Homeschooling: The Pros & Cons From The Parents Who Do
Homeschooling has become more and more a viable option for children to take, rather than a far-fetched exception
Homeschooling is no longer reserved for a select few. For a while now, homeschooling has become more and more a viable option for children to take, rather than a far-fetched exception. Most parents are in awe of their co-parent friends who choose to homeschool their kids, knowing how much commitment, patience, not to mention intellect, goes into being a parent-teacher.
If you’ve ever wondered if you’ve got the chops to be a parent-teacher yourself, don’t scare yourself out of the idea just yet. It’s best to have the basic knowledge about homeschooling laid out for you, before you make your decision.
What is homeschooling?
At its core, homeschooling is exactly what it sounds like—a child has their parent as their teacher, and their parent-teacher follows age-appropriate lesson plans and teaches their child at their own pace, with more focus on the child’s interests and strengths.
Sounds like the ideal set up? On the onset, it is. But most parents get stuck on this stage, unsure about the next step to take. The best foundation of any homeschooling journey is to figure out your reason for considering homeschooling in the first place—get clear on your WHY.
When you ask parent-teachers on why they choose to homeschool their children, you’ll get varied answers. Some choose to homeschool because they couldn’t find a suitable school and educational program for their child; some because they didn’t like the crowd, school setting, or school environment in their child’s current school; and some so that they could focus more on their child.
Even with all these different reasons, the core is all the same—most homeschooling families do so because they want what’s best for their children.
Mariel Uyquiengco, homeschooler for eight years and mom of three kids ranging from three to 11 years old, organizes the annual Philippine Homeschool Convention, in order to “gather all homeschoolers and those who want to homeschool, empowering them in a truly rich and life giving one day event.” She is adamant that all parents are clear with their reason as to why they want to homeschool their kids. She says, “Start with your why. When you have a firm understanding of your why, write down your objections, fears, weaknesses, then address each one.”
But… isn’t it hard?
Let’s put it this way: You’ve got to work hard for anything that’s worth having. Here are some homeschooling benefits and advantages, along with some challenges, straight from the parent-teachers themselves:
You can tailor-fit your child’s education to real life situations.
Author of iHomeschool: How to Do It Without Losing Your Mind, Nove-Ann Tan is a homeschooler of a little more than a decade to three children who are all homeschooled by her. She says in her book that one of the advantages of homeschooling is that “learning never stops. Education can be tailored not only to my children’s interests, but also include ‘real life’ education, like cooking, bookkeeping, or selling. By keeping learning fresh and interesting, we develop in our children a deep curiosity and desire to know and understand the world around them, and it never stops.”
Nove-Ann Tan with husband Chinkee and kids.
Keren Chu, a self-confessed homeschooling newbie of her two children, says that, “The beauty of homeschooling is that learning and parenting can go hand in hand. I do not have to switch my thinking caps during our time together. Instead, I am both parent and teacher all throughout the day. My children and I can discover history, interact with scientific information, appreciate prose and poetry, get buried in stories and fairy tales, and practice life skills around the home.”
You can focus on your child’s interests and strengths.
Lora Fonacier, homeschooler for five years and mom of two, goes about homeschooling in this manner: “I usually go through all textbooks at the beginning of every school year and map out a rough schedule of lessons. I say ‘rough’ because we are very flexible with lessons—I usually adjust depending on my kids’ ‘sensitive periods’, when they are most primed to learn and develop skills in certain subjects or topics. I usually set aside one day for detailed lesson plans for the week, when I have a clear picture of our schedule (the kids have a lot of extra-curricular activities), and of course, what the kids are most into at the moment. This matters because I integrate their interests in their lessons.”
Keren chooses her children’s homeschooling program and curricula that are “all open and go, that means little or no preparation needed.” She usually finds follow-up activities while her child is doing independent work. “My children enjoy tactile activities and learn best with multisensory applications, she explains. “Pinterest is a treasure trove and I use it frequently to search for homeschooling ideas. For my younger child, I tend to focus on a lot of read-alouds and prepare activities on-the-go as the well.”
Mariel’s son in their home’s reading corner.
You pass on the strength of your values to your children.
