Friday, February 22, 2013

Heart of Homeschooling: The "Now"

This February, I'm featuring several homeschooling mamas as they share their "heart of homeschooling." Today, I have Alex Hao, mother of four, and "unschooling" her brood for about eight years.

To read the rest of the series, click here. Make sure to check back once in a while during the whole month for more. I hope this glimpse of our hearts inspires you to at least look into the beauty of homeschooling.

If you have an activity now or a way of doing things and you can see, feel, realize that it is:
  • Effective
  • Fun
  • Allows you to be with your children, think quality and quantity time 
  • Unhurried and respectful 
  • Cultivates responsibility and kindness
  • Real
  • Creative
  • Exciting
  • Safe
  • Affordable

Would you not do it and carry on?

These are the qualities of homeschooling that validates the decision my husband and I made for our family about eight years ago. Our eldest child was eight and in Grade 2 back then, our second was five and our youngest then was about two years old.

How do we go about with our homeschooling? We discuss our week every Sunday. We have a bit of structure of things that we do every day. This is especially important for my 2 younger children (ages 4 and 9). A little play time in the garden after cleaning up the breakfast table. And then we go upstairs. My 4 year old either plays with puzzles or his Lego bricks. This is an activity he chooses. My girls sit down and do their academics, usually it's Math. So far it’s my 9 year old who has a lot of questions about her Math work. The two older ones, ages 12 and 15 can answer and check their own work. They have a concept of what a test demands because most homeschool packages have tests in them. They do the tests and I encourage them to try it out. They value their score. I just listen.

We do not give gifts to encourage excellence or reward high scores. As my husband says, your high score is the reward itself. It’s very much like learning how to bake a cake.I think it’s absurd to tell my children, I will not buy them whatever or extend privileges if they are able to bake a cake perfectly. The cake itself is the reward for the work done. And we can all enjoy the cake as a family.

There are some areas of discipline and/ or skill that I simply cannot do, more so teach my children, like:
  • play the violin, piano or flute, etc. 
  • dance: ballet, jazz, hiphop, disco, zumba, etc. 
  • and sing in tune: karaoke, pop, opera, rap etc.
For these things we have to look for a qualified teacher. 

I was clear from the start that I was not going to bring school home. At one point we did try a bit and I abandoned it. I do not want to grade my children’s works, it seems to go against the grain of my heart muscles. So I settled that my children will have the label out of school youth. My eldest have accepted this without any stigma attached to it. In a literal sense, they are indeed out of school youths. 

I also think it is important that my children meet other children their age and make friends that they can keep. For this, I found a group called Buds Girls Club. My eldest daughter started joining this when she was about 5 years old. They meet up twice every month on Saturday mornings and work on some project or activity. Some of the girls, like my eldest daughter, have moved up to Blossoms Teens Club.

When some friend or acquaintances ask me, “What’s going to happen to your children?” My honest answer is, I do not know. I cannot even tell exactly what will happen tomorrow how much more what will happen 5, 10 or 20 years from now. I can plan and work on it but I cannot tell the future. I choose to be excited with possibilities that can come our way as individuals and as a family, rather than be afraid of what might happen in the distant future. I know and accept that I am not a fortune teller and I am more than a teacher, I am a parent. And what I have is NOW. Just, now. I might as well make the most of it.

Alex Hao teaches childbirth classes and pre-natal yoga in her tranquil space called The POD in Davao City. Read more about their "unschooling" adventures at Between Now and Later.

Read the rest of the series:

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Jenny said...

Wonderful to read about your experiences here Alex~

TrulyRichMom/TeacherMamaTina said...

Love love love this post by Alex! :) She's one of my local unschooling inspirations! :) Thanks for sharing {part of} her story here, Mariel!