A Down-side to Homeschooling

People have asked me if there are disadvantages to homeschooling. Well today, I thought of one.

My kids hate it when I leave the house if they don’t get to come with me. I mean they give me a really hard time and if I listen to their pleas and resistance for too long, I start to feel like I am one bad mommy for leaving them at home. This afternoon, when they found out that I had a bible study in the evening and would have to go a little bit earlier in the afternoon, my two older boys started to get teary-eyed. Of course my comical youngest son was like, “I am not crying!” and kept grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know if he was mocking them, but I was glad that I had at least one guy who was alright. Tiana, my daughter, was asleep so she had no idea what was going on.

Elijah and Edan dramatically expressed how sad they were that I had to go. “Boys! I am always home with you, you don’t need to cry,” I hugged them and threw pillows at them to lighten the mood. Okay, “always” was not the most accurate word to use but still…I am a homeschool mom, which means I am with them daily! But I tell you, with my kids, a few hours away feels like eternity to them. When they are with others (especially their cousins), they are fine and couldn’t care less. However, when it comes to being left at home, they give me those puppy dog eyes and I feel emotionally manipulated!

Well, they really had no choice but to let me go today. I assigned them a project — make your ocean box for Zoology. So hopefully, that kept them preoccupied.

Honestly though, I sometimes feel like their attachment to me can be a downside. They can be clingy because they are so used to having me around. When I come home, they will write letters that say, “I missed you…” It’s really quite sweet but I wonder if it’s a big overkill. Do they languish that much when I am not around?!

Is this a good thing or a bad thing…hmmm…

On the one hand, it’s great that we are so close as a family. Yet on the other hand, they’ve got to be realistic about schedules, too. We are together as much as possible, but we can’t be umbilically attached to one another 100% of the time. In fact, it took them a while to accept that Monday nights were date nights for Edric and I — our very sacred couple occasions.

My second son, Edan, asked me one time, “Why do you have to go out on dates?” and I turned the question around and asked him, “Why do you think we go out on dates?” He replied, “Because you love each other.” “Okay, but why do we need to go on dates to show that we love each other? Why can’t we just spend time together at home?” My eldest, Elijah, piped in. “When you are married, it’s important to have time alone together, to set aside intentional time to be together.” He sounded like a program. (Probably because we had to explain this to him over and over again until he finally got it.)

So date nights have been hurdled. But other commitments or schedules that necessitate my being away from the house are still a challenge. My kids ask me a million questions. Where are you going? What are you going to do there? What time will you be back? How come we can’t go? Will you really be back by that time? Etc

Usually, I have a predictable weekday schedule so there are no surprises for the kids. But recently, my meetings and commitments have taken me out of the home more often than usual. (I am working on this. Typically, in the middle of the year this kind of thing happens and I have to reassess my activities.)

Well, I have written all of this to say that I don’t have a solution to this “down-side” of homeschooling. What I can improve on is having a better schedule so the kids know when to expect me to be out and then back again. But for now, the upside to this downside is that our children love being with us. That can’t be such a bad thing right?

R-e-s-p-e-c-t

As a wife, one of my greater struggles in marriage has been “putting on a gentle and quiet spirit.” Edric and I both have strong personalities. So when we are head to head about something, it is hard for me to back down. I have to make a conscious effort to remember that my role is to respect and support my husband, and to trust his leadership.

Yesterday, I disrespected him in front of a group of leaders from TMA Homeschool. We were gathered around a table discussing the Family Convention (a convention that happened today). Edric had asked me to give a short explanation of the plans for homeschool curriculum and materials that we will be offering to parents. I was resistant because my perspective was, “I don’t want to over promise anything.” I would rather under promise and over deliver when it comes to managing people’s expectations. I didn’t want to tell parents that we are bringing in new resources. Instead I wanted parents to pleasantly discover the materials when they became available.

Edric is great at casting a vision and rallying people behind a cause. But I like to be conservative about what I say when I manage people’s expectations. I prefer to do things quietly and behind the scenes, without announcing what I am doing. Therefore, the conflict that transpired between us was, essentially, a personality difference.

