One of the unique or not-very-common steps we took during our high school years was deciding on taking a gap year for our eldest daughter, Arielle. Arielle took a gap year before she finally entered college. She graduated April 2015 and didn’t go to college right away in Aug/Sept 2015. Instead, she made 2015 to August 2016 her gap year.

After a long process of evaluation and much prayer (along with another homeschool friend whose son was Arielle’s batchmate), we decided to take a gap year even if it was not recommended to us by The Master’s Academy, our homeschool provider.  We were told that Arielle might not get accepted in 2016 because colleges will have no freshman batch entering the universities all because of the K12 program. We did our own research and legwork. We went to U.P., Ateneo, and UA & P, and made an online inquiry with DLSU and asked the different admission offices if they will accept our daughter and our friend’s son after taking a gap year. We just clarified what the requirements were and it was quite a relief to know that there would be no problem at all if they went on a gap year.

Why did we take a gap year? Because we were not rushing. Mike and I were not rushing. Arielle felt she needed more time before going to college. If she didn’t take a gap year, she would be graduating college at the age of 20. We considered it too young for her to be accepted and employed by a company, if there would be a company who would hire her at that age. Also, knowing what she really wanted to take up in college and being prepared for it is better than changing courses along the way and not knowing what to do with her life! That’s even going to be a waste of time and money and stressful for both the child and the parents. We DISCUSSED ALL THESE with Arielle. There was a lot of talking, questioning, reflecting, processing, decision-making…all to let her roots grow and flex/strengthen/tone up her wings.

During her gap year, Arielle did internships (w/ Martine de Luna and Flow Surf Yoga, mainly doing graphic designs, posters). It gave her the experience of how it was to work and with deadlines. She also took basic animation workshop at Toon City Academy which made her experience how it really is to work in the animation industry and learn the basic skills. (God really works in mysterious ways. I met Roselle Rodrigo-Gonzales in one of my art playdates, who happen to be the TCA Administrator!) More importantly, she was able to prepare for her college application at SCAD: art portfolio with 20 pieces of her best traditional and digital artwork, her resume, two 500-word essay (which for me was the toughest and most brain-draining part of coaching her!). We were also able to seek professional help on how to undergo her interview with SCAD. It was totally NOT how the real interview went but it was a good experience to go through.

The gap year also gave us time to learn life skills on living independently: cooking, kitchen management, menu planning, food preparation and storage, what to do with leftovers, house chores, etc, etc! (Believe me on those etc’s…Whatever I was doing, I taught them to Arielle and gave her words of wisdom and lots of reminders!)

Back to the “default system” I mentioned in my earlier post on SOCIALIZING: Is breakfast (or lunch or dinner) always ready at your dining table? One of or the VERY FIRST “Duh?” comment we received on Arielle’s moving in day was when we were waiting for our turn at the elevator with all her pieces of luggage and a bag of rice that Mike bought last minute before moving in.  A parent saw it and said, “You’re going to cook???” SECOND, her male friends called her up one time asking her to teach them how to cook rice…in a rice cooker. Her flatmates also didn’t know how to cook rice in the rice cooker nor did they know how to use the coffeemaker…YET.  So, teaching her the life skill of cooking and other kitchen skills was one of the things I’m glad we had the time and opportunity to learn during her gap year before going to college.  These millennials are lucky to have the technology literally at their fingertips, they can just FaceTime their parents or whoever when they need a live tutorial session on how to cook real food in their dorm kitchen instead of eating instant food all the time!

Moving on to RESUMES. One important tip I’d like to share is start documenting/recording/noting down the experiences that your child had in high school and maybe as far back as grade school, if the experience shows your child’s growth and passion in an acitvity.  Do it as you go and not only when you are about to submit an application to a certain university. It would be more difficult that way. So the EXPERIENCING I talked about earlier, the resume is where they will be put into good use, document-wise.

Also, do a skills inventory of your child. Make a list. What computer programs does he/she know? Can he/she paint? Do graphic design? Does he/she know Photoshop? Can she make videos and edit videos? How about coding?

 

 

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

 

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname “Arielle” instead to make it not sound and look too formal.  After all, art is out-of-the-box and goes “outside the lines”.

 

Overall, our gap year was a good preparation time for college. Emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially, relationship-wise.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our homeschooling journey which truly made Arielle’s education intentional and personalized.

