12.07.2019

Imagine Homeschooling In The Philippines

Imagine Homeschooling In The Philippines




UPDATE 4-1-2020


COVID19 has totally vindicated homeschoolers and has revealed us to be the true innovators and visionaries. As the rest of the world is scrambling to flatten the curve we have been ahead of it for years. The future will continue to reveal just how right we have been all along as millions follow in the trail that we have blazed ahead of them.


UPDATE 5-20-2020


Almost three months into COVID-19 lock-downs and we have not missed a step, as far as education goes. In February we started a new round of courses: Basic Biology, Algebra II, Basic Finance and English Grammar and Composition. This is in addition to Bible, literature and our daughter's self guided computing interests. 

About mid-way through the year she will be ready to move into basic chemistry and more advanced Algebra II. I took up stock trading a while back, so I have a lot of Kindle books on the subject. I intend to make them all assigned reading for our daughter to get her acquainted with how the markets function.

Khan Academy is turning out to be a great asset and not just for the learning materials. Our daughter has countless friends on the platform with whom she is able to share ideas about many topics.

Table Of Contents:


Homeschooling Was Always Our Plan


We had always planned on homeschooling even before we made the big move to the Philippines. The changes brought by living in a province made homeschooling even more attractive. But it has not been an easy path. 

When we began searching the Internet for homeschooling support here in the Philippines we found a lot of 404-ed pages, dead links, defunct domains and many email addresses that never responded or came back as address unknown.

We also found in the non-Internet world that no one seemed to understand homeschooling and many of them disapproved of it. We were often told that homeschooling was against the law. 

After a while, we stopped attempting to find support and forged our own path - everything went much smoother at that point.

That was almost a decade ago and much has changed. There now seems to be a lot more support available for homeschoolers in the Philippines. You can find large scale exhibitions dedicated to homeschooling, like the annual Philippine Homeschool Convention. Many curriculum publishers showcase their material at these conventions. I have found that events like this tend to be held in Manila, but you might be able to find similar events in other locations in the Philippines. Homeschool events should become more common as the popularity of homeschooling continues to grow in the Philippines.

Homeschooling Is NOT Against The Law In The Philippines 


Republic Act No. 10157 otherwise known as The Kindergarten Education Act of 2012 made preschool kindergarten compulsory in the Philippines.

Republic Act No. 10533 otherwise known as The Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 made grades 1-12 compulsory in the Philippines.

Prior to RA 10157 and RA 10533 the Article XIV of The 1987 Constitution Of The Philippines made only elementary education compulsory:
Section 2. The State shall:
(2) Establish and maintain, a system of free public education in the elementary and high-school levels. Without limiting the natural rights of parents to rear their children, elementary education is compulsory for all children of school age; 
Homeschool organizations and private schools in the the Philippines also point to this paragraph as support for the legitimacy of homeschooling under Philippine law. Without limiting the natural rights of parents to rear their children is the operative statement. If parents' rights to raise their children are not limited, then parents cannot be forced to send their children to public school. But this right is tempered with a responsibility of the parent to assure that the child is afforded their right to an education.

In addition to having a foundation of Constitutional support, homeschooling also enjoys explicit approval from the Government, as noted in Philippine Senate Resolution 308 drafted in 2017 by Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, wherein the Senate expresses its full support for the first National Homeschool Day.

The Department of Education also showed its approval for homeschooling when it distributed DepEd Advisory No. 334 in 2014 pertaining to the National Conference on Homeschooling.

Also from the 1987 Constitution, to uphold the rights of children and ostensibly as a matter of national importance the state retains the power of oversight:
Section 4.(1) The State recognizes the complementary roles of public and private institutions in the educational system and shall exercise reasonable supervision and regulation of all educational institutions.
The following quote turns up dozens of times on the Internet (though none of them provide the full text of the DepEd memo it references or any link to it) and seems to be the extent of the "reasonable supervision and regulation" mentioned above:
"the Department of Education (DepEd) Memo no. 216 s. 1997 entitled 'Home Education Program' states that if a homeschooled student wants to transfer into a conventional school, he or she must first  be accredited by DepEd."
Student accreditation in this instance means placement testing. This policy also holds for all DepEd accredited private elementary, secondary and college level schools. This does make perfect sense and it is also consistent with U.S. practice. 

The student(s) will need to be assessed by DepEd via the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT). At the time of the test the student is issued a Learner Reference Number (LRN) that will be used to track and identify the student throughout their schooling. Additional information about this test can be found at FilipinoHomeSchooler and the Homeschooling Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI). If you need more information, then you must contact DepEd personally.

