Most people assume the GED is the same as the American High School Diploma, but they are two different qualifications. In the USA students from grade 9 to grade 12 do what is called the American high school diploma. Your child chooses subjects, for example, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Accounting etc. and create an education plan for your child’s high school years. Your child can also include physical education, or a skill such as guitar, piano or art and drama as part of your subject package.
You are awarded 1 credit for 150 hours spent completing a particular subject in a year. You are also awarded 0.5 or 1 credit for sports such as karate, gymnastics, swimming ect. Credits are also awarded for music, art and drama provided 150 hours or more is spent on the activity for the year. You keep a record of your child’s time spent doing these activities. Your child will need a total minimum of 22 credits at the end of grade 12 to be awarded his/her American High School diploma. You can opt to do more subjects or activities which will allow you to have more credits.
You can eventually write the SAT’s which is short for Standard assessment test or ACT’s which is the American College test to gain College or university admission. This is done after achieving your 22 credits or more for the four year period.
I started researching more on the American High School diploma for my middle son who started grade 9 this year. The more I researched it the more appealing it was to me. My reasons for choosing the American High School Diploma was mostly because of its flexibility of subject choice as well as the inclusion of sport and music as part of your high school package.
Towards the end of last year, I decided to do a zoom consultation with the co-founder of Kairos academy to better understand my son’s options and make an informed decision. In December 2021 I decided to go ahead and register my son with Kairos Academy. Kairos is founded by two South African homeschooling parents. They are affiliated with Homelife Academy in Tennessee in the USA. In my consultation I was guided to choose the ideal complement of subjects for my child’s individual needs. You can also create your own eclectic curriculum.
My subject choices for my son this year are Mathematics ( Shorman Maths), Biology (Apologia), English (The Good and the beautiful as well as Abeka – Grammar), Afrikaans (Woema), Computer Science (Cambridge), South African History (Footprints) and World History (Story of the World).
Each of these subjects will afford him 1 credit for this year. He will also get 0.5 credits extra for The Good and the Beautiful as their English encompasses some Geography.
He will also include karate (he is currently a brown belt) which he does once a week and practices daily. For music he will include guitar which he also does once a week and practices daily. He should cover a total of 9.5 credits for his grade 9 year. This is more than enough credits for the year.
He is also involved in our local scouts. I have registered him for the presidential award which has 3 parts to it. One is a physical activity which he will record every karate practice he attends for 3 months. Two is a skill which he will record his weekly guitar lessons. Lastly, he needs to do community service which we are still deciding which service to get involved in.
This is not set in stone but for now this plan for his high school years is what is working out for us. Continually seeking God’s guidance in every decision, we make for our kids is key. As we trust God, He will direct our path.
It has been a bittersweet month for me. Lots of mixed emotions. My eldest son moves onto a new chapter of his life this month. We are preparing to drive him 5 hours away to university. There have been so many sleepless nights coupled with excitement for his final move. We’ve been making endless different list of what he may need while he lives at residence.
I have been reflecting so much this week on the challenges we faced with my son and so many memories are flooding back. One of them being many times we were called into the principal’s office on more occasions than normal. We can now laugh at all the mischievous things he did, but at the time we were frustrated, angry and disappointed with the “system.” We were told so many negative things by teachers, but eventually he had a teacher in grade five that really cared and was able to guide us out of genuine concern. My son was always a highly active, extroverted personality type. We did not realise it was an issue and never viewed it as a concern.
In previous blogs I share a lot about the journey we’ve had with my son from grade one. From having been misdiagnosed to eventually being put on Ritalin for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). We saw a huge change in his behaviour as well as academically once we started him on medication. Again, I understand this is a personal choice and I am in no way an advocate for Ritalin. But in our case together with our believe and trust in God, it made a difference.
When we decided to home-school our children, I assumed it would be an easier road, being that I was teaching him one on one. We decided to stop giving him Ritalin. I soon found out instead of completing his work he was drawing animated art pictures. (His art is amazing just by the way. I often suggested he study something in line with art or architecture but that didn’t interest him.)
