Hello Writing! It’s been six months since I last wrote a piece to post in here. Was it really that long? Surprise! Half a year. Whew. Really. It’s time to write about why I took a break. What’s a better topic than the benefits of homeschooling we have come to learn?
It was really worth the break. I would like to call it my homeschooling hiatus. It has been quite a feat adjusting to homeschooling my 4th grader, but let me immediately add that it has been so much fun as well! When we were called (as opposed to using the term ‘forced’) to homeschool the son under the government’s quarantine orders, I decided to commit to it and embrace it, no matter how hard, time-consuming, or tiring it might be. It turns out, it’s hard, time-consuming but very fulfilling!
To start with, let me say that in our 3-grading-period experience, we found 3 major benefits of homeschooling – the luxury of flexibility, extra chunks of time, and a deeper relationship. But don’t stop reading just yet! I will be mentioning a lot of special areas under each perk. Stay and you might learn a thing of two. This goes especially to parents who are thinking about switching to homeschooling in the future.
Homeschooling your child or children means that you as parents, together with them, gets to decide what, when, where and how to teach and learn the lessons. And this gives you the luxury of flexibility. You don’t usually get this if you enrolled your children in a regular school. In school, you are bound to follow school policies and you have no power over their teacher’s teaching style. Homeschooling gives you this freedom, or at least you and your child can agree on the terms that both of you are happy with.
Homeschooling benefit #1: Your child is safe and sound with you.
There is no need to worry about the dangers of being outside. One of my major worries as a parent is thinking about the son’s safety when he is not with us. The quarantine and homeschooling has given me assurance that these things are far-fetched since we are together all the time.
However, another parental fear is about bullying. The tendency to bully and the ability to cope when bullied need to be addressed if ever these kinds of things happen in the future. We touch-base on this when we are watching a movie or reading a book. They need exposure and opportunities to practice but we cannot do it at this point since they are not allowed to go out and gather with friends just yet. Homeschooling, pre- and post-pandemic, gives you the time to have your child socialize with his peer group. They say it does not hinder the development of the student’s social skills because you can still give them the opportunities to do so anytime.
Benefits of Homeschooling #2: You can teach your child according to his learning style.
This is the first thing that CFAH, our homeschool provider, asked us to take into consideration. And can I just say, that, it really has made a big difference! You see, each person has his own learning style. Yours can be different from that of your child’s so both of you have to take the test. This is to make sure that you don’t impose your own style upon your child. Adjust to follow his, and I tell you, it will be a breeze to discuss a concept. If you want to know more about learning styles, I have an earlier post about it here.
Homeschooling benefit #3: Your schedule becomes flexible.
My family is a group of morning larks. The husband wakes up at wee hours of the morning. I wake up a few minutes after him with or without an alarm clock. The son took after us and also wakes up early, except, of course, when he went to bed late the last night. He can actually start studying at 7 or 8. But since I have work in the morning, we scheduled our study sessions in the afternoon.
Now, some of you might be night owls or working. In school, everyone should wake up early for the 7am flag ceremony every Monday. This is an alien routine in homeschooling. Homeschooling lets you get all the sleep that you need. It can also go around the family’s schedule and still work the same. I hear about families who hold their study time at night. Some even hold sessions during the weekends alone. And it’s all good!
Homeschooling benefit #4: You can do projects that are useful and one that your student needs.
Our provider follows the DepEd curriculum and requirements, one of which is the Performance Output. This is what we refer to as “projects” back in the day. Now, the project that we know is different from our kid’s project today. It is not as simple as submitting glued pictures of presidents of the country or a drawing of a sewing machine. The current curriculum looks at how the task is performed by the student. That is why pre-pandemic projects are all done in school. In school, your child will be assigned to bring pictures of historical sites or objects under states of matter and they will be the one to glue it on paper in the classroom on project making day.
This has been leveled up in homeschool and this is one of my favorite things about this setup. Our program refers to it as PBA or Performance Based Assessment. Our coaches (parents who have been homeschooling for several years) reiterate to choose PBAs that are practical and useful. They do not recommend the usual writing or gluing tasks even when done independently. Their suggestions include baking, gardening, nature walking and many more of this kind. What I love about it more is that PBAs can be integrated between several subjects!
4th graders in our provider are also required to submit a book report in English and in Filipino. The student gets to choose any book that he likes. Talk about flexibility.
Since homeschooling devotes a lot lesser time in lesson presentations than a regular or online school, the family enjoys a lot of extra time. Gaining extra time, these are the benefits we believe we reaped:
Benefits of Homeschooling #5: You can choose to focus on life skills and non-academics.
