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

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

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

Don’t do everything all by yourself.

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


 

Were you able to read my last post? It’s the longest one I’ve written so far for this blog series on the assigned breakout session to me at the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016. And yes, it was all about SOCIALIZATION. In case you missed it, I’d like to invite you to read it and give it some thought.

Moving on to Part 5 of this series, I will now talk about self-discovery and self-awareness. So after sharing with you the major areas that make up our high school homeschooling which are parenting, teaching, experiencing, and socializing, you’re probably wondering where all these lead to.  What have our daughters become? Are they normal? Or are they weird?

Not weird (I know…I could be biased). But one thing that Mike and I noticed was that all these areas helped them build their identity.  They all helped in the process of their self-discovery and self-awareness. It’s them saying:

  • This is not ME against YOU.
  • I ACKNOWLEDGE, I ACCEPT, I CELEBRATE WHO I AM.

 

We’ve come to see that our girls simply know who they are. They know what they CAN DO, what their GIFTS and STRENGTHS are, and what they ARE NOT. They are very much aware of the talents and personalities God gave them and are learning to make sound choices and decisions, of course, with our guidance and advice. THEY KNOW.

  • This is me. I’m not like her.
  • I can’t do what she does.
  • I have my own way of doing it.

 

Kayla knows that she is not like her Ate. She knows she’s kinesthetic and that playing golf and hiking are activities that she’s comfortable in. Art is her older sister.  Art is something she can learn more of. At the same time, Arielle knows she’s not as physical and sporty as Kayla. But these two girls support each other all the way!

Because of this…their sense of SELF…their self-discoery and self-awareness, I believe we were able to secure their roots firmly in the ground. They are not easily swayed by friends and trends. They don’t quickly give in to peer pressure. They come out comfortable and confident about themselves.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” as Dr. Seuss would say.

I see this very clearly now with Arielle. Being surrounded with students coming from different countries and background and living on her own, she is able to make decisions and not give in to pressure from her new found friends in college. She can mingle with different groups of friends at school. She also doesn’t mind being alone (and there are times that she actually prefers to be alone to have her Me Time). She can work by herself and in a group. She has been brave enough to say NO to things that are just not acceptable (smoking, drinking, clubbing until wee hours, and even drugs).

A couple of weeks after their Fall Quarter began, October 18 to be exact, Arielle messaged me on WhatsApp first thing in the morning: Is it weird that grades aren’t what drive me in school? (because her friend got an A for her midterms and told her. I guess that prompted her to do some kind of reflection).  My first reaction that I said to myself was “You REALLY are a homeschooler!”

When I shared our short chat to a group in Facebook, a mom asked me, “So, what drives her?” I immediately asked Arielle and she very quickly replied to me with these:

 

After a while, I got a bit nervous and checked with her her scholarship. If she’s safe with her scholarships. And she said YES. I must admit, that gave me a sense of relief!

In reality, my heart wanted to burst! I immediately asked “Lord, where did that come from???” The SELF-AWARENESS and WISDOM!  And she hasn’t even turned 18 yet! (Her 18th birthday was coming up in a few days…on the 23rd).  She just knows herself really well and with confidence keeps her own standards that she doesn’t need to follow blindly how everyone else does things.

How she’s been able to cope, adjust, adapt, survive, live on her own in a place with strangers, in a place with a different lifestyle and culture, is just SOOO OVERWHELMING!

Letting go and being separated from your children is not easy. It’s never easy. I feel a hole in my heart but at the same time, I know that I cannot keep them forever.  I just keep telling and reminding myself “Lord, Arielle and Kayla are not our children. They’re yours. So teach us how to be good parents, good stewards so that we may lead them to Your Plan.”

And if this is just a sneak peek of how our children will be once set free in the real world, then I am not complaining. I only have a grateful heart.

 

 


 

This is probably the topic everyone’s waiting for.  The question everyone asks homeschoolers. The question that never dies. So, I am not surprised if this was one of the top 3 reasons why the attendees chose to go to my breakout session in the last Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016. This is already the 4th topic of my presentation and if you missed the first three, you can read still read Part 1 on parenting, Part 2 on teaching, and Part 3 on experiencing.

WARNING: THIS POST IS A LONG ONE. When I was preparing for this part, I really felt God wanted me to look back on how we dealt with this perceived biggest problem of homeschoolers. And I was looking back, I said to myself that we weren’t doing anything extra special or extraordinary for our daughters to socialize.  We didn’t and don’t even have a regular homeschool co-op until this day!  So how did we socialize all these years?

