We completed our June exam successfully! I cannot be prouder of our achievements. We chose to work through the unknown when our country started a 21-day lockdown, and everything literally shut down. I had a determination in my heart that we should continue with school as usual even though everyone seemed to be on a sudden holiday. I knew we had set goals for the year and if we had stopped schooling then, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve our goals. After all, one of the reasons we started home-schooling is so that we wouldn’t be affected by external influence. So, we decided to power through!
We started exams on the 1st June and completed on the 12th June. We received our reports this week and we were so anxious to see my daughters results as this was her first exam. Well, she exceeded my expectations! I could see her beaming with pride as she read through her report. Her response was also so encouraging for me as her mom and teacher. She said, “Mom now that I know if I work hard, I can do well, I promise to always do my best.” Those words from her heart to mine had just confirmed everything I already know. God is in the centre of our family’s choice to home-school our kids, and more than results on a piece of paper I could see that home-schooling is building and shaping her character. Our scripture verse for exams is “Study to show yourself approved!” which simply means do your best and trust God to help you with the rest.
Going into this exam I was hesitant because I felt my daughter is only nine years old and I questioned myself as to whether or not I was doing the right thing by putting her under pressure to write exams at such a young age. She proved to me that she could function exceptionally well under a little pressure. Never underestimate your kid’s ability. Always push them to do their best and learn praise them no matter the outcome. This is what I had to do with my son.
My son is in Grade 7 and is still quite playful, as any boy is. He also completed his June exam this year and I wasn’t completely convinced that he did his best. He wasn’t as impressed with his report either, but I also encouraged him to work harder on a daily basis and already I can see he is. I found with my son I can harp on the negative side a bit so I’m consciously trying harder this term to keep encouraging him to do his best. I sat him down and asked him how does he feel and if he feels this is his best work, and he replied no. I asked him what he can do to do better his results and held I him responsible for his results and ways he can change them.
He starts high school next year and his workload will be increasing. I’m thinking of slowing down his year by going at a slower pace on a daily basis. I don’t know if that’s the right decision to make but I will pray about it. I also don’t want him to feel like he can get away with playing more and doing less work.
In these daily lessons of our home-school journey I’m constantly aware that each child is so different, and we cannot compare them but rather look for what sparks their curiosity in learning and work harder in getting them interested in that on a daily basis.
We had a wonderful two week break and have now entered the second half of our curriculum we learned about Oceanography this week in grade 4 science and ended the week with a beautiful painting of my daughter’s favourite sea creature the dolphin. We also learned about the Fruits of the Spirit in Studying God’s Word. Being Patient and living with the peace of God in our hearts and minds.
In Grade 7 history we are learning about Rome before and after Christ’s birth. In maths we started learning about statistics and how to use data to plot a graph. Our poem for this theme taught us how self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and we need to practice it in our daily lives. Learning to control our thoughts and discipline ourselves to complete our daily tasks as well.
My eldest son is preparing for his preliminary exams which he will write from the 1st August. We are mostly completed with his syllabus for the year and it’s now time for revision and studying. This will be the most challenging exam of his entire schooling life. He has also applied to university and has been provisionally accepted. Pray for us as we trust God to help him study and complete his preliminary exam with success!
I recently did a radio interview on homeschooling. One of the questions I was asked was what curriculum I advise families who are looking at homeschooling their kids. This a question I get asked often. The beauty of homeschooling is that there is no one size fits all solution. Each family unit is unique, and you will need to research various curriculums or subjects which will be the right fit for your family. In this blog I will go into detail of our curriculum we chose for our kids and I have also invited my friend to share her homeschool journey and what she has done with her kids. My aim is to show the families out there that there are so many options.
As mentioned in previous blogs, we follow the Theocentric Christian Education Curriculum in short T.C.E. It is a Christian-based curriculum. Our books are mostly from U.S.A and we do Afrikaans and South African history and Geography. My daughter in Grade 4 does the BJU maths syllabus and we focus on maths flashcards daily. For Science called Understanding God’s World which is from the Abeka syllabus, South African notes which include history and geography. We use Abeka syllabus for English. English also has a reader, this term is The Wright brothers and their sister, written by Lois Mills, which we read a chapter or two per week. T.C.E creates their own Afrikaans Syllubus which also comes with vocabulary cards to learn per Unit. There is also a bible course called Studying God’s Word. Our curriculum guide book has divided the syllabus for us so that we do a certain number of units per week in each subject. The curriculum guide also acts as a manual which guides us on how to approach each subject. It also contains our Themes for example God is creator, God is love etc where the kids learn of the characteristics of God. For each theme we have a scripture memorisation and two poems. As we complete each week, we have test in various subjects per week.
