When you say the words "home schooling" people often think the parents are overprotective or overly religious and don't want their children to mix with others. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to homeschooling. Like cloth nappies, many people are quite closed-minded about the subject and write it off completely without giving it much thought.
Read more: Is home schooling for you?
But many parents who home-school are either not happy with the state of government education or are not able to have their children placed at a "decent"school. One mom says she feels she can offer much more than what her daughter would get at school; she can develop her child as needed and schools don't offer a natural learning environment. It also has perks such as not having to deal with school politics and not having to get kids ready when the stormy winter days show up.
Other parents are not satisfied with the schools they are zoned for and can't afford to move to a better area, where even then, you are still not guaranteed a spot at the school you want to get into. In these cases home schooling is an attractive option.
Is it legal?
Yes it is. According to the South African Schools Act of 1996, schooling is compulsory for all South Africans from the age of 7 to 15, or the completion of grade 9. But this doesn't mean they have to attend a formal school to receive their education. Home schooling is perfectly acceptable as an option.
The issue of registering your child with the Department of Education, however, is complicated and many homeschooling parents choose to not register with the Department of Education because they feel they are then locked into a certain way of doing things which defeats the point of home schooling.
Also read: 5 home school myths busted
Do you have to follow a curriculum?
There are many curricula which you can follow or you can structure it to what works for your children. Some parents find that a "normal" school curriculum doesn't work for their child and have developed a system which works for their child's way of learning.
People tend to have reservations about parents who don't have a background in teaching. How can you teach your child maths if you barely passed it at high school? But homeschooling isn't about being the person who teaches your child everything about everything - you're the guide, you're the one finding the resources (and eventually teaching your child to). When home schooled children reach high school level they tend to reach a level where they take control of their own learning and study. And if necessary, you could incorporate the services of a tutor to aid in areas where they need extra assistance.
What about socialisation?
I've come to realise this is just not true, new mom and teacher Lisa Fontaine-Rainen says: "Kids who need more time with other kids than you've been giving them will let you know and you'll find more ways to incorporate it. Just be open, listen to your children, and be ready to make changes." My sister-in-law's kids are very well socialised and do so many extra-curricular activities with other kids like archery and Scouts.
There is also an argument that only interacting with kids your own age isn't a fair representation of real world interaction anyway because when you go into the working world you have to be able to deal with people of all different ages.
Are they prepared for the real world?
"We get to experience more as a family when schooling at home", says Sarah Ashwell. And as far as experiencing the real world goes "we go to the bank, shops, post office, library, on outings etc, that's the real world." Another mother also echoes this sentiment when she tells the story of how a home schooling mother brought her kids to her husband's butchery to see how it all worked, "My husband took her and her four children on a tour, they saw all aspects of how the the meat was cut, prepared, stored, packaged, etc. The mom explained how they often go on these outings to different places to see how things worked. By all accounts the children were confident, well-spoken, polite and perfectly functioning beings. That one small incident changed my view of homeschooling."
One of the biggest qualms I have about my own formal education is that I was never taught any real world skills: how to apply for a job, write a Curriculum Vitae, how to apply for a tax number or have someone to explain the mystery that is SARS. And when you're educating your own children you can make sure that they are prepared for adult life.
Home schooling is not for every child or even every parent. Your child could thrive in a home environment or do better in a formal schooling environment and you should keep an open mind when considering your child's schooling options.
Do you home school your kids? Tell us about your thoughts and experiences by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.