The thought to homeschool was dropped like a seed from above one day while my husband and I were on the way home from somewhere (I don’t remember anymore) and I was heavily pregnant to our first child. I can still remember the exact spot in the busy, bustling Metro Manila during rush hour.
Amidst the dark and gloomy overpass of the Metro Railway Train (MRT) arching across the intersection of Shaw and EDSA boulevards with waves of pedestrians and buses belching carbon monoxide, the suggestion popped into my mind. I was caught by surprise. But the very crystal clear thought dangled in my head like a precious pendulum… commanding me pay attention. That was almost 12 years ago.
I kept mum about it. I pondered about it quietly, not wanting to add to the many anxious thoughts of preparing for the arrival of our first born just a few months down the line. I shrugged it off later on, thinking “I don’t even know of a Philippine school that does that.” Don’t foreign missionaries do that when they go abroad? And celebrity actors too? Why should I?
Fast Forward 4 Years Later
My husband and I and our 4 year old daughter were busy waiting for our grilled fish order in our neighborhood wet market. A lady caught my attention who happened to be waiting for her turn to be served in the midst of the sizzling smoke and the busy-ness of the outdoor kiosk.
I smiled and she smiled back. I asked her if she serves in our local parish church. Then she asked me where my daughter goes to school. I was super proud to announce that she was going to a nearby Montessori school that was such a novelty to me.
When it was her turn to reply to my query as to where her son goes to school, I was so excited to hear that the boy was being homeschooled, and I grilled her for more information and was almost jumping out of my skin to learn more. It was a pleasant surprise to know that a very popular Catholic Lay Evangelist owned the school.
Thus, with the discovery of the website and philosophy behind homeschooling, I was definitely hooked.
Bo Sanchez’ core principles to home schooling were exactly what I had been unable to verbalize at that time, and this paved the way for my husband to appreciate homeschooling a bit better.
He had yet to be fully convinced. After almost a year, and a lot of prayers, he relented and gave in. My excitement had to wait further.
One year to be exact since administrators of the home school provider advised me to enroll Marina when she turned 6. In the meantime, we did freelance homeschooling, picking up lessons from here and there.
Catholic Filipino Academy Years
Our first year with the school was most challenging for a first time home school parent. It coincided with a major family transition with my husband accepting an overseas job in the Middle East. Bitter-sweet to say the least.
I struggled and labored to develop discipline in my teaching style and habits with paper work, exams and grades much to the dismay of my coordinator. Still, it did not diminish my resolve to improve and do better as a teacher parent the following school year.
I think, I went a wee bit too zealous and eager making sure that Marina was actively participating in most of the quarterly activities especially in being on stage since she verbalized to me, years back, she wanted to be an actress like Lea Salonga (Emmy Academy awarded) and appear on magazine covers, TV and newspaper.
Quite a challenge for a neophyte, stage-mom-wanna-be!
Getting the seal of approval from my little, lone pupil at the end of each school day at home (“ This has been the best day of my life!”) made me see a spark of hope in the otherwise unsupportive, non-understanding circle of relatives and friends.
They do not shy away from making critical comments to our schooling decision. Barbed comments as to “Why were we scrimping on our child’s education?” to “What about her socialization with other kids?” Concerns and downright commands to put her back into traditional schooling ‘because that is the way normal life should be’ – and that included mine as well.
The pressure to fall in line was strong.
Our decision to go against the tide, created ripples of discomfort and displeasure in most of my relatives. Up to this day, my eldest sister still does not hide her comments and constantly asks when I shall be putting my firstborn to regular school.
Getting to Seton
We are currently rounding off our first school year with Seton Home Study School for Marina’s 4th grade, while we just celebrated a year being reunited with their dad here in Doha, Qatar. He has been an OFW (Overseas Foreign Worker), separated from his family for 4 years.
God has indeed blessed us abundantly. Finding Seton is one big blessing. The curriculum is just so wonderful. Marina did not stop browsing her books and reading ahead as soon as we got them. She loves her books and lessons.
The Seton Magazine is another powerful source of inspiration and guidance for us. Many times, Marina reminds us about certain Catholic teachings which we have missed or have totally forgotten through her lessons and readings. Whenever I see her reaching for her books and studying diligently without being told, it makes me so happy inside and out.
It tells me and confirms that listening to that celestial directive was indeed an order from my Lord and my God. It pierced through the thick clouds of doubt, confusion and pollution that day in that busy street. Truly, He guided me to the right path in being my child’s teacher, to bring her up steeped in the words and stories of our Savior Jesus Christ, how He constantly calls us to harden not our hearts and ears to Him, and let the little ones go to Him so that they will not lose their way to Heaven while on this earth.
Seeing her numerous artworks of Mother Mary, our family adoring the cross of Christ and her improving book reports based on wonderful Catholic gems like the Miraculous Medal, Augustine Comes to Kent, etc., every now and then brings fluttering wings to my heart that soars to the seventh heaven.
Marcelina, her 3 year old sister, follows her intently and has already found her place on the wooden bench browsing her books, or water-coloring away while Marina and I are immersed in our lessons for the day.
May God be praised for this Catholic approach and support to educating our children as we prepare them to take courage, make a stand and not be afraid to be a minority against the increasing tidal waves of materialism (and other isms) in our ever complicating and troubled world.