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Help your child learn problem-solving skills

Lientjie Young ImpakBy Lientjie Young, mother of a beautiful 4 year old daughter, loves the sea and the tranquillity it offers. She has a passion for students and education. Previously a teacher and deputy head of a school, currently Head of Mathematics and Sciences at Impak Education.

The development of mathematical thinking is one of the most important reasons why kids do Maths at school.  It is not simply about following the steps, but also about developing  problem-solving skills. Unfortunately, it is not easy to develop these skills, and it is particularly challenging for teachers in today’s crowded classrooms where individual attention is not always possible.

Luckily, parents can make an important contribution in the lower grades by doing exercises with their children.

Help your child:

Understand the question

Parents must firstly understand the reason why many children do not try to solve problems on their own. It is because they are unsure what exactly the problem is that needs to be solved. As a parent, you can help by reading through the problem with your child, guiding them to discover exactly what the problem is that needs to be solved.

Once they know what needs to be solved, let them play around with ideas of how to solve the problem.

Think for themselves

While it is important not to leave your child alone at this stage, as they might give up on solving the problem, you must also remember that the goal is not to tell them what the next step is!

Children must discover what the next step is themselves and parents can help by encouraging them to think differently and find alternative ways to approach problems. Have a brainstorming session about why certain solutions will work and others might not.

Then let your child analyse all the information gathered in the brainstorming session and decide on the best possible solution. This is very difficult, especially for young children, as they are not usually given the opportunity to make “big” decisions with consequences by themselves.

Feedback is essential

Once the decision has been made, give your child feedback. Make sure that the feedback is always supportive and motivational. This process develops problem-solving skills and can be used in any subject area.

When parents guide their children to think and work independently, it builds self-confidence and they develop a passion for learning and even for life. In practice it would mean, for example, that parents encourage their children by exposing them to sources and experiences where additional information can be gathered in order to make a connection between the knowledge they already possess and the new mathematical knowledge.  Allow your children to discover and experience on their own.

Mathematics offers children endless opportunities to discover and solve problems. Make an effort to join in and enjoy your children’s Mathematical journey. Instead of simply using Mathematics to develop mathematical skills, also use it to prepare them for the future.

Why kids *must* speak a second language

JK Avi

by Tiffany Markmancopywriter & editor, co-owner of Sing at my Party and adoring mom and wife, who tries to balance her workaholism with her addiction to caffeine, red wine, books, and Twitter.

***

My four-year-old is learning isiZulu. Her pre-school offers it in the form of a weekly class. But she’s also ‘studying’ isiZulu after school, every day of the week, with her nanny.

Why? Because I believe that being able to communicate with more than 70%* of our country’s people is an important part of being a South African citizen. I believe that sharing words makes people like each other, so it’s good for our souls. And I believe that bilingualism and multilingualism are healthy for children’s brains.

The cultural impact 

Nelson Mandela said: “If you talk to to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”

Perhaps even more eloquently, according to Meryl Bailey of Linguamites (which is the monthly programme our nanny attends to learn to teach our child isiZulu), “There is great power in relationship-building through language learning,” especially in the context of current racial and cultural intolerance.

Language learning can teach children to respect other cultures, to identify with people from different backgrounds, and to grow up to be accepting, responsible and sensitive global citizens.

mandela language

The cognitive impact

But beyond civil society, there are significant brain-related benefits inherent in child bilingualism, explains Meryl, including enhanced cognitive functioning, better memory, superior creative thinking, better problem-solving and the capacity for divergent thinking – as well as soft skills like adaptability and confidence.

Bottom line? An additional language can make your kid kinder and smarter.

A brief Q&A session

Here are some of the insights I gained during my interview with Meryl:

Q: How can speaking an African language improve racial tolerance?

A: By learning someone else’s language you are saying, “You are important, your culture is important and your ideas are important. I want to know who you are.” The divide between us can only get smaller when we say these things to one another.

Q: Why must white South African kids speak an African language?

A: Speaking an African language is part of a new South African identity we need to create in order to move forward as a nation. In the future, it has the potential to open doorways for our children and create opportunities we’ve never known before.