 


 

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.


 

“What about socialization?”, you may ask (up to now). I am proud and it makes me happy to say that it was NEVER a problem with our two daughters.  To begin with, socialization is NOT defined as (1) the number of friends one has or (2) as the different venues where one gets to meet other people.   It is not 935 friends or 2,684 followers.  Nor is it merely counting the classes our children are enrolled in and activities that keep their schedules full.  The piano class AND guitar class.  AND football training…AND church group…The dance class…AND art class…AND the weekend camp….AND the volunteer work…AND the party of a friend…AND the family reunion. The more Facebook friends, Instagram followers, and the more classes, the better socialized?  Not necessarily.

Social media today (FB, IG, Twitter, etc.) does not correctly define socialization or it twists the definition of socialization.  Overpacking our children’s schedules does not automatically make them well-rounded AND well-mannered persons either.  I honestly think Merriam Webster gives an easy-to-understand, practical definition of how it is to socialize.  According to Merriam-Webster, to socialize is TO TALK TO and DO THINGS with other people in a FRIENDLY way (take note of “talk to and do things” and “friendly”) and to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is ACCEPTABLE in society (again, take note of  “behave” and “acceptable”).

Currently a freshman at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) Hong Kong for college, our eldest daughter, Arielle, already has friends of different nationalities.  She’s been able to ADAPT to different sets of friends and is not pressured to have to exclusively stick to just one group.  Being homeschooled for 8 years, she has learned how to WORK INDEPENDENTLY and BE INDEPENDENT, and at the same time, WORK IN A GROUP to foster TEAMWORK and CONDUCT HERSELF PROPERLY when with different kinds of people, WITHOUT COMPROMISING HER CHARACTER, HER FAITH, and WHO SHE RELALY IS. She knows when to say YES and more importantly, WHEN TO SAY NO.

The most recent pic sent to me by Arielle

The past 4 weeks have been a stressful adjustment, no doubt, on having to live independently, do basic life skills of budgeting, grocering, cooking, washing pans/dishes/utensils/glasses/food containers, meal planning, laundry, commuting while doing the intense demands of art school. But she’s coping and has learned “to adult”, speaking in their generation’s language.  We’ve really raised a brave, independent, confident girl.

Being in daily communication with her via WhatsApp and FaceTime with updates, questions, news, reminders, discoveries, and all sorts of stories (both good and bad) since we got back home, I’ve been through heartbreaking and joyful, thankful moments combined.  It may sound as if I haven’t learned to totally let go yet. But I realized that letting go does not mean having to lessen the communication between us.  After all, the OPEN, oh-so-HONEST COMMUNICATION and STRONG FAMILY BOND we have are the biggest benefits we truly enjoy from our homeschooling.  WE ARE A FAMILY.  We STAY TOGETHER AS A FAMILY no matter how far apart we may be from one another.  WE ALL DO OUR PART TO BE A FAMILY.  So why break the ties just to conform to the somewhat literal definition of “letting go”?

Our final parting with Arielle

So this is how it is and feels like to let go of your child after giving her the roots to ground herself with, and finally, the wings to make her fly.  It was NEVER the SOCIALIZATION that we were afraid of. NAH!!! It was really more of LEARNING HOW TO MANAGE HER TIME WELL AND BALANCE HER INDEPENDENT LIVING WITH HER STUDIES. TAKING CARE OF HERSELF PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, SPIRITUALLY, MENTALLY, EMOTIONALLY, ARTISTICALLY, SOCIALLY in order to PRESERVE and NURTURE her WHOLE BEING. IT’S ALL ABOUT A BEING RESPONSIBLE ADULT GIVEN THE FREEDOM SHE HAS RIGHT NOW.

You know what? She has already begun to be one.  She has already proven herself to us that SHE CAN BE TRUSTED (This TOPS it all). SHE IS RESPONSIBLE. SHE CAN DO IT ON HER OWN!   Mike, Kayla, and I are SO PROUD of her! And WE DIDN’T and DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SOCIALIZATION.

 


With just a month and a week left before Arielle leaves for Hong Kong for college, guess what I’ve been teaching her, as both hands-on and plain verbal lectures and reminders (lots and lots of them)? They all have one thing in common. They are the things we adults do everyday or 99% of the time.  They are the things we struggle and juggle to do, making us survivors or experts of these skills.

