Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
We hope, as we feel sure you do too, for a wonderful year.
We also hope that we can continue to serve and support you in your journey with your family at home.
Please do remember that we continue to ‘create’ for you: videos, audio books, podcasts, resources and so on.
We have taken the lockdown time during 2020 to be an opportunity for us to do productions for you which we are placing on the Oikos YouTube page. We hope for them to be encouraging, inspiring, supportive, helpful….or whatever it is that will help you.
Oikos YouTube channel.
We share this with you at the start of the year as a reminder that the reason for the Oikos YouTube channel is there to help you. We know that when a new year starts there is a natural focus on what books to get so we do not need to encourage you to focus on that but perhaps a prompt to not forget about the help that is being made available to you will be helpful.
You can also contact us via email or ‘chat to us’ on the site….we are here to help.
Keep safe, keep smiling, keep strong
the Oikos Team.
Because we are making books for you we would like to encourage you to, 'grow a tree'.
If you have received seeds in your Oikos order, we hope you and your children will enjoy this project
You may have received either little acorns from the Sawtooth Oak tree variety or seeds from the Henkels Yellowwood tree variety.
Here are some fun facts.
The Sawtooth Oak tree.
Did you know...
The primary use for this species is as a wildlife food source. It is also a good shade tree.
Sawtooth Oak is a large species, reaching a mature height of 21m. The leaves are similar to those of the chestnut but are smaller, 10-20cm, and have pointed teeth. The acorns are also small in size, about 2cm long, and are enclosed in cups. Approximately 2/3 of the nut is covered by the cup. Trees produce about 300 acorns per kg.
When planting acorns, plant them about 2cm deep. The seedlings should not be transplanted until they reach 30cm or more, in height.
Hopefully you and your children will do some further fact-finding on the Sawtooth Oaktree and learn the best way to plant the acorns and take care of them.
An exercise in patience while you wait for your oak tree to grow!
The Yellowwood tree
The Yellowwood tree is South Africa's National Tree
This variety of yellowwood tree is one of the most beautiful and decorative of our indigenous conifers, a tree that any plant enthusiast would be proud to have in their garden.
With its dense glossy foliage, it makes a most elegant pyramid of green in the garden.
The Yellowwood tree is a slow-growing tree with hard wood which is useful for furniture, panelling etc.
We so hope you and your children will do some further fact finding on the yellowwood seeds and learn the best way to plant them and take care of them, while you all grow in patience as you wait for your tree to grow.
If you would like us to send you the PDF which has photos of the seed planting project please email us at [email protected]
This video shares a personal testimony which we hope will encourage and help you.
Please watch this video which is a personal testimony of living with illness.
While we offer educational resources for all ages, we are not a formal institution and don’t require formal registration. This is due to the vision, philosophy and objectives of the ministry.
We only require for you to register an online account (which you will be prompted to do automatically as you checkout on the Oikos online store). Registering online enables you to shop without having to enter your details every time you wish to checkout, as well as keeping a record of your previous orders.
Click here for the playlist of video testimonies of other grandparents.
I, Sonja Wood, asked my mother, Yvonne McCurrach, to write her testimony of being a grandmother of home educated (Homeschooled) grandchildren. She wrote this letter to parents choosing to teach their children at home and advising them to include the grandparents as much as possible.
Letters from Granny Oikos
As promised I will outline our experiences as the grandparents of home educated (Homeschooled) children.
We have seven grandchildren ranging in age between 12 and 27 years old, four boys and three girls. Missy and Jamie are the only two who are home educated (Homeschooled).
I would suggest that as parents who are choosing to educate your children at home, it is a good idea to have a visit with grans and grandpas, without your children, to explain your reasons, motivation and heart to them. It is a good idea to also visit at a later stage with the children who can also tell gran and grandpa how they would like them to feel about them being home educated (Homeschooled). We were very fortunate that Greg and Sonja included us from the very start of their home education (Homeschooling) journey.
