Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
There are such a variety of views on this subject. Loads of research has been done on this topic so perhaps you would like to investigate the results. What we, here at Oikos, can share with you is peoples testimonies of the different approaches to this and what has worked for them.
Thousands of Afrikaans families are using LLATL Blue book to teach their children to read in English. Some wait until their children are fluent readers in Afrikaans, while others go straight to teaching reading in English. As Afrikaans is their home tongue the children can pick up reading for pleasure in Afrikaans with ease as their age, maturity and skill level is appropriate. The parents feel that they want the children to become solid in English language skills from as early an age as possible.
Sorry this is not a straight forward answer but it is more about what the parents feel is best for their family. The simple answer though is YES, many Afrikaans families use Blue Book from the start.
If you decide to wait and lay the Afrikaans reading foundations down well before starting with LLATL Blue Book that is also ok. Families who have done it this way find their children do manage quite well due to maturity, so although they may be doing Blue Book, which is beginner reading level, at around age 8,9,10 or even later, it is ok because it is second language and they work up through the LLATL books well and systematically from that point even though they may not be doing the specific ‘grade’ level appropriate to their age. In the end it all works out, even if it means they do not get to the final LLATL Gold book because that is at an English level of around grade 13.
Hopefully this has helped to clarify this debatable point. As previously mentioned, there are a few different approaches to this and we have not heard any negative for either way, whichever the family has chosen seems to work for them. BUT, we have not spent hours researching long term effects of one way or another.
Lastly, Afrikaans families have told us that most of what the children do is English based, being computer, internet, television, etc., so they have felt it to be supportive for their children to start them with English before they have a solid foundation in reading in their home tongue. It is all very debatable, we leave it for you to pray about and follow His leading for your family.
Please try and watch the video here.
At this stage Oikos does not provide an Afrikaans Language curriculum. Here at Oikos we have a long history on this topic in that we have had numerous attempts to either find or develop an Afrikaans Language Curriculum which would be fitting with the criteria of Oikos philosophy and vision. If or when we do find such a curriculum we will make it available.
Yes, most definitely.
All the Oikos resources are helpful for a relaxed and comfortable learning lifestyle. That is why we keep it simple.
As you have probably picked up, we focus on training and coaching character to equip children to be responsible and effective adults. The way this is accomplished is mostly through Bible Studies and KONOS as well as keeping the fundamental aspects of learning in place such as language and maths.
Many find KONOS Living, to be specifically helpful in that it offers a lifestyle without the pressure, but rather pleasure, for the children and the whole family.
Most definitely yes! Please watch the production “I am Special Needs” which you will find on the free courses available for you.
After receiving this question I asked our daughter to answer the above question as she was the one who was home educated having special needs herself. Here is her answer.
From Missy, home educated her whole life with special needs.
I am so grateful to the Lord for His faithfulness to me over all the years and that I, by His strength, can now hopefully help and support others. The Lord has blessed and supported me so much. And given me much more than the very limited desire of my foolish heart. Starting with giving me parents that never gave up or bought into the lies of the world when it said that I would live for X amount of years or be able to achieve only X amount. Instead they sought the Lords direction and plan for me and stuck to it, even when they had to block their ears to all the loud opinionated voices that tried to sway them. Their training of my dear little brother was along these same lines and as a result his and my relationship has always been solid and set in love and support of each other. He has always been my biggest cheerleader, encouraging me on to the next challenge ahead. Never doubting that I wouldn’t be able to conquer it, even if I thought I may fail.
So as you can see I have been abundantly blessed in my life. The road has not been smooth at all, but when the thorns and crevasses got too great or overwhelming the Lord would sweep me into His arms and carry me till I was strong enough to walk again with renewed strength. I would dance over those thorns and skip over the crevasses, for my hands where in His and “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – (Philippians 4:13)
Now my blessings have just multiplied beyond my loftiest imaginings, with the wonder of being blessed with a husband that not only loves me, but treasures, cares for, supports, encourages, aids, and adores me. The Lord is amazing how He provides so much for us.
