Does homeschooling your kids seem a daunting task? Let me help you! I wrote this article to give you insights into our family’s homeschooling journey. At the end of this article, I will provide you with my top five helpful tips that will make your homeschooling manageable.
“Why did you homeschool? “
If I were to charge my friends a dollar for every time they asked me that question, I’d be rich by now. When this pandemic happened, there were times when I got more than 10 messages on my Messenger, asking about homeschooling.
It took one year of due diligence before I even decided to go this path. The prospect of teaching my kids scared me initially because well, for one, it would mean going back to lessons I’ve happily left behind when we graduated from school (hello, algebra!). It would also mean that my patience will be tested a lot. I can’t count the number of occasions when my Mrs. Hyde to my Dr. Jekyll surfaced because my kids got too rowdy. I imagined I’d be Mrs. Hyde permanently if I stayed with my kids in the same room for too long. Haha!
Homeschooling a child is not easy. I think no parent will ever tell you that parenting is easy, let alone parenting and teaching all at the same time. There were many times when I had told myself, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m sending my kids back to regular school ‘coz they’re driving the living daylights outta me!”. Only to hug my kids moments after, apologizing for snapping at them, or walking away.
We are homeschooling for two years now and things may be hard at times but I never regretted my decision. I’m not going to say that you’ll have the same experience or views about homeschooling. It’s not going to be easy. There are members in our homeschooling communities who quit for valid reasons. Homeschooling is not for everyone.
Why did I choose homeschooling for my kids?
There are a number of reasons why I decided to homeschool my children and I’ve listed them down below:
- Freedom from restrictive classroom schedule.
My family loves the freedom from tight classroom schedule. We love going places on a budget. And because homeschooling has flexible hours, we could travel during off-peak seasons. When we visited Batanes last year, the islands’ tour sites were empty. We had the tourist van all to ourselves, and we spent so much time enjoying the scenery. My eldest son’s history book had a section about Batanes but he learned more about the islands on-site. We had blissful study sessions while immersed in the piece of heaven that is Batanes. If we had gone during peak seasons, we would be rushing from one site to another with little study sessions done in between.
2. I learn about my kids’ talents and passion more as their parent and teacher.
Spending more time with kids has allowed for new discoveries about them. I find that my youngest son is analytical, it is often easy for him to understand complex math problems. He dislikes art activities that forces him to sketch from a book. He prefer drawing what he likes without dictation. He also enjoyed his baking class and has been coaxing me to buy an oven since. He’s a potential chef and mathematician, and I had not expected that. He is also a bit of a rebel – he would sneak in our room to get his phone and play games while I was busy working.
My eldest is the exact opposite – he loves writing, art, and music but hates math. He is obedient and sensitive, you’d need to choose your words when speaking to him. He also writes poetry and likes to draw comics.
They both have their own ideas of fun. So what I do is I let them do what they love to do after they’re done with lessons scheduled for the day.
Now why does knowing your child’s potential early on important? I’ve had friends in college who regretted taking the course their parents forced them to take. Some of them flunked their subjects and got kicked out of the university. Knowing your child’s potential help you plan his or her future better. It can also spare you some heartaches, disappointments, and money.
3. You can design your lessons according to your child’s learning style and interest. Both my kids exhibits a combination of of visual and kinesthetic learning styles like me. They move around around while they study. Imagine if a child is like that is in a classroom – he will give his teacher a headache for sure. Lucky for me, they love to read ever since they were young so I don’t need to push them to read their lessons. Sometimes though, I’d need to pull them back to focus when a toy is being prioritized over lessons during class.
4. My kids learn life skills not usually taught in traditional skills. My goal is to teach them about budgeting, cooking, gardening and the stock market (more on this later). I taught fractions through cooking and pizza. I teach science by mixing juices or making our own playdough and experiments. We even made a simple motor out of stuff at home! I also taught history and Filipino by discussing what we read in books and by visiting museums. We learned to play “sungka” and cook local Filipino delicacies (right photo) as part of our lessons.
The other day, my eldest son sewed a ripped section of our pillow case which I never taught him to do. Youtube did! Imagine the kind of husbands and fathers my sons will be?
5. We get asked a lot about how the kids will socialize. Despite the name, homeschooling does not mean that kids will be indoors all the time to learn. The kids will also learn outside along with others from different age groups. Last school year I conducted geology tours, Baybayin class, and science tours for kids to learn together. We also had group swimming class. So when it comes to socialization, we actually get plenty.
6. Homeschooling is a great opportunity to bond with your kids and learn together. I am becoming a better parent because I learn so much about me and my kids. My patience was tested many times especially when they don’t understand the lesson. But hey, you know what? Those were also the times that I discovered my kids’ learning gaps. In a traditional school, some teachers will not notice if your child is lagging behind. Some kids also have the propensity to pretend they understand a topic to avoid embarrassment. In homeschooling, there are plenty of opportunities to fix learning gaps. This is actually where resourcefulness comes in. I’ve also asked help from homeschooling community I belong when I’m stuck (more on this later).
“Have I convinced you to homeschool yet?”
