LIFE TAUGHT ONE EXPERIENCE AT A TIME : why homeschooling might be the best way for our children to learn and not a regular school

As a parent, what’s your biggest fear? Mine is “Am I preparing my son properly to live a good life on his own without me?” “Have I been equipping him with the tools he needs in life should I suddenly fall short in life expectancy?”

We might have other ways of saying it but I feel this is the most crucial element of parenthood – that we have the ability to pave the way for our children to live a good life on their own.

A road reconstruction that lead me to take an alternate route to work somehow made me see a signage that induced a degree of paradigm shift for me and would later dictate all my actions the entire day.

The sign read “Homeschool Studio” and in my natural curiosity, a Google search led me to a Facebook page and later on to a website for a homeschooling provider.

After a few more Google searches, some insightful conversations with former office colleagues and an article about a family in La Union with home-schooled children – I found myself suddenly writing a bucket list of things to teach my little boy Izel. Number one on my list is to teach him how to cook rice and guess what – I’ve just ticked that off today! ☺

(This was the best picture I got since he was too eager to finish this task and could not be bothered with any more pictures! haha) 

When we arrived home from work (it should be mentioned that my son has been staying in my office every afternoon on weekdays for lack of a reliable house help), I called Izel and told him I would teach him how to cook rice and amazingly, he responded very well and was really open to following me around.

I started off by showing him where the rice cooker was and how to take out the leftover rice properly so it does not go to waste. We then proceeded to the sink so I could teach him how to wash the container, he washed the lid and I washed the bottom – his little hands looked awkward holding the sponge but he was serious in actually learning it. I then led him to where our rice was stocked, showed him how to measure. He got to try out measuring 2 cups on his own with most of them sticking to his hands! He washed the rice himself and we strained the water together with his hands under my hands should grains of rice fall off while draining. He added the water and there was a bit of a raucous because he would only fill the container half full but fortunately got it the third time. (We like our rice a bit on the wet and soft side so we double the water ergo he had to add 6 cups of water to 3 cups of rice.) He then learned how to wipe the metal pot and relearned it because the pot was still wet, posed for a quick picture and finally learned how to plug the cord to the electrical socket making sure he had his slippers on for anti-electrocution. (If there is ever a term, that is!)

It seemed like it took such a long time to accomplish an easy task that but it was well worth it! The whole time, his response was pure delight and total openness. Once I broke the barrier of me teaching him such a simple task, everything just felt totally natural afterwards.

I then showed him how to use the washing machine and shared a neat trick I also just learned today about keeping socks in pairs during machine washing by tying them with a rubber band. Cool huh!? No more encore of the movie “The Search for the Missing Sock”!

After we realized we needed more rubber bands, we brought some from a nearby sari-sari store. (Normally I would insist that he stays home for fear of a meltdown at the store but this time I thought it was a teaching opportunity and true enough it was!) Although we got what we needed, we ended up going back to the store because he wanted to buy one of those mini surprise eggs and we hadn’t brought enough money to pay for it. On our second trip back, I asked him to lead the way to reinforce his already excellent grasp on directions and his exceptional memory. Even if he’d gone to a place only once, he had this uncanny knack at pointing these places out every time we come back or just pass by  – something I know he didn’t get from me as I am not good with directions at all! Haha

During this whole experience, while we were both open to teaching and learning from each other, I also instinctively saw a lot of teaching opportunities! In just one night, I ended up teaching him geography while eating dinner  with the use of a world map and a Philippine map that I bought at school opening and stashed somewhere, reviewed for the next day’s exam and answered exercises on his workbook with the help of my alternate character, Sonic (Sonic is his small action figure who shoots marbles from his tummy and is eager for Izel to teach him how to read), taught him Math by counting the mangoes we had on our dining table and reviewed the use of shortest and longest using his Legos and toy swords. What’s even more exciting and amazing is that even after a restroom break, he insisted on going back to our activity and answering a few more practical exercises!
It was a very special night that was full of bonding, connection, learning and laughter – a night that I intend to immortalize by writing this piece and a night I believe is a start of so many more similar nights!

So what am I really getting at? I’m seriously considering homeschooling now. Not just because of my previous research but most especially because of how I felt when I taught him the seemingly simple and mundane things and seeing the glitter in his eyes, his thirst for more knowledge and his openness to receive it from me. Of course, we will have our off-days when we might lose our patience but it will be part of the learning process, because after all we are only human!

So why am I considering the idea of possibly depriving my son of a “normal” development in a regular school? Because school kills creativity and puts you in a mold destined to work only for people who want to remain within a conventional system. (I might get frowned upon or even get ostracized for this but nah, different strokes for different folks, right?)

I went to a very good school by the way, and not to discredit the system but I personally didn’t enjoy school quite that much. The one thing I did enjoy was spending much of my time in the library buried under Psychology books and other reading materials – I have always loved to read and I was curious about how the mind worked even before.

I was thankfully endowed with good genes and I knew I was smart and had potential but I got typecast as one of the underachievers admittedly due to my own (wrong) doing.  I also didn’t fit the bill for normal achievers – I was curious to a fault in that I asked a lot of questions to the point of looking like I questioned authority even when I just genuinely wanted to know why. I was quite rebellious too and had a different way of doing things. Once I was typecast as such, it was a trap that was hard to get out of.

One unforgettable and maybe even traumatic experience was getting questioned about an article I wrote for a school project that got published in the newspaper. It must be such a great piece that it was hard to give me credit for it!  And I must be too good of a writer yet I unbelievably don’t seem like one? Whatever the case was, it was a sad fate to be in. 

(I've also become a victim of bullying at one point in my high school life and up to now, I still remain baffled as to why I got called such a horrendous nickname!)

If you’re stuck with a teacher’s typecast, whether positive or negative and more so with the latter, you’re headed for doom in our “normal” mainstream educational system. It is a vicious cycle that you’re bound to take with you wherever you go! This is a flaw in the system that is hard to fix – at least not in my lifetime it seems – and I intend not to put my son in that situation and instead empower him to achieve his full potential regardless of what preconceived notions others have of him.

I want him to experience life and see success as not just the number of medals or ribbons hanging on a wall because in reality, success is not measured that way. I want him to feel confident about himself and be comfortable in his uniqueness and his own abilities - - and to feel that being different is ok! That he does not have to fit into a mold that society forces him into. I want him to learn life the way it should be learnt and lived. And if that means not confining him within the walls of a typical classroom then so be it - because the world is so much bigger and so much better when fully experienced.

So, am I preparing my son for a good life? If I were asked that question yesterday, I would have answered with hesitation, “Am I?”

But ask me now and I’ll say, “Yes. Yes I am - and I’m doing that one full experience at a time!” 

How about you, are you preparing your child for a good life without you? 

* * * 

nmed 08/02/17 

P.S. A shoutout to my wonderful friend Gab for the helpful edits and insights. Ice cream on me soon! ;)  


Popular posts from this blog

Product Review: Magnolia Pancake Plus (with maple syrup)


A REVIEW: Baan Khun Thai Massage