Should I home-school my child?

Should I home-school my child?

Many aspects of our lives are up in the air since the beginning of lockdown. Our children’s education is no exception. After many weeks of remote schooling, Grade 7’s and matrics are now able to return to the formal academic classrooms. While the idea of returning to normal routine and life is a relief to many, others are understandably concerned about the practical implications of our children returning to school with other learners and staff.

In this time of lockdown buzzwords such as “home-schooling” and “remote learning” are being used frequently. Parenting is filled with constant decision-making regarding your child and family, and what is best, which can result in much anxiety. Many children are also finding this lockdown, and the possibility of return to school life daunting. Parents are now facing the decision of how to approach their children’s’ education as lockdown restrictions are gradually lifted. Being informed about the various options, can assist you to feel more confident when making these decisions.

All children have the right to basic education, according to our constitution. By law it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that your child is educated from Grade 1 until Grade 9 (or 15 years of age).

A White Paper on Education and Training (Notice 196 of 1995, Department of Education) explains the principles on which the SA Schools Act is based. One of these principles that is applicable to home-schooling is the following:

“Parents or guardians have the primary responsibility for the education of their children, … Parents have an inalienable right to choose the form of education which is best for their children, particularly in the early years of schooling, whether provided by the state or not, subject to reasonable safeguards which may be required by law.”

Successful home-schooling is dependent on a number of factors. Each family is different. Home-schooling works well for some, and not for others. It is important that you read up and do your own research into the various options, as well as know what is involved, in order to determine if this is the best way forward for your family.


What is home-schooling?

In South Africa Home Schooling is “education at the learner’s home” and “education within the family, where most of the teaching is provided by a family member”. Home-schooling focuses on the individual child, and thus learning is adapted to their personal strengths and weaknesses. The child can learn at their own pace. It aims to encourage independent learning through a stimulating and creative environment.


What is the difference between home-schooling and remote-learning?

With school at home or distance learning, the teacher is the main instructor and will give your child assignments and tasks to complete. A teacher-learner relationship is maintained and there is a sense of someone else guiding the learning. With home-schooling, the parent guides their child in learning.

Distance learning is usually for a set period during the day. Learners are expected to check-in with their teacher, complete structured assignments, and continue to meet learning objectives. Distance learning will only continue until it is deemed safe to return to school. The aim of distance learning is to maintain the learners’ academic levels and ensure that there is continued connection between the teachers and learners.

Home-schooling, on the other hand, is way of life for a significant period of time. Learning is integrated into everyday life for the child and family. The child is learning through everyday routines, as well as more formal tasks. The focus is on mastery of concepts and building relationships through learning.


How do you go about applying for home schooling?

You will need to apply to the head of the provincial Department of Education and register your child for home schooling. The lessons you give your child will need to fall within the basic compulsory phases of education as set out by the National Department of Education. An ongoing record of your child’s work and progress would need to be kept.

See the following link for the application process required:


What is required by the Department of Education when home-schooling your child?


After your child has been registered for Home Education you must keep the following: –

  • record of attendance
  • portfolio of the child’s work
  • up- to- date records of the child’s progress
  • portfolio of the educational support given to the child
  • evidence of the continuous assessment of the child’s work
  • evidence of the assessment and or examination at the end of each year
  • evidence at the end of grade 3, 6 and 9, that shows whether your child has achieved the outcomes for these grades

The Department of Basic Education does not have a preferred home-schooling curriculum (all independent schools are free to adopt their own). One of the most challenging tasks for parents is to find the right curriculum, once you have decided on home-schooling. There are many sites and help groups available online. In order to assist you in making the right choice for your family ensure that you for research and chat to other home-schooling parents.


What are the advantage and disadvantages of home-schooling my child?


  • You get to determine the curriculum and your child’s schooling schedule. Flexibility of the schedule is an advantage for some. It allows you to travel as a family.
  • Some parents find home-schooling convenient as it limits transportation needed to and from school each day.
  • You are able to encourage a fun learning atmosphere. You can more readily apply content to everyday, real-life examples.
  • Home atmosphere generally is more relaxed, and schedule can be tailored to your child’s needs. This is particularly helpful with an anxious learner.
  • More individual attention can be provided, which is not always the case in large mainstream classes.
  • Home-schooling allows for unique learning needs, or if your child experiences a barrier to learning.
  • Due to the individualised attention you are able to adapt teaching methods that are best suited to how your child learns best.
  • You are able to spend extra time with your child on more difficult concepts and move ahead after they master a subject or concept. You can ensure that your child is constantly challenged and stimulated at the correct level.
  • Some parents prefer that home-schooling shelters their children from school violence, drugs, and other negative behaviours children in public schools frequently encounter.
  • Home-schooling allows you to spend extra time helping your child develop any special talents they possess, including musical, athletics, etc.
  • You are able to discuss controversial topics at your discretion with your children.
  • You get to enjoy spending more time with your child. Home-schooling provides opportunity to create strong bonds between parents and children.
  • You are able to assist your children during adolescence and other trying times.
  • Home-schooling ensures that you are aware of what your child is learning.
  • Some parents choose home-schooling for religious reasons – it allows you to teach faith in depth.
  • By working with your child daily you have the opportunity to mould their character and morality.
  • Home-schooling can include skills that are not necessarily taught in the formal mainstream classroom, such as responsibility with chores, managing accounts, maintenance and repair around the home, taxes, etc.


  • Being around your children all day long can be trying. This can be difficult when children become restless and misbehave.
  • Parents frequently find that they have to explain their reasons for home-schooling their children to friends and relatives who can question and disagree with their decision.
  • Learning can be a slow process and requires patience and perseverance. It is important that the parent is able to restrain anger and remain patient when the child is struggling with a concept. This can be difficult when you are not a trained teacher, and the roles of parent and teacher become blurred.
  • You need to be able to constantly adapt your approaches in order to be an effective teacher.
  • Some parents find that it is costly spending money on books and other learning materials.
  • Balancing between the roles of teacher and parent can be challenging.
  • Motivating your child to work and learn can be difficult, particularly when there are constant distractions of TV, toys, phones ringing, younger siblings, etc.
  • Home-schooling is time consuming for the parent involved, as the child needs someone who is fully committed to the process. If you are distracted, or busy with other tasks while teaching, it can be distracting for your child.

Read up more about home-schooling commonly asked questions:

Homeschooling FAQs


The decision whether or not to home-school is one that is unique to each family. Home-schooling may work for one family, and not for another. It is important that the parent is prepared and willing to make the commitment to be an effective teacher. Home-schooling your child is not an easy task, and the decision to do so should not be taken lightly. Although home-schooling can be stressful, it is also rewarding being an integral part of your child’s learning.