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.
Deborah Pretorius is a mother of 3 kids and a BCom graduate on the amazing adventure of home schooling her family.