Uncategorized

Teaching my child: Why homeschooling is a viable option 

The last time I wrote a lengthy post about something I felt strongly for was two years ago. I looked back at that piece of writing, entitled “How expectation is equal to reality.” I don’t remember what urged me to write it, but in any case, there’s one line that struck me: When magic and wisdom start to sound ridiculous and impractical, that’s the time we have to tap and bring out the child in us. 
It’s timely, now that I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on homeschooling and that I’ve finally come down to actually writing them. 
I’ll start with my core belief. 

Majority of us, I believe, live in a “world of versus.” Him versus me. Her versus me. Them versus me. It versus me. This versus that. And so on. In such a world, we judge and we weigh. These two terms are interchangeable, but if we look closely, they are not–at least in some circumstances. 

Here’s an illustration. Adults judge, while innocent toddlers weigh. If we present a child with two books, one that’s a bestseller and another that’s a flop, the child would most likely pick the book that suits his or her taste and curiosity. He or she weighs according to personal preference, so the chosen book may or may not be the bestseller. The child does not make a decision based on a commonly-held judgment that a bestselling novel is plainly the best and is unquestionably the only one that’s worthy of attention and love. 

On the other side of the story is the adult. It’s very likely that the adult would pick the bestseller over the non-bestseller. He or she reaches a decision based on a long-held belief that a bestselling novel is the only kind that’s worth reading. It is the most popular, most acceptable, and most trustworthy. He or she judges according to some external dictate. 
This point of view on weighing and judging also applies to situations much bigger than choosing what book to read. One such situation is choosing the “education system” framework for a child. History, modern times and common sense tell us to send our child to a school. Formal education takes place in a school building, specifically a classroom complete with a teacher and students. 
Yes, this is true. We have obvious reasons and indisputable proof to know and believe that it’s the truth. But is it the only truth? If we know and believe that sending our child to a regular school is the only one true way to get educated formally and properly because it’s the norm, then we’re just like the adult who chooses to read a bestseller just because a standard has ranked it a bestseller. 
If we, on the other hand, think like a child not restrained or controlled by external dicates, we open ourselves to the possibility and reality that formal education is manifested in more ways than one. An example of which is homeschooling. Like a child, we would see it as a decision injected with magic and wisdom. With untainted eyes, we would look at it not as a superior or overriding choice but a viable option.
Now, the viability of something is, I think, largely relative. “What works for one may not work for the other. What works for many may not be suitable for some.” In my case, homeschooling my two year old daughter is a realistic option. 

Allow me to first talk about myself. 

