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!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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.


 

No, it’s not a typo error.  It is really spelled as W-R-I-T-E.  But before that…

I haven’t been able to blog lately because of some unexpected turn of events (mother-in-law’s passing, home renovation finalizations, moving in chores (which seem endless!), among others), which were happening all at the same time!  All these kinda shook up my life (and sanity) just when I was trying to psyche myself up for a brand new 2014!  But something took place last Saturday which is worth blogging, and I am talking about I KNOW WRITE, a teen bloggers meetup, organized by three teenage girls, Arielle (our eldest daughter), Jodie Alejaga, and Nina Alvia. The first ever of its kind!  Woot! Woot!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Name and Design by Arielle

I wasn’t really planning on being the “stage mom” kind of mom last Saturday.  All I had asked permission from Arielle was to take pictures (which she agreed to last minute!) so I can blog about it.  I was even seated at a table outside their reserved function room at Kuppa Roastery & Cafe, to keep my distance.  But as I was observing how these newbie teens were handling the nitty-gritty of the event, I felt they somehow needed a standby coach just to help them smoothly go through their activities without having to pay extra for going over their two-hour reservation.  Planning for and hosting this meetup was one great opportunity to teach Arielle life skills in a real-life event that they themselves organized.

Even before Saturday came, Mike and I were already giving Arielle our suggestions and advice on how to go about this meetup from the time she told us about the idea (like maybe since October 2013?).  We had a series of conversation on this real-life project in the car, at a resto, while having lunch or dinner, or wherever.  Discussion had a serious tone to it since we were talking about something that adults normally do in their job or career but at the same time, we made sure we did not miss out the elements of FUN and YOUTH ENERGY.

What exactly did we teach Arielle in planning for and organizing this event?  Here’s a list of life skills that gave Arielle a taste of how it is like to think, decide, and act like an adult (a responsible adult, that is)!

1.  PLANNING and PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS

  • Planning ahead
  • Having a timetable
  • Why having a planner/calendar is essential
  • Why having meetings is essential
  • Decision-making: learning which areas need decision and action, especially immediate ones
  • Having an objective, action plan, and getting down into details of the event (venue, food, activities, invited guest speaker)

 

2.  TIME MANAGEMENT

  • Identifying priorities
  • Focusing on priorities
  • Using time well on the event itself (keeping track of the time!)

 

3.  PEOPLE SKILLS

  • How to work with different people (in the team and with everyone they had to deal with as they were organizing and doing the event)
  • How to make different personalities work together to achieve a goal
  • How to collaborate with the common objective in mind
  • Being a team player

 

4.  MARKETING AND PROMOTIONS

  • Coming up with a name for the event,
  • a logo
  • a hashtag
  • a souvenir t-shirt
  • Creating an Facebook page and group
  • Making a sign-up/registration sheet
  • How to go about payment
  • What token of appreciation to give to the guest speaker
  • Doing an evaluation after (what worked and what didn’t; things to consider and improve on in the future)
  • A follow-up activity to keep the high energy level of the group after the event

 

5.  FINANCE/COST MANAGEMENT

  • How much to charge each participant 
  • What would/should the fee cover
  • Cost analysis and implications

 

6.  LOGISTICS

  • Looking for possible venue options
  • Choosing what would be the best one
  • Making reservations (personally talking with people in-charge or on the phone)
  • Making a downpayment for the venue
  • Choosing the menu (food, drinks, dessert)
I Know Write MNL 2014

One of the yummy pizzas served!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Fruit Dessert w/ Yogurt

 

  • Setting up the venue (e.g., cameras, laptop, decor)
I Know Write MNL 2014

Preparing the room before everyone arrives!

I Know Write MNL 2014

Let’s video this event!

 

I Know Write MNL 2014

Adding some fun colors!

 

  • Preparing other needed materials (such as name tags, ice breaker, and photo op paraphernalia)
I Know Write MNL 2014

Sample Name Tag

I Know Write MNL 2014

Human Bingo as Icebreaker

I Know Write MNL 2014

Hashtag! #IKNOWWRITEMNL2014

 

  • Settling the bill after the event (which they really needed help on to be able to understand the math of having a “consummable” kind of package)

 

7.  CHARACTER

  • Being responsible,
  • efficient
  • reliable/dependable
  • Taking initiative
  • Being cooperative
  • Being a leader
  • Showing good manners and one’s best character that the situation calls for

 

Whew! That’s a long list of life skills for a two-hour meetup (not a workshop, not a seminar) kind of event!

What exactly was the highlight of the meetup?  It was none other than their guest speaker, Arriane Serafico, a.k.a. Wanderrgirl!  You may find her in Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.  

