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!


 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


 

My BFF from Virginia (Yes, mommies need and have BFFs, too!) was in town recently and we met up to have our usual girly-mommy chat.  Of course, we never miss to talk about our kids and update each other about them.  We’ve been friends since Grade 7 and so, we practically grew up together from the teenage years to motherhood.

After asking how her aunt’s passing, wake, and funeral went (the reason for her trip), we talked about Kayla and Arielle.  Kayla first.  Where I plan to transfer Kayla by next schoolyear, Grade 10. How different senior high school here is from the U.S. (Junior High School is Grades 7 and 8; Senior High School is Grades to 9 to 12) and most especially, how SERIOUS and EARLY they do career planning over there as opposed to how we’re trying to implement it here only in the last two years of high school under the K-12 program.  (It really makes we wonder if the Department of Education will be able to successfully implement the program and really prepare the students in the fields of their strengths or choice.)  Her daughter is in 7th Grade and they’re already carefully planning courses she will take now so she can start getting high school credit.   HIGH SCHOOL, not COLLEGE!  My friend said that choices in high school are overwhelming her and she herself has so much to learn about how high school works!  Her daughter’s school (and I believe, all U.S. schools) has a database where each student has a record, an inventory of strengths and goals, career explorations, documentation of activities, volunteer hours, and most importantly, they already begin to identify courses they may want to take in HIGH SCHOOL (again, HIGH SCHOOL, not college yet).  All these so they can do a goal-setting and a learning plan IN HIGH SCHOOL so by the time they enter college, they are all set;  they are prepared; they are focused and they know what they want to do. How amazing is that!  It just MAKES SO MUCH SENSE, right?

That’s why I am taking a conscious effort now to really find out Kayla’s strengths and interests.  I plan to let her take an assessment with Career Direct (just like what Arielle took where art was an obvious result of the assessment) this coming May or June after she turns 15.  Hopefully, we would be able to clearly identify what careers she will really thrive in and be successful at.  I’m also praying that her golf would open doors of opportunities and more specific options for her.

With Arielle, it’s another kind of planning.  My friend and I first talked about how her scholarship application with SCAD is going and then, we eventually ended up with the topic on how she will eat while in college!  You see, Arielle will be staying in a residential unit in Hong Kong with two roommates and she will be in charge of her meals (and laundry).  Since SCAD-HK is just a building, not a campus, it has a small cafeteria which doesn’t really offer much or offer meals on a regular basis.  That only means one thing: she has to cook.  She can’t buy her food all the time.  That would not come out budget- and health-friendly (the MSG in Chinese food!).  And this is exactly what Arielle and I have been working on these past weeks.  Skills in cooking, food preparation, and meal planning.  It always makes me so happy when my BFF and I are always thinking about the same thing.  We call each other “my other brain” because we help each other process each other’s thoughts and we think of the same things 99% of the time!  You see, I feel that Arielle doesn’t seem to understand my point when I tell her that she has to P-L-A-N her meals AHEAD of TIME.  She just can’t go to the kitchen 10 minutes before mealtime, thaw frozen meat that can take hours, prepare the ingredients and cook.  It just doesn’t work that way. I’m just glad my BFF and I were on the same page and she started talking as if I was the one talking to Arielle.  Her mommy talk was just what I needed.

And that brings me to another point.  An important one: why it’s highly recommended for homeschool parents to meet up and do activities or fellowship.  Because the meetups and gatherings are not only venues to get out of the house, relax, but more often, it is a venue to exchange notes and tips on what works with you and what works for the others that could be worth-trying.  Just like meeting up with my BFF for lunch and dessert, the face-to-face encounter with other homeschool moms and dads brings a different personal interaction (as opposed to FB or Viber groups, although they have their own benefits and advantages) which I believe becomes a soothing therapy, and a much needed encouragement and inspiration.

So, the talk on meals then reminded me of a pin I recently saved in my Pinterest.  It was about meal planning using Post-Its and a binder.  Ok, who doesn’t love Post-Its???  I knew Arielle would need this and with the colorful and easy-transfer Post-Its, Arielle will survive college!  It’s also making me think now to redo my recipe binder into this one!

After showing her how this meal plan binder works, I told her to make a spreadsheet of all the recipes she knows how to cook or wants to cook.  Categories were:

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Fish
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Pasta/Noodles/Rice/Oats
  • Eggs
  • Soup
  • Smoothies (If she can’t always cook vegetables, then she has to drink them!)
  • Dessert (her favorite!)

After creating the file, we were able to see visually what she lacks (more recipes on fish!) and what recipes she needs to learn and practice some more.

Plus, we also realized that she not only has to learn how to cook but what would help her save time every morning before she leaves for school are:

(1) make-ahead meals

(2) freezer meals

(3) one pot or one skillet meals

In order to complete her menu planner binder, Arielle still needs to do the following:

(1) type out all the recipes she will put in the binder

(2) print out the menu planner printables

(3) assemble/put them together in the binder

(4) make categories for the Post-Its (green for vegetables, yellow for beef, blue for pork, and so on)

(5) and start doing a mock-up/sample menu plan for a week

(6) plus, make a list of pantry/kitchen ingredient staples

 

With a lot more to do and teach about menu planning and cooking, Google and Pinterest are now my new best friends 🙂  They will not only make teaching more fun and visually appealing but it will also make life much easier for a homeschool mom like me with a college-bound, visual-learner daughter who will be living on her own overseas.

How do you plan your menu and organize your recipes?  I would need all the tips I could get!


 

I bared my heart in my last post.  It was a sincere one.  I wanted to let you know that I’m not a SuperMom or a Super HomeschoolMom always with her red cape on.  There are actually many times in our homeschool journey that I am just as lost and vulnerable as other moms are out there.

I received a feedback from my friend and art playmate (Yes, I do have a playmate!), Dette Ramos of Bananabellieboo, on my last post.  She told me that what I shared triggered a loooong discussion between her and her husband on how they could also encourage their young kids to dream for themselves and how they want to be able to support them in their dreams.  I was surprised when she told me that it actually took them about one whole hour just talking about it from her office to their house!

It made think how Mike and I started “dreaming” with Arielle and Kayla.  To be honest, I can’t seem to clearly recall what we did first or when the dreaming phase all started because to me, their growing up years, especially when they were toddlers, were more of just teaching them basic skills, making them wonder how and why things work they way they do, and checking if they are actually enjoying whatever they’re doing and interested to doing more.

Let me just share what I vividly recall doing with Arielle and Kayla when they were still very young and we were all trying to discover their potentials, talents, gifts, preferences, and inclinations.

1.  Books

I surrounded them with a lot of books, magazines, and newspapers.  That’s one thing for sure. Picture books, storybooks, chapter books, coloring books, activity books!  I remember I was able to take a video of Arielle with a book upside down in her hands, babbling on and on as she pretended to be reading the book she was holding 🙂   We noticed, on the other hand, that Kayla grew up liking Almanacs.  She would look forward going to National Bookstore or Fully Booked and buy the new almanac that comes out every year.  This mere observation made me see the personalities of our two girls.  One prefers lengthy books and that would be Arielle, while the other prefers bite-size chunks of information (Kayla).

It is through books and a lot of reading and printed materials that Arielle and Kayla were able to “see more” than what’s around them, explore possibilities, and express their thoughts and feelings after reading and having a casual conversation with them.

2.  Arts and Crafts

Being and arts-and-crafts person myself, it wouldn’t be a surprise that I also exposed Arielle and Kayla to a lot of cutting and pasting, drawing, painting, lots of paper, crayons, markers, pencils, paint, etc.!   Doing art activities was one way of discovering more of who they are through the images they drew, the colors and strokes they used.  Art, being a visual and tactile activity, was a self-expression activity that I was able to use to know more about Arielle and Kayla in their younger years.  As they grew older, I saw all the more, through their works and time spent in the activities, that Arielle’s interest in arts was becoming more pronounced and Kayla wasn’t as much into it.

3.  Music and Theatre

Music has been part of their lives as early as probably when they were 4 to 6 months old when they were still in my belly.    I had headphones on my tummy with classical music on for them to listen to, and I remember playing the classic children’s songs (still in cassette tapes!) when we would play in the living room, when we would take afternoon naps, or when we would ride in the car.

