[music]

00:08 Marie Oosthuizen: Maybe we should call it a designer education for every individual child, because it’s like really a journey and the longer you homeschool, the more you learn. And the more you learn from other people who’s been veterans in this for such a long time. So it’s a huge blessing having Sonja here. She’s really… I can honestly say in the 18 years that we’ve been doing it, she was one of the few people who never wanted to gain financially from any of the things that she shared. There are lots of people out there conducting workshops and they charge loads of money, and Sonja has always just been… Her heart has always been to help the mothers and the fathers and to equip them, to love their children and to help them impact life and the Kingdom of God. So thank you, Sonja, for coming and for sharing…

00:58 Sonja Wood: It was a long way.

01:00 Marie Oosthuizen: It’s a long way. She’s come all the way from Howick.

[laughter]

01:02 Marie Oosthuizen: So, I think we must clap and say thank you.

01:04 Sonja Wood: Yeah.

[applause]

[laughter]

01:10 Marie Oosthuizen: Okay. So the last time Sonja was here was six years ago. They did a road trip again and they went to George and Jeffreys Bay. So, hopefully it won’t take six years again.

01:20 Sonja Wood: I hope not.

01:20 Marie Oosthuizen: Yeah, for them to come again and to come and encourage us.

01:22 Sonja Wood: Well, it’s up to them, if we come back next year if they want us to.

01:25 Marie Oosthuizen: Yeah. Well, we’ll see. Okay, can I start with a Scripture please? This is Colossians 1, and I wanna start from verse three. When I read this I always think of Sonja. It says, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. The faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven, and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world, this gospel is bearing fruit and growing. Just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”

02:09 Marie Oosthuizen: And then for the rest of us, verse nine, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray that this, in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you… ”

02:44 Sonja Wood: Mm.

02:45 Marie Oosthuizen: Yes. “To share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” So this is just so encouraging to me when I read it, that Sonja has come to encourage us so that we can go home and that we can go and be the change we want to see with our children. And so we welcome you, Sonja.

03:04 Sonja Wood: Thank you.

03:06 Marie Oosthuizen: And we’re happy to sit under your… At your feet and to learn from you.

03:10 Sonja Wood: Thank you.

03:10 Marie Oosthuizen: So get some cards if you will, while we’re busy, you want to write down some questions that Sonja can answer.

03:16 Sonja Wood: Okay. Thank you very much for coming today. I’m really excited to be here and looking forward to sharing with you very, very much so. It’s really, really a thrill to be with everybody. Those of you who are familiar with my face from the website, will know that we have been doing videos at home and the studio, lots and lots of them. And to do them, we had to stop traveling and get to the studio and do them. So, I have really missed being able to actually just see the moms and interact with you, and I can’t tell you how difficult it is to look at the camera lens and talk to you.

[laughter]

03:58 Sonja Wood: Hi.

[laughter]

04:01 Sonja Wood: And I just couldn’t imagine that you all sitting here before me when I’m talking to the people all over the world. Because in fact, the videos have been very supportive for missionaries, those that are really isolated and out there that we can’t reach and we can’t meet, face to face. So we did that for them primarily, but we’ve seen that it’s helping everybody we hope, but there’s nothing quite like being able to actually see your faces and your children and just be here with you. So I feel very privileged and very blessed to be here. So thank you for coming. I want to introduce you to Zach, he travels with us. He’s been all over the world. We do live on a nature reserve where we’ve got zebras munching our lawn. So, this is quite appropriate that we have a zebra theme in where we go, because we like to remind everybody that God is a God of no compromise. It’s black and white. And this is for me to say to you that I will hopefully be speaking black and white. If there’s any gray, then you let me know, you don’t… You’re not following, or you don’t understand, or you don’t agree. If I say something that is not accurate according to your understanding, please correct me ’cause I stand here to be corrected, but I do my best to share with you from here, from His word and our testimony.

