Choosing to home-school
Posted Saturday, December 7 2013 at 02:00
Simon Peter and Faith Kiggwe. Simon is the marketing manager of Ridar Hotel and Faith Kiggwe is the administrative secretary at UNAIDS.
Teaching three children at home
At first, my wife and I chose what we thought was a good school for them based on information from friends. However, in the course of schooling, we noted a few disturbing issues; one was the pumping and the homework the children used to carry home. Our eldest girl Stephanie had no time to relax. She used to go to sleep at midnight.
At some stage, she was really tired. She was always the last one to wake up in the morning because she went to sleep very late. In their nursery school years, our children were very confident. When Stephanie went to primary school, her confidence started waning. She started drawing back and hating school. In search of solutions, we started asking around and sharing our experience with other parents.
That is how we found Vine Home schooling academy where we were briefed on the home schooling system and the required school materials.
Whereas Uganda has one of the best education systems, there are things that are lacking, which a parent could perhaps fill in. Home schooling is good because when you get involved with a child, you get to learn their strengths and weaknesses.
What challenges do you face?
Some of the text books and school materials must be imported from South Africa, so the curriculum can be costly.
How does the school run?
We employ Muhimbise Pidson, initially trained as a secondary school teacher with special training in the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum used by Shammah Home School.
The curriculum is an American system, but purely Christian-tailored. It emphasises dealing with one child at a time. Children learn by themselves.
The classroom is divided in such a way that each child has their own space referred to as an office. In their offices, the children set their daily goals.
“As a supervisor (teacher), I check whether the goals set are normal and can be achieved. We have answer books on the score table. When a child finishes the set work, they evaluate themselves. We don’t talk in class. The children use flags to communicate their needs and challenges. If you talk, you are punished. We don’t cane students, but we give merits and demerits. Although we discourage spanking, we don’t rule it out,” explains Muhimbise.
ACE is based on continuous assessment. Before you move to another concept, you are tested and if you pass, you move on to a new concept.
“The system trains a child to be honest because they own the work. It is not the teacher’s work. When you fail, the system gives you a chance to correct your mistakes,” adds the teacher.
A bold product of home- schooling
We meet at her beauty salon, D-spot; on Kampala Road. She kicks off her shoes and walks barefoot towards me, apologising profusely for being late. She warms up to the interview immediately, is extremely polite and answers questions conversationally as if she were speaking to an old friend even though we just met. I, on the other hand, cannot keep my eyes off the generously applied glittering pale pink colour that frames her eyes which are made bigger by the bald statement that is her hairstyle. Former Miss Uganda Dorah Mwima shaved off all her hair as part of a cancer campaign.
Previously unknown on the Ugandan scene prior to her win, the ex-beauty queen spent most of her childhood and teenage years in Kenya where her family migrated when she was four years old. Upon settling in Kenya, her missionary parents Benjamin and Imelda Mwima; an electronics engineer and an ex-banker chose to home-school their four children.
“My parents believed in the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) system, an American and Christian-based system of home-schooling. In 1993, my mum had already been taught the ACE curriculum. There was training with the ACE board of the ACE School of Tomorrow, which later closed down,” recalls Mwima.
Limited social circle
For many people, their social circle is made up of people with whom they went to school. That is not the case for Mwima.
“I don’t miss out because I never had that. My social circle was made up of my two brothers and my sister. We used to look forward to Sunday school, church trips and exchange trips with another home school. These happened on a weekly or fortnightly basis,” she explains.