So as a daughter that has been able to reach high and achieve even higher, because of my family and the Lord, let me encourage you never to lose hope or faith that the Lord will support you and your family in whatever you have to face, just keep your hands in His and see how far He will take you, gliding over the hardships with ease as you smile with the knowledge that He is always there to protect you from whatever the world throws at you, it will not even touch you. So stay strong in this promise – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – (Romans 8:28)
My prayers will be with you and your family as you continue to enjoy this beautiful journey of what the world labels as ’struggles’ but what are, in fact, opportunities for ‘refinement’ and closer ‘dependance’ on our dear Father.
Watch the videos on this here.
And here is another
I recently received a letter from a mom requesting clarity regarding young adult years through Oikos and the transition across to the Cambridge exams. It seemed helpful to have some instant clarity on certain matters. Below is my response to her questions.
- Cambridge AS (grade 12/13) exams recommend a student to be at the cognitive level of 18 years or older.
- The Oikos journey with Oikos resources are preparing thinking skills, research skills, adult skills and training, not just focussing on academic preparedness. Hence the young adults are being equipped and prepared to be ready for adult life, including the writing of cambridge exams (if they so desire).
- The student may, by age 18, having reached a level of maturity, decide not to write cambridge exams and go directly to university, or college, or the work place etc. and either do entrance exams or submit the portfolio they have developed through their Oikos journey.
This is a bigger topic than can be covered in this article; the short answer is no, we don’t issue certificates. That being said, we have instructions below on how to compile documents for tertiary entrance. There are also built-in ‘reports’ included in many of the Oikos resources. These are available for parents to complete, as and when a student (their child) has completed the work.
Why does Oikos not issue certification?
There are many reasons why we do not issue official certificates. Firstly, we hope that parents will help their children to create a ‘record of prior learning’ portfolio. Tertiary institutions are beginning to prefer this method due to the initiative and character revealed. Many students have been enrolled using the methods detailed in this article.
Please watch these interviews of Oikos students – their testimonies are amazing!
Please also watch the ‘Certificate Course’ we have produced for you.
An example regarding ‘stamp approved’ certificates:
In the past we have had Matric certificates presented to us when we were interviewing people for work at Oikos. Although they were all ‘Matric certificates’, they were not necessarily helpful to these individuals in acquiring the position.
They did not help us – the employer – to ascertain what life skills these individuals had acquired. Even if an applicant had a ‘C’ for maths, we did not know how much they actually understood and therefore we did not know what could be applied regarding skill levels in the workplace. We focussed on their character and their ability to do the task at hand? This is what we were interested in regardless of what grades were revealed on their Matric certificate. We did our own character and skills test to see if they were able to fulfil the requirements of the work. This resulted in a profoundly deaf applicant being employed due to her having more life skills and abilities than another applicants whose report/certificates presented us with higher grades.
So you can ascertain from this why we say this is a big topic. More on this topic would be that God has given us a strong entrepreneurship heart for preparing young people for adult life. Society is loosing the artisans, the business makers and the employers.
Steps to prepare these documents
Find out exactly what the tertiary institution requires. It is preferable to make an appointment and go with your young adult to find out what is required in way of documentation for entry to that establishment. You could visit a few such establishments to inquire about their entry requirements, as they may differ from one to another.
Once you have established the requirements, you can take the next steps. If they requested a ‘matric’ certificate, you hopefully would have informed them that you are doing a matric equivalent and that you can verify this in the following ways. Compile a file with the following contents.
A. The contents pages of the various resources used while home educating (Homeschooling) through the high school grade levels. e.g.: Maths, Language, Science, KONOS HOW, Bookkeeping.
B. Work out the average grade marks which have been achieved from the test/exam results of the above completed resources and include them. The parent can assess for themselves what grade to issue for studies which are not 'exam' based, such as Bookkeeping and KONOS HOW. This can be assessed by means of the results the student has presented, the parent then assesses that, and (if the parent feels it necessary), this can then be verified by another adult.
C. A letter which has been compiled by the parent/s to verify that the contents of the file/documents are correct, as the parent has been the tutor and overseer to the said students’ learning. Take this letter to the local police station and have it authorised.
