By Danielle Barfoot, mom to a boisterous teen and freelancer who writes about parenting and education. She writes regularly for Impaq Education, a curriculum provider for home, tutor and school education.
Home education is a wonderful, worthwhile journey, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. So, whether you are just beginning this journey, or whether you are already a seasoned home schooler, here are a few tips to ensure success.
Start with the why
Why do you want to educate your children at home? Having a clear answer to this question will strengthen your commitment and writing down your reasons will not only help you stay focused on the ultimate outcome you want for your children, it will also remind you why you chose this path when things get tough.
Consider your children
As you start this journey, it’s important to consider each of your children; their strengths, weaknesses and interests. Keeping individual personalities and learning styles in mind when planning will make learning a lot easier for everyone.
Before committing, ensure that you understand the law as it pertains to home education in South Africa – what home education means, how registration works, who the law applies to, and what records you are required to keep.
Plan your schedule…
Creating a daily or weekly schedule of what you intend to cover and where learning will take place will help, especially in the beginning. There is no one-size-fits-all plan when it comes to home education – the perfect schedule is the one that works for your family.
…but don’t be too rigid
Flexibility is one of the best features of home education. Children get sick, the power goes out, unexpected opportunities arise. Don’t stress if things don’t go as planned every now and again. The beauty of home education is you can catch up on missed work at another time; you just need to remain flexible.
Make learning fun
Studies have shown that when children are having fun, they often retain information better. So, when things get a little dull, find some fun activities to add to your lessons. Think picnics or hikes, hands-on, messy experiments; and visits to the zoo or science museum, and This is a great way to bring concepts to life and give your children a new perspective on a particular topic.
It is important to be present – in body and mind – during ‘school’ time, so save your household chores for later. Being present is not only about ensuring that your children are working diligently, but will also help you forge a stronger bond.
When you or your children get frustrated, take advantage of the freedom that home education provides and take a break – for just a few minutes or even a few weeks! Whether it’s a trip to the playground or a trip to another country, breaks are not only great ways to relax and de-stress, but they also serve as fantastic learning opportunities.
Google is the home education parent’s friend. When you get stuck, you can always find help online. But the internet is not your only lifeline – you can also call in the help of a tutor. Click here to find a tutor in your area from Impaq’s nationwide network.
Cut everyone – including yourself – a little slack
Because the start of a new school year, or the transition from mainstream to home education, is a readjustment for everyone, allow for some bumps in the road. There are going to be good days and bad days. There may even be tantrums, tears and tempers…and not necessarily from the children!
Home education is not always easy, and it comes with a unique set of challenges. In fact, simply adjusting to the freedom and flexibility of home education may be difficult at first. But it’s also extremely rewarding. You’ll learn as you go and, if you are committed and prepared, you (and your children) will be just fine.
Good luck and remember to have fun!