8.26.2020

US Expat's Philippines Homeschool Guide

US Expat's Philippines Homeschool Guide





Table Of Contents:


Homeschooling Was Always Our Plan


We planned to homeschool from the very beginning when we were still living in the United States. When we moved to a provincial area in the Philippines we were happy to have homeschooling as an option. Homeschooling is not for everyone. Many parents must work. My wife and I are are retired and we both have bachelor's degrees and even for us homeschooling 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 people disapproved of it. We were often told that homeschooling was against the law.

When we stopped looking for outside support and forged our own path everything went much smoother.

That was almost a decade ago and much has changed since then. Now there is 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 (especially with the advent of COVID-19).

There seems to be greater public acceptance of homeschooling in the National Capital Region where there are 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.

Homeschooling Is Legal 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 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 Philippine 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 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 in Section 4.(1). 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.

HOMESCHOOL SUBJECTS AND METHODS


Reading


Our daughter had a good vocabulary by the time she was 18 months old. We attribute this in part to the fact that we spent a lot of time talking to her. We talked to our daughter the same way that we talk to each other with no baby talk. There is some debate on whether baby talk is bad or not, but we also just spoke naturally.

We also began reading to our daughter 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 her to Hooked on Phonics when she was about three years old.

Now that we live in a semi-remote location of the Philippines it is 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 their website. 

The majority of our books have been found online. Many are free sources, but we also buy books from Amazon, like Clive Cussler's adventure novels, that can be read on the Kindle for PC.

Even more free books here and at www.web-books.com.

ReadWorks is great online resource that we have used for building reading comprehension. They offer free reading comprehension worksheets for grades K-12. We used ReadWorks worksheets extensively for grades 4-7. An additional benefit to the 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 had no trouble finding plenty of books that help to teach the fundamentals of English Grammar and handwriting. 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 augmented the books we found 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.

Check out Applied Educational Systems for a nice seven lesson plan that teaches kids how to craft email messages. We worked through the lessons and then assigned our daughter to send an email to a University requesting more information about one of their undergraduate programs.

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 agood telescope.

Makabayan & Filipino 


These subjects have been mostly  my wife's lane, but I will do my best to talk about it. Makabayan (meaning love for country) incorporates many subjects, such as: Sibika at Kultura (civics and culture); Kasaysayan (Philippines history);  Hekasi (geography) as well as economic and political structure

Our daughter has been learning a lot of the language and cultural material from mom literally since birth. When we moved to the Philippines that learning was multiplied manifold by the presence of many family members and neighbors and being immersed in the actual culture. 

We were able to find a wide variety of workbooks in local shops, including National Bookstore. Eventually we hired a tutor who was able to teach Filipino subjects  and language to our daughter. 

The history, geography and political science part is more along my line. Amazon has countless books on Philippine History. We have also used National Bookstore for hard-copy books, but for variety and instant availability Amazon cannot be beaten. No single book can cover everything, but two I can recommend are: A History of the Philippines (Illustrated) and History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos

There is no need to buy any kind of book for Philippine geography. There are too many tutorials for this subject on the Internet to enumerate. It will take some effort to wade through them all and find the quality. Geography needs to be interactive with lots of graphics, quizzes and stuff to print out and stick on the wall as a constant reminder. The method I employed in teaching geography was to cherry pick data from the Internet and assign study of that material. Then I would compose my own quizzes over the material. 

A basic resource that you can use for Philippines Geography is Geography of the Philippines from cicred.org.

The study of the Philippines' political structure is another subject that benefits from crossover learning from other Makabayan subjects and also the study of US political science, since the Philippines shares so much in common with the United States' political system. 

There are plenty of books to be found in local bookstores that cover the subject of basic political structure of the Philippines. I also liked this primer from the University of Illinois that broadly covers the overall political structure, but focuses on the barangay. I used that document and pulled out questions to create a test over the material.

Another good general source for a wide variety of material on Philippines government, history and geography is provided by countrystudies.us.

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.

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 1, Descent 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.

US 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.

Practical Money Skills by VISA 


I discovered a great resource from VISA that teaches kids and young people skills for managing money. The program is called Practical Money Skills and it has lesson plans available for pre-K all the way through college level. We are working through the grade 9-12 block of lesson plans. You can download zip files that contain all lessons within the grade block including teacher instructions.

HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA OPTIONS

 


When our daughter ready to enter college we will have been living in the Philippines for about fifteen years. That is not far off in the future. We are barely a year away from the time when we will focus all of our efforts on testing for a high school diploma that will be accepted by US based universities and colleges. There are but a few options for acquiring that diploma. 

General Educational Development (GED) Diploma


Students who desire to take the GED at international locations may do so at age 18 with no restrictions. If the test taker is under 18, then they may take the test once they turn 16 years of age, but they must also submit Parental Consent Form. When an account is created with GED Testing Service if the test taker is between 16 and 18 years old there will be an alert message that will provide the link I gave above that leads to the consent form.

I contacted GED Testing Services to inquire about age restriction for test takers in the Philippines and this is the response that I received:
If your daughter intends to test in the Philippines while she is 16 or 17 years old, she will need to submit a completed Parent/Guardian Consent form and a Non-Disclosure Agreement form. These forms can be accessed directly through her account at GED.com by selecting "Clear My Alert". Please note, the tester and their parent/guardian will both need to sign the forms.