First of all, we were a pack of four.  Where one goes, everybody goes.  That’s practically how our family setup or logistics was during most of our homeschooling years and so, meeting people and talking with them happened in a natural setting.  In a restaurant, in a shop, in church, when meeting their Papa’s contacts at work, when meeting and talking with the locals of Batangas (my province) which taught them how to switch from English to Tagalog (with the Batangueno accent). The least or perhaps the most we did was encourage our girls to smile and say “Hi!” or “Good afternoon!”

I’ll start discussing the above slide BEFORE I share what God actually revealed and TAUGHT me on what we’ve been doing to teach socialization to our homeschooled daughters.

High school was the time we started to let our girls join camps.  When I say camps, I mean 4-6 days…OUT OF TOWN…WITHOUT US. They joined CISV where they were able to meet other campers from different schools in Manila.  CISV Philippines is a global organization of volunteers and participants dedicated to peace education through cross-cultural friendship.  Their tagline or motto is building global friendship. Their camp venue was in another town in Batangas.  What we did was from our place in Batangas City, we went to the meetup/drop-off point in Manila so that our girls would experience the bus ride to the venue with all the other campers. Their experience with CISV could be one of the highlights of their high school years.

Being a beach-loving family, the other camp Arielle and Kayla enjoyed more is the Danjugan Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod during summer.  They have joined this camp thrice and each time has always been fun and memorable for them.  It was always something they really GOT SO EXCITED ABOUT and LOOKED FORWARD TO!  In this camp, they experienced camping by the sea, learned how to live in a solar-powered island, how to conserve energy and water and at the same time, learn about nature and marine life, and most especially how to protect it.

The first time they joined this summer camp, Mike and I went with them to Bacolod and stayed at a friend’s house while they were at camp. We all flew to Bacolod together with 2 of their friends and flew back to Manila together.  On their second year, Mike and I flew to Bacolod with them, this time stayed at a hotel since they had more friends with them. (For this camp, they always stay an extra night before and after the official camp dates to not tire themselves too much and they also get the chance to explore Bacolod city with their friends and eat the local food specialty, chicken inasal!) After dropping them off at the meetup point, Mike and I flew back to Manila. When camp ended and it was time to pick them up, it was only Mike who flew back to Bacolod.  Last May, their 3rd time to join, the girls and their 4 friends flew to Bacolod and back to Manila by themselves.  Arielle became the organizer of the group, made their flight bookings, payment arrangements for the group, and housing arrangements with the camp organizers.  It was my way of training and preparing her for her move to Hong Kong for college. It worked out really well!

Do we allow them to meet up with friends?  Yes, we do.  Movie, going around the mall, go to Fully Booked or buy milk tea, Arielle and her art HOHOL (Hang Out Hang Out Lang) and Kayla with her golf buddies, school fairs, concerts a few times.  This has not been a problem with us as long as we know all the details of their meetups and they update us of their whereabouts.

They are also on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Telegram, Tumblr, Snow. WhatsApp and Viber (for convenience and a more private venue for family messaging).  There was a time, they or one of them was hooked to something (I forgot what it was) or they were spending too much time on their phones.  So I took their phones away.  But it didn’t happen often.  And I still remind them to keep their phones away during meal times.

They’re not on FB or IG all the time. They’re more of Snapchat and Telegram users to connect with friends. Somehow, they’ve learned how to make social media work for them.  Now that Arielle is in Hong Kong, she admits missing Kayla so much that I allow them to message each other or be on Face Time privately.  Sometimes, it’s me who’s excited about a post I saw or shared in Facebook and I would ask them “Did you see my post in FB??? I tagged you!”  And they will get back to me, “Ma, I haven’t been on FB lately.”

This is Arielle’s take on social media.  Social media is just a glimpse of you who are.  It only shows a tiny bit of someone’s personality.  Instagram, for instance.  That’s why she prefers to post pictures in IG that are random, colorful, and not too much like a gallery because she wants to show who she really is.  And for her: NOTHING BEATS HUMAN INTERACTION.  She’s on almost social networking site but she believes that if she doesn’t know how to talk to people, it’s useless. Actual meetups and spending time together are still THE BEST.

The girls were also able to do a few volunteering like calamity relief operations, sewing for the typhoon and earthquake victims in the Visayas, joining a beach clean-up in Anilao, volunteering for a day at Make-a-Wish Foundation. They were only a few occasions or opportunities that we were able to volunteer.  We simply shared our time and resources when we could.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.

Calamity Relief Operations, Project Hearts and Hands my friend and I did one Christmas, Anilao beach clean-up w/ college students.

 

 

Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.

Volunteering at Make-A-Wish Foundation; Arielle did a drawing for the little girl and gave it to her.

