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!