If you think you can give homeschooling a shot, congratulations! Whatever your reasons are for deciding to go this path, I commend you. I hope your homeschooling journey as a family will be awesome. Here are my helpful tips to help you homeschool without losing your sanity.
My Top Five Homeschooling Tips
- Know your child’s learning style
Nothing is more frustrating than going through a difficult lesson over and over again. And the child does not get it. Relax. It is possible that you aren’t using the right technique according to her learning style. There are online quizzes online that you can ask your child to answer to know his or her dominant learning style such as this one.
Let your child learn a single concept through visuals, listening, activity or play. You can then assess which one worked best. Do this often and you’ll soon know how best to teach your child. Sometimes a child can’t accept that his or her parents are now his teachers. There are times when a child will refuse the idea or reject any lesson for thinking that he or she is being lectured at.
For homeschooling to work, the whole family needs transparency, acceptance and a shift in mindset. An unwilling student will not learn, likewise, an unhappy parent cannot teach . When this happens, relax and explain to your kids that you are teaching them from now on. You also need to be honest about why you decided to homeschool. I won my eldest son over by telling him that we’ll have plenty of travels if we homeschool. He loves the outdoors!
2. Don’t overthink, go with the flow.
Teaching your child is like looking at a canvass to start an art work. You stare at it, find a subject, begin sketching and painting. You let the artistic energy flow from you towards your canvass. You don’t overthink, you just try to make the colors and elements work. Think of your child as an empty canvass. Don’t overthink about getting things right and perfect. You need to learn WITH your child: read with them or watch the online class with them, then discuss. That’s it. No need to overthink about future quizzes or assessment tests. Discuss the topic with your child and if you have to, you can give a short quiz after, for your assessment. After checking my eldest son’s worksheet, I usually ask how he got the answers wrong. By discussing how he makes a mistake, we are able to point out where the learning gaps are.
3. Keep it simple silly or K.I.S.S.
A lot of parents, me included, seem to forget this often. Your child’s thought process is simply different from yours. You are an adult with complicated thought process . Your child is just beginning to understand his surroundings. Keep your lessons simple and designed according to your child’s learning capacity and style. Education is not a competition – it should be an enjoyable and collaborative experience. If lessons are too complex and taxing, it takes the fun out of it, you child will feel burned out fast.
I’ll give you an example. Filipino is the hardest subject to teach these days. It wasn’t like this back in my days because not to brag, I aced this subject! It is different now. English has become the main spoken language in our country. Much of the programs we watch on TV; the books we read, and the videos we see on YouTube; are in English. For that, my husband and I decided that we’d talk to our kids in Filipino. I also try to translate words in Filipino during our lessons. I even teach Math in Filipino. Simple, right? My kids read books written by local authors such as Lola Basyang’s stories and story books from Adarna and Lampara. We also have Wikahon boxes. There were time when I had to Google or consult friends over particularly deep Tagalog terms.
4. Don’t be too bookish.
Lessons are better taught through narratives and play. Let your children use their imagination a lot. Let them play or act it out. Allow the whole family to explore and experiment. Majority of the lessons can be learned using online resources now , apps such as Epic, and Youtube channels (more on this in my next post) for kids. For example, you can teach fractions and ratio and proportion to your child while baking cookies or cutting pizza. Your child gets the cookies and learn about fractions. It also becomes an opportunity to bond with your child, eat extra calories, and finish a lesson all at the same time. Win!
5. Ask help from your community.
The best thing about homeschooling is the community of homeschoolers. There are so many homeschooling communities organized by families for various purposes. I joined an Unschooling homeschool community. Unschooling is a radical way of homeschooling that does not follow any structured curriculum. I’ve also joined communities whose purpose are to arrange play dates, nature trips, etc.
Homeschoolers of the Philippines on Facebook has a directory of homeschooling communities. Consider joining one that’s accessible to you. I’ve widened my circles by joining and organizing play dates, group classes, and field trips. The whole idea of my Geology Tour stemmed from organizing group tours in my homeschooling community. And take note, 99% of the members in the communities I’ve joined were strangers. I’ve become so close to some of the families, we share stories, frustration, even homeschooling materials. We’ve even arranged online classes so that kids gets to talk to each other and play virtually. If you need friends, especially in this pandemic, join the nearest homeschooling community to you. You’ll be surprised at how kind, helpful, and generous homeschooling families can be.
Finally, if you’re new to homeschooling, enroll your child in a homeschool provider. These schools can assist you about your child’s portfolio, scholastic records, and lesson plans. Our kids’ homeschool provider is Peniel but we aren’t following the DepEd curriculum this year. We’ve decided to do it eclectic style (more on this in my next post). Having a homeschool provider on your first year helps you transition better. You can start by following the school’s DepEd approved curriculum. There is a directory of homeschool providers in Homeschoolers of the Philippines as well. If you aren’t in the group yet, do join. There are helpful tips posted on there. Sometimes parents posts about used homeschool materials at bargain price to declutter or to help struggling families.
(If you liked this blog article, you might also want to check my other posts regarding homeschooling here.)