My husband and I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015 over the weekend and I’m excited to share with you some of the things we’ve learned! 🙂 As first time homeschoolers, we looked forward to learning from parents and experts who have been in this journey way ahead of us.
Next school year, we will be enrolling my soon-to-be 5-year-old son with a homeschool provider as he enters kindergarten! Time just flew by so fast…I’m seriously getting emotional now (sniff, sniff).
Despite Timmy’s advanced reading levels and mathematical skills, we decided to enroll him when he’s five. I blogged about “Why Being Advanced Doesn’t Really Matter” a few months ago explaining why we opted to wait it out and also to encourage moms not to rush their little tots because this season just goes by really fast.
We want him to not only be mentally or academically ready but also to be emotionally mature when we start our “formal” homeschooling. Not formal in a rigid way but more organized and systematic. 🙂
I finally met Tina Rodriguez of Truly Rich Mom in person! She’s one of the bloggers I admire just because she keeps it real. 🙂 Had a short catch up with the amazing women of The Learning Basket, Mariel Uyquiengco and Rosanne Unson. And met some members of our Facebook groups Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP) and Homeschooling the Early Years (HEY)! Special shout out to Virna, Sheryll, and Jhogie! 🙂
Keynote Speaker 1: Mike Donnelly on “Global Perspective in Homeschooling”
There were two keynote speakers and four small talks to choose from. So basically each participant gets to attend four sessions. 🙂 I really loved Mike Donnelly’s talk because it gave us an inside look at how homeschooling is faring all over the world. He is the director of the Global Outreach of the United States’ Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
I didn’t realize that homeschooling was such a great privilege until he said that there are countries like Germany and Sweden that do not allow home education. Families are being harassed and sanctioned for choosing to educate their child at home!
To be honest, I was really wondering why we had a keynote speaker that’s affiliated with the legal defense. When Mike started talking, I immediately understood why. While the home education movement is rapidly growing, it’s also under attack. States want to control how kids are educated despite being declared by the United Nations that parents have the right to choose how they want to educate their child.
Mike said that the homeschool movement is growing fast in Africa as it helps parents to continue educating their kids despite being poverty-stricken. He works with an organization that helps equip the parents there. He also noted the tremendous growth of home education in Southeast Asia especially in the Philippines.
He presented the latest statistics showing that homeschoolers outperform public school students in the US. He also showed that the parents’ educational degree doesn’t determine the academic excellence of the child.
One of the things he said that really struck me was that the reason why homeschooled kids perform better was because “parents care the most and will do everything to make things work.”
He also shared a great illustration about socialization and individualization. A homeschooled child’s exposure to people allows him to socialize both vertically and horizontally, interacting with people of all ages.
I can personally attest to that. My shy boy was able to socialize better because we homeschooled him. He was not forced into an environment where he has to interact quickly. Introvert toddlers would cry if you leave them in a preschool prematurely.
My husband went through that being an introvert himself and he didn’t want to subject our son to it. Now, Timmy can initiate conversations with kids of his age, he can communicate better with adults because we were able to nurture his confidence at home. You can read about his socialization story here. 🙂
Workshop: “Getting Your Child to Listen and Learn” by Edric and Joy Mendoza
The next talk we attended was Edric and Joy’s “Getting Your Child to Listen and Learn.” Edric is the President of The Master’s Academy Homeschool (TMA) and Lead Anchor of ANC’s “On The Money.” He and his wife Joy are homeschooling all their five children. She’s also a blogger and I follow her inspiring blog Teach with Joy. 🙂 She talks about her parenting, marriage, and homeschool adventures there.
What I liked about this talk is that it’s very practical. Edric talked about building the foundation. He said that if you want your children to listen to you they must know that you love them and like them. But more importantly, as parents we have to instill obedience. One of my key takeaways from his talk was this, “our children cannot trust us with their minds when they cannot trust us with their hearts.”
Joy, on the other hand, talked about the learning part, which was very helpful! I truly agree with the readiness part. If we really want our kids to enjoy learning we need to consider their readiness in all aspects. Based on my experience with Timmy, when I see him struggle with a concept it’s a tell-tale sign that he’s not yet ready for it. Also, when he’s distracted or uncooperative, he doesn’t get things right.
This was especially true with writing, which he initially hated. He would only write using colored pens and paint so that’s what we did over and over. No tracing/worksheets whatsoever. When he was ready, I was really surprised that he wrote legibly and his strokes were so smooth and easy! Not to mention fast, too! Joy had the same experience with her son as well. A reluctant writer turned writing expert. So yes, readiness is a big thing!
