How serendipitous things have ended up lately from what seems to be just ordinary and routinary things to do! Okay, what I’m trying say is…how can decluttering your closet to simply have more space and buying our supply of coffee beans teach about sharing, recycling, and saving the earth?  Well, that’s exactly what just happened to me and Kayla, our youngest daughter.

A few weeks back, Kayla told me that she wanted to and will clean her closet because she has quite a lot of clothes already that she doesn’t use anymore and are just occupying much space in her closet.  So, she was able to declutter and I suggested that she price-tagged them at cheap prices so she can sell them and have extra money.  Which is what she did.  She then packed them in a box and a few bags and set them aside.

Then, when we heard mass last Palm Sunday, we made a quick stop at Uniqlo  (a favorite clothes shop of ours) and I noticed that they had a bin by the entrance and a poster behind it saying that they accept old clothes to be donated to refugees.  I showed it to Kayla and she quickly decided that she would rather donate them than sell them. I was expecting that actually, knowing that she really has always had a giving heart and always willing and ready to share.  Then, I told her that it could be a good way to celebrate her upcoming 16th birthday (April 25)!

So, that stuck in her mind and made sure that she removed the price tags she stuck on each piece of her clothing with masking tape and repacked them in paper bags. All ready to go and be handed over to Uniqlo! She really took the time to do this and even asked me when we could drop off the bags at a Uniqlo branch.

Last Tuesday (April 18), she was really excited to go to Uniqlo after going to the driving range and I knew that it meant much to her.  She was really happy to have donated her clothes to those who would need them more.

 

After Uniqlo, she wanted to buy one or two pair of shorts.  Well, more of needed than wanted. So, we went to H&M since that seems to be one of the very few shops which has bottoms (shorts, in this case) that can comfortably and decently fit her. And it was during this ordinary hunt for a good pair of shorts that we found out for ourselves (after a friend commented on my post about Kayla donating at Uniqlo) that H&M also accepts old clothes and even gives 15% discount for the next purchase as a way of saying “Thank You”. I wanted to know more about this campaign of H&M since we literally just handed over Kayla’s bags of clothes to a staff in Uniqlo and he just received them, thanked us, and told us that he will be bringing the bags to their lower level where their collecting bin is located. The staff of H&M was very receptive to my inquiry and explained to us that they do accept old garments and (home) textiles and they use a technology to recycle the old fabric/fiber and make them into new clothes again.  He even stepped out from his station at the cash counter to get a few samples of clothes from their racks and show us how those recycled clothes look like with the green tags on them and a sample of a skirt now for sale from this recycling campaign of theirs.  Wow! Kayla and I were very happy to learn about these projects of Uniqlo and H&M and felt very inspired to donate more in the future, now knowing where to bring our clothes that are of no use to us anymore!

 

 

 

 

Now, on to my coffee beans. I bought a bag of coffee beans at an organic shop in the south a couple of weeks ago and I had to open it up already for our daily coffee consumption at home. Which means I need to buy another bag soon as stock replenishment. I didn’t know that the bag I bought had something else (and very important, at that!) written at the back, aside from the usual product description which I usually just read in passing. The back side of this bag of coffee beans, however, caught my attention because it said: Be part of the #SipandReforest campaign, for every bag of Hineleban Coffee purchase, the foundation plants one forest tree for you.  Name your tree by registering the sticker’s GPS tree ID coordinates on www.hinelebancoffee.com.

 

So, I went to the website and registered my tree from the very first bag I had bought.  In the registration, I was able to give my tree a name and after the short process, it then showed me where it will be planted (in Bukidnon, Mindanao) and its tree type. I named my first tree, by the way, LUNTIAN and added a short message: To bring back the green on earth.

The bag of beans costs more than the what I’ve seen in the groceries and markets. It’s P675 per 500 grams! But I purposely went out of my way today to buy another bag of Hineleban Arabica Coffee at Healthy Options, even if it was going to be more expensive, because I wanted to join their project. I just felt that I may be paying a few hundred pesos more but I know that the extra hundred pesos is my contribution to a reforestration, tree-planting program that my country so needs.

 

When I arrived home, I immediately went to Hineleban Coffee’s website and registered my second tree! I named it BERDE this time. I was very happy to see how the two trees I registered for planting looked like!

 

To remind me of this extra meaning of my coffee beans, I stuck the two sticker IDs from the coffee bean bags on my planner on April 21 (Friday) since I had already written on the space for April 20 (Thursday) which was today.  Then, I was reminded and remembered. Isn’t Earth Day celebrated in April? And true enough, after a quick search on the internet, Earth Day is yearly celebrated on April 22.  Now those coffee beans just had more meaning and purpose. I get to buy good coffee and plant a tree with each bag at the same time!

 

 

It is on ordinary occasions like these that make our homeschooling and lifestyle more intentional. Decision-making process and choices become more deliberate and purposeful, which I think, is a very good way in teaching social responsibility and eventually helping our children make right decisions in their lives.

What lessons have you learned from an ordinary moment lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

This topic was something I was planning to write this Holy Week but it didn’t happen. Then, a question posted by one of the moms in our homeschool groups asked about it just today and I said to myself, “There you go! Write about it.”

Having two daughters, one is 18 years old (technically and officially an adult already) and the other turning 16 soon, the life skills I taught and am still teaching them are probably more household-related and about learning how to be domesticated. But then again, I don’t think these skills are gender-biased  and I honestly think boys and sons are not exempted from these life skills and should learn them as well.