I eventually decided to put him back on medication. Once again, I found his concentration and ability to not only complete his work but excel in it and soared. I knew again that I was doing him a disservice by taking him off medication, so we decided to put him back onto Ritalin.
We decided to go with a boxed curriculum called Theocentric Christian Education and follow the Cambridge qualification because we wanted him to have the option of studying overseas. I shared how I was very anxious about not “messing up” his high school education. For us this curriculum was a safer option. After three and a half years of home-schooling with many challenges, he completed his final year with an exemption pass which meant he could apply to university. Yay! This was always his goal and we supported him. His university entrance points qualified him for his second choice which was a BSC in Construction Studies. We were elated when we received the letter of acceptance.
Finally, the week has arrived for him to check into the residence, and he will soon go through a week of orientation. Classes start at the end of February. Am I ready for him to go? Definitely not! What a journey it has been. I am humbled and grateful that God allowed me to walk so closely with my son at the final years of his high school career. We will miss him dearly, but we know that God has great plans for his future.
Pray for us as we learn to let go and for him to be successful in his university career.
What we include for Reading.
I really believe that a love for reading can be cultivated. From a young age I’ve always read to my children. It became our nightly routine to read a book before bedtime. As they got older the books got thicker so we would read a chapter or two. They also had different interest in books so we could only read a chapter of each child’s chosen book most evenings. It was also a good method of calming them down, it became part of our bedtime routine.
We include visiting the library once a month but most of our readers come with our English curriculums. When my older son was in his final years of school, he was required to read poetry and a few classics like William Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
He also did a Biblical based course and we read a few books that accompanied that course as well. One of the books that really stood out to me was Eternity in our hearts by Don Richardson. I didn’t read all his set works because to be honest some were boring and challenge for both me and him to complete.
Now that I have two home schoolers the reading has set a good a pace for me and I find I can add extra readers in occasionally. My grade 8 son is completing Language and literature (LATL) this year has read a few interesting books and I’ve tried to keep up by reading the books with him or listening to him read. He has read the biography of Eric Liddle and how he gave up running to serve as a missionary in the land of his birth, China. We also watched the movie of his life “Chariots of Fire”. His read Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. The most interesting book for me was God’s Smuggler (an autobiography of Brother Andrew), written by John and Elizabeth Sherrill. It is gripping tale of Brother Andrews life as he smuggled bibles behind the “Iron Curtain”. I read 6 chapters in one sitting because I found this story so amazing.
My younger daughter started the year off with Language and Literature (LATL) and really enjoyed the readers but didn’t particularly enjoy the layout of the curriculum. Her books were Farmer boy and Mr Popper’s Penguins which she completed. The other two were Caddie Woodlawn and Number the stars. She chose to continue reading despite moving over to a different curriculum. She loves reading while my son on the other hand needs some encouragement. I start reading the first chapter and I find that piques his interest to continue reading. My daughter is now completing The Good and the beautiful Language Arts which has two main readers, Little Lord Fauntleroy, and Queen Hildegarde.
We’ve also bought a new series of books called ‘Christian Heroes Then and Now” these books have been a game changer for us. We often read them as part of our Bible study time or at night. We’ve read about the amazing life of Corrie Ten Boom and how God used her and family to hide Jews who were in danger of being killed by Germans. She and her family were eventually jailed for this crime and spent some time in concentration camps, but she went on to minister the Gospel and change so many lives for God. We’ve also completed the book about Hudson Taylor and his missionary work in China. His life story was so touching. The sacrifices he continually made to spread the Gospel into Inland China. We are now reading about Amy Carmichael and are halfway through this compelling story of a young Irish girl who hears Gods call on her life to become a missionary in Japan. These books have inspired us as family to do more for God and remember our Great Commission, to tell the world about Jesus Christ. We often watch the movie of the main characters lives once we’ve completed the book so that we can visualise how they lived.
When my kids were in preschool and primary school, they had a few special days they really enjoyed like Valentine’s day, break up day and spring day. When I asked my daughter what she enjoyed about those special days she said the arts and crafts, getting to dress up and goodies her teacher handed out. So, I set out every year to make her have that same excitement. This year for spring day I prepared in advance. I wrote a list of fun things to do on the day and researched and printed some fun activities to do. I printed a spring word search, set out different colour paper, glue, water colour paints, googly eyes and other crafts.
