by Minette Tonoli, mom to 2 gorgeous girls  (4 + 9mnths), passionate homeschooler and herb lover. Owner of herbs on line

It was a question that I battled with, as every mom does, when my daughter was almost three. All the little people who were friends of my daughter were starting going to school and the parents seemed well pleased with it, so I thought it should be something that I should start looking into. And I did. I searched and researched playgroups and creches in my area and even a few recommended ones a little further afield. I decided to go have a look at my shortlist of schools and think I visited 10 in the end. I was not happy. I also could not understand why I was not happy. If asked, I could not give a single clear-cut answer of why I thought a particular school was a “no”. They all seemed, well, as good as advertised. Eventually I did send her to a nice little school, but after a week and a bit and the change I witnessed in my child, I was not happy.

Long story short, I decided to homeschool (“unschool”) my daughter and we’ve had tremendous fun the last two and a half years. She socializes plenty with children her own age, and also gets to spend time with children in different age groups – her best little buddy is a boy younger than her while her favourite cousin to play with is a girl a couple years older. She also engages in extra mural activities (swimming, music, gymnastics and library story time) which further ensures she gets adequate mingling time with other kids. That is all besides the play dates that she regularly has. And of course, chatting to me and Daddy and other grown-ups is also an important social skill to learn. She also has plenty of me-time, to have her space and sort out her thoughts and ideas and spends time away from me and has grown quite independent in many instances.

I don’t simply do school at home, to me that is not at all what homeschooling is about. I get led by my daughter’s interests and her advancement and use life and living as our classroom. We don’t follow a particular curriculum and don’t adhere to “school times”. When an opportunity presents itself for learning (and they constantly do), we engage it.

She is doing spectacularly well, without any pushing and prodding from me, and is in most instances far ahead with developmental milestones. I cannot attribute that to homeschooling alone though, I think she just is a bright little spark in any case (which makes it even more challenging for me to ensure her eager mind gets all it needs).

After investigating homeschooling, and practicing it for two and a half years, I can very confidently say that I have made the right choice for us. I have my reasons for continuing homeschooling and that could probably fill a whole booklet, so I won’t go into the particulars here. Suffice to say that the words to the song “Logical” by the group Supertramps pretty much sums it up.

Anyway, my point is that whether you should send your child to school at 9 months, 18 months, 2 years or 3 years, should maybe not be the only question – perhaps you should think whether you want to send your child to school at all.

Click here to find schools and organisations that offer services and products for parents who homeschool their children in Gauteng.

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