They are all home management and real life skills.

Here is what my College 101 “lesson plan” or curriculum for Arielle looks like.  I came up with 5 categories: (1) meal planning, (2) laundry, (3) finance or money management, (4) social skills and character-building & application, (5) getting to places.

MEAL PLANNING:

  • Weekly Menu Planning

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, Arielle’s been in-charge (and I mean, IN-CHARGE!) of our weekly menus. She lists them down using a printable menu planner such as this.  I taught her to try as much as possible, to have vegetables at least once a day, or if not, at least have a good distribution of beef, pork, chicken during the entire week.  My very least requirement for her when she’s already in Hong Kong is to prepare green smoothies every morning.  That is the fastest way to make sure that she gets to eat greens.

Since Arielle will be staying in a 3-bedroom unit with a small kitchen (like a condo) and the SCAD building does not really have a cafeteria where she can buy food (but there are lots of places to eat nearby), she has to learn how to cook and be economical.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest and so, Arielle and I made one (minus the actual binder/folder since it will be an extra weight in her luggage) with our own recipes, downloads, or photocopies.

We also made a pantry staples list with items that need to be in her grocery list to make sure that they are in stock in their kitchen.  Things like eggs, cooking oil, bread, butter, cheese, oatmeal, condiments, salt, pepper, rice, coffee/tea, honey, sugar, milk, etc.

  • Making a grocery shopping list

Based on her weekly menu plan, she learned to list down the kitchen and pantry items that need to be replenished and ingredients that need to be bought at the grocery.

  • Actual Meal Preparation, Cooking, Cleaning Up = TIME MANAGEMENT

This is probably the most challenging to teach.  Arielle hasn’t quite gotten the concept of time involved in preparing a meal.  The meat thawing (we don’t defrost meat using a microwave or oven method), cleaning and chopping of vegetables, marinating of the meat, tenderizing, different cooking methods all require TIME.  She still hasn’t fully understood that IT TAKES TIME to prepare a meal, to cook a meal (not unless one is going to eat straight from the can or bottle, which I do not recommend), and clean up afterwards. So, if she’s going to bring lunch to school or cook dinner after school, MENU PLANNING, a WELL-STOCKED PANTRY of INGREDIENTS, and CLAYGO (CLean As You GO) are key.

  • Leftovers Management

This is where Mike speaks.  “You have to learn how to eat leftovers.”  And I’m just glad that she is not a picky eater that she can eat leftovers.

  • Beef and Pork Meat Cuts Illustration, English translations, Cooking Guide

I was too focused on the meal planning and cooking tasks (since our daily meals depended on her!) that  I almost forgot that some of the recipes she follows have the meat cuts written in Tagalog. I realized that when she goes to the grocery or if she gets to go to the market in HK, she wouldn’t know the English translation of those meat cuts.  So, I immediately photocopied the flier I have in my files from Monterey, a local meat shop, which has an illustration of a cow and where the different beef cuts come from and their English names.  I didn’t have any flier on pork and so, I went to the website of Monterey, googled some more and went to Pinterest.  Whew!

 

LAUNDRY:

  • Laundry (How-to to links and videos, International Fabric/Laundry Care Symbols)

Arielle admitted that she is not too confident about this.  She did laundry before using our washing machine and dryer when we didn’t have a house helper but it’s not something she mastered.  All she knows is to separate the whites from the colored, put the delicates in laundry wash/net bags, and to button or zip those that have buttons or zippers.  So, just last night, I emailed her links on how to do laundry plus visuals on the different fabric/laundry care symbols attached to the garments.  This is  still her reading assignment.

FINANCE or MONEY MANAGEMENT:

  • Opening a bank account

I am hoping that we would be able to open a bank account in Hong Kong on the day we arrive or at the latest, the day after.  But having seen the schedules sent by SCAD on the activities for the new students, everyday (including the Saturday and Sunday before their first day of class) is filled up with activities.  If we don’t get to do this with her, then she would have to do it by herself.

