Starting the Journey
BY RICA PERALEJO
As some of you may have seen on my Instagram account, I attended my very first Philippine Homeschool Convention about a few weeks ago.
Ever since I announced my decision to homeschool on the vlog last May, many moms have asked me for details. I feel bad for not having been able to provide helpful answers simply because I am not an expert on the subject. Also, we aren’t officially homeschooling yet. My son is just four, which means I have the option to wait until he turns five before we officially enroll him with an accredited provider or institution, for the purposes of tracking educational records.
If you are in the same boat as I am, I bet you have as many questions as I do about what we should and should not do when it comes to home education. So for starters, here I have gathered some useful (hopefully!) resource and thoughts to fellow inquiring and confused (haha) parents out there.
Ms. Nove-Ann Tan’s project was born 10 years after she had started homeschooling her three children. She was a session speaker at the convention and she gave us three things she wished she knew before starting the journey. The book is like an expanded version of her talk, where she walks us through the heart of homeschooling, curriculum choices, different methodologies, technical and legal concerns (like accredited providers) and finally, the importance of finding others who will grow in this thing with you and your children. I am about halfway the book and there is comfort in knowing that she also had her own share of mistakes through the years, and hope that we can reverse and shift whenever something is not working.
You may also go to her website: ihomeschool.ph
Other than this book, you may also attend some classes offered by The Learning Basket. They have a 2-hour class called “Starting Your Preschool Homeschool,” and “Planning Your Literature-Based Preschool Homeschool.”
Mariel from the TLB says they have no working schedule for these classes at the moment. But should you want to be notified about the next ones, I suggest you register to be part of their mailing list over here: http://www.thelearningbasket.com or follow their instagram account @thelearningbasket.
Here are some reputable moms I can also recommend for those who are interested about educating your children (and even infants!) at home:
- @montessorionmars : montessorionmars.com
- @mama_the_explorer : mamatheexplorer.com
- @ourlivinglearning : ourlivinglearning.com
- @teachertanyavelasco : tanyavelasco.com
These moms also post workshops/events (their own or others) that are beneficial for other parents out there so it would be really good to follow them for such information.
My hope is that I can faithfully write (or vlog!) a more exhaustive account of what we all should be looking into as we begin the homeschooling journey. But in the meantime, here are more things I learned at the convention.
Before I ramble, please know that this won’t be a word for word quotation of the speakers or complete bullet points of their talks. This is simply my own account of the convention, a narration (hello Charlotte Mason fans), if you will, of how the entire thing spoke to me and affirmed me of my decision to homeschool.
“What works for your family is the best for your family.” (Nove Ann Tan)
To copy others is one of the most tempting things to do when homeschooling. It is increasingly so in the age of social media, where picture+caption-perfect posts are published by moms who are great at documenting their wonderful journey of home education. However, this practice is totally unfair. When we force the way of others on ourselves as educators and the child, without doing the necessary homework of observing learning style, natural inclination for teaching, and the overall vision, mission, and values of the family, we rob ourselves of the gift of true homeschooling affords us all: CUSTOMIZATION!
Homeschooling is a choice that enables us to personalize or tailor fit our child/ren’s education in the most optimal way possible according to our goals, our needs, our personalities. Why, if we are only out to copy, I say we might as well put our children through institutions that would force their systems on our children no matter how mismatched they could be for our values and the child’s learning style.
Oh how I wish you all were at the convention to see a diverse pool of parents speaking to us and helping all to realize there isn’t only one way to do this thing. Moreover, that every family will have their own sweet spot, considering all things crucial like the development of the child, the capacity of the parents, the current family situation, budget, geography, beliefs. I find that many times, we are way too fast in buying curriculums (I’m guilty!), and ideas, when we haven’t even considered factors like our goals and our reality.
Mind the Methodology!
Ever heard of Montessori? How about Waldorf? Unschooling? Traditional? Progressive? Charlotte Mason? Classical? Thomas Jefferson???
These are different educational schools of thought, made especially for children. If you are like me, some of what’s on the list may have come across to you as simple “curriculums.” That is, that they are merely lessons with proposed schedules. But this is wrong. Because each “curriculum” mentioned above actually comes with an underlying belief of how a child should be taught and what (and how!) he should be primarily learning. And if you were reading my very first point well, you’d understand why we shouldn’t take all these methods as equal, not as though it was only a matter of preference.
It is important to know the respective strength and beauty of every method, and that none of them are one-size-fits-all. That is, every one of them is ideally paired with certain situations and temperament, and therefore asks us guides or teachers of the child at home to seek out the one/s that suit/s our families the most. Sometimes, it would require one or two or more these methods mixed for the child. Other times, it could require a shift at some developmental turn. It really depends on both the parent and the child and what best serves their goals and relationship!
“Curriculum is your servant, not your master.”
If you are interested to know more about these methods, here is a video I found online, and here a quiz to know which one suits your homeschooling style, and also your child’s learning style.
“Homeschooling stopped, but the learning didn’t.” (Michelle Padrelanan)
Michelle Padrelanan lost her fifth child and everyone in the family grieved when this happened. She shared that homeschooling stopped that year, but the learning kept going. How was this so? Well, while lessons stopped, her children were having an education about compassion and the ability to offer comfort to the bereaved. She then gave this powerful line as follows, “Homeschooling stopped, but the learning didn’t.”
I mention this because I really believe that life is an awesome curriculum. When we allow ourselves to be affected by life, there is always something to learn. Hard work, punctuality, cooking, service, cooperation, contribution, resilience, thoughtfulness, connection, conflict management, emotional management and so much more.
You might say this is all about characters and not enough of the academic, but then again think about how math will naturally come into the picture as you pay for things, as well as science when the child wishes the rain to stop but it just wouldn’t. Language is also inevitably a part! How can you thrive in a world full of people without expressing yourself clearly, right?
But all these require an outlook of taking every single thing and happenstance around us as a learning tool, developmental window, educational opportunity. You have to trust that responding to the throws of life can offer your child a tremendous and one-of-a-kind education. I think that’s one common thing about all the homeschoolers who spoke on stage, they understood that education is everywhere, all the time.
Dr. Teresa Moon said it perfectly in the convention, “Homeschool well, but more importantly, do life well.” Doesn’t that comfort you? That is, to know that when we cannot keep up with the schedule or the curriculum, education can still continue if we take life as a springboard for learning?
Free time means more learning time.
Nothing encourages you more than the fruit and proof of what you are trying to learn, isn’t it? And for me, that was when a roster of homeschooled children went up on stage at the convention. I was so impressed to see how articulate and unique they all were! All spoke well, clearly, and confidently. I am guessing that their demeanor had a lot to do with a security they can draw from knowing their personal strengths. About half of them said it wasn’t their thing to read, and that was okay because they knew they were strong in other areas like writing, creative arts, coding.
Watching the homeschooled young adults speak told me this is the right way to go. And what convinced me the most was this repeated statement, “I had so much free time on my hands that I kept looking and were able to find other things to do.” Many of them are great at the usual subjects but also knew photography, videography, editing, writing, graphic design, coding. That free time to pursue as much interests as possible spells a huge difference. I think children can be more fruitful when they don’t have to spend too many hours doing take homework, on top of an eight-hour-long day, seated in teacher-centric classrooms.
There are more things to learn. I am barely scratching the surface of it all but I think that what the convention has ultimately taught me is that no family is perfect, no one methodology is supreme, but this shouldn’t hinder us from pursuing the best for our families. If we are committed to learn, willing to change, daring to try new things, I think we’ll make it.
I hope this empowers you, as an intentional mother, father, or even child.