We are now on Part 3 (of 8) of this blog series on the breakout session assigned to me during the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 held last October 22.  Part 1, my very first topic, was on parenting.  Part 2 was on teaching.  Let’s move on to part 3, experiencing.

What kind of experiences did our daughters have when they were in high school? Or what kind of experiences did we give them rather?

Compared to grade school, creating experiences or providing opportunities for our high schoolers was deeper and more intentional. If during their younger years, trying out something was simply to experience something new, in high school we were more intentional in the experiences or opportunities we allowed them to engage in. Instead of simply trying out for the sake of experience, it was our intention to know if they would like to explore it more. Would they like to learn more about it? Is it something they find themselves comfortable and competent doing? Will the experience help them narrow down or identify the course they plan on taking in college? Will the experience help them see themselves doing it as a career or a job?

Therefore, aside from the NEWness in the experience, we added another dimension to it, which is their GROWTH and INVOLVEMENT in making choices and decisions on the activities they would want to do or experiences they would want to have.

Before setting her goal on animation which is visual arts, Arielle became very interested in performing arts. She was able to join a professional theatre production at the age of 9 and joined auditions here and there, and have gotten callbacks. That was one experience which helped her really identify what she can do, compete with professional and amateur performers, and it taught her to face rejections and bounce back from them. That she can sing; that she can perform; and she’s always bold and brave to take big challenges of the real world, in the real world setting. If there’s one thing I learned from Arielle, it is bouncing back! She also co-started a group of young bloggers called I Know Write where they were able to organize a few events inspiring teens to blog about their passion.

Kayla, on the other hand, got very interested in culinary when she was younger.  We thought that was going to be her choice for college. So, we enrolled her in a few culinary classes, and let her work in the kitchen. But she lost interest in it and is now exploring the option of sports, particularly golf, as a way to enter college.

The opportunities and experiences our girls had (and Kayla continues to have) in their high school years were opportunities to let their roots grow deeper, securely and firmly. I believe this is where their roots have begun to strengthen them. Giving and supporting them in their experiences teach them to think bigger, see the bigger picture, make their own decisions, and even train them to think of opportunities that encourage them to come up with better ideas, better solutions to problems, and to give back to the community.

As a summary, we made the high school experience of our daughters even more intentional by consciously identifying where our their interests and strengths lie. It was finding where those interests, strengths, and learning environment all meet that we made sure they were given the opportunities for deeper learning, improvement, and enhancement  of their skills.

Next post will be about the “S” word!  SOCIALIZATION! It will be the longest post I will do as this was the topic that I felt God wanted me to really spend more time on as I was preparing my talk for the conference.  I had lots of prompting from God through various posts and articles I came across while preparing and it’s amazing how God clearly spoke to me in many instances!

Watch out for Part 4!


 

This is the second of the series of blog posts I am doing after the recently concluded Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 “From Roots to Wings”. I was given the opportunity to share about our experiences and journey during our high school years but I felt that I missed out quite a lot during my assigned breakout session.  So, I decided to blog about it instead to make up for all that I failed (or was too nervous) to share.  If you missed my first post, click here.

Next in line is about TEACHING.

When our girls reached Grades 5 and 7, it was the time I noticed that they didn’t want me to be always watching what they were doing with their schoolwork.  They didn’t want me to be looking over their shoulders all the time like in the past years where I was seated beside or with them as they do their subjects. I took it as a signal to step back a bit. That’s how they also started to learn by themselves, BE INDEPENDENT, and learn about TIME MANAGEMENT. I stepped back a bit but I would still be in the background, checking how they were managing their time or simply asking them “What are you working on?” or “What subjects do you plan to do today?” or “What do plan to finish this week?”

It helped that we were able to use user- and student-friendly materials which taught them to learn by themselves. We used e-books which started to train them on working on their own laptops.  I remember doing A LOT OF RESEARCH for high school math books until I came across Teaching Textbooks online. I got attracted to it and we ended up using it from Grade 7 to 4th year high school Pre-calculus.  The set (workbook, answer key, CD) is pricey at USD185 but Arielle and Kayla managed to learn higher math on their own with it.  I only brought them to a math tutorial centre on certain occasions like when they needed a little help from another math teacher, when I felt they needed a change of learning environment or when I wanted another math teacher to test if they really understood their lessons.  Mike and I felt that if had chosen a cheaper math material and added a regular tutor service, it would come out even more costly than the cost of Teaching Textbooks.  Plus, the books were handed down from Arielle to Kayla which made  it really worth it! With Teaching Textbooks, I NEVER HAD TO TEACH MATH to them!

