To homeschool Tuz or to enroll him in a real school?
I already shared with you a homeschooling seminar we attended November of last year. The month after that, December, right after we went on a 9-day tour of Siargao (which I have yet to blog about), we enrolled Tuz in a 3-day free immersion class at The Abba’s Orchard Montessori School. I was thinking if we have the budget for it (we must make a budget for it!), why not just enroll Tuz in a Maria Montessori school? And according to my research, The Abba’s Orchard was considered by parents as one of the best in the Philippines. And after that 3-day free immersion class Tuz went to, I fell in love with the system as well…
A LITTLE HISTORY
WHERE ARE THE BRANCHES OF THE ABBA’S ORCHARD LOCATED AND HOW MUCH IS THEIR TUITION FEE?
You can check their complete list of branches here: https://www.theabbasorchard.com/campuses
Here in Mindanao, The Abba’s Orchard has two branches in Misamis Oriental. One in Bukidnon and one in Alwana Business Park, Cagayan de Oro City (which is very near where we live by the way, so that’s a major plus!) Their tuition fee is just too steep for us (around P80,000++ to P100,00++ depending if you pay cash or in staggered payments) per school year… almost the same as my college tuition fee in Ateneo de Manila University (thank God I was an academic scholar, I didn’t pay a single cent for 4 years!) And now this.
Please look at this application form below which details all the fees you need to pay if you enroll your child at The Abba’s Orchard.
Both Mahal and I were really surprised at how expensive preschools are nowadays!
WHY ENROLL YOUR CHILD IN A MARIA MONTESSORI SCHOOL LIKE THE ABBA’S ORCHARD?
Compared to The Abba’s Orchard’s P100k tuition fee, Ateneo de Cagayan only charges around P30,000 in tuition and fees. It’s probably around the same ballpark for other similar private Catholic schools. But then, if we can help it, we really want the best child-led educational system for Tuz and not be educated by traditional Catholic schools like we did, largely because we don’t want him to end up like me and Mahal…
Okay, that might sound a bit harsh and ungrateful considering how I got all the good-paying jobs since I graduated in 1999 and retired a millionaire in 2008 at the age of 30… (coz I got a million in retirement at that time which is quite big considering my contemporaries were still far from retiring at that time… now if I still have that money, that’s another blog post for another day hahaha) and I partly thank my Ateneo education for that. It’s just that… well… all our academic life, me and Mahal, we didn’t really know what we wanted to become when we grew up! We just wanted to get good grades, finish school, get any good-paying job, and pay our bills. Traditional schools are good, yes, good if you want to be an excellent “follower” / “employee” rising up the corporate ladder someday. But if you want to follow your bliss, live a purposeful life right from the get-go, make innovations and pave the way for the next generation, I believe a child-led learning system must be in order so the child can get that permission to follow his heart right from the start. This is why so many of our innovators today were college dropouts! Talk about the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and so many others today who are really happy and successful who also didn’t go the traditional educational route. We want something similar for Tuz. We want him to be a “thinking” person… a leader in his chosen field, most importantly, a passionate and happy individual. I believe, with Montessori school, Tuz will be supported in things he is naturally passionate about and not be forced to waste his time and energy studying things he doesn’t care about. That’s why between traditional schooling and homeschooling, I’d rather choose to homeschool Tuz. I am just not sure if I have the time and energy for it since teaching is not really my cup of tea (but I will make it so if the going gets tough!)
Just to give you a little bit more background, I was a Prep Class Teacher in Ateneo Grade School right after I graduated in March 1999. April of the same year, I was already doing teacher training. Classes started in June. And by August, I was already crying while checking my students’ papers inside a Starbucks branch along Katipunan, Quezon City because I hated what I was doing. But it was the first job that hired me in the midst of the Asian crisis at that time so I took the job. Despite my emotional suffering, I did well as a teacher for a year (After all, my education taught me how to be good in whatever I was doing but I was never really taught how to be happy, hence, my many emotional baggage growing up and even until now). When I resigned, the headmaster, Father Caluag, said that should I wish to come back and teach again, they will accept me again with open arms. So I guess they liked me. But I never looked back since, not until now that I am blogging about Tuz’s schooling options.
Okay, back to The Abba’s Orchard.
HOW DO YOU JOIN THE FREE 3-DAY IMMERSION CLASS AT THE ABBA’S ORCHARD?
