Choosing to Homeschool our Children in the Philippines

Anybody can homeschool their child or children.
Here are the things that we did.
Would love to hear from you, too.
Do leave a message at the comment section.

homeschooling in the Philippines
Dindin does her Math PACE.

As parents, we decide for many things for our young kids. That is part of parenting. And part of it is choosing the “right” school for our child. In our case, we have wanted to homeschool our child while since I was pregnant with our eldest. So everything we did for and with our eldest, we had homeschooling at the back of our minds. Things just kind of fell into place years later and when we decided to homeschool our child, it was kind of easy making the shift. We are already on our third year and our daughter has just finished the first quarter of Level 3, so this post is rather more than two years delayed and I have already entertained countless of inquiries about homeschooling.

Choosing to Homeschool Our Child

The decision to homeschool didn’t happen over night. It was years of thinking and consideration as well as studying (especially on the part of my husband, as he is the one who is into research) and a lot of prayers. All the more that we read about homeschooling, all the more that we were drawn to apply it on our child.

My husband and I were products of homes who value education and although he finished from a private school and I from a public school, it cannot be denied that our parents put high value in providing quality education to their children. Our parents have provided us with homes conducive for learning and have given us competitive advantage to excel in school. And I think it is safe to say that my husband and I have performed very well in school.

homeschooling in the Philippines
Though I am the supervisor, my husband takes an active role in homeschooling our children. He spends time with them and does many activities with them. He is also the one reading to them at night.

However, there are things that we did not like about traditional school. While we both aced the system, we just think that there are students who would rather excel outside school because of their competencies and personalities. In short, we feel that regular school is not for everybody

By the way, our daughter Dindin did go to regular school. We loved Bright Kids Preschool Bacolod and our daughter also loved her time there, primarily because they have a progressive curriculum. And since preschool kids have more time outdoors than poring over schoolwork, my daughter learned a lot. She also learned writing here. Our daughter went to Kinder at 4 years old with a very good reading ability but she was not very good at writing, primarily because she lacked practice. We got her a writing tutor for two weeks before Kinder school started just so she could cope with the copying from the board because that is already required for Kinder students. And it worked. At first she was kind of slow and got tired easily, but with the patience of the teachers and constant practice, she was able to cope. Now, she is making her own fonts. So you see, we did try traditional school and if we found a school that applied such training from Bright Kids Preschool for elementary kids, we might have sent our daughter to that school.

I am a work at home mom with a pretty unpredictable schedule. So I am not like most homeschooling moms who can give their all, preparing curriculum, crafts, and special projects for their child. I have a very supportive husband who is very much into this as I am, but he is also working. But we are still able to pull off homeschooling and give a non-traditional as well as traditional lessons to our child.

homeschooling in the Phlippines
We are not afraid to get our hands dirty. We sometimes spend time in the garden and I let the kids handle soil. Here we are preparing their fairy dish gardens.

The “Socialization” Part

The biggest concern of everyone about homeschooling our child is socialization. They assume that because we are homeschooling, we are depriving our daughter with much needed human interaction.

The most common concerns are:
(1) Lack of interaction with other kids so they might grow up without a childhood.
(2) The kid might be too sheltered and not exposed to facing adversary, so they won’t be able to learn ways to cope.
(3) Not being able to have a wide network of friends.

What people fail to see is that we are homeschooling, not sending our kids to the convent. Because we do this, we have more time to take them out and expose them to people from all walks of life. They come with us to blogging events, parties for adults and young children, play dates, and visits to their grandparents. They go on field trips, excursions, the museums, and we try to have an annual family trip, too. They also regularly attend Kids Church (Sunday School).

As much as we can, we attend all the children’s parties that we are invited to. During dinners with friends, we try to bring things that will entertain them and get them seated throughout the evening (though the little one is much more challenging) without having to resort to the use of gadgets like phones or tablets. Yes, tablets would be the last recourse to get them to behave and more often than not, we don’t even have to use them. They learn to converse with adults and act with decorum in public places. If they see kids in other tables, they make friends and chat with them. When you meet my kids, you can say that they are very well-adjusted.

“They learn to converse with adults and act with decorum in public places.”