 

 

Sewing for calamity victims

Sewing for calamity victims

 

 

Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod

Danjugan Summer Marine and Wildlife Camp in Bacolod

 

 

Another plus that helped the socialization part of our homeschooling is letting them meet Mike’s and my own circle of friends. I am blessed to have a really close batch in high school and our girls have met some of them. They’ve seen the quality of friendship I’ve kept with them even after 30+ years. They’ve met my barkada, my girlfriends, the funny guys, the “sosyal” girls or “magulo” (or rowdy) group before. I also share with them how my high school life was before and how everyone has changed and mellowed, and became close to one another, like family. So, it became sort of a benchmark of the kind of friendship they would also like to have and keep someday.

At this point, you’ll probably say “Oh okay. We’re doing the same things you’re doing. You seem to be doing normal things.” SO WHAT MAKES SOCIALIZATION EASY or NOT AN ISSUE FOR OUR HOMESCHOOLED DAUGHTERS?

THIS IS WHAT I THINK AND WHAT GOD ACTUALLY REVEALED TO ME AS I WAS PREPARING FOR THIS PARTICULAR TOPIC.  We talk as a family. We talk about ideas, what we see on tv in the news, or what caught our attention in Facebook or Twitter, about the things we see around us. Because of this, Mike and I didn’t realize that by making them aware of events and situations happening around them and simply talking about them or having a deep conversation and discussion about them WITH them, we were teaching them a different meaning of socialization. We were teaching them that there are different kinds of people in society, with different living conditions, culture, and lifestyle different from ours and in that manner, we were teaching them how to behave in an acceptable manner in society.  (Merriam-Webster’s definition of “socialize” is “to teach (someone) to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.”)  With this, we were teaching them to look outward and not inward. That the world does not revolve around them!

So I’d like to pause here and let you think how you’ve been defining the “S” word all this time.

And I’d now like to REDEFINE “socialization” for you.  It’s not just having friends…or being surrounded by people…or being where the “party” or everyone is. Socialization is not Facebook where you have 1,000+ friends!  True socialization is the quality of relationships and not quantity.  It’s more character than contacts.  I really like how Merriam-Webster defined the word “socialize”.  Does it make you think now if those in traditional schools and workplaces are truly socialized people?

Now that I’ve mentioned character, are you aware that companies nowadays are eyeing college graduates from this particular university? Companies are preferring graduates from this school because they’ve seen that students from Ateneo, La Salle, UST (these top and elite universities) don’t last long in a job. Why? Because they can’t stand menial jobs. They feel they deserve a higher pay just because they graduated from these universities. It’s that feeling of entitlement. (By the way, the university is Polytechnic University of the Philippines).

Mike and I always tell our girls that whey they enter the corporate world, everyone is on equal footing. Even when applying for a job, when you submit that job application and get interviewed, all applicants are equal because they all lack experience and what would spell the difference is what you can contribute to the company. How you can be an asset, not a liability, to the company. So again, skills and experience PLUS CHARACTER. That’s also precisely the reason why teaching our kids CHORES is very important. CHORES teach RESPONSIBILITY, HARD WORK, COOPERATION, TEAMWORK, no SHORT-CUTS, GETTING HANDS DIRTY.  Another important skill is COGNITIVE skill, meaning skills relating to mental activities: thinking, understanding, learning, remembering, analyzing, evaluating. So, the Bloom’s Taxonomy is a very good training ground for our kids TO THINK OF new ideas, new approaches, new solutions, new ways of doing things!

As also shared by the other keynote speakers in the conference, modelling is one clear way to teach our children.  Mike is a living example of a socialized person. He talks and can talk to anyone, regardless of rank or position in society.  And it is actually natural for him and more comfortable for him to talk to drivers, security guards or street vendors. We three girls would often find ourselves saying “Ayan na naman si Papa, may kausap na naman. O nakikipagkwentuhan na naman sa driver.” (There goes your Papa again.  He’s talking to someone. He’s a having a friendly chat with a driver.) And he won’t be just talking with them. He will also eat with them at a carinderia or in a corner or under a tree.

One of Mike’s reminders to Arielle when we were in Hong Kong to send her off was to not look down on people.  Respect and be kind to your security guard or cleaning lady. Greet them because that could just make their day.

I come from a political family but I would always rather keep myself in low profile. I was never comfortable being given a special treatment.  Our girls know and have seen that, and so do other people who’ve come to know me better.

With Arielle now an international student at SCAD HK, socialization was never a problem. You can read more about it here.

We also get comments on Kayla being able to talk with older golfers and being independent. There was a tournament she joined recently where she was the ONLY junior golfer and all the other golfers were adults. She didn’t mind. And they didn’t mind at all! As a matter of fact, they acknowleged her presence in the tournament that the adults gave the prizes they won to Kayla!

