School at home

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - It is said that a child’s first teacher is his mother. Expand that concept into a comprehensive and structured learning set-up: your child studies at home and has you as a teacher. 

“Technically, anybody can homeschool,” says Edric Mendoza, president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), a non-stock, non-profit organization that represents several homeschooling providers and independent homeschoolers and groups.

Since HAPI’s launch in 2010, it has grown to include approximately 3,000 member parents and children. It works with the Department of Education, aiming to elevate the idea of homeschooling from being an alternative to a prime education option.

“Our idealistic perspective,” he continues, “is that homeschooling transforms the family---in a good way---and, thus, if the family is transformed, society can be transformed; ultimately, the country can truly be transformed.  Thus, our tagline: Building the nation through homeschooling."

Why did you begin homeschooling?

At a certain point, I felt a burning passion to become a great dad. In my opinion,the world is deteriorating because fathers are disappearing. I wanted to make a difference, beginning with my Self. That passion, armed with my wife's stories and experience being homeschooled herself, led us to try and homeschool our firstborn. The results were great, with family and friends surprised at the things he was learning and how he was growing. So we carried on, and are now homeschooling all four of our kids. The more our kids grow, the more that decision is affirmed.  

What has homeschooling taught you?

The biggest adjustment has been realizing the paradigm that good parenting equals good homeschooling. Ergo, if I want my children to learn well, I must parent them well first. If I cannot get my son to obey my instructions, then I will struggle teaching him Math, or how to bike or swim. So I need to work on obedience first. Similarly, if I ask my son to obey his authority, but I beat a red light, then I lose my credibility.  

What are the benefits of homeschooling?

Homeschooling has many benefits, but here are the ones I like the most: 

1) Customized curriculum - learning content, materials, pace, location and the like can be tailor-fit for the child 

2) Proper socialization - a child can learn manners, values, and right behavior from the people who should be in the best position to teach them: the parents. Adding to the parents is a more natural vertical environment, where they are exposed to adults and older and younger kids (i.e. siblings, fellow homeschoolers); this, versus same-age classmates who will offer mere horizontal interaction, which is somewhat artificial as this is the not the interaction that occurs in the "real world" 

3) Bonding - from birth, there is a natural bond whereby the parents willingly spend countless hours ensuring the child develops properly, creating a myriad of memories, then suddenly at a certain age this is broken, and he/she is sent off to a school institution

How prevalent is homeschooling in the Philippines?

Our data is sketchy, but it shows that there are only about 4,000 to 5,000 homeschooled children in our country. Interestingly, the growth in some programs has been 400% in the last four years. There are also countless other independent homeschoolers across the country that, by virtue of being independent, cannot be tallied properly.

How does homeschooling work? What happens during a day?  

The spectrum is quite vast from having absolutely no structure---no tests, no books, no schedules---to highly structured, simulating the conventional school schedule at home. Typically, a family will cover 2 to 3 academic subjects a day, anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes per subject, then spend the balance time in developing a skill (such as music, art, or sports), recreation, or chores.

What are the challenges in homeschooling?

A parent needs to be ready to make the commitment to pour in the many hours needed to teach their child themselves. But as in many other things in life, we are motivated to make sacrifices where we know in the end it will all be worth it. 

What about subjects the parent isn’t qualified to teach?

Some have opted for hiring tutors, others ask the older siblings to teach, and still others have a team-teach system where one mom teaches subject A, and the other teaches subject B to their kids combined.

Is it expensive? 

It depends. Tuition on tuition, enrolling in a homeschool provider versus a conventional private school is cheaper. Approximately P15k to P35k against P80k to P120k, respectively. But this should not be the main reason parents choose to homeschool. Majority of the families we know who had this as their main motivation have quit homeschooling. Many parents will enroll their kids in various other activities like music, art, and sports. Further, they will stock-up on a learning library of their own, either digitally or physically, or both. They will spend for all sorts of exposure trips, travelling, exploring, etc. All these may actually make their homeschooling more expensive than a typical conventional private school.  

Does the recent shift to the K-12 program affect you?

For DepEd-accredited homeschool programs, we comply with the K-12 system, and are adopting it in sync with the conventional schools. For non-accredited homeschool programs, they have different ways of adopting the system, i.e. some will comply, some will not comply, and others have used it patterned after U.S. systems. - Rappler.com

 

(For more information on HAPI, visit their website at hapihomeschooler.com or their Facebook page: Hapi Homeschooler. RAPPLER welcomes contributions on children, parenting, and family matters. Email us your story and photos with subject heading FAMILY to desk@rappler.com.)