Life Orientation – Is it necessary?
In 2002 life orientation became a compulsory subject in South African schools from Grade R all the way to Grade 12. This subject was them implemented in schools with the Revised National Curriculum Statement or C2005.
Prior to this there were a group of subjects like Guidance, PT (physical training) and Religious Education that Life Orientation then replaced. The new subject was seen as a way to equip scholars with life skills that would enable them to make wise choices, understand healthy living (sports and food), get career direction, learn study skills and become aware of environmental, community and society issues.
For example, children in Grade R are expected to recognize the South African Flag and understand basic personal hygiene. Children in Grades 4 – 6 need to know how and why to read label in foodstuffs as well as take part in a problem solving activity with regards to the environment. While Grade 10 -12 students need to be able to make informed decisions with regards to issues like dating, drugs and alcohol abuse.
All these topics are worthwhile to spend time on, specifically if scholars do not have parents who train and teach them but instead spend many hours separated from the family unit.
Some point out that Life Orientation is the curriculum for teaching the state’s values to our children!
Many Christian parents have been shocked by the method in which some of this knowledge is transmitted. They also objected to the ages that the curriculum writers were exposing children to sensitive issues which they felt were a parent’s obligation and privilege to teach, such as sex education.
In homeschooling circles there are also very strong feelings about Life Orientation and whether or not to teach it as a subject in the home. Because we train our children to be active workers in the home and because of the nature of homeschooling, where everyone is involved in all aspects of real life 24 x 7, is it really necessary?
We believe that if we train our children to do their chores, and more, to work hard and diligently they will learn many of these skills naturally. As mothers we get our children to help preparing healthy meals, grow our own vegetables, clean and tidy in the home, therefore they acquire many skills, naturally. They are there to see how to change light bulbs, for example and do maintenance and easy handyman jobs around the home with their parents.
And of course, by using Footprints On Our Land programs your children will gain a huge appreciation for this wonderful country of ours, understand the pains of the past and be inspired to be part of the solution in the future.
There are the other more tricky areas covered in the school-based life orientation curriculum. Let’s take a look at how each of them can be covered naturally in the home.
This topic was the one which undoubtedly caused more of the uproar in 2002 and rightly so. The sad fact of the matter is that the majority of children in South Africa do not live in “safe” homes and the level of child abuse and teenage sexual activity needed to be addressed. It was then undertaken by the curriculum writers to educate the school children in the form of what we fear to be too much information, too soon. A much more gentle way to deal with this in our homes is by using the following books – 2 each for girls and boys.
The Care and Keeping of You by Valorie Schaefer
Preparing Your Daughter for Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge
The Boys Body Book by Kelli Dunham and Steven Bjorkman
Preparing Your Son for Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
How could our new government not want to address this after all the years of apartheid? Hopefully other families do as we do in that they do not continue to spread the prejudicial mindsets of the past and in fact, rather choose to help correct the injustices of the past and see everyone as valuable and precious in God’s sight.
We have often said at workshops to parents, that one goal we have with our children is that when they leave home they will be the influencers, not the influenced. We would like to see our children reaching out to the poor, neglected, abused and hungry people of this country to be Jesus’ hands and feet as He directs them to those in need.
This is something that is caught and taught as we, the parents, model for our children how to reach out to our community. Some homeschoolers have become involved in working with differently-abled children, others have worked for Habitat for Humanity and actually built homes for people.
Some families make it their ministry to take in abused or deserted babies and be temporary foster parents until permanent homes can be found. Others still serve in soup kitchens for the poor. Some simply take part in knitting schemes to knit blankets for aids orphans or beanies for premature babies.
A great source for introducing study skills with your older children is at www.learn.co.za and then following through with your children as they prepare for exams and tests.
Here is an innovative way to expose your older children to a variety of career options.
When our children are young they seem to always be busy. They run and jump and climb and ride bikes. In the early teens, unless your teen is in a dedicated sport training program, this tends to slow down and you need to “create” exercise opportunities.
We have found family based exercise to be the best. Three to four times a week we choose to either do a mountain bike ride, hike, gym class or walk together.
Our children are also involved in sports of their choosing.
Ultimately, life orientation in the homeschooling home is covered naturally. However, it is important to note that if your children plan to write the National Senior Certificate for matric, then they will be required to complete a formal life orientation course and write a final exam.
If your children are going to write the British Cambridge exams to obtain a homeschool matric, or even an American school leaving qualification, life orientation is not necessary as a subject but we believe it is a crucial, albeit natural, part of a homeschooler’s school-leaving preparation.