I Know Write MNL 2014

Sharing all that she knows about blogging!

I Know Write MNL 2014

She gave an inspiring and encouraging talk on how she started out in blogging, shared her ordinary and extraordinary experiences, and gave tips and advice to the young ones on what to do with their blogs.  She was simply AWESOME that the girls couldn’t stop taking photos with her and just chatting with her!  Arriane is actually the one who gave me a jumpstart in my blogging journey. Arielle and I attended her blogworthy workshop and to this day, she is an inspiration both Arielle and I look up to!

Now that these teen girls have started their own teen blogger community, I give them my big CONGRATULATIONS for being able to successfully pull off this event.  It’s a first and there are still lessons to be learned.  But hey, did you think that teeners would be able to come up with something like this and organize it on their own?

I Know Write MNL 2014

They’re on Facebook 🙂

I Know Write MNL 2014

IKW Team (Arielle, Jodie, and Nina) with Arriane Serafico

I Know Write MNL 2014

IKW MNL 2014!

I Know Write MNL 2014

The objective of the event was met.  The girls had fun and went home inspired and all charged up. The big question now is “What’s next?”

I leave it up to these girls.  They were able to do this and I believe that they are capable of coming up with another meaningful activity or event.  Maybe even bigger and better!  As for me, I’m thankful for this opportunity to teach Arielle important life skills that books and hours of staying in the classroom would not have been be able to.  

How about you?  What real life skills have your children learned lately?


My 2014 Declaration of Intention

 

It’s been two weeks since we welcomed 2014 and I have been busy trying to catch up, move forward, go back to normalcy (whatever you call it) after all the Holiday rush and stress.  And yes, I can say that life is back to normal 🙂  Should I say “Whew!” or “Gulp?!!”  

This is where my Declaration of Intention, One-Word and Verse for 2014 serve their purpose. Because I know that every time a new year comes in, my life is given a new twist for the following reasons:

1.  We have the remaining two quarters to finish, which we will cover from January until March or April, at the most.

2.  But before that, trying to get back to our homeschooling groove in the first place is a struggle we inevitably deal with. With the busyness of the Christmas season, it really is difficult to homeschool on a regular basis and go back to our normal routine after all the merriment and celebrations.  That only means ending up being behind our intended targets for the different subjects. 

3.  It will soon be time to wrap up another school year.

4.  Then, we choose and plan the girls’ summer activities, which mean new logistics, new schedules, new routines, new learning objectives.

5.  We also usually have our family beach vacation during summer (usually in March or April where Holy Week falls), with my good friend who’s based in the U.S., which means travel and itinerary plans have to be done online via a long exchange of emails and WhatsApp messages. We’ve been doing this for three years in a row and it’s actually been really fun!  Everyone now looks forward to the next summer destination every time.

6.  And after being on a vacation mode and enjoying a brief break, I move into my “planning session” and seriously make plans for the next school year.  This is when I do the nitty-gritty of identifying our school year learning goals, scheduling, and listing down the scope per subject, per quarter…per child (I thank God that we only have two and I’m able to handle this duty quite diligently).  This really takes so much of my time, I feel I need another vacation after doing it!  That’s why, as much as possible, I carefully space my activities and duties during the one or two months of summer that we have so that I can still enjoy some respite before we officially start another year of homeschooling.

Then add these major, shall we say, milestones for us, this 2014:  

1.  We plan to move in to Pasig soon.  Well, as soon as we can.  Currently juggling homeschooling (working on our books and going to other classes and activities), back and forth trips to Manila, and house renovation on a weekly basis can really be quite exhausting and can majorly shake up one’s predictable routine or shall we say, one’s normal life.   My family and I find this new place of ours a blessing and with the girls moving up to high school and soon college, we do need to be closer to schools, or at least to other resources and options we can explore.  New house in a new city…a whole new lifestyle! 

2.  Arielle will be in her 4th Year High School next school year and we really need to sit down and start looking into her college plans, and take more concrete action steps.  Now this scares me, to be honest!  Kayla, on the other hand, is now also in her high school years and that calls for another approach and strategy when it comes to homeschooling and parenting. 

3.  I have to manage my time really well to still be able to manage the existing business we have and possibly, have a few others, which are all based back in my home province, Batangas.

4.  Since Mike will be based in Batangas because of the businesses to take care of, I have to make sure that partner and family relationships will continue to work and even blossom.

These are just the big chunks, if I were to describe them.  The daily chores and unexpected interruptions are not yet in the picture.