While we almost always handle our conflict in private, yesterday, Edric got frustrated with me for resisting his request. And I got irritated that he kept on insisting that I do something that I was not comfortable with. But my big, horrible and disrespectful mistake was standing up and walking out of the room when he said, “If you don’t want to contribute anything to this discussion then you can leave the room.” He actually said it in a very calm manner but since I was upset, I stood up quietly and left anyway. I trotted out the room in front of other key leaders.

Boy, I knew I was wrong. The Lord pointed out to me that I had just disrespected my husband. I had never done this before (I mean the walk out part in front of others).

A few moments after, Edric looked for me and took me aside. He asked me why I did what I did. I explained myself (very poorly), and he corrected my behavior and wrong attitude. He explained how important it was that I am positive and encouraging towards the initiatives that he requires of the team. And he also apologized to me for not making his expectations of me more clear.

At a certain point we both started laughing because the drama of what happened was so ridiculous. The Lord reminded me that Edric is my authority and that I am called to respect him. I said sorry to Edric. The Lord also told me to go back into the meeting room and apologize to the entire team. Humble yourself! Fix your attitude and be a good example!

So I went back in and apologized to everyone for being disrespectful and having the wrong attitude. They actually laughed at us and thought the whole incident was comedic. But I am glad I made that public apology because I really was wrong. And during the Family Convention this morning, of course I spoke the part that Edric asked me to.

By God’s grace, I am growing in this area. I always have to tell myself, respect for Edric is not conditional. It is commanded of me and obedience leads to blessing. When I am respectful towards Edric, his heart is open to me and he is inspired to be sweet and tender towards me. (I much prefer that he remain this way!)

God has given my husband authority over me. He is the leader of our marriage and home. And I need to trust that God speaks through my husband when he makes decisions. (If I am worried that he is making a wrong decision the solution is prayer.)

However, seeing our relationship from this perspective takes spiritual lenses. My number one enemy is my pride — I want to do things my way instead of God’s way. So the secret to r-e-s-p-e-c-t is to walk intimately with God. Yesterday, I attended morning prayer watch and I had quality time with the Lord. I think this was the reason why I felt the conviction of the Lord when I was being disrespectful. I could not escape the prodding of the Holy Spirit!

Well, all is well and good between Edric and I. And I thank the Lord that he continues to work on my character and help me become more gentle and quiet in spirit, even if it is antithetical to my personality. I am still a work in progress. ;)

“Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.”(Romans 13:2 NASB)

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Stages of Writing

Gently introduce pre-school aged boys to writing, especially if they are not very confident or skilled at handling a pencil. I have found that exposing my kids to various writing instruments and craft-related materials (like glue, tape, playdough, clay, safe scissors, etc) has helped them to develop their hand muscles in preparation for gripping that pen or pencil!

However, I often feel that conventional schools overemphasize penmanship and writing so that parents tend to stress out on their child’s handwriting. But pen and paper methods are not the only way to teach kids to write. In fact, most children who have difficulty with their penmanship simply did not have enough opportunity to work out their hand muscles, develop their hand-eye coordination, vision, right posture, appropriate grip, etc.

“The development of handwriting is actually a process that involves the mastery of several important aspects —
vision, coordination of the eyes, arms, hands, memory, posture, body control and posture, and the ability to hold a pencil and form text.” (Source: Child Support )

So before penmanship related issues cause undue stress in my relationship with my kids, I expose them to many pre-writing experiences. I have them draw letters in the air, roll dough into the shapes of letters, numbers and shapes, practice in a tray of sand or flour, cut out or tear pieces of paper to form them, glue or assemble objects together to represent them, practice the strokes on an Ipad or Iphone app, and use all kinds of fun writing instruments like crayons, markers, chalk, colored pencils, and paint to inspire writing. Frequent exposure to text in books or in the surrounding environment (like identifying letters, words, numbers, shapes, etc) also gives my kids better recall of their forms, too.

