This topic was something I was planning to write this Holy Week but it didn’t happen. Then, a question posted by one of the moms in our homeschool groups asked about it just today and I said to myself, “There you go! Write about it.”

Having two daughters, one is 18 years old (technically and officially an adult already) and the other turning 16 soon, the life skills I taught and am still teaching them are probably more household-related and about learning how to be domesticated. But then again, I don’t think these skills are gender-biased  and I honestly think boys and sons are not exempted from these life skills and should learn them as well.

When and how did or do I teach these skills to them?  I can classify them into two major occasions: (1) when we do not have a household helper and (2) when THEY really have to be the one to do it themselves and not me. You’ll understand what I mean as I list them down.

(1) The life skill that would probably be easy and the first to teach would be CLEANING UP their study area or whatever place they used to work, play, or do some activities.  This started early on when the were still in traditional school and continued when we shifted to homeschooling.  I believe it was also a way to teach them boundaries in their work spaces and where they are allowed to freely work within those boundaries. Providing them various storage spaces and organizing materials (in fun colors, all kinds, shapes and sizes), I would say, helped a lot in making them cooperate. This skill or chore eventually moved up to cleaning up their own rooms, and although their way of cleaning up is not the same as mine (Believe me, we still argue about this often!), they now KNOW when it is time for them to do some cleaning and organizing.  At least I do hear it now from them, “I need to clean my room”  or “I’m going to clean my closet and take out clothes that don’t fit me or I don’t use anymore”.  I used to do this for them but not anymore. Making them clean up their own study/work spaces or mess would benefit them most especially because they themselves would know where their things are kept since they were the ones who put them away after use. No blame game which could spark a fight or tension in the house (unless Mom asks for something and they couldn’t find it!)

(2) CHANGING THEIR BED SHEETS, BLANKETS, PILLOW CASES

When Arielle and Kayla got their own separate rooms, which is both a privilege and responsibility, they also had to be the one in-charge of changing their bed sheets, blankets, and pillow cases. I was going to say “MAKING THEIR BEDS” but this is still actually a work-in-progress!

(3) CLEANING THE BATHROOM including TOILET

When we do not have any helper, our girls had no choice but to help in cleaning the house and they had to clean their side of the house which is their bedrooms and bathroom. I remember fondly that they actually enjoyed the house cleaning chore one time when they were younger because they thought it was like being “Annie”, the musical!

(4) PRE-HANDWASH their underwear. I think I taught them this when they were going through puberty and when they both finally had their menstruation period. As girls, I think it’s but proper to give their own undies a pre-handwash before finally putting them in the laundry basket or before our household help gives them a final wash. And it would, of course, be better, if they know how to fully wash their undies themselves.

(5) LAUNDRY – Again, during the time we didn’t have a household helper with us in the house and couldn’t find someone to stay with us, we had to do our laundry. Back at my own home, we’ve always had a “labandera” to wash our clothes.  I wasn’t used to doing this chore so we ALL LEARNED it together.  We all figured out which ones would go together in one batch and in the next.  Separating whites from coloured ones, putting delicates like underwear, bras, and socks in a mesh bag, turning them inside out; how to operate the washing machine and dryer, where and how much detergent and fabric conditioner to put.

When our daughter moved to Hong Kong, one of the skills I crammed in teaching her was READING FABRIC LABELS. I almost forgot to tell her to read the labels on her clothes before shoving them in the washing machine and dryer, to avoid shrinkage and unwanted damage. By learning this, she also learned to read labels before deciding to buy a piece of clothing. Will this be washer-and dryer-friendly or do I have to handwash this?  Aside from the price, I think this has become of one of her deciding factors when buying clothes. With her very busy schedule, handwashing, of course, would be more time-consuming for her and would mean another chore requiring extra time.

Confession to make: I don’t know how to iron and so, this is one skill I wasn’t able to teach or haven’t taught our girls.

