MANILA -- Interior designer Mai Kaufman decided to pull out her two daughters from a regular school after she realized that she wanted to be more hands-on when it comes to her children's education.
"My eldest used to go to a conventional school, but there is just so much pressure [from the] morning rush, the meetings I have to attend, and all our family travels," Kaufman told ABS-CBN News.
The Kaufmans pay about P40,000 annually for the modules, worksheets, and examination materials of their 2 daughters, Alexa and Calista. They shoulder an optional P18,000 fee to gain access to online learning materials such as video tutorials prescribed by Homeschool Global, an educational provider accredited by the Department of Education.
"They can do their worksheets while I'm in a meeting or when we're traveling. Now that they're being homeschooled, we're free and we're relaxed so it's easier for them to absorb [the lessons]," she added.
Kaufman said she also brings her 9- and 6-year old daughters to a mall-based learning facility where they can socialize with other children and choose their own extracurricular activities such as art, music, drama, or taekwondo.
The 400-square meter Learning Hub that doubles as a book and educational games shop was opened in the heart of the Ortigas business district to "help families take charge and design their children's education that suits their family's lifestyle," Homeschool Global president Edric Mendoza said.
"The concept here is to be where the families are. We designed it to be a depot of learning where you can pick and choose your own materials to learn," Mendoza said.
Homeschoolers who go to the Learning Hub get a chance to be elected into a student council, attend a pseudo-prom called "Purity Ball," and have recitals if they choose to do so, Mendoza said.
Parents have also formed "learn groups" so that they can share tips on tutoring, hold group studies, and organize their own field trips, he said.
Angel Aldaba, who has been homeschooling her 3 sons for 7 years, said her children became better students after they were given a chance to choose what they want to study and how they want learn the lessons at their own pace.
"You cannot just put them in a box and tell them that this is the only thing you learn," Aldaba said.
Learning in a school setup is somehow constrained because children are forced to follow a rigid timetable where they have to move o to a new lesson even if they did not thoroughly understand the previous one, explained Wallace Panlilio, president of Victory Christian International School, who also supports homeschooling.
"Sometimes, the teachers intervene too early. The answer is readily given and the child is not given a chance to struggle [to find the answer]," he said.
Though homeschooled children are given more time to master a topic, students must still finish a module within 12 months. Under Department of Education (DepEd) regulations, parents will have to pay a fine if their child finishes the course a month late.
Homeschoolers who exceed 15 months before finishing a course will be dropped from the program, Mendoza said.
Drop-outs, just like in most regular schools, will have to take an examination administered by the DepEd to be able to re-enroll.
The system helps parents and children become more responsible and manage their time better, Kaufman said.
"We do not move forward unless they understand the first chapter. It's no longer about the grades, but more about if they can understand the lesson. But that doesn't mean we can just relax always. They know that we have to finish their lessons," Kaufman said.
"When you make your them feel responsible for something, they will excel," she said.
For a family to make the most out of homeschooling, at least one parent should have the time and willingness to facilitate the unconventional type of schooling.
Parents who have the time and patience do not have to be professional educators to successfully homeschool their children as "their job is not to hold all information, but to facilitate the learning process."
"There are modules for parents on how to be a more effective facilitators. There are also parent cooperatives that serve as a support system for parents," Mendoza said.
Parents can also consult professional educators at the Learning Hub should they need more assistance in homeschooling.
"If both parents are employed full time and do not have flexible schedules, then homeschooling will be very challenging," Mendoza said.