Courage, dear heart

Compiled by Hanlie Wentzel on 2 April 2014, updated in 2020.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~ William Butler Yeats

To educate a man in mind, and not in morals, is to educate a menace to society. ~ President Theodore Roosevelt

Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school. ~ Melinda Harmon, U.S. Federal Judge, 1996

An eternal question about children is, how should we educate them? Politicians and educators consider more school days in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certification for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, soul is neglected. ~ Thomas Moore

Our Lord wants us all to be the leaven in the dough of society. But He wants us to do this when we are properly prepared. Our job as parents is to prepare our children to be ready for the service to which God will call them. We need to furnish the children’s minds and hearts with the true, the good and the beautiful, so that they may speak “in season and out of season” of the faith they have been given. (Laura Berquist “Character Formation” Sursum Corda Fall 1998)


First things first…well done on making the choice to homeschool!  This is never easy, you may get very conflicting advice from well meaning friends and family. And face it, when you are just starting out, it will feel overwhelming and you need time to develop a whole new body of knowledge and a new skill set.

You are embarking on an amazing new adventure with your family! It will be tough but full of amazing and precious rewards. So take a deep breath… give yourself time and grace, don’t be too hard on yourself. Make sure you surround yourself with like minded and supportive people. Guard your heart against discouragement. Guard your heart against discouragement. Guard your heart…. did I say it already? Let me say it again! Guard your heart against discouragement. People don’t need to understand or even agree with your choices, but they should respect it 🙂 It is okay to tell them,  “I don’t know… I am still figuring this out.”.

You will need to educate yourself. Read, read, read. Reach out! Ask questions and connect with other homeschoolers. Remember, we all started exactly where you are now. You are not alone, you are joining a wonderful and supportive group of like minded families. 

That said, keep in mind that the homeschool community is very diverse, you’ll soon find out that there are many different ways to homeschool, many different homeschooling philosophies and approaches, and tons of curriculums out there.  And you’ll find people passionate about every one of them! The challenge is to find the right fit for your family. 

1. Locate your local homeschool support group

Join other homeschoolers online, feel free to ask questions and to meet up with other parents to network and find support. Join their social activities and events, or organize a Meet & Greet. Like any new social group, you will need to reach out and make the effort to connect and get to know people. This takes time and effort. It also opens up the possibility  to make new and wonderful life long friendships. 

2. Join the Facebook groups

There are a lot of wonderful and supportive homeschool Facebook groups in South Africa, as well as internationally. They offer info, advice and support on a lot of topics. What I like about them, is that you get a broad spectrum of advice from people who are in the trenches with you, and that has to make it work every day! Not the glossy “happy, smiling people, holding hands and reading books in a forest next to a babbling brook” from the curriculum providers that are selling you a product. But real life advice: the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, the successes and the failures. 

3. Read “how to” articles and books about homeschooling

We can all help each other and learn from each other, you don’t have to be a guru or an expert. But there are people out there that have been doing it successfully for many years, that learned a lot from their own trials and errors. Their wisdom and experience can cast a light on your path, as you are figuring out the way that you need to go, they can provide tools that you can use and that may make your journey easier. You don’ have to reinvent the wheel, you can learn from others. Just keep in mind that every family is unique, what works for them may not necessarily work for your family. Once again you need to find the right fit. Take ownership of your own choices and decisions, take people’s advice into account, but you choose the right path for your family. 

4. Locate curriculum providers

What kind of homeschooler are you? Yes, there are different kinds. Before you can choose a curriculum, you first need to know what your educational philosophy is. That will determine what kind of curriculum you will choose. It may also be helpful to know your children’s learning styles as well as your own. What works for one child may be different for your other children. Once again, yes you guessed it, find the right fit. 

This quiz may help you to find your educational philosophy or confirm what you already suspect in your heart:

There are so many wonderful curriculums available for homeschooling. You may be the kind of person that needs a complete curriculum that provides everything you need for your peace of mind, often referred to as a “boxed curriculum” or you may enroll your child in an online school.  Or you may want to pick and choose from various sources, often referred to as “eclectic homeschooling”. Or you may want your children’s education to be self-directed, child-led or delight directed, often referred to as “unschooling”. These are just 3 approaches, there are no right or wrong way to homeschool. Once again, find the right fit for your child and family. 

This article gives you more detailed information

When you are homeschooling in South Africa, you will soon realize that a whole new world has opened up before you. You are now a part of a global community of homeschoolers and international resources and curriculums are now available and within reach of your family. You can develop and nurture each child’s interests, intelligence style and inherent giftings. You can adapt your homeschool environment and your teaching style to suit your child’s learning style. Create life long learners that actually love to learn and enjoy reading a book! Who knew it was possible? 

5. Attend your first Homeschool Expo

Go to a Homeschool Expo and see for yourself what the different curriculums look like.

6. Join the Pestalozzi Trust

A hot topic in South Africa is: Is homeschooling legal? Do I need to register with the DBE (Department of Basic Education)? There has been a lot of discussions on the various Facebook forums and social media groups. There are different opinions about this topic, you need to educate yourself and know what the law says on the subject. 

You can read more about it here:

7. Just do it

Now…all that is left is to dive right in! Sink or swim!

You will soon find your feet. You cannot wait until you have it perfect or know everything you need to know about homeschooling, education in general, child psychology, matric pathways, tertiary studies, career aptitude, etc. We all need to start somewhere. Every great journey starts with the first step. Go ahead, just do it!

Here are some helpful tips on how to organize your homeschool day:




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