Running Is So Much Like Homeschooling

Edric and I ran again early today. It’s one of our bonding activities to stay fit, but we are also preparing for our church fun-run next weekend. We used to run in Bonifacio Global City when it was still called the Fort and there were hardly any buildings. Within a couple of years High Street was built and people started running around it. And then running became a total fad and people joined mini-marathons almost every weekend. Edric joined several of them but I’ve only joined two. The longest he’s run has been 21K and yet that is just half a marathon! Yikes. I still can’t imagine myself doing 15K. We ran almost 8K today and that felt looong.

I’ve always told Edric that running was a means for me to stay fit but I never wanted to push myself to run in any long distance event. Imagining myself doing so fills me with the same kind of dread I felt when I was asked to join the track and field team in college. I’ve always thought of running as a means to build endurance and burn calories, but not as a sport. And since I would rather play a sport to stay athletic, I played UAAP Football (soccer) instead. The irony is, after college, I hardly ever played football again, but I still run. I don’t even think I can play football anymore!

After having 4 kids, I’ve really begun to appreciate the benefits of running. It has been one of the best ways for me to lose my pregnancy weight and fat. Ugh! But it’s not easy! Almost every time we run, I think of an excuse not to! But running has taught me many truths about life, even about homeschooling!  Here are my top 10:

1.       It feels difficult at the start, but finishing always feels great. The first few meters of our run often feels like trying to hand pump water from a deep well. It’s the same way with homeschooling. The kids take a while to warm up to their work but by mid-morning, the rhythm kicks in and we all feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose when the work gets done.

2.       You will reap what you sow. For running it may be health, fitness, better calcium absorption from Vitamin D (from the morning sun), a closer relationship with my hubby, energy for the day, and greater intimacy with the Lord because of praying while running. For homeschooling, it is seeing my children grow in character, grow closer to one another and to us, grow in their knowledge of the Lord, and excel in academics.

3.       It’s hard to be consistent! Edric and I try to run every other day but it doesn’t always happen. I try to homeschool everyday but I don’t always get to. But at least we keep trying!

4.       Don’t compare. So many people run better, faster, and longer than I can. And it can be discouraging when people pass you by and go ahead of you while running or when you see people who look fitter than you do! It’s the same way with homeschooling. When you start to compare your children to others’ and when you start “ranking” them in terms of academics, you can start to lose sight of the more important things. It becomes a pride issue. When it comes to running, my goal is to discipline my body and to finish in the best time possible. In homeschooling, my goal should be to focus on training my OWN children and keep at it until I reach the finish line. And some people’s finish line for homeschooling may be sooner or later than mine.

5.       Enjoy the view. When we were running today, Edric said, “God is so amazing isn’t he?!” And he was looking at the sky, at the trees…It was a good reminder for me because most of the time I just look down or I have tunnel vision and stare blankly in front of me while I am running. I’m usually thinking about how many more kilometres we have to go. I can kind of fall into that with homeschooling, too. Instead of enjoying my children, their discoveries, and our adventures, I’m thinking of what they have to get done next, how many pages to cover, etc. I was reminded that I need to take some time to marvel at how wonderful it is to have the kids that I do and to appreciate them.

6.       If you start to feel pain, slow down so you can finish. I’ve recently recovered from a hamstring injury which keeps me from sprinting when I run. It’s been humbling but it has been a good reminder that slowing down doesn’t make you a loser. If slowing down helps me to finish then that’s my strategy for winning my own race. I’ve had to slow things down with homeschooling, too. Take a day off, give the kids a break, give a lesson in bite-size pieces, spend time doing things that fill my emotional tank. Everyone’s got to pace themselves. Homeschooling is not a sprint!

7.       Push yourself. Running will push and test your limits. Homeschooling will do the same thing. I often think of 1 Corinthians 9:27 while running, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” I run because it keeps me physically disciplined, and when I homeschool, it keeps me spiritually disciplined. I push myself to do what is difficult because hardship builds character and character changes a person for the better. Seriously, homeschooling exposes all the ways I need to change and improve!

