The homeschooling alternative: Homeschooling in the Philippines
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With nearly 10 weeks left in the current school year I find myself at a crossroads. I am thoughtfully considering moving my son, Motito, to a new school for the next year school year. For reasons I won’t explain here I have become regrettably dissatisfied with the way things are going in his current school. I have shortlisted a couple of schools that meet mine and my son’s requirements, and while the plan appears best-laid so far, there’s just one other thing: I’m thinking maybe I could homeschool instead.
I’ve been reading a lot about homeschooling, and I like what I’ve learned so far. Homeschooling is educating one’s child outside of a public or private school. Homeschooling takes place primarily inside the home, but learning is not confined to its four walls. Many parents teach their own children, while some employ the services of a part-time or full-time tutor. What I find most appealing about homeschooling is its flexibility. Parents can choose the curriculum that best aligns with the family’s means, goals, and values. Education can be individualized according to the strengths, interests, and learning style of the child. Homeschooling families can recreate the school environment in their homes if they want to, or march to the beat of their own drum and unschool altogether.
The right of parents to educate their own children is protected under Section 1(2) of Article XIV (14) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, which states that the State shall, “Establish and maintain a system of free public education in the elementary and high school levels. Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children…” As a matter of fact, the Department of Education is mulling expanding the use of so-called alternative delivery modes, which include the Home Study Program, to ease congestion in public schools.
There are three ways by which families are homeschooling in the Philippines. One is by enrolling in a DepEd-accredited homeschool provider. Here, homeschoolers follow a set curriculum, but they are free to enhance and expand as they see fit. This route is generally regarded as the most “painless” way to homeschool, as it means the
homeschooled student’s accomplishments are officially credentialed, and he/she can enroll in a regular school or college with the same ease enjoyed by non-homeschooled students. The Catholic Filipino Academy, The Masters Academy and Victory Christian International School are some of the popular homeschool providers with DepEd accreditation. Also worth considering are the Home Study programs of Angelicum College and The Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
Another approach taken by Filipino homeschoolers is to enroll in an international homeschool provider, usually a United States-based one, like the Kolbe Academy Homeschool or the Seton Home Study School. Curriculum materials are sent via post or electronically. A student is issued official grade records and transcripts, which would come in handy should the parent decide to transfer the child to a regular school. The student might still need to take the Philippine Validating Exam to be considered for enrollment in a regular school.
The third option is unschooling, also known as child-led learning or natural learning. As the name implies, the unschooling approach follows the natural interests and aptitudes of the child and does not rely on a pre-defined curriculum or use a formal lesson structure. I admire the brave and dauntless families who go the unschooling route, as they exercise utmost flexibility in educating their children. There is a price for this freedom, though, and it mostly involves dealing with the DepEd bureaucracy. The student must take and pass the Philippine Validating Exam in order for all of his/her hard work to be credited. The exam may only be taken once, generally as a requirement for transferring to a regular school or college. Additionally, parents must also compile and submit a portfolio of records and materials to prove that they have been truthfully homeschooling their child. The portfolio can include answered textbooks and worksheets, quizzes/tests, samples of finished projects, and photos of the child in field trips or engaged in hands-on activities.
Different reasons motivate families to homeschool. The three most commonly cited reasons for homeschooling are dissatisfaction with the quality of education in schools, a desire to give religious and moral instruction that aligns with the family’s values, and concerns about the negative social environment in schools. Whatever your reason for considering homeschooling, remember that it is a huge commitment and often requires a significant adjustment in the family’s daily life. If you wish to know more I highly recommend Smart Parenting’s FAQ and tips on homeschooling in the Philippines written by homeschooling advocate Teachermama Tina Santiago Rodriguez and how-to guide on choosing a program for your child penned by novelist and poet Justine Camacho-Tajonera. Additionally, I encourage you to check out the blogs of real-life homeschooling families in the Philippines to get a feel for the daily triumphs and travails of educating your own children at home. Among those I follow are Truly Rich Mom, Beyond the Silver and the Gold, And These Thy Gifts, Teach With Joy, The Mommy Journey, and The Nanay Notebook.