My older son is in Grade 7 and he follows a very similar program. He is currently doing Principles of Mathematics by Katherine Loops. His English book has changed this year in preparation for high school. He started with Writing and Grammar with BJU Press. He also has a reader called Misee Lee by Arthur Ransome from which a book report needs to be done once complete. Afrikaans syllabus by TCE as well an Afrikaans reader called … which also requires a book report to be done. For World History his book is called History of the World in Christian perspective from the Abeka curriculum. This has been such an interesting journey and we for each section we watch a YouTube video on that particular section. South African notes include South African History as well as Geography. Our Science book is called Science, Order and Design by Abeka as well. We do a lot of science experiments after each unit. He also does a biblical study unit called Studying Gods Word. He learns a new scripture verse every month as well as two poems per month. We also do a two or more test per week.
Grades 4-12 write exams twice a year. Grade 4 and 7 exams are written at home under my supervision. I download and print the exam papers and once completed send them via email to the T.C.E head office in Cape town for marking. We then receive a report after approximately a week or two.
In grades 11 and 12 the syllabus changes to Cambridge which is U.K based. My son who is now in Grade 12 started with Cambridge IGCSE levels last year which is simply means International General Certificate of Secondary Education, which is equivalent to grade 11. This year he is doing his AS levels which means Advanced Subsidiary level. This is equivalent to grade 12. After As level some students choose to do A levels which is year 13 but this is not required for South African universities. In Grade 11 he did IGCSE English, Maths, Physics, Business Studies, and AS level Afrikaans which means he does not need to do Afrikaans again this year. In grade 12 he is currently registered to do English, Maths, Physics and Business Studies. He writes two exams in March and August with T.C.E, which is in preparation for the final exam in November. The two exams are written at home under my supervision while the final exam is written at a Cambridge registered exam centre. These are sent to Cambridge head office U.K. The minimum percentage to pass any subject is 50%. If you fail, you will need to rewrite at the next exam sitting. We receive a username and password to access results when they are available. This is an internationally recognised curriculum which means my son can apply with the AS Level results to study at any university worldwide and is not limited to South African Universities alone.
The section below is by Marilet Strydom
My friend Marilet chose a different path to mine, here is her story:
This year is the 6th year I am home-schooling my kids. At the beginning of my journey, I was going to start with ACE (Accelerated Christian Education).
My husband and I went to a homeschool expo and I met Sonya Wood from Oikos Family Ministries. They have also home-schooled their 2 kids years before (her children were adults already). They started to source resources from America specifically for Home-school families in South Africa.
We left the expo that day, still adamant to do the ACE curriculum with our children. But the Holy Spirit convicted us, and we felt a strong urge to investigate this Oikos family setup. As we discussed our goals for home schooling, we also realized more and more that Oikos was the right fit for us as we wanted to equip our kids for life, and we knew then and still know now that a strong foundation in Jesus Christ is required for a fruitful and truly prosperous life.
The “scary” aspect for me, of following this route was that it wasn’t a route that would end up with a South African Matric certificate. I was very worried about my kids not being allowed one day to study at a university etc. I had to change my mind-set about this as both my husband and I followed the normal prescribed route of completing Matric and then pursue a degree or higher qualification for a tertiary institute. But through faith in trusting God to provide for my children, I just took the leap and started with Oikos. I have never been sorry about this decision for a second.
Basically Oikos offers English, Maths, Science and a few other subjects. The science books are based on biblical worldview of creation and not evolution theory. I have been doing the English, Science and Math-U-See with my daughter since she was 8 years old, in English, which is her second language (she is turning 13 this year). But with my youngest child, I followed a different approach with his education. He is 10 now and so far it is going well. I taught him from grade 1-3 to read and write in our Home language – Afrikaans. This year, he is in gr. 4 and I am gradually introducing him to English grammar, basically by letting him copy words from an English Bible and story books. But he is reading English on his own, without me ever teaching him any formal English. For us this was incredible. He also has a few English friends, which also would contribute a lot.
