Home schooling – the way to go?

Home education was made legal in South Africa and was incorporated into the South African Schools Act in 1996.  Article 3 of the SA Schools Act requires that “parents must cause their children to attend school, between the ages of 7-15 years’, children may be exempted from compulsory school attendance, if it is in the interest of the child.�?

What is home schooling?
Home schooling is an educational programme alternative to attending public or independent schools, where a parent of a learner of compulsory school going age may provide education for their child/ren at home.

There are many reasons parents consider home schooling, be it the perceived level of education at the local school, lack of discipline, health of a child, bullying, exposure to things that are not part of the families moral code, financial or religious reasons.  Whatever the reason, parents must consider the positive and negative aspects of making these decisions.

The advantages of home schooling

  • Educational freedom: most home schooled learners have the choice to study and learn at a time and schedule suitable to them.
  • Physical freedom: with no school bells, specific time schedules, homework deadlines, these families are able to plan out of season holidays and live their lives according to what works for them.
  • Emotional freedom: peer pressure, competition, boredom, and bullies, are all part of a typical school day, whereas home schooled kids can dress and act and think the way they want, without fear of ridicule or a need to "fit in."
  • Religious freedom: for those families whose religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are, home schooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives.
  • Family relationships: home schooling enables families to find more time for one another.
  • Well rested kids: sleep is vital to the emotional and physical well-being of kids, especially teens and preteens, and the effects of early morning classes and homework until late at night can take a toll on many children.
  • Time freedom: home schooled children can accomplish in a few hours what takes a typical classroom a week or more to cover.

Did you know that movement can address learning difficulties?

The disadvantages of home schooling:

  • Parental time restraints: learning outside of a school environment can consume a lot of the parent’s time and that can be very draining.
  • Financial restraints: for married parents, one partner often foregoes full-time employment in order to home school.
  • Limited friendships: the limited number of friends and social engagement in the age group might make the child feel lonely or isolated and the transition in a social network difficult for them to adapt to.
  • Limited team sports: home schooled children sometimes battle to find sports teams to join.
  • Different lifestyle outside the norm: home schooling can still be viewed as an oddity and may receive criticism from other friends and even family.

In order to home school, the parent will be required to apply to the head of the Provincial Education Department and register their child/ren for “Home Education�? and ensure the lessons provided fall within the scope of the compulsory phases of education:

  • Foundation phase (grades 1-3)
  • Intermediate phase (grades  4-6)
  • Senior phase (grades  7-9)
  • FET phase (grade 10 – 12)

While it is not necessary to buy a set curriculum, you are able to source a variety of books and courses from different suppliers and put together your own programme, it would also be a good idea to join a regional home school association for guidance and encouragement and to share tips on resources and lesson plans. 

The 2 critical elements of home schooling is to decide on a daily routine which allows for a flexible schedule, as it is better to have a lesson plan and schedule that is flexible than no plan at all.  Consider club sports, as the discipline of teamwork and exercise is an important aspect of education and learning – dancing, soccer, tennis, cycling, swimming, running or walking are all good forms of exercise and instilling discipline. 

Here are some resources providing further information and tools to aid home schooling:
Home School Info
South African Home-school Curriculum 
Department of Education 

When your kids are still small, the question will be if you should send them to nursery school or get a nanny. Read more about this decision.