Many families have already been practicing homeschooling for decades, and for varied reasons. Some parents don’t want to expose their children to a school environment that could subject them to bullying and peer pressure. Some want to have more control over what their kids are learning.
In some cases where kids have disabilities and physical handicaps, homeschooling is a more practical and time-efficient learning setup. There are instances, too, when the family had to relocate, and homeschool is seen as a sound option so the kids’ education isn’t interrupted.
In this time of pandemic, many families have considered homeschooling a feasible alternative. First, to avoid the risk of getting COVID infection. Second, it’s easier now that many parents are working from home. Third, homeschooling is one way to lessen spending on the kids’ education.
Randy Urgino has been homeschooling their two sons for 12 years now with his wife Marsha. He thus refers to homeschooling as a lifestyle. He gave a webinar entitled “When Dad Becomes the Homeschool Teacher” at the CONNECT Homeschooling and Intentional Parenting Summit organized by Educating for Life last July 4. “Note that we actually used the word ‘when’ and not ‘if,’” he says, stressing his point that homeschooling is an inevitable part of fatherhood.
Urgino clarifies that he is no child psychologist. He graduated from a tech college and had a decade of experience in sales and marketing. He had worked in a business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, and has been an HR practitioner since 2007. To hear him say it, you don’t need a teaching degree or go thru a short teaching course to homeschool.
Be intentional and deliberate
“When we started, it became clear to us that we are all actually homeschooling. That’s why it’s very important to be deliberate and intentional in the way we do our homeschooling, in the way we educate our kids,” shares Urgino.
The homeschool dad shares some advice culled from personal experience.
• Know your role. “Firstly, we need to honestly and seriously ask ourselves, ‘What kind of father, what kind of man do I need to be for my family?’ Only you can answer that,” he points out. Urgino adds that it’s something that a dad should do at the beginning of their family’s homeschooling journey and he should continue doing so on a quarterly or yearly basis, as roles inevitably evolve.
• Prepare to guide your kids for real-life learning. The role of parents in homeschooling is beyond academics. Urgino says kids need to see their parents’ thinking process and learn from it. “How we figure things out, how we work through things in the office, how we handle our team, how we relate with others—these are important,” he mentions.
• Don’t leave homeschooling to your spouse. “The most usual arrangement is that one would have to be ready to commit full-time to this. But this doesn’t mean that the person assigned is the one who is solely responsible. It’s a shared responsibility. We have to consider this an opportunity to work as a team,” he stresses.
Urgino shares a Father’s Day post that his wife encountered online perfectly demonstrating this kind mindset.
“Last night, I tucked my son into his bed. He has a small bag next to ours, and as he often does, he asked me to hold his hand until he fell asleep. I have in my bed my wife and she asked me to hold her. So I’m holding my son’s hand with my left and holding my wife’s hand with my right. And the word ‘provider’ took on an entirely different meaning for me. I understand just how important I am to my family’s dynamic. As men we often think providing in the financial sense but what my family needed last night was far from it. They need my love, my energy, my spirit. As men, I think we underestimate how important we are to our families. We should always be the foundation.”
Who will teach what?
Deciding on who is best to teach particular subjects is the result of careful discussion and observation. In the case of Urgino, his first assignment in their homeschooling journey was Math and Physical Education.
“I think P.E. was a natural choice because between [me and my wife], I was the one who is actually in sports when I was in school,” he says. He would bring his two sons Wax and Migs to swimming lessons and later on to basketball and soccer.
As for Math, the Urginos observed that their sons learn their math lessons faster when he was the one teaching them, than when his wife does. But when it comes to literature and the other subjects, his wife actually does better than him. That was how they decided on their assignments.
When the kids were younger, the husband and wife were guided with homeschooling workbooks, which had what they needed to prepare the lessons and effectively explain them to the kids.
In traditional schools, there are experts handling specific subjects. In their case, they provide the kids with the materials and even experts that are available online. “Together, you figure things out. So in their education, your role changes as they progress,” he says.
“Sometimes it’s really challenging to take interest in what your children is studying,” he admits. “It takes practice and a little bit of creativity. Like for example, when we were teaching them about fractions, we actually called one of my friends who’s a chef, and we got them into some baking lessons. They actually learned the fractions a lot easier when we were talking about the measurement of the different recipes and ingredients.”
It also helps to understand their language. “My youngest is into Minecraft. I actually started playing Minecraft with him, so that I understand the game. I understand some of the jargons that they use. Playing billiards also is a relaxing way to be able to talk about geometry, talk about angles. I think it’s a good thing to also inject some sports into that. I think it’s very effective. As we moved forward, we discovered that we should not be limited to academics,” he shares.
The Urginos found it helpful to enlist the services of Homeschool Connections due to its Catholic orientation. This is where they get their resources for math, composition, history, literature, and theology. They are also learning about a whole lot of subjects. “Our youngest would be taking up space flight operations and related sciences. I think that’s very interesting, very engaging. I’d like to learn with him, too. Our eldest will be taking up economics,” he shares.
They also utilize The Great Courses, which is a site that provides a lot of college-level subjects. Through this portal, their sons get a good exposure on music, filmmaking, and other arts-related subjects. He notes though that they are careful in selecting courses as there are courses that are biased to certain religions. They also subscribe to Compass Classroom for grammar, economics, biology, history, and visual Latin.
He also suggests free sources like Khan Academy, which they use to supplement their teens’ math and science education, and School Yourself, which provides interactive Math lessons from Harvard instructors.
They spend about P1,500 pesos a month for the Homeschool Connection subscription, P500 pesos for The Great Courses, P500 for Compass Classroom, and P500 for Visual Latin (they pay per course). “That’s our total investment into the homeschooling of both our eldest and youngest,” he says, adding that they had survived with free sources for about five years.
Homeschooling can pose huge challenges and adjustments to both the parents and the children. But done with tons of love, dedication, and patience, it can also be a fulfilling and meaningful journey that will allow parents and children to learn and grow together as a family.