These are Se7en homeschool questions that I get asked quite often, so I thought I would blog about them. Homeschooling in South Africa, how you get started and what about the legality of it and so on. I thought I would answer your questions as best I could and you can ask some more and if you have any answers or input to add then feel free to add them to the comments.
And just in case you are wondering you may not actually visit us and see how we homeschool! That’s why we have a blog! I am generous with our time, but not that generous! Of course, you may virtually come over and visit our blog anytime. You may read about our day-to-day life and times and you may also fire away questions and I will try to answer them as quickly and honestly as I can!
I didn’t realize it but I have covered the ground for this topic in other posts so I thought I would just link to them and if you want read more feel free to follow the links and explore.
- What made you decide to homeschool?
This decision wasn’t a hard one for us to come to. Like most decisions in life I began reading about it and I read and read and read… probably long before we had kids – it was just a matter of time after-all! I read absolutely everything I could find on homeschooling: books, pamphlets, magazines, catalogues. The Pro’s and Con’s. The In’s and Out’s. The Nitty-Gritty. Here is a post on my Se7en Best Homeschooling Books. After everything we had read we were quite convinced that this was the way for us to give our kids the best possible education we could. Where education is a word that carries the vast expanse of life, more than just algebra and history dates…
- What about family and friends?
You are not necessarily going to get a lot of support from that corner! A lot of folk thought we were just mad and spent a lot of energy trying to convince us against it. You have to be committed and convinced at this stage! We have found that the “proof was in the pudding” and that down the line all the nay-sayers are now huge supporters. Not least that our children can actually read!!! I did write a post on Se7en Questions folk asked of home schoolers and I never went near the whole socialization topic. Except to say that socialization is one question that anti-homeschoolers feel is their final blow to the whole wacky idea. I have never met a homeschooler who has a problem with socialization – or if they do, that the problem would be any different if their kid was in school. But that is a whole can of worms and deserves it’s own special post. Any material you read on homeschooling should give you the confidence to say “my kids are not anti-social” just because you homeschool doesn’t mean your children don’t meet people – and lots of them. Nobody lives in a cupboard. Well I don’t and wherever I am my kids are with me and meeting folk. So yes, they have a couple of social skills – not always perfect but I have noticed kids in school are not perfect either!
- How did we get started?
Since the decision was made we needed to figure out how to get going. I guess it was easier for us than most to find out how the get started because we were already so committed to it – there was no trial for a term to see how it goes – nope this was it! The year before we began homeschooling I visited everyone I knew who home schooled and explored how they did it and what they were up to, really just chatting and talking and borrowing books!!! I looked at all the different curriculum I could find. I went to open days and workshops and listened and learnt. After a while I knew exactly how I didn’t want to homeschool!!! And then I discovered Sonlight and I have never looked back. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, everything you need comes in a box – I don’t have to fret about sourcing goodies on the far side of the world. And the books – Oh, the books!!! Heaps that I had read as a kid and couldn’t wait to read again myself, and I was thrilled to be able to share my literary world with our kids. I wrote about getting going in a previous post on Preparing for a year of Sonlight.
- What does homeschooling look like for us?
The first thing you have to realize – and this may take years! Is that homeschooling is not school at home and your children won’t necessarily spend hours sitting at a desk doing worksheets and working through textbooks. The point of homeschooling is that you can actually do it completely differently – find what works for each of your kids – My kids wouldn’t recognize a text book if it hit them on the head, but they have spent years reading real books prolifically on any number of topics. The the joy of homeschooling is that you can be flexible, you can visit a spot on a quiet day and linger longer and explore, you can do extra-murals in the morning and school in the afternoon. You can school any time and any place. I have posted a day in our school life to give you an idea of how we do go about it.
- Are there local support groups?
Yes there are! I have never joined a local support group, I managed to get all the support I needed from friends who home schooled already or thought homeschooling was marvelous. Pick your supporters wisely! Otherwise I found heaps of support and encouragement on-line, where you can always find homeschoolers and see what they are up to. Sonlight has a great forum section where any and every question you have ever thought of asking has been asked before and answered by several members and really if you are looking for supprt that is a great and encouraging spot to go and look. It is important to have support when you take this task on – trust me, like any job there will be days when you want to throw in the towel and ship everyone off to boarding school. Not too often but they are there and you do need to have someone tell you are doing a good job on those days! And the fabulous days far out way those, not to mention the fun you will have learning for yourself.
Anyway, follow the links to the Homeschool groups in your province and keep going until you find your local area. You may have to get hold of the co-ordinator of the provincial group to find someone in your area. I know our library has a huge file on homeschool resources packed with goodies including information on local support groups. Do persist until you find the support you are looking for, it really is worth it!
Here are the links to local support groups:
- What about the Department of Education?
There is information available from the Department of Education and you should ask other home school folk in your support circle what they have done and how they have achieved their goals. It is pretty personal how people tackle it so it is a good idea to talk to a couple of folk and see what they have done. Here are links with the relevant information:
- Is their legal support?
Most South African home schoolers I know are members of the Pestalozzi Trust you don’t have to be a member to homeschool, but they will support you legally if you ever have a problem with the Education Department Authorites. Here are the links to legal information:
That’s it – If you have more questions then feel free to ask them and if you want to contribute something pertinent to South African homeschooling then feel free to do so in the comments.