Writing will happen in stages so I tell myself, “relax, my child will get there.”Stages of Writing In the meantime, I praise their efforts and give them positive feedback.

Titus, my third son, often hands me scribbles that don’t seem to make much sense but given the opportunity to express what his picture is about, I often discover there is some logic to all the lines and swirls. He brought me a picture once and I was not sure what it was. However, he took the time to explain it. “Mom, this is a maze…you go up here and there, and there’s monsters in this one part but don’t be scared. Jesus is in your heart, right? Right? So you will go to heaven.”

It was the cutest description of a drawing I had ever heard. I laughed and told him I loved it!

Here is a photo of him practicing his writing on a chalk board.

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Notice how he is holding his chalk. It’s not even the correct grip. But he is getting there and he is enjoying the process!

Homeschool Providers — Filtering Through the Options

As the homeschooling movement grows in the Philippines, there will be more and more home education programs available to support families. But how does one go about choosing the right homeschool provider?

Personally, I recommend a homeschooling provider that is run by a good team of homeschoolers and educators, but gives parents liberty to customize their child’s education. No one knows homeschooling like someone who has been there and done it. Yet, an academician’s perspective and input is also a helpful check and balance.

Secondly, look for a program that has a good track record. Where do their graduates go? Homeschooling may still be in its budding stages in the Philippines, but there are providers out there who have been around for several years. TMA, for example, was the pilot project of DepEd for Home Education Providers and has good accountability with DepEd NCR. (Because of my affiliation to TMA that sounds like I am plugging! Sorry about that!)

Third, parents should consider a provider that connects them to other homeschooling families. The support of other families is very important. Does the provider have organized coops? Playgroups?

Fourth, parents should check out the curriculums that a provider offers and see if they are aligned with the goals for their own children. Are the materials flexible enough to give their child individualized instruction? This is a key benefit of homeschooling and if a program only offers one type of curriculum, parents need to find ways to supplement and enrich it.

Be wary of any provider that merely duplicates the school experience at home. Children learn differently and have varied learning styles. Insisting that there is only one method to homeschool will not maximize the learning potential of a child. However, if homeschooling is a short-term option for a family, then a school-at-home method might be the best because it will keep a child from having to make too many drastic transitions.

Fifth, investigate what kind of “after care” and commitment the provider has to its families, especially in the area of progress monitoring. Does the program regularly evaluate its enrollees? Some programs allow parents to be very independent but do not have an established and systematic way of assessing children’s progress. Assessments equip parents to better teach their children. And remember, assessments aren’t limited to academics only. The best assessments consider the total person — spiritual, emotional, mental, social and physical.

Sixth, rely on word of mouth as better advertising than actual promotions done by providers. Homeschool providers are, for the most part, offering a unique service to families. So good service matters. Ask around and do some investigation to find out which providers are well “rated” by families. But, take into consideration the fact that some families may just be impossible to please, too! So don’t base evaluations on the opinion of just one or two persons. Send out a Facebook query. That ought to generate some responses.

Seventh, call the Department of Education, NCR, for a list of accredited home school programs. Parents who value accreditation do not want to finish a year of homeschooling only to find out that all that work will not be considered as valid.

Eighth, observe the “products.” The families in a program will constitute the peers of a child who enrolls with that program. Find out what kinds of families are enrolled. Will the values and behaviors of their children be a positive influence? Parents can ask the provider if they can attend a coop meeting just to check it out. A good provider should allow families to sit in one or two meetings even if they are not enrolled.
Observe the way the children interact with one another and with their parents. Hopefully, parents will end up coming away from these meetings thinking, “These are kids I would like my kids to grow up with!” instead of the opposite.

Ninth, does the program have a clear mission and vision? Do they have a big picture perspective on homeschooling and are they moving towards their goals? A clear mission and vision statement with a team that is aligned to it means that the organization is healthy. And a healthy organization can organize quality music, art, pe classes, events, give proper child assessments, bring homeschool parents together, etc. The provider’s orientation ought to reveal the mission and vision to parents, and the heart of its team.