  • Budgeting, Wise and prudent spending

From the very start, Mike and I already explained to Arielle that her going to SCAD is going to be very expensive and that keeping the scholarship given to her would help A LOT.  So she knows and fully understands that she needs to be wise and prudent in order to keep spending low and on what’s necessary.  I’m thankful that when Arielle and I talk about her moving to Hong Kong, what really, (and I mean, REALLY!) excites her is going to class and learning!  Yes, she’s excited to try out new food, go around and see where she can buy clothes, but hearing that she has that attitude and love for learning inside her, it just makes me more at peace and confident that she’ll make it through college.

 

SOCIAL SKILLS and CHARACTER-BUILDING & APPLICATION:

  • Social skills
  • Chores assignment, Meal planning, Cost sharing of common household items

Arielle will be with other international students and professors from different countries at SCAD. For this freshman year, she will be having two roommates with her who, fortunately, are going to be Filipinas. She will be in a Chinese-speaking territory. This is going to be the real test on socialization and character, on adaptability and getting along with different kinds of people.  I can’t wait to hear stories from her after a few weeks or so in Hong Kong.

 

GETTING TO PLACES:

  • Commuting (map reading, navigation, trip planning)

Fortunately, there’s a free scheduled shuttle bus that takes SCAD students living in the housing to the campus and back to the Residences throughout the day until evening. But going to other places like the grocery, restaurants, and shops would mean taking the MTR or bus.  Commuting will be her way of life in Hong Kong (which she never did in Manila or we never allowed her to do for safety reasons) and she would learn how to read maps, navigate and plan her trips well to maximize her time and be cost-efficient.

 

So you see, her gap year has been well-spent and she is still learning valuable skills that she needs to take with her before she finally leaves for college.  We all feel well-prepared, most especially, her, and that’s what’s important.

Our pieces of luggage are next in line, ready for packing.  Now that’s going to be another skill to teach her. How to pack (within the set baggage allowance) and eventually, how to travel on an international flight alone.  This college life is going to be one exciting journey (literally and figuratvely) for both Arielle and me!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

This is going to be a short post.  Just to share with you that we are done and ready to submit to SCAD-HK Arielle’s best artworks (19 to upload, maximum of 20), resume, and two 500-word essays for two more scholarship applications.

This is what we’ve been working on since September 2015 and after 5 months of detailed and intentional planning, brainstorming, thoughts and ideas processing, revisions, edits, improvements that felt endless, we’re ready to submit everything we’ve done.  Deadline given to us was February 28, 2016 in preparation for Arielle’s March 3 interview and I feel it would be better to submit everything a few days early and not do it last-minute.

I must say that this whole process was INTENSE.  I decided to throw Arielle a few questions  and check on how she feels about this.

 1.  So, which is the most difficult part in what you did?

Compiling all the info in the resume!

2.   How about doing your artworks?  How did you find it?

It wasn’t that bad.

3.  Even if you had to produce at least 10 and a maximum of 20?

I think the hard part is choosing which ones to let go and which ones to present and submit.

4.  How about writing the essays?  How was it for you?

What’s tough was trying to get your thoughts across but you have a 500 word-count to keep in mind.

5.  Which did you find more difficult, the resume or the essay?

Resume

 

I’m actually surprised with her answers here. If you were to ask me, it was the essays that were the toughest to do with her since I had to make sure that it would be her words, not mine, that will be put in there and my role was really just to help her process, organize, articulate, and bring out her voice on the essay topic on paper.  ESSAY WRITING WAS BRAIN-DRAINING FOR ME!  I also thought that she would also show some difficulty in coming up with artworks since she had to come up with as much artworks and show her BEST ONES, but apparently, it was easy-peasy for her.  It just goes to show that if you really like what you’re doing, then it wouldn’t be considered as “work” for you.

That’s the latest update on our college application, more of scholarship application. The next big day will be next Thursday, March 3!  Please continue to pray with and for us?  I will share with you news from Arielle’s interview day as soon as it’s done…and I’m breathing 🙂

 

 


 

Last November 28, SCAD-HK held an Information Session at Hotel Intercon in Makati.  As the event name says, it was an afternoon intended to give interested students and parents information about the school, the application process, scholarship application, portfolio submission, and what one can get from a SCAD education.  Current SCAD students and an alumna were present and shared their personal experiences with SCAD, and a professor was also there to look at students’ portfolios and give feedback.  We, however, was invited by SCAD’s assistant director of admission in order for Arielle to have a mock interview, a sort of a practice round for the real interview for scholarship application which is still going to be sometime in March 2016.