D. A letter from the student stating their reasons for wanting to do a particular course of study .
E. A summary of the extra curricula experience the student has done up to this point in their lives. Include any certificates/awards letters of reference etc. from these extra curricula activities.
F. A listing of any work experience, shadowing etc. and any letters of reference from these work experiences.
G. It may be helpful to include evidence of the results of home educated (Homeschooled) students. Please see these articles to help you to compile such evidence; Homeschool Graduates and College: Real Success, Yet Another Study Confirms The Effectiveness of Home Education, Homeschool Graduates Rock Baylor University.
More than this we cannot offer due to us at Oikos not presuming that we know how much your student has accomplished. You as the parent have followed their course of learning and their results closely and know their capabilities.
The above is what we suggest that you take for your second appointment with the tertiary institution.
Bear in mind that even if your student had all the above, or had a South African matric certificate, or had a Cambridge certificate, or another certification of some kind, none of this is a guarantee of entry to any tertiary institution. Entry is dependant on more than whether or not you have the correct documentation or certification in place. This is the current reality, so considering this we ask you to please watch the video course we have produced for you. See here.
Lastly, we used to offer documentation for completion here in this article however due to us not being a ‘legal or political’ organisation, and furthermore with the constantly shifting requirements for documentation, we have had to remove the PDF document which we previously offered. However do not let that deter you. Create your own document (letter, with an important looking letterhead!) stating that you are the parent/s tutor who has been responsible for the education of your child/student and have that letter stamped by a commissioner of oath (take your letter to a bank, police station, law firm)
Include in your letter the child/students full name, ID, birth certificate etc. All and any ‘official’ documents that you have can be included so as to help this process. You may even be required to do this for visa applications etc. The laws change and are adjusted regarding what is required for various official documents, depending on political, economic, health, climates in each season. This is why we, here at Oikos, are not in a position to keep ‘up to the minute’, regarding this. An example of this is we recently learnt that new documents are required for visa applications due to new child traffic laws.
We encourage you to not be overwhelmed or stressed by the ‘document dance’ you may be required to do and if we can be of any further assistance on this please email us at [email protected]
Keep in mind that the way in which you responsibly work through these steps can be an opportunity to be an example before your children/students on how to handle the ‘document dances’ which they will be faced with in adult life.
We have produced a free course which covers this topic in more detail. It is called “Certificates”
There are placement tests for a parent to establish the skill level of the student.
You will notice the Math-U-See curriculum is colour coded and goes according to the greek alphabet, Primer, Alpha, Beta… and so on.
It is advisable that you begin the assessments a few grade levels below the child’s current grade. This will build confidence for the child and also help the parent have more insight into areas of difficulty which the child may be experiencing. Furthermore it is a good idea for a parent to place the child a level lower than the results of the placement tests, to ensure a solid foundation before moving on through the programme.
It is irrelevant which book they start at. What is relevant however, is their skill level and ability. Please watch the placement video which you will find in the math-u-see category on the Oikos site.
Watch the video here. regarding assessments to place your child at their correct skill level.
Yes, Math-U-See does take a student to Matric level, grade 12 and grade 13.
However, depending on the exam to be taken, be it South African Matric or Cambridge AS (grade 12) or another at that level, it may require a student to prepare specifically because of the different way in which the ‘maths language’ is presented. Furthermore a student may have covered, for example, calculus to a certain level (grade 12) but the exam may have more content on calculus than the student has possibly practised because they may have spent more time on trigonometry for example.
So although Math-U-See most definitely takes students up to a grade 12/13 level of maths education, what must be kept in perspective is the current standard of Matric and maths language interpretations, etc.
In short, the physical blocks are of utmost importance to the Math-U-See programme, and the app is merely an additional accompaniment.
With the recent release of the Manipulative’s App from Math-U-See there has been some confusion about whether this is a replacement for the physical blocks.