That’s why I really felt that there could be no better One-Word and Verse for me this year than FAITH.  I can only see and visualize up to a certain point and plan in the best of my abilities and knowledge.  How to execute plans, follow where the events will lead me, and accept how things turn out need FAITH, even if it is as tiny as a mustard seed, in order for me to believe that my dear God up there is in total control and everything in my life is going to be A-okay! 

How has your 2014 been with the One-Word or Verse that you have chosen? 

 


 

It’s almost New Year’s Eve and we will all soon be saying goodbye to 2013 and welcoming 2014!  A HAPPY NEW YEAR to my family and friends, near and far!  

Like what I’ve written in my last post, we’ve been doing a New Year’s tradition to prepare ourselves for the coming year.  Arielle and Kayla did their goal-setting this morning and it didn’t take long for them to write down what they want to achieve in 2014.  Their planners had pages dedicated on goals and those instantly served as prompts for them to put in writing what they intend to carry out.

I didn’t want to call mine “New Year’s Resolution” because it just didn’t give me THE motivation.  I came across another word which just feels so right for me and more personal. The word is INTENTION.  I also wasn’t planning on writing a long post on this simply because I was able to create something that I feel says it all. 

I so enjoyed doing this! 

2014 Intentions

Here’s my 2014 Declaration of Intention, which contains my:

One Word for 2014…FAITH

and my

Verse for 2014…Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

My 2014 Declaration of Intention

My 2014 Declaration of Intention in watercolor

2014 Intention

More specific intentions of mine
as I tried out my calligraphy dip pen for the first time!

 

Have you thought about your 2014 Intention(s)?  How about your One Word or Verse for 2014?  Do share!  It’s the perfect time to start anew and be inspired to make things better this new year!

 


I can’t believe it.  It’s the last weekend of 2013 and in a few days, the whole world will be ushering in another year!  How was 2013 to you?  To be honest, I had a couple of bumps here and there in my relationships with my family and with myself, but overall, 2013 was a year of blessings and God’s faithful provision for our family.  We had more than what we needed, enjoyed so much of life, and was even able to share what we have with others. 

Now that 2014 will soon be here, my family and I will be doing the activity we’ve started doing in 2011.  Every January 1st (or during the 1st week of January), we all sit down with blank sheet of paper or page of our new planner/journal and coloured markers.  We then think, think, think about our goals for the coming year and put them in writing, mindmap, or some artistic doodle.  

To show you how we did it for 2012 and 2013, look here.  We all did mindmaps that allow us to see the big picture at one glance.  That makes it easier to keep each one of us motivated and to keep our eyes on our goals.  As an added challenge to myself, last year, I thought of my One Word for 2013 to keep me even more motivated and focused on the activities I was going to engage myself in for the year.  

In a few days, we’ll be doing the tradition again.  Arielle, Kayla, and I already have our 2014 planners, pens, and markers ready!  New Year, New Goals, New Plans!  What I’m also looking forward to, before we start making our goals for 2014, is looking back at what we’ve all written as our goals for 2013 and see how much we’ve actually completed or achieved!  Then after we have set, written, or drawn our goals, we offer all of them to God and pray that He blesses them.

For those of you with younger kids, doing a mindmap might not interest them yet and they might find it difficult or intimidating and end up being discouraged.  That wouldn’t be a good way to start a new year, right?  Here are some of my suggestions to help them set a “bigger goal” for themselves:

1.  Help them think of their One Word for 2014.  Something that is do-able for them.  Make that one word a verb or adjective.  My One Word for 2013 was Grow.  How about…Learn…Serve…Give…Listen.   Adjectives such as…Friendly…Obedient…Caring?

2.  Or you may prefer to prompt them with questions like “What was the favorite thing you did or made last year?” … “What was your most memorable experience?”  Then, follow it up with “What would you like to do this year?” … “What would you like to see, do, or learn?”  

For older kids, like tweens and teens,

1.  Doing a mindmap of their goals is a great way for them to map out their plans.

2.  Writing their top goal or top three goals and pinning it on their bedroom wall or cork board where it is highly visible would be a great encouragement.

Okay, this is not for 2014 but Arielle had already pinned down her ultimate dream in life and this is her target.  I do hope and pray that she hits the bull’s eye someday.  Who knows? 😉

3.   I saw these pins on Pinterest and these might tickle your tween or teen’s fancy more than a mindmap or a note of what they want to achieve this 2014.

2014 New Year's Resolution

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

2014 New Year

A mindmap, a list, a note, letter to himself or herself, or doodle.  It doesn’t really matter which style you would do.  What’s important is the exercise of goal-setting, probing of oneself, and doing a self-evaluation.  And remember…goals must be S-M-A-R-T (To find out what S-M-A-R-T means, click here)!

How are you welcoming and preparing yourself for 2014?