By Tina Santiago Rodriguez
When news of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China started spreading earlier this year, many of us probably did not imagine how severe its impact on our lives would be. Who would have known that this virus—now officially called SARS-CoV-2—would severely impact whole countries, including their economies, infrastructure, and educational systems?
Here in the Philippines, with most of the country now under general community quarantine, we have seen and are still witnessing the negative effects of the virus as it continues to spread in many places. Many parents, especially, are at a loss when it comes to how their children’s education can continue in the midst of this pandemic.
This is one of the reasons why the Department of Education has been actively looking for ways to help families cope with the current situation. They have also been reaching out to homeschooling groups that can share best practices when it comes to home education.
As a long-time homeschooling parent myself, I truly believe that homeschooling can help families during crises like this pandemic. And I’m certainly not the only one. Here, some of my fellow homeschoolers share their thoughts with us:
Dr. Donna Pangilinan-Simpao, homeschool advocate, former homeschooling mom for 17 years, outgoing president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands, and founder of Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook support group, shares:
“Homeschooling—where a parent takes the lead in learning facilitation and setting a positive learning atmosphere—may provide educational options for the varying needs of each family as a result of the multiple effects of COVID-19 in our country. For one affected economically, homeschooling may lower the cost of education in general. For those whose children are not suited for online learning, this may be their setup. Since homeschooling offers flexibility and options sensitive to each family’s needs, it may be able to offer solutions.”
Audreylie Villegas, former homeschooling mom who is the owner-administrator of Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Riz al, a brick-and-mortar school that is also a homeschool provider, shares that “homeschooling is indeed advantageous to everyone at present because of the continued threat of COVID-19. Parents who do not want to risk their children’s health can enjoy the flexibility, efficiency, academic benefits, and opportunities homeschooling can offer.”
She adds, “Parents can prioritize the physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional health of their own children, especially during this time which is full of anxiety and loneliness caused by the pandemic.
Homeschooling parents can restfully teach their children in the comfort of their homes without thinking of the virus contagion.”
Laksmi Maluya, who was homeschooled until high school and is now a homeschooling mom of three, believes that “the most feasible educational setup for this pandemic is homeschooling because parents or guardians will be able to assess, adjust, and modify the learning with their situation, budget, and capacity as facilitators.”
As founder of the homeschool support services provider Gopala Learning Haven and incoming president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), Ms. Maluya recognizes that pandemic or not, homeschooling is an option for everybody, but it may not be suitable for everyone. “It requires parents to be intentional, dedicated, and committed to the learning lifestyle for at least one year at a time,” to give themselves a fighting chance to succeed at it.
“Home-based learning may be a short term or long term solution for formal school systems depending on the foresight of the leaders,” says Eliza Cornejo, a homeschooling mom who also has around 20 years’ worth of experience teaching, lecturing, creating modules, workshops, courses, and curricula in both academic and business platforms. She is also currently the Instructional Manager and Coordinator of MyHill ALS (Alternative Learning System) St. John Bosco Parish Makati ALS, where she implements alternative learning programs for home-based and independent learners from levels K to 12.
According to Ms. Cornejo, if parents are open to teaching their children themselves, there are so many online learning options, often free, that “can assure continued learning, especially for basic education levels.” Home-based learning, she adds, can also deepen the interaction between parent-child-teacher to find effective ways in nurturing learning.
The truth is that homeschooling has never been as “famous” as it is now, due to COVID-19. We homeschoolers have actually been receiving homeschooling-related inquiries from people in our circles, and even from complete strangers.
This is actually one of the reasons why my fellow homeschooling moms from Educating for Life are putting up an online event called “CONNECT Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit,” or CHIPS for short, on July 3-5, 2020.
In light of the pandemic, we hope that CHIPS will help all parents, whether long-time homeschoolers, just starting or exploring, or parents who just want to support their children in their distance learning education.
We prepared over 30 talks from homeschooling trailblazers and advocates here and abroad, and from local parenting influencers and experts, for this summit. Topics to be covered include:
“Homeschooling: Finding or Rediscovering Your Whys” by Michelle Padrelanan, veteran homeschooling mom. advocate, and blogger
“Teaching Boys and Teaching Girls: Towards a Better Understanding” by Andrew Pudewa, well-known international educator, speaker, and former homeschooling dad
“How Intentional Parenting Can Help Your Kids Adjust to Distance Learning” by Beng Feliciano, intentional mom of three and co-founder of The Parenting Emporium
“Wired and Tired: Modeling Healthy Digital Practices” by Dr. Michele Alignay, family life specialist and registered psychologist
“Better Together: How Dads Can Support Moms Who Homeschool (and Vice Versa)” by Bo and Marowe Sanchez, long-time homeschooling parents and founders of CFA Homeschool
And so many more, including sessions by Dr. Simpao, Ms. Maluya, and Ms. Cornejo!
There will also be sessions for kids and teens, including “Growth Mindset for Kids” by Sonny and Mina Mejia, the homeschooling parents behind Growing Minds PH, and “Mindset Shift for Adolescents (11 to 17 years old): How to Be Resilient During This Time of COVID-19 (and Beyond)” by educator and parenting speaker Maricar Gustilo de Ocampo. This is because we want the Summit to be a family event, because we know that it’s not just us parents who are affected by this crisis.
For a reasonable family learning fee of P1500, all Summit participants will have access to the 30+ talks for 30 days after the event, and there will be live Q & A sessions with some of the speakers during the actual event days (July 3-5).
Participants will also have the chance to win a scholarship from Peniel Integrated Christian Academy of Rizal, and learning sets from Grolier Philippines. There are also other exciting goodies that await them at the Summit’s virtual expo, which features curated products and services that will help parents enhance their children’s education.
It is truly our hope that many families will benefit from CHIPS, and that it will be a venue for learning, inspiration, empowerment, and encouragement, especially for parents who wish to be effective parents and teachers to their children—even beyond this pandemic. More details can be found at www.educatingforlife.co and on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/philippinehomeschoolconvention
* Tina Rodriguez is one of the homeschooling moms behind Educating for Life, which was founded to support families who have courageously decided to take the road less travelled in education. Through the events that they organize, Educating For Life has helped hundreds of parents become more confident as they take on the role of being their kids’ primary educators. You can find more details about their events at www.educatingforlife.co.