I prepared the goodies for the table the night before. I cut up some fruit to make a fun fruit platter. I baked banana muffins and bought some cupcakes and lamingtons. I also bought some colourful sweets like jellybeans and speckled eggs. My daughter made iced tea (she makes the best iced tea) and we poured it out into mason jars the next morning, so it stayed cold. I bought her a yellow daisy dress, so she had something cute and new to wear. She did her own hair and added a beautiful flower alice band.
We chose a poem the day before. We read through it and all said what we thought it meant. It was a silly poem by Lewis Caroll and lots of laughs were had. I printed and laminated scripture cards the day before which we each picked our favourite and did some scripture journaling. My son loves word searches so that was his favourite activity. I then left the table as it was set, and we continued with our schoolwork as usual. I realised that little bit of planning I did to make it a fun morning, did so much for my kids. They were so excited to learn on spring day and there was so much joy at the table.
Footprints on our Land (South African History)
Homeschooling is so wonderful because you can add these fun aspects even once a month to make your days fun and change up your kids attitudes towards learning. We also did a fun morning last week to mark the end of a book we were reading for our South African History by Footprints on our land. I made pancakes, we had some hot chocolate and I set the table with things pertaining to the book we read. The month before that one of our tasks for footprints was to start a vegetable garden which we did. In August all our veggies started to bloom just in time for the end of our book.
I would love to encourage you to make the most of your homeschool days with your kids. Take time on Friday to skim through and see what you may require for the next week. Use what you have in your cupboards and buy what you don’t have. A little bit of planning can go a long way. Your kids will likely remember the little experiments rather than a worksheet. There is definitely a place for academics, but you can have lots of fun while learning. This month with Science my daughter is doing Astronomy, so we painted a solar system. My son learnt about circuits and he did a circuit on his own. These are practical projects we did to make our month exciting and develop a love for learning!
I was asked to share at the Kwa-Zulu Natal Homeschooling expo on the topic of using Cambridge for matric. My eldest son completed his Cambridge Matric last year. He also wrote a very honest blog for me on his experience being homeschooled. You can read about it in our previous post.
There are four different curriculums used in South Africa to complete matric. Cambridge(which we chose to do), The National Senior Certificate, The American High School Diploma and the GED.
The most important advice I can give to parents with high school children is to make sure you do thorough research before deciding which matric qualification to do. I would say you need to decide by grade 10 the latest. Not that you can’t do Cambridge after grade 10 you most certainly can, but the preparation should begin way before your child reaches grade 12 level. The earlier you start using the Cambridge curriculum the better you will understand how to get the best out of it.
My son started preparation for Cambridge from grade 10 and in hindsight I would have preferred to have started earlier. He was previously in a public school until grade 9 and we only decided to start homeschooling in 2018. Moving over from the Caps curriculum (used by South African schools) to Cambridge was quite a change for both of us.
He wrote his IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) in his grade 11 year. With lots of work put in on both his and my end, he passed with good marks. In that same year he did Afrikaans on AS level (Advanced Subsidiary level/ grade 12) The curriculum provider we used did not feel it necessary to do Afrikaans on IGCSE level, so he actually “skipped” Afrikaans on grade 11 or IGCSE level. He did very well for Afrikaans that year.
He wrote his IGCSE and AS level exams at a registered Cambridge Centre. We paid approximately R1200 per exam (not per subject) Some exams had two or three papers. The exams are all posted to Cambridge London for marking and we waited up to two months for his results. We were given a passcode by the exam centre and he was able to access his results on the release date given. His final certificate will be posted from London and we will receive it in approximately two months
For him to get a Matric exemption, he would need to pass matric in not more than two exam sessions. Which meant that because he already wrote Afrikaans at the end of Grade 11, one of his exam sessions was already used up. He registered for Maths, Physics, English and Business studies in 2020 November Exams and would have to pass them. If he failed them in November, he would need to write them in May 2021. If he failed the May 2021 exam, he would need to rewrite all his exams! Fortunately, he passed all his subjects. We then applied to USAF (Universities of South Africa) to convert his Cambridge results into a South African matric. We paid a fee of R250 and he received his Matric Exemption Certificate via email.