(6) COOKING & BAKING – With cooking and baking come a whole list of other skills to learn.  You have:

  • reading and following recipe instructions
  • measuring
  • knife skills
  • how to operate the stovetop hob, ovens, and different kitchen appliances
  • learning the terminologies used in culinary and baking
  • proper plating (at least, knowing where to finally put or how to serve them) and proper food storage

 

I’ve written about this skill before where our girls learned from simple to more complicated skills in the kitchen.  Kayla, our soon-to-be sixteen-year old daughter, was in most, if not all, of these blogs because she was really the one more interested to cook and bake when she was younger (while Arielle, our eldest daughter was probably, happily doodling in her corner :)) You can read about our Being Absent from Books, Culinary at Home, Baking as a Life Skill, Kayla being Our Junior Chef, and Unschooling Kayla. Now that Arielle is in college by herself, exposing her in the kitchen both as a fun and forced activity made her equipped with the skills to now live independently.

IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE. Teach your sons and daughters how to cook. How to cook rice in a rice cooker. How to brew coffee in a coffee maker. Believe it or not, Arielle had to teach her COLLEGE friends how to do these!

 

(7) TABLE SETTING

I’m not big on table-setting because it’s usually just the four of us on the dinner table and we don’t throw parties.  What’s more important for me is they know how to help prepare the table and do a simple setting before our family meals.

 

(8) DO GROCERY

The grocery is another place where you could teach a number of skills to your sons and daughters. In the grocery, our “lesson plan” usually revolves around:

  • needs vs. wants
  • budget (Math lessons in here!)
  • making healthful choices
  • reading food labels
  • weighing between price and nutritional benefits
  • how much quantity to buy

The girls would often come with me to the grocery and so they see and learn every time from this chore  or regular routine that I do. And since they’ve seen the products I buy in the grocery, there have been times that I ask them to get a few items by themselves when I can’t do it myself, when we’re pressed for time, or like when there’s no parking available!

The other thing I taught, or crammed in teaching Arielle rather, was KNOWING WHAT MEAT CUTS TO CHOOSE AND BUY for the recipes she intends to cook. I gave her a flier from Monterey Meat Shop which had an illustration where the meat cuts came from and did an extra research online since I also realized that she may not know the English translation of some meat cuts in the recipes which are written and which we are more familiar with in Filipino.

 

(9) MENU PLANNING

Ahhhh…I have another confession to make. This is one of things I dislike doing. Why? Because for me, it takes E-F-F-O-R-T to think about what you would cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, and that’s 3x a week! I honestly don’t how I manage to hack this skill but somehow I do. When I do plan our weekly menu, what I try to keep in mind is to have a balanced diet and have our fill of vegetables during the week.  I also distribute our beef, chicken, pork, fish/seafood menus during the day and week.

The one thing that goes side by side with our menu planning is learning WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS. This is also the time when the menu plan does not go as planned, which can be a good thing, because I don’t really like throwing away food that can still be eaten.  So, we try to eat and finish our leftovers immediately or come up with a recipe with them.

One of the things I asked Arielle to put together for college is a binder of her favorite and easy-to-follow recipes.  I found this article on the Ultimate Planner which we try to copy for her to bring with her to college but she eventually learned to plan her menu, do grocery, and cook as she goes. She learned to do all those on the fly.

You can read more about the skills, especially kitchen-related skills, that I taught Arielle during her gap year and before finally moving to Hong Kong here.

 

(10)  OTHER KITCHEN CHORES

Now that I’ve covered cooking, baking, doing grocery, meal planning, the girls also learned how to help out in the kitchen by:

  • washing the dirty pots, pans, appliances, dishes, utensils
  • cleaning the kitchen counters
  • throwing garbage
  • replacing the trash bins with trash bags
  • mopping the floor

 

(11) WATERING OUR SMALL GARDEN

We have a small bermuda garden which needs to be watered twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. An extra helping hand to do this when our helper is not around is much appreciated!

 

(12) WALKING OUR DOG

Same with watering our garden, walking our dog in the morning and afternoon is something that must be done daily and regularly. When our helper is not around and I’m already busy in the kitchen preparing our meal, then that’s when Kayla (in this case, it’s just Kayla since she’s the only one left with me in the house) does her share and responsibility.  And this includes picking up our dog’s poop!

