homeschooling is a daunting task by itself. it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra hands to help out.
For the longest time, I’ve been stressing out on whether we will go the independent track (that is develop our own curriculum and go by our own standards on what the student needs to learn and whether he has learned them already) or affiliate with an institution (follow their curriculum and subscribe by their methods for learning assessment).
I’ve always been inclined towards the first option because I have qualms about the way testing and assessment is done in some schools. For me, personally, I don’t buy the idea that real learning can be measured through a paper and pencil examination. The only downside to independent homeschooling is that we have no legal institution to provide us with school credentials for Ari. The only way to get the necessary credentials is to let Ari take the Philippine Validation Test (PVT) given by DepEd once a year. But then again, that means we’ll have to go back to my issues about written examinations, blah, blah, blah.
On a separate note, I also feel that if we go with option 2, we will be limited by the curriculum being used by the homeschool provider. I have read in countless blogs by homeschooling families that the best way to go in choosing a homeschool curriculum is to not stick with a single, integrated curriculum. Taking this advice, I did my homework and chose a specific curriculum for each subject–language arts, spelling, math and religion. Then for other subjects like Filipino and social studies, we can stick with locally published textbooks. Science and art will be covered by Turo when he takes Ari to the farm for their “nature and farm classes.”
If Turo and I were the superparents of the century, it would have been an easy choice–go independent and teach our children anything and everything they want to learn without having to subscribe to standards set by traditional educational institutions. However, despite the kind of learning goals we have for our children, the society and its standards might one day tell them otherwise. We don’t want our children to suffer the consequences later on just because we are too stubborn to accept the kind of educational system that exists at present.
It’s a tough call, but what we’ve decided on is some sort of a compromise that would allow us to: 1) be 100% hands on in our children’s learning and development process, and at the same time, 2) expose our children to the traditional educational system. We have chosen The Learning Place (TLP) Distance Education Homeschool Support Program mainly because it is part of the community we belong to here in Los Banos.
TLP is using the LifePACS curriculum by AlphaOmega Publications for its homeschool program. While I still subscribe to using a combination of curriculum choices for different subjects that is suited to a child’s particular learning style, we realized that we can still use the LifePACS curriculum and just supplement it with other materials if we feel that there is a need. There goes problem number one.
Aside from the curriculum materials, they will be the one to administer quarterly evaluation tests where Ari’s school ratings for academic subjects will come from. For this part, while I am totally against grading based on a written examination, I have decided that this is a part of life that my children will just have to deal with. Because we are homeschooling, we would still know whether they have mastered the skills they need to master, and we can judge this mastery by our own standards, and we don’t need examination results to confirm this. Then there will be nothing wrong with letting our children take the school’s periodical exams because they HAVE to. Because in real life there are some things that you just “have to do.” And we realized that is one important thing we should also teach our children.
For non-academic instruction, Ari will be allowed to attend regular classes in subjects like PE, arts and crafts, leadership and computer. These classes will be his window for socialization with other children his age, and his time out and away from our bahaySKUL. Ari is super excited for the computer classes. But Turo and I are also considering to let Ari be involved in sports training with a qualified instructor. We are firm believers that the discipline and perseverance a child can learn from being involved in sports is something that he will carry throughout his lifetime.
The TLP staff also informed me that their homeschooling families have formed an active group, with regular meet-ups, even organising field trips for homeschoolers. We are more enticed by the fact that there is an active homeschooling community right here where we live and we will be more than eager to join and support their activities in the future. We also look forward to learning from the experiences of these homeschooling families. We are encouraged by the fact that they have continued on with the homeschooling lifestyle and this, more than anything, will keep egging us on in this direction.
Finally deciding on a homeschool provider is another important step in our homeschooling journey. We are grateful that we are being led to the right direction and decisions as far as our bahaySKUL aspirations are concerned.