Friday, October 13, 2017

Homeschooling Theo: Journey to Independent, Eclectic Homeschooling

Homeschooling plays a big part in our family life in terms of time, planning and prioritization. You might be wondering how Theo is able to do lots of things when he's only 12. Well, I would say I credit it to the fact that being homeschooled, he has more time and liberty to pursue his passion and interests than children his age who go to regular school.

Let me just say that I fully respect parents who send their kids to regular school. My husband and I are, actually, products of the traditional school system. Besides, I believe every family has its own unique characteristic. Homeschooling might work for some (like ours) while the traditional schooling might work best for others.

How I Learned About Homeschooling

Looking back, I think I first learned about homeschooling through preacher and bestselling author Bro. Bo Sanchez. In 2005, (incidentally, that was the year Theo was born) Bro. Bo founded the Catholic Filipino Academy (CFA), currently, one of the few homeschool providers in the Philippines. I have been attending Bro. Bo's teachings and reading his books since I was still single so, somehow, I was aware of his activities and his homeschooling advocacy was one of them.

Based on what I initially found out about homeschooling, I immediately fell in love with its concept. The thought of sharing knowledge with my son, enjoying every bit of time learning together at every opportunity and discovering and nurturing his gifts and passion was just so appealing and exciting.

Early Years

Like most moms, I began "homeschooling" Theo as early as he could grasp any concept by reading to him, teaching him the alphabet, counting, singing, praying, identifying names of things like trees, animals, furniture, etc., and teaching him just about anything he could easily learn and appreciate.

Too Young

When Theo turned four in May 2009, we believed he was ready for school. As I've mentioned in my previous post, he was already a fluent reader even before he started school. With homeschooling in mind, Papa Bong and I attended CFA's orientation. However, we were told that they only accepted students whose ages were five and up. (Update: Following DEPED's recent preschool requirements, CFA now accepts Nursery students or kids who are aged 3-4 years old).

Experiencing Regular School

It was also during that year when we moved and started to live here in Bulacan. We scouted for a preschool here and found one that seemed good enough for starters. We did not plan to enroll Theo for the whole school year because enrolling at CFA the following year was still foremost in our mind. Instead, we just wanted to enroll him for summer classes to give him a feel of how it was to be in school and be with kids his age. I couldn't remember now how we got convinced, but we ended up enrolling him for the whole year!

Theo's 1st class honors distinction medal and certificate in Nursery (regular school)
Theo's 1st class honors distinction medal and certificate given every quarter

Theo's experience there was not too bad. Since it was a private school and considered as one of the best in the province, they saw to it that each class had only a few manageable number of students. They were also very careful in not making any student feel left out, especially with the lessons. Although the intention there was good, it was quite a disadvantage for Theo because while he had already finished his lessons, he had to wait for a long time before some students were able to cope up. Sometimes, he was just repeating lessons day after day and he was already getting bored. Before the school year was over, we were more convinced than ever that we would go homeschooling from thereon.

Enrolled at CFA from Prep to Grade 4

In 2010, Theo was admitted to CFA as a Prep student.

These were the highlights and benefits of being a CFA homeschooler.

  • Access to curriculum and materials (include lesson plans and textbooks)
  • Parent Coaching (by veteran homeschooling parents) who could help and guide parents whenever we had questions or concerns about homeschooling
  • An orchestra where the students could join (Theo joined when he was in Grade 3 and stayed as a member up to Grade 4.)
  • Weekly club activities (math tutorials, science club, martial arts classes, arts club, religion club, theater arts, dance), events (family camp, sports fest, etc.) and field trips

    • Some of the weekly activities had monthly fees and some were free.
  • Regular parent workshops where parents could learn more about parenting, teaching and homeschooling our kids.
  • Official report cards were issued per school year, signed by school officials but filled up by the parents, themselves, based on the child's performance in quizzes, quarterly exams, character traits and activities. Transcript of records were also available.
  • Catholic events such as First Holy Communion, Sacrament of Confirmation, Anointing at the start of the school year
In 2014, when Theo was an incoming Grade 4 student, CFA offered a new track wherein the parents would have the freedom to choose their own curriculum. In effect, we were still enrolled at CFA but we were already being introduced to independent homeschooling.

