Wednesday, October 8, 2014

IS HOMESCHOOLING RIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILY? Here’s a mom’s take on learning at home

Homeschooling is a progressive educational approach that is gaining more acceptance and following among several institutions and sectors in society. There are a number of reasons why some parents, nowadays, consider home schooling their offspring. Some opt to personally hone their child’s mind around the norms, values, behavior and social skills that are aligned to their own beliefs and take on life. After all, home is the child’s first temple of learning. It is the foundation where one is first taught the value of relationships, respect and responsibility.
Alex Hao, a professional childbirth educator, has all 4 of her kids under homeschooling, or, as she would call it, ‘unschooling’ program. “To me and my husband, Bion, this alternative way of learning is a way of imparting knowledge to our children which is established on the grounds of their chosen social environment and level of interest in various subjects. Basically, it’s opening our children to a wider range of opportunities to learn from what we call the school of life.”
Homeschooling poses a greater demand on parents. Involvement is a significant key to the success of this program, which requires not only parental instincts, but also their skills in teaching and how much learning hours they can commit to their children everyday. It worked that Alex’s childbirth classes are scheduled in the evening and this gave her more time to concentrate on her children --- Amber, Ashley, Allegra and Nicholas.
“I don’t have a curriculum or any lesson plan that’s patterned after what they have in regular schools,” explains Alex. “Except for Math, which my husband thinks should be practiced everyday, the rest of the subjects are irregularly paced and are interest-driven. We also put emphasis on learning life skills through actual practical application and experience by using the 5 senses.”
“I also have friends whose children are home-schooled. I’ve noticed that, given proper guidance and facilitation, the children eventually develop that initiative to study and practice on their own, even after lessons. In a way, it sparks up their curiosity and interest to discover things their own way, to find meaning and explanation to different aspects of life. They also learn by way of keen observation of animals and humans, who we also refer to as ‘living story books.’”
As an answer to the general concern that homeschooled children miss out on daily interaction with peers, Alex says that it’s every family’s responsibility to encourage their kids to socialize whenever in public, however it is possible and fitting to their way of living. “My kids are very sociable and they get along with people they meet in parties and play dates or their peers in catechism. Unlike before, today’s home-schooled children participate in athletic teams, academic competition, bands or art movements. They also have a freedom to learn through experience and real-life interaction like field trips, travelling or immersion in different fields.”
“My children are artistically inclined and they have more time to concentrate on honing their skills because of homeschool.” Amber, the eldest, was a scholar for a prestigious dance school and even joined musical concerts staged in malls. Fourteen year old Ashley recently had her first solo violin concert last weekend. “All 4 kids are also into sports and my only boy loves swimming, taekwondo and soccer. The girls are into theater arts, music, dance, visual arts, crafting and baking. One thing I’ve realized while I watch my kids grow is homeschooling not only offers a sense of understanding about the social, cultural, and ethical norms of the family, but has also become a binding force among everyone in the family.”
Alex shares a piece of advice to parents who are considering homeschool for their children. “It’s not for everyone. Every family is different. We have different needs and beliefs. I do have high regard for the Academe. It’s just that my husband and I chose to do things differently for our family. Before you decide and put your kid in a homeschool program, you have to start with a goal in mind. You have to know what it is that your child needs and assess how you can play a part in his path to learning, whether in school or at home. Whatever it is you choose you must trust your child’s learning capacity.”
Story published on my newspaper column, Metro Mom.


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