Q: *Why is isiZulu the African language of choice at Linguamites?

A: isiZulu is spoken as a first language by more than 20% of our country, while more than 50% of South Africans use it as a second language. As a Bantu language, isiZulu stands a learner in good stead to acquire other African languages.

Q: Going beyond African languages to European or Asian languages, how should a parent choose an additional language for his/her child to learn?

  • Based on heritage:The language of the parents and grandparents is vital and should be passed to the next generation wherever possible, as a kind of legacy.
  • Based on environment:Being able to converse in the language spoken around you is a huge advantage (which is why we advocate African language learning).
  • Based on usefulness: Identify where you think opportunities may lie for your child. Learning languages spoken by a large population is a valuable investment.
  • Q: Can you suggest some ways to help children acquire a second language?

    A: The first requirement is regular access to a quality native speaker of that language, plus a lot of time exposed to the language. We’ve found that a ‘One-Person-One-Language’ policy is critical, so that there is no ‘mixing’ of languages across caregivers. It’s also important to start as young as possible.

    Q: Can you suggest some tips for teaching small children new words?

  • Play songs and listen to stories with audio.
  • Act out word meanings.
  • Repeat simple words.
  • Make speaking the language a necessity; that is, the child must try to repeat the word or phrase in the relevant language before you honour a request.
  • Q: Why does Linguamites teach nannies to teach their own language?

    A: Being a native speaker of a language is only the first step to being a good tutor. Just like there are courses to teach English as a foreign language, nannies must be taught to teach their language to children – using the necessary tools and methodology and developing the confidence and commitment to stick with it.

    Back to our story

    We’ve been following the Linguamites programme in our house for three months now and I can see the joy and pride our domestic worker derives from the process. My little one is also pretty chuffed with herself (tho’ not brave enough yet to chat to people she doesn’t know). We’ll get there. And ngiyojabula when we do.

    ***

    Other language schools to try:
    Extralingual
    Amali Academy for African Languages and Culture

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    3 Schools in 3 years

    IMG_0160

    GabKe is a full-time mom, chauffer, butler, personal shopper, tutor, law enforcer, coach, chef and librarian to daughters K (6) and G (4). As well as a doting wife to husband Etienne, a true gaming addict. Read about the everyday challenges she faces raising daughters that are only 18 months apart, and the often frustrating but always rewarding journey of being a mom.

    My eldest daughter wasn’t planned, but to this day she is the happiest surprise I have ever had. I was younger than most moms of my generation and extremely naïve. I didn’t really have anyone guiding me in the right direction and hoped like hell I wasn’t gonna mess up my kids for good! I chose my daughter’s first formal school based on location, (yes, emphasis on naïve). The school was a private school, around the corner from my house, has a very good reputation and honestly, the only way you’re going to find out if a school is right for your child, is to send them there. I can assure you, schools do not divulge any bad habits on their part when you’re on the school tour. Once K started, I was quite surprised to find out that the Grade RRR classes only had an assistant for the first two weeks of the year until the kids were settled. Considering the amount of money you pay for private education, I truly wondered how one teacher was supposed to be responsible for twenty-five 3-4 year olds! Although I was not impressed with the situation, the other moms seemed OK with the idea, and heck, they probably know what they’re doing! K did her first two years there, Grade RRR & RR, and although she flourished educationally, we didn’t feel this was the right cultural fit for us. Due to my husband being Afrikaans, and both our kids are fully bilingual, we decided to try an Afrikaans school next which happened to be a public school as there aren’t too many private Afrikaans primary schools around.

     To sum it up, this was disastrous. Admittedly, I was now used to the private school thing, but at the end of the day you at least expect the parents to wear shoes when fetching their kids and to not smoke on school grounds. Judgment aside, K’s education suffered. They watched a movie every day and coloured-in every day. This was not just based on my child’s testimony, but was evident in the work she brought home at the end of every term. She was now in Grade R but doing less work than she had in Grade RRR. To say the least, we were concerned. K’s teacher looked overworked and underpaid. You could see this was not where she wanted to be. The last straw for us was when a child on child molestation incident occurred at school, during playtime, on the school field – involving K. Naturally, as concerned parents, we contacted the school and demanded answers. To say the principal was not interested would be an understatement. He refused to believe that K had sustained any emotional damage and would only consult the other parents with a letter from K’s therapist. Even with the letter in hand, we, to this day, do not believe that the situation was ever brought up again. At this point we thought the best thing for K would be to remove her from the school, from the lack of education that she was receiving and from a spineless principal that really doesn’t have the children’s best interests at heart.