For Science, we used Apologia Science which to me, explains science topics really well and in an interesting and Christian view. I purchased our Apologia books from another homeschool site Rock Solid Inc. at cheaper prices.

For Filipino, I sought the help of The Learning Library. Because Arielle was suddenly moved up to 1st year high school, I wasn’t prepared to teach the Filipino classic literature Ibong Adarna. I had to seek help somewhere and it was from The Learning Library.  The girls had a very positive learning experience with them and fondly remembers their teachers and how they made learning Filipino FUN.

So, in high school, I changed my hat from a TEACHER to a COACH, just like what Bo Sanchez had shared in his presentation as a keynote speaker of the conference.  I was coaching them on INDEPENDENT LEARNING and TIME MANAGEMENT more than the academics. Besides, the lessons are more difficult to teach that I would have failed in my teaching job if I continued to teach them their lessons. The subjects where I continued to discuss with our girls are Character, Christian Living and our Catholic faith, World History (I couldn’t let go of Mystery of History; I wanted to continue reading the book and learn more what happened!.  Approach to Filipino was all basic.  To me, basic Filipino is learning how to converse, understand, and write in the language in such a way that they’re able to convey the message they want to convey. Nothing deep and too poetic for me in Filipino.

When they stepped into high school, it was also the time they attended more workshops and classes outside home, aside from their required MAPE (Music, Art, PE) subjects. I made it a conscious effort to be on the lookout for workshops and classes late in grade school in preparation for high school.  These are some of the workshops they (sometimes, WE, which means I joined them) joined:

  • Mindmapping with Ivy Marquez
  • Sewing by Anne del Rosario at Sew Easy for Kids (culminated by a fashion show where they modeled their own sewing creations)
  • Blogging by Arriane Serafico (who unfortunately is no longer based here in the Philippines)
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
  • Public Speaking and Presentation

 

A sample of our mindmapping

A sample of our mindmapping

 

 

We all learned how to sew! Kayla's summer culinary workshop!

We all learned how to sew!    Kayla’s summer culinary workshop!

 

Arielle and Kayla also joined a Hybrid Homeschool class with other homeschoolers,  once a week for one schoolyear. It was by Ivy Marquez and they had subjects which focused more on LIFE SKILLS such as Culinary and Food Science, Etiquette, Entrepreneurship.

As you can see, the workshops and classes they joined were very INTENTIONAL and really geared towards learning SKILLS, SKILLS, SKILLS, particularly LIFE and WORK SKILLS. I was already thinking forward.

With The Master’s Academy, we were required to present a portfolio at the end of every quarter to showcase what they had learned and accomplished in each subject during the quarter.  We used to live in Batangas and what I used to do was compile all their work or output in a binder, bring them to their academic consultant in TMA in Manila for her to review, then set another appointment with her for the scheduled portfolio review.  Can you imagine the travel and time factor involved? So I decided to go electronic or digital.  From hard copies in thick, heavy binders, we switched to Google Docs which allowed them to work on shared portfolio outputs but separately on their laptops.  It was like working in an office on your own workstation and contributing work as a team.  With Google Docs, I would just email our academic consultant the link of their Google Docs portfolio and schedule a trip to Manila for their portfolio review. What a convenience and time-saver!

After Google Docs, I thought doing their portfolio via blogs would even be a BETTER idea! It would teach them creative writing, which was a priority area for me, since I knew that writing essays would be one of the college application requirements.  Aside from learning how to write, blogging would also allow them to integrate  photography, graphic design. Arielle managed to learn the codes on how to design or tweak the theme of her own blogsite. Take a peek at Arielle’s homeschool blog called The Homeschooled Mermaid and Kayla’s KaylaNeverKeila.

Laslty, what made high school learning also fun was WE ALL LEARNED TOGETHER. We learned how to mindmap together.  Arielle and I joined a blogging workshop together.  We three learned how to sew together. There were also other arts and crafts workshops we all joined like stamp-carving, silk screen printing, calligraphy, brush lettering watercolor painting.  So, I was learning new things and skills with them. WE ARE ALL LEARNERS and they were opportunities to show them that I AM A LIFELONG LEARNER myself. LEARNING WITH THEM was one way that we all connected and I STAY TUNED with them.

