Homeschooling with Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal
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There’s an old saw about time flying when you’re having fun, and I tend to subscribe to the idea. Have you been so engrossed in something that you hardly notice the time passing and when you pause to check, it’s 2 a.m. and you missed dinner? We all have, occasionally. That’s how I feel about homeschooling, too.
When I decided to homeschool Motito in 2015, starting in his 3rd Grade, I thought we’d homeschool until Grade 6, then go back to traditional schooling for high school. Fast forward seven years later, my son is now in 10th Grade and still homeschooling. I still can’t quite believe that it’s been seven years. For us to have stayed with the same homeschool provider all these years and have a pleasant time of it, must say a lot about his school, Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal.
Before choosing Peniel, I’d done my research on homeschool providers in the Philippines. The fact that Peniel charged the lowest tuition fees among them certainly worked in its favor, but I wanted to see for myself how the school interacted with prospective homeschooling parents. I was pleased that I didn’t have to set an appointment to see the principal. Ms. Au Villegas. She was practically in school every day, even during summer breaks, that all I had to do was turn up on regular working hours.
To reach Cainta from Makati City where we live, we had to transfer between five public utility vehicles. I thought to myself that the long slog through oppressive heat and horrible Metro Manila traffic had better be worth it. To my delight, it was. From the security personnel to the teachers, every one was kind and attentive. Ma’am Au patiently explained the roles that parent-teachers and Peniel are expected to fulfill in homeschooling, as well the requirements that must be submitted, including an annual homeschool portfolio.
The affordable tuition cost was the hook, but what really won me over was the staff at Peniel. I got the impression that they trusted my ability to educate my own child. I didn’t get a police-style interrogation about my educational background or capabilities. Sure, they do ask about those, as a matter of procedure and, possibly, compliance with DepEd rules. However, you don’t get the feeling of having the need to prove yourself as your child’s educator. There’s an implicit trust that you want the best for your child and they’re there to help you achieve it.
By the end of our visit, I had enrolled Motito in Peniel’s homeschooling program. We had entered the campus pushing an empty trolley bag just in case (somehow I knew Peniel would be the school for Motito). We left with the bag bursting at the seams with 11 textbooks, Motito’s new school I.D., and a copy of our homeschooling contract.
Ask the parents in any Filipino homeschooling group, and you’re likely to hear a lot of positive reviews about Peniel. I’ve come across parents who transferred to Peniel from another provider and have stayed with Peniel since. So, what makes a highly regarded school Peniel among homeschooling circles? Here are only some of the things I’ve heard parents (like me) say they like:
Accreditation by the Department of Education – The number one consideration when choosing a homeschool provider is DepEd accreditation. A student enrolled in Peniel is issued a school I.D. and receives his or her child’s report card (Form 138) at the end of the school year. If the student wishes to transfer schools, he or she will be provided the Form 137. I’m sure you’ll agree that having official school documents makes navigating DepEd bureaucracy much, much easier. The student might need them, too, for senior high and beyond.
Having a physical school/campus – Parents take comfort in the knowledge that there’s a physical office staffed with people that they can turn to when they need help. If you live close enough, your child may even sit in a regular class once a month. If you’re in a rush it’s also faster to secure copies of any documents or signatures you may require if you pay them a visit instead of transacting online. But, of course, you can do it all online, as I have, all this time. Homeschoolers are also encouraged to participate in the school’s on-campus events, such as Science and Math Fairs or English Week.
Open curriculum – Peniel offers an open curriculum that is based on DepEd’s K-12 program. Parents are free to modify or enhance the DepEd curriculum based on their child’s needs and interests. Peniel provides a DepEd K-12 compliant textbook list for each grade level, but parents are under no obligation to follow the list. They are free to choose which textbooks/resources to use. Since parents are the teachers, it’s the parents who assign the report card grades.
Adequate support – Homeschoolers can access Peniel’s online learning portal, where teachers upload video lessons, PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, performance task instructions, and quarterly exams. Special events and competitions are held exclusively for homeschoolers, but they’re also welcome to participate in on-campus activities organized by the school. You may also reach out to the teachers and Ma’am Au if you need any help. There’s a Facebook group you can join to interact with fellow homeschooling families and the Peniel staff.
I would like to add one thing I truly like about Peniel: for homeschoolers, they don’t employ traditional school-style micromanagement. There are no quarterly meetings to attend, no progress reports to submit, and no requirement to purchase anything from the school. Parents need only to submit grading sheets twice in the school year: at mid-term for the first and second-quarter grades and at the end of the year for all four quarters. A homeschool portfolio is a must, but you only submit once at the end of the school year, unlike other homeschool providers that require quarterly portfolios. Parents and students are encouraged to participate in school events and field trips, but there’s no coercion involved. There’s a lot of freedom and space to conduct your homeschool the way you want to.
If you’re considering homeschooling your children or wish to know more about Peniel, give them a call or drop them a line. They’ll be happy to address any concerns you may have. Please be patient if they don’t get back to you right away. Personnel have been swamped as enrollment increases every year. But rest assured you’ll be attended to.
(Note: This is not a paid endorsement, neither did Peniel ask me to write this post. Just happy to share my experience of homeschooling my son with Peniel.)