Earlier this week, when our son returned to school, Malaika Rose did not join him. Just like so many other PDA’ers, the pressure of school has finally become too much for her. Even though she did quite well academically in Grade 7, the emotional price she had to pay for that was too high.
As we watched her unravel over the course of 2022, we started preparing for this and put the foundations in place for what is now Malaika House, not a school, but a place of learning. A focal point where neurodiverse young people can teach themselves the skills they need to thrive in a modern world that is very different form the one we grew up in.
We started this process by meeting with several experts in the field of education. People who successfully founded independent schools, who developed gifted learner programs for the Department of Education and authors of multiple academic books on the subject. A pivotal point was when, in one of those early meetings, a very smart man, who knows much more about education than I do, asked me: “Why does she need a Matric?” I couldn’t answer him. Malaika will never have a regular life. She will never work a 9 to 5 for a salary at some big company, climbing the corporate ladder. She’s too smart for that.
As Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” explains so eloquently
“The school system will never teach you about money. They school system is designed to teach you how to be employees…”
The disruption caused by COVID19 has created multiple new education options for neurodiverse children. All the online schools have made home schooling easier and more small schools that cater for the neurodiverse community are opening every year. But we believe that some neurodiverse children need a different approach – an approach that focus on experiential learning and self-directed education. We have seen our child completely engrossed in something she wants to learn, spending hours on the subject. And unable to learn something she is not interested in at all.
That is why we started Malaika House. Located on a farm just outside Durbanville, Cape Town, it has a relaxed rural atmosphere, creating a sensory space that encourages learning and exploring.
We will officially open on 19 January 2023 and will be available for visits from the 16th. We are limited to older kids for now, from 12/13 years old onwards and still have space for about 8 kids.
But Malaika House is not for everyone. We will offer an online curriculum for those that want to complete a traditional education, but our focus will be on teaching the practical skills needed to function as adults as well as specialized learning. For example, if they want to learn about drawing Anime and Manga, we will provide the resources so that they can learn about Anime drawing. If they just love taking things apart, we will find an engineer to teach them about electronics.
Most of us were told to get a good education, then a good job with a decent pension plan and to work hard for a good salary until we reach retirement. Maybe that is not the answer for our neurodiverse children.