Structured Home Learning - SHL

CASE STUDY: Rachel in Cameroon

Foundation

We’re a missionary family, just starting out in Cameroon. We’re from South Africa (though I’m originally from Northern Ireland). Before coming to Cameroon, I was an attorney with my own office and my wife was a Remuneration Consultant for the Chevron oil company. It is also difficult to get a full home schooling curriculum in Cameroon that does not have a serious American bias. There are no decent South African home schooling curricula available.

Any suitable schooling facilities that there are here in Cameroon would either be terribly expensive and far from us or French medium – so home schooling is a necessity for us. In addition, we would like our children to have the option of completing their education in the UK or Ireland.

I did hours and hours of extensive research on the Internet. I tried as best I could to evaluate the various home schooling curricula on offer, I did Internet searches on the various curricula to see what other people had to say about them and I printed out copies of all the information and discussed our options with some teachers that I know and trust.

african sunset
"... The biggest gift you have given us is confidence ..."

I first looked for South African materials. All I found was a computer-based curriculum – but I wasn’t happy about my child being taught by a computer! I then searched through a whole lot of American curricula. I immediately discounted any material that proclaimed itself “Bible-based” or “Christian” – not because I didn’t want a Christian programme, but because I got the impression that I was being asked not to judge the material on academic merit, but simply accept that it had to be better because it was “Christian”.

Anyway, I managed to find some excellent English, Maths and Science curricula, but I was not happy with the American bias of the Geography and History. However, the advantage of many of the American home schooling packages is that you can pick individual subject packages; you can leave subjects out altogether; and you can choose from different ranges for each subject.

So I tried to find British Geography and History curricula, hoping to add those to American English, Maths and Science curricula, but I could only find complete packages such as the Wits End package. I came to the conclusion that an American package would not suit us as we had no way of purchasing British Geography and History packages, but we could purchase a full UK curriculum and then supplement it with any individual American package where we felt this was necessary.

Ultimately, we chose Wits End because the teachers we showed the information and samples to were very complimentary about the curriculum and it certainly seemed the best value for money of any of the UK options we saw.

In fact, we did not seriously consider any other UK option. It was a lovely surprise and confirmation of our decision when we discovered that Wits End, which we had chosen on academic merit alone, is owned and run by Christians!

At this stage it is impossible for us to properly assess the Wits End curriculum pack we’ve purchased. We have not started proper home schooling with Rachel because we haven’t got settled into our new home yet, as we are having visa problems. In any event, Rachel is not quite ready to follow the full Foundation Stage programme.

However, we can say that, looking through the material, we have been given ideas as to how we can informally prepare her for that programme. As a result, she is now using flashcards, identifying letters of the alphabet on flashcards and in the world around her, identifying words and objects that begin with particular letters (and asking what letter other words and objects begin with) and reading individual words on flashcards (and asking to be shown what certain other words look like – She gets me to make a Powerpoint slide of the word in big print).

She has also started “writing” on her own (not real letters – but it shows her interest) and takes eight story books a week out of the library – of which she memorises three or four by the end of the week.

We didn’t have a clue how to begin to stimulate our child to learn but, thanks to the ideas, pointers and materials you sent us, we have discovered that we have a real little learner here all ready and raring to go!

The biggest gift you have given us is confidence.

- Mr P F, Cameroon

(Names have been changed in the interests of privacy)

[Wits End was the former trading name of SHL]