Africa News Bulletin

Is homeschooling really cheaper than other academic options?

Inflation jumped to 5,9% in December 2021, according to a StatsSA report, just as parents were purchasing their children’s new 2022 school uniforms and stationery.

As if that was not enough, the Department of Higher Education proposed that South Africa’s universities increase tuition fees by 4.3% and student accommodation by 6.3% this year, putting a strain on more and more parents who are funding their children’s tertiary education.

Funding your own child’s education is a massive task in today’s economic climate, and more so for single parents or parents with no stable source of income.

This results in some parents finding alternatives to traditional schooling to reduce the cost of their children’s education. But is homeschooling cheaper than private and public school education?

We asked parents why they chose homeschooling instead of traditional schooling, and if they found it was cheaper than sending their children to a traditional school, they shared their stories with us.

Homeschooling is cheaper

Insta-famous mom of 11, Pearl Osa, has been homeschooling her 10 children for years. She told us that she finds homeschooling cheaper as she can save up on incidental extra costs that come with traditional schooling, including transport, lunchboxes, uniforms, and sports.

She says that homeschooling also allows her to be flexible regarding the curriculum material.

“I have an outline of what I know needs to be studied. I may or may not choose to abide by a specific curriculum. In other words, I do not choose to purchase an online or workbook based solution. I could easily get my resources from libraries, friends or people graduating certain classes,” she says.

After years of homeschooling, Osa’s eldest son is currently in university, proving that the system works.

No school fees

Mom of one, Nozipho, started homeschooling when she got retrenched in 2020 during the hard lockdown. “I made this decision when my 13-year-old son was sent home by the school due to unpaid school fees. At the time, I was not earning an income. It was hard. I decided to take him out of school and teach him myself,” she explained.

On the subject of expenses, she shared, “I am not buying uniform or school shoes every year. I am not paying for transport, so that’s how I save money through homeschooling. Sometimes, I use the remaining money to cover my own bills or leave it for rainy days since I am not earning much.”

Although homeschooling her son was her solution to avoid her son losing out on schooling, Nozipho is not the only parent who started homeschooling during the pandemic.

Saving with homeschooling

Another mom, Natasha, also started homeschooling her son during the Covid-19 pandemic and says she has not looked back since.

She told us, “I am currently homeschooling my 11-year-old son. We started just a while after Covid-19, reasons being safety and financial as well.”

“My son is doing so much better than when he was in school,” she said, adding, “My daughter has been doing her kindergarten work. She does very well.”

Natasha believes that what the kids learn in school, they can learn at home in a safe environment and even reach higher grades out of the experience. She admits that having one source of income makes it difficult for her to take her kids to school, to get an outstanding education.

Describing how she saves by homeschooling, she told us, “I used to pay extra for tutoring and transport to the tutor’s place because my son was not doing well in science when he was in school. Now, I use that money to spoil him should he excel in an exam or buy anything that I feel is needed. For example, this year, I bought him a laptop.”

Homeschool fees

Louise Schoonwinkel, the MD of Optimi Home, also offers solid reasons why homeschooling is a great option for parents who want to save money.

Schoonwinkel says that when it comes to school fees, most private junior school fees range between about R60 000 to R160 000 per annum, excluding boarding school costs. At the same time, high-performing public school fees range between 30 000 and 60 000.

Most online schooling providers and homeschooling curriculum providers’ fees range between R6 000 and R30 000 depending on the Grade and offerings of the school.

Resource-inclusive fees

Schoonwinkel says that textbooks and other resources are included in some homeschool curriculum fees, meaning you do not have to pay for lesson materials on top of school fees.

If you or your child has a tablet or laptop used for personal entertainment, this can be doubled up for educational purposes, so parents will save on costs related to buying an additional device for school.

No uniforms required

Homeschooling does not require children to wear specific uniforms allowing parents to save, rather than buy specific, often overly, expensive garments for school.

Fewer transport costs

Homeschooled children pay little to no transport costs for their education, except perhaps for transporting children to extracurricular activities.

No compulsory field trips or camps

Many schools host one-day and multi-day outings for learners, such as visiting museums and overnight camps at nearby campgrounds. Usually, these outings are compulsory and often come at an additional expense for parents.

Not to mention overseas trips that sports teams and school choirs embark on, which can add undue pressure to parents to afford these trips.

With homeschooling, you have the freedom to choose family travel or outings you’d like your child to experience, at a time that suits you and your budget, without incurring these extra non-negotiable expenses.

Must see: What is wild schooling, and can it take off in post-pandemic South Africa?

Cheaper holidays

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is parents’ flexibility when choosing when to take their vacations, says Schoonwinkel.

She added that this is because children do not need to attend class on campus which may allow their parents to go on holiday during the ‘off-season’ months when most other children are at school.

Their parents could take advantage of this time and teach their children away from home. Another advantage she mentions is that during off-season months holiday accommodation is considerably cheaper.

No fundraisers or development fees

Schoonwinkel says that many schools host various fundraisers throughout the year, such as bake sales, which require parents to spend money and time buying ingredients and preparing baked goods or buying cakes and sweets from others.

Schools also often have additional compulsory development fees that go towards the maintenance of the school, she says. Obviously, with homeschooling, parents can avoid these added expenses.

No aftercare costs

Often, working parents cannot collect their children from school at the required time and have to pay the extra fees for after-school care, commonly known as aftercare. Homeschooling parents do not need to worry about such costs, as they do not have to collect their children from school.

While the financial benefits are clear, Schoonwinkel stresses that homeschooling also provides both learners and their parents with many other positive influences on their school life, family lifestyle, and overall wellbeing.

Original story on News24

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