It is possible (though not required) for a homeschool to be accredited by DepEd. If you do not want to be accredited by DepEd, then you can homeschool independently. However, if you want your child to eventually be accepted at a university in the Philippines or enrolled in public school or an accredited private institution, then they will need to be assessed by DepEd first.

The legitimacy of homeschooling seems to be more accepted in the National Capital Region where there reside many high profile families that have publicly spoken about their decision to homeschool. They make this choice many times due to the child having a career and homeschooling provides greater flexibility for scheduling.

Homeschool In The Philippines And Still Go To A U.S. College


Update on taking the GED in the Philippines 

Our plan to send our daughter to a university in the United States is predicated upon the fact that she already has U.S. citizenship.

The simplest way for us to meet US college entrance requirements is to pursue a US high school diploma.There are several options available for earning a US high school diploma without ever setting foot in a US school.

The first option is the General Educational Development (GED) Diploma. It is possible to take to the GED battery of tests in the Philippines through MISNet Education, Inc. Of course, we could also take the GED test back in the US too.

Passing the GED provides a high school diploma that is accepted at the vast majority of US colleges and universities and all of the particular colleges and universities that I have researched and short-listed. 

Some people that I have spoken with about our plans doubt the viability of the GED. When I prompt them for reasons why it is evident that their opinions are based upon vague assumptions or anecdotal information and not upon facts. 

The GED is a viable option and given the right student and the right circumstance it can be a superior option. Our child is that student and we have created and will continue to create the circumstances to help her to propel herself to success.

I provided a bit more information about the GED in a previous post.

The HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) and the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) are two other state-specific high school credential options that we might choose, depending upon where we decide to relocate in the US.

HOMESCHOOL SUBJECTS AND METHODS


Reading 


Our daughter had a good vocabulary by the time she was 18 months old. We attribute this not only to the fact that we spent a lot of time talking to her, but also to the fact that we read to her daily. It is extremely important to read to your kids from early on. We continue to this day to read together as a family. Thanks to this practice our daughter is a voracious reader. She has read books that I shy away from, like the near 1000 page behemoth, Moby Dick.  
 
In addition to reading books, we introduced our daughter to Hooked on Phonics when she was about three years old.

Living in a mildly remote location of the Philippines makes it a little difficult to find hard copies of books. Still, we have had a bit of luck. We have found quite a few hard copy classics and novels suitable for school aged children at National Bookstore. We have also ordered a few books from them online. We have acquired most of our books in digital form. Amazon Kindle is an invaluable resource for us when it comes to literature. We have purchased classics from them in Kindle format and also our daughter has become a huge fan of Clive Cussler's adventure books.

Enjoy this selection of books we have found in the public domain in PDF format: 
Even more free books here: www.web-books.com

Another online resource that can help with building reading comprehension is ReadWorks. They offer FREE reading comprehension worksheets for grades K-12. We used ReadWorks worksheets extensively for grades 4-7. The great thing about reading comprehension worksheets is that they cross over into the domains of science, mathematics, government and history.

English Grammar and Writing 


To a limited extent the rules of grammar can be absorbed by osmosis through a solid reading regimen.

It is still essential to master spelling, punctuation, parts of speech and syntax/sentence structure through a targeted topical approach.

We were able to find a good supply of English handwriting and grammar workbooks and other materials at bookstores in the malls of larger cities. These supplies helped us to structure our daughter's learning experience for the main grammar topics. We had no trouble finding plenty of books that help to teach the fundamentals of English Grammar and handwriting.

We augmented the books we were able to find with worksheets downloaded from the Internet. The site we used most is K12Reader.com. We started started out with the spelling lists and worked through all of those from grades 1-5. We are now working on the high school spelling program. K12Reader offers worksheets for all grammar topics and they are suitable for elementary, middle school and high school levels. We found the sentence diagramming worksheets particularly helpful.

For the last couple of years we have been adding writing assignments to any subject that requires extensive reading. Reading a chapter in history? That requires a report. Reading a book or novel? That requires a report. We have also been studying strategies for the new optional SAT essay and practicing online with Khan Academy.

Writing assignments are completed sometimes via word processor and sometimes via hand written format. When an assignment is to be completed in hand written format I require it to be done in cursive. I have heard that cursive is no longer being taught in some schools, but I think that cursive is important and so I made it a point to teach it to our daughter.