For my son to get a Matric exemption pass he would also need to have 4 AS-Level subjects with grades A-D and one IGCSE subject grade A-C, or five AS subjects graded A-D. You do not need English and Afrikaans on AS level but the service provider we went with preferred it, so he has both languages on AS level.
He passed all his exams in November 2020, but he did not achieve the points he needed for engineering. He decided to rewrite Maths and Physics to achieve better marks and reapply for what he really wanted to study. Most universities prefer six subjects for medicine or engineering.
He rewrote his exam in May 2021. This was regarded as a new exam sitting since, he passed his November 2020 exam.
He received his May 2021 results on the 10th of August and we were very excited with his new results. He was able to reapply to all the universities and already received an acceptance letter from Wits! We are awaiting to hear from the other universities, but he is very happy to accept the offer from Wits.
We chose the Cambridge Matric because my son wanted to play soccer overseas at that time and this qualification would enable him to do so. He has since changed his mind about going overseas. It has been a challenging journey with my son, but I would not change it for anything. Our relationship has also become so much stronger. I will be crying my eyes out in January when he leaves home! I am so proud of the man that his become. He is currently doing his driver’s licence, learning a trade at a technical school and working towards his music theory exam. I have kept him very busy while he awaits his new chapter at university!
As you may know I have three kids, two boys and a girl. My first encounter with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder was not very enlightening. At that time there was very little literature available in hard copy form and we could not do any online research regarding ADHD as there was limited internet access. I was called in by the principal and asked to have an assessment done (for my son) at an educational psychologist. I was hesitant but I took the advice of the Principal and teachers and took my son to a paediatrician who was able to do the assessment at that time. The paediatrician to my knowledge did a full assessment and said that my son was not ADHD and was quite bright. I took that report back to the school he attended, and they reluctantly accepted it.
After a few years of back and forth with teachers a second assessment was done. This time it was performed by an educational psychologist, again at the request of a new Principal at a new school he was attending. I remember thinking this cannot be a coincidence that two different principals see the same thing. But, yet again, the results were not fully conclusive. The psychologist said that he could not say for sure that he had ADHD but, we were asked to put him on Ritalin for a month and see if it helped him. To our amazement he was a completely different child so much so that his marks began to improve, and his teacher praised him constantly.
This was a turning point for me. I didn’t fully understand ADHD so I started doing some research regarding this. A few years later my second son was in grade 3 and I was called in by the teacher who suggested he also start on Ritalin. This time I was quite surprised because he is quite a calm and quiet or mild natured child. Little did I understand then that ADHD often presented itself in many different forms. In his case he was not at all loud, active, or disturbing the class in anyway. Instead, he was quietly playing with pencils and rollups pretending they were little toys. He was barely listening in class while the teacher was teaching therefore did not fully grasp the concepts and could not complete the given task.
This time I did not go to an educational psychologist or paediatrician I simply went to my General Practitioner who agreed with the teacher and started him on Ritalin. So now I had both boys on Ritalin. Ritalin must be administered twice a day. We had to give them one tablet in the morning before school and leave one pack of medication with the teacher to administer at lunch break.
When we decided to home-school I prayed and trusted God and decided they would not need any medication because I would give them one on one attention and we would be just fine. Eventually after a few months I could see my kids were not performing at their best. We decided to use medication but this time we used Concerta which is a slow-release tablet and needed only once a day once again. For my second son I went a more holistic approach and bought an herbal concentration tablet but saw very little improvement. I knew I was just fooling myself thinking it was working. We eventually came to a point of frustration and with the GPs advice I decided to start him on a mild dose of Ritalin once again, just enough to get him through a morning of work. This did not last either.