I am a single mother who has chosen to do online work during wee hours of the morning each day and to do non-online work for only a few hours on some days. The company I currently work for offered me an office-based job twice. And twice I politely turned it down, realizing that doing mostly online work with a decent pay and a decent room for growth and security is what works best for me and my daughter. It has saved me from a number of things: from wasting time in unending traffic, from spending money on transportation, and from handing yet another responsibility to my supportive parents, that is, the responsibility of looking after a little girl who’s quite hard to watch over. Active, adventurous, energetic and thrill-seeking. Including homeschooling in my current routine and timetable makes a lot of sense, given the flexibility of my work schedule. Homeschooling also makes so much sense, given the nature of my work: I communicate. I fine-tune. I edit. I proofread. I suggest and give feedback. I analyze and synthesize. I listen and I modify my approach as I see fit. In one word, I teach. Teaching, for me, is fullfilling and rewarding, so much so that I have seriously considered getting a license. Perhaps that’s a long shot from now. A far possibility. But there’s one that’s near, and it’s homeschooling my own child. Nothing excites me more now than the thought of being the primary educator of my toddler in her early years. I have been exactly that, anyway, from the very beginning. The only difference is that it’s now fitting to provide her a preschool curriculum and some semblance of structured learning.  
So far, I’ve shared why homeschooling is a viable option for me. The more important consideration though is if homeschooling is good and practical for my daughter. I can go on and on about how intelligent, observant, resourceful, and talkative she is at less than two and a half years old. As a mother, it’s always temping to share every detail of how she displays those great qualities. That would be most interesting for me but very boring and useless for anyone who’s come this far to reading my post. So I’ll skip that part and go right ahead and say that homeschooling will reinforce my daughter’s cognitive and social-emotional skills, not inhibit them. Learning will not start and stop at home, a familiar place where’s she’s most comfortable to be herself. The busy, ever-changing world will be her classroom. It’s where she’ll explore and talk freely with people from all ages and different backgrounds.
She could spend as much time as she wants on something that sparks her interest, or as little time as she wants on something that bores her. She could choose to join many homeschool co-ops where she can interact and make friends with kids her age, or she could choose to join a few or none at all. She will not be labeled a slow learner or a fast learner. Instead, she’ll be a steadfast learner. 
This sounds too good to be true to some extent. It’s humbling to always remember that, as with other education frameworks like regular schooling, homeschooling is imperfect and is subject to refinement. I can’t promise my daughter that I will be the ideal homeschooling mom at all times, but this I can promise her and myself: What works for her and fortifies her growth will be my priority. I will commit to homeschooling, particularly to a curriculum, with restraint. I first learned about committing with restraint in iHomeschool: How to Do It Without Losing Your Mind by Filipino author Nove-Ann Tan. 
To quote from her book: “Don’t commit to homeschooling more than one year at a time. Look at it this way, you can’t do too much damage in one year. It’s wise to think ahead, but it’s foolish to announce what you will do in the future.” 
I can’t express enough gratitude for Filipina mothers like Nove-Ann Tan, Michelle Padrelanan, Sanne Unson, Mariel Uyquiengco, Tina Rodriguez, and Donna Simpao. I heard them speak about homeschooling during a pre-event for the upcoming Philippine Homeschool Convention 2019. They have generously committed their time and imparted their experiences and knowledge to aspiring homeschooling parents like me. I was once clueless, but through their spirit and fervor, I gained clarity and inspiration. 
Speaking of inspiration, I have more of it now after my daughter had called me “teacher” more than once in a single conversation. She knows what a teacher does and who a teacher is through play groups, books, and television.
It happened out of the blue. She was sitting across her papa. I approached her with a bowl of breakfast in my hand. I was about to give her a spoonful of oatmeal when she said, “I am student.” Then, she said one sentence after another with “teacher” at the end of each, clearly addressing me. 
I find it amusing that this happened on a day when I was writing my thoughts on homeschooling. Needless to say, I didn’t tell her anything about it, but it was as if she had seen right through me. It was as if her heart had read mine and had given me a blessing to take the road less traveled. There’s indeed no greater motivation to take on this journey than this blessing. 
To my Cayla, we will begin our preschool homeschooling journey this mid-September. I wish us the best of luck! 
To those who are interested to learn more about homeschooling, including its legality and status in the Philippines, please know that there’s substantial literature about it and there are many available resources online. 
Here are a few: 
educatingforlife.co

homescool.ph 

hapi.ph

ihomeschool.ph 

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thoughts, reflection, Uncategorized

How expectation is equal to reality 

Expectations — It’s one of the many things we get less fond of and less attached to as we grow older. We don’t blame ourselves for this. Instead, we blame letdowns, grief, and scars we’ve lost count of.
“Reality hits hard,” we say with resignation and acceptance, but without any trace of defeat. Our armor, we believe, is actually at its strongest at this point. This armor protects us from our head to our toes. But its thickest layer lies in our heart, which repeats everyday: “I’ve built a defense mechanism within my veins. I don’t hold on to expectations, and so I don’t worry. My blood flows freely, and I’m happy.” 

Our self-defense against expectations and our hostility towards it stem from too much trust in ourselves and too little trust in the world. Though we gain a lot of good things from such a defense mechanism, we also lose a few that are far more important than what we gain.

Too little trust in the workings of the world means being less receptive to their charm and enchantment. It means closing ourselves to that innocent, special kind of optimism that lives only through ideas we often see in fairytales: glittery magic and sparkling wisdom. When magic and wisdom start to sound ridiculous and impractical, that’s the time we have to tap and bring out the child in us. 

We were young when we first fell in love with wonder. Though we can never re-create the feeling that tickled us when we first learned how to tie our shoelaces by ourselves, we can re-create–as adults–the excitement that showed on our little faces when we tied our shoelaces the second time around, the third, the fourth, and the fifth. 

When we let the child in us speak and do the work, we break the rope we tied around expectation. We allow it to breathe and we allow it to be the gateway to our future reality. Every expectation becomes magic our mind crafted; every expectation becomes wisdom our heart has set for ourselves. This brave take on expectations becomes the very motivation that pushes us to believe that we can break the barrier between expectations and reality. 

We learn that it’s not “expectations versus reality.” It is, rather, “expectations equal reality” all along and in every step of the way. 

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thoughts, reflection

You’re a season. Your warmth enveloped me. Your rays of sunshine exploded into a countless fraction of light, bringing me to a standstill. 

Your waves met mine. Your tide against mine sent trickles of water in the dullest crevice, keeping me afloat and unafraid. 

I loved and welcomed your season. Every leaf that turned a hue lighter. Every leaf that turned a shade darker. Every leaf that fell in your wonderland and flew into your skies.

But just like season, you came and you went–all at once and all of a sudden. Your warmth, I realized, was only for the sunny days and never for the cold ones. 