When and how did or do I teach these skills to them?  I can classify them into two major occasions: (1) when we do not have a household helper and (2) when THEY really have to be the one to do it themselves and not me. You’ll understand what I mean as I list them down.

(1) The life skill that would probably be easy and the first to teach would be CLEANING UP their study area or whatever place they used to work, play, or do some activities.  This started early on when the were still in traditional school and continued when we shifted to homeschooling.  I believe it was also a way to teach them boundaries in their work spaces and where they are allowed to freely work within those boundaries. Providing them various storage spaces and organizing materials (in fun colors, all kinds, shapes and sizes), I would say, helped a lot in making them cooperate. This skill or chore eventually moved up to cleaning up their own rooms, and although their way of cleaning up is not the same as mine (Believe me, we still argue about this often!), they now KNOW when it is time for them to do some cleaning and organizing.  At least I do hear it now from them, “I need to clean my room”  or “I’m going to clean my closet and take out clothes that don’t fit me or I don’t use anymore”.  I used to do this for them but not anymore. Making them clean up their own study/work spaces or mess would benefit them most especially because they themselves would know where their things are kept since they were the ones who put them away after use. No blame game which could spark a fight or tension in the house (unless Mom asks for something and they couldn’t find it!)

(2) CHANGING THEIR BED SHEETS, BLANKETS, PILLOW CASES

When Arielle and Kayla got their own separate rooms, which is both a privilege and responsibility, they also had to be the one in-charge of changing their bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases. I was going to say “MAKING THEIR BEDS” but this is still actually a work-in-progress!

(3) CLEANING THE BATHROOM including TOILET

When we do not have any helper, our girls had no choice but to help in cleaning the house and they had to clean their side of the house which is their bedrooms and bathroom. I remember fondly that they actually enjoyed the house cleaning chore one time when they were younger because they thought it was like being “Annie”, the musical!

(4) PRE-HANDWASH their underwear. I think I taught them this when they were going through puberty and when they both finally had their menstruation period. As girls, I think it’s but proper to give their own undies a pre-handwash before finally putting them in the laundry basket or before our household help gives them a final wash. And it would, of course, be better, if they know how to fully wash their undies themselves.

(5) LAUNDRY – Again, during the time we didn’t have a household helper with us in the house and couldn’t find someone to stay with us, we had to do our laundry. Back at my own home, we’ve always had a “labandera” to wash our clothes.  I wasn’t used to doing this chore so we ALL LEARNED it together.  We all figured out which ones would go together in one batch and in the next.  Separating whites from coloured ones, putting delicates like underwear, bras, and socks in a mesh bag, turning them inside out; how to operate the washing machine and dryer, where and how much detergent and fabric conditioner to put.

When our daughter moved to Hong Kong, one of the skills I crammed in teaching her was READING FABRIC LABELS. I almost forgot to tell her to read the labels on her clothes before shoving them in the washing machine and dryer, to avoid shrinkage and unwanted damage. By learning this, she also learned to read labels before deciding to buy a piece of clothing. Will this be washer-and dryer-friendly or do I have to handwash this?  Aside from the price, I think this has become of one of her deciding factors when buying clothes. With her very busy schedule, handwashing, of course, would be more time-consuming for her and would mean another chore requiring extra time.

Confession to make: I don’t know how to iron and so, this is one skill I wasn’t able to teach or haven’t taught our girls.

(6) COOKING & BAKING – With cooking and baking come a whole list of other skills to learn.  You have:

  • reading and following recipe instructions
  • measuring
  • knife skills
  • how to operate the stovetop hob, ovens, and different kitchen appliances
  • learning the terminologies used in culinary and baking
  • proper plating (at least, knowing where to finally put or how to serve them) and proper food storage

 

I’ve written about this skill before where our girls learned from simple to more complicated skills in the kitchen.  Kayla, our soon-to-be sixteen-year old daughter, was in most, if not all, of these blogs because she was really the one more interested to cook and bake when she was younger (while Arielle, our eldest daughter was probably, happily doodling in her corner :)) You can read about our Being Absent from Books, Culinary at Home, Baking as a Life Skill, Kayla being Our Junior Chef, and Unschooling Kayla. Now that Arielle is in college by herself, exposing her in the kitchen both as a fun and forced activity made her equipped with the skills to now live independently.

IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE. Teach your sons and daughters how to cook. How to cook rice in a rice cooker. How to brew coffee in a coffee maker. Believe it or not, Arielle had to teach her COLLEGE friends how to do these!

 

(7) TABLE SETTING

I’m not big on table-setting because it’s usually just the four of us on the dinner table and we don’t throw parties.  What’s more important for me is they know how to help prepare the table and do a simple setting before our family meals.

 

(8) DO GROCERY

The grocery is another place where you could teach a number of skills to your sons and daughters. In the grocery, our “lesson plan” usually revolves around:

  • needs vs. wants
  • budget (Math lessons in here!)
  • making healthful choices
  • reading food labels
  • weighing between price and nutritional benefits
  • how much quantity to buy

The girls would often come with me to the grocery and so they see and learn every time from this chore  or regular routine that I do. And since they’ve seen the products I buy in the grocery, there have been times that I ask them to get a few items by themselves when I can’t do it myself, when we’re pressed for time, or like when there’s no parking available!