We have enjoyed being in a position where we have been ‘Hands on’ grandparents to all our precious grandchildren and so it has been a tremendous blessing to us that we have participated in Missy and Jamie’s home education (Homeschooling) from the very beginning. We can see how much our support and participation has meant to our family and of course the rewards are numerous.
As for feeling deprived of the opportunity to brag about our grandchildren who have made it into the 1st rugby team, been chosen as an exchange student to go to U.S.A for 6 months, to win art exhibitions, be made head prefect etc. etc. not a chance. All the above are very commendable but my personal feeling is the memories we cherish are more precious by far. What can replace teaching my grandchildren to swim (in the dam at Mbona!!) having wonderful craft mornings together, going for walks to find frogs, baking gingerbread men, dressing up, reading Bible stories, telling them stories about their Mom when she was a little girl (they love those), going on camping trips that involved writing a diary and working out how many kilometres from Mbona to Pilansburg Game Reserve. I could go on and on as many other grans could do but turning all the above into learning experiences is what has made us realise how much we can contribute to our grandchildren’s education and have lots of fun in the process. We have been richly blessed. In addition to all the above, Sonja and the children have an annual ‘Grandparent’s Day’ when us four grandparents are treated to a lovely lunch (done by Missy and Jamie) and a sharing of the years work. We take gifts to the children and congratulate them on their achievements. By the way many public schooled children don’t ever win a prize because there’s not much room at the top but every year our two get commended for their efforts and have many ‘Achievement Awards’ to their credit.
I am very aware that not all grandparents are in a position to do all the above things but the fact is that even from a wheelchair grandparents can support, enjoy, love and participate in the choice that their children have made. The alternative — ‘Disapproval’ is soul destroying to oneself, destructive to the family and produces nothing but sadness and negative results and so my prayer is that all parents who choose the ‘Home Education (Homeschool) Route’ will seek God’s help in bringing grandparents on board with them to enrich the lives of these precious children who have been entrusted to our care, and to acknowledge the wisdom and guidance that grandparents can pass onto the children.
God bless and love from Yvonne.
P.S. I must share with you that since coming to live at Mbona (where Greg and Sonja’s home is) it has become Jamie’s job to take granny swimming in the dam —- I sit on the back of his surfboard and we both paddle out to the centre of the dam, slide off the board, have a lovely swim and then I hang onto the back of the board (because I can’t haul myself back onto it) and Jamie paddles us back to the bank. Isn’t that precious?
For Grandparents of Home Educated (Homeschooled) Grandchildren
We are the very blessed grandparents of two precious home educated (Homeschooled) grandchildren. Melissa and James are now aged 19 and 14 and so we have enjoyed being on the sidelines to see them blossoming into outstanding young adults. Our daughter Sonja and her husband Greg drew us into the lifestyle from day one and have encouraged us to participate whenever and wherever we can enjoy sharing this amazing journey that we have all gone on. We have been careful not to intrude and so have been led by these dedicated parents to help when our input would be of value.
Maybe we have been denied the ‘Bragging and Boasting’ that most of us enjoy in telling our friends about the ‘Trophies’ awarded to our grandchildren at school and let me emphasise that I am in no way diminishing these achievements (we have 5 other precious grandchildren of whom we are very proud) However there is little to equal the precious times we have spent doing crafts, digging in the garden (looking for worms) looking at stars through the telescope, sewing, knitting, planting seeds, reading together, painting pictures, learning to swim and camping —- where every project becomes educational in such a fun way. Believe me we have learnt so many new things ourselves that it has advanced our own education at a very late time in life!! As they say , “You are never too old to learn!’ I add that even from a wheelchair or a rocking chair, be it academic, sport or creative arts you are never too old to have fun and make special memories
Go for it grannies, and grandpas – have lots of fun, be hugely blessed and very proud of your children who have made this amazing commitment to be the kind of parents who are dedicating themselves to the most noble of all callings – to present to the world young people who are in every way special and ready themselves to give to society something with which they have been blessed.
May God bless you with many more years to Support, Observe, Participate and Enjoy the fruits of your precious family.
