A year in lockdown: Why homeschooling is becoming a popular choice for parents and children
By Louise Schoonwinkel
Reflecting on the last 365 days of lockdown in South Africa, it’s clear that education has undergone immense changes that will forever alter the way that our children learn.
We have noticed how more families are increasingly viewing homeschooling as an appealing alternative.
Over the last year, millions of children have done at least some of their schooling from home, with some families realising how homeschooling has benefits for them.
As a result, Impaq has experienced its fastest ever rate of growth with our numbers of learners having jumped from just under 19 000 at the start of 2020 to over 24 000 at the end of that year..
Among the interesting observations are that families with younger children — those at the Grade R and Grade 1 levels — have been one of our largest new signup groups. In addition, we’ve also seen a high rate of signups from older children who have flourished more under a homeschooling set-up than a traditional schooling environment.
Looking back, I believe there are three key benefits that the pandemic has taught us about homeschooling and distance learning over the last year.
Learning really can happen from anywhere
In our internet-connected age, adults have learnt that they can work from anywhere in the world, and that they don’t always need to be in the office. The same lessons apply to education.
Prior to the pandemic, we often had families - who travel internationally - sign their children up for homeschooling. This ensured that their children’s education was on track, no matter where they were in the world.
During lockdown last year, we saw the same trend on a local level, as many families decided to use the opportunity to travel to other South African locations, such as coastal areas, to continue their work and schooling from there.
What is interesting is that while many families have returned back to their hometowns or cities, others have decided that they enjoy this new way of life and have continued with homeschooling their children.
You don’t have to be a super mom or dad to do homeschooling
Providers of structured homeschooling will give you all the support you need to make schooling at home easy.
This includes detailed scheduling on an online learning platform, lesson structures and material, live online lessons to help grasp important concepts, access to educational specialists when you get stuck and all the assessments that need to be completed in order to progress to the next grade.
You as the parent don’t need to be an expert in mathematics or physical science. Parents can also enlist the assistance of a tutor should they need assistance.
The gift of more time and adaptability
In addition to being based from anywhere, homeschooling provides more time for families and children. For starters, you don’t have to endure the morning and afternoon rush hour trips to get your children to and from school.
Homeschooled children can also work at their own pace, thereby spending more time on topics and aspects that may need greater attention from them. In turn, this results in more individualised attention – something that can be a challenge in traditional schools.
For children who take on time-intensive extracurricular activities, such as professional sport or music, homeschooling is also often the best option for them.
Then there are those children at Grade 10 to12 level who wish to take on more subjects. Homeschooling enables these children to have the time to do so. In addition, a reputable provider provides many more subject choices than what a school can offer.
As the unknowns around the pandemic play out and as technology evolves, there’s no doubt that our education landscape will experience further major changes down the line. What’s good to know is that there are alternatives in place to keep learning going during this challenging time.
Louise Schoonwinkel is the MD of Optimi Home, the company that operates Impaq.