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.
So much has kept me busy these past few weeks. My eldest son turned 18 (still can’t believe it) and I also celebrated my birthday month. Our birthdays are a week apart. After almost 7 months of our country being on lockdown, we went down to Level one which meant we could move around freely. We took advantage of this and went away for the weekend to relax and rejuvenate. We are currently in our exam period. My eldest son started his final Cambridge AS level exams which he is currently still writing.
He has written Maths paper 1, Business Studies Paper 1 and 2, Physics Practical as well as Physics structured questions exam. The exams are spread out over 6 weeks but some days he has two exam papers on one day. On those days he stays at the school’s exam centre and will have a monitored lunch break between the two papers. Each exam is from one hour forty-five minutes up to two and a half hours. His exam preparation involves doing a lot of past exam papers. The site we use to download these past papers is Papa Cambridge. He also uses his march and August exam papers to prepare. His application to university is still on track we have applied to University of Cape Town and Wits and have received provisional acceptance based on his IGCSE exam results. I also had to fill out a form to state his predicted results as this is a new requirement. He will complete his exams on the 18th November, the exams are then posted to the UK for marking. We will use his student number to access his results in January 2021.
My younger two kids also write exams soon. We will begin in November and end around the same date as my older son. Their exam papers are ready for downloading from the 1st November and they will write at home under my supervision. I sign a parental declaration to say I will not assist them. I also do not have the answer papers for their exams. The exams are then posted to T.C.E for marking.
This last term I’ve tried harder to incorporate fun activities into our learning experience. With my youngest daughter we’ve learnt Astronomy. We created our own Solar system using clay and acrylic paints. My younger son joins in with the activity as well. Even if it doesn’t come out as a perfect work of art, she has a lot of fun learning and painting.
We also learnt about the phases of the moon this week and I used Oreos to teach her this concept. To my delight she said oh now I understand how the moon changes now! And was then eager to eat the Oreos… Even though my younger son has already done this activity he joined in again and had such joy in eating them afterwards.
Our social time has also increased lately as our home-school playgroups have resumed. We’ve been going on nature walks more often. We’ve had a boardgames morning as well, where all the kids bring their boardgames and teach the others how to play them. We recently went to a local Marine world where the kids learnt so much about the Ocean. We did a fish dissection and learnt about pollution in our oceans. We belong to a home-school Eco club where the kids are taught Biodiversity and had to prepare a diorama about a Dessert and a rain forest. All these activities tie up with what they learnt at different times of the year.
We are coming to the end of our year and have two weeks left for exams. My kids always get excited to see the last few pages of their books and to know that next year holds a new grade!
My son in grade 12 has just completed his preliminary exams. I cannot believe how three years have gone by so fast. It has not been an easy task to home-school my high school son. We have faced many challenges, but we have worked through those challenges together as a family and it definitely has brought us closer. We have now come to a new stage of life as he turns 18 next month and begins exploring his university options which most likely will mean moving away from home.(crying)
We have chosen to use a service provider to do his Cambridge curriculum. As mentioned, before we use the Theocentric Christian Education (T.C.E) as our support and guide for this curriculum. T.C.E provides all the necessary books needed for the year. We did not need to purchase anything else. We chose T.C.E because of the Christian ethos they provide. He does a subject called Character of God in place of Life Orientation. This subject is a detailed study of the Bible including scripture memorisation. T.C.E also offers an email tutor where we can query anything regarding the subjects for Cambridge curriculum. For example, if my son is doing maths and doesn’t understand a particular equation we can scan and email his working out and they reply with a detailed explanation of where he went wrong. He can therefore have a better understanding on how to solve the following questions in the section. This process is the same for his other subjects.
He is currently doing AS levels which includes subjects such as English, Maths, Physics and Business Studies. He does two exams at home and one final exam at a Cambridge registered centre. He completed his first exam at home in March. We scan and email the answers on completion to the T.C.E head office for marking. We receive a report and the marked exams are returned to him to see where he went wrong. His also able to use these exams for final revision. We also opted to have a maths and science tutor for this year as I was not able to assist him on the level he required. Up until the lockdown in South Africa happened, he was attending classes every day. Once lockdown started these lessons moved to online zoom lessons. He completed his entire syllabus at the end of June and started to prepare for his preliminary exam.
He did his August preliminary exam last week which will also assist him to judge his readiness for his final exam as well as provide revision papers for him to work through. Part of the exam was a physics practical exam in which we had to provide him with a mechanism on which to test the theories asked in the question paper. My husband had to buy a few things that he did not have and physically build this apparatus. We are currently waiting for these results. We just received his final exam timetable. He will write this exam at Glenwood boys Cambridge Centre. It begins in the first week of October and will finish at the end of November. He has two exams per subject which is a total of eight exams. These eight exams are spread over almost six weeks which gives him enough time between papers to do a final revision. The exam fee is separate to the fees paid to T.C.E for the year. The exam fee is paid directly to the exam centre. The papers will then be posted off to Cambridge in the U.K. for marking and we will receive his results via an online portal in January 2021. Once we receive the final results, we have to apply to the South African Qualifications Board to have these results converted to a matric equivalent exemption certificate in order for him to be accepted to a South African university. If he studies overseas this process is obviously unnecessary as Cambridge results are accepted internationally.
In the mean time we have applied to different universities for 2021. He is currently researching university options in the U.S. The S.A. university application requires you to choose at least two different options, he chose Civil engineering and Law. One of the universities requested three options, so his third choice was music as he plays piano. We have received feedback that he has been provisionally accepted to two so far. He is interested in pursuing a career in Civil Engineering particularly structural engineering. In attempting to guide him to this decision I assisted him providing him with a career guidance book and we watch various career options on you tube as well. I would have also liked him to do job shadowing but unfortunately with the current issues of Covid we were unable to do this. With a lot of prayer, I believe that God’s plan will be fulfilled in his life.
This week I was asked by a fellow parent …how do I start homeschooling my child who is in Grade R. At the age of five or six a child should be stimulated by play. My mom has been a preschool teacher for many years. In the last few years she discovered the Montessori method of learning. To be honest I was quite sceptical about this method when she first started applying it in her school. I have since had a change of heart and mind. Montessori is a method of educating young children so as to develop natural interests rather than use formal methods of teaching. It was developed by Maria Montessori an Italian doctor in the early 20th century. My opinion is this is a great method to start kids as young as possible. There are so many you tube videos and websites that you can view. I always encourage parents to do your own research to see if Montessori will suit your family. I will link some sites below.
My daughter didn’t do the Montessori method as I chose to place her in a formal preschool. If this is your choice as well then you can also use a more classical approach while incorporating play at home. During grade R she did Letterland where she learned how to form the letters of the alphabet. Letterland is a phonics-based approach to teaching, reading, writing and spelling.
Learning number formation is also important for Grade R. Number Sense is one of the programs that many homeschool families use. Together with youtube videos and incorporating practical fun ways of learning you can successfully teach maths.
There are also online curriculum options such as Brainline and Impaq which will guide you if you are unsure about doing grade R without support.
When my kids were in grade R I read a lot to them. We would set aside a time to read every evening. My younger son learnt to read just by me reading aloud to him. He came to me one evening and said, Mom see I can read. I was so amazed as he was only five years old at the time. I know many parents are so tired by the evening and you feel like handing over your phone or tablet in order to have a peaceful evening. But if you read to your kids after a long day at work, believe me those 10 minutes will be the best investment you can make for your kids. When they hear you read and pronounce words they will speak better and eventually become readers as well.
So, put away the technology and grab a book. Have fun while learning. Build relationships and form bonds that will never break.
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!
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.