One last sharing on TEACHING.  In a recent Catholic homeschoolers gathering I attended with Mike, this question was asked: Where or how do you delineate your role as a parent and as a homeschool teacher? Where do you draw the line?  A very good question, don’t you think?  The speaker gave an answer without having to think long (not even 2 seconds!).  And I agree with what she said which was to let the academics suffer but not your relationship with your child.  NEVER.

With that I end my sharing on TEACHING in the high school years.  I really hope that with the first blog post and this second one, I was able to give tips to keep in mind and resources to bookmark.

My next blog post will be on EXPERIENCING.  What EXPERIENCES should I let our teenagers have during high school?  Enjoy my first two posts while you take your semestral or holiday break as I try to do the same.


 

I am still high from the recently concluded Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 “From Roots to Wings”.  Being a homeschooler for 10 years, I think I’ve attended all homeschool conferences (or probably just missed 1) and I must say that this is the BEST I’ve attended!  I must commend HAPI and Educating for Life for staging such a great event for homeschoolers and by homeschoolers!  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the organizers again for trusting me to be one of their breakout session speakers and share our homeschooling life and journey, particularly, during the high school years.  It truly felt so fitting to the parenting and homeschooling stage Mike and I are in right now, after sending off our eldest daughter, Arielle, to college abroad and having gone through the stages from roots to wings.

During my breakout session, I honestly thought I would ran out of things to say. On the contrary, it was TIME that I ran out of!  I was just almost halfway of my presentation when I was already flashed the “10 more minutes” card from the back of the room.  I felt I missed sharing quite a number of important points I wanted to impart to those who joined me in that session.  So, to make up for it and for the kind of rambling that I ended up doing, I will be doing a series of blog posts on the different topics I prepared for and shared during the conference but this time, I will make sure that I discuss each topic with more depth and details.

To begin, here are the topics I prepared for my breakout session “Homeschooling the High School Years” and would like to share here as a second round:

I highlighted the PARENTING and SOCIALIZING above because I feel that these two should be given more time, attention, conscious and intentional effort when you homeschool in the high school years.  These two should not be taken lightly.

As you can see, there are 8 topics listed above therefore, giving me 8 blog posts to do.  I hope you will be able to follow me as I do each post so you can have a COMPLETE picture of how we homeschooled our two girls, Arielle and Kayla, when they were/are in their tweens and teens stage.

Before I start my very first topic, PARENTING, let me share that Mike and I honestly thought we wouldn’t be homeschooling anymore by high school. We thought that by high school, we can and will put them back to traditional school since we have more or less laid the foundation for them already and they needed the friends, the different social events (like prom…which actually wasn’t a MUST-EVENT for us during high school after all!), the teachers for the more difficult subjects like Algebra and Chemistry!  But God had other plans and he surprised us with His plan OVERNIGHT! We enrolled Arielle at TMA (The Master’s Academy) for Grade 7 when I received a call from them the very next day saying that she will be moved up to 1st year high school per DepEd’s directive because they will be revamping the education program by implementing the K-12 program.  Arielle will belong to the last batch who will NOT be affected by or will be under the K-12.  What a surprise it was! We felt we didn’t have a choice but to accept the change, the decision, and we also felt we didn’t have time to look for a school where we could transfer Arielle that would pass our standards and preferences. So that’s how we ended up homeschooling until high school.  Arielle is now a freshman at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong campus and plans to major in Animation.

A couple of weeks before we were leaving for Hong Kong, I messaged a few close friends planning for a meetup/catchup of some sort (and to have some emotional support on this new chapter in our lives), telling them that Arielle will be leaving already for HK to study college.  I got mixed reactions like:

  • Wow! College na???
  • Congratulations! Ang galeng nyo!
  • Di ko kaya ‘yan! (I can’t do that!)
  • No! I want to keep my babies forever!

 

These were my good friends.  And to tell you honestly, I know they mean well, but their reactions made me pause (and I mean really pause) to think “Are we doing the right thing???”  Then, a realization hit me which I posted in Facebook where I was quoted by the homeschool conference organizers:

The parents in this world send their kids to school as early as they can, even when the kids are not yet ready, try to make them advanced in doing different kinds of activities like reading, writing, counting, but refuse to let them go when they’re bound for college and even in married life! So the above slide was a really good personal reflection on the INTENTIONAL kind of parenting we are doing to our girls.