You’re a season. And though your lips are sealed, I hear the whispers of your breeze flying out into the distance and merging into a whirlwind I don’t belong to. 

As I stand here in a vicious blizzard, I can’t help but think not of your warmth that was once mine, but of a warmth that will never be seasonal. 

A warmth that will embrace me through and through. 

The Seasonal Kind 

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thoughts

To the one who meant the world to me 

You broke the word that bound us together for months — months that felt like a wonderful infinity. I wish I could say I broke it and you didn’t. That way, things wouldn’t feel unbearably heavy. But my heart heard you, and there’s no way of rebuilding what I thought you would hold special no matter what.

Maybe I said the right things at the wrong time. Or maybe I said the wrong things at the right time. Maybe my brutal honesty pushed you to put a stain on what defined us and the world we shared. But here’s what you didn’t know that night, and what I hope you’ll understand someday: I was so careful even as I was putting my walls down. I was so careful even as my emotions were running high. I was so careful because you meant so much to me even when you thought I was careless. 

I have nothing but endless tears for that split-second moment you questioned the very idea that made me see the two of us, together and apart, in such a bright light and in such amazement. I’ve always thought you were that special friend who would think I’m more than enough even when I’m at my most vulnerable. I guess I was wrong, and I guess it’s time again to smile, laugh, walk, and talk like everything’s okay and like you didn’t break me. 

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thoughts

Numbered chances: New Year’s Eve thoughts 

We flip one page, and in a matter of seconds, we’re one year away from those moments we said yes to changes and challenges. We’re one year away from those moments we said no to letdowns and heartbreaks. 

It wasn’t easy saying yes; it wasn’t easy saying no. But we did it. And we deserve to pat our shoulder and smile our hearts out for the simple reason that we did it.

New Year’s Eve reminds us of how resilient we can be after a 365-day ride on that bittersweet thing we call life. It reminds us that life simply goes on even after we didn’t get a reply from the person we miss so much, or even after we didn’t get our dream job or our dream house. 

Though the last day of each year marks the beginning of looking ahead, it still gives us the kind of nostalgia that makes us itch–the kind that makes us carry and embrace our beautiful, wonderful past. 

It’s the kind that makes us cry and cling to what was and what could have been. This is the ugly part of New Year’s Eve, but we accept this with open arms because, truth be told, even New Year’s Eve isn’t exempt from the idea that things can both be pretty and ugly at the same time. 

With all these thoughts running in our fearless, tireless minds, we also realize once more that we have 365 chances to smile at a complete stranger and make his or her day a bit better, to be gentle to the person who annoys us, and to be loving and warm to those who continue to stand with and by us. 

In the coming new year, let’s turn the other cheek and whisper to this harsh world that we are lucky in little ways as well as in big ways. After all, we have 365 chances to make or break, to ponder on or let go of. 

Many times, it’s hard to believe in the bright possibility of things, but if we try a little harder and believe a little more, we just might be able to turn our numbered chances into an infinite collection of all things great. 

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Poetry, poem, thoughts, reflection

December magic 

    There’s magic in your very core. 
    Figures become shadows 
    Voices fall like feather 
    When I stand there, listening to you. 

    Your magic takes in colors.
    And just like that, with that one gentle brush stroke, 
    You paint me in unimagined colors. 

    The palette of what if
    has never been this comforting. 
    The canvas of so what 
    has never been this real. 

    The art you drew upon my spirit fills me 
    with a kind of happiness that can last 
    a lifetime. 

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    thoughts

    The speed of light: A thank you note 

    When everything conspires to drain the best in me, even the most cliche positive quote waters and refreshes the driest parts of my heart.

    It’s no wonder then, that for the first time in a long while, I understood again what it feels to have tears of joy running down my cheeks when a special friend sent me this: “Some days, you just have to create your own sunshine.”

    It was strange having those tears fall like waterfalls in the instant that I read “create” and “sunshine.” Maybe it happened because I said the syllables of those bright and empowering words on such a dark and discouraging day; maybe it happened because I received the big, sweet reminder on a day I never wish to relive. But if I were to dig deeper in the recesses of my heart, I think those tears of joy meant that I truly, really want to act on the belief of creating my own sunshine–my own glow, my own light, my own glitter–on days when everything seems cold and colorless from all corners. 

    I may not recover from a letdown faster than the speed of light, but thanks to a special friend, I know I can stand and think straight again even if I’m bruised and frustrated.

    As I’m writing this, I’m wondering how I can repay my special friend for carrying me up in the clouds after I fell hard on the ground.

    It’s 4:01 AM, and all I can think of right now is a long, warm hug coupled with this short blog and another little thank you note–this time on a fancy paper. 

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