When it comes to homeschooling, we’re a long way from kids in barns, learning math with an abacus.
Today, the global homeschooling movement is vibrant and successful, extending to the Philippines, where diverse academic options and tremendous flexibility are now available for families who crave an alternative to traditional schooling.
Maybe you’re one of these families that homeschools? Or maybe you’re still considering it for your child, weighing the pros and cons of switching to a home-based approach.
Good for you. There are tons of resources on how to make it in the world of Philippine homeschooling. But let’s talk about one thing that gets somewhat overlooked when it comes to teaching your children at home: the home itself.
School at Home
You see, many people think of homeschooling as simply doing school at home. In fact, many parents simulate “school” at home by setting up a “classroom”, usually a repurposed bedroom or helper’s quarters. They decorate it with primary colors, put in tables and textbooks, and sometimes have their children wear a uniform and stick to a rigid schedule. It works for some families, but is that really the spirit of homeschool?
John Holt, an American author, educator, and popular homeschool proponent, said, “What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children’s growth into the world is not that it is a better school than the schools, but that it isn’t a school at all.”
In other words, the home is not school and that’s what makes it great.
The whole point of homeschooling is to break away from the established, “factory model” of school which some argue is rooted in industrial era standards like age-based groupings and results-oriented output.
Sir Ken Robinson, a former professor of arts education at the University of Warwick and a popular speaker on creativity, said in an interview with the Guardian, “We need to eliminate the existing hierarchy of subjects. Elevating some disciplines over others only reinforces outmoded assumptions of industrialism and offends the principle of diversity. The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education.”
This is easily achieved in a home setting. Rather than setting aside a room, decorating it to look and feel like a traditional school, and reinforcing the “outmoded assumptions of industrialism” why not run with the idea of home, with its inherent warmth, comfort, and flexibility, and allow that to shape how you teach, raise, and influence your child?
What this means for many homeschoolers is that the home is your playground/classroom.
The dining room table is the perfect place to study. It’s also where you can learn to prepare meals with your kids, create artwork, and do a variety of activities. It naturally lends itself as a base to do shared learning and work.
The living room is essentially a play area for kids, right? No reason you can’t make it a study area for them too. Especially for young ones who are using math manipulatives, learning tiles and play blocks. Again, it’s less about being in a “proper” learning environment and more about being comfortable and energized to pursue learning and creativity, uninterrupted.
“If you live in a world where every lesson is 40 minutes, you immediately interrupt the flow of creativity,” says Robinson. The idea is to let children learn at their own pace, with very limited restrictions. The home is free space and allows this.
Home is Where The Heart Is
But perhaps more than the flexibility and comfort of home is the fact that it’s more than a set of walls and furniture – it’s a place of refuge, safety, and love.
Home is where children can learn without pressure, negative influences, and destructive criticism. Instead, with the support of loving parents who actually have time to identify their strengths and weaknesses, children can truly thrive.
Homeschooling is more than just lenient waking times, flexible seating arrangements, off-the-cuff snacks in the kitchen, and exposure to a wide range of cultural, literary, and athletic experiences. It’s more time with mom, dad, friends, and family. The people who shape you the most. The people we call home.
If you’re pursuing homeschool or thinking about it, just remember your greatest asset is your home. If you ditch that, it’s just school.