05:20 Sonja Wood: So your questions, you’ve got many questions here, which I’m thrilled about. Thank you for your questions. I’ve been reading some of them and they’re really good questions. Thank you for these. Your questions I will be answering according to testimony. I won’t necessarily answer according to the book. As in the law says this, or this is the way and this is the answer if somebody asked me what curriculum to use, I can tell you my testimony. I can’t tell you which is the best curriculum, because I don’t know all of them. In fact, many I have never even laid eyes on. I’ve never even opened them. So I’m in no position to be able to talk about a curriculum I know nothing about. So what I’ll do is I’ll share with you why we are where we are and our journey in life, and what God has done through that journey in our life. And it is an exciting one, and that’s what excites me about coming to tell you about it. And the questions that I’ll read out, I will answer according to our own life experience. Alright?

06:21 Sonja Wood: So that’s that. So that was just to say that there’s no prescription from Oikos. We don’t prescribe. We don’t say that this is the way and this is how to do it, and this is where you sign on the dotted line and all will be well. We don’t presume to do that because we don’t know what tomorrow’s gonna bring. And so we choose to rather encourage you to follow after God and His ways, and the way He has called each individual. I loved Marie’s introduction about a design for each individual in your family. There’s not one solution that covers everything. The only real one and only answer is Christ Jesus Himself, which I’ll be sharing as the day goes on. So there’s Zach, keep reminding us to have no compromise. Okay. Then the next thing I need to do is I’ve got my own little list of reminders here, because I’ve got to tell you a few things. One is to turn your phones off because otherwise they interfere with the equipment over there. They make all sorts of interference noises, which creates a lot of work in the after-effect. After effect.

07:26 Sonja Wood: The other one is to say that, please don’t worry about that camera over there. As you see it’s pointed on me, I’ve become accustomed to it and don’t worry about the questions. I won’t be referencing to anybody’s name. I will just read out the question, you’ll know who, if it’s yours or not. But if you are not happy with something with regarding having this filmed, then you can please let us know. And we will respect that. I think before I jump into these questions, maybe I should just give you, for those of you… I’m sure most of you are aware of the a little bit of history, but I’ll tell you for those who are not, a means of introduction.

08:08 Sonja Wood: My husband, Greg and myself pioneered home education in South Africa. I don’t know how many years ago. [chuckle] I think it’s 28 or 30. 30. Something like that. 30 years maybe. Ourselves and another two families were instrumental in getting home education legalized in this country. It was very soon that we realized while we were in that arena, that God had actually called us to encourage families to be families as a unit and not to be too involved on the political and legal front because there was the Pestalozzi Trust that was risen up for that purpose. And that is their mandate and their calling, which has been a huge blessing ’cause that has meant we haven’t had to focus on it.

08:58 Sonja Wood: So that is what they do. And so if you ask me legal questions or political questions, I’ll say to you, phone call in at the Pestalozzi Trust, or go on the website, because she will give you the current answer. I don’t… I don’t keep up to date with every week of what’s going on in that regard, but they do. As I said, they have been instrumental in home education from the beginning as we were. I’m going to get out, remove from this day fear and anxiety over something that I have been hearing since I left the town and that is this BELA Bill. Now the BELA Bill is something I’m not familiar with, but I’m gonna pause right there because I just realized I jump to head before finishing the introduction of the history. Okay, I’m gonna come back to the BELA Bill. Don’t worry.

09:53 Sonja Wood: Because if you are worrying, you’ve got a problem. You’re not allowed to worry, the Word says you’re not allowed to worry. So if you are I’ve gotta get rid of that worry, see, so we can focus. Okay. So that testimony is that we pioneered home education. The reason why we pioneered home education is it was a very, very much a calling on our lives to raise our children at home for Kingdom purpose, to prepare them and make them ready for the Lord in their adult life. And we didn’t know how we were gonna do that effectively by putting them somewhere other than that discipleship of what God had told us to do.