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipino); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

Arielle and her friends at SCAD (a Korean who came fr Singapore, one from Honduras, and another Filipina); Kayla as the only junior golfer in a tournament

I would really like to encourage you to TAKE YOUR PARENTING AND the SOCIALIZATION EXPERIENCES of your children seriously. Don’t keep them sheltered. Don’t always make things comfortable and easy for them. Don’t make them feel that everything is going to be served to them. Make them do hard things. Make them do chores (I can’t stress this enough). Make them appreciate work and service done to them by your helpers, your drivers, the waiters, the security guards, the elevator operators, your garbage collectors, your pizza delivery person.

I read an article by The Washington Post entitled “How to Raise Kinder, Less Entitled Kids (according to science) and I’d like to copy here the few lines that caught may attention:

“What does this mean for kids and parents? Anything we provide or do regularly will become the new norm, whether it’s postgame milkshakes or a certain brand of clothes. And not doing things can also become a norm: If our kids have gotten used to having their beds made or dinner table set, they’ll come to expect that, too.
“I really think about it as ‘What’s the default that I’m setting up?”

And that’s one question I would now like you to think about…and answer THE socialization question that is always asked of you. WHAT IS THE DEFAULT SYSTEM I HAVE SET UP IN MY FAMILY?  Are meals always ready on the dining table? Are rooms cleaned by a helper every week or when trash is all over?Do we need to always go for branded clothes and shoes?  Be only with and catch up with families whose default system for semestral break or summer vacation is to travel abroad all the time?

With all that I’ve shared and written here about socialization, it’s time to have that paradigm shift and redefine the S word.

Socialization is EMPATHY where one puts himself in the shoes of another, to understand and care how someone else feels as if the other person’s life or story is happening to him, as opposed to sympathy were one just feels compassion or pity for the hardships or difficulties one is going through. “Kawawa naman.” (What a pity).

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

From Uplift Connect in Facebook

We all complain about our country…how undisciplined Filipinos are…that our country seems to be hopeless, how disrespectful teenagers are nowadays. Let our PARENTING and the SOCIALIZATION of our children be our contribution to build the CHARACTER of our children. It’s time to UN-CENTER OURSELVES. Let’s start the change and be the change we all are looking for. If we want our country to change and build the Philippines again, let’s start with our families…our children.

I think I’ve said more than enough and made my point. I do hope I was able to make you THINK and at least just agree with me on the real meaning of socialization.

 


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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.


 

These teens are off to a 5-day marine camp!

These teens are off to a
5-day marine camp!

 

Being a homeschool mom, it is quite rare for me to be alone in the house and with no girls to check up on.  And this is how it’s going to be for six straight days.  Yes, almost a week of no teens in the house!

Arielle, Kayla, and five of their invited female friends (four from Manila and one from Bacolod) are currently in a marine camp in Bacolod. Day 1 of camp started yesterday, May 6,  and will end on Saturday, May 10.  So, I see them all again in Manila on Sunday, May 11, which happens to Mother’s Day.

It is their second time to join this particular camp.  It’s called Danjugan Island Summer Marine Camp. They’ve joined another out-of-town, less-than-a-week long camp before which was the CISV camp.  After discussing and making an evaluation of which camp for them is better, they chose this marine camp, hands-down.  I’m not quite surprised because being a nature- and beach-loving family, Arielle and Kayla, both love the sand, sun, and sea.  Arielle’s now a certified junior scuba diver and Kayla loves to snorkel and has learned to free dive, too.  The marine camp last year gave them a rich and super fun learning experience, a chance to explore Bacolod, and especially savor the flavorful chicken inasal, the province’s chicken barbecue.  I, myself, enjoyed my stay in Bacolod last year, giving me a time to slow down and be a tourist in my own country.

Chicken inasal at  Chicken House...NAMIT! (which means 'delicious')

Chicken inasal at
Chicken House…NAMIT!
(which means ‘delicious’)

Logistics for this year is different.  Last year, Mike and I stayed the whole time in Bacolod in our couple friend’s house while the girls are at camp.  The girls, their two invited friends, Mike, and I all flew in and out of Bacolod together.  Since Arielle and Kayla invited four friends this time, we chose to book ourselves in a hotel, L Fisher Chalet, for an overnight stay before leaving for Danjugan Island early in the morning, instead of all eight of us staying at our friends’  house.

Upon arriving in Bacolod, from the airport, we headed to Chicken House to have chicken inasal for lunch,. What else???  Bacolod IS inasal!  With happy tummies, we checked in and settled down at our hotel after, and was able to go to The Ruins late in the afternoon for some photo ops.   Dinner was at Aboy’s, a personal favorite!