 

(13) FILLING UP FORMS, MAKING BANK DEPOSITS

One opportunity that probably made me teach them how to make bank deposits was when they had to pay someone for something that they bought from them. As homeschoolers, filling up forms is not something we are used to doing. So, filling up those bank deposit slips, counting the bills and writing them down into denominations, lining up and finally making the deposit with the bank teller (Aha! Socialization skill!) is important and should not intimidate them.  It is also a good opportunity to teach them to deposit their own savings in the bank and how the process goes.

 

(14) BUDGETING

Now that Arielle is in college and living independently, she now sees how her cash flows. She now understands the need to budget her allowance properly, wisely, and how to be prudent in her spending. When she just moved in to HK, I had to do one more thing for her to help her track her spending. I made a spreadsheet for her so she can plug in details of her expenses in cash and credit card. Yes, she is a supplementary cardholder because we felt it would be best for her to have one as a backup. Since at that time, we haven’t learned yet what the requirements are to open a bank account in HK (which she had extreme difficulty with and still failed to open one later on), she needed to have both cash and credit cards with her.

 

(15) SEWING

The girls took sewing as their HELE and at one point, we were all classmates.  It is one hobby that is nice to take up and definitely another skill worth knowing.  Learning to sew was one of the fun learning experiences in our homeschooling and the girls even had a chance to model their creations and help others in need with this skill.

 

(16) TIME MANAGEMENT

As life becomes more serious, more demanding, and schedules more hectic and rigorous as our kids get older, they need to learn how to manage their time well.  Arielle’s schedule as a freshman student is VERY HECTIC and she is learning to balance all the things she needs to do in school, at home (grocery, cooking, laundry), for herself (personal time alone, with friends, and with God during Sunday mass). On  the other hand, Kayla is also learning how to do her academic requirements while making time for her golf training and tournaments. I can see both of them having a tough time but I can’t do these for them. They have to learn it for themselves.

 

(17) DEALING with OTHER PEOPLE

Dealing AND living with other people whose ways and lifestyle are different from hers is one of the first and the biggest lessons Arielle had to deal with in college.  It was tough and it still is for her. But she’s learned to speak up, accept and deal with their differences, walk away if she has to and find a place to be able to do what she needs to do, be more patient and to exercise empathy, be flexible and yet, to do what is right. It can be frustrating and exasperating for both of us, and for me as well, as I listen to her stories, but again, this is something she can’t escape from and has to learn herself.  She has to learn how to deal with different kinds of people and experience it herself.

I would also like to add that learning how to DISCERN PEOPLE who would be a good company or good friends is very, very important.  This is where all your character-building lessons would come in later on and would be tested.

 

(18)  WHAT TO DO WHEN TRAVELING/GOING ON A TRIP

I almost forgot about this! This is one life skill that was fun for me to teach and for them to learn. When we had opportunities to travel locally and abroad, it was good time for me to teach them about:

Arielle and Kayla were already able to join summer marine camps and travel by plane from Manila to Bacolod and vice-versa without us. When it was time for Arielle to move to Hong Kong and fly back to Manila during her breaks, she already knew what to do.

 

There are so many more life skills I want and should teach our daughters, and one of them is how to commute. But because of fear and safety issues here in Manila and in our country, Mike and I would rather drive or take them to where they want or need to go, pick them up and drive home together. Commuting in Hong Kong is easy and tourist-friendly as long as one knows some navigation and map-reading skills, which I’m glad Arielle has.    Another skill I would want them to learn or develop is entrepreneurship and financial literacy. On the more mechanical side, I would also love them to learn how to troubleshoot a car, to at least know how to change a flat tire (that includes me, actually!). Lastly, we all need to learn or refresh on how to administer first-aid, how to put out a fire, and how to prepare for an earthquake and what to do when there’s an earthquake.

