Growing interest in home schooling necessitates research to facilitate effective and grounded practice. Parents choose home schooling for various reasons and these reasons have been found to influence their choice of instructional approach and methods. Both the home school teacher and learner are confronted by certain responsibilities and challenges. An evaluation of home schooling has highlighted various concerns regarding the learners' performance and development, especially scholastically and socially. This article reports on the mother's perception of her role as a teacher and the form which she gives to this role in the home school situation. The study looked at the ways in which the mother distinguishes between her roles as a parent and a teacher, in an effort to understand possible assets and challenges in the home schooling situation.
A qualitative, multiple case-study design was used within the interpretivist research paradigm. The participants consisted of a convenience sample of mothers with experience of home schooling. Data collection consisted of unstructured interviews with the mothers, an analysis of the learners' schoolbooks (focusing on the input and feedback of the mother-teachers) and the researcher's journaling of her observations and reflections. Data analysis was performed thematically. The bio-ecological model of Bronfenbrenner, a multi-dimensional model of human development, ultimately served as the theoretical framework for the interpretation of the findings.
The mothers' perceptions of their role in home schooling differed greatly and appeared to be influenced and directed by their own educational experiences and their views on teaching and learning. The mothers all saw their role primarily as that of a mother, but they thought differently about their functions in the home school. Mother A saw her function as that of a participant, a guide at most, Mother B as that of a supervisor but also a helper as needed, and Mother C as that of a model. Each was found to give form to her role in strong relation to the context of her family. Mother A performed her role by joining her children in their learning; Mother B by getting the children - with careful attention to structure and discipline - to learn independently; and Mother C by informally and creatively playing and interacting with the children. The mothers did not distinguish between their roles as mothers and teachers, but rather implied a synthesis of the two roles. Focusing on their task as parents, they regarded the education of their children as integral to that task. For all of them, education included the total development of their children, i.e. more than mere knowledge transmission.
The mothers explicitly utilised it as an asset that their children of different ages and grades learned their siblings' work and assisted one another. By and large, grade-specific specialisation was not observed at the foundation phase level, although some delimitation of content did occur. This finding suggests that the finer points of learning to read and write and mastering number concept might have been overlooked.
Some measure of structure and expertise, even if imported by means of educational resources, appears to be crucial for adequate learning to occur in the home school. The results showed clearly that a totally informal learning environment failed to adequately support the learners' development. Although the mother's close involvement with the home school learner has a positive influence on her child's development, there are grounds for concern about overly free choices in matters of curriculum and assessment. Registration for home schooling has now become compulsory in South Africa, and the National Department of Education requires detailed information about the education provided as well as each learner's progress. Maintaining the balance between freedom and responsibility of choices appears to be a primary challenge facing the home school educator.
AFRIKAANS: Groeiende belangstelling in tuisskoling noodsaak navorsing om 'n effektiewe en begronde praktyk te fasiliteer. Hierdie artikel doen verslag van 'n kwalitatiewe, meervoudige gevallestudie na die moeder in die tuisskoolsituasie se persepsie van haar rol as onderwyser sowel as haar gestaltegewing aan hierdie rol. Data is versamel by wyse van onderhoude met drie moeders, die analise van hul kinders se boeke, veldnotas en 'n reflektiewe joernaal. Drie verwante temas het na vore gekom: die invloed van die moeder se eie leerervarings, haar beskouing van onderrig en leer in die tuisskoolsituasie, en haar beskouing van die rol(le) wat sy speel. Die eerste tema kom algemeen voor in die literatuur, maar laasgenoemde twee is oënskynlik betreklik onontginde terrein.