But before that, I’d like to share that Arielle was already granted an Academic Honors Scholarship by SCAD based on the GPA reflected on her high school transcript of records.  We didn’t expect the email to come this soon because we thought that all scholarships will be granted in March next year.  We were VERY, VERY HAPPY, of course!  The scholarship amount will be a big help to us and can be alloted already for her living allowance. There is another college scholarship, however, that we can still go for: the Achievement Honors Scholarship.  This is now going to be based on her portfolio composed of her artworks, 500-word essay, resume and interview.

From the very first time we met up with SCAD’s assistant director of admission last Aug 31 until this November, Arielle focused her time and effort to build her portfolio by doing her artworks, writing and revising her essay (We ended up having 6-8 versions after asking friends for feedback), drafting and formatting her resume, making sure that we fit all her relevant info and experiences in just one page (That was tough to do!).  I also consulted a contact to professionally coach her on interview and presentation skills.  The coaching session was held first week of November which gave us enough time to improve what Arielle had tirelessly worked on and practice answering possible interview questions before the mock interview day.

How do I describe the two to three months period of working on a portfolio?  It was intense.  It was real skills building.  For Arielle, it involved a lot of time management, research and looking inside herself…who she is…what her style is…who her inspirations are…knowing who she really is, the gifts she has as given by God, and identifying her focus and goals in life.  To be real honest, it became stressful between the two of us but…it was rewarding at the end.  Arielle’s mock interview, lasting about 30 minutes, went well and the assistant director of admission was impressed.  From the impromptu interview last August to this mock interview, he saw Arielle bloomed and more confident.  She answered the questions with energy and passion which he liked very, very much!  It was apparently what he wanted to see in Arielle. With only a few things to improve on the presentation of her artworks, we are good to go for the real one in March 2016!

Arielle was very encouraged and high on adrenalin after her mock interview. She even told me that the quarterly portfolio review she did with her homeschool academic consultant all these years helped her a lot for this one. Although different because her homeschool portfolio reviews were academic in nature, she said that it was a good exercise and preparation for the real thing. Her hard work has already paid off.  With one scholarship already in the bag, we can still try and do our best to be granted another one.  Mike and I were straightforward in telling the assistant director of admission that we do need that scholarship.    If we can double the scholarship amount that was given to us, then that would really be a BIG HELP!  The assistant director told us that he cannot promise us anything but he said he will try to see how he can get more information on this year’s scholarship grants.

On a different note, the experiences shared by the current freshman and sophomore students (One was taking up Animation, the other, Sequential Arts, and the other, Fashion) and alumna (in Fashion and Masters in Luxury and Fashion Management) were very inspiring and encouraging.  Mike and I had the chance to chat with the current students and ask them questions, and they were all very helpful and accommodating.  I saw how confident they were and also saw how happy they were in their decision to study at SCAD.  It somehow gave me the comforting assurance that Arielle will be fine and will make it in that school.  Just what I needed!

Everything has been going really well so far with Arielle’s application at SCAD-HK and preparation for college. Taking a gap year has been doing Arielle good and is definitely worth it!  I am so thankful that God showed us this option and continues to guide as we tread along this path.

The pieces of advices I’d like to end this post with are:

  1.  Take a gap year if you feel that your child needs that break to discern what he really wants to pursue in college and later on in life.  Just because all of his or her friends will move up to college right after high school graduation, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what everybody else does.  Remember that this is the future of your child.  It’s his or her life, not yours…not his or her grandparents’…not his or her classmates’…not his or her friends’…not his or her neighbor’s.  Give him or her the chance and time to give his or her future more thought.
  2. Start discussing plans and options as early as, I would say, 7th Grade.  Explore opportunities and let your child try different experiences.  I believe that is the only way he or she would know what his or her interests are and what options are available for him or her.
  3. Be open to possibilities.  Do not limit yourself and your child’s dreams.  Dream BIG…Dream big WITH YOUR CHILD…Dream big WITH GOD!
  4. Learning these skills are important when applying at different colleges and universities:
  • public speaking skills
  • presentation skills
  • interview skills
  • portfolio-building/making
  • resume writing
  • essay/creative writing
  • time management

 

Lastly, pray fervently and without ceasing (I mean it!) and trust that God will make known to you and your child what he or she is uniquely designed to do.