Finally, when he started grade 8 this year, I spoke to the GP about increasing and changing his medication to the same Concerta brand that my eldest son was taking. I also spoke with my husband and decided he needed a formal educational assessment, since he had never been formally assessed. I eventually went to an educational psychologist who met with me first to hear the history of the child. This detailed history started at the time of my pregnancy, if he was a premature baby or normal date, if there was any stress during or after birth. I did not realise this all played a huge part in a child’s brain function and development.
Fortunately, there were no serious medical issues. The psychologist then met my son and did a three-hour full assessment with him. There were various tests done from Numerical to Verbal, Language to understanding concepts. To our surprise he was professionally diagnosed with a very high global IQ but struggled with some issues. He is naturally a very slow worker. That was not a surprise to me at all. I often must urge him on to complete his task. A week after the test were completed the psychologist met with me again to explain the results of the test she administered. I learnt more about ADHD in this session. ADHD is part of an extremely broad spectrum of the neurological system which sometimes overlaps with autism, dyslexia, and other serious learning disabilities. In my sons’ case the current medication he was taking was sufficient and he was performing at his correct levels for his age. I was advised to keep him on the same medication. ADHD is also more prevalent in boys than girls. It is also hereditary in most cases. I was also advised to get a classroom timer which will assist him with completing his task on time. He fortunately did not have any form of autism or learning disability.
I have learnt from this experience that no two children are the same. Yes, both my sons have ADHD but in such different forms. My advice would be to invest in getting your child thoroughly assessed instead of guessing with regards to diagnosis and medication. It will bring you peace of mind knowing a professional has done the assessment and you will be able to administer the correct medication as well as the correct dosage.
Some of the side effects my kids experience is lack of appetite especially at lunch time. I make sure they have a healthy nutritious breakfast. The other is restlessness at night. I encourage them to pray and read their bible. I also make sure the house is quiet, calm and I use a diffuser with essential oils before bed.
I still wake up every morning praying over my kids. Trusting God that he would guide me regarding every decision. Do I want to medicate my kids? No. Do I think medication helps them to achieve their best? Definitely, Yes! Fact is God is in control.
I recently read a profound article and shared it with my husband. It confirmed to me that we are making the right choices for our family. The writer who was diagnosed with ADHD in his late thirties said, “I’ve had pangs of resentment since the diagnosis especially when I cast my mind back to wasted years and unfulfilled potential. Why didn’t my teachers notice something? Reading my school reports, it seems obvious I had ADHD. Different times, I guess?”
In January this year I eagerly purchased our new English curriculum along with other books from Oikos Family ministries. We decided to use Learning Language Arts Through Literature which commonly known among homeschooling families as LATL. After doing a few lessons, about two months, we quickly realised this was not a good fit for us, especially for my daughter. I began once again to research other English curriculums. I loved the Abeka English which we had been doing for the last 3 years with T.C.E but unfortunately to source these books proved very costly with shipping.
I had previously done some research on The Good and The Beautiful (TGATB) Maths and English. I loved their singing timetables and purchased it for my daughter in 2019. The cost of postage was quite costly and they had not yet released the grade 5 year of their the Maths curriculum, only the English was available. I was not convinced that I should purchase the English but in hindsight I regret that decision.
This March I decided to go ahead and purchase the English curriculum for my daughter. We went on TGATB website and did the online assessment and purchased the book for her level. We have been using the books for about two months now and she really enjoys the beautiful workbook with colourful art drawings. This English curriculum also includes art lessons which she really enjoying. It includes grammar cards which we do daily to reinforce for example, what is a noun? What is an adjective? Besides English it also includes Geography cards which teaches her exactly where every country is located. The grammar and geography cards are a once off purchase for levels five to seven and do not need to be ordered again.
There is a daily spelling review at the beginning of each lesson as well as dictation of a few sentences. If any words are misspelled in these sentences they are added to the list of incorrect words and tested each week. There is also a reader of which my daughter is required to read a chapter each day and a recommended reader which I purchased online from Takealot. The workbook also comes with an answer key book for the parent to mark daily.
If you have access to a good printer, you could print this entire English course FREE off their website! Make sure you print in full colour as the art sections are amazing!
I chose not to purchase TGATB English for my son as he is in high school and I felt the LATL book was suitable for his age and grade.