Parents are constantly worried over what their kids are exposed to on a daily basis. Nowadays, social media and the World Wide Web have opened so many windows of opportunity for bad influences to sneak into and pollute your child’s beliefs. Same goes with your child’s circle of friends—with homeschooling, you can figure out which friends are of good influence to them, and which ones aren’t.
Keren also points out, “We can relate with numerous facts through the lenses of God’s revelation, the Bible. Homeschooling allows us to equip them with God’s Word and how that relates with the world around them, and be with them in the trenches of day-to-day life.”
More flexibility with time.
Unlike schools, a homeschooling schedule isn’t set in stone. It can adjust according to your child’s ability and your own schedule--even allowing you to take a family vacation during the middle of the school year, as long as they’re on track with their lessons.
For Mariel’s homeschool, learning time starts at around 9:30 in the morning, and ends at around 12:30 to 1 pm. Lora shares, “To be honest, we have a very relaxed approach! The kids wake up a little before 8; we have breakfast and quiet time with my husband before he leaves for work, and then start our school day between 9 to 10 AM if they have no sports or classes scheduled. We go through two to three subjects a day, and end between 3 to 4 pm. The kids have been extra busy this year with their sports and play/study dates, so we have learned to adjust. Some days, we study until the early evening. Some weeks, we homeschool on Saturday. Our schedule is ever evolving! But the constant is how we adapt to the flexibility of homeschooling.”
For Kat Agdeppa-Santiago, homeschooler of eight years for her three kids, their schedule goes like this: “For my grade schooler, I prepare the lessons on a quarterly basis. Since we still follow the school calendar of our homeschool provider, I make sure that we are not too far behind from the academic calendar. For every quarter, I divide the lessons for each of the week, and designate a date for each of the lesson/s. I usually plan ahead the activities, worksheets, and lessons for the coming week. We are more flexible with our toddlers and do not have specific lesson plans for them at the moment but I will be working on my three-year-old’s schedule this July. My plan is to have two to three activities per week only for our toddlers.”
Kat Agdeppa-Santiago with her three kids.
And also, kids are only little once—the next thing you know, those clingy kids turn into angsty teenagers in high school who won’t want to hang out with you anymore. Homeschooling will give you more time with your kids than ever before.
There must be one dedicated parent.
While there are working parents who manage homeschooling with their career, more often than not, one parent, usually the mother, needs to be a full-fledged parent-teacher. This would mean that you’ll need to work from home, have flexible work hours, or give up your office hours altogether. You’ll also be around your children all the time—and while that may sound appealing to a lot of parents who rarely get to spend time with their kids, it could be overwhelming for parents who want some “me time.”
Homeschooling your children means you’re teaching a few hours during weekdays, but that time doesn’t include what happens before and after a homeschooling session. Since you’re a parent-teacher, you’re responsible for preparing the lesson plans, making sure your child is on track with the curriculum, seeking other enrichment activities for your children, among other things. “The time alone that a parent needs to invest homeschooling his or her child is quite a huge price to pay. Re-learning lessons takes a lot of patience as well,” says Lora.
The usual inquiry I have is. How does your Homeschool schedule looks like Nove ? Homeschooling can be overwhelming. But having a homeschool schedule will help. Planning will help reduce the stress and anxiety. Even if your daily homeschool schedule is very loose - organizing things will give a framework to your day. First,you need to know your homeschool goals, does it inspire you ?If it doesnt inspire you it wont inspire your kids. Have you decided subjects and the methods you will use? Then you need to begin organizing your day and weeks. Remember - your family is unique - and you need a plan that suits YOU. A great homeschooling schedule is only great if it works FOR you - not against you. Dont compare with others Consider your family. Are you really going to be able to structure their time? Schedules just do not work with some homeschooling families! Don't stress it. It's not going to be written in stone! If your home school schedule is intimidating you, bin it and start again. Be flexible. Things change and homeschooling isn't an exact science. If things aren't working according to the schedule - change the schedule. Keep it fresh. Doing the same thing day in day out will get boring for everyone. Try changing your schedule once in a while - or throw something new into the mix . Don't answer the cellphone, and don't allow pop-in visitors. It may take a little time but be firm - everyone will get used to it. Next you need to think about what type of daily homeschool schedule you would like. Are you a perfectionist who needs every second organised? Or can you work with something looser? Do you really need a homeschool schedule at all? Sometimes a checklist of things to get done each week is more flexible. Or just reviewing your goals on a monthly basis to make sure your homeschool is on track. What is DEP required hours ? How many hours per week? How many days are going to homeschool 5 days a week ? 4 ? Are you going to set a time ? When will it end ? How flexible are you going to be ? How much influence are kids going to have ? Dont worry you can give it a try and work out what missing. Just enjoy the process. There is no perfect schedule. ?
