Monday, March 16, 2015

A Day in the Life of My Gifted Homeschoolers is Like Fireworks Display

Surprises. Stories. Songs. Struggles. These are four words that usually characterize a day in the life of my gifted homeschoolers. But if I put them together (which is actually what really happens each day), I would choose to describe our typical day as a fireworks display because it's a combination of many explosive things that happen during the day. Sometimes, it's yellow. Other times, it's green or orange. Many times, it's pink or red because of the intensity of emotions displayed. The sound would usually range from loud to very loud! ;)

Let me first talk about Surprises and Songs.

My two older sons whom I homeschool are 6 and 3. They are very musical kids who burst into songs without warning. Because they are music smart, they do not run out of songs in "their playlist". They are either belting out a song that is their current favorite or they could be singing a new song they recently heard. That's one area where I usually get surprises from my boys. They surprise me with the new songs that they learned. They do not surprise me on purpose like they call my attention and ask me to listen to them sing a new song. I just get surprised during the day, at home or in church, when I hear them sing something new that I did not expect them to know.

Last year, my eldest son took a serious interest in learning how to play the piano. He started studying how to play the piano by simply watching the pianist in our church. Then, he progressed to playing the piano oido. Since that time when he decided that he will learn to play some songs in the piano, every day has been more exciting in our home. He would surprise us with new songs he has learned mostly on his own. In less than a year, he learned to play the songs typically sang during daily Masses and a lot of them he learned to play on his own. A few weeks ago, my younger son who is 3 years old, surprised all of us also when he started playing a song in the Mass as well. He also learned to play part of the introduction to one of the songs in the Mass. I love these pleasant surprises from my boys!

When my eldest son was younger, he would surprise me with the new words he would learn to say. This progressed to new words he learned to read. Eventually, this progressed to new things that he learns. Mentoring or teaching a gifted child is definitely an exciting adventure.

Now, let's move on to Stories and Struggles.

My little homeschoolers love stories. We tell stories to them a lot of times during the day. They also like telling stories. Our stories mostly come from the books that we read each day. A lot of them are a product of our imagination too. Even my children's food or plate have a story! Now, that makes it Story plus Struggle! It has been a struggle for us to make our eldest son eat fast enough so that he would finish his food in less than an hour. So far, we have been successful and most days, he finishes his meal in less than 30 minutes. In the not so distant past, finishing his meal in less than an hour would fall under Surprises. I have slowly learned how to play along with their meal time stories in such a way that I could make them eat faster. My strategies are not 100% effective though.

The other area where our Struggle comes is from the fact that my kids and I are all strong-willed. Yes, it's a trait that I struggle to deal with in my own kids and I sometimes (or should I say many times) forget that they inherited it from me. Because they are strong-willed, I need to be extra creative in getting their cooperation and in persuading them to do the activities I have chosen and prepared for our homeschool. These struggles happen usually all throughout the day and not just when we have structured homeschool activities. I think God is sharpening my negotiation and persuasion skills as I struggle countless times a day in dealing with my two boys. They surely make my days filled with adventure!  

Oh, I almost forgot that another area where I usually get surprised is when my two boys show their very sensitive and sweet sides. They would give me flowers or a note. They either give me a real flower or draw one for me just because. One time, my eldest son wrote me a note. It's not an easy task to homeschool these boys but I definitely get "rewarded" daily as well with beautiful surprises from them. 
This post is part of the GHF blog hop.
Read more stories here.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Celebrating a Mateo Moment

Our family was celebrating Mass at The Feast (the Light of Jesus community's weekly prayer meeting) a few Sundays ago. Our active 3-year-old was walking (sometimes running) and bouncing (a lot of times) along the aisles. Seated near us is another family with a little boy probably a little bit younger than my son. He was even wearing a polo shirt similar to one of my little boy's checkered polo shirts.

The little boy walked towards my son with a toy in hand. It was a Buzz Lightyear toy. The sweet little boy extended his hand while holding his toy as if telling my son that he can borrow it. My son however ignored him... He was so focused on praying and at that moment he was even kneeling down on the aisle with his hands folded in praying position. His gaze was fixed on the altar. It seemed like he did not notice the little boy who was standing beside him and was trying to be friends with him.

