Learning and unlearning: Experts Explain Why the Home is the Ideal School Environment

Why parents need to learn and unlearn a lot of conventional beliefs on learning, before they consider homeschooling today

Image by Enson Renton from Pixabay

Community lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have shuttered schools across the country, leaving many parents worried about their children’s studies.

Homeschooling, which follows a curriculum approved by the Department of Education as part of its Learning Continuity Plan, has consequently become a more viable option.

Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza, an award-winning blogger and author of the book Teach with Joy, believes parents need to learn and unlearn a lot of conventional beliefs on learning, before they consider homeschooling.

“You have to have a paradigm shift: learning should happen all the time, and children learn all the time. What you need to provide is a conducive learning environment,” she explained during the ‘HomePossible: Ready to Restart’ webinar organized by real estate firm Avida, in partnership with the newspaper The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Adaptability is Key

For Avida, living in your dream home simply isn’t complete if other lifestyle issues aren’t addressed – your health, independence, and financial readiness, among others. That’s why Avida curates the experiences of experts from different fields and industries at HomePossible: Ready to Restart, a series of informative online talks intended to inspire your choices in everyday living and help you uplift your lifestyle, even in the face of challenges like the pandemic.

During their HomePossible talk, Joy explained that homeschooling children need to unlearn the regular-school mindset before beginning homeschooling. “It’s just that they’ve gotten so used to the classroom setup that they are assuming that without a teacher, [they] can’t learn these things on [their] own,” Joy said. “But actually they can.”

Joy’s husband Edric Mendoza, president of Homeschool Global, said being adaptable is key not just to survive but thrive in challenging times such as the coronavirus health crisis. “Everybody’s trying to understand how to navigate this new normal, so you are not alone,” he said. “We have to learn to repurpose our assets, and we are our own assets right now.”

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Benefits of homeschooling

The Mendozas are parents to six children, five of whom are homeschooled while the youngest is still a baby. Throughout the talk, they listed the following advantages of homeschooling children:

  • It is parent-led. Homeschooling gives parents wider control over their children’s education and the flexibility to manage the pace and content. Joy said it is unlike the traditional classroom setup, where all students have to learn based on the pace set by the teacher, regardless of whether the student already understood the lesson or not. “If you notice that your child already knows this content, then you don’t have to keep on repeating the topic.”
  • Children will develop the right social skills. Contrary to popular belief, homeschooled kids are well-socialized. Edric explained: “There’s a hierarchy in socialization… Where the relationship with parents is strong, where the relationship with the siblings and other relatives in the home is strong, then they relate well to others. It also means that they will not be as vulnerable to peer pressure.”
  • It gives children more time to study and play. “When they’re in school, they have to travel in traffic, and they waste two to three hours a day just being in traffic,” Joy said. “That’s so much of their childhood life, when they can be exploring and playing. With homeschooling, they’re gonna get so much time to be children.”
  • Homeschooling helps build character. “It is important to remember that at a time like this, while we help them with academic learning, there is also life learning or life schooling, if you will,” said Edric. For her part, Joy cited as example incorporating household chores to instill life lessons among their children. “We instill the idea that they can contribute to the family, that they’re not just takers entitled to a life of comfort where everything will be done for them. This is part of their education,” she added.
Image courtesy of Piqsels.com

Ideal learning environment

The Mendozas acknowledge that homeschooling is not for everyone, especially in situations where both parents may not have the time to direct the learning, and when children are not yet old enough to be considered as “self-directed learners” requiring minimal supervision.

But all things being equal, it is not inferior to a face-to-face classroom setup either.

Edric said research has shown that children learn best if they have opportunities to pursue their interests, if they can make choices and decisions about their learning, if they have a teacher available to provide feedback and encouragement, and if the work they’re asked to do is matched with what they’re ready to learn, among others.

And for Joy, there is no place for a child to learn than his or her own home.

“If you look at the ideal learning environment today, if you could build this ideal school, it would actually look like a home your home. Arguably, your home is the best learning environment for your child,” she added.

Watch the Mendozas’ talk here to know more about their insights on the home as a learning environment, and their thoughts on homeschooling and parenting.