Here is Math-U-See’s answer to this question…
"We now offer both physical and digital manipulatives. Digital Manipulatives are designed to make learning mobile and to supplement our physical manipulative’s. Most users find that the physical manipulatives provide a fuller and richer experience, however some find that virtual manipulatives can be more useful when traveling or illustrating certain concepts like addition of negative numbers. The physical manipulatives are the primary tool and an integral part of the Math-U-See instructional method. They have helped students be successful in math for almost 25 years. Digital manipulatives have the added advantage, however, of being convenient when on the go and helpful in building large problems. We recommend that the digital manipulatives be used as an additional tool to enhance instruction. Educational researchers are still evaluating the use of digital manipulatives in math instruction; we will continue to follow this research in our efforts to provide the best quality products, both physical and digital."
Seth Dunham – Director of Sales, Math-U-See
You might have heard about this. How does this affect the South African Maths U See?
An excerpt from the letter from Math U see reads ;-
“ As of now the Math U see digital packs are only the American version and are only available through Math U See USA. We have not yet worked out how this can be sold through our international partners.
We wish we could give you better news than that but this is where things stand at the moment. Keep in mind, however , that the digital packs are not the complete Math U See curriculum and that customers will still have to purchase the Student packs and should purchase the Instruction Manual and the physical manipulatives.
The Instruction Manual and DVD’s could possibly be replaced by the digital but there are still some things in the Instruction Manual that are not on the online version, plus those that don’t have reliable internet will be happy to have the physical product and DVD’s. We also strongly recommend the use of the physical manipulative and that you use the digital manipulative only as a supplementary product.”
So what is the digital manipulative? This is available on the App store and those are not specific to any program but can be used by the USA and SA versions, but Math U see strongly urge you to use them only as an add on. You can find out more about the Math-U-See app here.
Oikos will continue supplying the complete SA Version.
Watch the video here.
This video was produced in 2017. We are pleased to tell you that although we no longer carry any IEW stock for distribution in South Africa you are able to obtain all the IEW products via the link on the Oikos online store which will take you to the IEW website.
We received this from a mom
I am so desperate, I have done everything to help my son enjoy language. He is very resistant to spelling, writing, grammar, reading, basically anything to do with language studies. I have finally got him to read up to the orange books but he is 12 now and very behind. I’ve stopped altogether at times to give him a break and do only ‘fun’ related language lessons, and still he hates language studies. Can you please help me with any suggestions? I’m desperate because I know how important language is an I’m afraid he’s not going to cope in the adult world.
Firstly, I hear the cry of your heart. A son whom you have persevered with through the mud! Well done in given it your all and helping him build character while pressing on with a subject which he does not enjoy. If this were my son in this situation at this time this is what I would be doing.
- I’d be glad that I got him as far as we have. Knowing that he has been exposed to good literature and has a grasp on the foundations of what makes up language even if he has not enjoyed the process.
- I’d tell him I realise that this has been an ongoing struggle buy yet he can now read, which would not have happened if he had not had the helping hand of this resource and a parent helping him press through.
- Then I would show him what the outcome would be and encourage him to persevere. Up to Grey LLATL is quite a sufficient language understanding to be ready for adult life so he does not necessarily have to go all the way to Gold LLATL. In fact, a student does not have to go as far as Grey LLATL to be able to cope in adult life. To confirm this, I know of a number of Afrikaans families whose children have gone onto college courses after reaching Green LLATL and still they were excelling in english even though it was their second language.
- Finally, what I would be doing practically to keep language advancing as this stage is put LLATL aside and pick up Excellence in Writing. Here you have a tutor, on DVD, helping bring language to life and teaching how to apply what is learnt through this course. It moves away from all the grammar rules, sentence diagraming, etc. It inspires and motivates a person to ‘want to’ put their thoughts down on paper!
Our son went from dragging his heals, when it came to writing, to finding wings! Quite remarkable really. He only found his wings at about 15/16 years of age.
Lastly why not just take a complete break from formal language for a while and allow some distance. I know you have already taken a few breaks from language lessons but how about talking to your son about this idea so he knows you are wanting to help and support him in whichever way, to help him continue to learn. Perhaps give him some understanding of the bigger picture and the importance of literature. Maybe you can choose a book to read aloud to him which he will love.