    After that we found a lovely private school for K that is dual medium. Walking in there was like a breath of fresh air. The principal demands respect from her pupils and punctuality is non-negotiable. K’s teacher has such a passion for teaching and connects with each child on their level. We feel K is now receiving the best education available and it feels like home. Our motto is: third time lucky!

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

    Endless to-do lists for back to school

    fatima

    By Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (9), Zayn(7) and Zahreen (4), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey &  is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

    The holidays have come and gone… Even the beach sand that so stubbornly stuck to my kids’ bottoms has finally been washed away.  Tan lines are disappearing and that tedious New Year’s resolution list has been forgotten already.  One thing that never fails to come around though is ‘back to school’.

    Don’t get me wrong.  I like routine, I thrive on it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and not having to shower everyone by 7am, not having to force the oats down their throats (they can eat those dreadful sugar-coated cereals during the holidays) and giving them endless chores to do every day. (can you hear that evil laugh?)

    The thing is that it just seems like such a mountain of to-do lists that I need to get through just to get started with January.  And that’s only dealing with the kids and their school stuff.  Each year, their school shoes and socks look as though something tried to grow out of them (right, that’s the kids growing out of them).  They suddenly grow longer arms and legs in one month and all this means dragging them to buy new uniforms.  Then there’s those darn stationery lists!  Why exactly am I buying 12 sticks of glue?  Do they eat them and is that why they’re growing so fast?  And that’s just for one kid and I have 3.  So it’s walking around with 3 lists trying to find the most reasonably priced brands but ones that aren’t made to last a day.

    Thereafter we have the labelling.  Each individual pencil, sharpener, eraser and all those impossibly small things that my impatient hands can’t handle.  And ‘the help’ usually can’t understand why I like to have all the labels on the pencils facing the same way and on the same spot.

    Anyway, once all the admin is done with, there’s the task of convincing my middle son that all good things come to an end. That grade 2 will be much more exciting than grade 1 and that if he promises not to lose his brand new lunch box within the first week, I’ll take him on a beach holiday in December (there’s that evil laugh again).  And once school starts, it’s like a well-oiled machine with daily lunch-making, extra mural timetables, homework and early nights to bed.

    Good luck to all the mums and dads especially those with first time school-goers.

    Click here to find a list of other articles written by Fatima Kazee

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Homework blues

    By Fatima Kazee, fulltime mum to Imaad (8), Zayn(6) and Zahreen (3), part-time wife to fisherman husband Aadil. She’s addicted to sneakers anything chocolatey &  is an invaluable part of the Jozikids and Kznkids team.

    So I recently posted on Facebook about how excited I get when the kids come home with no homework for the day. Of the 32 people that liked the post, 1 was my husband purely because I think he can sense from the mood when he comes home that there’s been no frustration on that day. The other 31 were all mothers who probably feel the same way as I do. And I’m guessing that there are many more that can relate.

    Look I’m not lazy when it comes to doing homework. Ok, maybe only when it’s long division because that stuff just confuses me beyond words! It’s more of an issue because of the amount of homework the kids get these days. My boys are in grade 3 and grade 1 and having to spend at least an hour and a half each day with homework is just craziness. With the elder one it’s not so bad, he does most of it by himself and I have to just check it. With the younger one, who also happens to be the middle child, it’s a IMG_1866fighting, screaming, crying (mostly by me) episode most days. I have to beg and bribe him just to sit down, he hates it, does it untidily just to get it done and even resorts to ‘forgetting’ his books at school just to avoid having to do it. And all this in grade 1 only!

