Frequently asked questions

Below are some common questions about homeschooling in general, registration with the Department of Education, our curriculum, and others. If your question isn’t answered here or if you would prefer to chat on the phone then give us a call and our friendly team will be happy to help you.

About homeschooling

1. What is homeschooling?
Home education is the education of children by their parents in their own home.

2. Is homeschooling legal?
Yes, in 1996 it became legal for parents to teach their own children at home in South Africa.  The Department of Education permits parents to call in the assistance of a tutor or facilitator where necessary on a part-time basis.

3. How is homeschooling monitored by the government?
The Department of Education would like you to register your child as a homeschooler with your provincial education department. These forms can be found on the Department of Education’s website. All our textbooks are compliant with CAPS as laid out by the Department of Education and we include continuous assessments tasks, an attendance register, and everything else that the department requires to ensure that children can return to mainstream school at any time. You can read more about registration with the DoE in our blog post on the topic.

4. Why choose homeschooling?
Homeschooling means that children can receive valuable one-on-one attention in a nurturing environment. This means that they can improve their attitude towards “school” and more often than not sees a great improvement in their understanding of the work and so their marks. There are a variety of reasons that parents may choose to homeschool their children.  The following are some of the most common reasons:  a poor level of education in schools; over-crowded classrooms; lack of discipline; bullying; financial reasons; proximity to a suitable school; unhappy child; child that does not fit the mould of a mainstreams education approach; inability to attend full-time school at specified times; religious reasons (we believe that religion is a personal matter so there is no religious content in the Clonard curriculum). Homeschooling helps you to create an environment where your child can flourish and reach their potential.

About the Department of Education

1. Is it necessary to register my child with the Department of Education?
Yes, it is recommended to register with the Department of Education from grade 1-9.  Further education institutions such as mainstream high schools will not always accept students who are not previously registered with the Department of Education as Homeschoolers.

2. Will Clonard register my child with the Department of Education?
No, parents are required to do this themselves.

3. How do I register with the Department of Education?
You complete the relevant provincial registration forms found on the Department of Education’s website. Make a copy of the forms and then submit them via registered post or courier to the address provided on their site. Registration with the DoE can be a slow process so we recommend that you start with the Clonard work and then begin your registration.  Our programme is well-known to the department officials and we are in line with the National Curriculum Statement so there should not be a problem registering your child as a homeschooler with the DoE.

About Clonard

1. How long has Clonard been around?
We have been helping parents to teach their children at home for over 20 years. Clonard began by providing material to parents to help them to teach their children to read before going to school.  Virginia Tyrrell, a highly qualified and experienced teacher began producing phonetic reading books and the business grew organically from there. When homeschooling became legal in 1996 Clonard began to supply parents with full curriculum packs to teach their children at home.

2. Where do Clonard’s strength lie?
We feel our strength lies in the quality of support, service and educational material that we provide.  The examinations are set and marked by our qualified teachers so our reports are an accurate external assessment of learners and can be used to enrol into a mainstream school. We take great pride in the high standards that we maintain in our educational material, examinations and service from our knowledgeable and friendly team.

About our curriculum

1. What grades does Clonard offer?
We offer the full curriculum in line with CAPS, including exams and assessments, from Pre-school  – Grade 12.

2. What languages are provided in the curriculum?
English is the medium of instruction and it is studied at first language level.  Afrikaans and isiZulu are offered as second language options from grade 1 to grade 12. Please note that all other subjects are studied in English. If you would like to do any additional second languages or substitute our options then please contact us to discuss your options.

3. Is Clonard a self-study curriculum?
No, it is not self-study.  It is a parent/tutor directed curriculum for Pre-school – Grade 12.  The parent takes the role of a teacher and offers support and guidance while giving the child the space to work out problems on their own.

4. Is home schooling suitable for a remedial child?
We do not currently offer a specific remedial option, but we are hoping to be able to do so soon. Sometimes, however, all remedial children need is a bit of extra attention and some time with a remedial professional.  Remedial children need a very specific hands-on approach from a trained remedial teacher in a one-on-one relationship; so please note that you will need to seek assistance from a professional. Our curriculum is flexible in that learners can take as long as they need to complete each grade and assessments/exams are written when you are ready – this is often enough to help learners with remedial needs.

5. Is the Clonard curriculum suitable for families living out of the country?
Yes, our Pre-school to Grade 9 packs can be used almost anywhere in the world to educate your child. Unfortunately, we cannot send your pack out of the country so we will need a South African address to send your pack to.  Exam papers, emailed twice a year, are written at home and returned to our offices for marking. Once all the papers have been marked we will generate your child’s report card and send it through to you on email.

6. Does Clonard provide reports?
Yes, we provide reports reflecting subject marks and aggregates just as in mainstream schools.  We make sure that we stay up-to-date with the pass requirements set out by the DoE.  Our reports provide an accurate record of your child’s education and can be used to enrol at mainstream schools should you so wish.

7. Are there formal exams/assessments?
Yes, exams/assessments are written twice a year for the older grades and once a year for the foundation phase.  We send these to you to be written under exam conditions at home and you send them back to us to be marked by our qualified teachers.  Continuous assessment tasks are also performed throughout the year forming a continuous assessments portfolio, which is in line with the requirements from the DoE as well as providing a record of progress should it be required by an educational institution.

