When people learn that I am homeschooling my daughter, the reactions are extreme. I either get polite smiles, get bombarded with questions, or I am called a “super mom.” There are a lot of myths and wrong mindsets about homeschooling here in the Philippines. I understand this because homeschooling is a relatively new concept in this country. A lot of people think that homeschooling is not a proper venue for education as learning is done at home, the students learn at their own pace, and the teachers are the parents.
The usual questions I am asked are:
“Is homeschooling accredited with the DepEd? Is it legal?”
“When do you plan to send her to regular school?”
Not surprisingly, the most controversial question asked is:
“How do you make sure that your daughter gets enough socialization?”
To answer the first question, yes, homeschooling is accredited with the DepEd and is legal in the Philippines. The educational institutions which facilitate homeschooling provide the necessary documents that a child needs in case the parents finally decide to enroll their child to a regular school.
Homeschooling is definitely not traditional and conventional. However, I want to emphasize the fact that homeschooling is an alternative way of education, not just a “trial” period in your child’s educational years. Homeschooling is at par with traditional schools, and in my opinion, even better. Don’t get me wrong. I am not underestimating traditional schools and teachers. I was educated in a co-ed Montessori school throughout my elementary and high school years. Also, I come from a family of teachers. My lola and mom were teachers, my sister is a preschool teacher, my sister-in-law is a teacher, and my husband is a teacher! Teachers are very dear to my heart and I have seen the effort they put into their work just to make sure that the students learn and enjoy.
When I had my first child, I was blessed to be a part of a church community where homeschooling was the norm, and not the exception. I asked questions, I learned from other parents, and I observed homeschooled kids in all ages and sizes. One thing that I noticed was that homeschooled kids were, lo and behold, just like any normal kid! They were generally well-behaved. These kids even excelled in academics, sports, music, arts, and got into good universities. They had no problem with socializing, contrary to what most people think. Thus, when the time came that my eldest had to start school, my husband and I prayed, and decided that she would be homeschooled.
Homeschooling provides a way for parents to build a relationship with their children as they learn together. Lessons can be customized as you go along, depending on the child’s learning style. For instance, if the child is very interested in planets and dinosaurs, these can be incorporated with the Math, English, or Filipino subjects. If the lessons are about community helpers, you and your kids can go ahead and visit the local fire or police department and make them experience their lessons first-hand.
Of course, there will be difficult days. Until now, I have to continually re-learn things and make my explanations very kid-friendly. I am not trained as a teacher professionally so I rely solely on God’s grace. Your patience will be definitely tested especially if the lesson that you are teaching is not your strongest subject. You can hire a tutor if you feel that you are not capable of teaching a particular topic. Also, there are a lot of homeschooling communities, and these families support each other in the journey of homeschooling their kids.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ESV
One thing that made me decide to homeschool my daughter was that I would have a direct influence on her. The key to be successful in homeschooling is by being intentional. This means that you are always aware of the reason of why you are doing something. When my husband and I attended a homeschooling seminar, the first question that they asked was why we wanted to homeschool. I did not even hesitate with my answer. I wanted to be the main influence of my daughter during her formative years. Children are like sponges in the sense that they absorb all the information that is given to them. They imitate and conform to what they see. I wanted to train my kids and set their standards on God’s ways, not on the standards of this world. I wanted to be the first one to answer their questions on topics such as purity, relationships, success, drugs, depression, and other worldly issues, and not give my kids a distorted view on these things. I wanted their foundation to be very strong and rooted in Jesus that when the time comes to let them go, we will not worry about the world’s influence over them.
Of course, homeschooling is not for everyone. However, if you feel like homeschooling is the best option for your child, them I am encouraging you with all my heart. When God calls you to do something, I assure you that He will give you all the wisdom, strength, and grace that you need.
Oliver and Jas de Leon are a faithful volunteer of a community Church in Mandaluyong.
They were blessed with two children