By Elmien Ackerman, a self-proclaimed “wordaholic” who loves words and language and cringes at the thought of a missing apostrophe. She writes for Impaq Education, a curriculum provider for home and tutor education.
While most public schools opened last month, many parents are still rightfully concerned about sending their children back to school. Two of these parents, Sophia Saib and Lisa van Rensburg (both former teachers), decided to teach their children at home. They share why you don’t need to be a teacher to homeschool.
“In this time of COVID-19, the outside world isn’t safe, but that doesn’t mean our children’s education must suffer,” Saib explains. Saib worked in a corporate environment, but her passion for teaching steered her in the direction of a postgraduate degree in education when her second daughter was born ten years ago. “We all want what’s best for our own children. With COVID-19 currently, we decided as a family [that] homeschooling would be the best option. Now I can’t see us ever wanting to go back to mainstream [schooling],” Saib says.
Van Rensburg, who has been teaching for the past ten years, adds: “We decided to do homeschooling because I just felt it would be safer and I would be able to give my children the education they needed”. Van Rensburg had grown up in the teaching industry as her mom had been a teacher for over 30 years. “I have always had a passion for teaching,” Van Rensburg explains.
Homeschooling vs traditional schooling
- Individual attention
“An obvious difference between homeschooling and traditional schooling is the available undivided attention,” Van Rensburg says. She explains that she can now give her two boys, aged 7 and 5, the one-on-one attention they need. Saib agrees and says that she can now spend more time with her four daughters, aged 12, 10, 7 and 3.
Impaq’s lesson material and lesson plans also help Saib save time. “As a perfectionist, I love the structure and ease of lesson delivery and content – it leaves more time to play and do other fun things,” Saib says.
- Easy transition to and from mainstream
Saib first came across Impaq’s lesson material when working part-time at a tutor centre. “That’s where I was absolutely impressed with the Impaq material, its content and structure, as well as the fact that it is CAPS aligned – it’s exactly what we use in mainstream schools except better,” Saib explains. She adds: “Impaq is a viable option because if you ever need to place your children in a traditional school again, it will be with ease as it’s the same content and topics.”
You would think that homeschooling would be an easy choice for Saib, seeing as she is a qualified teacher, but that wasn’t the case initially. “Homeschooling can be overwhelming. I was filled with fears even though I am a SACE-registered and experienced teacher,” Saib explains. Luckily, Saib’s fears were short-lived. She received confirmation from the Department of Education that her children were successfully registered two weeks after submitting the application. “Impaq offers the lesson plans and schedules for each subject, so the administration for [the] application was super easy,” Saib says.
Also read: Impaq: Your guide to homeschooling in 2021
Van Rensburg had no trouble registering either. “I contacted Impaq, and they got back to me the next day, everyone we spoke to was extremely helpful, and we just felt it was the right place for us,” Van Rensburg explains. Saib adds: “Impaq has taken away any concerns about homeschooling, and now we can enjoy our journey.”
Van Rensburg says that the Impaq lesson material is user-friendly, fun, and interactive, making it easy to teach at home. “You don’t have to be a teacher to understand the lesson plans,” Van Rensburg explains. Saib agrees and adds: “Impaq’s workbooks, online platform, lesson plans, content, online classes, tasks, assessments, and report creation is so easy – you don’t need to be a teacher to facilitate [teaching].”
Saib says that she found the notes and activities to be informative and of an excellent standard. “It doesn’t include unnecessary or invalid information to complicate learning. In fact, it includes opportunities for independent research and challenges curiosity with the fun facts.”
Benefits of homeschooling
Saib and Van Rensburg are enjoying the many benefits of homeschooling and listed some of their favourites below:
- Working at their own pace
“I love that we can work at our own pace and in our own time,” Van Rensburg says. Saib says that they follow a time structure for lessons but still work at their own pace. “Each child is unique, so we play around with a schedule that works for us.”
- Learning from the comfort of home
“I love the fact that we can learn in the comfort of our own home,” Van Rensburg says. Saib agrees and adds: “We have watched our daughters grow more relaxed, owning their environment and learning with a smile.”
- More time
Both Saib and Van Rensburg said that they don’t miss the mad morning school rush or sitting in traffic. “We now enjoy a relaxed, calm approach,” says Van Rensburg. “Now we don’t send our children away, they are not overwhelmed with homework, and [they] are released from the pressures of having ‘no time’ to be children,” Saib adds.
Homeschooling tips from former teachers
While they might be new to homeschooling, as former teachers, Saib and Van Rensburg are experts in learning. They share their tips below:
- Stay organised
“Have a schedule and stick to it,” Van Rensburg says. “Being organised is key.”
- Make it fun
“When doing the art activities, have all the art supplies available,” Van Rensburg advises. “Make the outdoor physical activities exciting,” she adds.
- Reward your kids
Saib was worried that her daughters might miss school competitions as her daughters enjoyed winning academic awards, but now they take a different approach. “We teach them to value that you compete with yourself and to try and be your own best – not [to compete with] anyone else’s standards.”
Van Rensburg helps her boys work towards their goals by relying on a tried-and-tested form of reward. “Reward charts work so well with our two boys,” Van Rensburg explains.
- Take part in extracurricular activities
Van Rensburg enrolled her children at a soccer academy to keep them involved in social activities. “We also try to get them involved in other activities and playdates (lockdown regulations permitting),” she concludes.