 


 

I last shared with you the meeting we had with SCAD HK’s assistant director of admission, Danny Li. Going to that meeting totally unprepared and with a blank slate, Mike, Arielle, and I, however, went home with a list of things we need to do from that day until he comes back by end-November. Everything suddenly became clear and gave us directions.  The meeting turned out to be a college counseling session which I personally am really, really grateful for and appreciative of because if you were to ask me how we plan to do Arielle’s portfolio, essay, and resume, my ideas would fall short of what would be considered as an excellent portfolio worthy of scholarship.

So the next day after the meeting, Arielle and I immediately brainstormed and planned out for this portfolio-making.  I told her that we can’t afford to waste time because we have about 2 months to put together a good an excellent portfolio.

Scared, overwhelmed, not confident on this whole thing, I prayed and then slowly started to map out a strategy for this task.  With post-its, markers, pens, highlighters on hand, I guided Arielle through the planning process, listing down all the details I could think of at this stage of the process and setting target deadlines.  We cannot afford anymore not to have deadlines!

The scholarship application requires these:

(1) Personal artworks/creations

(2) Essay

(3) Resume

(4) Interview

Arielle has to do all these in order to apply for and be granted a scholarship.

 

This is how we plan to prepare for Arielle’s portfolio. It’s our action plan we have for now on how to actually start it and move to its execution afterwards.

The action plan is basically all about RESEARCH, KNOWING ONESELF, and EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS and CREATIVITY.  This whole process is going to require a lot of thinking and it will teach the LIFE SKILL on PROJECT MANAGEMENT which will be a training ground for research, presentation, interview, and writing skills!

RESEARCH —

Arielle needs to research about SCAD: its history, mission and vision, values, campuses (maybe even down to the address and historical location in HK!), the directors, courses being offered, companies they tie up with, what makes SCAD different from other art schools, and other SCAD facts.  We gave ourselves a September 2 deadline just so we know what we need to accomplish first on our list.

Research on these two important skills:  presentation skills and interview skills.  When Arielle did a mock presentation and interview, one of the things he pointed out was the lack of eye contact.  Yes, Danny Li immediately pointed that out!  So, we need to learn how to do a powerful and effective presentation.  We need to learn how to capture the audience, close a presentation, and everything in between!  And watching TED-x videos is an assignment!

On interview skills, we need to read up on the do’s and don’t’s just like what we need to know on how to make an effective presentation.  DEADLINE:  September 3-4.

Research! Research! Research!

 

Next, Arielle needs to research on essay-writing, specifically for the purpose of college scholarship application with these prompts in mind:

  • What are your dreams and goals?
  • Why do you want to go to SCAD?
  • How will SCAD be able to help you achieve those dreams and goals?
  • Why should SCAD accept and grant you a scholarship?

 

Making her resume will basically be a review of everything she did throughout her homeschooling years:  her achievements, her projects, workshops she attended, volunteer work, internships,  etc.

DEADLINE for RESEARCH ON ESSAY-WRITING, RESUME-MAKING:  September 6-12, 2015.

Lastly, she also needs to do some research on how to design or make her own business card.  Yes, Danny pointed out that when you meet people, handing out your business card to them is the proper way to do it!  DEADLINE:  WILL BE DETERMINED as soon as her laptop has been serviced because she can’t toy around with ideas without the programs in her laptop.

 

Get to know yourself!

 

KNOWING ONESELF — 

On the actual portfolio-making side, I thought having a SKILLS INVENTORY would be a great idea!  I told Arielle to list down everything that she can do and from there, we hope to be able to generate ideas on how to execute her portfolio.

I really like this portion because it will give Arielle a chance to really do an introspection, get to know herself, her strengths, strengths that she is confident with, and even those that she is not so confident with.

EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS AND CREATIVITY —

With a skills inventory, we hope to then be able to really showcase her CREATIVITY and a PORTFOLIO that will be DIFFERENT and REMEMBERED by her target audience.  DEADLINE:  October 31, 2015.  That would give us time to polish and fine-tune everything until her November 28 presentation.

Know your strengths and think out-of-the-box!

 

So many things to do in so little time, don’t you think?  This is the hurdle we are challenged to overcome as of the moment.  This is what I feel as another ultimate test of our homeschooling journey after high school graduation.

