We all hit a roadblock sometimes and could do with a word of advice or encouragement.
Intrepid reporter Gerda-Marié took to the “streets” and asked some homeschooling veterans for advice on questions that some parents have.

Homeschool Beat has the scoop.

Q: I experience a battle between my knowledge of school and the freedom of unschooling. How can I think differently on the matter?

A: Remember to think outside the box. Homeschool allows for much more flexibility and opportunities to focus on things your child loves. There are no time limits and you are spending one on one time with your child. Don’t force your child. If he has a down day, give him the day off. Whenever you need advice, reach out to a support group. Somewhere, someone will have the answer.

Anna-Lee Botha, Middelburg, Mpumalanga

Q: How do I decide on which curriculum to follow?

A: Let children explore their passions. Only 5-10% of children can keep to a boxed curriculum – usually those who attended school and loved it! The curriculum you choose should suit your child’s learning style. Does he prefer visual, auditory or kinetic learning? You can use absolutely any and everything in your daily life as teaching materials. From travellers’ journals you can teach geography and language. From autobiographies you can teach so much history. And because it is a true story many life lessons can be taught through these. Use library books or Sasol’s books to teach biology and science. And nature journals too. By just going for a walk and journalling the change of a tree throughout the year or different new arrival birds at the feeder. Or just journalling your veggie garden. Wow, all so exciting! The kitchen is a great place to teach maths and science. All maths is applicable in the kitchen. And do some experiments! Bake some muffins with and some without baking powder, sugar or add rice to some. Taste and see. Chemistry is fun! Remember you don’t need to do all the subjects at the same time. You can take different subjects for different terms. What they love, they’ll remember.

Wanda Rossouw, Groblershoop

Q: Is it expensive to buy a curriculum and how do I find the correct method?

A: There are many free options available and things you can download from the internet. Use it for a year, gain experience and have fun while finding your feet and establishing your child’s learning style. The method and resources you use should both fit you and your child. It’s a wonderful journey, embrace it!

Corlia Stolz, Parys

A: No, it does not have to be expensive. There are lots of free resources available. Ask your local homeschool community to browse their material to find curricula that fancies your interest. Sieve through the information and advice and find what suits your household.

Anneké Visser, Parys

Q: How can I keep my 1 year and 5 year old busy at the same time?

Use a reward system when your children are young. If possible, get help to keep the one busy while you work with the other or let them play on their own alongside you.

Rista Bampa, Parys

Q: What should I teach and when?

A: Google different indexes and see what they teach at different ages. And approximately how much of what is in a curriculum. For instance, if you look at maths, you will see most curriculum teaches time in gr3, form of shapes from gr 1, starts “counting in groups” in gr 2. Some may call this multiplication. But they only start fractions around gr4. So just get an indication of where you want to go in a year and how much time you need to allocate for a subject. This is all very flexible, as every child has his or her own learning rate. Don’t force anything. If they don’t grasp the work now, pencil it in your diary and try again in 3 months’ time.

When teaching in a secondary language, I found great success using a puppet, as kids don’t want to talk to their mom in another language. If they speak to a puppet it becomes natural and a lot of fun!

All junior kids must learn trough play. This has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that information gathered by playing is information retained. If you cant play or storyline it…. leave it! You are wasting precious play time.

There will be more than ample time to teach core subjects from ages 12 and up, and as soon as kids find their passion. Learning becomes a natural occurrence and they understand that that core subject is a means to an end.

Wanda Rossouw, Groblershoop

The only subjects that build on previous concepts are maths, language and science. The rest is general exposure in their primary years and you can use several resources instead of a set curriculum. Once children show interest in a specific area of study, you can focus on it by adding resources. Later in their high school years, it can be added as one of their matric subjects.

Anneké Visser, Parys

Q: How can I find motivation or follow a routine?

A: For motivation I would recommend to try and take a break from the normal structured school work and to do something fun that you would not normally do, arts and crafts or experiments. We also try and do all the serious school stuff in only four days of the week and one day we do something relaxing and fun, or take a day off even. I found that reward charts also helps to get my kids motivated to do the boring stuff i.e. if they don’t feel like doing school I don’t feel like giving them screen time on said day.

On getting into routine, I also realised that the more focused I am and the better the example I set the better the kids are in following in my footsteps.

For us Bible study first thing in the day helps to get a workable routine then the rest of the day seems to just fall into place.

Adelle Swart, Pretoria

Q: How do I know if my child is learning enough?

A: Firstly, we need to stop comparing our children to children who attend schools.

Children learn from birth and are constantly learning – even if we don’t realise it. Opportunities for learning are all around us. We need to think broader than worksheets and lesson plans. Once you stop measuring the learning to a predetermined standard, you will start to relax. Rather set goals, along with your child, for what you would like your child to achieve by the end of the year and work together on that.

Erina Agenbach, Pretoria

Q: Where can I find motivation?

A: Listen to podcasts or TED talks. Read blog posts of an experienced homeschool parent. Join one of the many homeschooling communities on Facebook or WhatsApp. I love Oolfant.com (Marissa Haasbroek), Paper Mache Sparrows (Maché Myburgh) (Facebook), Stark Raving Dad (Facebook), Teaching from Rest written by Sarah MacKenzie (Audible).

Erina Agenbach, Pretoria

Q: How can I balance school and home?

A: Give your children chores and teach them how you’d like it done. Once our children could walk, we started teaching them, for example, to take soiled diapers to the bin. I am careful not to correct their mishaps as they would feel like failures. These things take time and commitment but pay good dividends.

Lana Maree, Schweizer Reneke

Q: My child doesn’t like learning. What can I do?

A: Schoolwork frustrates my son. He is only interested in nuclear power plants so I motivate him by telling him the importance of maths and that he first needs to finish school if he would like to work in that industry. I reward him if he focuses and works hard. Nothing gives him greater pleasure than me being inte­rested in what he is interested in. Once I’d promise him to spend time with him on his passion, he instantly gets more energy and gives his cooperation.

Anna-Lee Botha, Middelburg, Mpumalanga

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