8.       Let others push you. I am incredibly thankful for Edric, who forces me to wake up when I don’t feel like so that we can run. He reminds me at night, “Don’t stay up too late because we are running tomorrow.” And when I linger in bed in the morning because I’d rather sleep, he will say, “Time to get up hon, we’ve got to run.” I need him to do that and I’m grateful that we run together, side by side, and he doesn’t leave me behind. There have been days when I have run by myself and I missed Edric alot. He helps keep me going. When you homeschool, you need to surround yourself with people who will push you and whom you can encourage, too. No homeschooler is an island.

9.       Set goals and measure progress. Edric has this great ap on his Iphone called MiCoach. It helps him set goals for us and tracks our progress to see if we are improving our pace and distance. The ap also shows the route that we take each time we run. Similarly, goal setting and tracking progress are important in homeschooling. Where are you headed? Where do you see your kids one year from now, five, ten years from now? What will you accomplish this month, this year and are you moving in the right direction? With the homeschooling program Edric manages, we encourage parents to write out their goals at the beginning of the year and use portfolios to keep records of the work their kids accomplish. Kids can see how they improved from one quarter to the next and it is deeply rewarding for them to know that their hard work has helped them progress in their learning and growth.

10.   Lord I need your help! I know this is probably one thing that I say over and over again but I can’t stress enough how important prayer is. Each time I start running, I say, “Lord please sustain me and help me to finish!” Well I do this with homeschooling, too. “Lord I need your help with the kids, please help them to love learning, to be teachable, obedient, and to love you with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength….” The list goes on…This is every homeschooler’s secret weapon – prayer power. I avail of God’s grace because it is the only way that I can successfully homeschool my children. And I praise God for his faithfulness!

Building Bridges to the Heart

Three days ago one of our sons defined a crush as “a girl whom you like more than others — someone whom you find nice and have fun with, and they are not your relative or cousin.” When I found out that this same son actually had crushes I was totally caught off-guard. It was such a shocker, I had to run to the bathroom where I hid my face in a towel and cried for a little bit. It sounds silly, but I was pretty surprised that he was starting to find girls attractive. Attractive is a strong word, but the point is that he was noticing girls and that he was aware of his feelings for them. Sigh. When did this happen? How did this happen? I thought of different people in his life, friends, taekwondo classmates…could they have taught him about crushes?

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Homeschooling Is Not One of the 10 Commandments

Recently, I’ve been thinking alot about homeschooling friends who plan to send their children to conventional schools for the coming school year. A part of me was feeling down because I felt that they SHOULD keep homeschooling. I was trying to present to them reasons why they should stay the course, why their kids would be better off, why they should really think through the pros and cons before making a final decision.

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Brave, new world of homeschooling – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

I forgot that my parents and siblings, and TMA Homeschool were in this news article back in 07. I happened to stumble upon it again. Thought I would post it here for posterity.  :)

Brave, new world of homeschooling – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Ordered Chaos

The boys and I spent the whole morning doing art. I felt like we were cleaning up a good part of the time, too! Between Elijah, Edan, and Titus, there was a lot of mess made and a lot of mess to pick up after!

Art time felt like a whole lot of chaos today…paper everywhere, spilled paint, sticky glue on fingers, dirty shirts, hands and feet, and noise-making courtesy of Titus. Come to think of it, Titus made about 80% of the mess, too.  What kept me going and stopped me from losing my mind were comments like, “Mom, this is so fun. This is a great day! I love art day!”

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Pulling Teeth

Does your child trust you enough to let them pull his teeth? This was a question Edric found himself asking two days ago when Elijah had him pull his tooth out. The tooth came out pretty quickly, but the process leading up to the actual tooth pulling was exhausting! Elijah vacillated back and forth between wanting Edric to pull it out and not wanting him to pull it. It was a 2-hour ordeal that began at 7 a.m. and didn’t end til 9 a.m. Praise God Edric was willing to delay going to work to wait on Elijah’s emotional readiness. But he nearly lost it at the beginning.

When Elijah showed Edric his loose tooth and Edric first offered to pull it out, Elijah refused. Even after much coaxing and assurance, Elijah still refused. He said, “I don’t want you to do it,” and ran to the other end of the table Edric was sitting at (to get away from him). Edric was tempted to react in irritation because he felt that Elijah was being overly dramatic about the whole thing. But he decided to understand where he was coming from and had a man-to-man with him. I love it when my husband does this. They went to the study room and talked.

