You can still make this academic year a success with the help of home education

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With mid-year exams at schools having ended and results being released, some learners across the country may feel that they need extra help in improving their academic performance for the rest of the year. Examination results can be a particularly big wake-up call — especially for those learners who fear that they’re at risk of failing the academic year.

Many of these learners and parents might start to lose hope, but one alternative viable solution involves that of home education (also known as homeschooling). Home education in South Africa has appealed to a variety of academic needs, from schoolgoing learners who need extra help mastering specific concepts to those who feel that their full potential is not being reached in a mainstream set-up. 

What’s important to note is that learners who join an accredited home education provider follow the same CAPS curriculum as their school-going peers. They also fall under examination bodies overseen by Umalusi, such as the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) or the IEB. Because of this, a home education learner can exit and return to a traditional school at any point in time if they wish.

For parents who are thinking about taking control of their child’s education, home education is an option. But it’s important for them to consider several key factors that can make such an endeavour work.

The first key point to consider is that as a parent you’ll need to be prepared to take on more responsibility in terms of your child’s day-to-day learning needs. You will be taking control of your child’s education, and it might seem like an impossible task. However, the correct provider will give you a schedule and structure that tells you exactly what you need to do and when. 

In such a setup, you’ll receive the books you need, including the assessments that have to be completed by your child. You will further receive extra services such as video content, examination preparation tools and online tutoring for specific subjects. Home education parents also 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.

There are many resources out there to assist parents in this regard, such as online teaching assets. In addition, there are working groups where parents — with varying knowledge sets — can assist each other in understanding how to teach different subjects.It’s essential that home educated children practice the concepts that they are learning. If your child is doing this, you’ll pick up very quickly if there’s a concept that they’re not grasping.

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. There are hundreds of tutors across South Africa and they are independent of curriculum providers. While tutors 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. This means that your tutor is there for supplementary support, but they cannot take responsibility for everything.

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. Doing home education doesn’t mean that your child misses out on crucial social and integration activities either. In fact, this can be boosted by home education as children can have more time to engage in several extra-curricular activities and interact with a variety of peers.

For example, there are home education communities that organise sports and even other activities such as debating. There are even matric farewells for these learners too. All in all, home education can be an enriching experience for parents and learners, but it does require a mind-shift. Before making the jump, make sure that you are ready as both parent and child to take on the responsibilities that this type of learning entails.

Louise Schoonwinkel is the General Manager of Impaq, a subsidiary of FutureLearn Group.