The pros and cons of homeschooling
Is South Africa's education system in crisis, and is this why homeschooling is on the increase? Here are some pros and cons of homeschooling what do you think?

The positives


At home, your child gets the time and attention he needs from his "teacher" and can progress at his own pace. This private tuition usually enables children to get a better quality education than might be possible in a school. 


If your child has special needs, as a homeschooling parent you can tailor make learning to suit your child. Similarly, if your child is gifted, he gest special attention. 


At primary school level, you can get the school day done in two to three hours and at high school level about three to four should be enough for formal academic activities. This leaves a lot of time for flexibility and spontaneous outings, many of which are also learning activities that develop a child's experience. Many high school homeschoolers start home businesses or apprenticeships while completing their education. 


While keeping your child at home might protect him from playgorund bullies, Dr Tamara Boers, a child psychiatrist, cautions that this does not solve the problem. When bullying is dealt with effectively, children are presented with a valuable opportunity to learn prosocial skills. She notes that "bullying is no longer limited to the playground and with modern technology, cyberbullying will reach your child in the home." The same can be said for other social "evils" such as sex, drugs and alcohol. Hiding your children away from them won't make them go away. 

The negatives


While many might argue that homeschooling doesn't affect a child's socialisation whatsoever, even suggesting that it improves it as children who are homeschooled are exposed to a range of people and age groups - especially adults who they can learn from - Dr Boers has her concerns. "Education involves more than just academics. Research has shown that socialisation is among the most complex human skills learnt. School environments are generally designed to teach much more than just academics and learning how to interact socially is just as important as academics," she says. "It teaches children how to be a part of community and behave appropriately."


Being your child's parent and teacher is a huge responsibility and could be quite stressful for parents. "Multiple roles inside a family are difficult for parents. Also, while more family time together can be seen as positive, the challenges presented by homeschooling may cause strain," she says. "It is a normal developmental process for adolescents to separate form their parents, and it is important that they have access to other adult role models during this time."


Parents might not be equipped to pick up on a learning difficutly, whereas teachers who have a passion for a subject and have studied it in depth can not only identify a problem but also know how to deal with it.

What the South African law says

Although homeschooling is legal in South Africa, and was incorporated into the South African Schools Act in 1996 which states that schooling is compulsory for all South Africans from the age of seven (grade one) to the age of 15 (or the completion of grade nine), it's not actively encouraged by the government. Permission must first be sought from provincial authorities, and various requirements must be met, such as the provision of a weekly timetable and a learning programme.

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