Tenth, pray! Don’t just jump. Ask for clear signs and confirmation from your spouse, God’s word, and people whom you trust. Homeschooling with a provider is very different than homeschooling independently. Providers require a certain amount of structure and accountability that will test a parent’s commitment levels. And monetary costs will be involved.

At the end of the day, believe me when I say, there is no perfect homeschool provider. I have talked to so many parents about their homeschool experiences and the reality is parents do get disappointed with their homeschool providers. The good news is that parents who homeschool out of conviction do not make the shortcomings of their homeschool providers the basis for whether they will homeschool or not. They keep going and stay positive!

So research and filter through the options. And remember, the key benefits of homeschool providers is accreditation, support, assessment, access to homeschool materials, and community. But the key benefits of homeschooling, such as quality time together, customizing the educational experience, raising achievers, passing on family values, focusing on character training, and raising children who love and follow God are benefits that families can experience even if they are not connected with the “perfect” provider.

A Milestone Of Eternal Significance

We celebrated a milestone in Elijah’s life today. He finished reading his NIV Bible. It took him a year and a half to do it (which is about the amount of time it takes me to read through mine!)

After he turned 7 he asked for his own adult Bible. We got it for him because he was a pretty advanced reader and we felt he was ready to dig deeper into God’s word as he was growing in his faith.

I did not think much about it then but an adult version of the Bible has a lot of mature content in it — sex, violence, perversion, deception, witchcraft, etc. So one day, I sat him down and asked him if he understood everything that he was reading and if he had any questions. He said he was fine.

At first, I was a bit concerned. I knew that God would speak to him through his word and the context would be evident, but I wondered if maybe we had handed him a Bible too early. Yet he kept a journal of meaningful verses and we dialogued about what he learned when we had the opportunity to talk about his daily readings.

One instance, which I found pretty hilarious, was when he asked me, “Mom, was I supposed to read Song of Solomon?”

I almost choked. “Why?”

“Because it sounds like it is for married people.” (Oops it is kind of for married people)

“Oh, well, you don’t have to read it. You can skip that book.” I tried to say it nonchalantly.

“It’s okay, mom, I already read it!”

I wanted to laugh but I didn’t make a big deal out of it. After all, we already had our sit down conversation with Elijah about sex in marriage when he was like five years old. It was all very innocent and matter of fact.

But today, during worship, Elijah was with us in big church and he said something much more significant. “When I read the Bible and God shows me something I need to change and improve on, I try to apply it.”

This statement blessed my heart because he understood that the Bible is not for information but for transformation.

But I wanted to know if he really knew the essence of the Bible so I asked him, “What is the most important truth you learned after finishing your Bible?”

He answered, “That Jesus loves me and died for my sins.”

Thank you, Lord! Indeed, God speaks to our children. They can seek him and find him, and they can be transformed by the power of his word.

I used to think that Elijah was too young to read his NIV Bible. But the realities that he has read about in the Bible are the realities of life and the supernatural world. There is sin, there is tragedy and all sorts of wrong, but there is God’s redemptive plan and his story of love…that he freed us from the pain and slavery of sin, that he saved us from the penalty of death through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, that through him we are called children of God, that the choice to believe in his finished work at the cross is a choice to turn from a life of sin to obey him and follow him and experience the transforming work of the Holy Spirit so that we may be prepared for the eternity and kingdom to come.

Edric and I have given many gifts to our children but by far, the most important has been the gift of salvation by telling them about Jesus and passing on to them his word so they can grow into the persons God has called them to be.

So today, we praised God that Elijah finished not just any book, but the most important and most beautiful book he will ever read that introduces him to the most important and beautiful person he will ever know! (Of course he plans to read it over again. So I am thinking either King James Version or New American Standard Version.)