10:35 Sonja Wood: And so it developed. It then turned out that our daughter was born with a chronic blood disease, which meant she had to have blood infusions every day, which meant she couldn’t go to school system, anyway. So the thing is, is that even though it was illegal at the time, we weren’t able to put a chronically ill child into the system. And then following her was another child that was also born with a chronic illness being brittle bones. And there he stands. Jamie was born with brittle bones and he broke 30 bones by the time he was 10. And so we learned some things in those valleys, which I’m going to share with you today, which are of great value to us. So that’s why we like to share them.

11:24 Sonja Wood: Because of what transpired in our own family, it made it very very possible for us to home educate. There wasn’t a threat on us, but even if there had been, we would have pursued it anyway because that’s what we were called to do. I myself was partially home educated because I come from a large family and my mother had a variety of children, isn’t that peculiar?

[laughter]

11:50 Sonja Wood: Anyway, each one was different, individual as we all know very well, and she had all types. She had really, really genius type children with straight A students and then she had me.

[laughter]

12:02 Sonja Wood: And I was special needs, so the system didn’t work for me. So I had to be put into… Not get… My mother just decided it’s not working and she kept me at home. And that was that. That was illegal at the time, but that didn’t affect her in any manner or form. In fact, if anybody tried to challenge her on it she would just tell them, “Well, the system doesn’t suit my children.” ‘Cause it wasn’t just me, it was my brother as well. He was unable to read and so he was at home as well with me. So I was partially home-educated. I believe that that’s where my training and education came from, was from family and from home and from my siblings and from my parents. And I just feel very privileged to have had parents that were committed and dedicated to each individual. If this one was needing to fly, they let him fly, and others that needed hand holding, the hand was held, so that’s how I was raised. And then, of course, that just carried through to the next generation and it has been huge, huge, huge blessing and very, very exciting journey and well worth it.

13:13 Sonja Wood: So that is what Oikos is. Oikos was birthed out of that. It was just a continuation from the generations before us and the meaning of the word Oikos, it’s a Greek word and it means the complete family. It encompasses everything. Economics, health, education, relationships. Everything in that word is family. Oikos. And so Oikos resources that you see on the website are home education resources. They’re parent tools. They are support and helps and aids to help you on this journey. If you are at home and you’ve got your children at home and you’re wanting to educate them, we can help you with some resources to do that. And so we are not a curricular provider, so you can relax. Because if we were a curricular provider we would be having all kinds of political problems right now.

14:11 Sonja Wood: But God in His wisdom has made it clear from the beginning that we are not a curricular provider. And so when the education departments come and knock on our door and say, “You need to register with us,” we say, “Why? We’re not gonna take the responsibility away from the parents and be responsible for their children’s education.” We’re not gonna do that, so we don’t. And consequently we have never officially registered with the Department of Education to say that Oikos is a curricular provider. So you might have a problem with that but the education departments don’t have a problem with that because they… Okay, let me tell it to you as it is. When parents take their children to school in the beginning of January, to put them in school, to register them, and the school’s full and they can’t get them in and the parent says, “Well, what am I going to do now?” It’s not uncommon for the parent to be given the information, “Phone Oikos.” Okay? So the parent phones us and says, “Can I please put my child in your home school?”

[laughter]

15:29 Sonja Wood: An then we have an opportunity to say to them, “No, actually. Because we don’t have a home school. Oikos isn’t a home school. Oikos is here to support you as the parent to teach your own child at home.” So what I’m saying is that the education department don’t disapprove of what Oikos is doing. As far as resources and supporting parents, they approve. Because they send people to Oikos. The actual education departments themselves. Okay? So now onto the BELA Bill. The BELA Bill, we’ve been under enormous amount of pressure in Oikos, really a lot to comply with whatever we need to comply with. Regarding that. If we do, we put ourselves into a position that actually would put us at risk to being able to continue to serve you in the way God has called us to. Okay. So we don’t comply with the legalities regarding… Not that we’re doing things illegally, so understand that. We are actually law-abiding citizens and when something comes up, we do check with departments and all the rest of it.