The next day, we all were up at 4:30 a.m. so we can all have breakfast at McDonald’s at 5:30. Meetup time for the campers was 6:30 a.m.  After bringing them to their designated meetup place, waiting for a while and finally sending them off, Mike and I stayed just a couple more hours in Bacolod and flew back to Manila.  While waiting for the time we must head off to the airport, we leisurely had breakfast with our friend (whose daughter also joined the camp this time) back in our hotel, checked out, bought some pasalubong at Quan (Napoleones, mmmmm!!!) and Bongbong’s (piyaya, butterscotch, assorted tarts, and danggit from Cebu), had lunch (chicken inasal, of course, and crispy chicken skin…I know, it’s not healthy!) at Hestia.   It was mission accomplished!  Sending off all six teens to camp, eating chicken inasal one more time, buying local delicacies, and flying back home.

As I write this, our girls are 400 kilometres from Batangas, 400.43 kilometres to be exact and about an hour of flight from Manila. They are in Visayas and I am in Luzon!  It is our first time to be away from each other this faaaaar and this loooong!  It does feel kinda strange but at the same time, I feel it’s something I have to learn getting used to.  After all, our girls are no longer kids but teens and they soon need to flap their wings and be more independent.  Arielle actually got really excited when I mentioned to her that she should observe and learn how we checked ourselves in at the airport so they can do it on their own next year.

I won’t be around to pick them up from camp.  Mike will be the one to go back to Bacolod and stay there for one night before they all head back to Manila.  I decided to stay home and enjoy my break straight.  This is a rare opportunity for me!  Besides, when they get back, it will be on May 11, Sunday, which is also Balik Bukid, a country fair I’ve missed already twice and am planning to go to this time.

So, this is another good change I’m having right now.  Homeschooling does strengthen our bond and relationships as a family since we’re always together.  At the same time, the lifestyle also gives us the environment, the opportunities to parent and release our children to the bigger world NATURALLY.

Teen parenting is figuratively teaching them to fly.

I am sooo sure the girls are having a grand time at camp…on an island…at a marine sanctuary…learning new things hands-on…and being with new friends!  I haven’t received any text messages from them since noon yesterday!  In the meantime, I am savoring these days of being kid-less, even if it’s just for a short period of time.  I also deserve to have my vacation and “camp out” in my bed, without having to think about schedules and what’s going to be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

This is Teen Parenting for me, Letting Go course 🙂  It is a new parenting strategy and path to take.  Something that is bound to happen and I’m slowly learning how to do it successfully.

Have you let go of your kids?  What small or big steps have you taken?


 

Mixed Emotions

Photo Source: http://livelistendream.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/
mixed-emotions/

 

I’ve been going through mixed emotions these past couple of weeks (more of months, actually). Now, I don’t know if these are my 40+ hormones going wayward or what!

HAPPY…that we’ve actually gotten on board another year of homeschooling (after a physically taxing kind of summer vacation which isn’t how we normally spend it)

HAPPY…that I was able to put in place my survival tools (all the preparations and requirements, and finally, guide schedules, with an ‘s’) before officially and slowly starting the schoolyear last June.  Everything I finished just in time!  WHEW!!!

THANKFUL…that we have new materials to use in Religion or Christian Living (books that are specifically Catholic), Grammar, Reading, Business Mathand even new activities for P.E. (archery for Arielle and golf for Kayla; They’ve been doing competitive swimming ever since they started to homeschool.) and for TLE (sewing, where I ended up joining our girls in class! 🙂 )

TIRED and UNMOTIVATED…that I’m teaching again to Kayla the same topics in Filipino and Social Studies (which is Philippine History) and with no really good textbooks and accompanying teacher’s guide to use for both subjects!  (A fellow homeschool mom suggested The Other Philippine History Textbook by Christine Diaz (Books 1 and 2) but as of this writing, we only read about the Spanish colonization of the Philippines so I can’t say yet if I can totally ditch the hand-me-down textbooks which Arielle used in the previous years).  That’s just Filipino and Social Studies.  There’s still Math, Science, and the other subjects. 

TIRED and FRUSTRATED…that I’m still reminding our girls some routines which I had expected them to know automatically by now.  

STILL THANKFUL…that since my homeschooling family stays with my parents (I’m the only child left to BE with them), we share helpers who do the cooking, laundry, and the rest of the household duties, which I don’t have to worry much about.  BUT I make sure that our girls still are aware of their responsibilities and duties at home and that they do their share of chores, too.  We still are a family unit who move about our own ways and live our own lifestyle.  I actually ADMIRE homeschool moms who manage to homeschool their kid(s) and still do all the chores at home, and even add a full-time or part-time job to all those duties and responsibilities, whether as a WAHM (work-at-home mom) or commuting daily to the office!  HATS OFF to these SUPERMOMS! 

(Back to) FRUSTRATED…that I’m running out of ideas how to teach (well, more of coach) the different subjects to our girls! How do I do out-of-the-box teaching in Algebra, Chemistry, Physical Science, World History?

