Long before our child was born, my husband and I were already on the same page on homeschooling. Our “decision” to homeschool basically just went like this:
Me: If we have a kid, I want to homeschool him/her.
Him: Me too.
We didn’t belabor much on the whys and wherefores, as we both wanted the same thing. We were mostly concerned on the hows of homeschooling in the Philippines.
We knew we wanted the freedom and flexibility of independent homeschooling, but we had some concerns, knowing that it can be quite bureaucratic in our country — identification here, accreditation there, documentation everywhere. Will there be setbacks in the future if our kid has none of those? We briefly considered homeschooling with a provider because of this, but all our concerns were laid to rest with further research and meeting actual indie families.
With the world still in the thick of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, many parents are now choosing to homeschool their kids, especially since a serious condition linked to COVID-19 — Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) — has emerged among the young.
This Q&A is for parents who want to go indie from the get-go but still have some reservations.
- What is independent homeschooling?
It is homeschooling without enrolling with a DepEd-accredited homeschool provider.
- Is it legal?
Yes. According to The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, “The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all . . . Without limiting the natural right of parents to rear their children . . .” The bolded phrase is the legal basis of homeschooling in the Philippines.
- That’s good to know. So we’re free to teach whatever we want?
The Constitution also states, “All educational institutions . . . shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, . . . teach the rights and duties of citizenship, strengthen ethical and spiritual values, develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge, and promote vocational efficiency.”
TL;DR: Yes, as long as you don’t teach your kid to be a subversive criminal anarchist. Just raise him/her to be a good person and law-abiding citizen, and the government is gonna be a-ok with you.
- So how do we start?
The appeal of independent homeschooling is that families are free to design their own curricula and implement them at their own pace. You can even do unschooling if you want. For a guide on what the government expects your child to learn at a certain age, check out DepEd’s comprehensive K to 12 Basic Education Program Curriculum Guides. For example, at Kindergarten level (5 years old), your child is expected to know the following about plants and animals:
- The curriculum guides are hundreds of pages long! Can we just buy textbooks that cover all this stuff?
You sure can. Click here for a list of local educational publishers who sell K-12 textbooks online. With independent homeschooling, you are free to choose your own learning materials, textbooks or otherwise. Want to follow a US-based curriculum instead? You can do that too.
Independent homeschooling can also be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. If you want to be frugal, there are tons of FREE homeschool resources online (Google is your friend).
- Do we need to document our indie journey?
According to The Constitution, “The State . . . shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions.” However, I have yet to hear of an indie family who has gotten a visit from DepEd for an evaluation of their homeschooling progress. We met an indie family whose eldest daughter is now in college; they barely kept any organized records for her.
TL;DR: No, but you can choose to compile a homeschool portfolio for your own records.
- What if I want to open a bank account for my kid or something? S/he won’t have a school ID.
Get your child a passport. We easily applied for one when our kid was around four months old. Click here to read about our experience at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
With the upcoming rollout of the Philippine Identification System, the country’s compulsory national identity document, hopefully this ID problem will become a thing of the past.
- What about socialization?
This oft-asked question by homeschooling naysayers has been rendered moot by COVID-19 — even they aren’t eager to send their kids back to regular school without a cure or vaccine. Anyway, this is where local homeschooling communities come in; you can find them on Facebook. There used to be lots of homeschool meetups pre-COVID-19, but these have transitioned to online ones through video conferencing apps.
- I’m almost convinced. So how does my kid get to college?
By enrolling in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Program and taking the Accreditation and Equivalency (A&E) Test. If you’re familiar with the US GED, it’s kinda like that. We met an indie teen who completed the program and passed the test a few years ago; she’s now in college.
There are other ways for indie children to get to college, but ALS is the most popular one among indie families. Click here to read my primer on ALS.