Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

Hazy Days

Archives for Homeschool Western Cape

For South African Home Educating Families

With the recent developments in terms of policy governing home educators in South Africa, the Cape Home Educators have started an initiative to engage with government.  Here is the recently elected Steering Committee for Education’s letter to the home educating community:

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For a clearer view of the members:

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And their profiles:

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Serving One Another

This article first appeared in the Cape Home Educators’ quarterly magazine,
April 2013

Serving One Another

The Organic Community of Homeschooling Families

by Taryn Hayes

One thing that I deeply love about the homeschooling community is that it is a community. Since I embarked on this journey into homeschooling ten years ago, I’ve met people from vastly different walks of life. In any other circumstance, I probably wouldn’t have met them. Yet with our common goal of homeschooling, it seems it is enough to break down cultural barriers, language difficulties and socio-economic differences. Where barriers could have existed, there is, instead, helping hands. Where needs are mentioned, they are, more often than not, met. When struggles are shared, sympathy and help is extended.

I have the privilege of administrating the Homeschool Western Cape group on Facebook. It’s a privilege, because I get to witness the homeschooling community at work, every day, first hand. It makes my heart sing when I open up the Facebook group page and read a request for some curriculum help – and then have to scroll through dozens of helpful answers. When I meet a fellow homeschool mom in the bookstore for the first time (yes, this has happened more than once!) the instant rapport that follows is exhilarating. The intricate workings of the homeschooling community is organic – natural, flowing and inclusive.

Seldom amongst homeschoolers do I hear the word “no”. Yes, there are times when families feel the pressures of life and expectations – then “no” is not only natural, it is necessary. But mostly, those in the homeschooling community are “yes” people. Yes, we can help each other figure out which curriculum would suit a particular child. Yes, we can organise an outing and have everyone join. Yes, we will join you. Yes, let’s have tea and share our woes and wins. A need is identified and, pretty soon, the solution is provided. No coercion. Just community at work.

Since we began homeschooling, community has been an unexpected benefit. In this past year alone, I’ve benefited directly from the natural flow of the Homeschool Western Cape community.  Last year began with taking part in the Cape Home Educators’ arranged Sports Day in Camps Bay. Need identified? Yes, athletics for kids is fun and something the homeschooling community doesn’t naturally have. What can we do? Let’s create it! And what fun the children have had. Last year my daughter did high-jump for the first time, getting coaching on the spot and ending up exceeding her (and our!) expectations.

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One Zimbabwe-born mom, Karen D, recognised the need to become better acquainted with her surrounding country in order to teach her children about the Cape. She chose not only to meet her own need but also to extend an invitation to others by starting an outing club called Cape Explorers. Karen is particularly gifted in leading large groups of children. In this last year we’ve visited about a dozen places, developed some solid friendships and enjoyed Karen’s wealth of gifts – living letters, administration excellence, brilliant ideas – lavished upon us.

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For some years, Wendy Y and other moms ran a wonderful homeschoolers craft market. As seasons pass on, this one came to an end. But a couple of years later, another mom, new to the Cape homeschooling community, started another entrepreneur opportunity for children. Thanks to Yolande T’s initiative, my kids got to enjoy running a Tombola store and selling juices, second hand books and sweets.

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Longstanding traditions in schools mean school-going children often find themselves with wonderful opportunities to participate in Olympiads and Shakespeare festivals. These don’t naturally extend to the homeschooling community. But the homeschooling community naturally comes up with a solution. Last year Wendy M’s innovative children joined up with a bunch of other teens to take part in the Shakespeare festival. Without the benefit of a drama teacher, the teens directed themselves, rehearsed, costumed and presented their drama case for the 30-minute Shakespeare festival – and quite successfully too.

Dozens of times a week I see community at work. Kirsten R offers a mom’s chill out evening every so often – a wonderful time-out for moms to meet and chat. The “Far Southers” (that would be Fishoek and beyond) hold a weekly picnic day on the Noordhoek common. Several young homeschooling families meet up in the Northern Suburbs and the encouraging invitations to newcomers often pop up on the HWC Facebook page. Outings are arranged by various families and, more often than not, the invitation goes out to the HWC group. The more the merrier! It’s not uncommon to find a group of homeschooled families – from all different backgrounds, religions and races – visiting a museum, a farm or a factory together.

When I started homeschooling in the early 2000s, I never expected to experience community at this level. But, now, looking back, I’m not surprised. It makes sense that families who choose to swim against the mainstream schooling system would have the tenacity to make community work. And I’m glad. Because it means that my weaknesses are lifted up by the strength of others, and I can offer my strengths in service of our greater community.

Are you a part of a greater homeschooling community? If not, consider plugging into one of these online groups. Real-life contact naturally extends from these online meeting places, and before you know it, you will be warding off strangers’ “What about socialisation?” questions with “Goodness! That’s the least of our worries!”

Facebook Groups:

· Homeschool Western Cape http://www.facebook.com/groups/homeschoolwesterncape/

· Homeschooling in South Africa http://www.facebook.com/groups/100788473311514/

· Helderberg Homeschool http://www.facebook.com/groups/491935657490037/

· Homeschooling Christians in South Africa (not visible on your non-group friends’ newsfeed) http://www.facebook.com/groups/Christianhomeschoolingza/

· Christian Homeschooling in South Africa (visible on your non-group friends’ newsfeed) http://www.facebook.com/groups/christianhomeschoolingsa/

· Sonlight Curriculum: South Africa http://www.facebook.com/groups/sonlightsouthafrica/

· Footprints Curriculum support group http://www.facebook.com/groups/footprintsonourland/

· Love 2 Learn Curriculum support group http://www.facebook.com/groups/love2learncurriculum/

Yahoo Eloops (email only groups):

Cape Explorers: Peer’s Cave

Another wonderful outing!  Despite having a few moments of heart palpitations, thanks to narrow ledges and steep edges, we managed to hike all the way to Peer’s Cave and back again – in one piece.  Accomplishment!