I used the Math-U-see (maths), Llatl (English – Learning Language arts through literature) and some of the Science subjects up to last year. As I’ve mentioned, my eldest daughter is turning 13 this year and we decided to slowly but surely change her over to the Cambridge curriculum, which is an international acclaimed curriculum from England. The only reason for this is because we want our children to have a recognised “matric” type of qualification if they should want to study at a university later on.
We will however continue with the Math-U-See curriculum for as long as possible - It is especially wonderful because it comes with a DVD where Steve Demme gives each lesson himself. If you are not mathematically inclined and dread teaching Math to your kids, this is the perfect solution.
Regarding the other subjects like History, geography, etc. …I came across a beautiful History program, called “The story of the world” which consists of 4 volumes. Volume 1: Ancient Times, Volume 2: The middle Ages, Volume 3: Early Modern Times, Volume 4: The Modern Age.
For South African History we use “Footprints on our land”, written by Shirley Erwee and Wendy Young, both home school moms. It is a comprehensive program that teaches our SA history but also include English Language arts, Geography etc.
For Geography we us a book, also written by a South African home-school mom, Ursula Wilbraham. The book is called “Meandering Mzanzi” and it is all about the Geography of South Africa.
We also make frequent use of the Internet and YouTube videos. I find that my kids retain knowledge much better once they’ve seen a video of it on YouTube. The internet is also full of very helpful resources.
This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has been the greatest blessing and most fulfilling experience a parent could dream of. Spending so much time with my kids…. Learning and growing together. What an immense privilege. This has also been our family dream: to grow closer together and closer to God. We believe that this path made it possible for us, and we continue to grow and enjoy the journey together.
These are two completely different homeschool journey’s which is proof that there is no “right or wrong way” or “best curriculum” to use. Find what’s right for your family even if it means changing a few times along your way. Pray and trust God to lead you.
As I write today, we on day 21 of our country’s lockdown. We have been working consistently and have welcomed the public holidays in between to rest and recuperate. As with everyone else we have been isolated and try to go out once a week only to get essentials. I have been using some online stores more now than ever in an attempt to stay home. My kids are continuing with as much extra murals as we can using the Zoom application for face to face guitar lessons as well as Whatsapp videos for karate.
My older son in grade 12 uses Zoom as well for Physics and Maths Lessons. I have been more involved with his work because like any teenager as soon as I take a step back, my son tends to slow down and doesn’t complete his work task for the week. He has started to fall behind with weekly assignments and has even had to work most weekends and public holidays to catch up.
With my other two kids we have had much more free time in the afternoons, so we have been doing a lot of baking and cooking. We have been able to incorporate more arts and crafts as well. We made Easter baskets for their younger cousins, using egg cartons, paint and pipe cleaners. I bought extra Easter eggs and filled the baskets. It was a fun craft and we will be doing many more crafts in the future.
I have enjoyed having more time to research for various topics and make the lessons even more interesting. We have been doing more science experiments and watching interesting you tube videos related to what we are studying. We recently discovered a you tube channel shot in the Kruger Park where we watched a live game drive with the Kruger rangers. It was so interesting and felt like we were on the game drive as well. We have been to Kruger twice and we enjoyed seeing the animals up close in our living room.
I have discovered new fun ways for my daughter in Grade 4 to learn her timetables using a website called hit the button. I’ve also cut up her Afrikaans Woordeskat in a way that’s different and fun to what she normally does and she’s responded so well to these changes. Interestingly I have changed my red pen colour to purple when marking their daily work, they love it! Small changes to make learning fun helps during this time. We are reading so much more both online and revisited our bookshelf to find some older books as well. Audible had some great offers for online books. My son chose an adventure book and loved it.
We need to remain positive during this time, trust God for his peace in our hearts and minds and try do things you wouldn’t normally have time to do as a family. Engage your kids in quizzes, family board games etc. We also have incorporated homemade pizza nights and each one gets to roll their base and add their own toppings. It was all positive comments once dinner was eaten, apparently, we make the best pizzas ever! There’s talk of even opening our very own pizza place after lockdown ….. My daughter has already written out the menu!
