If your child sits inside a classroom with 20 to 40 other children every single day, do you think that one teacher can successfully meet the individual learning needs of each student? How will he or she compete for the teacher’s attention? How will the teacher impart abstract ideas like wisdom and worth—concepts that cannot be taught in an hour—when she rarely has the opportunity to spend ample time with each of her pupils? These are just some of the challenges that homeschooling parents and advocates present to our traditional education system.
Debra Bell, a recognized homeschooling advocate from the US and best-selling author of award-winning books on homeschooling, was the keynote speaker in this year’s Homeschooling Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) Conference. Bell homeschooled her four children, all of whom have now found success in their chosen careers and are happily raising their own families. She believes that as children grow, they become disengaged from learning. Homeschooling will help instill in children a genuine love for learning. This is important because, according to Bell, “You can’t teach anyone anything, you can only motivate him to engage.”
Bo Sanchez, an esteemed inspirational speaker, author of several books, and homeschooling parent to two children, believes that homeschooling blesses children with Worth, Wisdom and the Word of God. He says: “Homeschooling is one of the best environments where relationship between parents and children could flourish, because of the time that they spend together.” When a parent spends time and effort on his or her child every single day, it gives the child the message that he is important. This knowledge, says Sanchez, has the power to change a child’s life.
In the Philippines, around 5,000 students are currently being homeschooled. This figure does not include independent homeschooling families. HAPI, an organization of homeschooling families, students, and the home education resource providers, work with the Department of Education to spread the message that homeschooling is a premier education option. HAPI Chairman Edric Mendoza says that the local homeschooling movement has been gaining ground in the last three to four years.
Homeschoolers with their impressive musical rendition during the HAPI press conference at Expo Kid 2012. Photo courtesy of HAPI.
So why are more parents deciding to homeschool their children? These are just some of the points highlighted during the HAPI Conference last May 19, 2012.
1. Homeschooling allows the parents to take back the primary responsibility of teaching their children. They are empowered to customize their approach, activities, and pace to meet the individual needs of their children. By nature, parents have the intrinsic motivation to provide the highest standard of education for their children.
2. Homeschooling provides a relaxed, nurturing environment that is more attuned to the personality of the student.
3. Parents are able to focus on their child’s unique gifts. They can look for clues to their kids’ future calling and have strategic and intentional purpose on what they (as individual students and as a family) spend time on.
4. Homeschooling allows children to be free from the pressures of labeling, categorization, and competition that conventional schooling inadvertently espouses.
5. In homeschooling, the family is made the focal point of the child’s education and socialization. Parents become the main influencers in their children’s life. As such, children are raised to embody the values cherished by their families.
6. Homeschooled kids are rarely exposed to peer pressure. Debra Bell’s children were prepared to try new things that other children their age were not ready for. They became more experimental and adventurous as far as learning and education are concerned.
7. Homeschooling is cheaper than the conventional school system. Independent homeschoolers incur minimum expense, and those who decide to go with a home education program provider may pay anywhere between P15,000 to P40,000 a year for each child.
8. Homeschooled children are given opportunities to socialize and interact with other children and families through the support groups organized either by the parents themselves, or through the home education program provider they are affiliated with.
Homeschooling allows the parents to take back the primary responsibility of teaching their children. Photo courtesy of HAPI.
What are the next steps?
Parents who would like to know more about homeschooling or those who are considering this for their family need to go through this basic 2-step process, as suggested by HAPI’s Edric Mendoza:
Step 1: Get more information about homeschooling. There are numerous resources online, including HAPI’s website (www.hapihomeschooler.com) and Debra Bell’s site (www.debrabell.com). Parents are likewise encouraged to talk to other parents who are doing it, have done it, or to students themselves, people from HAPI and those from the home education program providers, and other related institutions.
Step 2: After you have learned what you could on your own, decide on whether you want to:
a. Do it independently. You only need to go through DepEd’s one-time validation exam before you can transition to any conventional school.
b. Do it through a traditional school’s homestudy program. You will have to pay the school fees and abide by the school’s policies and rules on homestudy. There may be periodic assessments, etc.
c. Or homeschool through an accredited home education program provider like Catholic Filipino Academy and TMA Homeschool. More information about these providers may be obtained from their specific websites.
No question about it, for homeschooling to work, there needs to be total commitment on the part of parents and their children, too. If there is devotion and commitment, the other hurdles could be overcome. The challenges are many, but the rewards will be great. As Debra Bell said, “Homeschooling is a blessing, not a burden.” –KG, GMA News