By Danielle Barfoot, written for Impaq (Formally known as Impak Onderwysdiens)
The scheduled academic year for mainstreamers may already be in full swing, but the great thing about teaching your child yourself is that you can start – or switch to – home education at any time. Whether this is the first time you are home educating your child, or whether you’ve been doing it for years, here are some practical tips to ensure a successful and less stressful academic year.
- Start with a lesson plan: If the prospect of planning an entire year’s worth of lessons seem overwhelming, turn to the materials supplied by your curriculum provider. It should include an easy to follow lesson plan and proposed weekly time allocations for each subject.
- Create the right environment: Home education can take place virtually anywhere, and each set-up looks different – you don’t need to invest lots of money or dedicate an entire room to the endeavour. However, do make sure that there is an inspiring space that is free of distractions and conducive to learning.
- Keep track: You must keep a solid record of everything your child is learning, including assessments. Check with the DBE for their exact record-keeping requirements.
- Set realistic expectations: You probably have an idea of how things should go, but it’s easy to expect too much. As with life, not everything always goes to plan, so be sure set realistic expectations for yourself and your child.
- Be consistent…: The gravity of your responsibility for the educational success of your child should encourage you to set a plan and keep to it. On some days it may be difficult to say no to outside distractions, but staying focused will pay off in the long run.
- …but flexible: That said, not all families thrive on having a detailed list of what to do and when to do it. The beauty of home education is that, when life happens – your child gets sick, exciting opportunities arise and unexpected adventures call – you can plan your child’s education around it.
- Take a break: Another benefit of home education is that you don’t need to wait for scheduled public or school holidays. If you start to notice that your child’s enthusiasm is lacking and you’re losing your temper in the process, it may be time to take a break. A trip to the park, a nature walk, or a family vacation are great ways to relax and destress. They could, of course, also serve as exciting learning opportunities.
- Make learning fun: Learning doesn’t just happen from books, so be sure to include hands-on experiences in your home education plan. Excursions and experiments are a great way to bring concepts to life and give your child a new understanding and appreciation of a particular topic or subject.
- The world is your classroom: Almost everything we do involves some skills – thinking, reading, problem-solving, etc. Once you view every situation as educational, whether you are baking something, setting the table, or going grocery shopping, you will be amazed at what your child can learn.
- Remember the end goal: When things don’t go according to plan – you will experience frustration or exasperation – keep perspective. Success goes beyond the details of what is taught when educating your child; it is the relationship you have with your child at the end of the journey.
Make no mistake, home education can be hard. There is no one size fits all programme and it will take trial and error to get the right balance. So, as you follow this journey, don’t let anyone tell you how to educate your child. And if things don’t feel right, then make changes. Don’t worry if your solution is different to somebody else’s – no-one knows your child better than you, so trust in yourself and keep these tips in mind. Things will work out!