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.

 

 


 

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!


 

I just want to take time to pause and say that our year 2015 to 2016 has been great!  I am really so glad that we took that leap of faith (again! next to homeschooling) to take a gap year after Arielle graduated from high school.  I just feel a whole lot more prepared WITH and FOR her, as a mom and a parent-teacher.   I honestly can’t imagine how my life would have been like if we decided to go straight to college.  I am sure my days would have been all panic, rush, and stress, given not ample time (well, that’s how I feel) to prepare well enough for college testing, application and my daughter’s life to be.

Although I know that going on a gap year does not guarantee a total preparation for Arielle’s life ahead, it has given us the time to prepare for all the things we could.  Aside from building an art portfolio, a 500-word essay, designing her own resume and business card, Arielle has learned how to cook, attend to a few home repairs, manage her time, is learning how to budget her money, drive a stick shift car, and choose meat cuts in the grocery.  She knows the basics of laundry with the use of a washing machine, but I think I will let her learn that chore herself in Hong Kong.  With ironing, I honestly don’t think she’ll have the time to iron all her clothes and so, one of the two things in my To Buy list in Hong Kong is a good steamer and a blender so she can still have her veggies and fruits smoothies, even if on-the-go.

Right now, Arielle is finalizing her artworks for her portfolio, after receiving tips from a SCAD professor when SCAD-HK had their Information Session here in Manila last November 2015.  Having that practice round of interview and portfolio presentation was really helpful, giving us a feel of how it is going to be like for the real thing this March 2016.  That gave Arielle the time to improve on her artworks before she would finally submit/upload them to SCAD’s so-called SlideRoom before March.  She is not as stressed as before when she was doing everything from scratch and my prayer these days as she completes her SCAD scholarship requirements is for her to see who she really is, her strengths and gifts, who ultimately gave those gifts to her, and how she should use those.  That this whole process be a revelation to her by God of who she ultimately is, her purpose and unique design.

Meanwhile, Kayla is also doing well with her golf.  So far, she’s been placing in tournaments she has joined.  Yesterday, she brought home this:

Kayla's trophy!

Kayla’s trophy!

 

We are sooo proud of her!  The very first thing I did when Kayla told me on the phone that she has a trophy was immediately thank the Lord for an answered prayer.  I really am praying that 2016 would be  HER year and that God will bless her with good opportunities in golf and in her studies.  I know that she’s been thinking of what it is really that she wants to take up in college, what she wants to do in her life and that it hasn’t been very clear to her.  I’m praying that golf would somehow give her some answers or clues.

After sharing the good news with Kayla’s golf coach, he congratulated and then reminded me to work on her Curriculum Vitae or Biodata on her golf achievements.  That brought me back to my role as a homeschool parent-teacher to do the important task of record-keeping.  So, as early as now, I am making sure that I will record Kayla’s golf achievements and other activities worth including in her resume.  That way, I have a file of her various homeschooling activities, especially golf, as they happen and I won’t rack my brain in trying to recall what she did and when, when it’s time to submit those college applications.

So this post is actually a tip and a friendly reminder to homeschool parents and kids out there.  Start recording and/or keeping a file of your child’s activities and achievements.  Have a notebook for it, if that’s what’s going to work for you for now.  Or start creating a Word or Excel file.  That’s what I just did.  I had to backtrack and think of Kayla’s golf trainings, golf coaches, and when she had them.  I went as far back as Grade 6 which was 4 years ago and I was already having a quite difficult time remembering dates!  The other activities she joined would be easier since most, if not all, of them are the same activities Arielle had and they are already on record.  Plus, aside from keeping a file of their actual certificates from workshops and camps, I also keep a folder in my email per schoolyear and in there goes their academic and extra-curricular records, notes, activities, including flight details on out-of-town camps, for instance.

I wish I had done this record-keeping even before Arielle took her gap year.  Believe me, starting it early is going to make things easier for your college-bound students.  So, for the record, one way to organize your homeschool life is to record your child’s achievements, activities, and involvements.


 

Placing 4th in the Interschool Golf Tournament

 

Kayla went back to golf January of this year and she has been taking it seriously.  She would wake up a little past 5 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday for her training at Camp Aguinaldo and would also play with her Papa in Batangas during weekends. She’s been training for almost a year now with Coach Jun Cedo and she has greatly improved over the past months.  I don’t play golf.  I don’t totally understand how it’s played and the terms used in the sport. And to be honest, I’d rather stay in bed and get some more hours of sleep than wake up really early and be among those driving on the road and going through the morning rush.

