The last time I wrote a lengthy post about something I felt strongly for was two years ago. I looked back at that piece of writing, entitled “How expectation is equal to reality.” I don’t remember what urged me to write it, but in any case, there’s one line that struck me: When magic and wisdom start to sound ridiculous and impractical, that’s the time we have to tap and bring out the child in us.
It’s timely, now that I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on homeschooling and that I’ve finally come down to actually writing them.
I’ll start with my core belief.
Majority of us, I believe, live in a “world of versus.” Him versus me. Her versus me. Them versus me. It versus me. This versus that. And so on. In such a world, we judge and we weigh. These two terms are interchangeable, but if we look closely, they are not–at least in some circumstances.
Here’s an illustration. Adults judge, while innocent toddlers weigh. If we present a child with two books, one that’s a bestseller and another that’s a flop, the child would most likely pick the book that suits his or her taste and curiosity. He or she weighs according to personal preference, so the chosen book may or may not be the bestseller. The child does not make a decision based on a commonly-held judgment that a bestselling novel is plainly the best and is unquestionably the only one that’s worthy of attention and love.
On the other side of the story is the adult. It’s very likely that the adult would pick the bestseller over the non-bestseller. He or she reaches a decision based on a long-held belief that a bestselling novel is the only kind that’s worth reading. It is the most popular, most acceptable, and most trustworthy. He or she judges according to some external dictate.
This point of view on weighing and judging also applies to situations much bigger than choosing what book to read. One such situation is choosing the “education system” framework for a child. History, modern times and common sense tell us to send our child to a school. Formal education takes place in a school building, specifically a classroom complete with a teacher and students.
Yes, this is true. We have obvious reasons and indisputable proof to know and believe that it’s the truth. But is it the only truth? If we know and believe that sending our child to a regular school is the only one true way to get educated formally and properly because it’s the norm, then we’re just like the adult who chooses to read a bestseller just because a standard has ranked it a bestseller.
If we, on the other hand, think like a child not restrained or controlled by external dicates, we open ourselves to the possibility and reality that formal education is manifested in more ways than one. An example of which is homeschooling. Like a child, we would see it as a decision injected with magic and wisdom. With untainted eyes, we would look at it not as a superior or overriding choice but a viable option.
Now, the viability of something is, I think, largely relative. “What works for one may not work for the other. What works for many may not be suitable for some.” In my case, homeschooling my two year old daughter is a realistic option.
Allow me to first talk about myself.
I am a single mother who has chosen to do online work during wee hours of the morning each day and to do non-online work for only a few hours on some days. The company I currently work for offered me an office-based job twice. And twice I politely turned it down, realizing that doing mostly online work with a decent pay and a decent room for growth and security is what works best for me and my daughter. It has saved me from a number of things: from wasting time in unending traffic, from spending money on transportation, and from handing yet another responsibility to my supportive parents, that is, the responsibility of looking after a little girl who’s quite hard to watch over. Active, adventurous, energetic and thrill-seeking. Including homeschooling in my current routine and timetable makes a lot of sense, given the flexibility of my work schedule. Homeschooling also makes so much sense, given the nature of my work: I communicate. I fine-tune. I edit. I proofread. I suggest and give feedback. I analyze and synthesize. I listen and I modify my approach as I see fit. In one word, I teach. Teaching, for me, is fullfilling and rewarding, so much so that I have seriously considered getting a license. Perhaps that’s a long shot from now. A far possibility. But there’s one that’s near, and it’s homeschooling my own child. Nothing excites me more now than the thought of being the primary educator of my toddler in her early years. I have been exactly that, anyway, from the very beginning. The only difference is that it’s now fitting to provide her a preschool curriculum and some semblance of structured learning.
So far, I’ve shared why homeschooling is a viable option for me. The more important consideration though is if homeschooling is good and practical for my daughter. I can go on and on about how intelligent, observant, resourceful, and talkative she is at less than two and a half years old. As a mother, it’s always temping to share every detail of how she displays those great qualities. That would be most interesting for me but very boring and useless for anyone who’s come this far to reading my post. So I’ll skip that part and go right ahead and say that homeschooling will reinforce my daughter’s cognitive and social-emotional skills, not inhibit them. Learning will not start and stop at home, a familiar place where’s she’s most comfortable to be herself. The busy, ever-changing world will be her classroom. It’s where she’ll explore and talk freely with people from all ages and different backgrounds.
She could spend as much time as she wants on something that sparks her interest, or as little time as she wants on something that bores her. She could choose to join many homeschool co-ops where she can interact and make friends with kids her age, or she could choose to join a few or none at all. She will not be labeled a slow learner or a fast learner. Instead, she’ll be a steadfast learner.
This sounds too good to be true to some extent. It’s humbling to always remember that, as with other education frameworks like regular schooling, homeschooling is imperfect and is subject to refinement. I can’t promise my daughter that I will be the ideal homeschooling mom at all times, but this I can promise her and myself: What works for her and fortifies her growth will be my priority. I will commit to homeschooling, particularly to a curriculum, with restraint. I first learned about committing with restraint in iHomeschool: How to Do It Without Losing Your Mind by Filipino author Nove-Ann Tan.
To quote from her book: “Don’t commit to homeschooling more than one year at a time. Look at it this way, you can’t do too much damage in one year. It’s wise to think ahead, but it’s foolish to announce what you will do in the future.”
I can’t express enough gratitude for Filipina mothers like Nove-Ann Tan, Michelle Padrelanan, Sanne Unson, Mariel Uyquiengco, Tina Rodriguez, and Donna Simpao. I heard them speak about homeschooling during a pre-event for the upcoming Philippine Homeschool Convention 2019. They have generously committed their time and imparted their experiences and knowledge to aspiring homeschooling parents like me. I was once clueless, but through their spirit and fervor, I gained clarity and inspiration.
Speaking of inspiration, I have more of it now after my daughter had called me “teacher” more than once in a single conversation. She knows what a teacher does and who a teacher is through play groups, books, and television.
It happened out of the blue. She was sitting across her papa. I approached her with a bowl of breakfast in my hand. I was about to give her a spoonful of oatmeal when she said, “I am student.” Then, she said one sentence after another with “teacher” at the end of each, clearly addressing me.
I find it amusing that this happened on a day when I was writing my thoughts on homeschooling. Needless to say, I didn’t tell her anything about it, but it was as if she had seen right through me. It was as if her heart had read mine and had given me a blessing to take the road less traveled. There’s indeed no greater motivation to take on this journey than this blessing.
To my Cayla, we will begin our preschool homeschooling journey this mid-September. I wish us the best of luck!
To those who are interested to learn more about homeschooling, including its legality and status in the Philippines, please know that there’s substantial literature about it and there are many available resources online.
Here are a few: