Building Blocks of Homeschooling: What I Learned

Getting up at 5AM and feeding, bathing, dressing up all the HPs, and getting us out of the house before 7AM and right smack into the my-lola-walks-faster-than-this traffic just to be somewhere merely 5km away before 8:30AM—this exercise in fortitude and patience reminds me again of one of the reasons we decided to homeschool. I can’t decide if it’s fitting or ironic that my 8:30 appointment was about homeschool.

I was invited to attend the “Building Blocks of Homeschool” seminar, and while it catered more to those who are still figuring out if homeschool is a viable option, I still learned a few things (proving that you never stop learning!).

Veteran homeschoolers Donna Pangilinan-Simpao, Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan and her hubby Anthony Pangilinan all gave inspiring talks, with excellent learning points. Felichi, for example, quoted John Taylor Gatto, one of the pillars of homeschooling. He said that education is not meant to deliver facts to our children, but to guide them to take responsibility for their lives. She also quoted John Holt, who said that school has become all about conformity, rather than joy and discovery of learning. I actually know of these already, but it’s a great reminder of why we homeschool; to launch the girls into a lifestyle that they love, one of lifelong learning. And yes, one of responsibility not only for themselves, but to this world that they live in.

Felichi also talked about the dreaded ‘S’ word—socialization. She reassured us that homeschoolers learn to deal with people from all ages and walks of life, and (hopefully) do not just go along with what’s popular with their peers. I admit, this is my worry, and for opposing reasons. Raine is a social butterfly, and I worry that she misses her friends and classmates too much. Breeze, on the other hand, only had one year in regular school, and is slow to warm up to peers, and I worry that I did not give her enough opportunity to learn how to make her own friends. But Felichi reminded us that we are building strong family bonds, and that Raine and Breeze’s sibling relationship is getting better.

Of course, other advantages to homeschooling are the personalized, one-on-one teaching, the flexibility, and quality family time. I also pray that we are building a strong moral and spiritual foundation, as well as give the girls an academic advantage.

Donna’s talk was the eye-opener for me. We started homeschooling because we felt that it was the best option for our family, in terms of quality of education and life. But Donna encourages homeschooling families to set proper goals by setting down our family mission, vision, and core values. These can help you decide on everything, including kind of curriculum to get, budget, activities to sign up for, and even prioritize when you encounter obstacles along the way.

What are these three, exactly? Well, vision is our preferred future, what we dream our kids and family to be. Mission is what we need to do to reach our vision, and may answer why our homeschool exists. Core values are our fundamental beliefs, guiding principles, and what we hold dear. These can’t be done in an hour—The Hubby and I will really have to take the time to sit down and talk these out. We need to agree on the direction we’re going, and how we’re going to get there. I hope we get the time to work it out before the new year starts.

Finally, the other point that really struck home was when Donna discussed the paradigm shift in education when we start homeschooling. This is one thing that I am currently struggling with. Homeschool is not mean to be school at home, meaning we just changed venues for the traditional way school is taught. The Hubby reminds me as I stress over unfinished workbooks and unmet school deadlines that the reason we homeschool is so we can proceed at the kids’ pace, and we can tailor the lessons to their learning styles, interests, and capabilities.

I also am trying to ditch my grade/test-oriented view on education. We homeschool because we want to build character, we want to work in faith in all aspects of their lives, we want them to think critically rather than just memorize a bunch of stuff and score high on tests. But it is a fine balance, not emphasizing grades, yet still teaching them in a way that they will do well when do need to take tests, when they go back to regular school (if they do).

Given that this is our first few months of seriously homeschooling, I will cut myself some slack. Grace, after all, is important in homeschool.

I really am grateful to have been able to attend the seminar. I look forward to learning more as we go along. After all, that’s what we want the kids to know—learning is a lifelong thing.  





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