Dr. Belinda van der Westhuizen and Ian Strydom
Mythbusters: Homeschooling edition
In the last decade, homeschooling has globally become an increasingly popular option in the field of teaching and learning. Even with this popularity, homeschooling is surrounded by certain stigmas that cloud its viability as a perfectly suitable and credible educational practice. Many of these myths surrounding homeschooling are widely based on opinions, otherwise they would not be called myths!
Below are a few of these myths and a discussion on how these contradict available evidence and research.
Myth 1: Homeschoolers do not have social skills
Homeschooling kids are not exposed to traditional classrooms, therefore the myth is that these kids do not develop the same social skills as children in traditional school setting. This myth is centered around the belief that homeschoolers are sheltered from the real world. On the contrary, by not limiting learning to the classroom, homeschoolers are in fact using the real world as their learning environment! The effect that peer groups have on individual behaviour is irrefutable. With advances in communications technology and web conferencing software, virtual schools can also organize exciting online clubs and activities for their students, allowing them to interact with peers in a safe environment.
Social skills are not only learnt from peer groups but through interaction between children and parents. Homeschooling does not mean that children are isolated, it merely implies that learning takes place outside the confines of a formal school. Within a family structure co-operation and coordination takes place. These social skills are not only learnt in a classroom.
Myth 2: Homeschooling is not an accepted as a form of education
The common assumption that many have is that homeschooling is not an accepted form of schooling because it does not take place in a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Globally, homeschooling has been on the rise with statistics placing the amount of children engaged in home-based education in South Africa at about 100 000. The Department of Education in South Africa recognizes homeschooling as a valid form of teaching and learning. Parents are asked to register their child on the DoBE website and follow the steps outlined therein.
Myth 3: Homeschoolers are exposed to a watered down curriculum
This common myth goes hand in hand with the one mentioned previously. Homeschoolers have to comply with the same standards and educational requirements as formal schools do. Homeschoolers write the same final exams as traditional brick-and-mortar students. If the curriculum standard differed from that of formal schools, then homeschooling would not be an accepted form of education. However, homeschooling is an accepted method of educating your children as it complies with the education standards set out across all major curriculums (IEB, CAPS, Cambridge). If anything, since the education presented to homeschoolers is not confined to a classroom setting, it can provide endless learning opportunities which are relevant and tailored to a child’s needs.
Myth 4: Homeschooling is unstructured
There is a certain amount of freedom when it comes to homeschooling in terms of structuring the day. This does not mean that homeschooling does not have a structure at all. Parents can sit with the child and work out a timetable to follow or allow their child to learn accountability and time management by giving them the responsibility of setting up their own learning schedule.
Myth 5: Parents are not qualified to teach
A qualification does not necessarily mean a person can teach. Successful teaching occurs when learners are engaged, nurtured and interested. Parents are the perfect people to provide this by tailoring lessons around their child’s needs, as they know their children best. Parents can access a wide range of lesson plans and resources needed to provide their child with the best education. Additionally, a wide range of homeschooling social networks exist, where parents can share ideas and come together to provide their children with extra support. Furthermore, if a child is enrolled in a virtual academy offering live, online classes and access to their tutors, coaches and facilitators, a parent can still work full time if necessary.
Myth 6: Homeschoolers do not participate in extracurricular activities
Extracurricular activities are not limited to a formal school environment. Activities, whether it be sport or cultural, are available to homeschoolers outside those that a traditional school normally coordinate. Nothing limits homeschoolers from taking part in cultural and sport programmes, and excelling in these activities. Many a times the non-traditional way of taking part in extracurricular activities allow homeschoolers to develop and grow in ways that a traditional school’s extracurricular activity would not. Parents are able to choose from a variety of extracurricular programmes without limiting their child to the availability of the programme based on school funding and coaches. For example, some schools do not have the resources or space to provide hockey as an extra-curricular, thus limiting students from developing and growing their talents in this sport. Whereas homeschoolers have the option of joining a sports club.
At Wingu Academy we bust all these myths through our high quality content delivery, expert teachers and social clubs. All our content and term tests are Cambridge aligned, and assessments are externally moderated. Through our platform we provide structure and guidance to our students. To find out more on how Wingu Academy can help you, contact us to arrange a free online demonstration or trial of our academy at www.wingu-academy.com