    I’ve tried all sorts of tactics to get him writing his letters correctly and the right way round, to do his sums neatly and to read his mind-numbingly boring readers with some enthusiasm, but he couldn’t care less. He thinks it’s all a waste of his time as he doesn’t use it at all and he won’t need it one day when he grows up and becomes a robot maker. (Maybe he’ll create one that does homework for kids) He doesn’t follow the instructions – use a red colour to show the smaller object – no; he’ll just use blue to show how much he feels it’s a waste of time. And it’s not that he can’t do it or that he doesn’t understand the work. He just doesn’t get enough time to play and unwind.

    I agree. By the time they’re done with school, extra murals in school and Islamic classes after school, its 4.30pm and there’s hardly any time for free play. I don’t remember getting that much homework or my mum having to sit with me every day, breaking her head with homophones (yes I now know what those are), nouns and number lines. Don’t they have enough time during school to finish all the work? Are children nowadays not as bright as before so they need extra work?

    And all the while that I grit my teeth and wade through the mountains of Maths, English and Afrikaans, I think about how much harder it’s going to get as they get older. I have friends with older kids who find it necessary to point this out to me. Even if they didn’t, I can see it in their sallow faces having been up till 11pm helping with science assignments and art projects. Then again, maybe we’re all just over-parenting…

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Evaluating whether moving schools can help

    Susan FrieseBy Susan Friese, mother of twins, passionate teacher and counsellor with a post-graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has Springbok colours in Martial arts, teaches Kung Fu in her spare time and runs a study centre for Cambridge students called To Educate Academics

    A multitude of factors play a role when removing a child from one schooling environment and placing them in another, from professional assessment to mummy knows best to what does the child WANT to do.

    Professional Assessment

    This is a starting point where you can explore what your child is actually capable of and whether he/she is achieving this in their current situation. This can be a school readiness test, an IQ test, tests for cognitive impairment or numerous other psychological issues.  You can also explore issues such as whether a child is distracted by having other kids in the class or if there are home issues creating obstacles to learning.
    For example, if you and your spouse are having marital problems, now is really not the time to start homeschooling your kids. Instead it  would be the time to find them a supportive academic environment that is removed from the home and can provide a fall-back safe space for the child. Somewhere to escape to if needs be and act like a kid, not a buffering zone.

    Emotional considerations
    Of course one also needs to remember that extreme emotional conditions will contribute to a child scoring lower on an IQ test than if she were happy! So if she is unhappy she will not appear as bright as she could otherwise. The counsellor or psychologist can guide you towards alternative schools (or indeed a return to mainstream) or treatment where necessary but use your instinct as a parent to make the final decision.

    Conformism vs growth

    Shouldn’t kids  learn to conform to prepare them for ‘varsity and  the workplace? The real answer is no.When I was unhappy at my government school the psychologist I saw for IQ testing urged my parents to keep me in a traditional environment so I would learn to conform, thank god my parents didn’t listen! As soon as I moved to a new, freer environment I blossomed. I finally started achieving academically and growing emotionally.

    Did Einstein fit into school? No, he dropped out and went on to achieve remarkable feats.  Did Richard Branson succeed in school? No. Before Branson quit school, his headmaster told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire. And many people assumed the former. Of course these people are exceptions and exceptional but it does show that not every child will fit in and they should not be forced to. They should be free to consider an alternative environment where different focuses are apparent. That may be a more sporting environment or a ballet school. It may be a study centre with a focus on creativity. It may be a college where teachers are more permissive. It could be a remedial school. It could be your home. Whatever you child needs, allow them to discuss it with you.

    Special needs
    A child on the autism spectrum is not going to “get better” by staying in a school where he is bullied. He will not adjust and learn to get on with it. A painfully shy child will not “come out of her shell” if forced to do PE in a swimsuit in front of the whole school (we had to do this at my old school, it was mortifying). For many kids this is all fine and good and well. But what if it’s not? What if your child is the one who doesn’t fit in?

    My story

    I left a government school at the end of the 3rd term to move to a Cambridge centre. I completed 5 levels in 6 weeks. I have 2 degrees and a passion for education that extends beyond my textbooks. I am the owner/operator of a study centre in Randburg where students complete an international high school syllabus though Cambridge and become happy and healthy individuals.

