Johannesburg – For a long time, there has been a debate between homeschooling and traditional schooling. While both have their pros and cons, homeschooling has been on the rise for quite some time.
Modern day homeschooling began in the 1970s when John Holt began arguing that formal school methods created an oppressive environment. He argued it was a system to make children compliant employees. In the past it was a concept that was almost looked down upon but since the 2010’s it has seen an increase, said Bouwe van der Eems, Chairperson of the Pestalozzi Trust.
The education is essentially the same, but the law requires the schooling to take place at homes. There is a belief that parents take up the role of the educator at home alone. This isn’t the case, said van der Eems.
“Most of the education is given by the parents but the parents are free to make use of tutors or online platforms to enhance their education. The parents don’t have to take the full load of all the education. The important thing is that they are in charge of it, and they must decide what is the best for the kid.”
Homeschooling has its challenges
A parent isn’t a qualified educator. There are challenges that they can encounter during the journey. Qualified educators struggle too, but, van der Eems explained the lack of qualification is made up for in the passion a parent has for teaching their child.
“Home education has got a record of success and parents have shown that despite not being qualified teachers they can do a good job. The research in other countries shows that home educators or home learners perform as good or better than their counterparts in schools.”
Parents have a curriculum designed for homeschooling. This helps to make the work easy to understand but there are websites and platforms that they can turn to should they need assistance.
“The thing is there are curriculums that are specially designed for homeschoolers that make it very easy for parents to perform the function. Those curriculums are then enhanced by all kinds of online facilities. If you as a parent don’t understand something there are platforms where the best teacher on a certain subject can explain it to your child.”
When parents have two or more kids, it can be difficult. However, there are models that cater to this need.An added benefit to this is that the older kids are able to teach their younger siblings and in turn gain beneficial skills.
and its pros …
Homeschooling has many pros. For starters, we know that every individual is different. We all have a different set of skills. home schooling doesn’t shy away from that. It embraces it unlike traditional schools. There are diverse options to cater for everyone’s needs.
“In home education there is a diversity that parents can choose from. There’s a diversity of education approaches and a diversity of curriculums … That is the big difference. The diversity that enables the parents to customise the education to the specific niche of each individual child and I think that is the big power of home education.”
We live in a harsh environment. School bullying is an epidemic prevalent in schools. At times, a child faces merciless bullying. By bringing the school to your home it will offer them a safe environment in which to learn, an encouraging environment and your child won’t be left behind as you are there to set the pace for them.
Social stimulation is necessary
Children however must be socially stimualted. During the pandemic we witnessed the consequences of being apart from each other. A child needs to be part of something, a friend group they can learn from and have a childhood. Some believe homeschooling removes this element from a child’s growth but van der Eems believes there is a way around this.
“Parents have to put in some effort to become part of support groups and collaborate with other home schooling parents. Through WhatsApp groups and the internet, there are a lot of support groups so you must go out and find those groups and then come together for a play group every week or whatever to meet the social needs of the children.”
For van der Eems, the benefit of homeschooling is that they provide the full package in terms of social needs and educational needs. It also allows parents to outsource the education task and is comfortable for them.
“You need to write some exit exam to prove that you’ve got certain skills and knowledge to the outside world. Home educators use matric options that are available. They can either do a National Senior Certificate through distance with the providers of distance education that offer that but then there are also alternative matric options available to them like the American GED system or the British Cambridge System and they get matric qualification from those organisations and then the world is open for them.”
Homeschooling is for everyone
Contrary to popular belief, homeschooling is not just for the elite. Anyone can do it with the right mindset and support, said van der Eems.
“Home education is possible by parents from all socio-economic groups. It is not something for the rich only. It can be done by all parents. There’s a lot of free resources available so in order to get curriculums and stuff, money should not be a reason why you cannot get it and you can make use of all kinds of public facilities like the public library to provide a lot of educational material.”
For parents who are working all the time, then the community should step in to help and this will be a means for the community to unite and grow stronger.
“Where parents are outside the house for a lot of the day then they can utilise family members or community members to assist them in that task. Poorer communities actually generally have more of a sense of community and stronger family ties which empowers them to do that easier than the more isolated and suburban families.”
There are many reasons to bring the school to your home. It takes a bit more effort to homeschool but it will create a closer bond between everyone and could quite possibly be much more effective in helping them excel in their subjects. Najma Khota spoke with Bouwe van der Eems, Chairperson of the Pestalozzi Trust