curriculum starting at Grade R. Students will require more hands-on teaching by a parent or facilitator in the earlier years.
Set up or send your child to a home school group: Some parents or independent teachers set up small home schools that other people send their children to. You can set one up yourself or find a suitable group home school in your area. The most well-known are Cottage Schools. This is a good option for parents who want the benefits of home schooling, but don’t have the time or flexibility to do this themselves.
Whichever option you go for, you will have to register your child with the Department of Education, who will also tell you what records and evidence you need to keep of your child’s educational progress. Registration is only necessary up to Grade 9, but if you want your child to complete matric and be eligible for university, you will need to continue your registration thereafter.
Read more: Check out this blog post to find out about the costs of home schooling.
For those parents willing and able to home school their children, the potential benefits are many:
- If you have the time and ability to support your children and work with the resources, they can receive an excellent education at home.
- The teacher-to-student ratio will be better than in traditional schooling, whether you are teaching them yourselves or enrolling them in a group.
- The educational methods and course material can be tailored to your child’s needs and personality.
- You will be able to monitor your child’s progress and address problem areas immediately.
- You will have the flexibility to spend time on other activities that are limited by the hours of a formal school.
- Schooling will likely take up less of your child’s day. At traditional schools, your child may be waiting for everyone in the class to get up to speed, and there are other activities to keep them busy during the day. At a home school, you may find that your child gets through the necessary work quite quickly, allowing more time for activities, sports or creative play.
- You don’t need to add homework to your child’s studies because they are already working independently at home.
- Your child will have the opportunity to become an independent, competent and confident learner.
Of course, there are potential drawbacks to home schooling your child as well:
- Your child may miss out on socialising with other children.
- Your child may miss out on interactive team sport.
- You may find that you do not have the ability or capacity to teach your child.
- Some children thrive on rules and structure and may find the home school environment does not give them the routine that they need.
- Your child may miss out on the learning opportunities that come from interacting with other students grappling with the same concepts and challenges.
- Some children don’t respond well to being directed or taught by a parent.
- You and your child may get cabin fever or simply become sick of spending so much time in one another’s company.
- You will lose out on the potential income of the supervising parent.
- You may be judged by friends and family who do not understand or accept home schooling.
Kaylynn Fourie matriculated last year through the Impaq system. She is currently doing a variety of courses and working, and hopes one day to become a journalist, photographer or social media manager.
Home schooled kids have the discipline of doing their work on their own.
She outlines some of the advantages she experienced: “Home schooled kids have the discipline of doing their work on their own, which helps a lot when going to university and it makes you independent when it comes to work. You don't need someone to constantly tell you what to do.”
However, she says that there were also drawbacks. “I missed out on the team sports like netball and I felt alone a lot of the time. But I also liked not having all the drama as I grew up, looking at people who were in school and everything they went through, like bullying.”
Home schooling isn’t right for everyone – and not every family is able to home school their children – but for those that opt for this system, it is an increasingly popular option with potentially great support and outcomes.