The debates surrounding the pros and cons of home-schooling are endless. There seems to be a limitless supply of studies and research done on the matter. We’ve put together some background knowledge and important information about home-schooling in South Africa; a brief analysis of some of the most important factors to think about when considering whether to home-school your children, as well as an short pros and cons list for easy reading.
Some Background and NB Information on Home-Schooling in South Africa
Home-schooling is considered under section 51 of the South African School Act. The Act states that, “A parent may apply to the Head of the Department for the registration of a learner to receive education at the learner’s home.” It is stipulated that a “learner may be registered for education at home if the provincial Head of the Department” is satisfied that registration will be “in the child’s best interest, that the minimum requirements of the curriculum in public schools will be met and that the standard of the home education will at least match that of public schools”. Home-schooling is accepted as a valid schooling option in South Africa. This said; the Head of the Education Department is given discretionary jurisdiction thereof.
Studies by Colfax and Colfax in 1988 founded criticisms against conventional schooling included: “anti-intellectualism, conformity, passivity, rigidity, disorganisation, over-socialising, under-socialising, and testing too often, testing too seldom, failing to acknowledge differences” and “course content”.
Other reasons parents may decide to home-school their children include:
- Physical disabilities may not always be catered for in public schools
- Learning disabilities or special needs exceeding that available at public schools
- The increasing cost of school fees
- The large student-to-teacher ratio in schools
- The declining standards of public education
- A possible lack of classroom education
- Violence and peer pressure in schools
- Religious reasons
- Difficulties experienced by groups who are unable to deal with multiculturalism in schools
A Brief on Some of the Major Debates Surrounding Home-Schooling
One of the biggest reasons advocating for home-schooling is that each learner grows and develops at different stages and in different ways depending on ability, maturity, and interest levels. One benefit to home-school tutoring is that each learner has access to an education ‘system’ that is tailored to his or her learning pace and needs. This educational freedom applies to parents as well as learners. Parent’s lives no longer exist according homework, school hours and the school calendar. Home-schooling thus enables both parents and learners to set school hours according to their individual needs and wants.
There is also more personal and learning time for home-schooled learners than when attending conventional schools. This is due to a variety of reasons such as less time spent getting properly dressed for school and driving times to and from school and school activities. Additionally, a typical classroom lesson is 45minutes. Another 15 minutes between each lesson is for walking to and from different classrooms, bathroom breaks and getting settled for each following lesson. With home-school tutoring, this time is saved. This means more time for rest and relaxation!
Another problem facing almost any school is peer pressure and bullying. Studies show that, for some learners, bullying and the like can have devastating and even long-term effects. Some findings concluded that self-esteem is more likely to remain intact among home-schooled learners. One counter argument to this notion though is that public schools, through peer pressure and bullying, better equips learners for the harsh realities of the ‘real world’. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that peer pressure and bullying teaches young learners to build character and become emotionally more adept.
Furthermore, one conception is that home schooling provides learners with a better sense of reality in that they are not dictated by adolescent trends and dangerous experimentation. Home schooled learners have more freedom of expression in their dress and physical appearance. But, can the same be said for freedom of thought? There is no one answer to this question. Certain households place greater emphasis on religious beliefs, tradition and familial ideals. Many families feel their religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of who they are and home-schooling provides the opportunity for parents to incorporate their beliefs into their daily lives. However, there are others who question whether public schools, through exposure to different beliefs, traditions and ideals allow for greater freedom of thought than through familial learning environments.
There are many points to deliberate when considering any means of education. Ultimately, it is up to you and your learner and depends on you as an individual.
- You are able to decide what, how and when your child learns something
- You are able to make learning more exciting according to your child’s interests
- Your child can be given in depth assistance and personal attention according to his or her strengths and struggles
- Weekly schedules and school outings can be created without the constraints of a traditional learning environment
- You are able to pass on your values and beliefs to your children and answer any questions that they might have
- Your children are protected from the bullying and peer pressure that is so often a daily struggle in traditional school environments
- You are able to create a more effective learning environment by teaching one-on-one
- Your child’s natural talents and abilities can be nurtured
- You are able to address important and personal issues with your children when you feel that they are ready
You may have to:
- Spend 24 hours a day with your children which may not be ideal for you and your family
- Validate home-schooling to friends and family who may not agree with your decision
- Spend a greater deal of money on education than previously accustomed
- Put in more effort to find friends with whom your children can share meaningful and quality friendships
- Deal with arguments between siblings if you are home-schooling more than one of your children. Making time to home-school more than one learner may also be challenging if they are each in different grades and learn at a different pace.
- Parent’s loss of income because he or she has to be home to fulfil the role of an educator