Home schooling: It may be trickier than you think

It’s hardly surprising that interest in homeschooling has spiked in the past two years. But what many parents may not realise is that homeschooling isn’t as simple as one might imagine.

We chat with educational psychologist Megan Clerk and Educational psychologist Emma Stewart for more on this topic.

The legal jargon

In South Africa, there are two types of homeschooling: parent-driven and institution-based. Emma notes that both have legal ramifications. Children in the foundation and early childhood development phases (ages 3-7) are in the first phase of formal learning. They learn the fundamentals of reading, writing, and literacy during this age.

Suppose you want to teach your child at home, according to government guidelines. In that case, you must apply to the head of your Provincial Education Department to register them for Home Education and ensure that the lessons fall within the scope of the correct phase of education, which can be found on the Department of Basic Education’s website www.education.gov.za.

You must also retain the following records:

  • Attendance record
  • Portfolio of your child’s work
  • Up-to-date records of your child’s progress
  • Portfolio of educational support provided to your child
  • Evidence of continuous assessment of your child’s work
  • Evidence of the assessment and/or examination at the end of each year
  • Evidence at the end of grades 3, 6, and 9 that shows whether your child has achieved the outcomes for these grades

It can be demanding

According to Emma, there are a lot of expectations placed on parents who opt to home school their children. This implies you must be physically and psychologically prepared to take on this challenge. You’ll need to make time to dedicate yourself to your child’s educational demands fully. If time is an issue, it is likely to exacerbate worry, which is already a reality in most families.

Children are acutely aware of your tension and frequently respond in kind. So, if you want to maximise your child’s emotional, cognitive, and academic functioning, you must first guarantee that you are in the correct environment. It’s also why, if you or your child is experiencing anxiety about homeschooling, you should seek assistance and counsel from an educational psychologist. Megan discusses the overall benefits and drawbacks of homeschooling your child.

Pros of homeschooling

  • Minimal contact or the danger of contracting/spreading COVID-19
  • Your child will be able to learn at their own pace
  • There will be more time to address areas of difficulty in learning
  • There will be less exposure to social pressure, bullying, and competition, which can foster improved self-esteem

Cons of homeschooling

  • You’ll both need to change your lifestyles
  • With limited social engagement, this can result in difficulties in conflict management, social problem-solving skills, emotional maturation, and possibly personality development
  • The benefits of healthy competition are lost
  • It’s harder work for both of you
  • Participation in extra-curricular activities is not as easy as it was in the traditional school environment

Meeting those deadlines

When it comes to homeschooling, Emma recommends taking your child’s developmental needs into account. Keep in mind that what happens to children as children moulds who they become as adults. Children who are loved and encouraged throughout their childhood have a better chance of thriving and developing into happy, healthy, and productive adults. Pre-schoolers between the ages of 3 and 5 begin to become more independent and focus more on adults and children outside of the family in terms of development. Because school provides a natural setting for such interactions, if you home school, you must encourage your child to play with other children for them to learn the virtues of caring and friendship. Regular visits to libraries and bookstores are also advised to foster a love of books and reading. Furthermore, no three to eight-year-old should spend more than 1–2 hours a day in front of a screen, thus a curriculum must be designed so that it is not unduly reliant on technology. Remember that during the ages of six to eight, your child should be developing a sense of independence from the family. They require constant touch with the outside world, as friends become more important at this point. This is also an important time for kids to acquire confidence in many aspects of life, such as friendships, schooling, and athletics. Because traditional schooling structures may give an outlet for many of these, Emma recommends enrolling your child in private team sports, youth clubs, and getting them active in community service if you opt to home school.

What will work best for you: parent-driven or institutional-based?

Megan weighs the benefits and drawbacks of these two homeschooling choices.

Parent-driven pros

  • Promotes and improves time management and problem-solving skills
  • Encourages self-motivation, discipline, and responsibility
  • The independent learning style prepares youngsters well for university courses.

Parent-driven cons

  • At least one parent will need to be at home, which can make working from home more difficult or present financial pressures as one of you may be unable to work
  • There will be fewer resources available for peer support and learning
  • You may not be equipped to teach content
  • It may lead to conflict with your child
  • You will have limited opportunities to engage in your activities and self-care

Pros of homeschooling through a school

  • Education is planned and delivered by a certified teacher
  • The online classroom setting exposes your child to other students
  • Your child will be guided through learning exercises

Cons of homeschooling through a school

Some homeschooling establishments are not accredited. As a result, your child will be unable to continue their studies. That is why, before making a final selection, you should conduct an extensive study on various homeschooling programmes and institutions.

Home schooling: It may be trickier than you think

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