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    Photo from sheknows.com

    Homeschooling is becoming more and more common here in the Philippines, mainly because of the many benefits it is said to have for both the parents and the kids.

    The thought of teaching one’s child at home (“and everywhere else,” as homeschoolers would say) can still be quite daunting – especially if we’re talking about grade school and beyond.

    We give you a glimpse into the lives of a number of families homeschooling their gradeschool-aged kids. All of them are enrolled with Philippine-based homeschooling programs, namely Catholic Filipino Academy, The Master’s Academy, Peniel Christian Academy, and School of Tomorrow.
     
    The Faustino Family: Homeschooling has done wonders for us
    Stay-at-home mom Tricia Faustino recalls how her eldest daughter, Zoe, was entering Prep when she and her husband decided to homeschool her.

    “We saw that she could easily grasp our informal kindergarten lessons and we believed we could maximize her learning potential if we taught her ourselves,” she shares.

    “The traditional classroom setup of 10 or more kids did not appeal to us much, unlike in homeschooling where we could give our one-on-one attention to our child.”

    Tricia and Suerte, her husband, decided to enrol Zoe in the Catholic Filipino Academy (CFA) because it follows the DepEd curriculum and they have strong support from fellow homeschooling parents.

    “We also love that they offer year-round activities for the kids, so the kids get to mingle with other children and form long-term friendships. They also offer parenting workshops for the homeschooling moms and dads,” she adds.

    The challenges
    Homeschooling is not a bed of roses though. Tricia says that one of her biggest challenges as a parent-teacher is “overcoming the pressure of today’s educational system.”

    She expounds, “Sometimes I get caught up in wanting my child to accomplish so many things because of a deadline we need to meet that I forget we’re in it to learn, and that my end goal as a parent is not so much to finish a project or pass an exam but to raise good, loving kids who have a passion for learning”.

    She says she has also learned to shrug off people’s “raised eyebrows” and questions as to why she and Suerte homeschool their children.

    “We are almost always asked if our kids get to socialize,” she shares. “They have this image that homeschooled kids stay home all day and do not know how to interact with people.”

    “But we do go out!” Tricia exclaims. “My kids used to attend soccer classes and my daughter now takes karate class; they also have field trips and playdates with other homeschooled kids; and they have a close network of cousins to socialize with. Socialization has never been a problem!”

    A typical homeschool day in the Faustino home
    The Faustinos usually start their homeschool day after breakfast. “We spend an hour or two in the morning then another two hours in the afternoon. It’s normally one hour per subject,” Tricia shares.

    Although she tries her best to follow a schedule, Tricia says she prefers to keep their days flexible instead of rigid.

    “There are days when my 5-year-old son would be in the mood for Math with his LEGO blocks instead of reading. That’s OK; I won’t insist on what I want just for the sake of staying on track,” she expounds.

    There are also days when Suerte is off from work and it’s just a good day to go out for a stroll in the mall, so Tricia and the kids would just cut their lessons short for the day and make up for it the following day. “We believe in striking a balance between school and family life,” she emphasizes.

    Parent-teacher triumphs
    Zoe was only five years old when Tricia started homeschooling her, and now, she’s blossomed into quite the accomplished not-so-little girl.

    “She loves reading about nature and history, she draws really well, writes a lot of short stories, and creates her own comics,” Tricia gushes. “She also plays the guitar, cooks on her own, and has recently started her own blog.”

    Above everything else though, Tricia says the biggest joy she gets out of homeschooling is the time she gets to spend with her kids every day.

    “Our homeschooling sessions are spent conversing with each other, sometimes jumping from one topic to another, but that’s okay as long as we’re learning and enjoying the moment,” she shares.

    The benefits of homeschooling
    Currently, Zoe is in Grade 4, while Phoenix, Tricia’s second child, is in Kindergarten. “I would always ask my daughter if she would want to go to a ‘real’ school for a change but she prefers to homeschool,” Tricia says.

    “There are times when we experience roadblocks in our studies and my patience also runs thin, but at the end of the day, we won’t trade homeschooling for anything. The kids love that they get to enjoy breakfast without rushing and that it’s okay to homeschool in their pajamas,” she elaborates.

    The Faustinos also love the flexibility that goes with homeschooling. “We get to schedule out-of-town trips on schooldays and call it a field trip with a lot of hands-on experiences like being one with nature, going on a hike, visiting old churches, and many, many more!” Tricia shares.

    Is homeschooling for you?
    When asked if she would recommend homeschooling to other families, Tricia says, “As much as I rave about homeschooling and how it has done wonders to our family, I still believe homeschooling is not for everyone. It’s still something new and, for others, radical in our part of the world.”

    She encourages parents to consider it though: “Homeschooling is for you and your child if you are brave enough to take on the responsibility of being your child’s teacher. It’s for you if you’re willing to adapt a lifestyle of grabbing each opportunity for learning, whether you’re in the grocery store or in the kitchen.

    “It’s for you if you can devote a few hours each day learning and spending time with your child. Lastly, it’s for you if you believe there is more, so much more, to learning than what goes on inside a classroom.”

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    Tomorrow: The Chua family talks about learning from homeschooling their kids

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