It’s February and we’ve hit the road running into our home-school curriculum. Our routine has changed a little because my eldest now attends math and science lessons daily, so our day is full of good interruptions. We learning to navigate this new change. We try to always start our day with 15 minutes of devotions. This year we started with Joel Osteen’s book “I Declare”. We then try to get through at least three subjects before we leave the house to drop my eldest at his lessons. I find if we can get through at least 3 subjects in the morning, half the work done for the day.
To be more productive, while we driving, my youngest sings her math timetables. I purchased this amazing timetable tool from The Good and the Beautiful curriculum, which has downloaded songs, so she sings her timetables while we drive. It comes with little picture books for her to see the story while she sings it. She also gets car sick, so this takes her focus off the sickness. My second eldest carries his English and Afrikaans readers and catches up on his reading during the ride. We come back home for two hours before we need to leave again to pick up my eldest. In this time, we’re able to complete the rest of the days task. The timetable for the math and science lessons change often so we navigate each day differently and some days incomplete work is done as afternoon homework. The flexibility of been able to carry our books with us is an amazing positive of home-schooling. Some days are easier than others. We have extra murals most days, piano, guitar, karate, ballet, drama and soccer…. yes! My kids are really busy, and we prefer it that way!
My eldest son has found AS level Cambridge quite challenging and often finds he needs to complete tasks on a Saturday as well. After his maths and science lesson he then comes home to complete the days homework from the lessons, so it takes up his entire afternoon. Mornings are for the other two subjects Business studies (which I tutor him daily) and English which we go through together and get extra help where needed. His day starts at 7.30am and ends at 5pm, he has a break then studies at night. He will also be writing mini exams in 2 weeks. During his breaks he goes to gym, plays soccer and practices piano. I think he assumed doing four subjects in matric wouldn’t be that difficult, but he’s come to realise that the volume of work is challenging. He has assignments most weeks which he completes on a Saturday. This week he did a math test with his tutor as well as a math assignment which is submitted via email to T.C.E. He also completed an English literature assignment based on the play Henry IV. I could see it was a busy week for him. He learnt how to email his assignments without my assistance as well, all this is preparing him for university next year.
We have started our research into the various degrees he is interested in, as well as the cost of boarding and fees. It’s quite daunting thinking about the cost of university and wishing you were more prepared for it financially. It’s never too early to save for your child’s education. While we started saving on and off since he was about two years old, it’s still no where near the amount we will need for the next couple of years.
We are looking at his strengths and interest and working with him to guide him into the next phase of his life. It’s been an ongoing topic in our family for the last two years and his always gone back to his love for drawing and careers that will suit that field of interest. Architecture has been his number one interest since grade 7. Other interest is music, as he plays the piano. He is also interested in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He has various career guidance books he has been reading since grade 11 to get an idea of what these careers entail. Our job is to guide him and pray for him to walk in God’s plan and purpose for his life.
We were so excited on the 16th January this year when we received my son’s Cambridge, IGCSE exam results. He passed all his subjects and received a distinction for English! I don’t think I’ve ever jumped so high with my laptop in hand. It was a moment of sheer relief and joy! We also received his AS Afrikaans results the week prior, because the AS results are released before IGCSE results. He received a B pass for Afrikaans. We had the help of an Afrikaans tutor which made a huge difference in his results. I honestly wouldn’t have managed without a tutor. This is a great example of how having support of tutor whilst home-schooling can be beneficial.
This is my eldest son’s last year with home-school and I have mixed emotions. He is currently registered to do his Cambridge AS levels with the curriculum we chose, Theocentric Christian Education (T.C.E.). This year he will do four AS level subjects, English, Mathematics, Physics and Business Studies. He will also do a detailed study of the life of Christ as part of his Biblical studies. This biblical course as mentioned in previous blogs, takes the place of Life Orientation. He will receive a certificate for it at the end of the year from T.C.E.
This year we have also enlisted the help of a Cambridge maths and physics teacher. He will attend Glenwood boys high for two hours a day. We’ve had to make a decision mostly because of the lack of Cambridge teachers, as well as for him to achieve a good pass at the end of this year. We were hesitant for him to go to Glenwood daily, because we feel the social influences and pressures, bullying and so many other factors surrounding public schools are quite daunting. In this case we felt the daily lessons which can only be done at the school would benefit him. We sat with him and helped him to realise that he was there solely for the purpose of learning.