The young ones today would say, “How do you adult?”  When they say that, they are actually referring to the many life skills that they all need to know to be able go through their daily activities, routines, responsibilities, and survive at the end of each day! Did you know that there’s now an Adult School in the U.S. that intends to teach grown-up skills to young adults??? We are indeed blessed and privileged to be able to personally teach our children and have that flexibility of time because the truth is, life is not all about books, school and academics.

What life skills do you teach to your children or have taught them?  What other life skills do you think they should learn?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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?


Thought I’d do a follow-up post on our beach clean-up activity and show the different kind of garbage items that we carelessly leave behind when we go to the beach (or anywhere, for that matter).  The list can go on 🙁

1.  Shoreline and Recreational Activities

2.  Ocean/Waterway Activities

 

3.  Smoking-Related Activities

4.  Dumping Activities

 

5.  Medical/Personal Hygiene

 

6.  Debris Items of Local Concern

 

 


Yesterday, we spent our day at Planet Dive in Anilao, Batangas.  My good friend, Alfie Santos, is a diver at the resort and we were texting each other right after our high school homecoming activities and parties had ended.  I so happened to ask him if they had activities lined up for our girls and family to join.  Well, there was a beach clean-up activity scheduled and I thought that would be a good idea to reinforce our lesson on Cooperation and Kayla’s topic on the natural resources of the Philippines!  So, we drove down to Planet Dive yesterday and spent our day learning and at the same time, relaxing!

We’re here!

 

My view from the deck ❤

A favorite place to be ❤
Arielle took this shot and Instagrammed it 🙂

 

Beautiful landscape…seascape

 

Arielle and Kayla snail-hunting 🙂
Or I think they found “sihi”.

 

It was a beautiful day although there was a very brief rain shower
during and after lunch.

 

Mike and Alfie chatting after lunch

 

View from the dining area. I was trying to also take a pic of the coconut tree,
which I believe, is a rich natural resource we have.

 

TonyBoy Ongsiako giving a briefing to the
Assumption College students on the beach
clean-up they were about to do.
They were broken into groups and given checklists;
Arielle and Kayla separately joined two of thier groups.

 

Arielle with her group; The beach looked pretty clean actually
sincethere was a clean-up already done the previous week.

 

Starting the beach clean-up. Good thing, we brought a sack!
These college girls were picking up and collecting trash one by one!

 

Kayla watching her groupmate pick up a trash found.

 

Arielle looking at the list as group leader ticks off trash items found

 

Some of the groups at the right side of the resort

 

Arielle’s group, back from their short clean-up of the shore

 

Weighing the garbage they collected

 

Over 8 kilos of trash in a matter of minutes!

 

Kayla also done with their group’s clean up

 

All sorts of trash tangled up

 

The trash items they collected

 

Wine/liquor bottle, banana peel, rambutan peel, straw, styro, plastic…

 

Ready to snorkel again 🙂

 

Arielle and Kayla with Tito Alfie Santos and Tony Boy Ongsiako,
before the two divers went down for a dive with their guests.

 

Mike watching the girls snorkel from a distance

 

And here I was, enjoying taking shots with my cameras 🙂

 

Thank you, Planet Dive, for a day well-spent!

 

Lessons learned from this activity:

1.  Cooperation is not place-, age-, gender-, nationality- specific.  We can all cooperate, anywhere

2.  Let us take care of all our natural resources.  They are gifts given to us by God.  We should therefore be His responsible stewards.

3.  If there would be another opportunity to do a beach clean-up again, remember to bring sacks to put all the garbage items found.  Sacks would be better than plastic trash bags 🙂

4.  According to Arielle, let’s do away with the cameras and videos first and get down to business!  How’s that for an observation of a high school homeschooler on college students? 🙂

5.  As explained by Alfie, the activity is really more on AWARENESS.   There’s still so much to do in and from that level.  Now, that’s another Cooperation project to do! To raise the awareness level of everyone to dispose our trash properly and responsibly, and to take care and preserve our environment and natural resources.  (How many more disasters and floods must we go through to learn this???)