An ecstatic crowd composed of parents, educators, and marketers filled the Treston International College for the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017 last October 7, 2017. Organized annually by the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands and Educating for Life, the conference is the most awaited event by both rookie and veteran homeschooling educators.
Impressed with the line-up of keynote speakers and topics for the breakout sessions, I couldn’t contain my excitement to deepen my knowledge about homeschooling. Why do parents and educators nowadays opt for it? Is there a rise in awareness for a suitable and more appropriate educational placement? Have the demands for a better educational placement changed, hence the reason for a growing population of homeschooling folks in my era in this country, (thanks to online social media for leading me to discover the groups), or is the shift to homeschooling a new trend? For sure, homeschooling is not a new phenomenon; actually, being taught by family members at home has roots early on, which dates back to the era of Alexander the Great, who happens to be the first case of homeschooler. Since time immemorial, homeschooling is practiced, but what are the current trends and issues? What knowledge, attitudes, values, and, skills do I need to be able to homeschool my child?
Marissa Leinart, keynote speaker on the topic, “The Best Option for Education in the 21st Century: Homeschooling”, asks the audience, “Why do you homeschool?” While forming the answers in my head, I imagine sending my daughter to a big school, which reminds me of my bittersweet memories of elementary and high school days. Suddenly, I had a flashback of the lengthy school hours that took a toll on my health, hence disrupting the flow of my learning. The sudden shifts in teaching styles, unhealthy and unnecessary levels of pressure and competition, and overwhelming school load are too much to handle for someone who is just discovering the world. If there’s anything I’d look back on with fondness, it was finding a good set of friends I can hang out with…for keeps! ☺
Not that I want my child to experience the same plight, but ultimately, I want to spend time growing with her. I want to learn with her. I want to guide her in preparation for the big world, and no school could do that job better than we, her parents, do. The world is our classroom, and I want to see it in my child’s lenses, this time.
From birth to 18 months, your child has only 940 Saturdays to spend with you, according to Miss Leinart. He spends 2,379 hours in school, which is equivalent to three months and 9 days away from home. I can’t wrap my head around that fact, but for sure, we can never turn back time to make up for the days we’ve missed seeing our own kids. The best option? Miss Leinart tells the audience downright that homeschooling is the best. We may have our own reasons to homeschool, but Miss Leinart sets prerequisites. She says that we should homeschool with character, academics, relationship, and education.
In a nutshell, Miss Leinart summarised the tools that we need in order to provide the best homeschooling experience for our children, and I could not agree with her more. As a veteran homeschooler, she shared her success stories. She gives her all-out support for her children’s passions, that of her son’s for instance, who, as young as 16 years old, owns five businesses!
Kids’ play area during the conference
Meanwhile, Senator Kiko Pangilinan stresses the importance of play as an alternative to gadgets. Playtime is indispensable to the social, emotional, and cognitive development of a child. He narrated his playtime experiences with his own kids and nieces, and shared fun ideas, as well. He is fully involved in their family activities, and promotes ‘uncompromised’ homeschooling, which I think entails positivity, resourcefulness, and 100% involvement of the family member to educate the child. No gadget can replace the role of the parent to teach the child, nor can it even hack parenting.
Senator Kiko Pangilinan on his keynote speech, “Back to Basics Parenting in the Technological Age”
At this day and age, however, it is inevitable for kids to use gadgets for play and learning. Besides, Plenary Speaker Sheryl See, Executive VP of Treston College, tells us that children born in this new era are tech-savvy. They are the Centennials, she says, and they find it nearly impossible to access information without the use of the internet. Miss See reiterates that we, educators, despite the influx of modern technology, must fulfill our duty to raise “good digital citizens”, hence there’s a need to schedule the use of gadgets, and be vigilant of the information that our kids gather from the internet.
Efren Peñaflorida, the 2009 CNN Hero for pioneering the Pushcart Classroom, connects with the keynote speakers in terms of developing positive attitudes applicable for both pupils and educators in the homeschooling program. He coined the acronym BEST, which stands for the following: Believe that we can, Excel in every work, Stand firm to what is true and noble, and Think of Ways to improve.
He is a catalyst for positive change and encourages the audience that we can be achievers too for the betterment of society. Homeschooling extends to the rest of society, because we shape individuals firsthand, thus we must foster positive attitudes.
Efren Peñaflorida on his keynote speech, “Unconventional Education: Empowering the Youth for the Future”
The best thing about having homeschooling parents? They encourage gap year. Gerard and Leny Yusay, both successful homeschooling parents, for instance, had their son take a break before entering college, hence, their talk on “That Thing Called ‘Gap Year’”. While taking a break after high school can stir social stigma, it’s otherwise a healthy practice because it allows the pupil to engage in different activities for self-discovery. It also serves as a time to reflect on the path that they want to lead.
In addition, I think the gap year is a time to culminate all the learned skills and knowledge. Hopefully, there’d be a movement that will bolster the youth’s quest for self-discovery after spending some bloody years in school.
Hosts Gerard and Leny Yusay, also speakers for the breakout session entitled, “That Thing Called Gap Year.”
Western countries acknowledge the “gap year” or defer enrolment in college for one full year. Here in the Philippines, a pupil can defer enrolment, however not entirely encouraged among families because of the social stigma. A ‘gap year’ in our country is otherwise known as “dropping-out.”
With Miss Yusay’s success stories of homeschooled kids, the gap year should be considered but must be planned out accordingly to achieve positive results.
Finally, great news for homeschoolers who are entering college! Treston International College is in full support of them. The College offers a wide array of courses, which gives students experiential learning. I had the opportunity to attend the breakout session given by the Dean of Treston College, Dr. Ina R. Balani, and she encouraged parents to keep Treston International College in mind for their children’s future.
Surely, I was blown away by all the pieces of knowledge gathered from the conference. I am looking forward to my homeschooling journey and praying that I’d be an effective teacher to my daughter. Kudos to HAPI for a successful event, and hoping for more conferences like this one!