One of the benefits of home education is that the world around you is a ready resource. We have phoned local factories to ask if we may have a guided tour. When the managers hear that we are only a family, consisting of one mom and four children, they are generally very willing to give us their time. We have learnt a great deal from these outings and in the process the managers or tour guides have learnt a great deal about home education.
If you live in Gauteng, buy a copy of More than 101things to do with Kids in 702land, by Carole Veitch (Roundabout Publishing). This is a very worthwhile investment. Carole has listed farmyards and parks, museums and monuments, sites worth visiting and hikes worth tackling. She has supplied addresses and contact details as well as a brief description of the venue. Browse through this book to become familiar with what your neighbourhood has to offer. This will make it easier for you to incorporate an outing relevant to your educational theme when necessary.
There was a similar book published a few years ago for Cape Town activities, but I am not sure whether it is still in print. Many towns have their own websites featuring all the place of interest. This makes an excellent ready-reference for homeschool outings.
Some outdoor ideas:
Become a BotSoc member. If you live near one of our National Botanical Gardens it is worth becoming a member of the Botanical Society of SA. This gives you free entry into all the National Gardens. If you are keen on nature journaling for yourself and your children, visit your local garden regularly and sketch something different every time you go. Membership also entitles you to the society’s quarterly magazine Veld & Flora and you will receive notification of the lectures, courses and events organized by each branch of the society. To join, write to Botanical Society of SA, Private Bag X10, Claremont, 7735 or email email@example.com . For more information see www.botanicalsociety.org.za . Remember to take your cards with you on holiday for free entry into the garden in the region you are visiting.
Take your children on veld school. There are many camps available, but the one that we have experienced and enjoyed is Roodedraai Veld School. The camp is situated on the Klip River near Volksrust. Your host, Gert van der Westhuizen also owns the one of the largest collection of Boer War memorabilia in his private museum (well worth a visit). According to your needs he will organise an adventure camp, leadership camp or a camp with an historical flavour. Whichever you choose, you can incorporate horse riding, river activities, target shooting, cultural activities, stalk the lantern, obstacle course and more. The camp is very basic, but Oom Gert ensures that the children have a wonderful experience of the great outdoors. Lots of fun!!
Currently (September ’07) the price is only R80 per person per night, which includes accommodation and food. For more information contact Gert or Erika on 017 735-1911 or Erika on 082 689-3954.
Establish a ‘Park Day’ for your support group. Meet with your support group once a month at your local park. The meeting can be a relaxed social occasion for the moms while the children play or members of the group can take turns to organise some activity for the children and/or the moms.
Plan a ‘Pretoria Day’. Within a few city blocks in Pretoria there are a score of museums. Take a day to visit museums, parks and other places of interest. There isn’t enough time in a day to visit them all nor will little legs manage too much, but you can choose two or three and still see plenty. There is the Transvaal Museum of Natural History in Paul Kruger Street and the Museum of Science and Technology around the corner in Skinner Street. Melrose House is situated in Jacob Mare Street opposite Burgers Park and Paul Kruger House is in Kerk Street. Further afield on opposite sides of Pretoria there is the Pretoria Zoo and the Voortrekker Monument - plenty to choose from according to your current theme. An interesting study is to contrast Sammy Marx’s house (off the N4, north east of Pretoria) with Jan Smut’s house in Irene. You can picnic on the grounds of either of these museums if you choose to make a day of it.
Bloemfontein also has an inner city walking tour of historical buildings and fascinating museums. Most town and cities offer similar historical attractions and many have websites with sufficient information to help you plan your day. Lunch in a park helps to break the intensity of the walking and learning. Look for a map on the website so that you can plan a convenient pit stop.
Sports: The discipline of exercise is an important aspect of education. Cycling, gym, swimming, running and walking are all good forms of exercise, but the discipline of keeping it up by oneself is hard for some. Belonging to a club helps. For a bit of competition it is possible to participate in locally organised races as club members or as independent entrants.
One of the easiest organised sports in which to participate is tennis – there is a coaching clinic associated with most local tennis courts or recreation centres. The advantage of tennis is its social aspect – your children can play from age 4 to 84! Private golf lessons are also an option, while team sports are available at local sports centres and private clubs. Some small private schools are more than willing to accommodate homeschoolers in their teams.
Cultural Activities: Dance and martial arts classes are readily available in most areas, but finding drama, singing or chess lessons may be a little more difficult. There are some associations that may be consulted – you simply have to keep your eyes and ears open and keep enquiring until you get what you need. Some drama students at university level offer drama classes. If the local university is not conveniently local to you, maybe the lectures or students can tell you of someone giving classes in your area.
Share your outdoor info: Dominique Snyman has started a website called Homeschoolersunite. It operates like Facebook, but she also posts all sorts of additional information relevant to homeschoolers on her site. If you find a club, an association, an outing or anything else in your area that you think would be of use to other homeschoolers, please share it by posting it on your profile on www.homeschoolersunite.co.za . To add events to the calendar, contact Dominique on firstname.lastname@example.org
Active Education: This is a specialist sports program encompassing students between the ages of three and eighteen. This program introduces students to the wonders of confident sports participation. Active Education consists of three distinct divisions. Kids in Action, Active Education Primary and Active Education High. These divisions each focus on a specific age group. Using positive teaching methods, creativity, specialised sporting equipment and exercises. The Active Education program provides the children with the opportunity to participate competently in all the popular ball sports for the rest of their lives. Throughout the program the children are exposed to life skills, which they ultimately have to learn. These life skills include amongst others, persistence, courage, co-operation, decision-making, self worth, goal setting, confidence and positive thinking. Through our joint venture with Action sports, we have 27 venues available across the country. See you there! For Further information contact Gavin on (011)615-1331, send an email or visit their web site.