Mother knows best
by Ufrieda Ho
(January 2006)


Nobody messes with Jacqui Taylor’s girls! Taylor is a feisty Rosettenville, Johannesburg mother of three and will not stand for her children receiving second best when they’ve put in the graft.

She explains that this is what pushed her towards home schooling. “My children were all in a government school in Rosettenville and Jade (16) was getting the top marks in her class when she was in Grade 4, but at the end of the year they gave the top prize to a white girl.”

Taylor is a coloured woman -- married to Levy, a man who is half Sotho, half Irish -- and believes this was racist discrimination. When the school and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) failed to act appropriately, she decided to go the home-schooling route.

She is very vocal in her criticism of the GDE. To her mind she has fulfilled every legal requirement set out by the government to home-school her children. However, she is not registered, because she has never been issued with a certificate.

“I’ve never had any feedback or input from the government. I have the slips for everything I submitted, but they never come back to me. They are not doing their jobs and frankly there is nothing they can do for me now, because where have they been in the past five years?” she asks.

Taylor says her experience of home schooling has been deeply rewarding and she is grateful for the time she has at home to work with her children. She admits she can be tough, but she believes that being too soft would be cheating her children and inculcating the damaging notion that mediocrity is the ceiling of excellence.

She stresses, though, that it is not all work and no play. Her children dance, bodybuild and are involved in local sports activities. Taylor’s eldest child, Jade, is a former e.tv youth presenter and has taken part in beauty pageants. She will be starting university this year at the young age of 17. Her 15-year-old, Lauren-Marie, is already preparing for matric this year.

But Taylor says she is grateful that the girls’ peer socialisation doesn’t take place in a school environment.

“With the drugs and the handing out of condoms at schools, I’m really glad that my children aren’t in schools and that they are in a safe environment,” she says.

Taylor, who is a part-time home tutor, says she has a zeal for teaching. But, it is not necessary to have a background in education to teach your children, she says, nor does it need to be a choice that breaks the bank.

Taylor chose to follow the national curriculum for her home-schooling curriculum and she enrolled Jade at a private correspondence college to work through the matric syllabus with structured support, but she still completes the work at home.

“The children don’t have to be spoon-fed, they look for their own answers and that’s why the universities love home-schooled children. They know how to work on their own,” says Taylor.

“My sister who has been a teacher for over 40 years was like, ‘You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,’ when I started but now we’re seeing the rewards,” says Taylor.

She warns that parents need to give 150% and have the passion to see home schooling through to the end. Passion for teaching is not a problem for Taylor, though. Not only does teaching run in her family, but it’s clear that it also pumps through her veins.