We also watched musical plays for their entertainment value and a trip to the theatre was what made us discover that Arielle had this “dream” of performing on stage…as the lead role!  Yup!  We watched Peter Pan at CCP in 2007 and Arielle said, “I can see myself on stage doing the main character.”  She was watching at the edge of her seat (I’m not kidding!) the entire time!  And true enough, the next year, at 8 years old, she bravely tried out performing arts for the first time.  She took a summer theatre workshop and she loved it!  She landed the lead role (as Jack in Jack in the Beanstalk) in the workshop’s production and we knew that the stage was “part of her world” (as the Little Mermaid would sing it 🙂 )  A year after, she did “A Christmas Carol” professionally and it was one experience she’ll never ever forget!  It gave her the confidence to try out audition after audition, go to callbacks and open auditions) and even if she didn’t make it to the cast, it was still a dream for her to show to others what she can do and what she’s got.

We also convinced Kayla to try out theatre since she saw her Ate enjoying it immensely.  So she did too at age 7 and played one of the main characters, Pinocchio, in a summer workshop.  She confidently performed on stage, but she herself said that she liked it, but it’s not her thing.

Up to now, watching movies and plays, especially musicals, is a family activity we enjoy.  It is a way we support the visual, musical, and kinethestic personalities of Arielle and Kayla.

4.  Sports, Physical/Kinesthetic Activities

When we shifted to homeschooling, competitive swimming has been their P.E.  They did it for 5 years.  They got tired of it and found themselves trying archery and golf.  I admit that at times I still wish they stayed on with swimming but I know that even if they didn’t stick with the sport, they have learned the discipline in training for a sport and the other character traits that they have developed while at it like obedience, perseverance, working with team members, humility, among others.

Now that Kayla’s liking golf again (Thanks to Mike who is also playing again after giving up on it for a while), I see that this could be her “dream”.  Although she may not fully admit YET that golf is a dream of hers, I see that she’s BEGINNING to realize that this is a strength of hers, after being given positive feedbacks on how she plays the sport, and that this could actually open doors for her to somewhere we don’t know yet.  Kayla is also currently at the stage where she is starting to question what she really wants to do in her life.  Knowing that her Ate Arielle clearly knows what she wants to take up in college and what she really wants to do, Mike and I can sense that she is beginning to search for her unique path and calling in life.  So for now, we are here to support her in a strength of hers that is obvious and hopefully, it will really take her to bigger dreams.

Prior to golf,  we thought that she wanted to do cook and bake.  That she wanted to take the culinary path when the time comes.  We enrolled her in summer cooking classes. We tried recipes at home.  We baked cookies, cakes, and cupcakes.  We bought her cookbooks and encouraged her to print out recipes she would like to try and keep a file of them.  But again, her interest in it wasn’t sustained although she still likes to work in the kitchen.

5.  Travel

Another worthwhile activity we do as a family when we have the finances and time to do it is travel locally and abroad.  It is through first-hand experience of other culture and lifestyle that our girls learn for themselves what they would want to change in their own way of life and how they would want to live their own lives when they go to college and after.   Seeing for themselves how other people do their day-to-day activities in another place or country teaches them to think of better ways to do things and improve systems.  It is a way of dreaming for themselves and for our country. It also opens their eyes to opportunities that may not be available to them in Manila or in the Philippines, making them dream bigger and bolder.  It was when we went to the U.S. and Singapore that we all dreamed with Arielle in taking up Animation and being an animator someday!

6.  Meet other people

Of course, as we were doing all these activities…buying books, doing arts and crafts, watching musicals, enrolling in workshops and classes, traveling to places, we were able to give Arielle and Kayla the opportunities to meet other people in their natural settings who, in one way or another, were able to inspire and encourage them.  What can beat SOCIALIZING with REAL PEOPLE from different professions, from different fields, and from all ages?

So you see, encouraging our girls to dream involves a number of things:

1.  a hands-on and intentional parenting

2.  a discovery process which includes trial-and-error; It really is exposing your children to VARIED activities and finding out in the process which ones they are wired to do or where their potentials are.

3.  influencing them by our (parents’) own interests at the onset of or during the discovery process, but not dictating to them

4.  having faith in God, our Maker, who designed each one of us with a unique purpose, who ultimately knows what we are cut out for and who can make dreams come true

The words of Pope Francis when he visited our country a few weeks ago are still fresh in my mind. He stressed how important it is to dream in the family.   It was truly an affirmation of our decision and chosen lifestyle to homeschool our children because it is in homeschooling that we are all able to dream as a family and support one another in our dreams.

What are your and your children’s dreams?  How do you hold on to and pursue them as a family?