Navigating this eclectic style of homeschooling has certainly come as a challenge for me as I prefer a more structured approach, but as I am discovering what curriculums are suitable and what does not work for our family, I am finding a new freedom. The beauty lies in the fact that you can create or design a learning environment that best suits your family’s unique needs, as well as allowing your kids to work on their level of understanding rather than specific grade.
We previously used the maths curriculum provided by Theocentric Christian Education (T.C.E) who was our service provider. We decided this year to choose our own curriculum providers for the subjects we chose to do. This type of home-schooling is known as “eclectic” style. The word eclectic means to derive ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.
When you have a service provider such as T.C.E you receive a box of books for the grade you are registered to do. Therefore, you are limited as far as choice of curriculum. When I began home-schooling my knowledge was limited so I chose to use a service provider and cover all my bases. With T.C.E we did BJU maths up to grade 6. I found this maths amazing, but I found the preparation and from a home-school moms’ perspective a little overwhelming. I kept doubting if I could get the lessons across clearly, so my kids understood the particular section, and it was daunting. I enjoy maths and the topics were not difficult, but I knew that my daughter understood better when she was able to physically see and touch counting blocks or fraction shapes. I also went online and found BJU offered pre-recorded online maths lessons that were so much fun, and she would have loved it, but it was costly once converted to South African Rands.
My son in Grade 7 started with Mastermaths which is also an excellent programme, but I felt I wasn’t getting through to him the way I needed to. We went onto the Mastermaths website and found that they also offered pre-recorded online maths lessons. Because Mastermaths was more reasonable for the year, we bought the online package, and we would log in and watch a lesson each day before he tried the exercises. This was much better for us and I felt like he and I were learning together, instead of me trying to get the message across to him.
I kept hearing my friends who were home-schooling speak about Math U See but never fully understood what it entailed. This year when we decided to move to a more eclectic style of home-schooling, I immediately started researching more about Math U See. My friend leant me one of her kids books and DVD for my daughter and we used it a few times. My daughter did not love it at first, in fact she was quite apprehensive watching a maths lesson on a DVD or listening to a ‘granpa’ teach her. She resisted this method at first. My son loved it because as I said he was used to watching the lesson online from last year. But they both eventually adjusted well and now we are well on our way, and they are enjoying Math U See.
Math U see comes with different levels for whatever stage your child is at. They do not work with the grade your child is in, but rather the level of understanding of your child. The books are named according to the Greek alphabet rather than grades. The first step is to do the assessments to find which level your child will be on. In our case my daughter started on Epsilon which is the book on fractions. This book focuses on basics of fractions getting more challenging as we go on. We also bought the fraction overlay kit which is recommended as when Steve (the author) teachers he prompts the child to use the fraction cards. The learning is also cemented very well when used in conjunction with the math manipulatives. My son who is now in grade 8 started with the Pre-Algebra books and we also bought the maths manipulatives that are recommended for that book. We bought our teacher books and DVDs second hand on the home-school Facebook group as well as the Oikos website. You could do the assessment on the math U See website or the Oikos website (Oikos is a local South African family run business). Oikos also has done all the hard work of converting the currency from the dollar to the rand, and of course postage will be much cheaper. The Math U See package for each level has a teacher guidebook which has an explanation of the lesson found on the DVD, as well as the answers at the back of the book. There is the student book which your child will use daily. It also has the DVD which you will watch for every new lesson for example, Lesson 1 has a lesson to watch on the DVD, thereafter Lessons 1A-F, this will take you 6 days to complete. You then move onto Lesson 2 watch the lesson and the child completes lesson 2A-F etc. At the end of about 8 sections there is a test which you can use as an assessment. The Pre-Algebra book is slightly different as it has an honours lesson at the end of each section. It also has a test at the end of about 8 lessons. Hopefully, this has been helpful for you to understand Math U see a little better.
We had a long break after a challenging year, it was just what we needed. We had a family holiday in the berg, my daughter turned 10 on Christmas Eve, an intimate lockdown Christmas lunch with our family and my middle son turned 13 on the 2nd of January (yes, my two younger kids are a week apart during the festive season😊). We had a good kind of busy end to the year. We are so grateful for God’s Mercy and Grace over our families during this pandemic.