Edric is very intentional about having “talks” with the boys when they are needed. That morning was one of those times when Edric had to help Elijah confront his fears. And he really went about it in a gentle manner (even though he was first inclined to say, “Don’t be a baby!” and, “I can’t believe you don’t trust me!”.)

Instead, he allowed Elijah to express his feelings. He asked Elijah why he was afraid. Elijah said, “People might make fun of me because I will have two missing teeth on top.” He also said, “I am scared that it’s going to hurt.” Edric and I both knew that the tooth was barely hanging on so it would come out fast. Nevertheless, Edric listened and acknowledged his feelings instead of dismissing them. He also addressed being worried about what people would think or say. Edric gave him a pep talk on what it means to have God-confidence. And to allay his fears about the pain, he said, “Do you trust Daddy? I will pull it out fast and you will barely feel a thing. I am not going to do something that will hurt you. But I won’t force you. I can pull it this morning or I can pull it later when I get home. You decide and then you tell me when you are ready.” In response, Elijah said, “What do you think I should do, dad?” And Edric said, “I think you should let me pull it out now so that it is over and done with.”

Edric let Elijah stay in the study room to think it over and it was about thirty minutes from that point before Elijah finally said, “Okay, dad, you can pull it now.” I felt like he was Isaac saying to Abraham, “Okay, dad, you can sacrifice me!” He was really wrestling with some big fears and he was on the verge of tears when he said this to Edric. It made me feel like crying. I realized that Elijah was totally terrified and he had spent the last thirty minutes mustering up the courage to say to Edric, “Okay, dad…”  Even if he was really scared, he wanted to do what Edric suggested.

I saw him tremble as he opened his mouth for Edric to extract the tooth and when Edric finally grabbed a hold of the tooth, it came out fast. Elijah teared a little bit and then the whole thing was over. I put the tooth in a Ziploc bag so Elijah could look at it after.

Wow, it was quite a morning for all of us. And all for one tiny little tooth?!

But I realized something that day…it was not just about pulling teeth. It was about the importance of trust. Elijah trusted Edric so he let him pull his tooth out. But it could have swung the other way if Edric had not let his whole morning be interrupted, if he had lost his cool, and not taken the time to listen and talk to Elijah to alleviate his fears.

At the end of the day, I realized we cannot force our children to trust us. Trust is something that has to be cultivated. It is cultivated when we spend time with our kids, when we get to know them, and when we listen to them. It is cultivated when they feel that sharing who they are is safe to do, that they can be transparent with their emotions and not be criticized right away. It is cultivated when they know they are loved and that we want their ultimate good.

 

 

“Clayful” Civics

To review landforms, Elijah made a diorama using clay.  After this, he labeled all the different landforms and drew a compass rose. This was my subtle way of letting him practice his handwriting. ;) He made some with capital letters and some without, but that’s fine. I wasn’t too picky about that detail.

 

We had fun with this project!

Finished work

 

EETT Travel

Make learning Philippine Civics fun. Create a travel brochure! Elijah designed a travel brochure by “E.E.T.T. Travel.” This really stands for Elijah, Edan, Titus, and Tiana. :)

His brochure covered historical places to visit in the Philippines. It was a great way to learn the events and dates. I enjoyed helping him out, too!

They Will Bloom in Time

My son, Titus, who is my two year old going on three next month, didn’t start talking quite as early as my two older sons. But I always believed that in God’s time he would become more verbally expressive and more articulate. Although he talked before two, his speech wasn’t always intelligible.

Titus, my 2 year old (with chocolate & saliva dripping down his chin)

In the last month, however, he has become such a chatterbox. The other day, while Edric and I were having a conversation, he poked his head between us and said, “What are you talking about?”  Yesterday, when he balanced a lollipop on its head at the dinner table, he said, “Did you see that? It’s amazing!” However, just two months ago he could barely complete a sentence!

I knew a homeschool kid who didn’t read until the age of 9 or 10 but when he finally did, he started reading Charles Dickens!

I’m sharing this because it is a reminder that all our children have their own time tables to bloom. My eldest son was speaking sentences clearly at the age of one, but he only learned to ride a bike without training wheels at the age of 7. His cousin, on the other hand, didn’t start talking til later, but rode a bike without training wheels at the age of 4.

As much as I try not to compare my children with one another or with others, I will admit that it is hard! When I homeschool, it is especially difficult not to make comparisons because I work with each one of them and see their strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes I can’t help but look at other families and use their own children as a benchmark for my own. I want to know, are my kids developing normally, are they learning enough, am I a good teacher, why aren’t they more like…?