I hope this helps.
Yes you will find having these picture books helpful. This is why.
These additional ‘picture books’ are the stories which you the parent read to your child throughout the programme. Once you’ve read one of these stories to your child then he/she will do an activity based on that story.
Later on, once your child has completed the Blue book and Red book reading programs, he/she will be able to read these “additional blue and red picture books” which you have read to them during the teaching process.
I found that my children developed personal favourites from these picture books. Later they read them themselves, we also used them for reference books for illustration/art lessons.
Some parents choose to use the picture books they already have at home or from the library so as to avoid having to buy these additional readers. This then requires them to adapt the activities in the student book to suit the story. It is of course preferable not to do this as it requires adapting the lessons, this extra work could be avoided if one uses the suggested picture books for the programme.
We have them indicated as ‘additional’ because in some cases parents already have some of these picture books in their homes and so they need not purchase again. (e.g. Peter Rabbit) hence them not being sold as a pack/set and being offered as individual additional books.
Watch the video here.
We used to stock the KONOS Compass at Oikos for many years, however it is very American based, in that it guides parents with the relevant activities which need to be done according to USA “State” regulations which do not apply here in South Africa. So although the Compass does have a variety of other good content, a huge portion of it is not South African applicable. This was causing South Africans to get caught up in trying to follow requirements which do not pertain to their country.
The same applies to ‘KONOS Creating the Balance DVD’s’ course. These are produced in America with American guidance. Although they do hold a lot of excellent content they do not necessary pertain to a South African living lifestyle, hence we produced a KONOS workshop here in South Africa. We hope you will find this helpful to watch.
KONOS was written in America by two home educating moms. However it was written with a whole world picture, there are even units about Africa in it!
The main focus and objective of KONOS is to train character not necessarily to focus on culture, tradition, etc. So it could be written anywhere by anyone because its basis is the Bible and the activities are aimed at building character traits such as attentiveness, obedience, patience, etc.
The focus is not knowledge about ‘things’ but its about character and training of that. For example you want your children to be obedient, kind, patient etc regardless of what knowledge they may or may not have.
So the KONOS file is a ‘parent training manual’ and a fun activities manual to raise children with the focus being character development.
Wherever there are American aspects in KONOS one just adapts them to meet your specific needs, whether you live in South Africa, Asia, Australia, UK or wherever.
For example, if the unit is Attentiveness and there are activities based on the “American Indians” to illustrate their attentiveness characteristics then instead, as South Africans, we looked at the Zulus because we live in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. So when an activity in the KONOS manual suggested we build a miniature TeePee we built a model clay Zulu hut.
Another example: the Unit is Determination and the topic is explorers and the activity is to look at the ship, the Mayflower, and read about Christopher Columbus. Well, we looked at the ship which our ancestors came to South Africa on from Norway and it was called, Lapland, and we read about Vasco De Gamma as an explorer of South African shores. It does not take much to adapt the activities to match your specific families geographic location and personal family heritage to make the learning more meaningful to the children rather than just studying the topic for the sake of knowledge. Many of the other activities related to this topic in this unit would suggest things such as, build a ship, research the diseases suffered by the passengers on the ships, etc. This had no relevance whether or not we in South Africa or Australia or elsewhere, so you see it does not really matter that it has a stronger American slant because what matters is we are teaching our children about growing their characters and having strong determination as is illustrated through the explorer activities and the importance of being good stewards (in the Stewardship Unit) of our bodies when we learnt about diseases, etc.
Please don’t let the fact that KONOS was written in America by Americans put you off and by so doing you could miss out on the many blessings of growing in character for His greater purposes.
You may find the KONOS Workshop series helpful.
We used to carry a HUGE variety of resources for every character trait unit but now we no longer do so for the following reasons:
- When we carried stock of a selection of resources they were very slow moving even though people had asked for them and so we sourced as much as we could but the capital outlay of a huge variety of stock sitting on the shelf no longer warranted us holding stock of these additional resources.