Because he has time, the son is the household’s designated dish washer. We were able to train him to wash the dishes and recently, upon his expressed interest, cook. This is why he also cooked in one of his PBAs, as mentioned above. Whenever I cook for lunch or dinner, he would go to the kitchen and ask what I am cooking. When I asked him if he wants to help, I almost cried when he said “Yes!” Now, he prepares food that he likes. On his own, he can prepare instant noodles and all things fried. I can also rely on him to help with sautéed food. Still, I am waiting for him to be ready for slicing, dicing and chopping duties in the kitchen. I might just wail with joy when that day comes.
Homeschool benefit #6: Your student is well-regulated and does not feel deprived of play.
Since I work in the morning, mornings are the son’s free time. Since he gets an ample amount of time to play in a day, he gives more effort to attend to his books when it is time to study. Most days, he plays. His favorites are chess, board games and fingers! Yes, he has just learned how to pretend that his fingers are perhaps, soldiers in World War 1, because that is what I hear from his monologue as he runs his fingers on the table or under it. Sometimes, he reads for leisure. Non-fiction is his genre of choice, specifically, the National Geographic Almanac for Kids, Chess for kids and the Bible. This brings me to the next benefit.
Homeschool benefit #7: You can also aim for soul growth.
The son has an early interest with the Bible. He actually asked for his very own when he was in pre-school. Since then, I give him a daily devotional book so he can check the readings every day. But recently, his interest towards our Lord’s and all the prophets’ story has amplified. This year, he is targeting to read the entire Holy Bible! In December, he showed me an excel file where he assigned books and chapters to be read daily this year from the front to the end cover. I suggested to check the internet for Bible reading plans and we found a chronological one. We are following that now, we read around 3 chapters per day. Genesis and some of Job are done in January.
One of his early PBAs is a Dream board. I was giddy inside when I learned about the things he dreams of. Though most of them are still materialistic, I think it’s age-appropriate and okay for starters. To help him wade in the streams of his dreams, I have also introduced the concept of growth mindset. We use the internet for resources. A chunk of our materials, I got from Big Life Journal. They also have a podcast channel on Spotify which the son looks forward to listening to every week.
Lastly, with all this time together, in or out of study time, academic or non-academic lessons being shared, I found that our relationship as mother and son has deepened. This is probably the best out of all the benefits of homeschooling.
Benefits of Homeschooling #8: You get to know your child better, and vice versa.
Starting with the learning style, I noticed that I have improved day in and day out, especially in figuring out what he likes and needs. I get a good sense of whether he will do well in the quiz that I give after our lesson. Writing tests has also given me the liberty to ask more essay questions so I feel like I am able to dig deeper, not only in his understanding of the topic, but also in who he is as a person, at least in his tender age of 9. He would also ask me questions or offer things that he knows I am fond of, that is why I feel that he is getting to know me better as well.
Homeschooling benefit #9: Your child gets to know himself better.
Learning how to homeschool together with the son, I cared less if I was thinking out loud sometimes, about my insights, our deadlines, and other worries. I have also deliberately spoke with him about my excitements and concerns, whenever he does well and poor, respectively. In all these processes, he seems to have gotten to know himself a little better as well. Now, he is more decisive about things than he used to. He expresses and requests for what he wants, unlike before when he gets shy or would just segue something in the conversation just to let me know that he wants something. He verbalizes his sentiments such as how misses his classmates and friends; and being outside altogether.
Benefits of Homeschooling #10: You get to know and improve yourself, as your child’s parent, teacher, friend and advocate in life.
Since I am a pediatric OT, when I asked myself initially if I can homeschool the son, my answer was an easy Yes. Well, now it is an easier and more definite Yes, not only because we have experienced it for half a year already, but because I know that I have developed a lot in dealing with him and his needs. For the last quarter of the academic year, I asked him if he wants to give independent learning a try. I hoped he will say ‘Yes’ because that would give me back a lot of time for myself, but deep inside, if he says he is not ready, then we will not push it. More than a thousand words in my first post back, of course, he said ‘Yes’!
Homeschooling the son has refreshed me about 4th grader concepts – on top of my head are polygons in Math, the Philippine’s government structure in Araling Panlipunan, and types of soil in Science. It has also reignited the fire in my heart for my life goals I haven’t yet met. But out of all the benefits of homeschooling, I am most grateful for the time we spent and the learnings we shared together. I know my heart will be very happy to look back at this time when we chose to do homeschooling.