After college, Edric Mendoza’s vision was simply to start and raise a family. To achieve that, he thought that a job with distinguished companies such as Ayala Land was the way to go. But 10 years into his corporate life, he caught the vision and developed the courage to become an entrepreneur. “I left that world and haven’t looked back since,” says the former host of ANC’s On The Money. “My focus through these ventures was to help families, young ones, to get the right tools and perspective so that they do not make the same mistakes that I, or those I counsel, have made.”
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His first foray into that entrepreneurial life? Homeschool Global (HG), a company that espouses the idea of designing your own children’s education. “It used to be called TMA Homeschool and was a small organization with five team members and over 100 students,” the 42-year-old says. It was then a pioneer program under the Department of Education, but it badly needed an overhaul. “At that time, my firstborn was enrolled on his second year in the homeschool program. That was the trigger,” recalls the chairman. “My wife—who was homeschooled in elementary and from whom I learned a lot about homeschool—says I’m a rescuer at heart.” True to form, he wanted to fix things so that he can ensure his kids got a good education through the system as well as spread the world to as many families as possible.
Today, HG has grown to over 4,000 students across 27 countries, and eight learning hubs where families can avail of their services. We visit Mendoza at his family’s home in Quezon City where he shares the advantages of crafting your child’s education and some tips in how to raise them well.
Can you tell us a bit about the work that you do?
Essentially, we help parents take charge of the education of their child and “build it” themselves. It’s like a DIY education, if you will. Simplistically. We provide tools and services to help families achieve their children’s learning goals. Aside from HG, there is also the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI). It is a national advocacy group that rallies homeschool groups and leaders in the country to this cause. On a personal capacity, my family also advocates homeschooling and I am connected to global groups that we learn from and affiliate our services with. The goal is to give every family the opportunity to do this well, and experience the life-change it can provide.
Tell us a bit about the book you just launched, Why You Should Homeschool.
It’s a compilation of the learnings and experiences we’ve had as a family, starting and growing both HG and HAPI. Given the growth of homeschooling, we see that there is now a need to provide information that can be better referenced by families, whether they are under our organizations or not. It also helps to counter any “fake news” that may be present out there, what with the proliferation of social media and various sites.
What were and are the challenges building Homeschool Global?
The key challenge is information. When we first started not many people knew about homeschooling, and if they did, it was built on stereotypes. People used to think that it was just for those who couldn’t cope in a conventional school system such as special needs kids or those with health issues, or celebrities, or those that are going through hard times and didn’t have money for private school but wanted to avoid public school. Although more people know about this now, there is still a need to provide the right information. More and more people have also broken away from the initial impressions, but the idea of it just being an “alternative” still remains. While this is present, building the infrastructure, and working with regulators like DepEd, remains a challenge. Not only are you informing the families at large and helping them as they choose to homeschool, you now need to work with software companies, curriculum companies, and the government, explaining and tailor-fitting solutions to a unique industry.
How did you meet your wife Joy, and how do you remain on the same page with her in terms of parenting?
We met in college, fell in love, broke up, then got back and married two years after graduation. Even through our courtship and getting-to-know phase we were always big on family values. Our respective families had solid values, and were very close, so that carried over to each of us and became a criteria in the person we each wanted to marry. Because of this, even as we are 18 years married now, we have found a way to build on these values and found practical ways to enact them. It is these practical ways that we have sought to learn from various mentors and people we respect, and have tried to apply. There have been times where we were not honestly on the same page, but those moments have become less and less through the years as God blessed us with more kids and we learned—sometimes the hard way—what works and what doesn’t.
The key is to be completely united in the principle behind the practical practice of parenting, then simply discuss the practice on a going basis. For example, now that we are in the parenting of teenagers, we agree on the principle of “we are free to chose, but we are not free to choose the consequences.” Essentially, they need to learn to make wise decisions. They will suffer the consequences of poor choices, but will reap the benefit of wise ones. So in practice, we ask them “what do you think you should do?” instead of always giving our opinion on decisions they need to make. Now, of course, where the decision is disastrous we intervene, but in a way that allows them to draw their own conclusions decisions—except if it is an impending disaster like carrying our newborn baby with socks on after the floor was just mopped!
What is one thing schools should start doing now?
Building infrastructure that—similar to homeschooling—allows flexible and personalized learning. Technology can address that. For example, there is the presence of schools where the child actually learns from home but has the teacher, classmates, and curriculum online. If they are able to build this into their systems, then we would have a learning utopia! Families can choose conventional schools or homeschool or some hybrid of the two which leverages on technology in that way.
Can you share some tips on raising kids?
I’m not an expert in parenting per se. I think it's hard to claim that as each family is different. But I do have experience! Here are some things we’ve learned:
Focus on character. Parenting is mostly heart work. Observing and helping guide external behavior is good, but underlying it is character and a heart condition. We must address those underlying factors so that the outward behavior becomes genuine and properly motivated.
Start with obedience. Of the many character traits in the parenting and even homeschooling journey, this is key. We love the expression “obedience brings blessings,” and use this as a mantra of sorts.
Build relationships. This should be self-explanatory. But since it may not always be obvious, be intentional. Key here is doing things the kids like to do, and not dragging them along to do what we parents like to do.
Build convictions. As children grow, this goes hand in hand with the character focus. They must know why they are doing what we are asking them to do. And these are the convictions. If we are able to explain these and have them embrace the same, the character formation will follow, and the outward behaviors as well. Best of all, they do these things with or without us around. For our family, our convictions are not based on what us parents say, but on the Bible. We call these “anchors” that our children can build and draw from as they face life’s storms and challenges.
Model all this. We cannot ask our children to do something we do not do ourselves. If we do not obey ourselves—stopping at the red light, falling in line properly, indulging in vice—then it will be hard to ask our kids to do the same. If we don’t have convictions of our own, same thinking. The key here is authenticity. We will never be a perfect model. But we can be one that keeps improving, humbly asking for forgiveness when we mess up, then doing better. This last bit is the toughest for me as a dad, but has been powerful when applied!
Please share some of your favorites. What’s your favorite city in the world?
To live in, Manila, because this is home. To be fascinated by, London. It is so rich in recent history, with impact on modern-day life so far-reaching, and also so delightfully cultured.
Favorite clothing brand?
Favorite comfort drink?
How do you destress?
Work-out, read my Bible, organize things, or do garden work.
How do you keep fit?
I follow an app-based program called Freeletics now.
Who’s on your music playlist?
Either classical, piano guys, or various Christian music artists.
Last book that you’ve read and loved?
Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Great by Choice by Jim Collins. I like practical books like these.
Ramen, or bulalo!
None, really. I’m practical in land transport. As a “dream” vehicle, perhaps a private jet instead?
Lately, Cartier. But they’re so expensive!
Favorite family bonding activity?
Going to the beach, or playing board games!
Dream dinner guests?
Living, world leaders like Donald Trump, Barrack Obama, or George W. Bush. Otherwise, Jesus Christ or King Solomon.
Person you most admire apart from family members?
Tough one. I usually admire people who have achieved significant things and yet remain grounded, ergo their values haven’t been compromised, and their families intact. I’m a believer in this line from David O. McKay, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” But since they aren't family members, it's hard for me to tell if they are still indeed “grounded.” So I'll leave them anonymous for now.
What’s on your bucket list?
Honestly nothing serious at this point. Maybe to skydive in New Zealand’s south island? My real “bucket list” is to remain faithful to what God has called me to do.
For more information about Homeschool Global, visit their website.
Photographs by Medal Elepaño