The other thing I taught, or crammed in teaching Arielle rather, was KNOWING WHAT MEAT CUTS TO CHOOSE AND BUY for the recipes she intends to cook. I gave her a flier from Monterey Meat Shop which had an illustration where the meat cuts came from and did an extra research online since I also realized that she may not know the English translation of some meat cuts in the recipes which are written and which we are more familiar with in Filipino.

 

(9) MENU PLANNING

Ahhhh…I have another confession to make. This is one of things I dislike doing. Why? Because for me, it takes E-F-F-O-R-T to think about what you would cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, and that’s 3x a week! I honestly don’t how I manage to hack this skill but somehow I do. When I do plan our weekly menu, what I try to keep in mind is to have a balanced diet and have our fill of vegetables during the week.  I also distribute our beef, chicken, pork, fish/seafood menus during the day and week.

The one thing that goes side by side with our menu planning is learning WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS. This is also the time when the menu plan does not go as planned, which can be a good thing, because I don’t really like throwing away food that can still be eaten.  So, we try to eat and finish our leftovers immediately or come up with a recipe with them.

One of the things I asked Arielle to put together for college is a binder of her favorite and easy-to-follow recipes.  I found this article on the Ultimate Planner which we try to copy for her to bring with her to college but she eventually learned to plan her menu, do grocery, and cook as she goes. She learned to do all those on the fly.

You can read more about the skills, especially kitchen-related skills, that I taught Arielle during her gap year and before finally moving to Hong Kong here.

 

(10)  OTHER KITCHEN CHORES

Now that I’ve covered cooking, baking, doing grocery, meal planning, the girls also learned how to help out in the kitchen by:

  • washing the dirty pots, pans, appliances, dishes, utensils
  • cleaning the kitchen counters
  • throwing garbage
  • replacing the trash bins with trash bags
  • mopping the floor

 

(11) WATERING OUR SMALL GARDEN

We have a small bermuda garden which needs to be watered twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. An extra helping hand to do this when our helper is not around is much appreciated!

 

(12) WALKING OUR DOG

Same with watering our garden, walking our dog in the morning and afternoon is something that must be done daily and regularly. When our helper is not around and I’m already busy in the kitchen preparing our meal, then that’s when Kayla (in this case, it’s just Kayla since she’s the only one left with me in the house) does her share and responsibility.  And this includes picking up our dog’s poop!

 

(13) FILLING UP FORMS, MAKING BANK DEPOSITS

One opportunity that probably made me teach them how to make bank deposits was when they had to pay someone for something that they bought from them. As homeschoolers, filling up forms is not something we are used to doing. So, filling up those bank deposit slips, counting the bills and writing them down into denominations, lining up and finally making the deposit with the bank teller (Aha! Socialization skill!) is important and should not intimidate them.  It is also a good opportunity to teach them to deposit their own savings in the bank and how the process goes.

 

(14) BUDGETING

Now that Arielle is in college and living independently, she now sees how her cash flows. She now understands the need to budget her allowance properly, wisely, and how to be prudent in her spending. When she just moved in to HK, I had to do one more thing for her to help her track her spending. I made a spreadsheet for her so she can plug in details of her expenses in cash and credit card. Yes, she is a supplementary cardholder because we felt it would be best for her to have one as a backup. Since at that time, we haven’t learned yet what the requirements are to open a bank account in HK (which she had extreme difficulty with and still failed to open one later on), she needed to have both cash and credit cards with her.

 

(15) SEWING

The girls took sewing as their HELE and at one point, we were all classmates.  It is one hobby that is nice to take up and definitely another skill worth knowing.  Learning to sew was one of the fun learning experiences in our homeschooling and the girls even had a chance to model their creations and help others in need with this skill.

 

(16) TIME MANAGEMENT

As life becomes more serious, more demanding, and schedules more hectic and rigorous as our kids get older, they need to learn how to manage their time well.  Arielle’s schedule as a freshman student is VERY HECTIC and she is learning to balance all the things she needs to do in school, at home (grocery, cooking, laundry), for herself (personal time alone, with friends, and with God during Sunday mass). On  the other hand, Kayla is also learning how to do her academic requirements while making time for her golf training and tournaments. I can see both of them having a tough time but I can’t do these for them. They have to learn it for themselves.

 

(17) DEALING with OTHER PEOPLE

Dealing AND living with other people whose ways and lifestyle are different from hers is one of the first and the biggest lessons Arielle had to deal with in college.  It was tough and it still is for her. But she’s learned to speak up, accept and deal with their differences, walk away if she has to and find a place to be able to do what she needs to do, be more patient and to exercise empathy, be flexible and yet, to do what is right. It can be frustrating and exasperating for both of us, and for me as well, as I listen to her stories, but again, this is something she can’t escape from and has to learn herself.  She has to learn how to deal with different kinds of people and experience it herself.

I would also like to add that learning how to DISCERN PEOPLE who would be a good company or good friends is very, very important.  This is where all your character-building lessons would come in later on and would be tested.

 

(18)  WHAT TO DO WHEN TRAVELING/GOING ON A TRIP

I almost forgot about this! This is one life skill that was fun for me to teach and for them to learn. When we had opportunities to travel locally and abroad, it was good time for me to teach them about:

Arielle and Kayla were already able to join summer marine camps and travel by plane from Manila to Bacolod and vice-versa without us. When it was time for Arielle to move to Hong Kong and fly back to Manila during her breaks, she already knew what to do.