For Further Encouragement
Please get yourself this little treasure of a booklet called Letters by Granny Oikos. Please visit the store to see this book.
Here is a video playlist which we did specifically for vulnerable children being educated while using Oikos.
Poverty and HIV/AIDS are the two most influential factors on children living in South Africa today, more than half live in poverty and the HIV/AIDS epidemic has left a population of millions of orphans and vulnerable children.
Vulnerability is one of the key hindrances to development and learning; the ability of vulnerable children to attend or perform in school is likely to be severely affected. Where they are able to attend school they often are stigmatised and bullied. It may be very difficult for a child in these circumstances to concentrate sufficiently to be able to study and learn enough to get a Matric.
As many as one in five children start school developmentally vulnerable and not fully ready to learn. They are stressed and experience negative health, social and developmental outcomes resulting in poor school attendance and educational achievement. They lack the resources and care to meet their basic psychological and physical needs. They are generally at a greater risk of abuse.
Is it appropriate, therefore, to persist with exposing vulnerable children to a conventional education system from which they are unlikely to benefit?
Should the focus, in the first instance, not be on the emotional and social development of the vulnerable child rather than on the perception that education is paramount regardless of the child’s personal circumstances?
A happy and well-adjusted child is better able to deal with the problems of life, whether they have a comprehensive education or not. Such a child will deal better with the process of education anyway, even if this begins later in the child’s life or takes longer than would normally be the case.
Oikos Family Ministries offers an alternative to conventional school and classroom learning with a Bible based home education curriculum that focusses first on the emotional and spiritual well-being of the child.
“God impressed on our hearts and birthed a vision in us to support families to grow in Kingdom living so that they could raise their children at home and to serve Him with their heart, mind and soul.
This vision was birthed in 1987 but in fact the seed was planted during our childhood years. It is our hope and desire to be used by God as His servants for His Kingdom purpose as we support families who choose to keep their children at home.
Oikos learning lifestyle has developed over the years to now offer families the following…
- A comprehensive stock of educational resources for children from birth through to adult life
- Detailed information, testimony and video support on our website online. A full review of all resources available from Oikos.
We believe that God deposited in us His heart for children to be raised in loving homes with parents or carers who nurture, guide, teach and train them in His Word and so equip them to follow Him all the days of their lives. His heart and vision for Kingdom living is brought into every aspect of the Oikos Learning Lifestyle. In fact, the resources that God has placed before us all support in raising children to be men and women who love and serve God with all their heart, mind and soul.”
(Greg and Sonja Wood, founders of Oikos Family Ministries)
It is Oikos’ objective to facilitate a positive learning environment which encourages each child to “discover his or her unique gifts, talents and abilities, to come to know God in a deep and personal way, and to develop qualities in their lives that reflect the life of Jesus.
Not only is the Christian lifestyle, environment and education essential for our children’s spiritual growth and well-being, but we are morally obliged to train our children in this way in obedience to God and His Word”.
Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
It is our belief that “all these things” include a comprehensive education and training for each child to enable the realisation of the “unique gifts, talents and abilities”, if that is God’s will.
The Oikos Home Education curriculum is offered for home education purposes to Christian parents and to Christian children’s’ homes and orphanages, or other places of safety for vulnerable children.
We suggest that you watch the video of Charmain Coertzen’s testimony, and the other testimonies that are available on the website.
Please email any enquiries, once you have visited the website and watched the videos we have suggested, to [email protected] or phone +2731 880 2345.
To answer this question in full you can either watch the video here.
Or, you can read the transcript of this video here.
We would love to meet each and every family personally but we all know that that isn’t physically possible.
We are not able to do the Home-education circuit, the Expo’s, Concerts, Fairs that happen all over the country and all over the world. We obviously are unable to travel to all of these and we do not have a trained team that can travel extensively, doing the circuit, be it in South Africa or internationally.
Instead we are able to speak to you through this technology, allowing us to reach each and every one of you even though we would prefer to meet personally. We will do our best to support you through this means.