It’s not necessarily more affordable than big schools.
One of the biggest misconceptions about homeschooling is that it’s cheaper than traditional schools. But if you add everything up—school packets, supplies, and overhead for doing school at home, trips, and everything else—the amount might be equal or even more than what you would pay for regular schooling.
It puts pressure on parents to be role models of learning.
Some parents may be confident over their intelligence or patience in order to pursue homeschooling, but for most regular parents, the thought of their child’s being education completely dependent on them may be too much to handle. But with this, Mariel says, “It's difficult if parents do not thrive on a learning environment or do not model a love of learning. Love of learning permeates homeschooling life, and that includes parents learning how to engage their children.”
Want to try it out?
Before committing to this type of alternative school, Mariel suggests to try after-schooling first. “Teach your child or do some activities together after school that's not about lessons in school. Take advantage of weekends and summer breaks. It will serve as practice for you, too.”
Kat advises to try it out during their preschool days, and pursue it if they feel like it’s the right path for them. “It is as natural as parenting should be. If after preschool they feel that homeschooling is the right path for their children then they can decide a year at a time if they should continue homeschooling. Homeschooling parents should be resilient. Patience can be acquired through time but if they are resilient people who are not afraid to take risks and to fail over and over again, then they have the making of a great parent-teacher. Also, homeschool parents should be forgiving, not only on the shortcomings of their children as a learner but equally important be forgiving of themselves. They will encounter a lot of bad days ahead and it is important for parents to know when to stop comparing their family with other families, learn from mistakes, forgive oneself, and let go.”
How did homeschooling change me? PART One ?? This is a challenging post to write.?? Homeschooling has transformed me. ????After 10 years of Homeschooling and counting. It has really struck me how much I have changed. ?? There have been some little and some big transformations. I never knew how much homeschooling had impacted my life. Here are some of the ways ???? 1. I am no longer afraid of NOT following the crowd. ???? I used to be so conscious of what others would say about what I was doing. ?? Fortunately, God used my Homeschooling journey to help me be courageous. Now I’m owning my decisions and more secure in what our family stands for no matter how difficult it is. ?? 2. I have learned to choose my battles. ???? Since, I'm the type of a person who keeps on, going, going, and going Homeschool forced me to throw those unwanted events and timetables out the door. Now I am so joyful to Say NO!!!! ??????I have accepted that I cannot do everything. Now I have learned to intentionally take time to just enjoy my family. 3. I'm a lot better in History.????????I super love it. ?? I wasn’t that great at history when I was in school. My learning experience wasn’t the best but thank God for homeschooling. It made me learning with my kids fun and it strengthened my studying the word of God. 4. Inconveniences have become endearing to me. ???? Im a steady person. As a Homeschooler there’s constant movement, noise, fights, questions, and messes. I hope I'm not scaring you w/ my descriptions, but all those experiences have become a delight to me. Does that mean it never bothers me? Of course not. Everyone has good and bad days. I have learned to choose joy and not focus on those feelings. Because it's not all about me!!! It's all about God changing my heart and to embrace my season and fix my attitude. #ihomeschoolph #firstfilipinohomeschoolbook #pinoyhomeschooling #ihomeschoolcoachph #ihomeschoolforChrist #ihomeschoolqoutes
And for parents who are still on the fence about trying it out homeschooling programs? Lora succinctly advises, “Homeschooling is like parenthood in general—you don’t need to be perfect to be good at it. You just need to make the decision to own the biggest role in your child’s education and put in the work everyday.”
Part 2 of the Homeschooling Series: Where To Go For Homeschooling In The Philippines