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With its many benefits, homeschooling has been gaining attention in the Philippines as an educational option even before face-to-face classes were suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Among those who have embraced this school-at-home approach are young parents Fred and Ayra Esguerra who homeschool their four-year-old daughter, Bella at their two-bedroom unit in Mirea Residences—DMCI Homes’ midrise condominium community in Barangay Santolan, Pasig City.
"Children grow fast and absorb behavior and attitude easily. We want to make sure we incorporate the right attitude and values to our daughter as young as she is," said Fred in explaining their choice of education for their daughter.
"We want to be an intentional parent in nurturing, nourishing and raising our daughter. Doing homeschooling also gives us more opportunity to spend quality time with our daughter," Ayra for her part added.
Upon moving into their two-bedroom unit in August 2018, the couple converted the other room to be their daughter’s play and study nook area.
“In homeschooling, workable space is essential to cope up with a child’s learning mind. We also built a mini-library in our living and dining area where our daughter can easily grab a book to read. This was made easy because of the spacious and family-friendly unit of DMCI Homes,” she added.
Fred and Ayra however do not limit Bella’s homeschooling area to their unit. “Experiential exposure is often more engaging to our daughter’s interest. Since Mirea Residences has a big space for common areas, we use it to our advantage and give her unlimited opportunities to learn things outside our unit,” Fred explained.
Ayra said what they do is they let their daughter experience the outdoors to further arouse her curiosity. “Sometimes we set up a ‘picnic room’ as we call it where she can freely run around. My daughter loves our ‘picnic room’ so much that it helps her crave and learn more about plants, soil, rocks and trees,” Ayra revealed.
“She also finds the most interesting insects like millipedes, snails, dragonflies, ladybugs, beetles, butterflies and so on. We are thankful that we live in an eco-friendly environment as observing these organisms helps our daughter get excited and absorb knowledge faster,” she pointed out.
To make the method work, Ayra said she and Fred work as a team to attend to Bella’s homeschooling needs.
“Without his prayers and encouragement, I don't think I can do this far. Everyday he makes sure he gives Bella quality time. He reads the bible to her, plays with her and now, he joins our poetry/tea time and art appreciation every afternoon,” Ayra said of her husband.
Although they are not enrolled in a homeschool provider yet, Fred and Ayra make sure that they are equipped with knowledge on different methods and techniques for homeschooling.
“Preparing, reading and learning through homeschooling groups helped us a lot. We are still a work in progress. Our process and method have lots of trial and error but we observe what approach will be best or most beneficial for Bella since every kid is unique,” Ayra shared.
Fred, meanwhile, dispelled the common misconception that the school-at-home approach affects the development of the social skills of a homeschooler.
“The most common question of people when they learned that we are homeschooling our daughter is how about her socialization? Surely, one African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and we are so blessed that we found that in our Mirea community,” Fred stated.
“We have neighbors that have become like our family and their children have become my daughter’s playmate. Not only that, even the condo staff, security, and housekeeping personnel have also become my daughter’s ates and kuyas. She always greets and has small talks with them,” he added.
Ayra said Mirea Residences various community activities organized by the Property Management Office and their fellow residents like Halloween and Christmas events, summer camp programs, glamping, Palarong Pinoy and charity works likewise aid Bella’s holistic development.
“These activities enhance our daughter’s self-confidence and social skills. There was even a time when some of our neighbors were volunteering for charity work. My daughter responded with a compassionate heart by voluntarily telling us that she was ready to share some of her books and toys to other children,” Ayra beamed.
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