We took the kids out to Jozu Kin, Elijah’s favorite Japanese restaurant, to commemorate this special day. :)

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Making Filipino Fun

Lapbooks are a fun way to engage my older son, Elijah, in learning Filipino. Between the two of us, teaching and learning this subject can be a comedy of errors. But with the many bi-lingual books out there by publishers like Hiyas, Lampara, and Adarna, my kids can appreciate well-written stories in both English and Filipino. And I can better explain to Elijah grammar and comprehension when I see the parallels between English and Fililpino.

So this is what I do when it comes to portfolio submission time. Elijah makes lapbooks (with my help) that cover lessons during a quarter. Instead of learning Filipino topically, we take a story and extract the lessons from the text. For example, I will ask him to look for “pangalan pambalana” and “pangalan pantangi” in the story and he will make a list of both. We will creatively display his answers in the lapbook. We will do this method with all of the other lessons in his textbook. The outcome is a memorable folder that opens up in the middle to show what Elijah learned during the quarter.

Many homeschoolers use lapbooks. Personally, I feel they are most helpful for subject areas that are more challenging to teach. In our case, it’s Filipino. :)

Here are some photos of one of Elijah’s lapbooks:

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Romantic Stomach Flu

Sick as a dog but still got to homeschool from my bed this morning. It was not ideal but I couldn’t really get up without running to the bathroom. I must have picked up a stomach virus from Divisoria yesterday and it kept me in the bathroom too many times to count. Yeck. Stomach flu is so debilitating. My poor kids did not see much of me today. Had to send them to Playgroup without me, too.

But one sweet thing that came out of it all was having Edric by my side the entire afternoon. As soon as he heard I was sick, he said he would come back and take care of me. He went to work to give an orientation to parents but then came home shortly after with two bottles of Gatorade to replenish my electrolytes.

Just seeing him made me feel better. It probably sounds so corny that I feel more attracted to my husband when he is heroic, but it is true. I like being a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by her knight in shining armor.

Don’t get me wrong…I don’t yell “help” like an annoyingly helpless person. But I do say things like, I really appreciate it when you take care of me. I really feel more secure with you around…

When I asked Edric why he likes to rescue me and take care of me, I thought he would say, “because I love you.” Instead, he said, “I will step up when I know I am needed.” Not what I was expecting but very telling. He explained further that he likes to be needed by me.

Well, I can’t generalize about all the men out there, but something tells me that a man’s desire to protect, care for those he loves, and his heroism are encouraged when a woman expresses her appreciation for him and when she communicates that she needs him.

Edric knows that at the end of the day, God is my ultimate sense of security and the rock of my life. But, he also knows I love being rescued by him.

While I lay in bed trying to battle stomach flu, I thought…there is something strangely romantic about being in my undesirable physical condition…My husband right beside me and the pink bottle of Gatorade he so thoughtfully brought me. Whoever thought a bum stomach could turn out to be such sweet afternoon bonding?!

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A Down-side to Homeschooling

People have asked me if there are disadvantages to homeschooling. Well today, I thought of one.

My kids hate it when I leave the house if they don’t get to come with me. I mean they give me a really hard time and if I listen to their pleas and resistance for too long, I start to feel like I am one bad mommy for leaving them at home. This afternoon, when they found out that I had a bible study in the evening and would have to go a little bit earlier in the afternoon, my two older boys started to get teary-eyed. Of course my comical youngest son was like, “I am not crying!” and kept grinning from ear to ear. I don’t know if he was mocking them, but I was glad that I had at least one guy who was alright. Tiana, my daughter, was asleep so she had no idea what was going on.

Elijah and Edan dramatically expressed how sad they were that I had to go. “Boys! I am always home with you, you don’t need to cry,” I hugged them and threw pillows at them to lighten the mood. Okay, “always” was not the most accurate word to use but still…I am a homeschool mom, which means I am with them daily! But I tell you, with my kids, a few hours away feels like eternity to them. When they are with others (especially their cousins), they are fine and couldn’t care less. However, when it comes to being left at home, they give me those puppy dog eyes and I feel emotionally manipulated!

