There’s a scrimmage of 40 grade one learners in front of their new class. They bundle in and sit on their chairs.
There is good discipline in the class, but there are so many learners that it’s impossible for the teacher to give each of them the necessary attention. Only the smartest learners will do well, while the average child may miss a number of important building blocks and, eventually, it will become more and more difficult for them as they struggle through the grades.
There are many learners who get lost in the school system. They struggle with the work pressure and the lack of attention, and do not reach their full potential as they do not receive individual attention. There is also the pressure to participate in sports and to maybe not be chosen for a team — and you just pray that your child is not bullied.
Home education, on the other hand, is frequently seen in a bad light. The picture people often have is of a mother giving classes at home. The child sits at a table and lives a lonely, reclusive existence without socialising.
With teaching in the 21st Century, however, the picture may look very different. Home education can be done in many different ways.
Parents can teach learners at home; they can ensure that all the necessary concepts are properly embedded and can monitor progress themselves. Parents can now join groups of other parents who also home educate their children via social media. Playing opportunities, excursions and social events can be planned so that learners can enjoy private education as well as social opportunities vital to their development. Often parents also take turns to teach, and work on a rotational basis. Children do not lose precious time in classrooms waiting for discipline or individual attention.
There are many tutor centres across the country. Some centres only focus on one subject; others offer all subjects. When parents don’t want to teach their child themselves or may not wish to take a subject to the next grade, a tutor can be used. Tutors give each learner the individual attention they need, and help them understand difficult concepts, but the primary responsibility to educate the learner remains with the parents.
It often happens that tutor centres are in such great demand that they become small private schools. They still use a home-education curriculum, but the school takes responsibility for the learner’s education.
Hilda Erasmus is a specialist in the Foundation Phase