Homeschooling in South Africa: A practical four-step guide for parents

Homeschooling as an educational pathway is growing substantially in South Africa, for various reasons including parents’ mobility, the individual needs of a student, and lack of space at good schools in a given area. The prospect of homeschooling can be exciting and opens up many options for families, but it also needs thorough preparation and understanding before this approach is taken, in particular the legal landscape.

Colin Northmore, Principal of Evolve Online School, a brand of SA’s leading private education provider ADvTECH, says there are four key areas parents should take into account when considering homeschooling as an option.

1)     Navigating Legalities“Understanding and adhering to the legal framework set by the South African Schools Act is crucial. Parents must apply for permission to homeschool through the provincial education department,” notes Northmore.“This process includes notification, registration, and presenting a detailed learning plan aligned with national education standards. Ensuring compliance with these laws legitimises homeschooling and sets a structured foundation for your child’s education. It can be daunting, but is easily solved if you choose a curriculum where your provider supplies the learning plan. A good online school will be able to assist parents and provide expert support in this regard.”

2)     Curriculum Selection & Tailoring Education to Your ChildChoosing the right curriculum is a pivotal step. South Africa offers a range of local and international curricula, each with a unique education approach.“This is probably the most important step because it defines the limits and opportunities for your child. Parents should consider their child’s learning styles, interests, and future educational goals when selecting a curriculum. Additionally, integrating technology and various educational resources can enhance the learning experience, making it more engaging and comprehensive,” Northmore says.Parents starting homeschooling in South Africa may struggle to understand the differences between the offerings. Schools vary in how they deliver the curriculum, from only sending you the materials by post to conducting a full-time virtual school. Some provide qualified teachers and put children in small classes, while others adopt a lecture-style model with hundreds of children in the live session. Here are some questions you can ask to compare various offerings:

  • What examination will my child write at the end of Matric? Is the provider registered with a recognised examining body, and did they have to undergo a quality assurance process to achieve that recognition?
  • Will qualified teachers be managing my child’s learning? Are there live classes, and how many students are in those classes?
  • How does assessment work?
  • Does the provider use an innovative approach to teaching and learning? Will the curriculum provide a future-focused education for my child, and can the provider explain their approach?
  • What technology will I have to buy, and how does the supplier integrate educational technology and apps into the learning?
  • How involved will you have to be?
  • Will my child be able to interact with their peers, and does the provider make any provision for social development?
  • What if my child has a physical challenge or is neuro-diverse? Can the provider accommodate my child’s specific needs?

 3)     Creating an Effective Learning EnvironmentTransforming a part of your home into a dedicated learning space is more than just a physical change; it’s about creating an environment that contributes to learning and growth.“A consistent routine that balances academic, physical, and creative activities is essential. Homeschooling offers the flexibility to adapt this environment and schedule to suit your child’s needs better - a significant advantage over traditional schooling methods,” notes Northmore.

4)     Community Engagement and SupportHomeschooling isn’t a journey to be embarked upon in isolation. Joining the homeschooling community offers invaluable support and resource-sharing opportunities. From networking with other homeschooling families to seeking professional educational advice, these connections can significantly enhance the homeschooling experience. Additionally, enrolling children in extracurricular activities can ensure they develop social skills and explore various interests beyond the academic curriculum.“Embarking on homeschooling is a decision that requires careful planning and a commitment to providing a complete educational experience,” says Northmore.“By understanding legal requirements, choosing the right curriculum, creating a nurturing learning environment, and engaging with the broader homeschooling community, parents can ensure a successful and enriching educational journey for their children. The essence of homeschooling lies in its adaptability and responsiveness to each child’s unique needs and aspirations, and its ability to offer a personalised educational pathway that can lead to profound personal and academic growth.”