Before I proceed to my first topic, I would just like to make it clear that whatever I shared at the conference and will share here, it is not my intention at all to brag.  I am happy and honored to share our experiences, the lessons we’ve learned, what worked for us, the benefits we gained from homeschooling and are still enjoying it.  Most of what I will share will be about our eldest daughter because she is the one who already has both the roots and wings.  I am not playing any favorites here 🙂  I’ll be sharing what I think will help, inspire and encourage other parents and homeschoolers.

Now on to PARENTING.  For me this parenting stage can be described as a tug-of-war or pendulum where you will find yourself swinging from one end to the other end, or being pulled and pushed in opposite directions.  So how do you really parent tweens and teenagers???

Do I HOLD TIGHT or LET GO? Do I become stricter or more lenient?

Do I STEP BACK or STAY TUNED?  Should I stay in the sideline or background or do I look over their shoulders and monitor them all the time?  When we had already gone back home and left Arielle by herself in HK, a good friend of mine in the U.S. told me that she uses this tracker called TeenSafe to track her daughter’s phone location, web history, installed apps, contacts, messages, etc.   I told Arielle about it and was about to get one while she’s there in HK. She got back to me saying “Why? Don’t you trust me?”  I was expecting that reply from her actually.  But I had to explain to her in all honesty saying “It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s the people around you I don’t trust.” Unfortunately (or fortunately), TeenSafe doesn’t work in HK and I’m happy to be always getting DAILY (sometimes, even blow by blow) updates, messages, or calls from her on WhatsApp and Face Time. It is working so well for us!

Do I REACT or RESPOND?  A sample scenario.  “Ma, can I meet up with my friend at Megamall this Saturday?” When I’m tired physically, mentally, emotionally, I know I would react and say “Meetup again? This Saturday?  It’s sale and it’s traffic! Are you done with your tests in Algebra?”  When I could have responded “Can you adjust your schedule and workload this week so you can study for your tests and then meetup with your friend Saturday afternoon?”

When you react, you lose control.  You lose your temper.  You lose being rational.  It’s usually all emotions taking over. When you respond, you are in control.  You think of options and choices. You think of ways to be of help, to make things better for the parties involved. It’s a WIN-WIN situation.

Will I be a KONTRABIDA or a KABARKADA? Will I always say NO? Another scenario.  “Pa, what does beer (or vodka tonic) taste like?” So, instead of totally saying NO to drinking which to us is not a total ban, last New Year’s Eve celebration in our village, Mike let Arielle taste and drink champagne and vodka tonic. We let Arielle try it WITH US, experience having a drink with us, inside our village (our boundaries), instead of having to experience getting tipsy or drunk somewhere else with other people who have a high tolerance for drinking. At least, there was also an occasion for her, for us to drink.

Do I LISTEN MORE or TALK MORE?  This is pretty self-explanatory but something we oftentimes overlook.  This is what our tweens and teenagers really need from us.  If we feel that we have a long list of reminders and marching commands we give them, then we should also listen to them more.  Just listen to what they are trying to tell you, even if they sound trivial or would not make an impact to you.  Listening to them MEANS A LOT to them and PAY ATTENTION to what they’re telling you.

Will I be an OLD-FASHIONED parent or MODERN? Will I be conservative or not?  Will I keep our traditional  ways and values or just keep up with the times?  This is where I see our non-negotiables and negotiables in parenting come in.  For me, wearing short shorts is non-negotiable.  All the girls now may be wearing those shorts which look like underwear or bikini already which they don’t seem to mind and people around them don’t seem to mind, but I do mind!

What’s a negotiable?  You want to buy something from Forever 21? H & M? Cotton On?  Okay, if it fits you…if it looks appropriate on you…and I can afford it.  BUT!  It doesn’t mean that if I allow you once, you’ll be buying in those stores all the time.

W R U?  which means Where Are You, literally and figuratively.  I check their whereabouts when they’re out of the house and I still do now with Arielle.  She doesn’t mind and if she’s not available to give me details, she will tell me that she’ll reply later.   “Where are you?” would also mean checking how they feel. With Kayla, I ask her how she played her game.  How she feels after not playing well in golf one Saturday.  Or how do you feel now with your load of subjects?

Do I THINK FORWARD or BE IN THE MOMENT?  My answer is both.  This is the stage where I find myself planning ahead, thinking about 3-5 years ahead, about college and even career path, and at the same time, reminding myself the need to be in the moment with them.  Knowing their struggles, their insecurities, their fears, their joys, what excites them and what makes the tick.