Well, they really had no choice but to let me go today. I assigned them a project — make your ocean box for Zoology. So hopefully, that kept them preoccupied.

Honestly though, I sometimes feel like their attachment to me can be a downside. They can be clingy because they are so used to having me around. When I come home, they will write letters that say, “I missed you…” It’s really quite sweet but I wonder if it’s a big overkill. Do they languish that much when I am not around?!

Is this a good thing or a bad thing…hmmm…

On the one hand, it’s great that we are so close as a family. Yet on the other hand, they’ve got to be realistic about schedules, too. We are together as much as possible, but we can’t be umbilically attached to one another 100% of the time. In fact, it took them a while to accept that Monday nights were date nights for Edric and I — our very sacred couple occasions.

My second son, Edan, asked me one time, “Why do you have to go out on dates?” and I turned the question around and asked him, “Why do you think we go out on dates?” He replied, “Because you love each other.” “Okay, but why do we need to go on dates to show that we love each other? Why can’t we just spend time together at home?” My eldest, Elijah, piped in. “When you are married, it’s important to have time alone together, to set aside intentional time to be together.” He sounded like a program. (Probably because we had to explain this to him over and over again until he finally got it.)

So date nights have been hurdled. But other commitments or schedules that necessitate my being away from the house are still a challenge. My kids ask me a million questions. Where are you going? What are you going to do there? What time will you be back? How come we can’t go? Will you really be back by that time? Etc

Usually, I have a predictable weekday schedule so there are no surprises for the kids. But recently, my meetings and commitments have taken me out of the home more often than usual. (I am working on this. Typically, in the middle of the year this kind of thing happens and I have to reassess my activities.)

Well, I have written all of this to say that I don’t have a solution to this “down-side” of homeschooling. What I can improve on is having a better schedule so the kids know when to expect me to be out and then back again. But for now, the upside to this downside is that our children love being with us. That can’t be such a bad thing right?

Domesticity

Domesticity begins at home.

I love it that Tiana is interested in doing house chores. She likes to mop, wipe up spills, and sweep.

The other day, she said to me in her squeaky voice, “I am cleaning up” as she put away spoons and forks into a plastic bag.

Maybe people think it’s stereotypical to let girls learn home management, but I actually don’t care. I want my daughter to learn how to cook, clean, sew, do laundry, etc…not because these are things that only girls should do but because these are important, practical skills that can be a blessing to others. There is dignity in serving others. And I am sure her future husband (should God will her to be married) will appreciate a wife who can masterfully take care of a home.

My mom taught me how to be a home maker and Edric was grateful to her for this. She used to take me to the market and I was fascinated by fish eyeballs. We had a sewing machine and I learned how to make my own clothes (not too many but a good enough number to learn how to sew). We also spent precious bonding moments in the kitchen baking and cooking.

I think women who possess domestic skills are becoming a rare breed in the modern world. But what a bonus it is when a woman can be attractive, smart, accomplished and do things like whip up a delicious meal in the kitchen without breaking a sweat! But maybe that is just my domesticated opinion…

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Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2:3-5 NASB)

Who is Better?

As my boys grow up, the differences in their strengths, abilities and weaknesses are becoming apparent to one another. They are beginning to compare and be conscious of who is better in what area, especially my two older boys.

Very recently, my second son, Edan, said “Elijah is better than me in everything.” He was benchmarking himself against his brother, who is 3 years older.

What could have made him feel this way? I am not sure. Edric and I try to be very affirming to all of our kids.

But I do remember several instances when the disparity in their abilities was highlighted.

For instance, I recall when one of our friends asked what belt Elijah and Edan were in for Taekwondo. They both answered “blue belt.” But then our friend said, “low or high blue?” Elijah confidently said, “high!” and Edan softly said, “low.” And I could tell that he was a little embarrassed and self-conscious about not being “as good as Elijah.” Another time, when they were playing a game about who could identify the countries and locate them first, Elijah was quicker than he was.

In music, Elijah is more advanced and people tend to compliment his very good ear more than Edan’s.

