for the first time, the boys are spending a significant amount of time in “school”
This year, I (as de facto principal of our bahaySKUL) decided that the kids should have more time interacting with other children of their age in a school setting. Because this school year we have been on top of our school work more than we’ve ever been since we started homeschooling four years ago. I now feel a bit more confident that we can finish all school requirements while devoting some time each week for in-school activities.
As a homeschooling family, the ‘socialization issue’ has never bothered us. Everyone who know us also know what kind of social animals our kids are. They are friendly and outgoing and always game. Hence, finding ways to have them interact with their peers was never a ‘need’, as if their civilized lives depended on it.
This year, though, we are homeschooling concurrent with the regular school year (by this I mean the back-to-school schedule of the regular school-going population), and not a month or two behind. I had been especially mindful of the school calendar and the scheduled activities where homeschoolers are welcome to participate.
It was a good thing that we resumed from summer vacation early and started our homeschool year in June. It gave us a couple of weeks to experiment on our weekly routine and schedule before regular school started in July. By this time, we have already made a headway on our homeschool requirements and so were able to devote some time to attend in-school classes and activities.
Our homeschool provider offer a number of opportunities for homeschoolers to join in regular school activities:
- Homeschoolers may sit-in in non-academic classes in their grade level. Ever since, the boys had always joined in Physical Education. But this year, aside from P.E., Ari is attending Financial Literacy classes, while Uri plays with his classmates in a period devoted to Pinoy Games.
- Homeschoolers are encouraged to attend regular school assemblies, also called ‘monthly devotions’. From what the boys tell me, the devotions are a half-day activity where teachers prepare games for the kids, make important announcements and give out awards or recognitions to select classes or students.
- Sometimes, homeschoolers are required to join special school activities, i.e. Science fair, Financial Literacy caravan.
- Homeschoolers may also participate in extracurricular activities by joining a club of their choice. This year, both Ari and Uri auditioned and got accepted to the arts and crafts club called “Free Hands”.
- The school, together with the homeschooling families, also organize activities exclusive to homeschoolers, i.e. yearly meet and greet, field trips, and specialized classes.
For the first time, the boys are spending a significant amount of time in ‘school’. Roughly 3 hours per day on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, which IS a lot of time considering we only do focused schoolwork for about 4 hours per day. I try to squeeze in some read aloud and Math practice on these days. But generally, we are left with just Tuesdays and Thursdays to work on our homeschool requirements. And this is not exactly a bad thing…
These in-school activities work as both an ‘upper’ and ‘downer’ for our boys. It’s their downtime from focused school work, at the same time, all the peer interaction and the new things they learn from their classes perk them up.. get them going on high energy the rest of the week.
While 2 days a week of bahaySKUL is less than ideal, it is enough for us to get on a good pace. Also, I get to have more time to work since I don’t have to prepare anything bahaySKUL-related on MWF. I read from a history book or encyclopedia, give Math or Grammar drills, give a short writing task, let them read independently (which they always do), and we’ve got our bases covered for the school day – no intricate lesson planning required.
Best of all, they’re making new friends, really good ones. Y’know, the kind of friends you ALWAYS want to hang around with, talk to, play with, eat at the cafeteria with. I was always concerned that as homeschoolers they lose out on the chance to make deep, lasting friendships with their schoolmates, but this year, I put those worries to rest. As I always like to say, ‘homeschoolers get the best of both worlds’. Indeed.
* * *
For the information of all, we are homeschooling with The Learning Place (TLP) as our homeschool provider. As required under Philippine laws, homeschool providers must be also running a regular (non-homeschool) school. TLP is a progressive elementary school here in Los Banos, located a block away from where we live.