When it comes to choosing a homeschool curriculum, parents often feel like they’re in a maze – with the number of curricula available – or a fork in the road when they need to decide between a box curriculum or an eclectic approach.
GET THE BASICS IN ORDER
Lana Maree says that it is not the parents’ role to choose a formal curriculum and then force their child to follow it, but it is their role to help them discover themselves.
“Help them find their passions and dreams and, only then, find a suitable route to reach their destination.”
WHERE TO START
Visiting a curriculum fair will give you the opportunity to see the benefits of each programme, but be warned – it can be daunting. Another option is to join chat groups which are mostly region-based. Specialists in education curricula, like Martie du Plessis, are also able to assist parents in this regard.
“She is the ideal person to advise on learning styles and an uncapped approach, based on family profiles,” advises Helene Viljoen.
MATTERS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION
“Families in all types of situations successfully homeschool, but success depends on recognising and working with your circumstances, such as your budget, family size, and behaviour disorders.”
THE BOX SET CURRICULUM
Primary phase specialist, Hilda Erasmus, says that curriculum providers provide all the resource material that is needed and – once the learner is grade 10 – they will register them to be eligible to obtain the senior certificate in grade 12.
“They make the parent’s task easier; some even provide after-sales service such as providing assistance with academic-related questions.”
But don’t try to copy formal schooling.
“There are high school learners whose parents learned that you don’t need to spend tons of money which leads to tiresome fights,” says Lizel van Raaij. She warns that only a small percentage of kids (and parents) are able to consistently use a box curriculum. “You are definitely not going to keep your ‘out of the box’ thinker in that box,” she warns.
THE ECLECTIC APPROACH
With this option, different subjects get chosen from different curricula in adherence to your child’s preferences and abilities. When choosing which subjects from which source to use, ask the advice of an education specialist. However, says Lana, the cost of the curriculum doesn’t guarantee success rate.
NO CURRICULUM AT ALL
“We don’t home school; everything we do at home is homeschool,” says Lizel. She regrets using a boxed curriculum (which caused a lot of fights) and didn’t allow them time to bake cookies, because: “most of our time was spent doing school work. I decided to call it quits with a curriculum during the primary years and followed late Leendert van Oostrum’s suggestion: to leave our son playing in the sand pit and to promote his interests instead.”
She says that her son only learned to read at the age of 11. “I realised that he won’t fall behind because – with homeschool – there are no grades or levels, something that is typical of the formal school system. The content one can investigate is limitless, unlike the formal school curriculum.” She gave them exposure to their interests and focused on teaching them a love for learning, in preparation of their secondary school years.
Another Homeschool mom, Gerda Welman, says she is neither using a box set nor an eclectic option. “After having experience in both, I use a different map and I have direction indicators although I don’t use it to test them.”
LAY THE FOUNDATION WELL
Liza Verwey states that the most important subject to tend to and include in your curriculum is mathematics. “It is the most important subject for any field of study. All other subjects can be caught up later.” She enforces that it is important to ensure that the foundation is correctly laid.
“Never run ahead if your child hasn’t grasped or doesn’t understand a concept yet.”
Karen Badenhorst, mom and child therapist, adds on what Liza says: “parents should equip themselves to help build children with character. You don’t need to buy any curriculum to teach character, which will enable them to take responsibility and charge for their own future.” She claims that a good foundation includes the 3R’s and the 7C’s: reading, wRiting, aRithmetic (mathematics) and critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, cross-cultural understanding, computing, communication and career (self-directed learning).
FOLLOW YOUR GUT OR YOUR CHILD’S BLISS
Hilda says one should be guided by your child and your family structure: “it is not a one size fits all. Every child and family has unique needs.” Gerda also adds that – as a parent – you will know what will work with them. “Sometimes a child is not ready to obtain a certain skill at a certain age: be patient and be lead by your child’s readiness for the next step. Never underestimate your gut or feel judged or pressured by other parents.”
HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT SCHOOL
Last but not least, John Holt said: “what is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world, is not that it is better than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”
Wanda Rossouw reminds parents that homeschool is not a walk in the park
“It demands a lot from parents, because it is a lifestyle, not a hobby. Ask different homeschool parents for advice to obtain a broad picture of your options available before deciding which to follow – if you want to follow one.”