CAREFREE ATTITUDE…since I feel I lack the motivation and I don’t have any brilliant and new ideas to put some excitement in their lessons and spice up our discussion.  I usually am geared up every start of the schoolyear! But not this time 🙁  (And to think that we just started! What a way to begin!)  

(Back to) THANKFUL…that Arielle and Kayla are actually working more independently now. I still think that this is an accomplishment and victory to be celebrated.  

Do you now feel the roller coaster ride of my mixed emotions?  Brace yourselves for a few more dips and turns!

HAPPY...that I’ve found a new hobby in doodling and journaling.  It really feels good to discover that happy place for some ME time and self-expression.

AFRAID…that I won’t be able to get back on track in the next quarters with this kind of attitude and totally having no fresh ideas to make their learning more fun and exciting.

AFRAID and FRUSTRATED COMBINED…that I’m shortchanging my girls, especially Kayla,  because I’ve been less involved in their learning. 

PRETTY MUCH DETACHED, WORTHLESS, and LESS FULFILLED…because most of the time, I’ve really been just letting the girls work independently and move on from one subject to the next. Did I just change our homeschooling setup and lifestyle to one where I simply brought the classroom to our home?  Where did the “beyond books and walls” go?  How about that person in me known as “the best teacher of my children”? Did she go on leave?

UPSETwith Department of Education’s K-12 program which I feel is messing up Arielle’s high school and preparation for college and how this K-12 is making our homeschooling now feel like traditional school done at home.  That makes me feel even worse since I already feel traditional-ish in my teaching style in the first place!  The K-12 issue and our view about it should be another post to write about (if only I could put down all my thoughts, every bit of emotion in words and have the inspiration plus time to blog about it!)  

Is this how it’s supposed to be after 6 whole years of breathing the homeschooling lifestyle?  Or is there also such a thing as a 7-year itch in homeschooling?   I wonder (Hey, I’m serious.)

The only thing that’s keeping me together in one piece these days is the thought that whatever I’ve been feeling lately (ALL of it!) is probably going to do us good (GOSH! I HOPE SO!), and that with God’s blessing and promise, EVERYTHING’S GOING TO WORK OUT JUST FINE (Breathe in, breathe out). After all, Arielle’s already in 3rd year high school and Kayla’s slowly moving up to higher levels.   They do need to learn how to be independent.  I’m probably at the stage where it’s quite difficult for me to LET GO of our girls, let them stand on their own, and start flapping their wings.  I’ve probably been so attached and hands-on to them that actually seeing and letting them do things on their own gives me a weird, uncomfortable, different feeling.  Maybe, I’m not yet used to their telling me “Ma, I’m okay.  I understand my lessons.  I can do it by myself.”

I just didn’t expect this to happen this year.  So soon?  I’ve been harping on teaching the life skill, independence, and now that’s actually and slowly happening in front of my face, I don’t know how to deal with it.  It is quite a surprise…something unexpected.

All these mixed emotions! SIGH!!!  All I can do right now is to chill.  To let go.  To pray hard to be a better and wiser parent to them as I go through this parenting AND homeschooling stage combined and make sure they feel that I’m just right behind them when they need me.  I probably need a change of perspective to be able to deal with these growing-up and moving-on changes in our life. 

How have you been feeling lately with your homeschooling?  Have you had mixed emotions, too? How did you cope and how do you deal with them? 


Last Friday was day 18 of our countdown to Christmas and our activity was to take a walk outside.  We arrived home past 9 pm and we were all tired from the full day we just had.  But I really wanted to do this activity with my girls because I knew that it was something that would give us some time to talk and bond. Something I felt that we need to do more of.  Arielle was not in the mood (because of her monthly period) and so, it was just Kayla and me.  I was thinking of walking on the nearby streets, well-lit and safe enough to allow us some leisurely stroll, but Kayla suggested we go to the playground at the ground level of our building instead.

So that’s where Kayla and I spent a good 10-15 minutes that night.  Just 10-15 minutes!  We each sat on a swing and I must say, it was one of the most enjoyable moments I had with her.  We didn’t talk about school, schedules, corrections or discipline areas she needed to work on.  We simply talked about how fun it was just to sit there and swing!  There was that cool December breeze and the night sky was twinkling with a few stars, enough to give it some beautiful glitter!  It was nice to listen to Kayla talk about things.  How she had grown a lot taller because her feet were touching the ground and she now had to bend her (long) legs.  How she had wanted to go to the playground more often.  When some “random guy” (those were her exact words) approached her before and asked if he could take a look at her journal.  How our building seemed taller than the one next to it (which was actually taller).  What struck me the most was when she said that we should go to the playground more often because we could just sit there and listen to nature (We could hear crickets that night).  Wisdom from my 11-year old.