    The teen spirit is a unique and vibrant entity, don’t let it be quashed.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

     

    It’s never too late to change schools

    Susan FrieseBy Susan Friese, mother of twins, passionate teacher and counsellor with a post-graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has Springbok colours in Martial arts, teaches Kung Fu in her spare time and runs a study centre for Cambridge students called To Educate Academics

    I often receive  queries from parents asking “Isn’t it too late to change my child’s school?” It may be the end of the first term, mid year or in the last few weeks of the school year. My answer is always  – no, it’s not too late if your child is unhappy.

    Why are kids unhappy at school?  Maybe they don’t find the work challenging,  they have a personality conflict with teachers or they don’t fit in with their peer group. In many cases the school and the student just aren’t a good fit.  And some kids just hate school. They hate the autocratic style of classroom dynamics and they battle with kids their own age. A huge percentage of school time is spent changing classrooms, queuing at the tuck shop, waiting for teachers and  for the class to “settle down”. 30% of the day wasted.

    If your child wants to change schools,  is forcing them to stay building character and teaching them to fit in?  Most likely they will learn to avoid certain situations, people and places. They will learn to tune out,  drag their feet and be late for every class. As a parent and educator I want my kids to love learning. I want them to finish at their own pace and work on the subjects they love.

    Pros and cons of all systems:

    Mainstream: For some children this works. Government and independent schools offer relatively good academics and plenty of social interaction. The Matric is well recognised by local universities and employers. There is also usually a wide variety of physical activity and excellent sporting opportunities. The downside is big classes can be intimidating, the subject choices are limited and teachers are often overwhelmed.

    International Schools: Here you get a great variety of languages and subjects sometimes not offered at regular SA schools. There is also more exposure to accents, ethnicities and cultures plus greater access to opportunities to study abroad. The downside is that SA universities can sometimes be a stickler with the more varied subject choices and qualifications. Your child may also develop an accent unlike your own which may or may not bother you.

    Study centres: Whether for an SA Matric or a foreign qualification such as Cambridge, study centres offer wonderful opportunities for kids who don’t like the size or style of mainstream schools. There is no focus on sports as the kids can do these at club level if they choose. There is a greater educator to student ratio and bullying is virtually non-existent due to small groups and supervision. This is also an option for professional child athletes. The downside is if a child wishes to be in a larger social environment (more friends to choose from) or if they are unable to study relatively independently

    Home schooling: This can be a wonderful experience for both parent and child as the time together is not limited by time factors or travelling distances. Parents can choose a local or international academic syllabus or can go syllabus free. This gives the child the opportunity to explore his or her own interests. It also provides a safe and secure environment for children that may have emotional issues or have experienced years of bullying. The downside: limited social exposure is definitely a factor regardless of how many social activities are scheduled. This is also a huge burden on the parent and such dedicated time makes it almost impossible to maintain a career. Universities also usually require some academic record for entrance.

    So when should a child leave the current school?

    You, as a parent, will know when. When he feels he doesn’t fit in, when she refuses to go to school every morning and life becomes a battle. When he comes home grumpy because the boys tormented him. When she is angry because her “friends” picked on her all day. When he says the teachers are stupid. When they don’t understand her.

    One parent asked  me whether it was too late to move her grade 9 student?  She said her daughter was crying herself to sleep every night. She joined a study centre, caught up the whole year’s syllabus and is motivated and happy.

    Whatever system works for your child is fine. Whether it’s mainstream or home school. Your child will make friends  he/she will have for life. Also don’t forget the role you play as a parent in those hours after school.

    So what’s the problem? There is no problem, only change.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Getting ready for big school next year!

    Barry Bateman Family Portraits Dec 2012By Sholain Govender-Bateman – Pretoria-based New Media journalism lecturer, former The Star and Pretoria News journalist & editor of magazines. She is mum to two gorgeous girls, Isobel and Aishwari, and wife to Barry Bateman. Twitter @sholain 

    It’s happened, Isobel is turning 7 next May which means that the transition to ‘big school’ has begun…for me. Of course, she’s thrilled with the prospect of meeting new friends, swimming in the big school pool and having loads of new adventures. I’m a bit more frazzled, especially after the run-up to the Grade 1 year that hubby and I have had.

    The school prep started a few years ago with online searches for suitable primary schools. I had heard from so many other parents that you need to get your kid onto a waiting list/s if you didn’t want her losing a valued spot at a specific school. I excitedly sent queries through to as many private schools in the Pretoria area as I could…and when I got the fees lists back, I had a series of mini panic attacks.

    We decided to keep our options open, there’s no way of knowing if we’d be millionaires by 2014/5!?

    The next hurdle was getting the whole age thing right. All I could recall was that I started school at the age of 5. I actually know of people who planned their kids’ birth dates based on how it would affect their school progress meaning will the child be too young for their class year or too mature.

    Having contacted a few highly recommended government schools previously, I was already aware that we were not in the feeder area of our first choice school. Then, when filling out application forms, I realised how valued space in these schools were. We had to provide heaps of certified documents, queue at Home Affairs for an unabridged birth certificate, collect proof of bond payments, lease agreements, letters from employers and more before the big day of handing in the application forms. We were number 2 on the B waiting list of our first choice school last year, and still didn’t get her in for Grade R there so this year we kept it simple and went for the school we qualify for, even though hubby and I don’t even go to that area of the suburb and it’s the opposite direction to our both work areas.

    The day applications opened, I got to the school at 6.30am expecting to battle for a place in a long queue amongst hoards of other parents anxious for those prized spots. I must say, it was a bit of an anti-climax when I arrived at the one school to find that I was the first parent there.

    We’re happy that Isobel is basically guaranteed the number one spot at our first choice. Proud to be a good mum and dad, we can relax for now…until the next parental hurdle appears. I just wonder what happens to the little children whose parents just didn’t bother even showing up to collect application forms…?

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids.

    Why I decided to homeschool

    Mia-Von-Scha-kids2-150x150By Mia Von Scha, Transformational Coach, motivational speaker, children’s author, student to two Zen Masters (aka kids), avid cloud watcher and lover of life.

    This was not the easiest decision I’ve ever had to make. I love my work. I love my kids. Not necessarily in that order. Making the decision to homeschool is not for everyone, and although I definitely thought it was for me, I knew it would involve some major changes both to my life and the rest of my family. So why did I do it?

    Let me start by saying we were on our 5th school by the time I pulled my kids out of the system. I finally had to admit that I was never going to find a school that I liked because I didn’t agree with school in general. At heart I am both a rebel and a non-conformist and I find the system in general oppressive to creativity, limiting to an above average child, draining on a child’s natural energy and love of learning, and on the whole unnatural (I really don’t believe that any child was designed to sit for 5 hours or more a day).

    On top of that I had some particular challenges to deal with, specific to my own children. Both my kids have what is clinically termed as “tactile defensiveness” but which I prefer to call being more attuned to your environment than everyone else! It means that they find certain textures and fabrics absolutely unbearable. School uniforms were a nightmare. My daughter cried at least once a day through the whole of Grade One just because the uniform was bothering her. And for the life of me I could not think of a good reason to give her as to why she had to wear it.

    Along with this heightened sensitivity comes an aversion to too much noise. A classroom is not the easiest place to concentrate for any child, but for one who struggles with excess noise it is virtually impossible.

    And to top it off, both my girls are particularly bright (they both score 3-5 years above their age group on all developmental assessments) and extremely creative. School is simply not set-up for the gifted child (and by the way, I see all children as gifted – it just takes someone with time and love to find out what their gifts are). They were bored and frustrated at having to continually work below their abilities.

    We were also unfortunate enough to encounter some very uninspired teachers along the way – teachers who have no intention of going the extra mile, who are not interested in finding out what the children’s values are and communicating to them in a way that will inspire them, who have lost their own love of learning and are slowly killing it in the children in their care. We did, of course, come across some amazing teachers too, but they were sadly in the minority.

