We all want the best for our children, and giving them the best kind of education possible is definitely one of our top priorities. Read further as we try to shed some light on homeschooling misconceptions that will hopefully help you decide if it’s for you and your family
Even before we’ve given birth to our children, we as parents already take stock of what they need to mentally, physically, and emotionally thrive. We watch our kids in their early years, learning with them their interests, strong points, weaknesses, and abilities. We’re nurturers and their first educators. We know they’re unique and special in their own way. We all acknowledge this.
However, as society dictates, we’re made to think that releasing them to educational institutions, to their teachers or so-called second parents, and to the challenges that come with it, are the norm they need to grow optimally. Here we face different learning styles, standardized milestones, and cut-and-paste methodologies that may or may not work for our child.
It’s in those moments when it does not work, and when labels are thrown around, that we question not just our kids but also our roles as educators. Thankfully, in this day and age, seeing a more open approach to teaching and learning, we have homeschooling advocates to look up to and seek guidance from when we know we’re not meant to be on the backseat of our children’s educational growth.
Philippine Homeschool Convention 2019’s speakers bestselling author and motivational speaker Jayson Lo, Homeschool Singapore’s Founder Dawn Fung, and President of Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) and Founder of Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP) Support Group Dr. Donna Pangilinan-Simpao, experts who have paved the way for new homeschool educators, offer valuable insights that shatter conventions which often surround the learning style.
MYTH #1: Homeschooling is easier
Whatever educational style a parent decides for their child, in most cases, aims to put the student’s needs at the forefront. May it be in a traditional or progressive setting, at home or in an institution, the goal is to allow them to flourish. Each style provides easier options for the student that works best in its environment. A child who learns better with hands-on, experiential learning will find that easier than a sit-down, workbook type.
“There’s no monopoly to learning. There are a gazillion ways that people learn, that’s why you have all of these emerging approaches on project based learning, blended learning, mentoring programs… you have all of these other modalities used because it’s not anymore just textbook lecture where you read and you listen,” said Dr. Simpao.
There’s no monopoly to learning. There are a gazillion ways that people learn, that’s why you have all of these emerging approaches on project based learning, blended learning, mentoring programs… you have all of these other modalities used because it’s not anymore just textbook lecture where you read and you listen.
At the surface, doing away with the strict routine, travel time between schools, and tight project deadlines may make homeschooling appear less complicated from traditional settings. With classrooms averaging 35 to 50 students to a teacher (and DepEd along with experts acknowledging the need for optimal learning through smaller class sizes), worsening traffic and poor accessibility to quality schools, and family dynamics and time togetherness changing with emerging work needs and opportunities, less complication is a good thing. Education has to be easily and equally accessible to any child because there are a number of situations when enrolling in a regular school isn’t an option.
“Homeschooling is a legitimate, educational opportunity that can work for children and parents. I can think of a few groups straightaway that need this. One important demography is children with special education needs (SEN). With early intervention, a quieter space, and customized attention, SEN children can thrive,” Fung shared.
“Another demography is children who have natural strengths in skills that are not surfaced in a school setting… One more demography that comes to mind are parents who are ex-teachers. People who love teaching children love the idea of freeing children to learn in their own ways. Parents who used to be teachers understand this idea because it is a familiar goal but one that used to be impractical. I have seen in our community, parents who were ex-teachers rethinking education. I see their dreams come to life in their families when they are given the time to observe and customize pedagogical approaches. It is absolutely wonderful that they feel teaching is a noble, practical pursuit. I am one of those ex-teachers who has chosen this second chance.”
MYTH #2: Homeschooling doesn’t have a structure
Fung mentioned, “I have never heard homeschoolers complain from lack of structure unless they choose unschooling. You have to break it down. What does structure mean for the family?” It’s difficult to not create some type of structure around subject matters that a homeschooler have to comply with as mandated in their curriculum, which is approved by the Department of Education (DepEd).
They take the same evaluations as any other student in the country, and what differs in structure are the ways a child learns. With one-on-one or small group settings, subjects may be tailored to preferences or interests, highlighting strengths, and involving other means of understanding the matter outside the comforts of home. “It depends on you as a parent and your child. Every family is unique and homeschooling is flexible,” Lo continued.
Dr. Simpao also implied the importance of understanding both structured and unstructured schooling, “We’re now in an age of a big paradigm shift in education, in understanding about the different ways a person learns; in knowing that there are multiple intelligences and multiple ways of learning. So structure or no structure, we have seen outcomes of these two ways and it's very complicated to say which works. I have seen both flourish.”
MYTH #3: Homeschoolers have a hard time socializing
Conventional thinking has made us believe that to strengthen a child and ready them for the future, they must be able to cope with challenging social situations on their own. Yes, our children must deal with these as they age, but the parent’s role is vital in developing their social intelligence. “We believe that a child needs to be first secure with his identity with his/her family by loving them first. If the child is secure, he/she won’t have a hard time developing relationships outside of his/her family,” said Lo.
In Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands' circular released in 2016, an article entitled "A Philippine-Based Study Debunks The Socialization Myth Among Homeschoolers" presents how home-based students have “adequate socialization activities and opportunities to learn proper skills.” Headed by Maria Rosanna de Castro Sevilla, a Master of Arts in Education, her thesis presented to University of the Philippines Diliman shows how this myth, possibly the number one issue that parents face when thinking of homeschooling their child, has no scientific grounds.