Specialized Training for Homeschooled Children

One of the things that I like about homeschooling is the very short class session. If my daughter finishes her goals for the day, she is free to play and do whatever she wants (though we limit the watching of TV and the use of gadgets). Also we have more time to spend in special training that enhance her natural abilities. For example, she is musically inclined so she takes voice lessons (from Coach John Raymond Castiller of Voice Chords, B.S. Aquino Drive). She likes dancing, too, so she goes to a ballet school (in Bacolod, she goes to the Garcia-Sanchez School of Dance, 17th-Lacson Street). From time to time, she has painting sessions, too, under Ms. Joan Honoridez (Joan of Art). Now, she is learning to play golf at the Negros Occ. Golf and Country Club. All of these constitute her Music, Arts, and PE aspects. Yes, we pay for them but at least she gets to choose the courses that she is more interested in and she gets specialized training. We cannot do all of these if she is in regular school because of budget as well as time constraints because after school, there are still home works and projects to be done.

Moreover, when you are in regular school, you get a more general approach to MAPEH. So even if you are not good in that subject matter, you are obliged to finish it because that is required and you have to pay for it. If you want more specialized training, you have to pay for them and do them after school.

homeschooling in the Philippines
Last summer, our daughter started learning to play golf. She joined the summer program and liked it. She was bugging us since she was 4 about golf but we thought that she was not yet ready. Now, she is liking it and we hope to be able to continue with it. Golf, along with ballet, constitutes her Physical Education.

Anybody Can Homeschool

What I like about homeschooling is that, anybody can do it. Yeah, I stay at home, but I also work. And my schedule is pretty demanding, as I also work until the wee hours. And I am not the most patient either, which is the reason why we had a writing tutor for our daughter because I don’t have the patience to teach writing. But homeschooling can still work. And I have heard that there are even working parents who do it. You can also do it even if you have a less than desirable area, or if you cannot really delegate a particular room in your house as your child’s work station. Maybe one of the reasons why it took me too long to write this is because I feel like our set up is less than desirable. I mean, my daughter has classes in her bedroom but sometimes it can be a mess, too. Nevertheless, she still gets to study. I also feel that I am not the “perfect” or the “most inspiring” homeschooling mom. But eventually, I thought, despite my shortcomings, I still have something to share, hence this post.

homeschooling in the Philippines
Sometimes, we also doubt ourselves, if we are doing the right thing, if we are doing enough. But if you get answers like these from you child, you are encouraged.
homeschooling in the Philippines
Our homeschooling setup is not perfect. Look at the room, it is a mess sometimes. So don’t feel so bad about the set up. Things like these happen.

Handling Negative Opinion

While many families in the Metro capital have chosen to homeschool their children because of my urgent reasons like traffic, bullying, and high costs of regular school, it is not a very popular choice for a smaller city like Bacolod. Of course, we encountered a lot of opposition and discouragement from different people who have varying degrees of relationships with us. So with different people, we deal with them differently. Most of the time, the questioning is directed at me about homeschooling in Bacolod. There are people who are genuinely concerned and those who deserve my explanation so I take the time to explain our choice as well as answer their concerns. But there are those who I know are already closed-minded in their opinion so sometimes, I would just smile and nod at their points. I just make it a point not to alienate them while making my point because we also know these people and we circulate in very small circles. After all, this is the “society” that my children will grow up in also, so we do not want to be losing friends just for the sake of homeschooling. This is our choice and we are the ones paying for their education anyway.

homeschooling in the Philippines
One of our goals as a homeschooling family is to travel with our kids and see the world. For us, the world is their classroom. So as much as we can afford it, we take annual trips to chosen destinations in the country. We don’t just go to malls to shop. We intentionally go to a place where their interests are ignited. They especially like science museums, like the Exploreum at the MOA.
homeschooling in the Philippines
This year, we started Dindin on a travel journal where she records her activities and most memorable experiences. She loved the Ark Avilon Zoo and its resident orangutan named Venus.

I think I should mention that the negative opinion was before we started formal homeschooling and during the early months. Now, when people meet our daughters, people are usually impressed first and would then ask where they are schooled. When I would tell them they are homeschooled, they are all the  more impressed and would ask how homeschooling works.