To me, they are all uniquely gifted and talented. But how do you tell a six year old this truth when he is confronted with the reality that his older sibling is better at many things?

I finally sat Edan down and shared with him this reality, “You will be better in some things, Elijah will be better in some things and Titus will be better in some things. There will be things that you can do that Elijah and Titus can’t and there will be things that they can do that you can’t. You must learn to be happy when others are better than you. And then be thankful and grateful for the way God designed you.” I also pointed out areas that were his strength to encourage him.

As we talked some more he shared that he read about Cain and Abel during his quiet time that morning. Wow, God! I was amazed at how perfect an opportunity God had given me through my son’s bible reading!

I explained to Edan that the story of Cain and Abel was an example of what it means to be happy for others when they do something right and be humble when we need to change and try harder. Cain was jealous of his brother and he killed him. Instead, he should have looked at his own life and changed what he could to please God. At the end of the day, we must do our best to please God. Edan understood this very well. He got it.

I assembled the boys together afterwards and shared with them the same things I did with Edan.

My kids will have to be content with how God has made them. They can’t be the best at everything all the time. But if they seek God and walk with God, and develop the gifts he has given them, they will be equipped for the work he has planned for them.

I was very encouraged when Edan repeated what I told him when he was with Edric one afternoon. He remembered our talk and it sank in. He said something like this, “When others are better than me, I should compliment them and then be thankful for what I can do. And there will be some things that others will be better than me at and other things that I will be better at.”

I also solicited the help of Elijah by asking him to build up Edan’s confidence and letting him shine when he excels at a task. As the older brother, I reminded him that his opinion and encouragement are important to his younger brothers. Elijah has been very cooperative so far.

When I was a kid, my parents were very affirming and positive. But I also recall my mom telling me, “There will always be someone more beautiful and smarter in this world but God has given you everything you need to do his will and work.” When I am tempted to compare myself with others God reminds me that my problem is pride. What counts to Him is faithfulness and stewardship of what he has given me. Am I being a blessing to others? Am I bringing glory to his name?

My prayer is that my children will realize the same. They are not in competition with one other (even if they may engage in healthy competition as boys). But they must learn to give their best for the Lord when they work, study, participate in activities, handle responsibilities, and develop their areas of giftedness.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And he gave gifts to men.” And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7, 8, 11-13 NASB)

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Happy Father’s Day!

I am truly thankful for a husband that loves God with all his heart, and a man who is devoted to me and the kids. He has been the leader of our home — a father who is present, available, purposeful, authoritative (not authoritarian), and a spiritual mentor to our children. May the Lord give him length of days to see our children’s children follow God. And may he enjoy the blessings of a righteous man who has said (like Joshua), “as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.”

These were our simple letters to Edric on Father’s Day… He doesn’t like much frou-frou. He often tells us that the best gifts are hand made cards and words of encouragement. :)

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An Unconvincing Argument Against Homeschooling

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Edric was interviewed on Talk Back with Tina Palma on ANC along with Assistant Secretary of Department of Education, Jess Mateo, homeschooling mom, Moira Bunyi and her son, and homeschool graduate, Julia Garcia. The question Tina was trying to answer was “Is homeschooling an effective alternative to regular schools“?

I thought the interview went very well but they inserted comments and opinions of parents and educators who did not really know much about homeschooling. And their biggest argument against it was SOCIALIZATION.

Ahh, the big myth. No surprise there. This is the never-ending argument against homeschooling, which, in my opinion, is an unconvincing one. Here are two of the more notable points raised by random texters and sidewalk interviewees:

1. It is NECESSARY for children to learn from their peers and with them.

2. Homeschoolers have limited socialization therefore it is a disadvantageous education.

I would like to present a case for homeschooling that debunks the socialization claim. But I will begin with certain premises.

Premise # 1: God created people to be relational. In the garden of Eden he said it is “not good” for man to be alone. So he made a “suitable partner” for Adam — Eve. In the same way, it is not good for a child to be alone. A child needs relationship.