16:29 Sonja Wood: But because of the calling on Oikos and because of what Oikos is here for you for, we don’t need to register. Now that might cause you a problem down the road ’cause now you want a Matric certificate or a School Leaving certificate and you’ve been using Oikos all this time and your child’s exiting into adult life and you don’t have a certificate to say that they were home-educated with Oikos ’cause Oikos isn’t registered as a curricular provider, thank the Lord. So now, you as a parent have to do something other than that, about the fact that we are not going to present you with certificates to say that your child is educated to this level ’cause we don’t know. We don’t know what kind of parents you’ve been. We don’t know what kind of learner you’ve had. Whether they’ve excelled or not. We don’t know. We’re not in your home. We don’t presume to know your child. So we’re not going to give you a certificate to say your child has reached this level of education, because we don’t know that.

17:21 Sonja Wood: So we say, “You, parent, give your child the certificate to say, ‘I parent, I’m the parent and I have educated this child and they have got this level of education. They did maths up to this level. They did language up to this level. They are educated, and I’m prepared to sign this document to say that this child is educated to this level.” So to help the parent with that we’ve got a PDF download thing on the website that you can download, that says, it’s from Oikos Family Ministries and that you educated your child at home with these resources from this date to this date, and we can sign it for you to say, “We the founders of Oikos.” And you can sign it to say, “I’m the parent, and I was the tutor.” And you go off with your piece of paper to the police station and you say, “Please stamp this. This is the truth. I’ve declared that this is the truth.” And they say, “Okay.” And they stamp it at the commission of oath. And then your child’s got a certificate, school leaving certificate, you can call it that. You can call it grade 12, you can call it Matric, you can call it something else, whatever you want to call it. But what you need to know is that your child is educated, that’s the comfort you need. And you need to know that your child is equipped and ready for adult life, right. That’s what you want your child to be ready.

18:39 Sonja Wood: And you sort of as a parent feel responsible that your child’s getting to the point of exiting and now what about the certificate? What certificate can you present your child, or what certificate can your child have as a means of evidence that, “I have finished home education, and I’m educated up to this level?” How do you get that right as a parent? Well, there’s a lot of ways you can get that right. Your children can go to school. You can do a school at home kind of a curriculum, whereby, you will be getting them to write the exams and the test according to the curricular provider. You can register or be part of a resource provider, curricular provider, home school curricular provider. And you can do school at home, where you do the grades, and you can have the test passed. You can do the test and you can get the grades. And you can know that your child’s finished grade two, now they’re going into grade three. You can do that. There’s lots of options.

19:47 Sonja Wood: Remember that when we started pioneering home education in this country, there were no options. It was this is what God has called us to do. That’s it. Now you’ve got a pile of options to choose from. And so now I’m feeling sorry for you. Because I had it simple. I had it nice and easy, because I didn’t have to pick and choose. What am I gonna do? And all these options. They weren’t any. So now you’ve got all these options and you don’t know which way to turn. And you’re just swamped with what to do, and what is the right thing to do. So I am gonna share with you today, and I’m hoping that by the end of the day, you’re going to be hearing loud and clear. So I hope all your ears are open [chuckle], that actually the option is God’s way. That’s what I’m here to tell you. It’s God’s way. It’s not the world’s way. It’s not man’s way. It’s God’s way. So if this child you need to do a more formal structured thing because that’s what God’s way is for that child, and this one something else, well, it’s God’s way that matters. Because in the end when that young adult goes into tertiary, or business, or love, or marriage, or whatever, that you want to know that you’ve equipped that person and that young adult is now ready for what God is calling that person to.