WHEW! So how do you or how do I survive teenage parenting? It’s all about BALANCE. Just like a bicycle ride where you have to keep yourself balanced in order to move forward. IT IS A CHALLENGE, but DO-ABLE.  DEFINITELY DO-ABLE!

I will end the first of my post homeschool conference blog post series here.  I started off with the VERY IMPORTANT ROLE AND DUTY we have first and foremost to our children.  I hope my sharing of experiences will be of help to you.

Next in the blog post series will be on TEACHING.  Stay tuned!


 

“What about socialization?”, you may ask (up to now). I am proud and it makes me happy to say that it was NEVER a problem with our two daughters.  To begin with, socialization is NOT defined as (1) the number of friends one has or (2) as the different venues where one gets to meet other people.   It is not 935 friends or 2,684 followers.  Nor is it merely counting the classes our children are enrolled in and activities that keep their schedules full.  The piano class AND guitar class.  AND football training…AND church group…The dance class…AND art class…AND the weekend camp….AND the volunteer work…AND the party of a friend…AND the family reunion. The more Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and the more classes, the better socialized?  Not necessarily.

Social media today (FB, IG, Twitter, etc.) does not correctly define socialization or it twists the definition of socialization.  Overpacking our children’s schedules does not automatically make them well-rounded AND well-mannered persons either.  I honestly think Merriam Webster gives an easy-to-understand, practical definition of how it is to socialize.  According to Merriam-Webster, to socialize is TO TALK TO and DO THINGS with other people in a FRIENDLY way (take note of “talk to and do things” and “friendly”) and to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is ACCEPTABLE in society (again, take note of  “behave” and “acceptable”).

Currently a freshman at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong for college, our eldest daughter, Arielle, already has friends of different nationalities.  She’s been able to ADAPT to different sets of friends and is not pressured to have to exclusively stick to just one group.  Being homeschooled for 8 years, she has learned how to WORK INDEPENDENTLY and BE INDEPENDENT, and at the same time, WORK IN A GROUP to foster TEAMWORK and CONDUCT HERSELF PROPERLY when with different kinds of people, WITHOUT COMPROMISING HER CHARACTER, HER FAITH, and WHO SHE RELALY IS. She knows when to say YES and more importantly, WHEN TO SAY NO.

The most recent pic sent to me by Arielle

The past 4 weeks have been a stressful adjustment, no doubt, on having to live independently, do basic life skills of budgeting, grocering, cooking, washing pans/dishes/utensils/glasses/food containers, meal planning, laundry, commuting while doing the intense demands of art school. But she’s coping and has learned “to adult”, speaking in their generation’s language.  We’ve really raised a brave, independent, confident girl.

Being in daily communication with her via WhatsApp and FaceTime with updates, questions, news, reminders, discoveries, and all sorts of stories (both good and bad) since we got back home, I’ve been through heartbreaking and joyful, thankful moments combined.  It may sound as if I haven’t learned to totally let go yet. But I realized that letting go does not mean having to lessen the communication between us.  After all, the OPEN, oh-so-HONEST COMMUNICATION and STRONG FAMILY BOND we have are the biggest benefits we truly enjoy from our homeschooling.  WE ARE A FAMILY.  We STAY TOGETHER AS A FAMILY no matter how far apart we may be from one another.  WE ALL DO OUR PART TO BE A FAMILY.  So why break the ties just to conform to the somewhat literal definition of “letting go”?

Our final parting with Arielle

So this is how it is and feels like to let go of your child after giving her the roots to ground herself with, and finally, the wings to make her fly.  It was NEVER the SOCIALIZATION that we were afraid of. NAH!!! It was really more of LEARNING HOW TO MANAGE HER TIME WELL AND BALANCE HER INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH HER STUDIES. TAKING CARE OF HERSELF PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, ARTISTICALLY, SOCIALLY in order to PRESERVE and NURTURE her WHOLE BEING. IT’S ALL ABOUT A BEING RESPONSIBLE ADULT GIVEN THE FREEDOM SHE HAS RIGHT NOW.

You know what? She has already begun to be one.  She has already proven herself to us that SHE CAN BE TRUSTED (This TOPS it all). SHE IS RESPONSIBLE. SHE CAN DO IT ON HER OWN!   Mike, Kayla, and I are SO PROUD of her! And WE DIDN’T and DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOCIALIZATION.