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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

We have now come to the end of my blog series on the sharing and presentation I did at the last 2016 Philippine Homeschool Conference. I shared our homeschooling journey covering the topics on:

 

If you were with me from the beginning of this blog series, I started my slide presentation at the conference with a list of ironies or opposites in our parenting roles to our teenage daughters, and I ended my presentation, my sharing with an opposite imagery as well as seen below.

ROOTS and WINGS.

ROOTS to know that they are first and foremost created by God. ROOTS to know where they are anchored. That they are unique. That they were given gifts in order to fulfill their God-given purpose in life. Not their parents’, not their friends’, not the society’s. That they have a family who loves them that they can come back to.

WINGS to help them fulfill their purpose and become even more than what they can imagine. WINGS to bring them to places and people where they can share their God-given gifts, talents, and resources.

Teenage parenting is tough. Homeschooling high school is challenging. But with prayers, and only with prayers and faith and surrendering of our children to God, it can be done!

These are the girls we are slowly setting free. Arielle already took off.  She is now an international freshman student at SCAD HK campus. Hopefully, after 4 years and having graduated from college, she will come back home, to us, her roots, her family.  Then, it will be time to take off again to start or perhaps continue her career that she already started. I realized that after sending her off to college last September, this is it!  It is really LETTING GO. Because when she graduates from college, she will be on her own, hopefully doing what she loves to do and earning from it, and doing what God had designed her to be.

Kayla’s still firming up her roots in the ground and soon, it will be her turn to flap her wings. In 3 years, it’s Kayla’s turn to move up to college.

So, in 3 years, Mike and I will be empty-nesting. Time flies too fast! So make every day count.

Teenage parenting plus homeschooling is a different stage altogether. As you go through your days, you’ll realize and learn that there are things you just have to let go (the small stuff…Will this matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now?) and at the same time, things that you have to pay attention to and hold on to (Same question…Will this matter 5, 10 or 20 years from now?)

 

Speaking here in front of you doesn’t make me an expert. It makes me cringe every time other homeschoolers see me as an “expert”. I would like to assure you that I am still with you in your homeschooling journey. I-AM-WITH-YOU in your search for the best materials and planning the best homeschooling schedule. I-AM-WITH-YOU in your doubts, fears, feeling lost and tired, and even wanting to throw in the towel a couple of times (or many times!). But you know what, God is probably whispering in your ear and the one who doesn’t want to let go 🙂 Mike is working very hard for Arielle’s 4-year college education and it personally scares me every now and then (being a fulltime wife and homemaker). We have no idea yet as to what Kayla would like to take up in college. I wish I already knew! HOW I WISH (!) we already knew… But all these question marks, I believe, is God’s way of making us turn to Him. He is teaching us to put all our TRUST in Him. Day by day. Because where God guides, He provides. And it’s really true because with Arielle, He gave us the people and placed us in circumstances that led us to SCAD. Now, He gave us angels who can watch over Arielle in HK. Not just one, but five! (1) Our homeschool friend I mentioned earlier whose son also took a gap year at the same time w/ Arielle… (2)my high school kabarkada who is her “ninang” (godparent)… (3) my ex-officemate… (4) then, there’s another homeschool mom in our FB group who knows a couple whose daughter is already a sophomore at SCAD… (5) then a SCAD dad who volunteered to be on call ANYTIME! And I would say that even Kayla’s golf coach, God personally picked, because he happens to be the brother of my high school batchmate! My other “kabarkada” became Arielle’s scuba diving teacher, by the way. Plus all the teachers and inspirations we have met along the way who all helped us make our homeschooling individualized, personal, and so intentional.

So, this is the second message I’d like you to bring home from this sharing. The first one…is give them ROOTS AND WINGS. And this second one: WHERE GOD GUIDES, HE PROVIDES. You will be surprised with God’s leading and provision.

Last but not least, here’s a list of resources and my contact info that you may want to take note of or look into. These are the materials and activities we did in high school which helped them acquire the skills they have now and which helped me survive as their parent-teacher!

This ends my sharing! I hope you were able to pick up something from our life as high school homeschoolers and may you be blessed in your homeschooling journey as well!


 

This is the 8th part of my blog series on Homeschooling the High School Years, the topic assigned to me during the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016.  Parts 1 to 7 are below and I suggest you read them in order to have a better grasp of the whole picture of our homeschooling lifestyle and journey.

  1. Parenting
  2. Teaching
  3. Experiencing
  4. Socializing
  5. Self-Discovery and -Awareness
  6. Equip Yourself
  7. Gap Year

 

I’ve been sharing mostly about our eldest daughter, Arielle, because between our two daughters, she is the one who fits perfectly the theme of the last conference “From Roots to Wings”.

As for our second and youngest daughter, Kayla, she is now in 10th Grade. Since TMA (The Master’s Academy which is now Homeschool Global) wasn’t given the go-signal by DepEd (Department of Education) to offer SHS (Senior High School, Grades 11 and 12) and we couldn’t wait until she will be in Grade 11 to see where we should go, we decided to transfer to a U.S Catholic homeschool program, Seton Home Study a year earlier than SHS. She wanted to continue being homeschooled. We all felt that to continue homeschooling would be the best option to take in order to not disrupt the kind of learning we’ve already established.  I personally wanted her to finish high school as a homeschooler. And most importantly, she wanted to give herself the opportunity to develop her skills in golf and see if the sport could help her enter a good college.

As of the moment, Kayla doesn’t know yet what she wants to take up in college. Unlike her Ate Arielle, where she knew early on that she will be in the arts (I think she was just about 2 years old when we already saw the creative person in her), particularly animation, Kayla is still discovering what it will be for her. But as of now, being a kinesthetic person and learner, we are supporting her in her strength which is in the sport of golf.

She is now learning how to manage her time, balancing her academics and golf trainings and tournaments.  As I write this, I’ve gone through anxiety and panic attacks because we are B-E-H-I-N-D our academics. Being new at Seton and I would say, adjusting to their rigorous academic program especially English, combined with her golf schedules and tournaments almost every Saturday and Sunday, I have already psyched up myself that our homeschooling would now be all-year around, with all our breaks interspersed with our academic requirements throughout the year.   I’ve already told Kayla about this change that we need to do in order to keep things in place, balanced, and manageable for her.  With unceasing prayers, I know we can do this!

I still have a few more notes to share with you so I hope you’ll stay tuned for my parting words on this series!


 

I am now going to start rounding up this series of blog posts I am making on my presentation at the 2016 Philippine Homeschooling Conference.  I shared about our homeschooling journey through the high school years and I talked about parenting, teaching, experiencing, socializing, and self-discovery and awareness.

Did I just overwhelm you?  You’re now probably asking “How do I do all those?”…”How do I become an effective parent?”…”How do I teach???”…”How do provide them varied and meaningful experiences?”…”Where do I find information and resources?”…”How do I make our kids have good friends and give them opportunities to make friends, and more importantly, how do I make them sociable AND socialized beings?”

The ANSWER is in the title of this post: EQUIP YOURSELF.

Don’t do everything all by yourself.

Up to this day, homeschooling is still seen as an unpopular choice. It may be the road less traveled but it is never meant to be a solo journey.


 

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.

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out for Part 4!


 

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

Next in line is about TEACHING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A sample of our mindmapping

A sample of our mindmapping

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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