A Namibian Mom who lives in a very remote place in Namibia was led to the Oikos site. She says she sat one Friday evening into the wee hours of the morning, watching the media on the site, she said it was like a life-line, she received so much help and support being able to access the site.
It is for this reason that we spend much of our time and energy (and resources) to bring you this support and help which we trust will reach those far and near and even those who would not be able to reach the home-education circuit themselves.
We have attended conferences in the past and if we were to do so in future, or indeed if we were able to come to visit you in your homes, or ours, we would offer you a cup of tea and ask you to sit and relax with us as we take you to The Word of God which is where we would always start. We would ask you to turn back to Him and go to Him and see what it is that God is directing you to and how. So that you leave your stress behind and can think clearly.
We hope that even with our lack of attendance on the conference circuit that we will be able to support and help you through the courses and workshops to aid you in this journey with your family. We would like to guide you in your commitment to your family and to God. We are here to help you practically and assist in guiding you and leading you.
We also want to show you what we are doing at Oikos base for you and remind you that children spell love
“T – I – M – E”
Oikos Day to Day
We can spend time having tea with you but most of the time we are involved in the production of Oikos resources, doing the printing and processing, producing these videos, the admin and the clerical to ensure the parcels arrive at your door. The video clip above includes some footage of the day to day of Oikos that might be interesting for you and your children to view.
Now I must tell you a quick testimony. A mom phoned me a few days before we came here and shared that she felt terrible. She had bought Math-U-See Gamma for her one child and Delta for the other. After having bought the kit, she thought to herself “Oh, I have a good idea. I will just leave the student book exactly as it is, and copy it so that I won’t have to buy it when my next child is ready for it.”
This seemed to be a brilliant idea, as one of her friends had suggested that she do it.
So she took all her maths and language books and had them copied and bound. Soon after having this done, she woke up in the night with God convicting her that she had done wrong. Her thought had been that this approach was acceptable, seeing as everyone was doing it. That’s what you do as a home educator (Homeschooler), you save money and use the extra funds elsewhere. But instead, she phoned us, the resource supplier and confessed “I need to repent, I need you to please tell me how to make it right. I want to pay for the books that I copied for my children because God has spoken to my heart. I need you to tell me how to handle it because I know many people are doing the same thing.”
Disregard of Copyright
Now let me tell you, Oikos Family Ministries has noticed this trend increase over the last few years. The last two years has resulted in an absolute plummeting of finances in Oikos. It’s only God’s grace and provision keeping this ministry going-under and preventing us from closing the doors. He is serious about this ministry staying strong for more and more families to be able draw together, to bring their children home and educate them in the ways of the Lord. But as to what’s happening out there in the world, there is copying, secondhand resource resale and even plagiarism.
High Regard of Copyright
Many people have no idea that there is anything wrong with copying and duplicating resources, because our society has no respect for copyright. Missy and James, (my daughter and son) will not download something that is offered for free illegally, because they want to support the individuals who made their products available. They have felt the effects of this in ministry, and have strong morals and principles as a result. Having seen what happens when a person breaks these laws, they will not do it to someone else.
We sometimes have to help them not to develop a hard heart towards others because of this. We counsel them saying “You must not be angry towards the public, as many are simply ignorant of the effects of duplication. It is the enemy’s plan for society to be so darkened, that people will do things without conscience.”
Exceptional Value – God Provides
God has made it possible to educate a young adult through their high school year for as little as R4100. In spite of this, there is plagiarism, copying, and lack of respect for suppliers and authors. This means that funds are very, very short in Oikos Family Ministries. We could have not come to Bloemfontein under normal circumstance, but we go where God calls us and He provides every time – our God is a faithful God and has never once let us down. He supports His ministry and takes care of the finances. If people continue to do what they have been doing, then He will look after that as well. He has already awoken one person, and now she’s putting things right while also sharing her conviction with others.
Appreciation of God’s Provision
Many haven’t yet considered how LLATL, Apologia and Math-U-See were introduced to South Africa. God supernaturally provided funds for Oikos to fly over to America and to meet with authors and resource providers. This happened every single time we’ve needed to go to America for home education (Homeschool) needs.