When a parent aims to develop a child’s interests in fields that can be better fulfilled outside the home, it’s inevitable to immerse a homeschooling student with other kids. “We socialize so often that we have to intentionally stay at home to avoid being burnt out. Homeschoolers have so many activities! Remember, these are parents making fast and important decisions. Homeschoolers are parents who spare no expense at giving their children the most exposure to friends, interesting people, and places. You are spoilt for choice. In these social settings, we nip bullying in the bud. We observe our children and immediately take action to avoid further harm. This is wonderful because your children can grow up unafraid,” Fung shared.
Furthermore, the parent-teacher, immersed in exploring the best ways a child learns, understands their student’s individuality and the best settings they’re comfortable with. But it also goes the same with the parent. “You need to know yourself. Does a big group freak you out? Look for a smaller one. Do you have a hard time socializing because you prefer staying at home while your kids are yearning for playmates? I love inviting people home. Let your home be a co-op space and be hospitable. Include long hours for play and potluck. Children who have regular exposure to playmates, play time and food are happy. So would you be,” Fung continued.
Let your home be a co-op space and be hospitable. Include long hours for play and potluck. Children who have regular exposure to playmates, play time and food are happy. So would you be.
MYTH #4: Homeschooling has less requirements
Most homeschooling parents have to comply with the same DepEd requirements as all other students do. In fashioning the learnings around the requirements, the educator may choose to give weight to one more than another. “You decide what you want. Unless you are dictator at home and your dream child is a trophy winning swimmer for the nation. Always work out the requirements as a family. Is your family moving? Does one child show more aptitude for sports than academics? These things have impact,” Fung added.
What shouldn’t be discounted are the requirements on the parent or educator, where commitment and focus are vital.
MYTH #5: Homeschooling is only for the rich
“That’s something that I’ve heard a lot of times, and that is truly a myth,” said Dr. Simpao. “Homeschooling is largely overseen by parents. They pretty much take charge of their children’s education and it really depends on them if they can stretch their budget to international schooling, or bring it down and be more resourceful. You can do it yourself or co-op. Then you can also make it very reasonable and affordable.”
The myth sprouts from the choice to homeschool, often regarded for those who can afford not to work in order to teach. But skew the perspective and you’ll see how money isn’t the issue. “What is the basic currency of life? Time," shared Fung. "Time is what you exchange for money in society. When you go up the corporate ladder, you can exchange one hour of your time for more money, isn’t it? I don’t need anyone to pay me to be with my children. I do not want my children to pay me for my time. We get to be with one another and nobody can take that opportunity away. It is a choice that I make and it has sacrifices. But it is worth it because time allows us to grow up together well.”
In the same light, working parents can still homeschool their children. It’s all in the shared responsibilities with co-educators and scheduling.
MYTH #6: Homeschoolers don’t learn as well as regular school goers
In a 1997 USA study entitled Strengths Of Their Own: Homeschoolers Across America, homeschoolers on average outperformed their public school counterparts in all subjects. Another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner confirms this, showing students have had the highest academic achievement the longer they’ve been homeschooled, and it’s especially apparent in higher grade levels. The same studies point out that no matter the educational spendings or the race, homeschoolers consistently perform on the 80th percentile of their home education score.
Lo gave an insight that may contribute to this success rate, saying, “The world is their classroom. They don’t only learn through textbooks, but get to apply what they learned in real life. For example, our math subject topic is subtraction and addition. When we go to the supermarket, I let them compute how much we bought and compute our change.” And so, a lifestyle integrated with learning fosters a healthy outlook on education, thus strengthening its ideals.
The world is their classroom. They don’t only learn through textbooks, but get to apply what they learned in real life. For example, our math subject topic is subtraction and addition. When we go to the supermarket, I let them compute how much we bought and compute our change.
MYTH #7 Parents can’t be effective teachers
As our child’s caregiver, us parents have taken the role of educator in their early stages, and that doesn’t come with certification. We know our children best, making us the most effective teacher they can have.
However, as homeschool educators, this task doesn’t come without challenges. “Homeschooling your kids is not easy. It takes commitment,” said Lo.
A parent does not need a Masters degree or specialized education to homeschool kids, and with the plethora of resources that can be found within homeschooling communities and online, the challenge comes with equipping oneself mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Dr. Simpao offered an enlightening reason behind the myth, where parents feel the calling limits them, thus dampening their effectiveness. “[They think that] they have to forego a lot of things. Of course, generally, yes, in terms of time and commitment, but it’s a lifestyle. It’s learning as you go. It’s life lessons. I’ve learned after several years that you can weave your own passions, your own advocacies. You can bring in who you are as a teacher, as a parent, and continue to live out. There are so many things I was able to do because of homeschooling,” she shared. It’s about balancing the task with self-care so that the parent can always come back refreshed, refilled, and ready to impart knowledge.
Fung pointed out as well that it becomes less difficult along the way. “It is easier to bring up a child well than repair him as an adult. Easier does not mean less tired. Commitment is tiring. But well placed commitments can lead to an easier path down the road. This journey of homeschooling is not easy in the sense that there is a formula that works. Caring for people has no blueprint. You have to journey with them and face each challenge as it comes. But it is easier to journey from young.”