I would still need to oversee his maths and physics work and mark it. I also teach him business studies daily and mark his answers to end of chapter questions. With English we analyse weekly poetry, and his set work for the first term is Henry IV which is examinable. In all his subjects he has assignments which we email to the email tutor provided by T.C.E. He will write what TCE calls mini exams in March and August at home under my supervision and these exams will be marked at the T.C.E head office. The final Cambridge exam in November will be written at Glenwood boys High and posted to Cambridge head office in London for marking.
We got through our first week of home-school for 2020 last week. We officially started on the 20th January after a very long festive break. It was a rocky start to say the least. I spent the most part of day one at the doctor and pharmacy with my daughter. I was proud to see my middle son take on his work alone while I was busy. I can see his independence peeking through as he enters grade 7 this year! I was thinking of slowing down his schoolwork this year and therefore writing his June exam in September this year. This will mean postponing his November exam to the following year. I spoke to him in depth regarding this, but he didn’t like the idea. So far, he’s been keeping up and working well, there’s been no need to slow it down. I can see a little more maturity on his part this year. Praying it will continue!
We started our third year of home-schooling and we have no regrets. As a tradition we start day one by creating vision boards, which we use to set our goals for the year. We cut pictures out of magazines or print them online, which are in line with each child’s goal. We paste the completed vision board where we can see it daily. This helps to keep the goals set on their minds each time they look at it.
We were able to take some beautiful pictures at a fellow home-schooling family’s home studio, capturing the start of our third-year home-schooling. We started out with our kids in grade two, grade five and grade ten. They are now in Grade four (senior primary), Grade seven (last year of senior primary) and Grade twelve (last year of school), quite an achievement indeed!
We are grateful to God for His faithfulness. We’ve faced various challenges from moving to a new province, to stumbling blindly through our first year of home-schooling, not knowing if it will work out. But here we stand once again with God on our side entering our third year with our heads held high!
How did we get here so soon, its November! I can’t believe we’ve almost completed our second year of homeschooling. It’s been both rewarding and difficult. We’ve has so many ups and many downs. There have been days when I want to throw in the towel and others when I’m in awe of how homeschooling has changed my kids for the better.
We start our T.C.E exams soon. We are in complete exam mode and its tough. It’s tough saying no to play dates and fun activities, but we chose this. We chose a more structured homeschool lifestyle, and exam period is no different. We follow our plan as much as possible.
A month before the exam begins I create a study time table for my son. I find starting a month in advance allows him to pace himself and he doesn’t feel too stressed. His currently in grade 6 and 11 years old. He requires much more of a hands-on approach when it comes to study time than my older son in grade 11. I work through the break- down of what he needs to know for the exam and I break up each subject into daily, manageable study task. He is required to study one to two hours every evening and more on weekends.
If he is studying subjects like science, geography or history I do an oral test to see if he has studied thoroughly. When he studies maths I first revise the section with him. He then does some examples for that particular section. If he is successful with the revision questions, we move to the next section.
With English and Afrikaans, he prepares by studying the many rules and I also test him orally. He is also required to know all his poems for the term, as this is part of English. He has a biblical study subject called Studying God’s Word, where he is required to know the scriptures memorised for the term.
We start out slowly with the timetable and closer to the exam if we find we are running out of time we put in a little extra time than usual.
Once exam period starts he will write the paper in the mornings from 8.30-10.30, then have an hour break before he starts studying for the next days paper. Exam period last about two weeks.
We try to get the language exams done first then Maths and lastly the study subjects.
He writes his exams at home on our dining room table. I invigilate his exam and obviously I’m not allowed to assist him. I explain the exam instructions and he starts. His not allowed to move around during the exam, just as in school. I try to keep his sister as quiet as possible as she doesn’t yet write exams and can be a distraction. My eldest son is also still writing exams. He is almost complete with his Cambridge IGCSE exams and still has six TCE exams to do.
He also writes the TCE exams at home which I also invigilate. They sit at the same table where I can easily see them. If they sit in separate rooms I wouldn’t be able to monitor them well enough.
I also sign a parental declaration form which declares I will not help them in any way to answer the exam questions. If you know me, I stick to that declaration. Once exams are over I scan and email the exam papers together with the mark sheets for the term, to the TCE head office in Cape Town. The exam papers are marked and after a week or two depending on how busy they are, we get our reports. The report contains both the summary of mark sheets for the term as well as the actual exam marks.
I honestly cannot wait for the end. For positive results! This year was tough!
