Does Recess Need Coaching? Not in South Africa!

South African school children at recess

My favorite time to walk over the leafy campus of Dainfern College was recess. There would be hundreds of kids milling about, with no teacher to be seen. No one seemed to care whether the kids used the time to eat their lunch or not. Boys would be running around barefoot, their uniforms disheveled, kicking soccer balls that would frequently hit unsuspecting bystanders.


How Do I Obtain or Renew a Study Permit for a South African School?

I was astounded how much discussion my recent blog post about the scarcity of space at Johannesburg private schools spurred. While I was aware that this was beginning to pose a problem for expats in South Africa, I didn’t know how dire the situation had already become.

 But it also prompted questions of a more technical nature concerning attendance at South African schools, and I’d like to highlight one such question from my Facebook Page and some answers here. The QUESTION:

Does anyone have any experience ... 


I Can’t Find a Spot for My Child at a South African School

You know that I’m a big advocate for South African schools.  I think sending our children to Dainfern College versus the American International School was absolutely the right decision. However, just as my readers are starting to be convinced by those arguments and are inquiring at South African private schools for spots for their children, those schools are telling them more and more often that there is no space, and that the waiting list for a particular class is already 25 deep. It seems there is an extreme shortage of private school spots in Johannesburg. I don’t know how Cape Town fares in comparison. If you have a choice between those two cities, the school situation might be an important factor to consider. The good news is, this problem is not present at all grade levels. Anything from Grade Four upwards is not typically a problem, and especially high school (grades 8-12) is easy to get into. There are many more high schools than elementary schools, and because many South Africans send their children to a boarding school for high school, these spaces open up at the regular high schools so that they are quite happy to take on  new students. Even if you have, say, a 2nd grader with siblings in grade Four and Seven, then most likely the school will accommodate the 2nd grader because they like to fill the higher grades. However, if your oldest or only child is anywhere from grades 0-3, then most likely you will find it extremely difficult to secure a spot for them. Even if you’ve decided to send your kids to the American International School, you might face the same problem. American nationals have preference, but from what I’ve heard the space there is limited as well, so don’t assume that just because you’re Americans that your children are automatically admitted. If you are currently in the process of thinking about an assignment in South Africa, you need to address the school question right away, before you do anything else. Make a list of schools, and contact them as soon as you can to see if they have space. The earlier you can enroll your child, or at least put him or her on the waitlist, the better your chance of securing a spot. I’m sorry that I don’t have better news. I just wanted to make sure you understand how important it is to find a school in Johannesburg before you do anything else. Read More ››

And the Award Goes to…

When we first got word sometime last year that we’d be moving back to the U.S.A., I had two immediate concerns: Will I still get to climb Kilimanjaro, and will the kids be yanked out from school mid-year again?

From a transition standpoint, pulling all sorts of strings and making the move within ... 


Are South African Schools Behind?

If you’ve been reading this blog, you will know that we love our kids’ school, Dainfern College. But you will also know that we’ve had some misgivings originally about the academic level, especially in math, which we had discussed with the school. We were lobbying for higher grade ...