About ordering

1. Can parents view the material before purchasing?
Yes, material can be viewed at our premises in Durban North, KwaZulu-Natal.  Please call us to make an appointment (031 764 6480).

2. Does the curriculum come with all the educational material that I will need?
It is encouraged that you order all the components for each grade to ensure that you receive everything you need for the year.

The comprehensive pack includes the Learner Pack, Reader Pack (Foundation Phase only), Teacher Pack (except Pre-School and Grade R) and Stationery Pack.

3. Is it possible to pass material down to younger siblings in the family?
Yes, the Reading and Teacher Packs can be passed down, but parents are called upon to register each child with us by purchasing the Learner Pack – this ensures that material is up-to-date and includes exams, assessments and reports.

4. Can material for individual subjects be purchased?
Our Reading Book Packs and our excellent language reference books can be purchased individually. Take a look at our product offering here.

5. Do I need to be in South Africa to educate my child through Clonard?
No, you can be anywhere in the world.  We will communicate with you via email and your exams will be sent electronically instead of in the post.  You will, however, need to provide us with a South African address to send your books to.

About the parent’s role in homeschooling

1. Do I need to be a qualified teacher to teach my child?
No, you do not need to be a qualified teacher.  Our curriculum is fully structured and set out for parents to easily follow, and we provide full support throughout the year, thus making it possible for anyone to educate their own children.  It is legal for parents to homeschool their children in South Africa.

2. Do homeschooled children need to do homework?
This decision needs to be made by the parents.  Many parents feel it is a good habit to develop in case the children go back to mainstream school.  Many other parents feel that all work should be completed in the school day and the evenings should be left for family time and recreation. You can read our blog post about the negative effects of too much homework here.

3. What assistance does Clonard provide for parents?
Clonard employs qualified teachers with wide experience in schools.  Every Teacher’s Pack contains a  Teacher’s Manual, and a free Parent’s Guide can be downloaded from here at no cost, covering many topics that are relevant to homeschooling parents.  Weekly schedules as well as teaching instructions assist parents in keeping track of their task.  Answer manuals (including explanations and calculations) for every text book are also provided.  In addition, there is a helpline to every subject teacher available throughout the year.  Assessments and exams are set and marked by our teachers, and we send out a report after each set of exams. Our friendly and caring office staff are also available via telephone or email throughout the year to assist you with any queries that you may have along the way.

About the yearly structure and timetable

1. Is it important to start the curriculum at the beginning of the school year?
Yes, we do recommend that families try to stick to the same school yearly timetable as mainstream schools as it makes it easier to return to mainstream if you choose and to align your school holidays. The curriculum can be ordered at any time of the year, however, so if you would like to follow the northern hemisphere yearly timetable, or one of your own creation, that is allowed. New registrations do close by September each year.  Please contact us to discuss your specific needs.  The child begins at week 1 and works steadily week by week until mid-year exams are written; work then continues until year-end exams are written.  Students from grade 4-10 may also join us at the start of the third term and will not be required to write our mid-year exams if they have a second term report from school; then they must write their year-end exams before the end of December.

2. May we take a break or a holiday at any time in the year?
Yes, it is.  We have several young sports stars on the curriculum and this suits them very well, as they work when they are at home and take a break when they are out of the country.  Sometimes it takes them more than a year to complete a grade, and this is acceptable.  Parents can take their children on holiday at any time of the year as long as they continue from where they left off.  It is also possible to take your work with you and continue to complete your child’s education whilst travelling.

3. May we skip grades or do two grades at once?
We do not recommend this.  Each year builds upon the previous one, and missing one year’s curriculum negatively impacts upon your child’s future.  If the curriculum is not challenging enough for your gifted child then it is better to supplement their extra time with additional work rather than skipping whole grades.

4. Must I complete a grade in a year?
We recommend that you try to stick to the mainstream school yearly timetable as far as possible. The curriculum is structured to be completed within the year but in special circumstances you may take up to 18 months to complete the course.

About CAPS

1. What is CAPS?
The acronym stands for Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements. It is a national policy set out by the Department of Education that states what should be included in the curricula of schools for each grade in South Africa as well as how it is to be tested or assessed.

2. Is it a poor standard?
No. Registered schools in South Africa must adhere to this policy, both private and state schools. The implementation of CAPS meant that textbooks had to come with a detailed teacher’s guide that gave a week-by-week breakdown of what needed to be covered for each subject in each grade. This is great for homeschoolers as it means detailed work schedules, answers and strategies for teaching each subject are included in the textbooks. The difference between private and state schools (aside from the fees) is the approach to teaching, student-teaching ratio, supplementary material created and provided to students and the way that the CAPS curriculum content is tested and examined. At Clonard we maintain high standards in line with private schools in South Africa.

3. Why does Clonard use a CAPS based curriculum in grade R-12?
Using a CAPS based curriculum in these grades means that parents can rest assured that they are meeting all the requirements of the Department of Education and their child can return to mainstream school if necessary. Using a CAPS curriculum does not mean a bad education, rather we believe that it is in your child’s best interest as it is recognised by Universities and Colleges across South Africa.

Clonard Distance Education is a homeschooling curriculum provider with over 20 years of experience. We are with you every step of the way to ensure your child receives the best possible education at home.

(+27) 031 764 6480