Bernardo M. Villegas
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Home Schooling

           Although still only a small minority, parents who home school their children are increasing in numbers.  I personally know of outstanding examples of parents who have decided to impart grade school and high school education to their children personally at home.  With the help of one another and some advice from professional educators, these parents have been successful in matching the quality of education in some of the best private schools in the country.  Some of these children who are products of home schooling have enrolled in the University of Asia and the Pacific where I teach.  I must say that they are in no way inferior to the graduates of the leading high schools where parents can pay annual tuition fees as high as P200,000 or more.  These are the savings of these families for the sacrifices that the parents make in spending their precious time in teaching their children the basics of mathematics, English, sciences, Filipino, and the other subjects in the usual curriculum of basic education in the country.  Add to the costs of tuition such additional expenses as transport, meals outside the home and the special fees usually imposed by the private schools and that can sum up to a hefty amount that the parents are “earning” for the time they devote to educating their children at home.

          I realize, however, that parents who decide to home school their children will always be few in relation to the other families.  The next best way of involving parents in the education of their children may be found in institutions like the Parents for Education Foundation which run such private schools like Southridge, Woodrose, Northfield, Rosehill in Manila, Southcrest and Springdale in Cebu, Westbridge in Iloilo and analogous schools like Rosevale in Cagayan de Oro.  There are also other schools run along the Montessori model in which the parents are also quite involved in the education of their children.  Then more and more of the traditional private schools are organizing parents associations that are involved to one degree or another in the school affairs. 

          These laudable efforts for parents to be more involved in the formal education of their children do not, however, guarantee that the religious and moral education of the children will  be imparted in accordance with the Christian beliefs of the parents.  This is the topic of the monthly letter for July 2015 of the Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarria, a letter that can be downloaded by anyone from the website www.opusdei.org.  Bishop Echevarria reminds parents all over the world of what St. John Paul II stressed concerning the urgent need for catechesis to be given at home, especially now when in many places “anti-religious legislation endeavor even to prevent education in the faith, and widespread unbelief or invasive secularism makes real religious growth practically impossible.” 

          The Prelate wrote:  “This effort in the heart of the home falls first of all to the parents.  In accord with the age and characteristics of each of their children, they have to teach them the deep meaning of the faith and Christ’s love.  Through the witness of their lives, they are the first heralds of the Gospel for their children.  Furthermore, by praying with their children, by reading the word of God with them and by introducing them deeply through initiation into the Body of Christ—both the Eucharistic and the ecclesial Body—they become fully parents, in that they are begetters not only of bodily life but also of the life that through the Spirit’s renewal flows from the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.”

          Especially in the unique cultural context of the Philippines (and Asia in general) in which the extended family (in contrast with the nuclear family of the West) is the rule, the parents can reasonably expect from the other members of the family a very important support in this Christian education of children and the youth:  “The other members of the family especially the older brothers and sisters, the grandparents, etc., also have a special responsibility to help those who are younger to grow in the faith and in their Christian life.  And wherever we are trying to implant the atmosphere of Nazareth we have to do likewise, striving—through the witness of our example and apt words—to carry out this fraternal service, which is the most important one that we can provide.”

          It is obvious, however, as the philosophical principle states “Nemo dat quod non habet” (one cannot give what one does not have).  Bishop Echevarria reminds parents that “to carry out this first and greatest responsibility effectively, parents and other educators need to strive personally to grasp more deeply the contents of the faith, through study and advice from those with a solid preparation, so that the light of doctrine will illumine their understanding and enkindle their heart.  All of this will be reflected in their daily conduct, and then they can make their own word what the Holy Spirit puts on the lips of parents, when their children—through their own example and advice—seek the paths of God:  My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.  My soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.”

          As mentioned above, the full text of the Letter of the Prelate of Opus Dei for July 2015 (and all other months of the year) can be found in the website www.opusdei.org.  I suggest that parents, especially of children from six to sixteen, read the full text and do everything in their capacity to put into practice the advice contained therein if they want their children to attain earthly happiness, which is the only prelude to the eternal bliss waiting for all of us in heaven.  For comments, my email address is bernardo.villeglas@uap.asia.