 

There are so many more life skills I want and should teach our daughters, and one of them is how to commute. But because of fear and safety issues here in Manila and in our country, Mike and I would rather drive or take them to where they want or need to go, pick them up and drive home together. Commuting in Hong Kong is easy and tourist-friendly as long as one knows some navigation and map-reading skills, which I’m glad Arielle has.    Another skill I would want them to learn or develop is entrepreneurship and financial literacy. On the more mechanical side, I would also love them to learn how to troubleshoot a car, to at least know how to change a flat tire (that includes me, actually!). Lastly, we all need to learn or refresh on how to administer first-aid, how to put out a fire, and how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do when there’s an earthquake.

The young ones today would say, “How do you adult?”  When they say that, they are actually referring to the many life skills that they all need to know to be able go through their daily activities, routines, responsibilities, and survive at the end of each day! Did you know that there’s now an Adult School in the U.S. that intends to teach grown-up skills to young adults??? We are indeed blessed and privileged to be able to personally teach our children and have that flexibility of time because the truth is, life is not all about books, school and academics.

What life skills do you teach to your children or have taught them?  What other life skills do you think they should learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Were you able to read my last post? It’s the longest one I’ve written so far for this blog series on the assigned breakout session to me at the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016. And yes, it was all about SOCIALIZATION. In case you missed it, I’d like to invite you to read it and give it some thought.

Moving on to Part 5 of this series, I will now talk about self-discovery and self-awareness. So after sharing with you the major areas that make up our high school homeschooling which are parenting, teaching, experiencing, and socializing, you’re probably wondering where all these lead to.  What have our daughters become? Are they normal? Or are they weird?

Not weird (I know…I could be biased). But one thing that Mike and I noticed was that all these areas helped them build their identity.  They all helped in the process of their self-discovery and self-awareness. It’s them saying:

  • This is not ME against YOU.
  • I ACKNOWLEDGE, I ACCEPT, I CELEBRATE WHO I AM.

 

We’ve come to see that our girls simply know who they are. They know what they CAN DO, what their GIFTS and STRENGTHS are, and what they ARE NOT. They are very much aware of the talents and personalities God gave them and are learning to make sound choices and decisions, of course, with our guidance and advice. THEY KNOW.

  • This is me. I’m not like her.
  • I can’t do what she does.
  • I have my own way of doing it.

 

Kayla knows that she is not like her Ate. She knows she’s kinesthetic and that playing golf and hiking are activities that she’s comfortable in. Art is her older sister.  Art is something she can learn more of. At the same time, Arielle knows she’s not as physical and sporty as Kayla. But these two girls support each other all the way!

Because of this…their sense of SELF…their self-discoery and self-awareness, I believe we were able to secure their roots firmly in the ground. They are not easily swayed by friends and trends. They don’t quickly give in to peer pressure. They come out comfortable and confident about themselves.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” as Dr. Seuss would say.

I see this very clearly now with Arielle. Being surrounded with students coming from different countries and background and living on her own, she is able to make decisions and not give in to pressure from her new found friends in college. She can mingle with different groups of friends at school. She also doesn’t mind being alone (and there are times that she actually prefers to be alone to have her Me Time). She can work by herself and in a group. She has been brave enough to say NO to things that are just not acceptable (smoking, drinking, clubbing until wee hours, and even drugs).

A couple of weeks after their Fall Quarter began, October 18 to be exact, Arielle messaged me on WhatsApp first thing in the morning: Is it weird that grades aren’t what drive me in school? (because her friend got an A for her midterms and told her. I guess that prompted her to do some kind of reflection).  My first reaction that I said to myself was “You REALLY are a homeschooler!”

When I shared our short chat to a group in Facebook, a mom asked me, “So, what drives her?” I immediately asked Arielle and she very quickly replied to me with these:

 

After a while, I got a bit nervous and checked with her her scholarship. If she’s safe with her scholarships. And she said YES. I must admit, that gave me a sense of relief!

In reality, my heart wanted to burst! I immediately asked “Lord, where did that come from???” The SELF-AWARENESS and WISDOM!  And she hasn’t even turned 18 yet! (Her 18th birthday was coming up in a few days…on the 23rd).  She just knows herself really well and with confidence keeps her own standards that she doesn’t need to follow blindly how everyone else does things.

How she’s been able to cope, adjust, adapt, survive, live on her own in a place with strangers, in a place with a different lifestyle and culture, is just SOOO OVERWHELMING!

Letting go and being separated from your children is not easy. It’s never easy. I feel a hole in my heart but at the same time, I know that I cannot keep them forever.  I just keep telling and reminding myself “Lord, Arielle and Kayla are not our children. They’re yours. So teach us how to be good parents, good stewards so that we may lead them to Your Plan.”

And if this is just a sneak peek of how our children will be once set free in the real world, then I am not complaining. I only have a grateful heart.

 

 


 

This is probably the topic everyone’s waiting for.  The question everyone asks homeschoolers. The question that never dies. So, I am not surprised if this was one of the top 3 reasons why the attendees chose to go to my breakout session in the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016. This is already the 4th topic of my presentation and if you missed the first three, you can read still read Part 1 on parenting, Part 2 on teaching, and Part 3 on experiencing.