Karen, our intrepid Zimbabwean, led us Capetonians on our hike up the mountain.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve not explored all that much of my birth town, despite having lived here for 30 of my 35 years. 

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I had a moaning-mini accompanying me on the walk.  I almost left Mr Micah at home as he tends to fall into moaning miniville when he is unsure of himself.  But, thankfully, a few extra hands made the work lighter – like Ingrid here giving a helping hand.

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The views were amazing.  Love the view into the valley.

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And lots of natural surroundings to marvel at …

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Kiera and Lea grabbed a self-portrait of each other…

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We stopped off at the Tunnel Cave – named for its tunnel shape.   Here a few heart-stopping moments ensued.  It was a very long drop off the edge.

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Can you tell that we were concerned about over enthusiastic kids hurtling over the edge?

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Foolishness really is wrapped up in the heart of the child!  We had quite a few moments of children determined to listen to their own rebellious hearts rather than their exasperated mothers!  My four all tested me at least once.  Including my eldest rock rabbit who just about gave everyone heart failure when she came bounding to the edge with little regard for the fact that the edge comes to a, well, end! 

A good stern chat with mom left her grumpy as anything, but as always, she quickly bounced back.  As these photos evidence:

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Eventually we made it to Peer’s cave where we got to see all we had learned about*.  Like the ochre painted hand prints…

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And the name of the ridge, Skildergat:

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There was an interesting arrangement of leaves like a bed as well as ash from a left-over fire.  Our guess is that someone has been sleeping at the cave.  Illegal, but certainly protected from the elements.

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The dark soil meant all the kids ended up looking a little like this guy – it’s a wonder that his T-shirt is looking ok!

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This little guy, Caleb, came with his daddy since his little brother was born not too long ago.  Caleb is the typical third born – gets on with life as if he was five!

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Our journey back was fun and since Micah was feeling up to running along the path, we got to stop and admire the flowers too…

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Micah’s expression sums up his general approach to the morning: Mr Grumpy Grubby Face.  Smile  Alas!  Can’t win them all.  But the rest of us enjoyed it and look forward to the next one! 

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* the “all we learnt” bit I was referring to above is Karen’s beautiful Living Letters that she writes to the kids for each outing.  Each letter is packed with info about our outing and written in a narrative style – a la Charlotte Mason.  Sitting down with the kids to read the letter was a real treat.  Here’s a sneak peak at some of the letter…

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Lovely, hey?  I am super impressed with her organisation skills, not to mention the time and effort she puts into the experience for everyone! 

Thanks again Karen!

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Outing: Castle of Cape of Good Hope

Our Lunch Bunch Co-op enjoyed a lovely outing to the Castle. With the wealth of history at our doorstep, it was about time I took the kids there! We plan on doing some intensive South African studies next year, but for the sake of some background to our time at the castle, we spent some time last week learning a little more about the castle and what to expect. We talked a little about history of the castle and they enjoyed hearing some fun facts like the names of the bastions, the size of the bell and the torture chamber.

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The children were really excited.  And the weather held out, despite threatening rain.  I got this lovely shot of the old governor’s residence in the sunshine.

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There is much construction going on at the castle, but we could still see the images of neptune and mercury with the bell tower in the background.  That bell weighs 300kg, or at least the original did.  That’s three grown men there!  The kids found that little fact morsel quite intriguing.

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In the walkway that passes the governor’s residence, the cobbles are still in the original wood – wood so that the horses’ hooves did not disturb the family at night.

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We got to see one of the original wells still inside the castle grounds…

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And the Dolphin Pool, aka Lady Anne Barnard’s pool.  Lady Anne was a well known socialite at the time and her records of the time and era are beautiful for she kept journals and drew and painted prolifically. 

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Our next stop was in the quad of ammunition storage (the red doors below) and the various stables, kitchens and rooming quarters.

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Then we were led to the Torture Chamber!  The kids were most fascinated with this stop.  Hearing about untold suffering, hanging from hooks, repeated torture and the cat-o-nine-tails was memorable to say the least!

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Micah now keeps on insisting that we go back to the castle, just so that he can come to the torture chamber and play on the cannons!

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We also enjoyed real life demos of how dark the prison quarters were – that little window was the only light.  One man was held for so long that by the time he was released, he had gone blind from disuse of his vision!

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Many men were jailed in the provost. And many maintained their innocence as is evidenced by the beautiful poetry etched into the doors…

Unwelcome stranger to this woeful place
Adieu to friendship and to mental peace
Content is fled; O! Tedious time:
When sad reflection ponders o’er no crime.
No chearing comfort; glad’s the weare’d Eve
As the incessant hours in dull rotation flv.

– Percy

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While others had a good sense of humour! 

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Not too easy to get lost here!

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We gathered around for a visual demo of the cannon salute and firing.  The tradition was that the soldiers would open the main gates every morning and check for enemies.  The cannon would then sound for the ‘all clear’.

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They don’t use a big cannon anymore, but this little guy can certainly pack a punch!

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Our guide finished off the tour with a visit to the museums.  No pictures allowed in there I’m afraid, but plenty worth seeing.  The kids however, enjoyed this part of the trip quite possibly the most!

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We headed to the Greenpoint Park afterwards for some lunch and a play.  Ah!  What a blessing to live somewhere where we can still enjoy outdoor fun in the middle of winter!

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And enjoy it we did – with Joel and Sam’s little friendship continuing to blossom.

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While Micah commandeered Jemma’s attention!

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A much recommended outing!

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