One time when we went to America to get Apologia, we didn’t have any funds. A woman came up to me with a dollar cheque and said, “I have no idea why, but God told me I’ve got to give this cheque to you.”
It covered the expenses exactly, no more and no less. That’s what He does, that’s what our Lord does!
Watch the video here.
The immediate answer is no, Oikos does not provide reports and certificates. However, there are exams and tests all the way through the Oikos resources. You, the parent, mark them and you calculate the averages for the year.
So no, Oikos, do not offer certification because the Oikos lifestyle is not based on systems requiring certain kinds of knowledge outcomes but rather on the whole development of the child and the parent is issuing the ‘certificates of completion’ as and when their children completes the work.
We also have produced a special course called “Certificates” which we hope you will watch and find helpful.
When it comes to the little one in preschool, we have never had our children in school so I cannot speak from personal experience, but I have heard from many families that they have regretted waiting to bring ALL their children home. They say it had a negative effect taking the little one to and from preschool, while home educating (Homeschooling) the others and having spent fun time with them at home. This seemed to cause, in some families, some behaviour problems from the ones at home which impacted negatively on the one returning from preschool, (or regular school).
This is what can happen.
The ‘school’ going child/children return to either be told by the one at home what a fun ‘home school’ morning they’ve had with mom, or what a terrible time it’s been and the ones at school will communicate either way also. So this is a breeding ground for jealousy, confusion, rejection and so on. Therefore if anyone asks us the above question we tell them about these testimonies but even more importantly we say the following.
If you as a family feel convicted to bring your child home to home educate (Homeschool) them and grow as a family together in this lifestyle, then it may be that the social or sporty child, children, may object and ‘prefer’ to stay at school and the one who is having struggles with being at school may love the idea. However, whatever may result from their reactions, if you as a family are choosing this lifestyle for raising your children, then we strongly recommend you make the commitment from the start for the whole family. We have strong convictions but we also have mostly negative testimonies from families who have taken this step in stages rather than taking the leap and bringing them all home to start together.
If you feel afraid that you will not cope with all of them at home at the same time instead of taking them out of school in stages, then remember the testimonies of others who have taken it in stages, who have shared how much more difficult it was to settle this way. While trying to establish a home educating (Homeschooling) environment but also still going to and from schools, having to comply with school regulations and not being able to embrace all the benefits of home education (Homeschooling). They advise other families to take the leap because it was only once they were all at home that they could really benefit from this lifestyle.
Also you can watch this video which covers this question
No official exams or reports are issued through Oikos. The reason for this is that there are built in tests and exams throughout the Oikos resources which give the parent, and the student, insight into what has been understood or perhaps not understood. Therefore you don’t need reports.
Reports are given when another person, i.e., a teacher, is teaching a student and then sending a ‘report’ of the results of that students work to a parent. So, if you, the parent are doing the teaching then you will be assessing the student yourself all the way through, so no report will be required.
We also hope that this video playlist will be helpful to you. Certificates
And perhaps this too will help
Oikos doesn’t offer a ‘formal’ preschool programme and this is why.
We strongly believe in a natural lifestyle of learning and children learn so much through play and fun we suggest that moms get into the KONOS lifestyle and then move onto the more formal learning such as maths and language as and when the child shows interest and when the parents assess when they ready for that.
Some children may show an interest to read at a much younger age than others so it is all dependent on each individual child. However please be patient and do not rush into formal learning the moment your child shows an interest because they may not be ready for it in other ways. We strongly suggest you read the popular book by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Better Late than Early.
You can start introducing and begin living the KONOS Lifestyle from the very early years, as young as toddler stage. The reason why this is possible is because KONOS is a Parent training manual, in that it helps give parents a directive in focussing on training their children’s characters. So although activities may be aimed at slightly older children, the objective remains the same throughout KONOS and that being the training and moulding of character.
Please watch the video clips for KONOS living where we share with you the vision of this lifestyle. We produced these clips when our children were very little and now they are both adults yet what was produced then still applies today.
