Here is what every parent needs to know about homeschooling

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"Here is what every parent needs to know about home schooling." Photo: Louise Schoonwinkel
"Here is what every parent needs to know about home schooling." Photo: Louise Schoonwinkel

In 2020, News24 reported a 60% uptick where homeschooling is concerned during the hard lockdown. Many parents considered alternative teaching methods such as online education or homeschooling when schools closed in 2020 and have not looked back ever since.

Homeschooling is a legal alternative for parents and guardians who wish to be holistically responsible for their children's education.

These parents become their children's tutors and teachers and make sure that they cover the curriculum and assess their children as done in traditional schooling.

Louise Schoonwinkel, Managing Director of Optima Home, says that parents considering homeschooling need to know the following pros and cons. 

Schoonwinkel says that one of the most significant advantages of homeschooling is the flexibility it offers, which includes learning from the comfort of your home without having to miss school due to circumstances outside of your control like illnesses or Covid-19 related infections.

Introverted learners also do not feel the pressure to interact with other learners in large classrooms.

Schoonwinkel says that online schooling and homeschooling costs are lower than fees in traditional private schools.

When it comes to homeschooling and online learning, Schoonwinkel says that children save time travelling to school - time that can be used for extracurricular activities, studying or socialising with friends.

While parents also save additional costs such as buying school uniforms and paying for transport every month.

Read: Local homeschooling mom proves it works as her son enrolls at university aged just 16

Like traditional schooling, homeschooling and online learning also have their disadvantages.

For example, parents that consider homeschooling or online education for their children need to ensure that there is a dedicated study space, a laptop or computer, a stable internet connection and an alternative power supply such as a generator or inverter since load-shedding has increased over the years.

Another downside to this form of schooling is that it does not work for all children, such as extroverted or highly sociable children who thrive on interaction with others.

Schoonwinkel says that depending on how the online school is run, learners don't have to feel isolated and can still engage with their teachers and peers.

At their online school, Schoonwinkel says that interaction issues for extroverted children are addressed through engagement during classes, activity days, and collaboration projects, enabling learners to connect with teachers other learners.

Homeschooling for moms working from home

Schoonwinkel says that online schooling assists multitasking parents working from home and teaching their children. It empowers them as it creates some form of structure. Having classes, timetables, and lessons planned and set out by their teachers removes unnecessary stress from parents who are already juggling work demands.

This form of schooling also helps parents rest assured, knowing that highly qualified teachers cover the most critical academic concepts.

Schoonwinkel notes that some schools even provide additional services for students, for instance, fitness classes, wellness resources, and counselling, shifting the focus from purely academic excellence to include health and wellbeing, giving learners a more well-rounded experience.

Must read: 'Learning with a smile': Homeschooling moms share their tips

News24 also asked Schoonwinkel what she thinks the government needs to do to ensure that more and more students from disadvantaged backgrounds have the necessary resources for online learning or homeschooling. 

She told us, "Government should work to enable learners from disadvantaged communities to have full access to online schooling and learning in case of future pandemics or lockdowns".

She added that the following would be needed as a start:

1. Devices, even though a lot of students have access to smartphones, effective learning takes place on tablets or computers with larger screens. These would be needed for both learners and teachers.

2. Access to stable and reliable internet or learning should take place on a zero-rated site for both learners and teachers.

3. Online learning platform and online learning resources.

4. Training of teachers to use digital resources and how to engage learners in an online environment.

When it comes to parents who wish to start homeschooling but have financial constraints, Schoonwinkel says that there are companies like Fundi who grant educational loans to assist in this regard.

She added that a lot of learning providers also have bursary programmes.

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