For anyone who’s interested to have a taste at what they do inside their classes, they offer this free 3-day immersion class. Your child will be treated as a regular student and will have all the privileges students have in those 3 days. Just schedule it with them which was what we did. Just head to their website and inquire from there. Be sure to choose the Philippine campus you want to try as they have many from Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao. (https://www.theabbasorchard.com/)
WHAT IS IT LIKE STUDYING AT THE ABBA’S ORCHARD?
On our first day, Tuz was a bit shy… okay, a lot shy! He didn’t want to come inside the classroom! Mahal had to stay with him inside just so he will not go outside.
Tuz was there from 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM. From what we saw, the children just did their own thing. All the students in their CASA (children 3-6 years old are enrolled in CASA, their kindergarten counterpart) call play as “work”. There are so many toys and learning materials to choose from. There are 2 teachers for each class comprised of about 10-15 students (maybe even less, I didn’t really count) Most of the time, the children would just go to their own corner, own table, or be with a small group of other children and play, I mean “work” on their toys, their mini projects, their writing, etc.
There were also times when the teacher would gather the students in a circle and it would be story-telling time or singing time.
Tuz, as usual, was minding his own business, either sitting in his corner, or walking around the classroom, and not really mingling much. It’s like he is in his own bubble. Lol!
It’s so different from when I was in nursery and kinder and even when I taught Prep kids before. Looking back, that was like being in the military. Everyone was in their proper places, in straight lines, doing certain movements all at the same time. Here in The Abba’s Orchard, everything looks free-flowing and I like it!
On the second day, lo and behold, Tuz woke up his dada and kept saying “Dada wake up! I want to go to school!” He repeated this non-stop until his dada woke up. Lol! When I was in nursery and kinder, I remember myself not waking up for school and my own dad giving me a towel bath in the sofa while I was still sleeping coz I didn’t want to go to school. Lol!
This time, when we got there, Tuz was already not scared to enter the classroom. He immediately talked to the other kids. Good thing all children there were speaking in English, Tuz can really relate and communicate well with them compared to mingling with kids at the farm who only speak the local dialect which Tuz couldn’t understand. Also, from what I gathered, Tuz is the youngest in his class being 3 years old. Most of his classmates were 5-6 years old. Nonetheless, he felt comfortable mingling and playing with them at this point.
On the third day, Tuz didn’t want to go to school anymore. He said he just wanted to stay home. Hahaha! But we still went. We brought so many snacks for him so he can share it with his classmates. Tuz had another good time.
On the fourth day, Tuz thought we will be going to school again, he was excited! Unfortunately, the free class immersion was only good for three days. We went to an affordable toy store instead inside Gaisano and I bought P2,500 worth of educational toys for Tuz, similar to what I saw in their classroom. It was quite a splurge to be honest because my usual budget for his toys a week is just less than P500, but when you compare it to paying P100,000 in tuition for a 3-year-old, I think those toys we bought in one day are just barya (coins), haha! He still plays with those toys up to this day and I still buy him other toys he wants, but within our weekly budget this time. It’s still better than enrolling him this early. Talk about perspective, huh?!
HOMESCHOOL OR MONTESSORI?
So, Tuz is turning 4 this November. I honestly can’t decide yet between homeschooling and enrolling him in a Maria Montessori school. If money is not a concern, I would’ve enrolled him already in The Abba’s Orchard. I can already envision my schedule. I’ll bring Tuz to school. While he’s in his classes, I can just stay outside and get some work done like what I did while waiting for him at that time.
I can have this nice view of their pool overlooking the city below.
Or I can do my morning jog around their spacious campus (if they will allow me, this, I’m not sure, I should’ve asked!)
For now, I’m still 50-50 with my decision to enroll Tuz here considering everything we need to budget for — the farm, building our own house, buying another land in the city, daily expenses, etc. On the other hand, I already have this little envelop with me where I put some money inside it every month for Tuz’s tuition fee at The Abba’s Orchard when he turns 5, and should we finally decide to enroll him here.
So what do you think? Homeschooling or Montessori school? I have this funny thought right now… what if our budget won’t really be able to afford it, and what if I feel like I won’t be able to hack homeschooling unless I give up my business, there’s still that slim chance that we’d just enroll Tuz in Ateneo de Cagayan. Hahaha! After all this talk between homeschooling and Montessori, Tuz will just end up like me and Mahal. Lol!
On a more serious note, whichever way we choose, I’m really just hoping that we make the best decision for him and our family’s lifestyle when the time comes.
See you tomorrow!