School-life at Home

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I thought of homeschooling as a cool alternative to learning – unconventional, un-schooling, unorthodox, freestyle, unrestricted – a life learning method that teaches the basic skills needed to survive. Life is a school in itself, where learned skills in sciences, mathematics, languages, values and physical education are actually applied and experienced. The extent of topics being studied and learned depends on each child’s interests and enthusiasm – no time limits, no speed requirements, no topic restrictions, read at your own pace and your own chosen place or location. The only requirement needed is – to complete the learning process by age 18. Isn’t that cool?

Assessment Tests January 6-7, 2014 before we resumed our homeschool activities.
Assessment Tests on January 6-7, 2014. Homeschool activities resumed 1/8/2014.

However, being aware of the advantages and privileges of homeschooling from years back was not enough. It had to be implemented. But financial worries and setbacks pushed me to work long hours from the time I became a mother (almost 25 years ago) who was supposed to be at home taking care of my own children’s basic learning education. Our household, unfortunately, needs to survive on a “two-income-source” basis (or so I thought, until today). Had it not been the situation, I would have started it “right” with my eldest child. Time flies so fast, though, and I had no regrets. Because I must admit, that despite our difficult life and situation, my eldest daughter managed to make it through college with the highest honors and without any glitches along the way.

And as I become more mature (I mean, financially & emotionally mature), I gathered the courage to “implement” this kind of learning style for the benefit of my two younger daughters. I knew that it was okay to homeschool in the Philippines but I also knew that this was not popularly supported by the majority of parents and (sometimes) educators in the country. Most concerns would be about the negative effects on the child’s socialization skills and the degree of competence the parent/teacher has.  Well, these worries might be applicable to other children and parents, but I am confident that these are certainly not the major issues within our family, especially with my own children.

I had several questions in mind – my biggest concerns actually: How do I start? When do I begin?  Where could I find help when I need one?  Where do I get the learning materials and resources? What materials should I use? Would DepEd question our learning style? Should I get permission from DepEd? What would be the effect on my children? How should I monitor their progress? Etcetera, etcetera…so many, that I, at one point, wanted to forget about doing it altogether.  I pursued the idea, of course.

Anyways, more than three years had passed and now I know better, which is why I am burdened to share this knowledge for the benefit of other parents and high school teens who would want to take the risks of “putting their learning styles into their own hands”.

Note:  I don’t think I could finish writing all that needs to be written in one sitting, though, so I had to do this in installment. Please bear with me.

A warning tip: Almost three years into our homeschooling, I could now say that this is not an easy task. It entails a good amount of discipline, focus, time management and determination. Two things I always remind my children – time is of the essence – the only thing that never comes back when you lose it is TIME – so don’t ever waste it. Therefore, if you have nothing else to do, READ!

I began my research (around the last quarter of 2010) on the topic while my two younger daughters were still in grade school (in a regular Private Elementary School in our area). And one big question that had to be answered before I help my children dive into homeschooling is – Would they ever get the chance to go to college, if they decide to finish High School by unschooling or homeschooling? The answer is YES! How?  and How did I know about it? – read on –

A bit of history –

Curious about an update on what our government has been doing for the Education Sector, I found a report by the Philippine Government to the International Institute for Educational Planning of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations) captioned as Philippine Education For All 2015 – Implementation and Challenges which you can download here  if you want to read the entire report of 54 pages. I have read the report at least twice, but my interest was focused on the topic about Alternative Learning Systems (ALS). It was a written around the end of 2005 with facts and figures covering the last 4 preceding years. It was clear that ALS has been (legally) on the implementation stage as early as 1991.

I would like to share some excerpts below (from the above-mentioned report) to prove that Homeschooling in the Philippines is  an ideal and effective alternative system of education.

35. Like the formal basic education system, the ALS curriculum has five learning areas, namely:

i) communication skills (including listening, speaking, reading and writing from print and electronic media;

ii) problem solving and critical thinking (numeracy and scientific thinking;

iii) sustainable use of resources and productivity (including ability to earn a living as an employed or self-employed person, sustainable resources and productivity;

iv) development of self and a sense of community (a sense of personal and national history and identity, cultural pride and recognition and understanding of civil and political rights; and

v) expanding one’s world vision (knowledge, respect and appreciation for diversity, peace and non-violent resolution of conflicts, and global awareness and solidarity).

39. Alternative learning materials are produced in print and non-print in various formats e.g., poster, booklet, flip chart, comics, leaflets, games, videos, audio tapes and others. The selection, development and use of materials are guided by the alternative learning curriculum that has been customized for the intended users. These are bilingual and trilingual (native or vernacular tongue, Filipino and English)and were developed by adequately trained writers using the active participatory methodology. These learning materials are self-paced, self-instructional, indigenous and integrated modules.

40. ALS programs are delivered in community learning centers using various modes such as face-to-face, group learning, family or household approach, individual tutorial and others. An ICT component is being tested using the radio-based approach where learning modules are aired in selected provinces. The programs are either implemented by staff (through mobile teachers) or contracted to private service providers.

76. To assess the performance of the learners and competencies gained from informal and non-formal education, DepEd developed the Accreditation and Equivalency Program. This program is intended for literates who have not completed 10 years of basic education. It has a testing and assessment component which assesses the competencies of the learners and issues certification of their level of competency.

78. Moreover, many of those who pass the exams are “walk-in” test takers, not necessarily the learners who underwent the Accreditation and Equivalency Programs. These walk-in test takers are sometimes drop-outs from formal basic education who take the Accreditation and Equivalency test to gain an educational qualification comparable to that of the formal system as an alternative to taking the Philippine Education Placement Test and to returning to formal schooling in order for them to gain entry in higher education. These walk-in test takers are, as observed, those who have easy access to the testing centers and who, reside in urban areas. These learners have greater exposure to various mass media as source of knowledge and information which might be contributory to enabling them to pass the Accreditation and Equivalency test more easily than those who are less exposed to mass media and those in far-flung areas.

Considering the above facts and information, my one big question had been answered.

Yes.  My children will be able to go to college, if and when they decide to take (and pass) the DepEd’s Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) test or Philippine Validating Test (PVT), even if they homeschool through High School. It is now safe for us to continue with our homeschool . 🙂

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