Homeschooling in Botswana

Please introduce yourself and your family to us, and also tell us what country and/or state you are from.

My name is Lynn Jones. I am married to Steve, have a stepdaughter, Daniella, who is 22 years old and stays with us. I have a son, Jacques, from a previous marriage; he is 21 years old, and also stays with us. The youngest is Patrick; he is 12 years old and he is the one homeschooling. We all stay together with my mum on the same property.

We live in a town called Maun in Botswana. It is a very busy tourist destination on the edge of the Okavango Delta, which attracts a lot of visitors, with plenty wildlifethe ideal place to raise children.

Steve works in a camp called Jao Concession.He is away from home for six weeks, then comes home for two weeks. It was difficult at first, but now I am used to it. I work full day in town as a bookkeeper/accounts. We also run an NGO called Feed a Child Botswana, where we feed over 100 children a day on a weekly basis, as well as some elderly people who can’t care for themselves.

Sunrise over the Thamalakane River in Maun

How long have you been home schooling?

We have only just started homeschool, so it is all new to us with quite a bit of challenges, but we are getting there.

Why did you decide to home school?

We don’t have much choice where it comes to schools: two international schools, one private school, and the rest are government schools where most of the local children go.

The standard of education has dropped considerably over the last two years. Patrick is a year away from high school, and we would have to send him away to boarding school, which we do not want to do as we would only see him twice a year.

We decided to have a go at homeschooling and see how it goes.

Aerial view of the Okavango Delta from the air: you can only get to the camps by plane.

What style of home schooling does your family follow?

We believe that it should be a structured syllabus. 

Do you have a philosophy about home schooling?

We have no philosophy but we believe in oneonone learning, as Patrick seemed to get behind at normal school and no one cared if he understood the work or not.

What kinds of tools, resources, or curriculums do you use to home school, and why?

We chose Wolsey Hall Oxford. It is a British syllabus, with text books and loads of online tutoring and help. As we don’t have museums and other places to visit besides the Okavango Delta, where we go for little breaks, I have to rely on the internet so he can see what is out there in the wide world,and broaden his knowledge on what’s out there. We also watch a lot of Animal Planet and National Geographic programmes, or any other educational programmes that come up on the tv.

When Patrick completes his KS3 course in two years time, he will then move on to the IGSE course, also through Wolsey Hall, which is recognised by many universities in South Africa and Botswana, should he choose to study further.

Patrick and me

Are you the primary “teacher,” or does your spouse or other family members participate with home schooling?

As my husband works away from home and I have a full time job, we have two ladies (tutors) who come to the house Monday to Thursday to help Patrick with his school work, and on a Sunday I help Patrick complete his assignments which are due every week. He has five subjects, and every week one subject is due as an assignment and gets marked by Wolsey Hall tutors, and the results get sent back to us.

What does a typical home schooling day look like in your home?

Patrick gets up at 7 a.m., has breakfast, and starts preparing for his lessons which start at 8 a.m. He first reads a Bible story and prays before he starts. He has sections of 30 to 40 minutes at a time with a 5to 10minute break in between. He spends about two hours on one subject, then moves on to another subject until 1 p.m. 

He does English, geography, and history with one tutor on Monday and Wednesday, and math and science with the other tutor on Tuesday and Wednesday. Friday is usually a day off on condition that he has completed the work schedule for the week. In the afternoon he has an hour of homeworkwhere he answers questions on the relevant work he did that morning, with additional written math homework. 

The rest of the afternoon he usually plays with his friends until I get home at 5 p.m.We have dinner and revise the homework together, then get ready for bed, which is around 8 pm.

On Sunday morning he goes horse riding with his friends, and in the afternoon we sit down together and work through his assignment that’s due for the week. We usually have to hand them in on Tuesday.

Aerial view of the Okavango Delta

What do you love the most about home schooling, and what do you dislike the most?

It is still early days for us as we only started on 9 January 2017. I am spending more time with Patrick in the evenings when we go through the homework for that day. I feel safer that he is at home and that he has the oneonone tutoring available to him now, and that he doesn’t get left behind if he is not understanding a topic. When Patrick went to normal school, I didn’t seem to spend as much time with him as I do now. It is bringing us closer to each other as we continue our new journey.

I am also pleased that my mum can spend more time with Patrick in the afternoons with a bit of Bible study, as he wants to be baptised. We were never able to do this as normal school came out late in the afternoon, and he was always exhausted when he got home. So, homeschooling has changed that for usto be able to spend more time studying the Bible too, not only going to church.

Is there anything you would like to share about your home school?

It is a more advanced curriculum than what is practiced here in Botswana government and private school, but we believe that Patrick will benefit more from it, and hopefully one day he will thank us for making this change for him.

Sunset over the Thamalakane River

Susanna
at

Susanna is now a “retired” home educator of three precious, young, successful, adult daughters, whom she taught from preschool to year 12. She is married to Michael, and with much enjoyment she serves in her current role of homemaker. She is passionate about children’s ministries, teaching the kids at church, and being a support and encouragement to the international Seventh-day Adventist homeschool movement.


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