Sunday, August 17, 2014

The joys of home schooling

As a home schooler of 10 years I could say that I have some experience. It has been the most fantastic and the worst time of my life. The most enjoyable and the saddest time of my life. And yet, I would not change the last ten years if I was able to.

We started homeschooling for many reasons. The most important one was that we moved to the Eastern Cape. The schools were all Afrikaans and because we had many other reasons to home school we didn't even try to find a school. Caleb was 5, Hannah 3 and Sheth a couple of months old.

We bought a curriculum called Konos, Math-U-See and Llatl. We thought we were set! Well when I opened up the Konos file I panicked! It was overwhelming. The supplier didn't help at all when I contacted him. So, I started planning all my own lessons. I still used Math-U-see and Llatl. We hated it. It was taking us 4 to 5 hours per day to get through 1 page in each book. Caleb cried, I shouted and cried, and I felt like I was failing my child.

I read Better Late Than Early and stopped schooling him. I had gone to Waldorf Constantia when I was at school and had loved school. If there had been a Waldorf Home school curriculum then that's what I would of done right from the start. Well, we bought Little Footprints and did that for a year and a half - with me writing a lot of the schooling as well.

5 or 6 years ago my friend, Carle, told me about Waldorf Homeschooling. I bought the kindergarden to grade 8 from A Little Flower Garden for 175 dollars. She even let me pay it off! What a beautiful and trusting woman Melissa is. I started reading and didn't stop for years. I got onto Waldorf Yahoo groups and blogs. I bought more and more resources and became fully immersed in Waldorf education. I became happy, Caleb became happy, Hannah and Sheth were happy.

Caleb started reading at 11.5. He started reading the Narnia Series. He hasn't stopped reading since. Hannah started reading at 7 and hasn't stopped. Sheth is 10.5. He has just started reading his own school work, slowly, but he has yet to pick up a book and read by himself. I am not worried as I realise that every child is different.

We started Waldorf at grade 1 with Caleb and Hannah, went through it quickly as they were older, went through grade 2, 3 and 4 quickly and then started settling in at the appropriate grade for each child.

Caleb finished grade 8 Waldorf, then worked on Scout advancements, and badge courses. He had a lot of studying and log keeping to do for scouts. This was what kept him happy. This year he is doing SOS, grade 9, badge courses, Llatl, Math-U-See, Khan Academy and Creation Science. SOS is monotonous, and boring. We are using it because it gives the child a report at the end of it. Caleb will need this report as he will be applying to study Engineering and Related Design next year at college.

Hannah is finishing up her Waldorf grade 8 this year. She has almost completed her First Class Advancement so she will have to wait 2 years before she can get her Explorers. Next year she will be working on badge courses through Scouts, working on getting her Bronze Presidential Award and she will be doing projects for schoolwork.

Sheth and I will get fully immersed in Waldorf, I can't wait!

So what is my conclution? Every child is different. Remember that and adapt accordingly. If you love your child and want them to prosper in life you will never fail them. You will give them what they need to get an excellent education. And, they in turn will make you proud.


We have had a busy 3 years with Caleb in Scouts. He is working towards the Top Award, known as a Springbok Scout here in South Africa. This award consists of two parallel things, advancements and badges.

1 Pathfinder
2 Adventurer
3 First Class
4 Explorer
5 Springbok

You can do these advancements at your own pace, or not at all. Some kids go to Scouts to have fun, some to learn how to survive in the wild and others to earn their Springbok Award. Caleb has always gone to get the most badges, the highest wards etc.

He has just handed in his log book of about 42 pages for his First Class Hike. This was a two day, one night hike that each scout who wants to finish his First Class Advancement has to plan, execute and write a log on, with all the details in.

At the same time as these advancements the scouts have to work on badges for First Class (a physical badge, eg. Swimming interest) and for the Explorer advancement.

The scout can choose to do 1 of the three explorers, being land, sea or air. They have 6 badges to do for this. Or, like my child, you can choose to do all three!  Then you may choose to do your Bushman's Thong (land), your Bosun's cord (sea), or your Airman's cord (air) or like my son, all 3! We at 1st Durbanville, and the Kanonkop district, call this a SEAL Scout.

To do one of the cords you have to do 3 extra badges on top of the 6 you need to do for the relevant cord. If you plan properly you can do 21 badges to get all 3 explorers with cords.

Caleb has got one badge still to do to get all 3 Explorers and all 3 cords. He has got to do the canoeist badge. He has done about 25, 26 badges as he loves doing courses. You have to be 15 and a half to do your First Aid badge. Therefore you cannot get your Explorer before then. First Aid is a compulsory badge for the Explorer. This year the First Aid Interest badge gives the scout a level 2 certification, but Caleb chose to do level 3. He passed and is now a certified level 3 First Aider.

All he has to do now is the advancements for the Explorer. If he plans well he could have his Explorer by the end of the year.

Not only has he chosen to do all 3 Explorers with all 3 cords, he has also done, completed and received his Bronze Presidential Award. Caleb is now working on his Silver Presidential Award.

Caleb did PLTU, Patrol Leadership Training Unit earlier this year. It is a 9 day course. He loved it! He loves a challenge and takes it on full force.

So far the Hike Leader course and PLTU have been his best courses. The toughest for him was the backwoodsman. He was sick for this badge course, but insisted on going.

In the Western Cape we have set badge courses that all our scouts can do. They have practical and theory aspects to them. Most of them have a test which needs a 60 to 75 percent pass. The badge requirements are of a very high standard and scare me sometimes!

Caleb has been able to go for all the awards and as many badges as he wants to because he is home educated. If he was at a school I doubt he would of had the time and kept up good grades.

Caleb is planning to go to the College of Cape Town next year to do a vocational matric. He will be studying Engineering and Related Design.
Because he has planned his scouts so well up to now, he will have the time to study hard and focus on his schooling next year. He will probably be staff on a few courses, such as Hike Leader, some sea scout courses and hopefully PLTU. Being staff though is fun with NO studying.

He can get his Springbok next year, when he is 16. It is all up to him.
Wearing his PLTU scarf and Bronze Presidential Award pin.