Homeschooling is becoming a popular choice among many South African families who are unable to afford the costs of private schooling and who feel that public schools are not the right option for their children. The decision to home school children should not be made in haste and the pros and cons should be carefully weighted up before a decision is made.
- If kids are schooled at home they enjoy a teacher: student ratio of 1:1. With this one to one interaction, parents will be able to quickly identify problems areas;
- Parents are free to teach kids their religious beliefs and observe their own personal religious holidays or special days;
- Money is saved, as homeschoolers do not require uniforms, or special textbooks, since most of the work is sent to the learner, or accessed via the internet;
- A school day is shorter. Homeschoolers are able to complete a day’s lesson in 4 hours. Learners are then able to use the time for sports or other extramural activities;
- Peer pressure is avoided;
- Parents have more control over their children and are able to monitor their progress;
- Classroom distractions are kept to a minimal as usually kids are homeschooled with siblings, or with a few other homeschoolers. Kids in mainstream schooling are usually taught with as many as forty children in a class;
- Homeschooling is a great alternative for children in remote areas, like on farms, where access to schooling is limited and where the other option is to attend boarding school.
- If kids are homeschooled at home (alone or with siblings) they feel isolated from society and they miss the causal interaction of friends at break or after school;
- Homeschoolers miss classroom competition, a lot of kids enjoy the -healthy’ completion between classmates to achieve good marks;
- Although many homeschoolers get together for camps or other excursions, homeschoolers miss smaller, fun events like -cake and candy’ or educational excursions;
- Homeschooling does not offer honours evening or prize-giving, where achievements are acknowledged;
- Kids who are taught at home are usually isolated and they mix with those who are in the same social class as they are. In mainstream schooling kids interact with kids from all social classes daily and they learn to be more tolerant and more accepting;
- Parents who take on the responsibility can feel overwhelmed and may feel -trapped’ by playing the role of teacher and parent;
- For homeschooling to work, parents and children need to be disciplined. Many parents may find it hard to motivate their kids and keep them interested in lessons.
- More and more homeschooling providers are emerging in South Africa. Brainline (www.brainline.com/cms/) is an independent homeschool provider which offers a high level of quality education. Brainline is able to provide interactive online homeschooling. Examinations in June and November are done online and students receive their lessons on CD. They offer daily support and kids can start at Brainline from Grade 1 and end at matric. Lessons are available in English and Afrikaans and besides the regular SA matric; students can also study towards their O-Levels.
- Homeschooled children under the age of 16 will need to be registered with the Department of Education.
- Homeschooling groups can also be found in SA, where parents employ a fulltime tutor. This may resolve the issue of socializing, however again kids are generally taught with kids who are in their same social class.
- The cost of homeschooling does generally not exceed the tuition fees of a government school.
- To give kids the best of both worlds, a lot of parents often send their children to mainstream primary schools and then start homeschooling in high school;
- Those who are currently homeschooling should encourage kids to join clubs or groups, like hiking clubs or youth groups or look for other homeschoolers in their area.
- Moms and dads who work during the day can also home school. The challenges will certainly be greater but evenings can be used to work through lessons.
Information on homeschooling:
Homeschooling is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Kids may thrive in a controlled homeschooling environment while others will yearn for the social interaction of school life. On the other hand, if kids and parents are completely dedicated and both want to pursue homeschooling, it has many advantages.
Before making the decision to home school, parents need to look the big picture and be sure that they are ready to take on the challenges. Parents must remember that if they homeschool, they owe it to their kids to be actively involved in their child’s education, which means that they will need to offer continual motivation and guidance. Kids cannot be left on their own to work though lessons on their own will quickly lose interest.
– Kathy Baron