We have officially entered exam season. my eldest son started his Cambridge exam’s which he writes as his previous high school. It’s been a mixed bag of emotions for both of us. It’s his first official exam in a school setting since we started homeschooling. He was met with trepidation and excitement at the thought of going back to his old high school, which felt so strange to him returning as a homeschooler.
When he started at the high school he was given a little booklet of the rules of the school and a lot of it was focused on correct uniform, so he understands how strict the school is regarding uniforms. So been a homeschooler he gets to wear regular clothes when he writes the exam, which he quite enjoyed.
Seeing all his old friends again was awesome for him. They haven’t seen each other in 2 years. They were surprised that his homeschooled and had many questions about the new path we’ve taken. They were also amazed at how tall he’s gone.
His first paper was AS level Afrikaans paper 1 and paper 2 followed in the next few days. This is his final Afrikaans paper. Should he pass these papers he will not need to revisit this subject, which was very appealing to him. We’ve had an Afrikaans tutor who has been assisting him throughout the year, since Afrikaans is not my strong point.
For the 1st Afrikaans paper he had two compulsory comprehension questions. Paper 2 was an essay question. In the beginning of the year Cambridge specifies 4 topics which he had to prepare four different essays, then choose one topic out of the four he prepared. The final paper has the four topics but worded differently. Even though he prepared on the topic, he couldn’t write the exact essay because the question was worded different.
I told him how in matric, I sat to write my Afrikaans Opstel but couldn’t really understand what the topic was about, had never seen the topic before and was expected to write at least two pages. He had an advantage of at least knowing the topic beforehand and was able to prepare.
The entire Cambridge exam because of the vast number of subjects, is spread over a period of six weeks. It’s also an International course so they cater for the many students who write around the world. His exams are therefore spread out quite well over the next few weeks which allows him to study. He also has his TCE (Theocentric Christian Education) syllabus and exams which he will complete in the next four weeks while simultaneously writing his Cambridge exam. I can see he is a little overwhelmed by this because normally in public school all other work ceases when exams start.
He will write Cambridge English paper 1 and paper 2 next week, and end of October Maths paper 1 and 2 and Physical Science paper 1. The last Physical Science exam as well as Business Studies will be written in the beginning of November. He will then start with the TCE exams which is History, English Literature and Character of God (Biblical Studies).
I’m certain that I have prepared him as well as I can for this exam. I need to rest in the fact that he now must apply himself and study and God will strengthen him and guide him through this season. Once completed, the exams are posted off to the Cambridge head office in London to be marked. He will get the results by the 2nd week of January.
We have an intense few weeks ahead of us and I’m praying that he excels.
Organisation is key to great and smooth home schooling day. Recently I have valued any opportunity to reorganize our home school method of working with regards to our timetable and our day in general.
I invested in some new metal buckets for our stationary, so it is easily accessible as the glass bottles I was using wasn’t very kid friendly. I kept imagining that one day they will break and seriously injure one of my kids as they carelessly reach out and grab them. For ease of use the Metal buckets stay on the dining room table and even look so cute... Functional and cute can’t beat that!
I’ve purchased an electric sharpener which my kids are loving. I thought of doing that earlier in the
year but kept putting it off. The small sharpeners are always breaking, getting lost in the house or
just don’t sharpen well enough anymore. This was one of the best investments so far and the kids
are super excited to have a new toy.
We have a timetable which we use daily but it’s inside our curriculum book. The kids are always
asking me what’s next on the list of subjects to do. With the help of a friend I made little subject
cards. We attach them on a string above their desk with little pegs and as they finish each subject
they taken down and put into the completed basket. This brilliant idea was taken from a fellow
home school mom. It allows my kids the independence of seeing what is still left to do instead of
keep asking mom. They able to have control by taking the subjects cards down and getting that
satisfaction that they have completed it.
Lastly both kids need to write in cursive but the one is struggling to form the letters on a day to day basis. The other has a cursive writing book which is used daily. The challenge is getting the cursive book out every time I need to check if the word is formed correctly, so I created framed cursive writing A4 Charts which is hung above their work desk so they can easily view the form of the words and adjust if necessary.
A lot of thought goes into problem solving for all the small niggles we find ourselves having on a
daily basis. I research by also looking at how other home school moms solve challenges they face
and hopefully try replicate that solution.
