YOU South Africa|21 May 2020

Teaching your kids at home during lockdown is daunting, but experts say if you keep it fun and simple you’ll all be okay

REMEMBER the good old days when you had to nag your kids to get ready for school? When you had to turn the house upside down to find your child’s soccer kit or blazer? When scuffed school shoes needed a good old polish?

Seems like a luxury now, doesn’t it? These days your kids are home all the time – and packing them off to school where their education and extramural activities were someone else’s responsibility can feel like a long-lost dream.

There’s still no clarity about when schools will reopen and it could be months before you find yourself doing the school run again – and until then, the business of teaching kids at home falls squarely on parents’ already overburdened shoulders.

It’s easy for parents to feel daunted by it all – especially if you’re trying to work from home yourself.

Try not to let it get to you, says Debbie Lemmer, a home-schooling tutor from Pretoria.

“Learning needn’t be such a serious affair,” she says. “Studies have proved over and over that children learn best when something is fun.”

Parents aren’t teachers. “Don’t try to recreate the school scenario,” advises Yvonne Segabutle, an educational psychologist from Centurion, Gauteng.

“Yes, there needs to be structure, but you aren’t the primary educator. The teachers will do their jobs when they get back to school.

“But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing. If you make no effort, your children will struggle to concentrate and to get back into the habit of learning when they return to school.”

So what’s the best way to create a learning environment for your kids that helps them grow and keeps them – and you – happy?


The experts agree: you shouldn’t try to replicate a traditional classroom at home, where learning takes place for a set number of hours. In fact, you shouldn’t try to home-school primary school kids for more than two to three hours a day.

“Two hours of focused learning is actually a lot, especially for younger children [lower than Grade 5],” says Marietjie Ueckermann, chair of home-schooling organisation Cape Home Educators.


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21 May 2020