    My kids, particularly the eldest, hated school. In Grade One! I personally loved school until I got to the higher grades, and I couldn’t imagine going through 13 years of hating a system and feeling there was no escape. I was lucky enough to know a few people already homeschooling and was able to see the joy and love of learning that had been reinstated in these homes, and I felt inspired. I figured that there was no way that I could do a worse job than some of the teachers we’d encountered, and at least whatever I did would be done with love.

    Of course, I am at an advantage. For a start, both my husband and I work for ourselves so we’re both fairly flexible. I’ve also studied both Child Psychology and Education as part of my BA degree. And I’ve trained in coaching which included a lot of information on how the brain works, how we process information, and more importantly how we learn. So although I didn’t have a teaching diploma, I did feel confident that I could make it work. Not that it’s brain-science, mind you. If you relax and allow your children to guide you they’ll surprise you with how eager they are to absorb their worlds.

    But it still wasn’t an easy decision. I had to completely overhaul the way that I work, as did my husband. We had an incredible learning curve trying to figure out what the curriculum was and how much of it we actually needed to adhere to. We had to teach ourselves to relax with complete uncertainty and an initial lack of structure. I’ve literally spent the last few months “unschooling” myself so that I can be open to how and what my children want to learn and fitting in with them instead of them having to fit in with some predetermined system.

    Has it been easy? No. Has it been worth it? To see my children wake up after having had enough sleep, to not have to rush them through breakfast and force them into uncomfortable clothes, to allow them the freedom to move and eat and play and laugh and talk and be natural children, and to see them blossoming into eager learners filled with joy and curiosity… I’d say yes, it has.

    Find out more about homeschooling options in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids

    5 reasons why you should homeschool your child

    Willemien von SolmsBy Willemien von Solms, mom to 2 sons who loves travelling, has worked as a journalist, editor and communications specialist. Currently works as executive head: Products at  Impak Education, curriculum provider for homeschooling parents and centres.

    A sound education offers the best springboard into the future. Therefore, the choice of a school is one of the most important decisions you as parent will ever make. In South Africa, a growing number of parents are choosing homeschooling over private or public schools. This choice is protected by law, as the South African Schools Act (Section 51 of Act 84 of 1996) gives parents the legal right to educate their children at home.

    Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why you should consider homeschooling.

    1. Investing time in your child’s emotional, social, physical & intellectual development
    “Spending time with children is more important than spending money on children.” – Anthony Douglas Williams, Inside the Divine Pattern. If you choose homeschooling, you take full responsibility for your child’s education and development, and accompany them on their journey to adulthood every single step of the way.

    2. Flexibility to accommodate your child and family’s specific needs
    A key feature of homeschooling is that children can progress at their own pace, in their own time. This allows you to accommodate your child’s and your family’s specific needs – ranging from frequent travelling for sport or performance commitments, language barriers, long distances to travel to and from school or a tragedy in the family, to a child who has trouble dealing with peer pressure or fitting into a rigid school system.

    3. Control over the quality and content of your child’s curriculum
    Homeschooling offers you the opportunity to make decisions about the content of your child’s curriculum. Research the various curriculum providers for homeschooling and choose the one that suits your circumstances, expectations, norms and values the best. A good curriculum provider will offer you the necessary material and assistance to guide your child through the education process, from Grade R to Grade 12.

    4. Creating a safe environment in which your child can thrive
    Receiving an education in the safe and familiar environment of the home provides a great educational experience for children – there is no more exposure to negative peer pressure or bullying, and no compromise is necessary on religious or moral beliefs. In addition, children in a homeschooling environment work individually, measuring themselves against their own performance and not a class average. As such, homeschooled learners identify their own strengths and weaknesses. They always have to take responsibility for their performance and they quickly learn that the outcome of their work equals their input.

    5. Have fun!
    It is such a privilege to spend the day with your child, be a part of their learning process and see the awe on their faces as they discover more about the world. Enjoy this time that you have together and keep your lessons fun. The opportunity to explore your child’s interests and strengths is a fascinating journey – treasure it.

    Find out more about homeschooling options in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal.

    Note: If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the uniquely detailed free weekly newsletter for parents in Gauteng – Jozikids – or KwaZulu-Natal – Kznkids