As the homeschooling movement grows in the Philippines, there will be more and more home education programs available to support families. But how does one go about choosing the right homeschool provider?
Personally, I recommend a homeschooling provider that is run by a good team of homeschoolers and educators, but gives parents liberty to customize their child’s education. No one knows homeschooling like someone who has been there and done it. Yet, an academician’s perspective and input is also a helpful check and balance.
Secondly, look for a program that has a good track record. Where do their graduates go? Homeschooling may still be in its budding stages in the Philippines, but there are providers out there who have been around for several years. TMA, for example, was the pilot project of DepEd for Home Education Providers and has good accountability with DepEd NCR. (Because of my affiliation to TMA that sounds like I am plugging! Sorry about that!)
Third, parents should consider a provider that connects them to other homeschooling families. The support of other families is very important. Does the provider have organized coops? Playgroups?
Fourth, parents should check out the curriculums that a provider offers and see if they are aligned with the goals for their own children. Are the materials flexible enough to give their child individualized instruction? This is a key benefit of homeschooling and if a program only offers one type of curriculum, parents need to find ways to supplement and enrich it.
Be wary of any provider that merely duplicates the school experience at home. Children learn differently and have varied learning styles. Insisting that there is only one method to homeschool will not maximize the learning potential of a child. However, if homeschooling is a short-term option for a family, then a school-at-home method might be the best because it will keep a child from having to make too many drastic transitions.
Fifth, investigate what kind of “after care” and commitment the provider has to its families, especially in the area of progress monitoring. Does the program regularly evaluate its enrollees? Some programs allow parents to be very independent but do not have an established and systematic way of assessing children’s progress. Assessments equip parents to better teach their children. And remember, assessments aren’t limited to academics only. The best assessments consider the total person — spiritual, emotional, mental, social and physical.
Sixth, rely on word of mouth as better advertising than actual promotions done by providers. Homeschool providers are, for the most part, offering a unique service to families. So good service matters. Ask around and do some investigation to find out which providers are well “rated” by families. But, take into consideration the fact that some families may just be impossible to please, too! So don’t base evaluations on the opinion of just one or two persons. Send out a Facebook query. That ought to generate some responses.
Seventh, call the Department of Education, NCR, for a list of accredited home school programs. Parents who value accreditation do not want to finish a year of homeschooling only to find out that all that work will not be considered as valid.
Eighth, observe the “products.” The families in a program will constitute the peers of a child who enrolls with that program. Find out what kinds of families are enrolled. Will the values and behaviors of their children be a positive influence? Parents can ask the provider if they can attend a coop meeting just to check it out. A good provider should allow families to sit in one or two meetings even if they are not enrolled.
Observe the way the children interact with one another and with their parents. Hopefully, parents will end up coming away from these meetings thinking, “These are kids I would like my kids to grow up with!” instead of the opposite.
Ninth, does the program have a clear mission and vision? Do they have a big picture perspective on homeschooling and are they moving towards their goals? A clear mission and vision statement with a team that is aligned to it means that the organization is healthy. And a healthy organization can organize quality music, art, pe classes, events, give proper child assessments, bring homeschool parents together, etc. The provider’s orientation ought to reveal the mission and vision to parents, and the heart of its team.
Tenth, pray! Don’t just jump. Ask for clear signs and confirmation from your spouse, God’s word, and people whom you trust. Homeschooling with a provider is very different than homeschooling independently. Providers require a certain amount of structure and accountability that will test a parent’s commitment levels. And monetary costs will be involved.
At the end of the day, believe me when I say, there is no perfect homeschool provider. I have talked to so many parents about their homeschool experiences and the reality is parents do get disappointed with their homeschool providers. The good news is that parents who homeschool out of conviction do not make the shortcomings of their homeschool providers the basis for whether they will homeschool or not. They keep going and stay positive!
So research and filter through the options. And remember, the key benefits of homeschool providers is accreditation, support, assessment, access to homeschool materials, and community. But the key benefits of homeschooling, such as quality time together, customizing the educational experience, raising achievers, passing on family values, focusing on character training, and raising children who love and follow God are benefits that families can experience even if they are not connected with the “perfect” provider.