21:10 Sonja Wood: What if you know in your heart as a parent, that the avenue that your child is seeking after is very, very not correct as far as it’s a passion he’s got. He’s interested in that, but it’s not actually well fitting. And you’re just going to now support that passion all the way because your child’s passionate in that. But you know in your heart it’s not actually the right thing for him. What do you do about that? Do you just let it carry on? Or do you redirect your child? I believe loving, caring, nurturing parents redirect their children on the path that they feel is well suited for them. However, parents are listening to the world, and they are going according to what the world is telling that they must do. I don’t know if I’m making it clear the different… Okay good. So I hope that you stop listening to the world. And you stop listening to what man is saying how it has to be.

22:15 Sonja Wood: Marie said earlier on that however many years ago, there was a big fear thing going out that if you don’t register, and if you don’t this, and if you don’t that, this is gonna happen to you. And so people panicked and they put their children in school. They can’t home educate anymore ’cause they’re scared they’re gonna be arrested. Well, I sat in the Minister of Education’s office in Cape Town in parliament wherever that was, and I didn’t have children. And I said, “I’m here on behalf of the mothers of this country, because I believe we need to be able to nurture and love the children that God puts in our care. And that’s what I’m doing here.” And he said, “Well, you’re gonna be arrested if you try and do that.” So [chuckle] my response was maybe a bit cheeky, okay? [laughter] So I did let him know that I didn’t think it was a good idea that he try to arrest me, ’cause it might not go so well for them. [laughter]

23:14 Sonja Wood: So maybe that was a bit cheeky. But the thing is, is that I was representing the Lord. And I had Him. My knees were shaking like this, and I felt like I was gonna fall over. But I was standing there on behalf of representing the Lord and saying, “This is what I believe we need to be doing, is raising children to be equipped and ready to be servants of the Lord, and people that can give into this country. And we’re doing a good thing. So don’t stop us from doing this good thing. It wouldn’t be a good idea.” So every couple of years, or every year, or maybe more frequently than that, you’re gonna get things come up that the world is gonna say, “We’re gonna do this if you don’t do that.”

24:00 Sonja Wood: And you’ve gotta check, is my flesh… Or am I responding in fear to that thing? Because if you are, then it’s not from God. Fear is not from God. So if you’re having fear, question. Say, “Maybe I need to look at this carefully. Maybe I need to pray about it. Maybe I need to check with God what he is saying to me regarding this latest thing that has come about.” And educate yourself as parents. Phone Pestalozzi Trust and say to them, “What is it all about? How can I support?” I believe that if people are members and they give their money once a year, they’re supporting a good work, that they’re increasing… Pestalozzi Trust is increasing their numbers so that they’ve got more weight to be able to say, “Well, I don’t know how you’re gonna get it right to put 50,000 mothers into prison.” First of all, there isn’t the space. Secondly, you don’t have the time for that. Thirdly, you’re taking dedicated, loving mothers away from their children when there’s much bigger crisis of children without care and mothers to be concerning yourself with.

25:08 Sonja Wood: And so home educating mothers need to say, “I’m taking care of the children God has entrusted to my care, and I would like to raise my children, to be able to care for the children that haven’t had the kind of care that my children are getting. So let me do that job well, so that we can have good citizens, citizens that are able to support and help society later on. And I’m one of them right now by taking care of these children rather than neglecting them.” Be bold and be firm and be sure of what you’re doing. And educate yourself. And so when you get a social media that says that this is gonna happen to you, if you don’t A, B, and C, well check what the A, B, and C is. And check where it’s written and check what it’s about. Because we have mothers phone us at Oikos and say to us, tell us things about the law that I didn’t even know about. So I go, “Oh, okay, well, let me look that up.” And I have a look, and it’s not even what they saying. It’s something completely else.