But I do believe in Kayla’s potential and giftedness in golf.  I believe this is God’s gift to her and it is her area of strength.  If Arielle is gifted in the visual and performing arts, Kayla, being a kinesthetic learner,  is gifted in physical activities and has found golf to be one of the fields where she’s most comfortable at and physically designed for.  I remember I was starting to get frustrated and worried around 2 to 3 years ago, not clearly knowing what Kayla is inclined to do.  It was easy and so obvious with Arielle but with Kayla, I had no clue.  Her interests kept on changing, after letting her try different things like theatre, swimming, cooking, baking, and her on-and-off interest in golf.  So I started praying to God, asking Him to show us where Kayla’s strength lies and what she was made for.  God’s answer did not come right away which I believe was teaching me all along to trust in our Lord and learn that there is a time for everything.

Well, God’s answer came clear this 2015 as He revealed to us that Kayla CAN actually PLAY GOLF and she has a very strong potential in the sport.  Now that Arielle is already going to SCAD-HK for college in Fall 2016, I am so thankful to the Lord for now showing me how I should guide and support Kayla.  After Arielle, it’s now Kayla’s turn to carve her path.  God’s timing is always perfect! He just knows that it’s now time for me to focus on Kayla after I’ve homeschooled Arielle.

Kayla still has lots to learn in golf but she’s off to a good start, now that she’s serious about it.  Golf is definitely giving her the focus and the drive to perform better, not only in the sport but also in her studies. Her improvements in her swings and distance over the months, placing in the tournaments she has joined so far, and even the discipline she is now showing to balance her academics, trainings, and tournaments are already small victories worth celebrating.  They are blessings I am really thankful for!

First Runner-up in Class B Division

First Runner-up in Class B Division

 

May this be a reminder to all parents, especially homeschooling parents who feel pressured by family members and friends that:

  1. Each child is unique and has his/her own strengths and talents.
  2. Each child will naturally learn and grow at his/her own pace.
  3. Progress is more important than perfection.
  4. God’s timing is always perfect.
  5. There is a time for everything.
  6. We are not to conform to what everyone else is doing, if we really want our child to happily and successfully live a life specifically designed for him/her by God.

 

Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Just like the objective of a golf game, which is to get the ball into the hole with the least amount of strokes or swings of the golf club, it is my goal as a homeschool mom to help Kayla focus and reach her target, her life goals, her life calling, by equipping her with the skills and training in order to play the game of life well and successfully.

I pray that as parents, we may all be able to discern God’s will and purpose for each of our children, and that when it is revealed to us by the Lord, we will have the strength, love, and faith to give them the guidance and support that they need.

 


 

We are on our last quarter of the schoolyear and it’s another homestretch!  And I do mean H-O-M-E-S-T-R-E-T-C-H because Arielle will be graduating from high school and it IS her last quarter of being homeschooled.  I am now facing the more daunting task of releasing Arielle to the real world.  I feel like I myself will be moving up from homeschooling to world schooling. I’m now not sure if I should be relieved or even more scared!  Just being totally honest here. TOTALLY.

As for Kayla, she’s been playing golf on and off since she was about 8 years old and this year, after much prodding, she’s giving it another try.  Mike and I, and those into this sport, see her potential in this field and so, we are encouraging her to play again.  Being a kinesthetic learner, I know that her seriously getting into a sport would work out with her homeschooling.  It’s just a matter of managing her time and being disciplined, which is consequentially a very good life skill to learn.  She started training again this January which means waking up at 6 am every Monday and Wednesday, adjusting her schedule with golf in the morning and schoolwork in the afternoon, and still going to the driving range to practice her swings or play 9 or 18 holes with her Papa during the weekend.  I think she’s beginning to understand that golf is not just P.E. or a sport.  We told her the fact that it can be her ticket to big opportunities like college scholarships, especially in schools abroad. I really hope that this means Kayla has finally found what she really wants to get involved in, the same way that her Ate Arielle has found her passion in art and animation, the very thing that she wants to do in life!

Speaking of passion and the future, I came across this blog post on how to direct your child to his or her future. It’s a simple 5-step guideline to help you clearly identify your child’s natural gifts and ultimately, his or her unique purpose and design.  It’s been easy for us with Arielle because as young as probably 2 or 3 years old, she was already showing strong signs of being inclined towards arts, visual and performing.  It was very consistent with her.  That wasn’t the case for Kayla.  Although the signs she showed were all physical and kinesthetic, we still couldn’t pin down on what she really likes doing. We let her try theatre (which she did very well), culinary (she still likes to cook and bake in the kitchen), swimming, and golf, but her interest in any of these didn’t last very long.  That’s why I am really hoping that this time, she will like golf more and will be persistent about it.

As I continue to immerse myself with my one-word and be focused this 2015, I came to this realization that this year is going to be about MORE SERIOUSLY shaping the lives of Arielle and Kayla. What a BIGGER responsibility!  Yes, 2015 will be a much MORE INTENSE and INTENTIONAL kind of parenting for these two girls as they gear up for their gap year and golfing!

That’s a lot of G in there…GEAR up, GAP year, GOLF  And all I can say is GO for it!  And may GOD’s blessing be upon us!