Mathematics 


Homeschooling is easy for younger children when it comes to math and other subjects. You can find plenty of basics on the Internet and possibly at the bookstores here. It is also simple to just make up your own material for the primary grades. We went through hundreds of flash cards and print out worksheets.

Finding curriculum began to become difficult for us at about the 6th grade level. I searched the book stores and did not find much. That is when I was saved by the Internet (again). 

I found Stephen Hake's Saxon Math.  We solved every problem in Course 1, Course 2, and Course 3. We diligently worked through the 2000+ pages of problems in those three books. The three links lead to Amazon where you can read the descriptions of the books. No Kindle versions are available. We acquired only the student editions with no answer keys. I had to solve all of the problems myself, which I found to be good for keeping me engaged.

Saxon Math courses 1-3 roughly correspond to grades 6-8. Our daughter completed them before the end of what would have been her 6th grade year in the U.S.

Since that time we have been working though various Algebra I & II resources from Amazon Kindle and Khan Academy

This coming year we will continue with more Algebra II practice followed by geometry and pre-calculus. Amazon Kindle and Khan Academy will continue to be important resources for subject material.

In the 2021-2022 time-frame we will begin ramping up our SAT math preparations by: a) continuing to study core test subjects b) taking several full length practice tests and c) studying testing strategies.

Science 


Like math, science is easy to teach and to find material for the primary grades. It is possible to find pdf textbooks online for pretty much any science subject and at any grade level. The problem is that, as the grades get higher the material gets drier and more massive. It's really hard to teach from a massively boring 1200 page pdf biology textbook.

For the junior high and high school years we will focus on four major topics tackling one every 6-8 months beginning in 2020: biology, earth science, chemistry and physics. We have touched upon all of those topics in the earlier years, but now it's time to delve deeper.

We need the material to be as interactive and varied as possible, so I have decided upon a mixture of curriculum in both hard copy and online formats. For chemistry, in addition to Kindle and Khan, I might use a virtual lab resource like the ones linked at Chemistry Clubs. I checked out some of the links and the one I like best at this point is the virtual lab provided by Chem Collective.  

We are fortunate that we live in a place that is conducive to teaching and learning about science. We have mountainous rain-forest to one side of us and the ocean to the other side. We live in a place frequented by typhoons making the weather a frequent conversational topic. Living in a rural location brings the natural world to our doorstep. And yet, we are also immersed in a rapidly changing technological environment.

Our place is very conducive to sky watching due to very dark skies. When We first came here I wondered why the same band of clouds persisted overhead night after night. Then I figured out that it was not clouds. It is the Milky Way. I had never seen it so clearly in the United States. Venus and Jupiter were also much more brilliant in this location. Our daughter loves to use Stellarium Astronomy Software to determine the identity of objects in the night sky.  If I can find a local supplier where I can try before I buy, then I would like to take sky watching to the next level with a computerized and GPS enabled telescope.

Filipino Language


My wife began Filipino lessons with Filipino Levels 1 & 2 when our daughter was five years old. We also hired a teacher to do one-on-one tutoring in Filipino. My wife and our daughter love to watch Filipino TV and I think that they both see that as an opportunity to keep their Filipino skills sharp. I also began to learn the language and I share things that I have learned with our daughter and talk to her in Filipino sometimes.

The net result is a child who is fluent in the Filipino language and culture.

Bible 


We began our daughter's Bible study with an old copy of Egermeier's Bible Story Book. We read it over and over until the binding fell off and the pages fell out. She also memorized many verses and passages over the years.

To this day we study together as a family.

In 2020 we might try to incorporate a more academic level of Bible study into our daughter's schooling experience. I am currently exploring free online Bible courses offered by Dallas Theological Seminary and The Biblical Training Institute. I will update this post with my decision after I have evaluated these programs.

A great tool that I have used for years is the Online Bible application. The tool is free and there are also many free Bible versions and commentaries that can be downloaded as modules, as well as an Interlinear Greek version, Strong's Concordance and many other helps and add ins.

Computers & Technology 


Within the next few years our daughter will prep for the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam via Amazon Kindle and might actually sit for the exam and earn the certification some day.

We started with computer basics when she was 5-6 years old. She learned about the mouse and the keyboard. The first application we introduced her to is every five year old's favorite, Microsoft Paint. That quickly progressed into the file system and word processing and MS Office followed by other programs and applications. At around 8-9 years old our daughter was learning about networking and video games.

It was also at this time when I began to introduce her to programming and that started out with Scratch.  Scratch is "an event driven, visual, block based programming language."

Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group 
at the MIT Media Lab. 
 (CC By-SA 2.0)

Next we moved into Small Basic. Small Basic is a free application developed by Microsoft that includes an integrated development environment (IDE) built around a simplified form of the BASIC programming language. Small Basic was created to introduce beginning programmers to object oriented programming:


A screen shot of Microsoft Small Basic 
used with permission from Microsoft.

Descent




Descent is a six-degrees-of-freedom (6DOF) video game that pits the player against rogue robots in various mines on various planets and moons. Versions 1, 2 and 3 all came out in the 1990s. I think Descent is a great game for introducing the capabilities of 3D computer programming. Just getting the games up and running makes for a great introduction to lots of different computer concepts.

You can get Descent 1Descent 2 and Descent 3 from Good Old Games (GOG).  We only have a demo for Descent 1, but we purchased the full versions of Descent 2 and Descent 3 from GOG.

Getting Descent 2 set up on machine 1 went smoothly, but on the second machine it failed to run. We ended up having to create a .bat file that sets the SDL_VIDEODRIVER environmental variable to windib:
set SDL_VIDEODRIVER=windib

"C:\GOG Games\Descent 2\DOSBOX\DOSBox.exe" -conf "..\dosboxDescent2.conf" -conf "..\dosboxDescent2_single.conf" -noconsole -c "exit"
The second line is the command string from "target" value in the shortcut that the game installation created on the desktop. The .bat file should be placed in the dosbox folder in the Descent 2 folder. Then right click on the bat file and select send to desktop as shortcut and that becomes your new shortcut to open the game.

Another issue that we had with Descent 2 came up when we wanted to play a multiplayer game. Descent 3 came out with full support for IPv4. Descent versions 1 & 2 only support the old Novell IPX protocol and no version of Windows has supported IPX since XP (but you can use Kali emulator). We decided to use a tool that we already have and that is the free app of Descent 1 and Descent 2 called Descent Rebirth. The software is a source port and it does away with the need for dosbox and includes built in support for IPv4.

To play the full versions of Descent 2 with multiplayer capability:
  • Download and install Descent Rebirth
  • Purchase Descent from GOG and install it
  • copy these files from the GOG Descent 2 installation into the same folder as the installation folder for Descent 2 Rebirth that contains the D2R .exe file:



Descent 3 came out with native IPv4 support, so when you purchase it from GOG you are all set to play multiplayer games.

Our daughter taught herself how to make new levels for Descent 3 using the OOF Editor and the GAM Tool. You may also need the MS Visual Basic runtime files.

Social Studies 


A lot of Filipino History can be covered in the course of teaching the language. Another large part of it is intertwined with US History. We have had an easy time finding hard copy material for Philippine History and government at the bookstores here. 

For US History we have enjoyed using USHistory.org. USHistory.org covers everything from the Anasazi to the Information Age. We are also working through their sections on US Government and Ancient Civilizations.

Khan Academy offers an even wider array of Social Studies topics that incorporate YouTube video and quizzes.
 
Unlike the SAT, the GED does test for Social Studies knowledge, so we will be focusing heavily upon history, government and economics in the coming years.

On Campus University Or Online?


Armed with a high school diploma and a decent SAT score our daughter will be ready to start submitting applications to various universities. 

Many of the specific programs that we have been looking at are offered online and more programs will become available online as time passes. 

The problem for us with an online degree program boils down to cost. Most universities will classify our daughter as an international student and that causes the tuition cost to go well beyond reach.

We will most likely qualify for federal grants and with good SAT score there may be some scholarships as well. Some universities also offer in-state tuition rates to worthy students. There are a couple of online  programs that are very reasonably priced even without being classified as "in state."

We may opt for on campus classes and for this we would need to move to a given state and establish residency under that state's laws. This typically takes 12 months. To establish state residency you can either buy a home in the state and actually live in it and or be gainfully employed in that state. We will not be buying a home, but we will be working. Those 12 months do not have to be wasted time. Some states allow a student to take a limited number of credit hours at in-state rates even though they do not otherwise qualify.

These things are still many years away, so we are focusing on learning for now.

The Bottom Line 


The homeschooling strategy outlined in this article is geared toward our unique circumstances of having US citizenship and our plan for our daughter to obtain a US high school diploma and then attend a US university.

I hope I have shown that it is very possible to homeschool in the Philippines even in a somewhat remote location. Hard copy books can be found, but might be limited, especially at higher school grades. The Internet can be used to great effect in rounding out a homeschool program.





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