We received my eldest son’s final Cambridge results on the 11th January. We were overjoyed that he has passed his final school year. It was a sweet celebration for our family. We felt proud and humbled by our achievements as a homeschool family. With God on our side we had faced the challenges head on and were overcome with joy. My son achieved a bachelor pass and will go on to pursue the next phase of his life. When we started out this dream seemed farfetched and unachievable, but God was faithful everyday and we are so thankful. Alison Shortridge and the team at T.C.E were a vital part of our successful end to the final year. Their support was amazing throughout the three years. We had started out not knowing anything and they assisted us every step of the way. We are forever grateful.
We started school on the 11th January. Our vision boards were set out and we began by writing down our plans for the year. Slowly unwrapping our new books with some excitement and nervousness from the kids. We decided as a family that we needed a change this year, so we will not be continuing with T.C.E. For the most part of our holiday I did a lot of research and decided on a different path for this year.
With both my kids now grades eight and five we will be doing Math U See for maths, LATL for English, Piekwyn for Afrikaans, Dr. J. Wylie’s Science series, Story of the World for History, Footprints on our Land for South African History and for my grade eight son I’ve included Economic Management Science because he is very interested in accounting. We have also registered him for an online coding course again this year because he loves coding.
For extra murals my kids do a musical instrument each as well as one or more sports. My middle son now has his purple belt in Karate after his grading in December last year. He persevered through the year with karate lessons via zoom and then the final weeks he did outdoor classes with strict covid rules. His now aiming for his junior brown belt this year. My daughter will be trying out gymnastics for the first time this year, as well as a three month modelling course for fun. I try to guide them by observing their strengths and then suggesting a trial lesson in a certain sport. I find most times something is not what they think it is until they try it out and see if they enjoy it.
I will go into more detail for each subject throughout the year as we are on our new path. I will also go into more details into our reason for changing our homeschool plan. One thing I know is that this is a continual learning experience, life is about change and we should be always willing to adjust.
This final blog for 2020 is bittersweet for me as my eldest is now complete his matric year and we await his Cambridge results which will be released on the 11th January 2021. I’ve asked him to write with me so other families who are homeschooling can view his experience over the last three years. His name is Jesse and his 18 years old. I hope you find his perspective interesting.
When I was first told that I would be home schooling, I didn’t think much of it. I understood why we needed to do it. The first few months were weird as I needed to adjust to being home schooled. I never fully adjusted to it in the first year. I thought it would just be for one year and that I would go back to school the next year. However, I didn’t know how much harder the work would be. I failed on first try of the exams but was allowed to rewrite and just about passed. I decided to stay home schooled after I couldn’t get back into school, and that’s when I began to dislike home schooling. However, I decided just to get over it as I only had two years left. My second year went better than expected as I actually did quite well. However, at the beginning of my final year (2020), I realised that I would not be graduating with my friends and would not be able to enjoy being in matric at a school or have a matric ball. I really wanted to go back to school. I knew this wouldn’t work out, so I just had to deal with it (when the coronavirus hit, I knew nobody would have a matric ball anyways so that was kind of funny). I have finished my high school career and cannot wait to go to university. Overall, home-schooling has had its ups and downs. Not being able to see my friends on a daily basis and graduate with them is a big disappointment. However, I know that the skills I have gained from being home schooled, such as being able to work independently and having a Cambridge education is a big advantage because it is an international qualification.
Overall I also had` a much more flexible schedule. I was also still able to enjoy playing soccer for a club and made new friends. I also had more time to do my grade 4 in piano, which was a great experience. I was able to enjoy learning about the Bible in depth which I would not have been able to do in state school. Home schooling also allowed me to be myself without caring what anybody says or thinks about me. I cannot wait for what the future holds for me as I enter this new chapter of my life.
As his mom I am so grateful for the time we spent together over the last three years. It wasn’t all roses but we worked hard together. He has an easy going fun personality and has been a joy in our homeschooling day.
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.