At Wingu Academy we pride ourselves in doing school differently. Schooling is no longer one-size-fits-all and therefore we believe the fundamental purpose of education is to unlock potential. We also have the privilege of schooling learners with different needs and requirements. Following; is one Wingu parent’s account of how Wingu Academy creates an environment for a learner (Wingulian), that’s atypical, to thrive and excel:
My husband and I were discussing High School options for our children even before they were of high school age. The decision to change our children from CAPS to Cambridge, brick-and-mortar to online and then specifically Wingu Academy, were made due to the following factors.
Living in Pretoria the options for good, affordable, non-private high schools are many, if your Afrikaans speaking, but options for English speaking children are very few and far between.
We also wanted to give them the opportunity to study abroad if they wanted to and Wingu’s British curriculum was the best option for this decision.
When we started researching the different online schools, we kept in mind that both my husband and I must work and needed a platform where we weren’t responsible for teaching, but where we could keep track of classes, homework, assessments, etc.
A big concern was that towards the end of 2020 our daughter had become super anxious and started struggling with social interaction at her school, distancing herself from her circle of friends and self-harming.
After researching other platforms, we decided on Wingu Academy, because
1. It has online classes where there is interaction with a teacher, and
2. the support structure that exists for students and parents.
In retrospect we can now see that Wingu’s set-up, teachers, and classmates were the absolute ideal option for our daughter.
Changing to online schooling was an easy decision, but when she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (aka ASD or Asperger’s) we chose to register with Wingu.
The first part of 2021 was extremely stressful for our girl, not only because Cambridge was new to her and doing online schooling had its own challenges, but I was in hospital with Covid mid- February. The stress of me not being home and not knowing whether I would leave the hospital alive was a huge burden on my family and our daughter had to try and navigate the new schooling system pretty much alone for almost four months, before I was mentally and physically able to focus on anything other than survival.
ASD has a lot of amazing positive traits which we are encouraging. One of these traits can also be negative though. It is the propensity to stick to a set routine and intense focus on their interests to the detriment of others. With CAPS she had gotten into a ‘non-homework’ routine as she was so good at retaining any information she heard in class and regurgitating during exams, which gave her 90+% in almost every subject.
Once I could focus on her schooling, I could help her create a new routine of doing online quizzes, assignments, homework and read questions in a way that she would not just regurgitate information but actually apply the knowledge. This has taken a while and I still need to encourage the new routine on almost a daily basis, but she has made great strides and we are SO proud of her.
There are so many aspects of her life that have been positively affected by being at Wingu.
As for most teenagers, not having to get up at the crack of dawn to get to school on time is a huge bonus. The fact that she doesn’t have to leave home to go to school with throngs of other teenagers has reduced her anxiety levels immensely.
The Wingu teachers are aware that being on camera is an issue for her and have been very accommodating. This has made classes such a safe space for her that she now feels comfortable to engage with her teachers and classmates via audio.
She has made friends with some of her classmates and not only hosts online homework sessions (off-camera) but goes ice-skating and has ‘live’ visits with friends she made at Wingu.
Yes, there will be social limitations for her going forward, but having a platform where she is accepted as she is, given space to interact when she feels comfortable to do so, whilst getting a world-renowned education, has been an absolute Godsend.
For any parents who are considering online homeschooling, whether they are atypical or typical, this is my advice.
- Do your homework in researching different platforms.
- Be honest with yourself about your capacity. I knew with a full-time job I would not have the capacity to teach my children myself, or research extra resources as many platforms would require you to do.
- You know your children and their abilities – Even with ASD I know my daughter would not cope with just watching videos day after day, she would stop watching them out of utter boredom. Although she is socially awkward, she needs the structure that a class environment supplies. I also know my son, who will be joining Wingu for Stage 6 in 2022, would get super bored with videos and so a class environment would be ideal.
- Set up a time with the Wingu admission specialists and consultants and ask every question you can think of. The staff are super helpful and patient. After our daughter was diagnosed with ASD at the end of 2020, we had even more questions for the Wingu consultants, and they were very helpful and informative.
If you are looking for quality, internationally recognised schooling, Wingu Academy is your answer as SA’s best-rated online homeschool with education rooted in innovation and excellence. Our Wellness Hub and Learning Coaches can assist both learners and parents with professional academic and wellbeing support and guidance to ensure that learners develop, grow and thrive in the Wingulian environment.