Once the forms are completed, please submit them as attachments in an email to Help@GED.com. Please allow 48-72 hours for processing and approval.
It is possible to take to the GED battery of tests in the Philippines through MISNet Education, Inc. To be certain, I also contacted MISNet Education to confirm that they do offer the GED test in the Philippines. I specifically inquired as to whether the Makati and Cebu locations offer the battery of GED tests and MISNet confirmed that they do indeed offer the GED tests at both locations.

Of course, we could also take the GED test back in the US too.

If you do decide to register for the GED and you want to use MISNet as your testing center, then you must register at GED.com.

This information is subject to change at any time, so please confirm the information I have provided here for yourself.

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.

To prepare for the GED a parent needs to create an account on the GED Testing Service website. Once you have an account you can access information about the four tests (mathematics, social studies, science and language arts) that must be passed to obtain the GED certificate.

The GED website also provides links to study options that include practice tests, study materials and prep courses. I know for a fact that live GED prep courses are available in Manila at this time.

Some people that I have spoken with about our plans doubt the viability of the GED. I have yet to discover a college or university that does not accept the GED, but the US Military does allow only a limited number of GED recipients to enlist per year.

HiSET


The HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) is another option to earn the high school diploma. Each state determines specific requirements for HiSET testing in that state and there are no International testing locations. Since the GED allows us to test before we relocate it remains our #1 choice for a high school diploma.

TASC


A third option for the high school credential is the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion). The TASC is offered by New York and Indiana and neither of these states is on our relocation shortlist.

COLLEGE ENTRANCE TESTING


College entrance exams test acquired skilled in reading, writing, science and mathematics. They also test a student's ability to manage time and cope with pressure and stress. The ACT and the SAT are two standardized tests that every college bound student should be planning for many years prior to graduation from high school.

The ACT


The ACT (American College Testing) is a standardized college entrance test developed by ACT, Inc. Like the GED website, the ACT website provides links to study materials and resources. The ACT test can be taken at several locations in the Philippines throughout the year.

The ACT test assesses English, mathematics, reading and scientific reasoning. There is an optional essay that tests the student's ability to understand and write about a complex issue.

The SAT


The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) was developed by College Board, Educational. The SAT is offered throughout the year at various locations in the Philippines.

The SAT test assesses reading, mathematics, writing and language. Unlike the ACT, the base SAT test does not assess scientific reasoning. The SAT also includes an optional essay. In addition to the base battery of tests, the SAT currently offers twenty subject tests that can be taken to boost a student's university placement.

Live prep courses are available in the Philippines for both the ACT and the SAT. Use Google to find them.

The prep route that I think we will take is through a combination of SAT and ACT study guides. Hard copy study material can be found at bookstores throughout the Philippines. Amazon Kindle versions of ACT and SAT study guides are also available. Amazon provides Kindle software for most devices. We have been using Kindle for PC for some of our homeschooling material.

Khan Academy offers an online SAT prep program that is free of charge. Khan currently has ten (10) full length SAT practice exams available that were written by the College Board especially for Khan Academy. Our daughter has already taken several of the exams and we do plan to make this a part of our ongoing test preps. Prep Scholar is a paid platform that offers SAT preparation online and they provide an insightful article detailing the shortcomings of the Khan SAT program.

Our strategy is a multifaceted plan and we will make use of many different formats and sources for our college prep.

Paying For College


US citizens and certain other non-citizens may be eligible for Federal Student Aid. The Federal Student Aid website provides information about what types of aid are available, eligibility requirements and access to the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Main types of aid available are grants, scholarships, various types of student loans and federal work study.

Federal student aid is subject to eligibility requirements that will be determined in part based upon whether the prospective student is classified as dependent or independent.

To establish dependent status US citizens who have children while they are living in the Philippines should report the birth to the US Embassy as soon as possible. The sooner this is done the easier it will be to acquire US citizenship and a US passport for the child. It is also possible to adopt a child while living in the Philippines and they can subsequently be granted an immigration visa if certain conditions are met.

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.

Education Credential Evaluation


If you plan to move back to the US and you have a spouse or child returning with you who has a degree from a University in the Philippines and they wish to use that degree for work or to pursue higher education in the United States, then they may need to have the degree evaluated by a Credential Evaluating Service whose work is accepted by the US employer or college/university. The process can take months to complete and may cost several hundred dollars, depending upon many factors.

If the degree is not printed in English, then the credential evaluator may require you to have it translated before they will evaluate it for you. Some credential evaluators also provide in-house translation. Two national associations of credential evaluators that can provide you with a listing of their members are:
  • The National Association of Credential Evaluating Services (NACES) and
  • The Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE)
Just because an organization is a member of one of these two associations does not guarantee that you can depend upon them. I did my own research on several credential evaluators and searched for reviews on Google to see what the public has to say about the quality of services offered.

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.

A final point I wish to address is socialization. Everyone who is "in the system" always hits on their perceived lack of socialization with homeschooling. When you look at the state of the world it is evident that socialization is a poorly comprehended and misunderstood cliche. 

For every positive of socialization there are concomitant negatives. Parents have the right and the responsibility to thoughtfully determine what kinds of socialization their children are subjected to. Thoughtlessly turning children over to public education is no better and perhaps worse than fearfully sheltering them at home.

It boils down to this question: do you care about what strangers are writing on your child's tabula rasa?

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