26:06 Sonja Wood: “They say that I have to register.” Well, who said? And where is that? Is it in the law? “No, it isn’t now, but it’s going to be. So I better do something about it before.” No, well, wait a minute, [chuckle] have you checked with God? Has He said to you, “I want you to register. It’s important that you register with whatever.” I don’t know. Maybe it is. That’s what I said. I’m not here to tell you what God is saying to you. I’m asking you just to listen to what He’s saying to you each and every individual circumstance. So with regard to this BELA Bill, I’m not able to talk about it, for what’s all written in it because I haven’t studied it. I know that Oikos has been under pressure to do all kinds of things. We’ve taken it to God and He’s told us, “Wait. No, wait.” So we’re waiting and I don’t know for what and what it’s about.

27:05 Sonja Wood: I’m told that schools are being shut down and curricular providers are being shut down and all sorts of things are happening. Well, I don’t mean to just make light of it, but I’m just saying, well, you are here today because you’ve come to find out about how to proceed with your journey in home education as best you can, right? So then, let’s do that then. Let’s get on and do that then. Let’s not spend our time being robbed by the voices of the world, putting fear. We don’t want fear. We wanna walk in faith and boldly, and if it comes… And people said, “But what if the education department comes to your door? And what if they want to arrest me and everything else?” I said, “Offer them tea. [laughter] And make them something nice to eat and show them what you’re doing for your country.” “Yes, but what about my reports and what I have to fill in and I have to… I have to this and I have to that and I have to the other.” Okay. So okay, what are the have to’s? You tell me what the have to is.

28:05 Sonja Wood: “I gotta do a register, a role or whatever… Attendance register.” I said, “Okay, right. Let’s start with that.” Your children wake up in the morning, and you check are all three here? [laughter] Yes, my children are present. The date, the time. The registers are for school. You’re not in school. Your children aren’t in school. The grades are for school, so that the teacher gets the curriculum and she uses that curriculum all year. And then at the end of the year, she says, “This is how these 30 children did and with their grade that I taught.” And she gives the parent a report card to say, “This is how your child has done so they can go to the next grade or they can’t.” Now home educators want to pull that into their home. For what reason exactly? I don’t understand the point or the need. There is no need for having a report card or a grade. Because let me tell you something, if next year the book is division and your child hasn’t got multiplication yet, are you gonna put them onto division because it’s January?

29:10 Sonja Wood: No, you will not. You see, you’re loving, nurturing, caring parents. You know your child intimately. You are not gonna give them that division book if they’re only halfway through the multiplication book. You’re not gonna say, “Oh, well, it’s 2018 now. Put that book away. We’ve gotta start this new one,” and only let them half finish it. The fact that it took them the whole year to do half the book might be a bit of a concern for you. And you might be thinking that “Oops, we might have a problem here.” And then you will be concerning yourself with that. Not with the report card or the grade level, or seeing to… However, if you were in a school at home system, you might have to have that book finished by the end of the year. You might have to push your child through to get ready for the exam. And you know that your child’s not coping, but you’re pushing them to get ready for that exam. So that’s why I’m saying, “Why do that at home when you’re at home, when you have the privilege of being at home, why do that? Why not, rather, embrace the full value and privileges and blessings of having a lifestyle at home of learning, rather than school at home?” Okay? Because school is a building where people go to be educated. Your house is a home where you have learning happening.

30:36 Sonja Wood: If you want to have school at home, well then you’re gonna have to comply with all the things, and you’re gonna have to have all the pressures, and you’re gonna have to do as man says. Whether it suits you, or your child, or your holiday, or the baby that just arrived, or the illness that’s in the family or not, you’ve chosen to put school in your home and comply with that and put yourselves through that. Then that’s what you choose. Because maybe you choose that out of fear, because you’re scared that if you don’t do it that way, you won’t actually educate them properly, because they won’t have their grades. Maybe it’s out of fear you’re doing it that way. Or maybe it makes you feel secure. And I’m here to tell you, well, your security needs to be in Christ, not in books or in grades.