KONOS is the heart of the Oikos curriculum together with bible studies from a very young age.
We hope that parents enjoy their little ones, toddlers, and allow natural learning to happen without putting themselves and their children through unnecessary stress of trying to follow and keep up with a daily preschool programme which can inhibit natural play and learning.
Rest assured that once you are into the KONOS living through Oikos you will then progress onto the formal when needed. You can see for yourself testimonies of those who have travelled the Oikos road and are very well educated at a high level of quality and standard of education, however the best part is their wonderful memories of childhood and young adulthood because of their fun experience of learning.
So although we do not offer you a preschool programme to follow we do offer KONOS for a lifestyle which we hope will direct you in the training of character while your little children learn through having fun and playing.
This video will answer this question for you.
Unfortunately we cannot go back to the original spiral bound books.
Math-U-See converted from the spiral bound books to glue bound a few years back and consequently they require us to do the same as this is their curriculum, not ours. We only distribute so we must follow their requirements. They have advanced and made big improvements to the binding and believe this is now a better way to present the books.
We held off for as long as possible to not go glue binding but eventually we had to keep up with their developments and had no choice but to move across to glue binding.
What parents are doing about this is when the child is at the start of the book they place a book under the front cover to have the book evenly laid on the table. When the child is in the middle it is no longer difficult and then when they get near the lessons at the end you place a book under the back cover to have the book lay level again. This seems to be satisfactory.
This video here. we hope will answer this question for you.
With regard to keeping a measure that your children are progressing adequately, there are built in assessments throughout the necessary sequential learning material such as language, maths and science. The parent can assess all the way through the resources what level their children are at and what they are grasping, understanding, or what they are not. A parent will not get the next book just because it is the following year and the child must be at that level, they are going to want to be sure the child is ready for that next book.
Exams, tests, reports, are for school systems to make sure everyone is moving on and up to keep them all grouped, this is not necessary in the home environment. If the mom is under pressure from an outside source to have her children ready for exams which are being evaluated outside of the home environment then that is what puts the mom under stress.
We have found that to have the assessments built in and for the parent to take the responsibility of this while considering each child’s learning abilities, and the families needs, as well as the various characters and personalities of each family member then parents are assessing their own children, they don’t need someone to tell them their child is slow to read, they know that.
Then they, the parent, will do what is required to help the child, it is their child, they love their child, they will not push them onto the next reading level just because they trying to keep the child abreast with the grade levels in the school system.
With regard to being concerned about whether they will be ready for matric.
We have young adult video clips where young people are sharing their Oikos testimonies, and in them they say that although it was not the norm when they were being home educated, they would not change it for anything because they feel so equipped for adult life and the richer for it all. They did not follow grades and their parents focus was not about keeping them in line with what was required by the school system, grade by grade.
Oikos students are not all fitting into one box called matric, each one has the opportunity through Oikos to be directed in the calling and leading for their individual lives, hence it not being a ‘one package fits all’ system.
In fact Oikos is a ministry, not a system, and the ministry is to guide parents to raise their children for God’s kingdom purpose here on earth. Oikos resources, Oikos ministries, is what supports parents and students to be equipped in this way for His purpose.
Please watch this video, to hear the heart of Oikos, as it is shared on this topic.
First let me tell you this, hundreds of people have given up their jobs to take on home education and it’s working out well in many respects including financially. In fact, a friend just told me she did research on the cost of her children being in school and all the hidden costs, etc., and then as a result of her findings she has given up her job. It was costing them more as a family to send their children to the local school than what she is earning! So they have opted to home educate. She said that just the uniforms for the year cost her what the Oikos resources for maths and languages cost her. She said she is now going to sell the uniforms at the second hand clothing shop!
I do respect that this is dependant largely on what an individual is earning, however another friend, a professional person gave up her practise to home educate her children, and because she was bringing in a professional income she had her children at private school. So even having given up a professional income, taking them out of private school and home educating them still worked in their favour, on more levels than only financial considerations.
Please watch the video on this topic here.