Overseas: A Homeschool Journey

Are you sure you want to Homeschool?

How about interaction with other kids?

Could you handle all their subjects for homeschooling?

These are some questions that relatives and friends asked me. You see, my family decided to do homeschooling even before the pandemic, way back S.Y. 2018-2019. I was in the academe back then. So those into traditional schooling were surprised that I would decide to do homeschooling.

However, when I explained to them the why, the how, the downside and the upside, they understood.  Two families were even encouraged to join the journey starting that year.

Why homeschooling?

Due to the current taxes in the country we are in, we planned to go home for good to the Philippines for early 2019. That would mean the kids will not finish that school year and would need a school in the homeland just for the 4th quarter. This will entail new tuition fees, books, uniforms, etc.. just for the 4th quarter and of course, you need to find first a school that is willing to accept my kids. Thus, the homeschooling idea was born. I can enroll them with a DepEd accredited homeschool provider and not worry about a new school anywhere we go.

How can you do homeschool while working?

I knew it would be tiring and a test of patience. So all family members must agree and commit to the hours and work as a team to make the setup work out. Fortunately for me, I was still able to teach in the school part-time. I was also allowed to bring my kids some days while I teach. It is hard to get a “yaya” here overseas.

For those still in the corporate world, homeschooling is not rigid 8am to 4pm (7hrs not counting recess and lunchtimes) from Monday to Friday class. It can be done 4 days a week with 5 hours each day. Saturdays can be used and even 1 or 2 hours on Sundays for Christian Living lessons. Again, you can work out homeschooling times based on your family’s needs and availability.

The regular schools have those 7 hours because of class size and scheduling (~1 hr per subject). You cannot expect a teacher to move to the next lesson if half of the class does not get the topic yet. So if your kid gets the topic in 30mins, then you can move on to the next subject. You can also give more focus to lessons he/she is having a hard time with (more than the allotted 1hr for that subject).

Could you handle all their subjects for homeschooling?

No, to be honest, I know beforehand that I cannot. My husband and me discussed about his subject preferences, so he can help me out. We decided that he will handle a few subjects like Math and PE exercises. I am also good at Math but he is better, haha 😊. I explain the Science lessons but we share Science experiments. So again, family teamwork is the key!

How about interaction and friendships with other kids?

This is the major concern of most people I talked to, but we are not worried. Please read on why.

Having classmates does not necessarily mean you have lots of friends. Some students just have 1 or 2 buddies. Friends can be also found outside of school and can be not of the same age.

As a homeschooling parent of young kids, you just need to have playdates with other friendly families. Plan activities with them like educational trips, arcade dates, baking, or even just hangout. Kids can also learn in real-life situations. One major benefit of this is that the parent can regulate the influencers in their young impressionable kids’ life.

My kids, even before homeschooling, have art lessons and ballet classes. They continued their interactions with other kids in these classes. Also, these lessons can be credited as their ARTS and PE lessons already, saving you effort and at the same time enhancing their talents.

What are the upside and downside?  

Most of the upside for my family were already discussed above (convenience, time flexibility, subject focus, influence, and talent enhancement).  

My take on the top 4 downsides:

(1) You need time to prepare yourself to teach and balance work or housework.

(2) You need lots of patience because when it comes to studies, a teacher is more revered by kids than a mom.

(3) You need to be creative when the subject does not interest them like the FILIPINO subject and

(4) If your kid is an extrovert type, he/she will miss the big school setup more.

Are you sure you want to Homeschool?  

With all these downsides, we are still sure we want to homeschool. The downsides can be addressed with a proper attitude, a little sacrifice, and a discussion with your children.

Living in the Philippines did not push thru, but we continued homeschooling. We went back overseas for 1 more year and there was no disruption to adjust to a new school setup. My family is now stuck here overseas due to the pandemic and school life for most of the world turned online. It is like semi homeschooling (but with official school time, uniform, and an official teacher). One major difference is that when the government decides that schools can open, then they can return to the classrooms. So, for health and safety reasons during this pandemic period, homeschooling is still one of the better options.

With what’s happening in 2020 and its effects, our homeschool journey is far from over and some of you might be just starting yours. Hope you gained some insights for your decision on your homeschool journey!

by: K.A. Sison

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