Sometimes it works well other times it doesn’t fit our family or style of learning. I play around with
ideas all the time. Each family unit is different, and each individual child is different. Be flexible to
change and adjust, that’s the beauty of homeschooling!
I’m often asked how I manage to teach three different grades during our school day. It came quite natural to me because my kids are different ages and wake up at different times.
We officially start our school day at 8am. My eldest son who is in grade 11 is always up first so we start earlier than 8am. I run through his schedule of work for the day, which sometimes involves him going to the maths tutor or a tutor coming to our home. He mostly works independently and will ask for my help when needed. I mark and check each task as he completes it throughout the day. He also watches online lessons when necessary and History videos, which he finds very interesting. My kids all love visual learning, so wherever we can, we watch a video on the topic for the day.
My eldest also has a study time-table which allows him a break after school and at least two hours of study time at night. This is done daily as he studies for his weekly test. During exam time he studies weekends as well.
I am more involved with my second son who is in grade 6, and my daughter who is in grade 3. They do not sit in the same area because they distract one another. I also tutor every lesson aloud which distracts the other child, so for this reason I separate them for written task.
I will teach my eldest son a particular subject and he will independently complete the task until his next subject starts. While his gets on with that subject, I can then start with my daughter. This will go on for all the lessons for the day. We have a break at 11am where they will go outside and have their lunch and a time of free play. After lunch it’s back to the same routine until the end of the school day. I’ve recently changed our daily time-table as starting with maths wasn’t ideal for us. We now begin our mornings with English and Spelling.
In-between these lessons, I’m continually marking their task as they complete it. They do corrections on the work as I mark. This allows me to judge whether that section was clearly understood. If it was not understood, we revise before moving forward. We also do experiments during or after their lessons when necessary. We do experiments almost weekly, as I find practical experiments reinforces what we have learned for the lesson.
They each have a reader for the term. Reading is done at the end of the school day. They are required to do a book report at the end of the term which counts toward their English mark.
After our school work is completed we use maths flash cards to play games, and match Afrikaans words to English words to expand our vocabulary.
We have extra murals most afternoons, so our school day ends by 2.30 the latest. If we do not complete the school work during the school day it is done as homework, this is not often. If there are any test scheduled for the week, they will also spend some time studying in the evening.
I try to keep learning interesting and fun by allowing them to lead the discussion. There is often a few why questions which we can explore during our lesson. The one on one time spent learning and researching different topics is invaluable. It’s always an enrichment experience for me as well.
Quality verses Quantity
I am often asked about the social element of home-schooling. When do my kids socialise with other kids? The only time they not in the company of other kids is during our school day.
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the many extra- murals my kids are involved in on a weekly basis.
From Soccer, Karate to Ballet and others, most of our afternoons are spent at extra-murals. This is one avenue where they are able to connect and socialise with kids similar ages to them.
Another is church, as we are very involved in church, our kids go to youth group, junior youth group and Children’s Church. Here as well they are in social circles with kids their own age.
Most importantly for me though, is not the quantity of the friends made but rather the quality of the friendships formed. I find most of our intentional friendships are formed among fellow home-schooling families who have the same values as we do.
I believe God has ordained friendships with fellow families who have similar beliefs and moral standing that we have. We have become much more intentional with friendships and our kids also have become much more aware of friendship choices. Friendships are no longer based on whether you will play with me during break, or whether you will invite me to your next party. My son sometimes used to take a toy to school to win over a child who he wanted to play with during break time. Which for me has always been so shallow.
They are no longer forming friendships out of peer pressure or wanting to fit in to certain popular groups. It’s become more about making meaningful friendships with kids that are kind and caring, or kids they share common interest with and I’m finding that age is not much of a factor for them anymore. My 11-year-old son is emotionally immature as most boys his age, so he has formed friendships with 9- or 10-year olds and plays little boy games like cars or guns, without the pressures of been forced to act more mature than what he is.
My daughter is 8 years old is very particular about what she loves, so she’s connected with girls who have similar interest to her. Some of her friends are the same age or older than her.
I love the freedom of forming meaningful friendships rather than friendships formed just because we are in the same class at school. Or because we travel in the same lift club. Or do the same sport after school. One great friend is better than having a handful of unintentional, fake friendships that never last the year.
I think finding your tribe takes time, but when you do find them, it’s nothing short of awesome!
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.