This was an old day shot taken last year, 2011, just to show you
the carefree spirit we had that night at the playground 🙂

 

Kayla’s a lot taller now!

Because of this activity, merely swinging to and fro, I’ve come to realize and am reminded that it would really be advisable to have one-on-one’s or dates with each of your child and just talk.  Squeeze in just a few minutes to have some private time with each of them. It’s a good parenting strategy. The atmosphere is just more relaxed and communication lines are more open.  Definitely something that I must have, most especially now, with our growing teens.  Soon, they would have their own schedules and would be spending more time with their friends and doing other activities outside the house.  I think I would want to invest on TIME with them now before it’s too late.

And this was me last year, 2011…vowing to remember now to
have some private time with my girls.


July 30, 2012:

From the two hundred sixty (260), 13 to 25 year olds who auditioned last July 28, 2012 for Repertory Philippines’ big musical this year “Camp Rock”, they were trimmed to 100 for yesterday’s (July 29) callback.  Then, they were down to, I think, 40.  The girls were further narrowed down to about 15 for the final casting.  As of this writing, I have no idea yet how many boys/males made it to the final casting.  Our eldest, Arielle, was blessed to be among the 15 or so girls!  We were not expecting her to come this far.


There were a LOT who auditioned.  How could she have competed against the taller ones? The older, more mature, and mestiza-looking ones?  She herself said when she was at the callback that those chosen were really GOOD!!!  Arielle and I were storming the heavens with prayers (Uh, literally and figuratively;  It was raining hard during that weekend which Arielle took as a very very good sign 🙂 ).  The final candidates will still have to go through one final audition and could still be eliminated.  We were probably the only ones in the entire world who missed watching the opening of the  Olympics because this was how our weekend went! LOL!

Our Little Mermaid, Theatre Gal, Homeschooled Mermaid went through her own hurdles and passed with flying colors!  We are so, so, so proud of you, Arielle!  You are one patient, decisive, and obedient girl!  I can’t believe how you dream and do everything to make your dreams come true!  Keep the faith, my child!  Whether you make it to the final casting or not, we are already very, very proud of how you prepared and went through the audition and callback with confidence, fear, faith, and humility!  You showed how to face your giants!  You simply amaze us! 

After doing “A Christmas Carol” with Rep 4 years ago, may this be your comeback to stage performance where you feel most comfortable sharing with others the gifts God has given you! 

 

I was so touched by this post in Facebook by her teacher from
Muzette Music Center, Teacher Amy Camua ❤❤❤
She has been very very supportive of Arielle!

July 31, 2012:

Arielle received an email from Rep last night.  She did not make it to the final 25. There wasn’t any more final audition. She was devastated with the news 🙁  She really, really, really wanted this.  Tears immediately flowed as she broke the news to me and I embraced her tightly and assured her that we are already happy and very, very proud of her!!!  The way she handled herself from the beginning of the audition until the end of the callback wasn’t something an ordinary 13-year old girl can do.  This may have been another rejection for her but THAT’S THE WAY LIFE IS.  We can’t have everything.  We only have to trust God and believe that He has everything planned out for us and that in His perfect timing, His even greater blessings and opportunities will be given. Also, what’s important is she was able to show Repertory Philippines her talent and that Rep was able to see and take note of that.  Just like what was written to her in the email, not being able to make it to the final 25 is not a reflection of what her talent is, and being able to make it to the callback already says a lot about her. 

August 1, 2012:

Arielle couldn’t sleep last night and still feels bad about it.  I was actually sick yesterday when the sad news came to us.  This morning, when I groggily got up, I caught Mike and Arielle at the breakfast table and he was giving her his advice and words of encouragement.  We apparently had told Arielle the same thing, which is, to reply to Rep’s email expressing her sadness on the decision and at the same time, thanking them for the wonderful opportunity to audition, and asking for pointers on how to improve herself next time another audition opportunity comes her way.  Just like the Olympics, we train hard, we move towards our goal, and do our best every time!  

 

Aaahhh. The challenges of parenting and beauty of homeschooling.  This is what life is all about.  This, I believe, is why we were called to homeschool.  To be there for our children when they MOST need us.  To be with them in FAITH.  To be proud of their milestones and steps towards their dreams.  To accept them and love them, no matter what ❤❤❤ 

 


For the record, we are currently finishing our 4th and last quarter of ourschoolyear.  Our HOMESCHOOLing schoolyear (a deep breath here).  Yes, it’s “we”, “our” and not “our daughters” quarter and “their” schoolyear.

