Home Schooling: A Viable Education Choice

Home Schooling: A Viable Education Choice
When one mentioned the word ‘home-schooling’ in the past, images of Amish-type families with bad teeth instrantly sprung to mind. Nowadays though, home-schooling has grown in popularity and is a common choice amongst Christian parents. We spoke to Graham Shortridge, the head of TCE South Africa to find out more.

Why is home-schooling suddenly so popular?
It is true that there are problems in some schools, but this is not the only reason that home-schooling has grown of late. One-on-one tuition is a far better way of monitoring a child’s progress. Problem areas can be detected very quickly and attended to, provided that a good curriculum with a proper monitoring (testing) system is used. Furthermore, many parents want a better education system for their children, based on the idea that God should be a part of every area of our lives – including education.

What is the benefit of home schooling my child versus a private schooled education? 
Individualised attention is the best way to impart knowledge from one person to another. This is most possible at home, as even in a private school the attention cannot be individualised. The cost factor is also huge as with home-schooling there are no monthly school fees, uniforms and of course transport. Many parents are anxious about the worldview being taught in schools and want to be able to impart a Biblical worldview to their child.

If both parents work, is home-schooling still an option? 
With a good curriculum in hand, a parent generally makes the best teacher, so it is far better if a parent teaches the child, but as this is not always possible a tutor can be used. Some home schooling families share the workload with one or two other families. As long as this is kept small, it works well. The best home-schooling curriculums do require a tutor of some kind. At this stage of a child’s education, they still need to be guided and helped by an adult. 

Home-schooled kids are often seen as ‘nerds’ or ‘socially inept’. What is your experience of how home-schooled kids fare in life?
According to studies home-schooled children are better socialised than their conventionally-schooled counterparts In the classroom children are all about the same age, whereas at home children have to interact with people of many different ages. 

Home-schooled children are usually involved in all kinds of extramural activities which involve other children. Furthermore, at home a child is not rejected or mocked because of some real or imagined ‘flaw’ – thus his self-confidence is allowed to grow, making him better able to relate to others.

Can one enter university/tertiary education with home-schooling qualifications? 
Not all home-schooling systems in South Africa offer this option, and in fact only take the child as far as Grade 9 in most cases. However, TCE will take your child right to matriculation age and beyond, and as our pupils can obtain a Cambridge A-Level that is internationally recognised, they have no trouble entering university.  It is very important to check that your home-school curriculum will be recognised by tertiary education centres.

Tell us about TCE  
Theocentric Christian Education was created out of a need for a Christian-based God-centred education with a South African flavour while using the best of American books. The TCE curriculum guides the parent through the work step-by-step so that they are able to teach their child to the best of their ability. The academic standard is one of the best in South Africa and recent research conducted showed that this is one of the key reasons why people choose to use the system. The programme is fully structured from Grade 0 up to Cambridge A-Level. We provide all the material needed per year including text books, in-depth work books and teacher’s guides, and we have continuous assessments.

Exams are provided twice a year from Grade Four up, so the parents know exactly how their child is developing. Academic achievement is rewarded with six-monthly report cards, and allows children to develop and grow at their own natural pace, with some guidance, of course. 

We are situated in Cape Town, but have customers all over the world who love the system and find the rich content to be the best to keep them connected to their roots.  We have a helpline for parents and/or pupils on working days and never turn a question away. Our founders are very hands-on, constantly updating the curriculum, and taking phone calls to help mothers who just need someone to talk to and relay their challenges and concerns to.