This is the first post of a series of guest posts on homeschooling. The series is not intended to get you to homeschool. Its merely a series of posts that give you information about homeschooling that may help you in your decision to homeschool or not. I personally don’t know what I will be doing with my twins one day. The fact that I live far from schools make me think I will, and I certainly like the idea of doing so but its not set in stone yet.
I personally believe homeschooling is not for everyone, but in the same way I believe some children should rather be homeschooled. The way we think about things in life has been bended and altered in such a way that we don’t have to think about education like we used to anymore. In fact we SHOULD think differently about it as technology changes but not everyone is screwed on that way are we?
So with no further ado, herewith my first guest on the subject, Julia. Julia is not only a wife and mother of 2 she is also a teacher, friend, problem solver and bibliophile and to top that, she is also a senior IT project manager… yeah not your average teacher don’t you think?
She grew up in Johannesburg and after matriculating and a year at Wits University, she worked as an au-pair in Switzerland for 8months. On returning to South Africa she started working in IT, initially in the entertainment industry and then moved to banking.
She married when she was 27 and after 10 years, with the help of infertility treatment, they had two children.
At 45 she signed up with Unisa and juggled motherhood, a more-than-fulltime job and studies, and last year she eventually completed a Bachelor of Education degree (Intermediate and Senior Phase). How awesome is that?
The boys are now 11 and 13 years old. Her eldest is in grade 7 and really enjoys and thrives at the mainstream school he attends but the youngest however did not thrive at school. He struggles with hearing (eardrums damaged by grommets), and was diagnosed with ‘debilitating anxiety’. Every school day was a struggle for him, with tears, nausea, stomachaches etc.
With that the decision was made that they would homeschool.
Now If you were my crowd in a big hall, I’d say “Give a round of applause for Julia”… but you’re not…. you’re a crowd sitting behind your computers or phones so give a silent heartfelt feeling of joy for Julia!
Starting the homeschooling journey by Julia Katic
There are LOTS of articles on how to start homeschooling. The amount of homeschoolers seems to be increasing year on year. It is legal. Acceptance is growing, although there will always be antagonists. Homeschooling is a very viable option and deserves the credit so many people give it.
In writing I will relate my story with the steps taken to starting a homeschool.
One size does not fit all. With the huge responsibility that comes from being a parent there are many decisions required to ensure the very best for our children. A quality of a child’s education will make a huge impact on their lives.
There are many reasons why people start homeschooling. Reasons range from wanting greater control on what your child’s education includes, to bad experiences at school (so many stories abound about bullying by other children and even teachers), financial constraints, learning difficulties, physical difficulties, religious beliefs, and to protecting our children from outside or negative influences.
At this point you may be asking yourself:-
- Will I be able to teach?
- Will I have enough patience?
- Will my family get by on one salary?
- What if I change my mind and need to put my child into mainstream schooling, will they be accepted into their age appropriate grade, and will they cope?
For me it was an easy decision. My son was getting more withdrawn and unhappy. I was ‘loosing’ him. Weekends and holidays were happy; during school terms this mood went from withdrawal, stony silence or extreme anger. I knew that the very best I could do for my son was to facilitate his education myself.
So once the homeschooling direction is chosen, then there seem to be a huge amount of other decisions to make.
- What objectives do we want to achieve?
- How will our school day work?
- How will my child make friends?
- What sort of homeschooling philosophy will I follow? (there are MANY options)
- What curriculum should I follow?
- How will I teach my child?
- How will I keep track of everything that needs to be done?
- I am not good at ______ (some subject), so how can I teach it?
It may seem daunting.
Decide on what you would like to achieve with homeschooling. This can range from basic schooling at home through to un-schooling, and many steps in-between. This decision will lead you to selecting a curriculum or approach.
What gave me tremendous confidence through this initial stage came from my experience teaching in mainstream schools (done as part of my Bachelor of Education degree.) So many children struggle and the time and approache required to have all the children really learning wasn’t possible. But then 50% is a pass for most subjects. So all there was to do was to move onto the next thing …. I knew with homeschooling, my son would understand every concept. We would have the time. I would know his interests and abilities. We would work together until a concept was really well understood. I knew that what I could give my son could only be much better that what he could get in a classroom.
We started out loosely. I first wanted to meet my son where he was. I found he was extremely anti “school lessons”. For a couple of weeks I just did what he wanted to do … alongside him, together, just enjoying time with him, really getting to know him and letting him decide what the next activity would be. We were relaxed. He opened up.
I then decided to move onto his strengths. He needed a lot of success with this new way of educating. So we started with maths – something he really enjoys. First up was Monopoly. We traded and calculated and had fun. We moved onto other games with cards and dice. We watched the Youtube video of Jacob Zuma trying to say a really long number and laughed and laughed because we knew we could do much better than that. Working out of the Platinum textbook we started a more formal education. My son doesn’t like writing (dysgraphia) and so I did the writing for him, he just had to tell me what to write. Halfway through the year and he was almost complete with the years work.
He really enjoys learning now. We do lots of experiments and field trips. His trust and openness has grown. He is starting to make friends.
It has been nine months now since I started homeschooling. I look at my son and see a totally different child – there is a ‘lightness’ and cheer in him. He is far more relaxed, happy and engaged. He is finding and developing his talents and interests. I feel like I know him so much better. He is getting out and getting to know more people and going into unknown situations that would just have been far too scary in the past.
I have my child back. Homeschooling was definitely an excellent approach for my son.
Short checklist to start homeschooling
- Determine your reasons to homeschool
- Read and connect with other homeschoolers to get familiar with the many concepts, benefits, options and difficulties
- If old enough, discuss homeschooling with your child and get their buy-in
- Decide on homeschooling philosophy and approach you want to follow
- Register (or not) with the Department of Education or Pestalozzi Trust
- Decide on your calendar / routine / learning material
- Get started – keep things very simple. There is no rush. There is far more time available in a homeschooling environment than at a school
- Keep looking at how things are working and adjust as you get more experience
This was the Third post in the series Homeschooling.
Click here for the second post, titled “So what about socialization?”
Click here for the third post, titiled “The Good, the Bad and the Unexplained”
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