Let me end by saying this again:  Homeschooling Arielle is not over yet for me, apparently.


 

I last shared with you a MAJOR DECISION we made and the FIRST STEP we will take to prepare Arielle, our eldest, for college.  That is, taking a gap year.  Next question to ask:  What to do during the gap year.

Let me tell you again that lately,  I’ve been feeling scared about this whole college thing.  I told you admitted that in my last post.  When I think about college preparation and Arielle graduating from high school this coming March/April 2015, it makes me feel like I’m a bad and somewhat careless or negligent mom because I feel that I haven’t been doing my part to actually start doing what’s needed to prepare her for college.  I’m still very much in our homeschooling routine of finishing quarter after quarter and presenting portfolios.  Arielle, too, has asked us many times “What am I going to do during my gap year?”, and I couldn’t give her a clear answer.  Every time she’d ask the question, I feel stumped.

Because of that, I’ve instinctively thrown the question to God every time, hoping I’d get an answer from Him right away.  But He didn’t.  So I just went on with our life and homeschooled day after day. Until recently, I’ve started feeling anxious about it again and so I prayed to God as honest and as straightforward as I could be.  I told Him, “God, please show me how to prepare for Arielle’s college.  Show us what to do and how to do it.  It’s beginning to scare me.”  As always, God’s timing is perfect.  He knows when to catch me when I’m panicking or in distress.  Unexpectedly, I got my speedy answer from God last week which gave me quite a big relief and made me very happy and thankful!

Since I was already beginning to THINK about the work involved in college preparation AND WORRY is starting to creep in, I reminded Arielle to keep on checking at the websites of the schools she’s interested in, locally and abroad, so we would be updated especially on the college applications.  She really wants to take up Animation and so she searched (again; she’s really been reading about the animation industry) for the top animation schools and saw an article where the school, SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design, was included in the Top 10 list. It was ranked Top 3.  When she mentioned SCAD to me, I instantly wondered if it was the same school in Hongkong mentioned to me last October by her Ninang (godmother) who lives there.  I checked my phone for our past chat and it IS the school that she had told me about before but I didn’t really pay much attention to it since our chat ended abruptly.  After that recall, it felt like a light bulb lit up because that only means that we have another option and the good news is…it’s located in Asia! That alone would dispel my motherly fear of having our daughter separated and so many miles away from us, if Arielle does end up studying abroad for college. That really lifted my spirits! It would just be a short plane ride away from Manila as compared to USC (University of Southern California) and CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), schools known for Animation, which are both in the U.S.A. and which Arielle is hoping to go to.

Before I give you the impression that the cost involved in sending our daughters to college is NOT AT ALL an issue to us, for us to be even THINKING of applying in international schools,  I will tell you that this is another BIG LEAP OF FAITH we are going to take, another BIG CONCERN which we are SURRENDERING to God (who happens to be BIGGER than our problems, right?).  The feeling that comes with it is much like how it was when we were trying to decide whether to homeschool or not. It is a HUMBLING act of SURRENDER.  Every time Mike and I discuss this, especially with friends,  I find myself mum about it because just thinking about the finances involved is TOO OVERWHELMING for me.  But seeing how driven Mike is on helping Arielle pursue her love for art and passion for Animation (which is best taken up abroad) and how he’s really doing his best to provide for us, his family, and for the future needs of our daughters, most especially on education, I get encouraged and at least, feel positive that we, AT LEAST, give it a shot.

I digressed a bit.  Back to what to do during our gap year.  So, last week, after dinner, Arielle showed her Papa the website of SCAD and they both spent time together reading about the school and its application requirements.  And what do you know?  After they’ve finished reading as much info as they could and me hearing bits and pieces of their conversation from where I was seated, I suddenly found myself giving Arielle a rundown of the things she needed to do to prepare for her college application, locally and abroad.  #1, #2, #3….  We both now know what to do during her gap year.  I felt God had spoken to me from nowhere!  If before, I could only see my feet below as I take one step at a time in my journey, I now could see that the path ahead of me is starting to clear up!  God, you are AMAZING!