As I sit in front of the computer and stare at my screen, I ask myself “What really did we gain from this out-of-the-norm option we had taken five years ago?” (Now, for a sip of coffee … Did I hear somebody say “out-of-this-world” or was that “out-of-your-mind”?)  It definitely has not been smooth sailing all the way but despite the many bumps, potholes, pit stops, and roller coaster rides in this journey (journey: my personal metaphor of how homeschooling has been to us), I must humbly say that the cruisin’, smooth landings or touchdowns every end of a schoolyear accomplished is a constant and faithful reminder of God that He is in control of everything, even if there were a lot of moments when it felt turbulent and out of control.

Just like when travelling to a place, especially for the first time, we have “pasalubongs” or souvenirs from our homeschooling journey which have accumulated these years  and which I personally find most memorable and worth keeping.  I have a few which are my favorites:

1.  Learning takes place anytime, anywhere, everytime, everywhere.  It is not anymore limited within the four walls of the classroom, to what the teacher always says, when the bell rings, or when it’s time to take the quarterly exams.  Homeschooling has tore down those classroom walls and truly has made the world our classroom.  We learn hands-on, real-time, and sometimes, in the most unexpected and unconventional places, with ordinary, extraordinary but real people and scenarios.

2.  When we started to homeschool, our family became a four-pack family where one goes, everybody goes.  Well, this is true until today. We became closer and the bonding, stronger than if our girls were in school during the big chunk of the day.  We fight, we cry (oh yes, we do!) but with God’s grace, we manage (and still try) to reconcile our differences and always, always, try to do better and be part of the team, the family.  The best part of it is when we reach a point of disagreement, misunderstanding or even a momentary rift, we always end up drawn towards each other. We find ourselves still sticking by each other and being a family.

3.  We have ample time in my and my husband’s hands to teach our girls to be persons of character, Godly character.  At first, I thought Character would be the eeeeeasiest subject to teach but I was proven wrong.  It was and turns out to be a big challenge to me, seeing the pressure around us and our girls, as real and happening.

From the family conversations that we always have, Mike and I have seen the fruits of our parenting and homeschooling.  Recently, our girls themselves expressed their sad sentiment AND shock on father absenteeism and cussing as being the norm among their friends who are not homeschooled.  I was quite surprised when our girls openly and casually mentioned these sensitive and serious topics with us.  At the same time, it made me realize that it is very good and indeed a blessing that the our girls trust us, their parents, and come to us first, to talk about something that could be bothering them.

Character-building has become one of the responsibilities and priorities where Mike and I have become intentional in our parenting, intentional in our homeschooling.  We cannot compromise the character formation of our children.   We are NOT PERFECT PARENTS and I am definitely a work-in-progress!  We are NO SAINTS but we take the responsibility and will not pass it on to anybody else.  We ourselves are being transformed into the kind of persons and adults that God wants us to be.

4.  Lastly, I have seen lately how our girls seem to have developed a good sense of self-awareness.

They know who they are and what they are capable of doing.

Compared to other girls and boys about their age, our girls seem to clearly know what they want, what their strengths are, what they are good at, what they’re not so good at. (Well, as their parent, I am aware that they can confidently state their passions, dreams, and goals and not just be able to give a general or vague answer to the question “What do you want to do or become?”). They know their gifts, skills, and interests to pursue.  With this sort of empowerment that they feel at this young age of theirs (13 and 10 years old), I can see that it is something that helps them keep their focus, identify options that they have, choose from the options available to them, set their targets, and work their way to achieve them. I know that they can still change their minds and they still have a long way to go but this kind of processing that takes place within them is an important and essential life skill that I myself didn’t learn or have when I was in school at their age, or not until I was an adult!

I still have those moments when I simply cannot believe how long we’ve been doing this.  Yes, it’s been five years!  Five years of being out-of-our-minds?  Hahaha!  More of, five years of out-of-the-box and out-of-the-ordinary experience!

My blog title for this piece should not have been “Five Years of Homeschooling … So What?”  It should have been “Five Years of Homeschooling … Now What?” because we will continue to do it for another year next year.  We will again do our best to make learning a more fun journey together as a family, correct our mistakes from the past, and make homeschooling, our lifestyle.

Just like when we first took the leap of faith, I will ask the Lord to faithfully guide us and strengthen me, most especially, when fear, frustration, lack of confidence, stress, and even physical exhaustion start to take over.  This January, the start of 2012, I was already starting to question God (I mean, really question) what His plans really are for us, particularly on our homeschooling and with the kids growing older. He answered me with this verse:

Philippians 1:6 – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

When things seem hazy and gray, I go back to this for reassurance and encouragement to do what I have to do.

As a final note, to homeschool and take the full responsibility to teach and educate our children is unpopular to many, and even unacceptable and not do-able, but as for our family, our journey took a different turn.  To quote Robert Frost,