The Cape Home Educators put together a wonderful curriculum Expo this year. Scattered on their registration table were leaflets addressing some of the most commonly asked questions about homeschooling. I think that their answers are nice and concise and worth having scattered on the Internet too
WHAT IS HOME SCHOOLING?
Home schooling is an age-old method of education where parents teach their children at home.
The following are ways in which home schooling has been done to suit each family:
· Total home schooling, where parents take full responsibility for their child’s education, with minimum governmental interference, until they are ready for tertiary education or a career.
· Transitional home schooling, where the understanding is that in the early years the child will be taught at home and will later make the transition to formal school.
· Supplemental home schooling, where the child does go to formal school but the parents believe that more or different instruction is also needed and so they teach the child evenings and weekends.
SOME NOTABLE PEOPLE WHO WERE HOME SCHOOLED
At least ten American presidents were home schooled, among them George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. The Lady of the Lamp, Florence Nightingale and the famous American military men, Douglas MacArthur and George Patton. Also home schooled were the authors Mark Twain, Phyllis Wheatley, Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw.
The following are some of the advantages of home schooling and are among the reasons given by parents who’ve decided to home school.
· Parents can educate their children in their faith.
· The tutorial style of education where each child receives individual attention, allows the flexibility of being able to challenge the faster students or being able to stop and go over things again with the slower student to ensure that concepts are grasped.
· Parents have the time to train the character of the child and influence their children in a way that is integrated into their whole life and thus is a foundation for life.
· Parents have increased opportunity to transmit their values and beliefs to their children.
· Independent thinking and self-motivation is developed, especially in the later grades.
· Communication skills are enhanced due to vertical age integration and the one-to-one style of education.
· Children have the time to explore intellectually and to think.
· Self worth and confidence is nurtured because of the individual attention.
· Parents can control negative pressure and destructive influences.
· Education becomes not just a function of the school but a way of life where every new experience is an opportunity for learning.
· Love of learning is instilled in the child from an early age because learning becomes a way of life and an attitude.
· The learning way of life is a family mission and sets the stage for close relationships and family unity because of hours spent teaching, sharing and interacting.
USUAL QUESTIONS ABOUT HOME SCHOOLING
WHAT ABOUT ACADEMIC PROGRESS?
Many studies, (references available), have been conducted in the USA which answer this question adequately. It has been found that on the average, the home schooled child tests above average. The home schooled child is often one to two grades above his age peers. This is generally attributed to the tutorial method of teaching. In addition home schooling has proved to be excellent preparation for university and vocation. Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the US Naval Academy have all accepted home school graduates.
WHAT ABOUT SOCIALISATION?
Socialisation (whatever you interpret that to mean) of the home-schooled child is something that really worries people who are not familiar with home schooling. However most home schooling parents are passionate about raising a child that has a good sense of worth/identity and also accepts the authority of its parents and the authority of the laws of its country. These parents also recognise the importance and encourage the child’s friendships with other children. Competition, peer pressure and peer dependency are not problems that are experienced to the same degree of intensity as for children in regular school. Many home school parents believe that the vertical socialisation that their children are exposed to is far preferable to the horizontal socialisation of the formal school classroom. They believe that it is this vertical socialisation that enables their children to converse easily and get along with people of any age, not just their own age.
SHOULD A PARENT BE A QUALIFIED TEACHER?
We all know that a teaching qualification does not guarantee a good teacher and by the same token, the lack of a teaching qualification should not deter parents who are committed to home school their children. The excellent results obtained by thousands of mothers who have no more than a high school diploma should dispel the teacher qualification concern. Research done in the USA, (references available), on teacher qualifications demonstrates no significant relationship to the students achievement.
WHAT ABOUT SPORTS AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES?
Yes, these activities are extremely important as most people will readily agree and it is truly amazing to see and hear of the creative solutions that home schooling families have come up with to ensure that their students do not miss out on anything. Most families are able to either slot in with a local school or are able to join a club(s).
IS HOME SCHOOL LEGAL?
It is!! The South African Schools Act (no 84 of 1996) in article 51 makes provision for “Registration of learners for education at home.” The Western Cape Provincial School Education Act (no 12 of 1997) in article 50 refers to the national act. The Minister of Education in the Western Cape has approved Draft Regulations relating to the Registration of learners for education at home (Prov. Gazette 5254 24 April 1998). In terms of the above the Head of the Education Department must register learners for education at home. The WCHSA has reservations about the regulations and are involved in ongoing negotiations with the Minister and the department. For more up to date legal information visit the Pestalozzi web site at: http://www.pestalozzi.org.
You are strongly advised to join the Pestalozzi Trust – a legal defence fund for homeschoolers. There have already been cases where advice from the Pestalozzi Trust has assisted in avoiding detrimental situations. If you are planning to join the trust, you should do so before you have any negative contact with education officials, if not you should at least familiarise yourself with your rights and duties with regard to homeschooling.
IF YOU WANT TO HOME SCHOOL WE RECOMMEND:
· Reading some good books on home schooling and on resources available. We can help you here.
· Attend a home schooling workshop/seminar. We can also help you here.
· Obtain legal counsel and assess your legal position and your commitment to home school your child.
· Obtain a good curriculum. Contact us for a list of suppliers.
· Find out who else home schools in your area and join or form a support group.
· Joining the regional home school association. Your support strengthens the association, and as a strong group we are able to represent all homeschoolers on a regional and a national level. We can also assist, advise or provide information.
The relevant forms are attached, and are available in Afrikaans, as is this text.
Benefits of membership include free/reduced entry to the events organised by the association, newsletters, promotion of networks, and assistance with establishing contact with other homeschoolers in your area. Your fees are R120 per annum, and are used to conduct the business of the association – maintaining and building relationships with homeschoolers, communicating with our members, sending representatives to one or two national meetings per annum, and arranging events. All regional associations are involved in the national coalition of homeschoolers which speaks for all homeschoolers on a national level.