Homeschooled children have ample opportunities for engagement and socialisation. Picture: keesler.af.mil

About 10 to 20 percent of South African children repeat Grade 1, according to the Department of Basic Education. The stats don’t bode well for an education system buckling under pressure to sustain academic performance.

Now parents are looking to other alternatives, beyond the reach of mainstream schooling.

Homeschooling is one such option, and the benefits have been proved over and over again. But there’s always the age-old argument: How do my children develop their social skills if they are not surrounded by peers?

The Conversation’s Kate Burton and Eileen Slater conducted a survey earlier this year that captured data on various aspects of homeschooling, including socialisation.

They found homeschooled children had ample opportunities for engagement and socialisation.

“Whilst home education does occur from a ‘home base’, many home education approaches extend learning well beyond the bounds of the family home by way of experiential learning and accessing community resources,” they wrote.

Previous research also suggested that homeschooled learners often had higher quality friendships and better relationships with their parents and other adults when compared to children attending traditional schools.

When it comes to academic prowess, children who are taught the basics at home from an early age have the upper hand. A study published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement found that preschoolers whose parents read and talked about books to them scored better on maths tests at age 12.

“Our results underline the great importance of exposing children to books for development not just in literacy but numeracy too: early language skills not only improve a child’s reading but also boost mathematical ability,” said study lead author Simone Lehrl from University of Bamberg.

Louise Schoonwinkel, the general manager of home education provider Impaq, said learners who joined an accredited home education provider followed the same Caps curriculum as their school-going peers, and should also fall under examination bodies overseen by Umalusi. Once the recommendations are met, learners can exit or return to a traditional school at any time.

Parents should also take note of the following:

More responsibility

“You will be taking control of your child’s education, and it might seem like an impossible task. However, the right provider will give you a schedule and structure that tells you exactly what you need to do and when,” added Schoonwinkel.

Support

“Home education parents get very detailed facilitator guides, which tell them how to teach a subject. These guides don't just communicate what a learner needs, but also what the parent needs to know about teaching a particular subject.

“In addition, there are working groups where parents - with varying knowledge sets - can assist each other in understanding how to teach different subjects.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for help


“Many parents find it easier to teach an early grade syllabus such as Grade 1, but as children progress to higher grades, most parents will typically need to seek the assistance of a tutor. But while they do offer greater assistance, it’s important to remember that you as the parent have to take responsibility for your child’s education right up until Grade 9 level.”

Follow the rules

“According to law, you also have to register your child with the Department of Education and we strongly advise that home education parents ensure that they do this.”

Useful links:

  • Impaq: www.impaq.co.za
  • Learning reimagined with Zakiyya Ismail: livingjoyfully.ca
  • How to register your child: www.schoolguide.co.za/for-parents/school-review-guidelines/1036-education-guide/11110-how-to-register-for-homeschooling-in-south-africa.html