A beauty queen and hands-on mom shares the value of home schooling
MOST parents believe that sending their children to the best schools in the country can assure them of quality education and learning. But with soaring tuition fees and time spent away from their precious ones, this back-to-school season can be the best time for parents to reflect if they are truly reaping the benefits going for traditional schools.
For Mrs. Globe 2013 2nd runner-up Rachel Felix—who at the early age of 27 has mastered the art of being a homemaker and a teacher to her kids—homeschooling can be the best thing that parents can give to their children.
Aside from her “tender, loving care” and dedicated time with her children, she truly believes that the most important and basic values that a child needs in life can only be taught at home.
“In our experience, I believe it is important that parents establish a good foundation for their children and to have their core values intact, which for me can only be done at home,” she affirmed.
From being an employee in GE Capital in 2008, she quit her day job and decided to become a full-time housewife. With willingness and joy, she whole-heartedly took on the task of seeing to all the household chores, being a teacher to her two children, all while staying beautiful and trim.
As a young couple, Rachel and her husband Paolo started their family when they were both 20 years old. Now, their eldest daughter, Mimi, is 6 and starting Grade 1 this month, while their youngest son, Zakk, is 4 and will begin Kindergarten.
But before deciding to homeschool their children, the couple extensively discussed and constantly prayed together before they made the leap of faith.
“When the time came for Mimi to go to school, we discussed a lot of options, one of which was homeschooling. I’m a graduate of IT [Information Technology] but I really wanted to be a teacher. So when we went around to find the perfect school for her, I opened up to the preschool owners and principals that my primary option was homeschooling. But of course we had doubts that maybe being in a big school was a better option,” Rachel told The Sunday Times Magazine.
“But even these educators, they really encouraged me to try it out because even to them, homeschooling is the best option for parents because it has so many benefits compared to traditional schools,” she excitedly shared.
One of the issues plaguing parents nowadays is bullying. Children who are in a “big school” or in a traditional learning institution become more vulnerable to bullying—situations that can be either be as mild as teasing, or more extreme that involves being physically hurt by their peers and psychologically scarred.
Initially, Rachel thought, “At least my child won’t be bullied.” But besides being protected from bullying, homeschooling turned out to have so many other benefits for the entire family.
“The one thing I did not like about traditional schooling is to have my children stay with strangers and other kids for a long period of time—for about three to four hours with minimal supervision. Just by watching television, they can already absorb habits that they see in cartoon characters, so I can never be sure what they are learning with other kids who don’t have the same family values as we have,” the young mother said.
On the health front, her children are also spared from contracting anything from the common cold to new age viruses on a regular basis.
More importantly for Rachel though, is that she is able to know her children better, and identify their strengths and weaknesses while supervising their learning at their own pace. She is also able to incorporate activities or lessons into their education that best suit their personalities.
Her youngest son for example is into history, dinosaurs, soldiers and airplanes—an interest he has picked up from his dad. Together, they use these as tools for learning, which also serve as quality time for the father and son to bond and talk.
Mimi, on the other hand, is very much into arts and crafts, as well as ballet and baking.
Since Rachel does some sewing for leisure, it is easy for her to develop her baby girl’s interests while not forgetting her own. They can choose to bake pastries and cakes, or design and make clothes together.
Schedule is never an issue for their family as well. While the Department of Education (DepEd) requires a parent-teacher to provide four hours of instruction for kindergarten to seventh grade students, the Felix couple has laid out their rules even before Mimi started homeschooling.
As a commercial model and pageant titleholder, Rachel juggles her activities with those of her husband, who works as an online stockbroker in the Philippine Stock Exchange. With flexible schedules and constant communication, the couple takes turns in being the parent-teacher of the kids and yes, even in doing household chores, including laundry.
In homeschooling, one of the major concerns of parents is developing their child’s social skills. However, most parent-teachers, including Rachel, have easily debunked this issue.
“It is important that you incorporate activities outside home. My kids have extracurricular activities—like my girl, she has ballet school. They also attend Sunday school where they are taught spirituality with other kids. We also make it a point to take them to the park or to the mall where they get to meet new people,” Rachel said.
She also stressed that it is important for parents to be patient and completely dedicated when homeschooling. As expected, teaching your own children, especially young kids, can be frustrating and disappointing at times.
As she mentioned earlier in the interview, every child learns in a different pace, and it is up to the parent to carry on with one subject without forcing or stressing out the child. For Rachel, she would allow short breaks in between lessons when her children would have difficulty learning a certain subject.
“I don’t want to transfer my frustration to my child so I go and do something else for a little while, like wash the dishes or do a quick cleanup around the house. But I make sure that we don’t move to the next lesson until she gets the subject we’re trying to learn,” Rachel said.
Before homeschooling your child, Rachel advises parents to read a lot, research, talk to experts, and to try it out for at least a month. In disciplining her children, the couple consulted their pediatrician on the best methods so that they don’t traumatize their children.
“Honestly, we have spanked the kids a few times in extreme cases. To us, ‘extreme’ means fighting and hurting each other, or refusing to share what they have with the other. We also never use our hands but rather, we have the hanger as our only tool. And before we punish them, we explain what they did wrong, and we only hit them one time,” Rachel admitted.
She was also advised to start this method with their children as early as one to years old. It is important that the child remembers what was wrong, and to understand that the parent, in reprimanding them, is not mad at the child, but at what was done.
With homeschooling technicalities, parents are also faced with many “styles” that have been developed by experts. However, most parent-teachers do not usually follow a specific method, but rather select ideas coming from different styles and incorporate those that best fit their habits and family lifestyle.
A parent-teacher, who is required to be a college graduate, can enroll their child and avail the school curriculum, lesson plans, teacher trainings, and instructional materials from the listed DepEd accredited homeschool programs. Some of these are The Master’s Academy (TMA), a Christian school set up by the Christ’s Commission Fellowship; the Catholic Filipino Academy; or the Living Heritage Academy from the School of Tomorrow.
Institutions like Angelicum College and Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila also provide home study programs for elementary and high school students.
Parents are also rest assured that in the Philippine Constitution, homeschooling is legal and even supported by DepEd. The legal compulsory school attendance is six to 12 years, so homeschooling parents can seek accreditation once their kids begin grade school. The Philippine Validating Test (PVT) allows homeschooled students to be accredited by DepEd, and is taken depending on the subject and year level of the child. Those who transfer to regular school from homeschool will have to take this test in order to be accepted to a traditional school and move forward to the next level.
For Rachel, homeschooling remains the best option in terms of her children’s education.
“Until they are happy and not complaining,” she laughed, this superwoman will continue on trusting her maternal instinct to make their home an environment of love and learning.