- We ourselves found we had better KONOS experience when ‘doing’ activities rather than learning through books. We did not have a library or internet and Google was not available to us when we were living KONOS, consequently we DID a lot of the activities which resulted in many wonderful memories. Remember KONOS is about training character not about gaining knowledge.
- Now that there is Google we no longer need to carry these many additional titles and furthermore you don’t need to buy them because you can access whatever extra information you may need on Google and better still you can have hands on learning experiences by doing as much rather than learning out of books, or from Google!
So those are the reasons we no longer carry the HUGE variety of titles however we do keep a few special resources.
There of course are always those specially selected book to accompany KONOS is, Favourite Poems Old and New. This book has a huge amount of the recommended poems from KONOS in it. And although it seems to be a costly outlay for one book, you will never need to purchase another poetry book after this one, because it is so VERY comprehensive. It has 598 pages of poetry, covering many different categories which are used throughout KONOS and LLATL (Learning Language Arts Through Literature).
Remember that KONOS is about enjoying DISCOVERY learning together.
I must share a personal testimony with you now about the ‘extra’ resources:
We where astounded by God’s provision through our KONOS journey as we didn’t have all these extra books and resources available to us at that time. One such provision moment comes to mind now. It was when we were studying bees in the Cooperation unit in KONOS Volume 3. We had exhausted our world book encyclopaedia, (remember we didn’t have internet and Google) but we still wanted to know more, and really understand the intrigue of the hive, and then this is what happened. Our neighbours had friends over for the weekend and invited us over for coffee to meet them. During the course of the visit we discovered that the man was a bee keeper and owned a bee farm! And that is not all, he was heading to his other farm after the weekend to set up new hives so he had all the ‘tools for his trade’ in his car. We where amazed and so we told with him of our quandary on finding more information about bees so he immediately went to his car to collect his bits and gave us an entire demonstration of the bee hive. He then invited us to his farm where we watched as they robed the hives and spun the honey out into a smooth clear stream that trickled into one jar after the next. Our Lord is so amazing, and always cares for our needs and provides what is needed when.
Lastly we did a KONOS workshop series for you which we hope you will find comprehensive and therefore helpful to you.
No, it does not.
I must say that to take on individual social study subjects for each child is not necessarily relieving the load as a home educating mom. I only say this as a result of what i have heard from the many families who have shared their personal experience in trying to do too many book related subjects with different aged children and a number of children.
Just think about it, in a school related environment where teachers have a classroom of children, the children are all the same age, or a very similar age bracket. So a teacher is teaching one grade level of curriculum with different subject matter books to work through for the whole year. As a home educator you are not doing this, you have brought your children ‘out’ of this system of education and now have the privilege of teaching a variety of ages the same topic at the same time at their varying age levels. In other words it’s not required of you to have to teach each child different content material for each different subject. This is just one of the reasons that KONOS such a blessing in that you are all learning the same thing at the same time. Generally you would aim your teaching level at your eldest child and then the rest catch what is being taught, or they simply do activities based at their appropriate age and skill level.
As far as preparation goes. One of the reasons people benefit from KONOS living is that the family prepare together, it’s not meant to be up to mom to do all the prep on her own. Let me give you an example; The Patience unit, and the activities are about bread making so all of you go into the kitchen to make bread together. All the mom has to do is make sure the ingredients are there. If it is something that is more knowledge based, then mom, with the children, would go do the necessary research, together. So you see mom is not supposed to go and prepare all the research and readiness ahead of time and not include the children in the whole learning process.
Maths and Language are done separately, level by level, concept upon concept. With Math-U-See and LLATL, (Learning Language Arts Through Literature), the lessons are already prepared in such a way that it is just a case of moving on through the lessons day by day.
Simply put, a mom’s preparation would be:
- She reads through the unit which has been decided upon (for example Patience)
- Marks which activities suit her family
- Takes note of the possible things she may need for some of the activities
- Then the family do KONOS together.
We have the KONOS workshop on the site for you to watch as it is produced in segments which are topic related so you can pick whichever video is applicable to you to watch.
And there are also a few other KONOS videos which you can watch if you choose.