WARNING: THIS POST IS A LONG ONE. When I was preparing for this part, I really felt God wanted me to look back on how we dealt with this perceived biggest problem of homeschoolers. And I was looking back, I said to myself that we weren’t doing anything extra special or extraordinary for our daughters to socialize.  We didn’t and don’t even have a regular homeschool co-op until this day!  So how did we socialize all these years?

First of all, we were a pack of four.  Where one goes, everybody goes.  That’s practically how our family setup or logistics was during most of our homeschooling years and so, meeting people and talking with them happened in a natural setting.  In a restaurant, in a shop, in church, when meeting their Papa’s contacts at work, when meeting and talking with the locals of Batangas (my province) which taught them how to switch from English to Tagalog (with the Batangueno accent). The least or perhaps the most we did was encourage our girls to smile and say “Hi!” or “Good afternoon!”

I’ll start discussing the above slide BEFORE I share what God actually revealed and TAUGHT me on what we’ve been doing to teach socialization to our homeschooled daughters.

High school was the time we started to let our girls join camps.  When I say camps, I mean 4-6 days…OUT OF TOWN…WITHOUT US. They joined CISV where they were able to meet other campers from different schools in Manila.  CISV Philippines is a global organization of volunteers and participants dedicated to peace education through cross-cultural friendship.  Their tagline or motto is building global friendship. Their camp venue was in another town in Batangas.  What we did was from our place in Batangas City, we went to the meetup/drop-off point in Manila so that our girls would experience the bus ride to the venue with all the other campers. Their experience with CISV could be one of the highlights of their high school years.

Being a beach-loving family, the other camp Arielle and Kayla enjoyed more is the Danjugan Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod during summer.  They have joined this camp thrice and each time has always been fun and memorable for them.  It was always something they really GOT SO EXCITED ABOUT and LOOKED FORWARD TO!  In this camp, they experienced camping by the sea, learned how to live in a solar-powered island, how to conserve energy and water and at the same time, learn about nature and marine life, and most especially how to protect it.

The first time they joined this summer camp, Mike and I went with them to Bacolod and stayed at a friend’s house while they were at camp. We all flew to Bacolod together with 2 of their friends and flew back to Manila together.  On their second year, Mike and I flew to Bacolod with them, this time stayed at a hotel since they had more friends with them. (For this camp, they always stay an extra night before and after the official camp dates to not tire themselves too much and they also get the chance to explore Bacolod city with their friends and eat the local food specialty, chicken inasal!) After dropping them off at the meetup point, Mike and I flew back to Manila. When camp ended and it was time to pick them up, it was only Mike who flew back to Bacolod.  Last May, their 3rd time to join, the girls and their 4 friends flew to Bacolod and back to Manila by themselves.  Arielle became the organizer of the group, made their flight bookings, payment arrangements for the group, and housing arrangements with the camp organizers.  It was my way of training and preparing her for her move to Hong Kong for college. It worked out really well!

Do we allow them to meet up with friends?  Yes, we do.  Movie, going around the mall, go to Fully Booked or buy milk tea, Arielle and her art HOHOL (Hang Out Hang Out Lang) and Kayla with her golf buddies, school fairs, concerts a few times.  This has not been a problem with us as long as we know all the details of their meetups and they update us of their whereabouts.

They are also on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, Tumblr, Snow. WhatsApp and Viber (for convenience and a more private venue for family messaging).  There was a time, they or one of them was hooked to something (I forgot what it was) or they were spending too much time on their phones.  So I took their phones away.  But it didn’t happen often.  And I still remind them to keep their phones away during meal times.

They’re not on FB or IG all the time. They’re more of Snapchat and Telegram users to connect with friends. Somehow, they’ve learned how to make social media work for them.  Now that Arielle is in Hong Kong, she admits missing Kayla so much that I allow them to message each other or be on Face Time privately.  Sometimes, it’s me who’s excited about a post I saw or shared in Facebook and I would ask them “Did you see my post in FB??? I tagged you!”  And they will get back to me, “Ma, I haven’t been on FB lately.”

This is Arielle’s take on social media.  Social media is just a glimpse of you who are.  It only shows a tiny bit of someone’s personality.  Instagram, for instance.  That’s why she prefers to post pictures in IG that are random, colorful, and not too much like a gallery because she wants to show who she really is.  And for her: NOTHING BEATS HUMAN INTERACTION.  She’s on almost social networking site but she believes that if she doesn’t know how to talk to people, it’s useless. Actual meetups and spending time together are still THE BEST.

The girls were also able to do a few volunteering like calamity relief operations, sewing for the typhoon and earthquake victims in the Visayas, joining a beach clean-up in Anilao, volunteering for a day at Make-a-Wish Foundation. They were only a few occasions or opportunities that we were able to volunteer.  We simply shared our time and resources when we could.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.

 

 

Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.

Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.

 

 

Sewing for calamity victims

Sewing for calamity victims

 

 

Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod

Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod

 

 

Another plus that helped the socialization part of our homeschooling is letting them meet Mike’s and my own circle of friends. I am blessed to have a really close batch in high school and our girls have met some of them. They’ve seen the quality of friendship I’ve kept with them even after 30+ years. They’ve met my barkada, my girlfriends, the funny guys, the “sosyal” girls or “magulo” (or rowdy) group before. I also share with them how my high school life was before and how everyone has changed and mellowed, and became close to one another, like family. So, it became sort of a benchmark of the kind of friendship they would also like to have and keep someday.

