A mum with drive and a call for change
I have a three year old son who was going to creche before the lockdown started so it’s been a priority for me to keep him learning at home. I decided it was time he started to learn English because I want to enrol him in an English school and it’s important that he can relate to people and understand instruction when he gets there.
I think education needs to change now, we need different skills and it doesn’t prepare us properly. It doesn’t train your brain to think outside of the box. For example, entrepreneurship in school often consists of children bringing items in that their parents have bought for them to sell. My friend who home-schools does this differently – she makes things with her children instead. They have to create the things they sell and they have to include the cost of materials when they calculate the profit they made, so she teaches them basic business skills that way.
What should the future of education look like?
We need to have more of this in schools so that children can start to understand the fundamentals of business from early on. We also need to encourage children to think independently and take responsibility for their work. If our education system had more of this, it would prepare children better for the next phase of their life, whether that is work or higher education. At the moment there is too much of a gap between what’s expected of children at high school and what’s expected when we get to university.
When I went to university I did a BSS Political science and law degree and also completed my LLB. When I got to varsity, there was nothing that was related to high school. As a result, I barely made it through my first year in my eyes. I didn’t fail but my highest mark that year was in the 60s, and that was me trying my best. But everything was new to me, not just the information I was learning but how I was learning it.
In school we didn’t type assignments, we didn’t use Moodle or anything like that, and we had teachers to nag us, discipline us, help us. In school in South Africa, the pass rate for most subjects is 30% (for English it’s 40%). In university it is 50%, and you don’t have teachers there to keep you on track. In university, it is up to you, and I feel we could do more to prepare children for that. I want my son to know how to take responsibility for himself. It’s important to me that he has opportunities, and learning English is important for that. I also want him to understand what is expected of him in the workplace, what skills are required and how he should conduct himself. If schools can do more to give children that knowledge, it will be a big help.
I also want him to have outside interests. Life is not all about education. I have two degrees and may need to retrain again to increase my employment opportunities so it’s clear to me that traditional education is not always the answer. It’s important to me that my son is happy and that education is not forced on him. I want him to love learning.
Priorities – learning English, maths and phonics
Apart from learning English, I look on YouTube for videos to help me with phonics and maths. It’s important for my son to learn information in context so he becomes aware of his routine, his environment and his actions. This will help him understand the world around him. I found Fun English on the App Store and it has helped us so much. The app is great for him, he can work through the levels and it keeps him really engaged, which means I can relax a bit and know that he’s having fun learning. It makes my life super easy.
Eventually, I want him to speak more than just two languages, it is very important for the brain and will help him later on in life. I want him to be able to learn French, German – whatever he can get his hands on!
Even if schools open again soon in South Africa, I won’t take him back to his creche. I would rather wait it out until it’s safe. In the meantime, I’d like him to learn English and I want to also explore where his other interests lie. He’s a digital child, he likes computers so I will look for ways to teach him coding. I just want to feed his brain with everything possible, make sure he learns as much as he can and has as much fun as possible while he does it.