Here is a comparison between the old track (A) and the new track (B):

Track A
Track B

1. DepEd-accredited
    - with official report card and transcript of records, no need to go to DepEd
1. No accreditation
    - will go to DepEd to take PEPT; PEPT results will be academic record
2. CFA Activities *
2. CFA Activities **
3. Parent Coaching
3. Parent Coaching
4. Lesson Plans provided
4. Parents will make their own
5. Quarterly exams provided
5. Parents will make their own or choose not to give exams
6. DepEd’s list of learning competencies will be provided
6. DepEd’s list of learning competencies will be provided
7. DepEd-prescribed K+12 curriculum. CFA will provide the locally published textbooks. Those opting for CHC will buy directly from the publisher.
7. Freedom to choose their own curriculum. Parents will buy their own set of books from other sources.
8. Quarterly submission of grades
8. No quarterly submission of grades
9. Higher fees with payment schemes
9. Lower fees, one-time payment only
*     All activities to include Graduation and Moving Up Day.

**   All activities except Graduation for Grade 6. For all grade levels in Track B, there will be a Recognition Day instead of a Moving Up Day. 

We Chose Track B: A Prelude to Independent Homeschooling

At first, it was quite difficult. I realized we had to look for and buy the books ourselves. I also had to make my own lesson plan. But when the school year ended, I became more confident that I was, indeed, able to homeschool Theo independently.

Why We Left CFA (This is kind of controversial, and it's the first time, after 3 years, that I'm publicly opening up about it.)

Moving on to Grade 5, we were still leaning towards enrolling at CFA (using Track B) because of the activities and also, so that Theo could still see his friends there. However, sometime before enrollment, my then 9-year-old Theo was bullied by his 30-something music/orchestra teacher, who was probably having a bad day that time. Since Theo was not the type of kid who would easily cry and get affected, we did not immediately notice that something went wrong during the class. It was only after, when we were eating at a fast food and having a casual conversation, that I asked how the class went.

Thankfully, Theo was able to narrate to us what happened. I was shocked. I called a co-parent, who's also close to me, to verify it. She's the mom of one of Theo's music classmates, who was a witness to the incident. Her son supported Theo's story. We reported this to CFA officials who were kind enough to meet with us at such a short notice and give us a chance to air our grievances. They also granted our request to call in the music teacher, who, then, apologized profusely for his uncalled-for behavior.

That incident became one of my worst experiences as a parent. We accepted his apology but we decided not to enroll Theo anymore the following school year. Looking back, I remembered previous incidents that should have given me clues that the teacher had already been picking on my son. He even made it clear to me, one time, that he did not like prodigies. I did not realize, then, that he was actually referring to Theo.

Fast forward to the present, as far as I know, he still teaches and leads the school orchestra. I am just hoping now that he has truly learned his lesson from that experience and he is now more careful of handling his students, especially the younger ones. Supposedly, one of the reasons parents prefer homeschooling than enrolling in a regular school is to protect their children from bullies. How would you feel if the one who bullies your child is the teacher himself?

Independent, Eclectic Homeschooling

According to,

"Relaxed" or "Eclectic" homeschooling is the method used most often by homeschoolers. Basically, eclectic homeschoolers use a little of this and a little of that, using workbooks for math, reading, and spelling, and taking an unschooling approach for the other subjects.

Since we went independent, I had not been aware that there are actually several styles or methods that we could adopt with regards to homeschooling. The most popular ones are:
  • School-at-Home
  • Unit Studies
  • Relaxed or Eclectic Homeschooling
  • Unschooling
  • Classical Homeschooling
  • The Charlotte Mason Method
  • The Waldorf Method
  • Montessori
  • Multiple Intelligences
  • DVD/Video Schooling
  • Internet Homeschooling

Just recently, I came across these terms and figured that we are actually using the relaxed or eclectic method. In future posts, I hope to share what we do for each subject and what resources we use. I must say that through the years, we have become more relaxed and flexible. It's been three years now and Theo is now Grade 7. Our journey to independent, eclectic homeschooling is truly colorful and challenging. We continue to learn and improve ourselves while we prepare Theo for college life.

MamaGoals of the Day
I end each post with the lesson/s I learned from the particular experience for the said post and keep them in mind as my "mama goals" that I can apply in everyday life and future events or activities. Perhaps they can be your parenting goals as well.

Here are my MamaGoals for this post:

  • Note to self: Forgive. Be a good example to Theo when it comes to forgiving those who have wronged us.

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About the Author

Our Family | mamagoals.comJust call me MamaFel. I'm from the Philippines and I'm a work-at-home mom, homeschooling my 15-year-old son. I've been married to a faithful husband for 26 years now. This is my story.