About racquel

 

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.

 


 

After AAALLLL the thinking and planning we’ve been doing these past 12 months in our gap year, this is a no-brainer post.  Just all-heart <3!  I just wanted to share with you what I’ve come up with for Arielle’s college care package.  I’ve never heard of the term until we were getting down to details on her transfer to Hong Kong and I came across the term in an article.  A college care package is basically a package of items put together that your son or daughter needs (or YOU THINK your son or daughter will need!)  For us Filipinos, I think we’re familiar with this tradition or gesture as “padala” or “pasalubong”.  But in other countries, care packages are just sent via mail, while we would most often ask a friend or relative to bring it over or if not, via couriers like LBC.

Since I needed to make the care package as light as possible, I reused an old bubble wrap envelope (yes it was an envelope and not a sheet) used by my sister in the U.S. to send over something to us.  The items I had been putting (and hiding) together fit PERFECTLY!  Take a look!

Bible verses and quotes from Padre Pio and St. Therese which I hand-lettered and painted myself

Bible verses and quotes from Padre Pio and St. Therese which I hand-lettered and painted myself

 

 

Printed photos of each one of us, our family, and Kayla and Arielle with wooden clips, jute string, and 2 rolls of washi tape to decorate her room with

Printed photos of each one of us, our family, and Kayla and Arielle together with wooden clips, jute string, and 2 rolls of washi tape to decorate her room with

 

 

Crucifix for her bedside, an engraved pen, manicure set, room and linen spray, Korean face masks, and over-the-door hooks

Crucifix for her bedside, an engraved pen, manicure set, room and linen spray, Korean face masks, and over-the-door hooks

 

 

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (a must natural therapy!), more hooks!

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (a must natural therapy!), more hooks!

 

Just wrapped the printed photos in paper

I wrapped the printed photos in paper

 

 

The next photos are to show you the Post-It notes I had written on each 🙂

I had her name engraved on a pen.

 

A bottle each of room and linen spray

A bottle each of room and linen spray

 

A vanity mirror

A vanity mirror

 

Something that the two sisters bond over!

Something that the two sisters bond over!

 

The crucifix

The crucifix

 

Half-pans to store tube paints and be on-the-go!

Half-pans to store tube paints and be on-the-go!

 

The final care package now looks like this!

Store-bought and handmade masking tapes with messages

Store-bought and handmade masking tapes with messages

 

The back part of the package

The back part of the package

 

The only items I wasn’t able to take pictures of are bars of Kit-Kat chocolate, 2 packs of regular and mini M&M’s and a pack of mints.  I was planning to add packs of chocolate chip cookies (her favorite!) but she had already grabbed 2 packs for herself when we went to the grocery last weekend.  She told me those will be for Hong Kong!

After packing all sorts of things (and we’re not yet done!), this is going to be a surprise package we will put on Arielle’s bed on her moving-in day!  (Kayla also has “something” for her Ate.)

Now I see the value of care packages.  It is a way to keep in touch with your son or daughter who has left for college and to make them feel that family is not too far away.  Whether or not someone’s love language is gift-giving, I think care packages, big or small, are a sure way to let someone know that we’re thinking about him or her.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Countdown to college!

 

 

Last week, I was exchanging messages with a few close friends and sharing with them my current situation particularly, parenting stage.  Updating them, rather, as I try to keep myself together after I started doing a countdown to September 7. These are my friends who know that our eldest, Arielle, will already be in college, but she will not be going to any of the local universities here in Manila. She has her eyes set on pursuing Animation and Mike and I fully support her in sending her to a college abroad that seems to be a perfect fit to her creative personality and homeschooled lifestyle and kind of learning.  SCAD Hong Kong will be her home for the next 9 months, at the very least.

Anyway, my chat with a few of my friends was lightbulb moment of some sort.  I can’t seem to think of a one-word to describe that moment when I was in the zone of processing my thoughts and the parenting stage that I am in and at the same time, also understanding the honest feedback and reaction of my friends.  But the mere update and chat we had HIT ME. HARD.  And that’s why I’m writing this.

When I tell my friends and even acquaintances that Arielle will be leaving in a few weeks for Hong Kong to start her college life, most , if not all of them, give me the same reaction.

“Wow! Congratulations!”

“Are you ready???”

“Di ko kaya ‘yan! (I won’t be able to handle or take that!  OR  “I can’t!!!)

“No! I want to keep my babies forever!”

Like, do you really want to keep your children forever?!! To be honest with you, that reaction did cross my mind and made me pause a bit.  But I can’t wait to see them happily and successfully settled down with a job or career that pays for their rent, utilities, and food!

