As I sit in front of the computer and stare at my screen, I ask myself “What really did we gain from this out-of-the-norm option we had taken five years ago?” (Now, for a sip of coffee … Did I hear somebody say “out-of-this-world” or was that “out-of-your-mind”?) It definitely has not been smooth sailing all the way but despite the many bumps, potholes, pit stops, and roller coaster rides in this journey (journey: my personal metaphor of how homeschooling has been to us), I must humbly say that the cruisin’, smooth landings or touchdowns every end of a schoolyear accomplished is a constant and faithful reminder of God that He is in control of everything, even if there were a lot of moments when it felt turbulent and out of control.
Just like when travelling to a place, especially for the first time, we have “pasalubongs” or souvenirs from our homeschooling journey which have accumulated these years and which I personally find most memorable and worth keeping. I have a few which are my favorites:
1. Learning takes place anytime, anywhere, everytime, everywhere. It is not anymore limited within the four walls of the classroom, to what the teacher always says, when the bell rings, or when it’s time to take the quarterly exams. Homeschooling has tore down those classroom walls and truly has made the world our classroom. We learn hands-on, real-time, and sometimes, in the most unexpected and unconventional places, with ordinary, extraordinary but real people and scenarios.
2. When we started to homeschool, our family became a four-pack family where one goes, everybody goes. Well, this is true until today. We became closer and the bonding, stronger than if our girls were in school during the big chunk of the day. We fight, we cry (oh yes, we do!) but with God’s grace, we manage (and still try) to reconcile our differences and always, always, try to do better and be part of the team, the family. The best part of it is when we reach a point of disagreement, misunderstanding or even a momentary rift, we always end up drawn towards each other. We find ourselves still sticking by each other and being a family.
3. We have ample time in my and my husband’s hands to teach our girls to be persons of character, Godly character. At first, I thought Character would be the eeeeeasiest subject to teach but I was proven wrong. It was and turns out to be a big challenge to me, seeing the pressure around us and our girls, as real and happening.
From the family conversations that we always have, Mike and I have seen the fruits of our parenting and homeschooling. Recently, our girls themselves expressed their sad sentiment AND shock on father absenteeism and cussing as being the norm among their friends who are not homeschooled. I was quite surprised when our girls openly and casually mentioned these sensitive and serious topics with us. At the same time, it made me realize that it is very good and indeed a blessing that the our girls trust us, their parents, and come to us first, to talk about something that could be bothering them.
Character-building has become one of the responsibilities and priorities where Mike and I have become intentional in our parenting, intentional in our homeschooling. We cannot compromise the character formation of our children. We are NOT PERFECT PARENTS and I am definitely a work-in-progress! We are NO SAINTS but we take the responsibility and will not pass it on to anybody else. We ourselves are being transformed into the kind of persons and adults that God wants us to be.
4. Lastly, I have seen lately how our girls seem to have developed a good sense of self-awareness.
They know who they are and what they are capable of doing.
Compared to other girls and boys about their age, our girls seem to clearly know what they want, what their strengths are, what they are good at, what they’re not so good at. (Well, as their parent, I am aware that they can confidently state their passions, dreams, and goals and not just be able to give a general or vague answer to the question “What do you want to do or become?”). They know their gifts, skills, and interests to pursue. With this sort of empowerment that they feel at this young age of theirs (13 and 10 years old), I can see that it is something that helps them keep their focus, identify options that they have, choose from the options available to them, set their targets, and work their way to achieve them. I know that they can still change their minds and they still have a long way to go but this kind of processing that takes place within them is an important and essential life skill that I myself didn’t learn or have when I was in school at their age, or not until I was an adult!
I still have those moments when I simply cannot believe how long we’ve been doing this. Yes, it’s been five years! Five years of being out-of-our-minds? Hahaha! More of, five years of out-of-the-box and out-of-the-ordinary experience!
My blog title for this piece should not have been “Five Years of Homeschooling … So What?” It should have been “Five Years of Homeschooling … Now What?” because we will continue to do it for another year next year. We will again do our best to make learning a more fun journey together as a family, correct our mistakes from the past, and make homeschooling, our lifestyle.
Just like when we first took the leap of faith, I will ask the Lord to faithfully guide us and strengthen me, most especially, when fear, frustration, lack of confidence, stress, and even physical exhaustion start to take over. This January, the start of 2012, I was already starting to question God (I mean, really question) what His plans really are for us, particularly on our homeschooling and with the kids growing older. He answered me with this verse:
Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.
When things seem hazy and gray, I go back to this for reassurance and encouragement to do what I have to do.
As a final note, to homeschool and take the full responsibility to teach and educate our children is unpopular to many, and even unacceptable and not do-able, but as for our family, our journey took a different turn. To quote Robert Frost,