At this point, you’ll probably say “Oh okay. We’re doing the same things you’re doing. You seem to be doing normal things.” SO WHAT MAKES SOCIALIZATION EASY or NOT AN ISSUE FOR OUR HOMESCHOOLED DAUGHTERS?

THIS IS WHAT I THINK AND WHAT GOD ACTUALLY REVEALED TO ME AS I WAS PREPARING FOR THIS PARTICULAR TOPIC.  We talk as a family. We talk about ideas, what we see on tv in the news, or what caught our attention in Facebook or Twitter, about the things we see around us. Because of this, Mike and I didn’t realize that by making them aware of events and situations happening around them and simply talking about them or having a deep conversation and discussion about them WITH them, we were teaching them a different meaning of socialization. We were teaching them that there are different kinds of people in society, with different living conditions, culture, and lifestyle different from ours and in that manner, we were teaching them how to behave in an acceptable manner in society.  (Merriam-Webster’s definition of “socialize” is “to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.”)  With this, we were teaching them to look outward and not inward. That the world does not revolve around them!

So I’d like to pause here and let you think how you’ve been defining the “S” word all this time.

And I’d now like to REDEFINE “socialization” for you.  It’s not just having friends…or being surrounded by people…or being where the “party” or everyone is. Socialization is not Facebook where you have 1,000+ friends!  True socialization is the quality of relationships and not quantity.  It’s more character than contacts.  I really like how Merriam-Webster defined the word “socialize”.  Does it make you think now if those in traditional schools and workplaces are truly socialized people?

Now that I’ve mentioned character, are you aware that companies nowadays are eyeing college graduates from this particular university? Companies are preferring graduates from this school because they’ve seen that students from Ateneo, La Salle, UST (these top and elite universities) don’t last long in a job. Why? Because they can’t stand menial jobs. They feel they deserve a higher pay just because they graduated from these universities. It’s that feeling of entitlement. (By the way, the university is Polytechnic University of the Philippines).

Mike and I always tell our girls that whey they enter the corporate world, everyone is on equal footing. Even when applying for a job, when you submit that job application and get interviewed, all applicants are equal because they all lack experience and what would spell the difference is what you can contribute to the company. How you can be an asset, not a liability, to the company. So again, skills and experience PLUS CHARACTER. That’s also precisely the reason why teaching our kids CHORES is very important. CHORES teach RESPONSIBILITY, HARD WORK, COOPERATION, TEAMWORK, no SHORT-CUTS, GETTING HANDS DIRTY.  Another important skill is COGNITIVE skill, meaning skills relating to mental activities: thinking, understanding, learning, remembering, analyzing, evaluating. So, the Bloom’s Taxonomy is a very good training ground for our kids TO THINK OF new ideas, new approaches, new solutions, new ways of doing things!

As also shared by the other keynote speakers in the conference, modelling is one clear way to teach our children.  Mike is a living example of a socialized person. He talks and can talk to anyone, regardless of rank or position in society.  And it is actually natural for him and more comfortable for him to talk to drivers, security guards or street vendors. We three girls would often find ourselves saying “Ayan na naman si Papa, may kausap na naman. O nakikipagkwentuhan na naman sa driver.” (There goes your Papa again.  He’s talking to someone. He’s a having a friendly chat with a driver.) And he won’t be just talking with them. He will also eat with them at a carinderia or in a corner or under a tree.

One of Mike’s reminders to Arielle when we were in Hong Kong to send her off was to not look down on people.  Respect and be kind to your security guard or cleaning lady. Greet them because that could just make their day.

I come from a political family but I would always rather keep myself in low profile. I was never comfortable being given a special treatment.  Our girls know and have seen that, and so do other people who’ve come to know me better.

With Arielle now an international student at SCAD HK, socialization was never a problem. You can read more about it here.

We also get comments on Kayla being able to talk with older golfers and being independent. There was a tournament she joined recently where she was the ONLY junior golfer and all the other golfers were adults. She didn’t mind. And they didn’t mind at all! As a matter of fact, they acknowleged her presence in the tournament that the adults gave the prizes they won to Kayla!

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipino); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipina); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

I would really like to encourage you to TAKE YOUR PARENTING AND the SOCIALIZATION EXPERIENCES of your children seriously. Don’t keep them sheltered. Don’t always make things comfortable and easy for them. Don’t make them feel that everything is going to be served to them. Make them do hard things. Make them do chores (I can’t stress this enough). Make them appreciate work and service done to them by your helpers, your drivers, the waiters, the security guards, the elevator operators, your garbage collectors, your pizza delivery person.

I read an article by The Washington Post entitled “How to Raise Kinder, Less Entitled Kids (according to science) and I’d like to copy here the few lines that caught may attention:

“What does this mean for kids and parents? Anything we provide or do regularly will become the new norm, whether it’s postgame milkshakes or a certain brand of clothes. And not doing things can also become a norm: If our kids have gotten used to having their beds made or dinner table set, they’ll come to expect that, too.
“I really think about it as ‘What’s the default that I’m setting up?”

And that’s one question I would now like you to think about…and answer THE socialization question that is always asked of you. WHAT IS THE DEFAULT SYSTEM I HAVE SET UP IN MY FAMILY?  Are meals always ready on the dining table? Are rooms cleaned by a helper every week or when trash is all over?Do we need to always go for branded clothes and shoes?  Be only with and catch up with families whose default system for semestral break or summer vacation is to travel abroad all the time?