However, I am learning that one of the most destructive things I can do parent can do is show preference for one child over the other, praise another child more than another, or pressure my kids to be more like “so and so.”  I’ve messed up a number of times and I’ve had to stop myself and appreciate each of my children just as they are, just the way God made them to be. They are all in process…

My role, as a teacher, is to provide the most optimum environment for them to explore, create, develop, and learn. It is also my responsibility to teach and train them in a loving and encouraging manner. If these conditions are present I don’t need to fret about when they will talk, when they will read, when they will be able to ride a bike or swim, or when they will master a skill or ability. That’s God’s department. Even special needs children have a God-given timetable. After having four kids, I am finally beginning to relax when it comes to my homeschooling and parenting!

They will certainly bloom in God’s time. Have you ever tried forcing a flower to bloom when it is not ready? Well sometimes we can do that with our kids when we are teaching them. We put too much water (we focus too much on knowledge), we expose them to too much sunlight (we over-schedule them with activities), we blast them with air (we give them too much correction and not enough encouragement), and worst of all, we forget to pull out the weeds (we don’t focus on the character issues).  Allow me to predict the results: 1. They will struggle through the learning process. 2. You will get frustrated and impatient because they can’t seem to “get it.” 3. They will not enjoy homeschooling.

Instead, God has reminded me time and time again that allowing my children to bloom is about faithfully giving them gentle and appropriate doses of content, activity, correction and praise, and dealing with character formation (their heart).

One day, I know each of my children will bloom when they are ready. They have in many ways but I know God is not done with them and I still have a big responsibility to fulfill. In the meantime, I am enjoying the little surprises — the glimpses of who they will become as God’s plan for their lives unfolds. It is moments like Titus’ “it’s amazing” comment, that feel like God’s encouraging nudges along the homeschooling journey. It’s like he says to me, “See, they are all turning out alright! I’ve got it under control. Just keep going!”

 

Zoo time!


This is our kids’ fourth time to go to Ark Avilon and they still love it. It really is a great place to take the kids and you won’t get tired walking around with them. For a homeschool mom like myself, it gets the kids out of the house for hands-on-learning. For just P300 per child and P200 for under 3 ft., I think it is a good deal. Last Tuesday, we made a “field trip” with my relatives. We spent about two hours there and it was fun, fun, fun!

Collin, the orangutan was still there and we posed with him. The kids got to feed rabbits, guinea pigs, Koi fish, and very scary large black fish, and they got to hold a boa constrictor and different birds.

The kids also got to see different wild animals — a lion, puma, two beautiful white tigers, a bear, gibbon, alligators, and different kinds of snakes, among others. One of the highlights was letting the tiny fish eat the dead skins cells of our feet. It was nature’s spa version of a foot spa!

Previously, they didn’t have a display of birds of prey. It was pretty awesome seeing eagles, hawks, and my favorite — owls — perched so proudly in the sun. I think they thought of Tiana and the other little kids as “prey” so we tried to keep our young ones at a distance.

I’ve been to some pretty huge zoos in the U.S., but I have to say that this is still one of my favorites. You won’t get exhausted or worried about losing your kids, and you get to experience everything up close. It’s perfect for busy city people!


My kids with their cousins, Caleb, Alana, Ethan, and Corban

Ark Avilon Zoo Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue Corner C5, Pasig City

  • Telephone Nos. (+632) 706-2992/ 706-2993
  • Entrance fee is P300/head; P200 for those below 3.5 feet; below 1year – free
  • 20% Senior Citizen discount; Visa/ Mastercard accepted
  • Operating hours – Mon to Thur – 9AM to 6PM; Friday to Sunday – 10AM to 7PM

 

Have Home, Will Learn

This is the article I authored for Smart Parenting. It came out in the March 2011 Issue. I hope you will find it helpful.

When people ask me where my kids go to school, my answer is, “They don’t. They are homeschooled.” More often than not, I get a follow up question like, “What’s that?” Being a die-hard advocate of homeschooling, I enjoy answering that question. It helps that I was homeschooled myself, I homeschool my own kids, and I ran a homeschool program in the past. I have seen homeschooling from a 360 degree angle and experienced the benefits first-hand.

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