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ALL IN THE FAMILY

Should we homeschool?

Now that classes are about to start, many parents wonder how to help their children with online distance learning. I have given more than a dozen webinars not only for teachers and principals, but also for family businesses, civic groups, multinational corporations.

These parents are in the fortunate minority. They have internet access, however spotty. Most have jobs, whether done from home or outside. Most homes have at least three rooms. All have digital gadgets.

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I worry about the economically vulnerable, and hope they can access content on TV or radio. But frantic messages from upper-class families clog my inbox, and their worries are no less real.

Last July 11, Anvil Publishing hosted “Making Online Distance Learning Work: A Zoom Webinar for Busy Parents” for the public. We discussed strategies not only for online learning, but also for teaching and parenting in general. About 90 percent of the attendees stayed for the entire two-hour-plus session.Anvil uploaded a 30-minute highlight video on its Youtube and Facebook pages.

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Curriculum

“My child’s school wants us to enroll,” a mother says. “But can online learning cover the usual curriculum? Maybe I should just homeschool.”

Like all businesses, schools are also badly hit by the pandemic. But unlike some enterprises (including family businesses) that require employees to go to work daily, most schools are not forcing their employees to go to campus. They are also trying their best not to lay off anyone.

We cannot blame schools for urging students to enroll.

I am also convinced that the usual K-12 curriculum cannot be entirely covered online. However noble the intentions of its adherents, the reality is even before the pandemic, our basic education curriculum is already overloaded.

Teacher training is insufficient, with the spiral curriculum leaving many teachers grasping for ways to teach topics they have not mastered. Moreover, given the plethora of holidays and school interruptions, a lot of content is at most skimmed through, and more often than not, altogether not taken up.

If the usual curriculum cannot be thoroughly covered in a normal school year, how can it be done now? Today I advise schools to go for quality rather than quantity, depth rather than breadth.

As for homeschool, it is usually done for special reasons. Some parents want to raise their children with values they doubt any school can satisfactorily teach. Some children have special needs that might be better met at home. Some prodigies in sports or the arts require flexible schedules.

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Some highly educated parents (often teachers themselves) say that they are disappointed in the quality of local schools so they intend to teach their children themselves.

But most of us are not equipped in this way. A big problem with homeschooling is the lack of structure. You are also likely working, and so have minimal time to teach your children.

Without the routine of school, children will find it difficult to develop study habits.In this time of uncertainty, structure also provides a sense of safety and normalcy.

When a friend expressed wanting to homeschool, I talked to her child via Skype. “I miss my friends,” the third-grader said. “I want to see them even just online.”

My friend enrolled her child in online regular school the next day. Before you decide to homeschool, have a heart-to-heart talk with your children.For details on structure and routine, check out my book “Helping Our Children Do Well in School” available on the Anvil website.

Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph. Contact the author at [email protected]

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