Waking up in your own time, getting to dictate your own recess hours, and being able to do your schoolwork in your pajamas, all the while sans nagging teachers and pop quizzes — sounds like the stuff from your grade school dreams, eh?
Admit it, you entertained the idea of homeschool at least once back in the day, thinking of how much fun it would be to not have to get up at 6 a.m. and answer to strict teachers from the traditional school system. On the other hand, the thought of not seeing your friends on a regular basis can be pretty daunting. Nikki Ebora, a computer science senior at De La Salle Canlubang, knows how it feels, having graduated grade school and high school from an American-based homeschooling program. Nikki explains what it’s like to be in charge of one’s own education, finding a sense of discipline and how the Internet helped her make some pretty good friends. In her story below, she proves to us that school can be pretty cool in a different kind of setup.
On having a set curriculum
Just as it sounds, homeschooling is when the child studies at home instead of in a school building. That isn’t to say that there isn’t any structure or curriculum. I was enrolled in an American-based homeschooling program called Seton Home Study School, which provides a K-12 curriculum. Once enrolled, they send the family the lesson plan, answer keys and all required books as part of the requirement to finish the grade level their child is enrolled in. For the first few years of my homeschooling, I had several tutors because my mother could not teach me and my siblings yet. Eventually, she decided that I could learn better through self-study, and I only approached her when I needed something checked. Since then, I only needed tutors for extracurricular activities such as art and music.
On social interactions
I admit, making friends is definitely more work in a homeschooling evnironment compared to a regular school, but not impossible. Surprisingly, I found that the easiest way to make friends was through the Internet. My parents were definitely wary of it at first, but my logic at that time was, “Well, how do these people I’m talking to know that I really am a 10-year-old girl? If I exist in the Internet, there must be others who exist in there, too!” I made many friends online just by chatting with others who were fans of certain cartoons I liked. My parents did set up some regulations though, such as no webcams allowed. Believe it or not, I gained many true friends online. My mom eventually met a few other moms who homeschool their children. They let their kids hang out every Friday at our house, or one of their houses, depending on the activities. It’s not quite the same as having classmates, but I believe we got along well.
Disciplining myself was actually the most difficult thing I ever had to face back then. I think that the best motivator is telling yourself that learning is fun. Unfortunately, whether in regular school or homeschool, that is not always the case. I loved certain subjects like science because of all the experiments and pretty pictures in the books, but hated reading actual books for our book reports. My parents tried positive or negative reinforcement but with only temporary success. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that when I graduate, maybe — just maybe — I can be useful to society and not just leech off of them.
On the transition to college
I adjusted to university life quite well, actually. See, I knew the exact course I wanted for myself. When you’re in college, you should be more or less already batched together with people who have the same interests as you. There are ups and downs to the university social life, but overall I enjoy it very much. Adjusting to a timed schedule isn’t so difficult either, except when I have 8 a.m. classes. I never had to get up early in homeschool (no matter how hard my mother tried to wake me up), and I almost got a failing grade just because of the strict attendance keeping.
On how to decide whether you should switch to homeschooling
Deciding to homeschool is a very big deal. It directly affects the structure of your family life and your child’s development. Is it really for you? You might want to check first how your child is doing in a regular school. If not so well, then perhaps you can try homeschooling, but only after doing more research on the subject. Different homeschooling programs offer different requirements and structure in the curriculum. It might seem like a lot of work just figuring these things out, but really, this gives the opportunity of flexibility. Just pick out the style you believe suits your family.