It would also be nice to have a support group, which we didn’t have when we started. Just recently, I wanted our daughter to be able to celebrate the special events in school and thought of Nutrition Month first. While preparing, I thought of inviting some homeschooling families that we know to join us in the activity that I wanted Dindin to experience. We connected through a Facebook group that I started and there are only about 10 members there, some are interested to homeschool while others are already starting the shift. So we already had our first outing as a group and we are hoping that we can grow this group so that we can help each other as well as encourage one another in our homeschooling journey.

homeschooling in the Philippines
I have started a Facebook group for Bacolod homeschoolers and this is our first activity together–celebrating Nutrition Day together at the Welcome Home Garden and Cafe for a field trip.
homeschooling in the Philippines
We are not all fun and play. We try to incorporate social consciousness to our kids, letting them know that the world does not revolve around them. Supporting SM Bears of Joy is one of the ways that we expose them. We bought bears and we also had the privilege of joining the activity at the Kalipay Foundation where our kids got to meet the kids under the foundation’s care.
homeschooling in the Philippines
Dindin also donated her Christmas painting to the Negrense Volunteers for Change. The foundation used it as one of the designs for Christmas cards and her work raised P100,000 for the foundation’s work. That is being socially relevant.

Our Homeschooling Provider

We chose the School of Tomorrow primarily because of its Christian curriculum. They are also among the cheapest, which with our limited budget, is a very important consideration. We would like to be able to set aside some money for special training for our kids on areas that they excel in and not just spend on regular school. While we have heard reviews that the curriculum of SOT is not very good, it is also used in Bacolod Christian schools and by missionaries that we know so we felt that we are on the right track.

While we find that the lessons are pretty easy, it is just perfect for our purpose. Our daughter will not have to be burdened by difficult tasks and so much schoolwork that she would not have time to do other things. For more information about the School of Tomorrow, visit http://sotphil.net/.

homeschooling in the Philippines
One of the things that we like doing together is baking. We make simple things in the kitchen. It is a way to bond and also learn practical arts. We get to do this anytime we feel like eating something.

Homeschooling Costs

When we started three years ago, we bought a study table with chair as well as a whiteboard with stand. We also bought school supplies. Those are pretty much the initial investments. As for the school, School of Tomorrow charges a one-time family fee of P15,000 when you start in the program. You pay the same amount whether you have one child or 10 children (your children) under the program. Everyone takes the diagnostic test, which is worth P1,000 before the first-time enrollment. Registration fee per student is P3,000 per year plus the materials. You can choose the original colored prints or the local print, without color and on newsprint. We just use the local prints because it is about 50% cheaper than the original print and the lessons are the same. For our first year, we paid about P24,000 for Level 1. For Level 2, it was down to approximately P7,500 and now on the third year, we paid almost P11,000–still so much cheaper than sending our child to a private school. Plus, we don’t have expenses related to school, such as uniforms, shoes, bags, allowance, and peer pressure (which can be more expensive).

Other costs to consider for provincial students are shipping fees of the materials as well as the bank fees.

Note: The school fees need to be paid in full upon enrollment. Installment is not available. We pay via bank transfers.

homeschooling in the Phlippines
We have event-themed activities to cope with the times. Here, the kids are painting eggs for Easter. Yeah, getting them occupied is a year-long thing.

The Shift to Homeschooling

The first step we took when we decided to homeschool our daughter was to contact School of Tomorrow. We corresponded through emails and phone calls. Before enrollment, our daughter had to undergo their diagnostic test just to determine what she knows. It is not really to grade the child or to give credits, but just so the assessors would know if the child needs to cover more areas. In our case, our daughter was ready for Level 1 and was enrolled as such. However, she had a subject area where she had wrong answers, so a workbook was added to our materials. And that is fine because they can just easily complete the requirements and cope with the level. A personal appearance by the parents and the child is required at the School of Tomorrow office for orientation.

homeschooling in the Phlippines
Since Dindin is now in Grade 3, we get to do more science experiments. Here she is doing the “Air Has Weight” test.

When everything has been accomplished, the next step is enrollment. Since we live in the province, everything is done through long distance. We deposit our payments to the school’s Metrobank account. We then email a scanned copy of the deposit slip. Upon confirmation, we receive all the materials that we need for the entire school year.

After our daughter is done with her workbooks, which are called PACEs, we send back some of them for checking as well as a record of her exam results. I also request grades and assessments from her dance teacher and voice coach and I attach them to the final papers that we send to them. These are then assessed before you can enroll your child for the next level.

homeschooling in the Philippines
Reading plays a very important part in our homeschooling journey. We encourage an environment conducive for raising readers by having books all over the place that they can easily access and by limiting TV and gadget time. They have no choice really but either to read or play.
homeschooling in the Philippines
Our little one, who will soon be 3, has picked the homeschooling practice of her older sister. She says that this is also her PACE. We have a 15-minute session each day.
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