Last September 6, I attended the Homeschooling Conference organized by Manila Workshops and The Learning Basket at Bayanihan Center in Pasig. It was a last minute decision because I was still recovering from a sickness. After praying to the Lord for healing and the strength to travel from Batangas to Manila for the conference, I told myself the night before that I was going to the event even if I was going to be alone. In the past, Mike was always with me. This time, however, he was in Davao for a golf tournament (Dads need to have their Me time, too!)
In general, the conference had a strong line up of speakers (as seen on the poster above). Each shared personal testimonies on their homeschool experiences and encouragement to at least consider homeschooling, not only as an education option for the children, but as a lifestyle for the families as well. I think it was an equal show of hands of those who are already homeschooling and those who were just thinking about it! At every homeschool conference I attend, I get amazed at how the number of homeschoolers in the Philippines and those interested to homeschool have multiplied so fast!
Even if we are currently on our 8th year of homeschooling (Yes, I can’t believe that’s how fast time flies!), I never fail to be inspired, encouraged, and to learn from the invited speakers and from other homeschooling moms and families. There is truth to the saying that when you homeschool, every year feels like the first time, and it’s because there is really so much to unlearn and learn (Well, that’s how I feel) in order to give that individualized and personalized education to each of your unique child. There is that tendency to fall back to the traditional ways of teaching and somehow get stuck with it, making you feel sorry and incompetent and at the same, you being reminded that it’s not how you want things to be and you need to get out of that trap as soon as you can.
As I was listening to each of the speakers, I was asking myself what am I supposed to take home from them? Lord, what are you trying to tell me through these speakers? At the end of the day, what am I supposed to think about and reflect on at THIS PARTICULAR SEASON of our HOMESCHOOLING JOURNEY? I then realized that even if I had already expected each speaker to give words of encouragement, to cheer on everyone in the audience and to strongly recommend homeschooling as an option, I really didn’t need to be encouraged anymore. I didn’t need to hear those words. I didn’t need to make a decision because we’ve made the decision 8 years ago and we are living the lifestyle already. We are breathing homeschool life day in and day out! The day was about halfway done when a few moms and I shared among ourselves that what we need is a conference for those who have been homeschooling for quite some time now. A conference (or even a weekend retreat would sound good!) for the “fatigued homeschool moms”, as we had called ourselves 🙂
So that day, I listened to the talks speaker after speaker. Even if I was looking for something in the conference I wasn’t totally sure of, I still considered it a blessing to listen to each speaker and be in the company of a homeschooling moms I was able to chit-chat and exchange notes with throughout the day. But it wasn’t until I heard Donna Pangilinan-Simpao give her talk on Conquering Homeschooling Fatigue that IT finally hit me. Her talk was what I needed to hear that day! From start to finish, like a physician, she identified the symptoms of homeschooling fatigue and gave a prescription on concrete action steps how to successfully overcome that fatigue in one’s homeschooling life. What a refreshing, inspiring, encouraging, and life-giving moment for me!
After Donna, I looked forward to Ivy Marquez‘s talk, Nurturing the Love for Learning, which was the very last for the day. Because I know Ivy personally, I just felt I had the connection with her when she was speaking in front. Arielle and Kayla learned how to do mindmapping from her and have joined her Hybrid homechool program last 2010. She has been a great teacher and was very encouraging to our girls. Her out-of-the-box and real life teaching methods are truly inspiring for me. With all her 3 children successfully homeschooled by her, she is one role model I look up to and a wonderful blessing to our homeschooling journey as a family.
Before I end, let me share this. One night, as lay in bed preparing to go to sleep, I was praying to God like I always do. As I was silently praying to Him, another realization hit me which, up to this day, has been talking to me loud and clear. I realized that with Arielle being in her senior high school year already, it is her last official year of being enrolled at The Master’s Academy Home School as a homeschooler! After this, she’s bound to college! (She’s going to take a gap year though and that’s going to be another chapter in our homeschooling journey and perhaps, another experience to write about.) IT IS TECHNICALLY THE END OF HER HOMESCHOOLING YEARS! And I said, “God, this is it???…God, THIS…IS…IT!!!” (It felt like a bucket of ice cold water on my face!)
It would be the end and although I was aware that Arielle’s going to graduate from high school this year, what I didn’t see from behind the planning and discussion we’ve been having for Arielle’s college was the realization that technically, I wouldn’t have anything to pray for anymore with regards to homeschooling and teaching Arielle. That night, I continued my conversation with God praying, “Lord, you knew and have seen how hard I’ve prayed to you when we were thinking about pulling out our girls from traditional school and putting on the responsibility to teach and educate our girls. You heard my deepest prayers day and night on this major decision we had to make 8 years ago. And you also saw the times I cried, got confused, felt lost, wanted to give up, and asked for strength to continue to homeschooling and show me the way how. Now, we are about to reach an end of A (not THE) road (I still have Kayla to homeschool)” As these thoughts were rushing through my mind, I think I was also talking to myself repeatedly saying, “Oh my! Could this really be the end?!! Have I reached the end? Can I say that I’ve successfully homeschooled Arielle and it’s actually time to let go and release her already? Lord, does this mean that there would be nothing to pray for anymore? WOW. The REALIZATION that it’s Arielle’s last year to be homeschooled just confronted me face-to-face and was one big REALITY CHECK!
A part of me hasn’t come to terms yet that it indeed will be the end soon. A part of me doesn’t want to let go yet. A part of me is still holding my baby girl in my arms. But after that night when I was laying in bed in prayer, the Lord has been gently speaking to me and has been telling me, “Racquel, there is a season for everything. You are not really ending your homeschooling. You are just in a different stage or season. Homeschooling as the lifestyle choice you’ve chosen will never go away and will not die. It will continue as all of you grow old as a family and it will always be a part of you. Homeschooling is My calling for you (Please read the entire post all the way to the end) that you’ve accepted and it will always be in your heart. It will never go away.”
So now, I consciously remind myself of where I started out, where I’ve been in our homeschooling journey, and what season in our homeschool journey I am in now. I may have started way ahead of the others but I still need a lot of encouragement and support to face a different set of challenges in our homeschooling life. I am a work-in-progress and am not sure if I’d ever be a work-completed or work-accomplished. The fact is I am now in a different season in our homeschooling journey.
Have you thought of where you are in your life right now and what season in your homeschooling journey you are in?