Wow! That was one precious moment for me! My sons are usually very active and mobile even during Masses. It's a challenge for me daily to keep them well-behaved (as in quiet and sitting down or doing what the church-goers are expected to do during the Mass) when we go to church daily to attend Mass. They like to look and move around. The sights, sounds and smells around them all trigger their curiosity. But that Sunday was different for my second son! At least for that moment! For quite some time, he was not distracted by the other things and people around him. He was simply focused on Jesus and on worshipping Him in a way that he knows how. I was so proud of him!
Mateo: the little boy that made me happy and proud that Sunday!
That moment was enough for me as a reward and consolation from God. I have been very intentional in parenting my kids and I do all the things that I do because I want them to grow up loving God and living their lives for Him. That moment gave me a glimpse to the kind of child that he is becoming. He is not always focused during Masses. That's true. But that moment gave me hope and encouragement that as he grows older, he will be. I just need to be consistent, more patient and encouraging so that he would continue in that path.
I'm glad that it has not been our practice to bring toys for our kids during Masses. We encourage them to imitate us and to look or pay attention to what is happening in the altar. We remind them repeatedly that we go to Mass to pray and to worship God. We did not come there to play with anything or anyone.

I thank God for giving me that moment... for allowing me to witness it. I will treasure that moment for many years. That sight of my little boy kneeling on the carpeted floor of PICC and not allowing himself to be distracted by a toy or a (potential) playmate is enough to enable me to keep on pushing forward in being a hands-on parent to my kids. My vision may not yet be completely fulfilled but I know in my heart that it is slowly happening. This knowledge is enough to make me persevere through the hard times.
Do you also have moments like this in your life as a parent? Feel free to share them with me in the comments.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Set Them Up for Success

One of my visions for my children is that they would live a life with purpose and meaning. I envision them living a full life. For me, to live a full life means being anchored on God and living out God's Will. That to me is what success really means.
In order to fulfill this vision, I believe that I need to be an intentional parent to them. That is why my husband and I decided to homeschool our kids. We believe that by homeschooling them, we can be more involved, not just in educating them but more importantly, in molding their character and values.
This decision has been a wonderful source of blessing to us. In the short span of time that we had been homeschooling our kids (which is around 4 years), we had been reaping the rewards of our decision. Among them is that they love to go to Church to hear Mass, they are prayerful, they are leaning a lot about the Bible and the heroes of our faith and they enjoy learning.
If you are interested to learn more about homeschooling and how you can set your children up for success even while they are young, this upcoming event might be of interest to you. TMA Homeschool, in cooperation with Manila Workshops and The Learning Basket organized a Parents Conference for 2015, entitled Set Them Up For Success. It will be held on March 12 at the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center from 9 AM to 5 PM. Registration will start at 8 AM.
This event seeks to enlighten and inspire parents  to raise their children to become happy, responsible, productive  adults and leaders “wherever they are planted”.  

Keynote speakers for the event are Edric Mendoza and Jayson Lo. Mr. Mendoza is a homeschooling father of five, the president of the Homeschoolers Association of the Philippine Islands and lead anchor of ANC’s On the Money. Mr. Jayson Lo is a known inspirational speaker in the country and is the author of Younique:Understanding Others by Understanding You, a book about how personality styles help identify one's strengths and weaknesses.
On top of the keynote talks, the conference will also feature workshops on character education, multi-level homeschooling, homeschooling through high school, adjusting teaching strategies for effecting learning, and celebrating dads who homeschool. Participants may also opt to attend a Question and Answer forum where TMA Homeschool will answer questions about homeschooling in the Philippines. Speakers for these sessions are seasoned homeschoolers Donna Simpao, Millona Barraca, Bles de Guzman, Joy Mendoza, and Dennis Sy. Participants may choose one track for each talk happening simultaneously. Participants can expect a day filled with doses of homeschool inspiration and information about parenting and homeschooling from these speakers.

Click here to sign up for this event.