July 10, 2020 - Friday
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Davao City, Philippines

Whose fault is it if the homeschooled kid is below par? (Conclusion)

June 06, 2019 - Thursday 4:06 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

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(Continued from last week. Read Part 1 here.)

Discipline and good habits

Another key to successful homeschooling is discipline and forming good habits. This is both for the parents and the children. It helps to set a daily routine; this is true especially if you have kids in the pre-school and early grades. Little children thrive in consistency and regularity. Repetition fosters learning. However, there are always unforeseen interruptions that will disrupt our plans and threaten our goals. A wonderful feature of homeschooling is that the whole family learns to deal with life as it happens! Many homeschooled children are able to adapt with whatever life throws at them because they have learned to adjust their “studies” with what happens at home. My friend Jeannie Regalado-Andrada homeschools her four kids. When her second daughter was hospitalized for dengue for a week she (the primary teacher) had to stay in the hospital and it disrupted their homeschool schedule. She turned the family crisis into a learning opportunity by adjusting her lesson plan. For art class, the three siblings made get well posters for their sick sister. For Science and English, her seventh grader researched about diseases brought by mosquitos and wrote an essay about it. Her third and first graders made a poster about dengue prevention. The third grader also did his own research and found out that 85% of mosquitos breed in households. As an application, the children checked around the house for open water traps and emptied them. Jeannie shared that the bonus was their family bond was strengthened because they dealt with the crisis together on all levels.

My family is probably not the ideal homeschooling family because we are a super-flexi-sched-family due to our travels. No two days or two weeks are the same for us. We spend almost half of the year on the road or on some kind of transport terminal. We have learned to be language chameleons and have tried different cuisines. I have secretly envied families who have a daily schedule that is strictly followed. But then again, each family is unique and each family goes through different seasons in life. Though our homeschooling is very flexible, my husband and I inculcate in our children the value of excellence in their work regardless of when and where they are studying. Our family has learned the art and the discipline of identifying learning moments anytime and anywhere. So, the pursuit of learning is a lifestyle, not limited to books and certainly not limited to designated study times and places. For instance, our waiting time in departure lounges can become a Math lesson using UNO game cards. Time on the plane is used as a cultural orientation to prep the kids about what to expect in our destination. Of course, prior to the trip we have done our bit of research and family talks on geography, culture, and history of the places to be visited. Car and bus rides are used observing things around us including people and how they do things differently. The kids learn how to be accepting of others and respectful of cultures different from theirs. We seize opportunities to learn outdoors whenever possible like hiking, visiting hydro-electric power plants and playing with children in refugee camps. I still come up with a schedule (daily as much as possible) to give us a guide of what we need to accomplish but I try not to beat myself up when we don’t tick the boxes in the to-do-list (this is hard for me as I am the perfectionist achiever in the family).

Accountability and community

What also helps us is being accountable to a community. Our type of family needs accountability to help us balance our flexibility. We have been enrolled in a homeschool provider to whom we report for quarterly assessments and a yearend achievement test designed to measure scholastic achievement across all ages. This kind of accountability keeps us on our toes. It also helps to constantly discuss with other homeschooling families issues pertaining to curriculum, learning materials, enrichment classes and field trips. Having someone regularly checking up on us keeps us on track with both the parenting and the academic sides of our homeschooling. It also helps to have a homeschool provider because I don’t have to worry about government accreditation and documentation. Being in a community of homeschoolers is beneficial. You can be part of groups of families that can come together for learning events, giving your children classmates and more teachers.

Independent homeschooling

I do have friends who are independently homeschooling and who have done an excellent job. They don’t have homeschool providers who check up on them but they do know their goals and what they want to achieve for the education of their children. They have done their due diligence and have checked out their children’s options long before they come across any potential problem. They are well-versed with government regulations as well as validation exam schedules and requirements. They know which schools in the Philippines and abroad are welcoming of homeschoolers and have prepped their kids for what it will entail to enter those universities.

This certainly does not cover all grounds, but I do believe that before a homeschool family reaches a point of “failure” there would be more than enough signposts that can help them adjust, tweak, or overhaul their homeschooling as needed. I believe that if the parent-teachers themselves are teachable and lovers of learning, then the children will inevitably be at par, and the standard of measurement is not what others have set for them but what they have set for themselves. At the end of the day, the truly homeschooled child is a lifelong learner who will never be below par.