A wide variety of educational products and activities, including workshops, will be on offer at the annual Cape Home Educators Homeschool Expo, this weekend.
The one-day expo at the El Shaddai Christian School in Durbanville on Saturday October 14, will include exhibitions by suppliers of homeschooling products and services and a streamed workshop on the rights of homeschooling parents and how to handle social workers and education officials.
Bouwe van der Eems, from the SA Homeschoolers Organisation (a branch of the Association for Homeschooling), said according to the census, there were about 57 000 homeschooled pupils in South Africa by 2011 and by 2014 this number had grown to about 75 000.
“There are multiple reasons why parents are increasingly choosing home education. Parents choose it because they want to offer their children an education of a higher quality, because it is safer, because there is more control over the costs of education, because parents want to transfer their values to their children, and many other reasons,” he said.
Mr Van der Eems said each child learned differently and homeschooling had the advantage of being able to create a bespoke curriculum for each child.
Homeschooled pupils could learn at their own pace and take as much time as they needed on a subject; learn outside of the classroom; take lessons beyond the traditional norm and avoid the sort of stress that came with conforming to a one-size-fits-all school schedule.
“The ability to learn outside the classroom is one of the things that makes homeschooling not only unique but also a great way to reinforce the lessons learned at home,” he said. “It is more interesting to learn history, science and the arts by actually participating or heading to a museum then it would be to learn facts and figures in a book.
“If parents run their own business, the children actually learn in the real world of business, and they are not isolated from this.”
Homeschooling also gave parents more power to promote their own values to their children instead of those of peers, special interests or the government, he said.
“Public schools will teach what the government or the teacher has on the agenda. This may not be consistent with your family values. To most families who choose homeschooling, the values their children would be taught in a public school are not acceptable,” he said.
Western Cape Education Department spokeswoman Jessica Shelver said Section 51 of the South African Schools Act allowed for homeschooling, but it had to meet the education standards of public schools.
Parents wishing to homeschool their children had to apply to their nearest district office for permission to do so. An official would visit the home and make recommendations to the department’s head office.
Mr Van der Eems said parents did not need any special qualifications to provide home education, and research had found no link between the educational qualification of parents and the performance of homeschooled pupils.
“Homeschooled children of parents that do not have any tertiary education perform just as well as children of highly qualified parents,” he said.
Another benefit, he said, was that families could have more control of their time and could arrange things, according to the needs of the family.
He cited holidays outside peak season as an example.
There was also no time wasted on transport, moving between classes and standing in lines. But homeschooling is not without its challenges and Mr Van der Eems said it needed a firm commitment from parents.
“It requires a lot of hard work and time from parents, while sometimes facing negative attitudes from family and friends about their choice. Sometimes the choice also means the loss of a second income,” he said.
The expo will take place from 9am to 3pm, at a cost of R50 per adult.
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