Thinking deeper after receiving those reactions and comments with the same tone, a quick flashback of our decision to homeschool flashed in my mind (in just like minutes!). I suddenly began to ask myself “Isn’t it more logical to have your children around and with you when they are babies, toddlers, in their growing up years, when they are tweens and teens, and release them and let them go when they reach the age of 17 or 18 years old, after you’ve trained them well enough and have given them roots then wings? Then, a followup thought immediately came, “Why are you keeping them in the house when they should be in school?”  It was one of those popular questions I was often asked by people who wonder why we are homeschooling our girls. One of those most asked questions where I didn’t want to sound exasperated every time I would give an answer.  Thinking about these questions and reactions indeed showed me that there many things, beliefs, principles that go against the majority and the world. Education, learning, parenting are a few of them.

Well, of course, I am speaking as a homeschool mom who’s currently on our 10th year to homeschool.  Call it defensive, but I’d like this post to come across as a statement of who we are and what we believe in.  I am merely sharing a decision we’ve made 10 years ago and that lifestyle choice we continue to make.  I am not putting down anyone who do not agree with me and our unpopular decision. Rather, I am hoping that this written piece will just give everyone a chance to really pause and think about the different choices they’ve made and where those choices have brought them.

Everyone in our family loves homeschooling and are happy with it!  We continue to reap and enjoy the many advantages and blessings it brings.

I honestly do pray that wherever you are right now, you are happy and at peace for making those choices.


With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time.  They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.

They are all home management and real life skills.

Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like.  I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.

MEAL PLANNING:

  • Weekly Menu Planning

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this.  I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week.  My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning.  That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.

Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.

We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen.  Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.

  • Making a grocery shopping list

Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.

  • Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT

This is probably the most challenging to teach.  Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal.  The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME.  She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.

  • Leftovers Management

This is where Mike speaks.  “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.”  And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.

  • Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide

I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that  I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts.  So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names.  I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest.  Whew!

 

LAUNDRY:

  • Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)

Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this.  She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered.  All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers.  So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments.  This is  still her reading assignment.

FINANCE or MONEY MANAGEMENT:

  • Opening a bank account

I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after.  But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities.  If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.

  • Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending

From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT.  So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary.  I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning!  Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.

 

SOCIAL SKILLS and CHARACTER-BUILDING & APPLICATION:

  • Social skills
  • Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items

Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people.  I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.

 

GETTING TO PLACES:

  • Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)

Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus.  Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.

 

So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college.  We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.

Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing.  Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone.  This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

What a coincidence that I am writing this as the last of the interview series I had with Arielle and we are at the same time at the final stages of her Hong Kong student visa application.  (The final document needed just arrived by mail and we are now ready to mail out to SCAD HK all visa application requirements.) It is somehow both an end and a new beginning for her.  I see it as an end of her longer than usual and yet well-prepared college application process; an end of this interview series that gave you a chance to hear her thoughts as a homeschooled high school graduate; and a beginning of her life-to-be as an international college student in SCAD Hong Kong.

If you missed the other interviews, just click on the links below and you’ll get to listen to Arielle’s brief answers to the different questions I asked her:

  1. After the SCAD Interview
  2. Animation in College
  3. Going Away for College
  4. Being Homeschooled
  5. Plans After College
  6. Taking A Gap Year

As a finale, Arielle gives her parting message, especially to homeschooled students, and how she feels (tired and all!) after a long day with SCAD and attending the SCAD Accepted Students Reception Day.

I hope that with these interview videos, we were able to somehow share with you how we spent our gap year in preparation for college and Arielle’s thoughts as well.

 


 

I said in my last post that I have one more interview with Arielle.  I was wrong!  I still have two more and the one I apparently missed is the interview on gap year.  How could I have forgotten to share the video interview about this topic?

Gap year is not a popular option taken by high school graduates here in the Philippines primarily because, Filipinos have this mentality that the sooner the parents get to finish their responsibility in sending their child/children to school, the better. Why? Because it’s economical and their child/children can then help in sending their younger siblings to school and in providing for the family as well.

But like our decision to homeschool where we took the road less traveled, we again took a leap of faith and let our homeschooled high school graduate take a gap year.  Here are Arielle’s thoughts about her gap year experience:

  1.  How was your gap year?
  2.  Was it a good decision to take a gap year?
  3.  What did you do during your gap year?
  4.  Would you recommend taking a gap year to high school graduates? 

 

Taking a gap year, I would say, is one blessing I am really grateful for.  It is the best decision we made for our homeschooled high school graduate. No regrets.

 


 

Here’s the second to the last interview series I had with our eldest daughter, Arielle.  She’ll be leaving for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in Hongkong this September and will take up Animation in college.

The post before this was on her being homeschooled UNTIL high school and you can hear talk about it here.

This time, she thinks way forward (a natural trait of hers, by the way) and answers the question:

What are your plans after college?

I have one last interview with her and I hope you will watch out for that as well!


 

Sorry, this took a while to be posted.  I had to shift my attention to a personal family matter over the summer and this video series was put on hold.  Now that we’ve just started another year in homeschooling, I thought this would be appropriate.

Here’s a brief video interview with Arielle and her thoughts on being homeschooled:

If you missed the past posts on this interview series, click here, here, and here.

Hope this series inspires and continues to encourage you.  Watch out for the last two interviews!