Though this list or action plan may not strictly pass or qualify as the acceptable or normal activities done during a gap year (like the way it’s being practiced in the U.S. or Europe),  for me, the break Arielle will have before she finally enters college will give her the time to do what’s necessary such as:

  1. Organize her artworks (traditionally and digitally made) and build her portfolio
  2. Backup her portfolio files (and have a backup of her backup!)
  3. Possibly, continue her apprenticeship and look for other mentors
  4. Take courses to learn more about art, illustration, and other skills that would help her in her application
  5. Review for SAT
  6. Possibly, do another take of college entrance exam review for local colleges or just a refresher course
  7. Accept and do real jobs or services for others
  8. Learn more life skills such as cooking, laundry, banking transactions, budgeting, commuting, traveling, time and work management

 

And God’s amazingness doesn’t end there!  The morning after the A-ha moment from God, when I woke up and checked my phone, my good friend in Virginia, USA, shared with me that the redesigned or new SAT will be administered in May 2016.  Don’t you think that my friend’s update particularly on SAT was all in God’s perfect timing to answer my prayers?  Plus, after checking out the travel fair of Philippine Airlines last Sunday, we were able to get a good discount for a trip to Hongkong in March 2015 to check out SCAD’s campus!  Our good homeschooling family friend based in Hongkong is all ready to bring us around when I updated her of our booking and final travel dates while we were making plans at the travel fair.  Just like that, doors were opened and plans were made.  Things are now beginning to be less vague which are allowing us to plan, organize, and put everything in order.  (We thought that we would also be able to book for a trip to California to check out the animation schools there but the time we should travel were off and we took it as a sign from God telling us not to push through with it.  But oh my!  The ticket prices were really discounted!).

With this, I am beginning to feel I am ready to face what’s next to come.  I feel calmer now that God has answered me IN DETAIL how to prepare for college and what should keep us busy during Arielle’s gap year. I know that I would have more questions to ask and more concerns to lift up to God as we go along, but God knows everything!  I truly believe that the future of our daughters are in His hands.  Just as God has been faithful to us ever since we decide to homeschool, I believe that He will not leave us alone and will continue to take care of our daughters and provide for us.

Homeschooling, from the beginning, has been all about FAITH and SURRENDER.  It continues to be so.

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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


 

I know, I know.  I haven’t been blogging and I’m now having a difficult time getting back to the rhythm.  I’ve attempted a number of times to start writing but only ended up staring at a blank page and going to bed instead.  I was just too tired at the end of each day!

You see, we’ve moved in to our new place and we four are still adjusting in our new space and territory.  We don’t have a helper YET and we’ve been on our own.  I admit, I’m not one of those do-it-all SAHMs.  I’m not cut out for it, and I don’t intend to stress myself out to be one. I must have an ample Me time in order for me to be the best kind of wife, mother, woman I can be, in my own standards and not anybody else’s.

It’s been months and months of shuttling back and forth, packing, unpacking, buying, sorting, wiping, washing, cleaning, arranging wares, testing appliances, repairing and retouching.  These days, it’s all about grocering, cooking, dishwashing, cleaning up, and throwing the trash.  Our washing machine still needs some fixing so we can’t do our laundry just yet.

I’ve been living a more domesticated life and I still do.  There are times when I feel overwhelmed and wish I could go back to the kind of life I’ve been used to.  Everything was predictable.  Things were running like clockwork.  We had a cook and helpers which spell out the huge difference! 

But I can’t complain. Our new house is a blessing.  Everything in it is a blessing. THIS CHANGE IS A BLESSING!

What I love and treasure these days with this change is seeing my family growing in and with it. We’re all learning NEW house chores hands-on.  Yeah, our tiredness sometimes leads to squabbles, but we’re doing things together.  And as we do things together,  I see each one of us growing individually in character.  Being more helpful.  Considerate.  Understanding.  Patient. Giving.  Selfless.  Cooperative. Flexible. More responsible.  Respectful. Taking Initiative.  Joyful. Supportive. Appreciative.

I also embrace this change as a good training ground for our girls to be more independent.  The repetitive chores can be boring and mundane but these are exactly what they need to make them more mature and be prepared for life’s realities.  Arielle will be in college in two years and this is what she needs to learn, not found in textbooks or commonly taught in school.   Kayla, on the other hand, is also learning how to do hard things.

So this is where my family and I are at now.  We are in the midst of change and each one of us is doing his and her best to adapt to what’s different and new.  I think this change is doing us good. Yes, change can be good.

Have you been going through changes lately?  How are you taking them?