Joy also shared about the different ways you can engage your child. Learning through play really works wonders. You may not believe this but we only spend 15-30 minutes of formal homeschooling a day. Storytelling/reading and art/painting are not part of it because that’s play for us! Basically that would involve some worksheets and exercises. Timmy spends the rest of his day playing and doodling—anything that would pique his interest! 🙂
Technology has also made homeschooling so ideal for parents in this day and age. YouTube and Pinterest are my best friends. Haha! Timmy has learned a lot of things through songs from YouTube videos. Pinterest is my idea portal where I can pick and choose activities that are relevant to my child and I either copy or customize it. 🙂
After that, we had our lunch break. Omar and I ate quickly so we can visit the different booths at SMX, which was a couple of floors down. 🙂 I got some good storybooks from Adarna, which we’ve been reading since we got back from the conference. Heehee! I also dropped by The Learning Basket’s booth and found more great books. Lastly, we stopped by Ma’am and Mom’s booth to buy some Tempera paints and brushes! 🙂
Workshop: “Give me one good reason to homeschool” by Davis Carman
Since it took me a while to get done shopping, we were late for the next workshop. Good thing we were still able to get a lot of insights from Davis Carman. He and his wife Rachel are the proprietors of Apologia Educational Ministries. They publish creation-based science books. I’m really looking forward to using them in a few years! 🙂
Davis gave 10 fun reasons to homeschool and 10 serious ones. Unfortunately, I only got the top 5 serious ones, which was toward the last part of his talk. The top 5 reasons were:
- To give moral and religious instruction
- Positive social context of family
- Homeschooling works better than other options (in terms of flexibility, etc.)
- Individualized instruction
- Love for learning
In terms of actual statistics from the US National Center for Education, the top three reasons why parents homeschool are:
- Moral instructions
- Concern for environment (safety, bullying, etc.)
- Academic excellence
Davis also said that there will be a Homeschool Teacher Appreciation Day on April 28, 2016! If you want to be part of it, you can visit www.homeschoolteacherappreciationday.com. 🙂 They actually had one last April 23!
DepEd Forum: K-12
After that, we moved to one of the conference rooms at SMX for the DepEd K-12 forum. Assistant Secretary Umali was there along with TMA’s principal Cristina Miranda, and another lady.
The key takeaway from this panel is that there will be homeschool for SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL! 🙂 Yay! A lot of the parents present there were worried about K-12 and how it would affect their kids who are about to enter senior high. ASec Umali said that homeschool providers just need to submit something and it’s as good as done! 🙂
There were a lot of questions but we would’ve preferred that attendees were asked to submit questions early so that we can maximize the presence of the DepEd. 🙂 Impromptu questions can sometimes be off topic and way too heavy that one question could take up so much time. But overall, the DepEd said they’re very supportive of homeschool education! Woohooooo!!!! Praise God!!! 🙂
However, the DepEd still recommends being enrolled in a homeschool provider. They have yet to come up with a plan that’s friendly to independent homeschoolers.
Keynote 2: “Teaching Foundational Truth” by Rachel Carman
The final keynote was from Rachel Carman, author and co-founder of Apologia Educational Ministries. She’s the wife of Davis. 🙂 She talked about teaching truth to your kids. Relativism is big these days. Truth is often misconstrued. People are afraid to define what’s black and white and would rather settle for the gray. This is why it’s so crucial that we teach our kids what the truth is.
Rachel shared and explained the three laws of logic:
- The law of non-contradiction
- The law of exclusive middle
- The law of identity
She also shared truth principles:
- Truth exists.
- Truth is knowable.
- Truth is objective.
- Truth is universal.
- Truth is absolute.
- Truth is exclusive.
I think for us parents it all boils down to the truth that we want our children to believe. Do we want them to live in doubt and instill relativism that your truth is different from my truth? Or do we want them to believe in an absolute, knowable, objective, universal, and exclusive truth?
This is particularly important in the area of faith and spirituality. Standing up for the truth is costly these days and we need to train our children as early as possible so that they won’t be swayed by anyone easily.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
How we train them now is how they will respond in the future. It’s a tall order to raise a child but God is the giver of grace and wisdom to help us in this journey. 🙂
We went home from the conference truly blessed and encouraged. God affirmed our decision to homeschool our son and opened our eyes all the more to its benefits. 🙂 I want to thank the organizers HAPI (Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands), Manila Workshops, The Learning Basket, and TMA for this successful event! We look forward to more! 🙂