Premise # 2: The family is the first and most important social unit — Husband and wife, then parents with children, and siblings with one another. Every society will agree that the family is fundamental to the survival of their values, cultures, and traditions. The is no debate here. Just go online and research “What is the most important social unit?” and you WON’T be surprised with the results — FAMILY.

Premise # 3: Children who grow up in a Christ-centered home where they feel loved and secure in their relationships with their parents and siblings will not be as peer-dependent. I would like to use my siblings and I as a case in point. But you can ask and interview a whole lot of homeschoolers who grew up with the same set of circumstances and they will probably tell you the same thing. You can also ask non-homeschoolers who grew up with the same set of circumstances and they will probably tell you the same thing.

Given these three premises, I would like to say that socialization cannot be the strongest argument against homeschooling or a strong argument in favor of conventional schooling.

Since the family is the most important social unit in a child’s life, this relationship should have precedence and priority over peer relationships. The school system, which keeps children away from parents for most of day, makes it difficult for parents and children to have quality time together and to connect relationally. The school system promotes peer relationships by lumping children together with the same people (class sections) who are of the same age (grade level) for extended hours each day.

Given that children are relational and long to be accepted and valued by others, they will gravitate towards certain persons within that environment. Some will choose good friends and some will choose bad friends. These relationships will become more and more significant to a child, so much so that they will begin to share the same values and behaviors. A loyalty towards one another will be solidified over time (“barkada”).

Personally, this is what concerns me…So great a premium is placed on socialization without really considering the kind of socialization that schools foster. Schools are committed to educating children and they try their best to do so. Children must be grouped by section and leveled for any sort of teaching to get done in an orderly and systematic way. And there are many excellent teachers out there who genuinely care for the welfare of the children they instruct. However, teachers and educators cannot regulate peer influence. It is something outside of their control even if it is birthed within the walls they have erected.

Furthermore, the claim that it is necessary for children to learn from their peers and with them is true only because the school system cannot give each child individualized instruction. Therefore, children must be grouped together. The best teacher cannot customize instruction for all forty children. It is unfair to even expect this. So the social aspect of education where children learn along side other children is not so much a necessity for learning as it is a means to educate many children at the same time when you only have one teacher.

The other claim, that homeschoolers have limited socialization which disadvantages them, is a perceived “con” amongst those who misunderstand what social development really is. Homeschoolers are not so concerned about whether their children are socialized. They are more concerned about who their children socialize with and how they behave socially.

Children are encouraged to develop relationships with their parents and siblings first. Parents pursue their children relationally. They have lots of time during the day to grow close and fellowship beyond the pragmatic levels. And many homeschool parents introduce their children to the most important relationship of all — with the person of Jesus Christ. With the formation of healthy relationships in the home, children are less prone to look to friends for affirmation or self-worth. Their needs are fulfilled by their relationship with God and with family. Therefore, they do not need friends to fill their emotional tanks. Instead, they can focus on being a blessing to others. They socialize out of security and completeness. In this sense, then, homeschoolers are not socially disadvantaged. Rather, they are better equipped to make friends and influence people positively.

But I must refer back to Premise # 3. Not all homeschoolers practice Christ-likeness at home. (A majority do.) And having a Christ-like home where parents and children love God, obey, serve, and worship him, and love one another is not exclusive to homeschoolers. This is not about superiority of lifestyle choice. Any family who chooses to make Christ the center of their relationship will experience the blessings of socially well-adjusted children who know how to treat others with respect and consideration if their parents have purposefully taught them to do so in accordance with God’s word.

I am not trying to say, “homeschool your children so they will be the best socialized children in the world.” My proposal is this: if socialization is so important then teach your children to love God, love family, and love others (in that order), and model this at home. But don’t say that schools are important because of socialization. Our children need relationship, but in the context of family before the context of school. And don’t also say that homeschoolers don’t have socialization. They are some of the most secure, sincere, and friendly people I have met and interacted with because they know they are loved by the persons who should matter most — God, parents, family.