With all that I’ve shared and written here about socialization, it’s time to have that paradigm shift and redefine the S word.

Socialization is EMPATHY where one puts himself in the shoes of another, to understand and care how someone else feels as if the other person’s life or story is happening to him, as opposed to sympathy were one just feels compassion or pity for the hardships or difficulties one is going through. “Kawawa naman.” (What a pity).

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

We all complain about our country…how undisciplined Filipinos are…that our country seems to be hopeless, how disrespectful teenagers are nowadays. Let our PARENTING and the SOCIALIZATION of our children be our contribution to build the CHARACTER of our children. It’s time to UN-CENTER OURSELVES. Let’s start the change and be the change we all are looking for. If we want our country to change and build the Philippines again, let’s start with our families…our children.

I think I’ve said more than enough and made my point. I do hope I was able to make you THINK and at least just agree with me on the real meaning of socialization.

 


 

“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.

 


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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Arielle will pursue her passion in Animation and Kayla is pursuing her passion in golf.

 

What I am about to write is greatly inspired by two things: (1) Kayla’s best score in her golf tournaments, so far and (2) this video I recently saw and shared in Facebook.  Last weekend, Kayla joined The Junior Golfers League’s tournament at Southlinks Golf Club.  Despite the brief moment of stress AND panic Kayla and I experienced when we got lost in finding our way to Southlinks (Actually, it was not brief.  It was like an hour of being lost even if we were using Waze the entire time!) and finally getting to the place just 15 minutes before the tee-off time of 10:30 a.m., Kayla scored 88 last Saturday (her lowest so far!) and 89 yesterday.  I saw how Kayla was slowly losing her motivation and was on the brink of giving up and not joining the tournament anymore.   But as I was praying out loud to God behind the wheel and made it to the golf club by 10:15 a.m., I knew that I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a discouragement to Kayla.  Before she got off the car, I made sure that I lifted up her spirits by telling her to forget the getting-lost-part that just happened, that there was a purpose why it happened and that I think God was teaching us both character that moment.  I remember sitting in the car for a few minutes after Kayla went to register.  This time I was getting teary-eyed with mixed emotions of relief and feeling the tiredness for driving for 4 hours, and again saying a prayer to God and lifting up Kayla for her tournament.  It was clearly another moment of offering and surrendering to God.

I am really so thankful that Kayla found her passion before her Ate (older sister) Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college this September.  They are close to each other, more like best buddies.  If she didn’t rediscover her passion in golf, I think there’s going to be a big hole of emptiness in her when her Ate leaves because of the close relationship they have.  So I believe that golf will keep Kayla focused and will be a confidence and self-esteem booster for her.  I can only thank the Lord for His perfect timing on what’s happening in the lives of our daughters!

So what really happens when kids find their passions?  From my personal experience as a homeschool mom to Arielle and Kayla, this is what I think and have observed so far:

  1. They know who they are.  They know what they can do and what they do best and is not struggling to fit in.
  2. They are driven to learn more about their passion and take initiatives to become better at it.
  3. They appreciate the people who teach, coach, and inspire them, which also teaches them about humility and gratitude. (And that includes appreciating the parents 🙂 )
  4. They have focus.
  5. They learn to be disciplined.
  6. They learn time management, making priorities, choices and decisions.
  7. They persevere.
  8. They become more patient.
  9. They accept failures and setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to do better.
  10. Their faith in God and in themselves become strengthened.
  11. They believe in themselves.
  12. They get tired and frustrated but they get back on their feet to train harder, learn more, be better.
  13. They become resilient, learn how to bounce back, and move on with life.
  14. They are encouraged to dream and dream big.
  15. They give their all in order to go for their dreams, but if their dreams don’t happen, they know that they’ve done their best and that is what matters.

 

My parting message to you parents is…explore and let your kids try different things so you and they themselves can see where they are most comfortable at, confident in, and wired to do. Once they have found “IT”, give them full support and doses and doses of encouragement. And that is important even if the passion they have found for themselves is different from yours or something you don’t know anything about (just like me, with golf! ).  

Be by their side as they go through the discovery and exploratory process.  Once they have found their passions, there’s no stopping them and you will soon see them fly with the wings you gave them.  And what’s even better and gratifying is they will come back to you after a couple of months or years, seeing that you only not gave them wings to fly with but also roots to know where they should come back to.


 

Zootopia

 

I’m finally able to write about the movie “Zootopia”, which Arielle and I watched for the second time yesterday.  It was our mother-daughter prize for finally completing and submitting her portfolio to SCAD Hong Kong.  Of course, Arielle, our daughter who will pursue Animation, had to watch it again.  And I won’t be surprised if the second time won’t be the last time!

As always, Arielle had a different motivation and intention when she watched this Disney film.  She was looking forward to see the technical side of the animation plus the story.  I, on the other hand, decided to see it (after much convincing), as a break for me and for pure entertainment.  I had no idea what Zootopia was all about!

I will not give the plot summary of the movie.  You can find it here. What I’d like to share instead are the life lessons that I personally picked up from this beautifully animated film.  I have twelve:

1. Anyone can be anything.   

   No to stereotyping.  Just keep on trying.  As the movie said, be a TRYer, one who always tries.

