Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On Homeschooling No. 001: A Discussion About Perseverance and Details of the 2016 Conference

Much of our talks, my husband and I, these days are about/involve/lead to homeschooling (and rightly so since it's a decision we, for now, are making for our daughter, our family). In one, in our usual discussion format that's sometimes reminiscent of college Philosophy orals or thesis defense, he posed a question/thesis statement: Studying for and taking tests in schools, don't they teach an important value, that of perseverance? And if Cara was to be homeschooled, what about that--about persevering through something even if it was difficult, or even if it wasn't something you liked?


Thinking fast, just as in any orals (and mulling over my answers even long after the discussions and the exams were over) I replied:

1. Children are already naturally persevering, even from the start.

Watching the youngest of children discover their bodies, explore their abilities, and experience and interact with their environment--learn to control their movement--reach, grasp, turn, crawl, stand, balance, walk--there's already so much perseverance there! The newborn/infant's work is that--real hard work. And they do it with unforced determination.

I remember when Cara was around 3 months and she was learning, as per her own inner timetable, to turn from her tummy to back. For minutes and minutes, she'd roll from her back to her tummy (which she learned to do first and could do quickly at that time) only to persistently try to roll to her back again. It wasn't the easiest of things for her, but over and over she'd determinedly do this; even if she was happy and comfortable just rolling from her back to tummy and staying that way just the month before. Why. Because she knew she was ready for it. Because--where did I read this--when a child is ready to do something, he really needs to do it (#SensitivePeriods).

That perseverance, that drive; or to make it more Montessori, that "horme"--us parents don't even have to teach. It's already naturally there! They're intrinsically motivated.

2. Children will naturally encounter challenges that they'll have to persevere through.

Even when children choose their own work just as they do in Montessori environments or even when the curriculum is based on the child's interest just as in many homeschool set-ups; even when we "follow the child" on that path he knows he ought to tread (because of, again, #SensitivePeriods), there will be bumps along the way. For sure. Because if the child is not sufficiently challenged by a task, then he is also not intensely interested to work on it.

Children naturally gravitate towards materials and activities within their environment that will help them develop particular skills. A child who is ready to learn to stand will care more about that couch and that stool and use them to pull himself up more than any other toy you put in front of him. That means children are not just naturally persevering, they are actually essentially looking for a challenge! And they will find it and many opportunities to practice perseverance, hopefully, in a carefully prepared environment that has materials and activities that are tailored to their developmental needs and in real, practical, everyday life.

A photo posted by Mars Medina-Montessori on Mars (@montessorionmars) on

3. Security and Success

Challenging tasks or tests and difficult situations or seatworks per se do not teach perseverance. They provide opportunities to practice it, yes, but what teaches the child to pursue perseverance, its value, that it's something worth doing are security and success.

Security. When children, grown ups even, are in an environment where it is safe to fail, they won't be afraid to test ideas; to explore and discover, or maybe find nothing; to try and try again.

Success. Materials and activities in a thoughtfully prepared Montessori environment are age-, readiness-, developmentally-appropriate. That means there's necessary challenge, yes; but also always, always opportunity for success. Which means that children can work towards mastery (of the material or activity). And mastery comes through repetition, perseverance. And when children have had examples and experiences of success, they realize--they know from experience--that perseverance, determination, hard work works.

Read about one my student's "hardest work" in her "en-taaa-yerrr life".

4. There's wisdom, too, in knowing when to quit.

In previous job interviews, when asked to describe myself; a standard, practiced answer I used to say was that I don't have to like what I'm doing in order for me to do my best in it. It's a good trait to have--to be able to work well and hard despite your opinion of the task (despite not seeing the sense of taking that test which I felt a lot when I was in school). After all, not everything in life works with our preferences.

But there's wisdom, too, in knowing when to quit--or when something is no longer worth our time and efforts; or when something just needs to be put on hold, for a while, for now.


So for now, the decision is to homeschool. I'm sure we'll be needing (and practicing) a lot of perseverance with it, more on some days than others.

But we're excited because--

Here we are standing at the doorway that leads to the media launch for the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 that's happening on October 22. Edric, the president of the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), said we're at the tipping point of homeschooling in the country (and I have been feeling the exact same way)--so he told us to say to each other just that, "welcome to the tipping point of homeschooling". And I'll echo it here as well, my local friends in the Philippines; if you are thinking about homeschooling/already homeschooling/wherever you are in that journey or however you are doing it, welcome to the tipping point! With all the resources, options, opportunities, support, community, inspiration available now (and the many that are in the works, thanks to our friends from @wearehapi and @educatingforlife.co), it's an even more exciting time to go on this adventure! So, well, as they say, don't just stand there. The door's already open, come in, join us at the conference--October 22, SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier, Taguig City. For more details on the speakers, talks, and activities, maps, and how to register, download the 'Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016' app from the App Store (Android version available soon). Or visit www.educatingforlife.co (co, not com). #PHC2016 #FromRootsToWingsPHC
A photo posted by Mars Medina-Montessori on Mars (@montessorionmars) on


Here are more details about the 2016 Philippine Homeschool Conference:





There are more things to be excited about! Ivy of The Vine That Writes listed 10 Things We're (if I had to do it too, it would be the exact same list!) Excited About The Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.


So join us! Register here.



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