By Mariel Uyquiengco
Conversations with other moms are always fun, especially when you see eye-to-eye on so many topics. Such was the case at our recent lunch with the Peralejo sisters Rica Bonifacio and Paula Fernandez, and former Montessori-school owner Mars Medina. We talked about parenting, makeup (kilay!), and most exciting of all, homeschooling.
Rica and Paula have just decided to homeschool their young children, while Mars has been homeschooling her four-year-old using the Montessori method for quite some time. All are active on social media, sharing about their journey as homeschooling moms, and advocating the lifestyle as a result.
Homeschooling, an educational option in which parents are the primary educators of their children, is becoming more and more known and accepted in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippine Homeschool Convention on September 22 at the SMX Convention Center SM Aura Premier, Taguig, has become a highly anticipated event. Educating for Life has been organizing homeschool conferences with various groups, and the team is excited for this year’s theme, On Fire! Interested parents, new and veteran homeschoolers are invited to participate.
The first thing that people ask parents who choose to homeschool their kids is why? All three moms—intentional parents as they are—exercised due diligence to learn more about this educational style before plunging in.
Rica sent her son Philip to preschool when he was three. She was busy at that time and he seemed to crave activities that a school could well provide. Rica also thought he could benefit from being in school because Philip is an only child. But halfway through the academic year, Rica felt that her son was unhappy and was actually refusing to go to school. Only then did she seriously look into homeschooling.
She bought a book, read articles on the web, and talked to her sister and homeschooling friends. Her good friend and mentor Jenn Punzalan, whose homeschooled kids include YouTube sensation Janina Vela, convinced her with this thought: “How would teachers answer the questions your son has? Compare it to how you would answer him.” Rica adds that it is “difficult to entrust a growing mind to people with different values.”
On the other hand, Paula’s experiences as a young actress who sought self-education, and a teacher for a while at a progressive school, informed her ideas about education. She saw how exciting, self-motivating, and effective a non-traditional education could be. As a young teen, Paula felt that “school is something you just do at certain times,” boring, and is separate from life. However, as a natural learner, she enrolled herself in a learning center in lieu of high school, and passed the Department of Education’s equivalency exam. Paula’s discovery and study of Maria Montessori’s philosophy, which resonates with her immensely, cemented her decision to homeschool Pablo. She is determined to give her son an education that does not end when school ends. She wants him to keep asking and learning.
Mars, who inspires other young parents in her instagram account @montessorionmars, (that’s actually how she and Paula met and became friends) declares that her number one reason for homeschooling was “in part and initially selfish.” As an avid Montessori practitioner, observing children largely inspires her. “There was joy in watching students become successful in their work, what more in observing my own child?” She explains that the more she watches her daughter, the more that she wants to get her free from standardized curricula. Mars believes that “children care for things other than what school dictates” and they can learn from actual life. “Anywhere you go, you encounter something where you will need to persevere and rise up to the challenge,” she says. Breaking free from society’s definition of success, she reflects, can help parents raise children who can contribute to and change the world.
Their homeschooling tips
As new homeschoolers, Rica, Paula, and Mars come across as passionate and knowledgeable.
Rica, like other homeschoolers, believes parents have to be prepared to be able to fully embrace this lifestyle of learning. After all, teaching one’s own kids requires a total change in mindset about education and learning. This brings us to a point that all three moms share—enjoy learning too! “Kids are already equipped to learn,” says Mars, “we need to equip ourselves too.” Likewise, Paula believes that parents should have an “I can also learn” attitude. Learning alongside our kids as we prepare lessons or discover new things with them can be redemptive, says Rica, as we get to make up for our own educational gaps.
One of the many ways that these moms equip themselves is by listening to like-minded individuals, and you can learn more at the Philippine Homeschool Convention. Nine experienced homeschoolers from here and abroad are there during the plenary while nine more speakers are in the afternoon breakout sessions. On Fire! Philippine Homeschool Convention will be on September 22 at SMX Convention Center in SM Aura Premier, Taguig. Visit educatingforlife.co for more details. The deadline for the Early Bird Rate of P1,000 has been extended until September 16, with walk-in rate of P1,200.