2.  A positive attitude makes a big difference.

3.  Do your job or tasks well, no matter how small they may seem.  

     As St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Do small things with great love.”   Go an extra mile.

4.  Support and encourage your child in his/her dreams.  It matters a lot to them.

5.  Understand others.  They may have a past that needs to be understood.

6.  Everyone is different.  Everyone is unique.  

7.  There may come a time in your life that you just have to prove your worth.  Show them who you are and what you can do.  Show them what you’ve got. 

8.  You have to learn how to think and put pieces of information together.  Problem-solving is an important life skill.

9.  Prejudice, discrimination, racism, greed, over-confidence, and being a crook have no place in society and in this world.  It does not at all do any good.

10.  Let us all live in harmony and peace, respecting each other, and celebrating each other’s differences.

11.  We must protect the environment, God’s creation, in order to maintain its natural balance.

12.  Just as we need to protect human life, we need to protect animal life as well.

 

The movie is already on its second week and I hope you and your kids can make this a family movie date.  If you miss it, then I encourage you to watch out for the DVD copy and get one for a movie night at home.

 

 


 

Some of you may be wondering what we’ve been up to in our homeschooling and probably, if I’m still alive (LOL!).  Yes, I very much am!  It’s just that our homeschool life seems to have taken a different turn and things aren’t anymore like “This is our schedule for today” or “It’s time for me to sit down and teach Filipino to Kayla, and after this, it’s History for Arielle.”

Now that Arielle’s in her senior year in high school and Kayla is in 8th Grade, they’ve been pretty much on their own.  Yes, that’s how it’s been.  They’ve been independent.  They managed to come up with their own schedule that they feel would work best for them and where they will be most productive.  I thought my past method of making schedules for them every year (yes, every single year for the past seven years) would still work but apparently, I had to keep my hands off already in this area of our systems and routines.  This setup may not be totally perfect but it’s a learning curve that they must go through. Also, it’s another parenting lesson for me on letting go.  The fear and question that they might be missing out on a lot of things in terms of academics do haunt me so I still make it a point though to check up on them regularly so I know what they are doing and where they may be needing help on.  I also remind myself that I cannot and won’t be able to teach them E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, as Debra Bell had said in one of the homeschool conferences I’ve attended.  What’s more important is to teach them the skills on how to learn and how to be a lifelong learner.

So what’s been my role to them?  I can sum it up in two words:  a coach and a counselor.  I now wear different hats or let’s say, I now have new (or is “more” the more appropriate word?) hats to put on.  Here’s what it now looks like homeschooling our two teen girls.

With Arielle, Mike and I have been having a lot of discussions with her on the following:

  1. Responsibility and time management  –  Clearly knowing what is expected from her and when
  2. Identifying and setting priorities  –  Knowing what needs more of her time, attention, and efforts, and also the willingness to give up what shouldn’t be taking up much of her time
  3. Proper work habits and ethics  –  Learning how to handle and manage tasks and projects with diligence, persistence, patience, willingness, punctuality, responsibility, and maturity
  4. Dealing with different kinds of people and that includes difficult people in the “workplace”  – Since we’ve been exposing Arielle to (1) real-life professionals, mentors, teachers, speakers, trainors, who are older than her, and (2) kids of her age, via workshops, trainings, camps, and projects that she herself initiated or collaborated with other people, we’ve been telling her “facts of life” and realities that she is going to face in the real world when she goes to college or starts working.  This is a tough one to teach and impart wisdom on since we are talking about relationships and how to present herself to others and clearly communicate to them what she has to say, without appearing domineering, arrogant, or as someone who can be pushed around.
  5. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decision  –  Taking responsibility for the choices she made and ownership for her actions

These areas are enough to drain me mentally and sometimes, emotionally, after a lengthy conversation and processing of thoughts and emotions with her.   I believe this is where most of my energy goes.  In the P-R-O-C-E-S-S-I-N-G, which is ultimately character-building.   I cannot emphasize enough how parenting teens can really be challenging and quite exhausting.

With Kayla,  parenting her these days is different since she has just entered the teen stage.  I cannot say that it’s easier the second time around since Arielle has been through this early teen stage already.  As we all know, every child is different.  Every child has unique needs.  Every child has a different love language.  Every child calls for a specific parenting style.  So for her, our conversations and discussions often revolve around these:

  1. Time management  –  Learning to identify what’s important and what must be done first
  2. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decisions  –  Learning to make her own decisions and owning them
  3. Making and choosing friends with good moral character  –  Being conscious of her own and other people’s behaviour, character, virtues, and manners
  4. Money management  –  Need vs. want;  That money is a resource that must be used wisely and with care
  5. Identifying her God-given strengths and interests  –  Making her aware of her talents, gifts, capabilities and things that she can do naturally and with much potential, and believing that she is as unique as her Ate Arielle

 

It’s a new chapter in our homeschooling life and I myself am learning and being trained new skills as a parent.  It is sometimes so easy and tempting to just fall into the trap of just following what everyone does but I am constantly reminded by God that Arielle and Kayla were wonderfully and fearfully made by Him.  As the saying goes, they were born not to fit in but to stand out.  Now that’s where my parenting challenge lies.  To make sure that I am raising and molding them into the persons that God designed and purposed them to be.  I am hoping and praying that my efforts in doing so are close enough!

What homeschooling challenges are you faced with right now?  I can probably learn a few things from you.