(originally posted on July 31, 2010)
About two years ago, my husband and I started searching for a reasonably priced international or even a bilingual school for our then four-year old son. Not surprisingly as in most cities in China, these schools are either over-expensive or lacking in educational similarities to those in our country that we strongly feel that our son may need in the event that we opts to go back and let him study in Philippines. Another major concern there was the lack of a Catholic religion subject which is what every Catholic parent should desire for their child to learn.
And so we took a leap of faith and decided to home school our son.
Not far from that decision was our choice to try Catholic Filipino Academy.
And so our son, Zek is well into his second school-year in CFA as a Grade 1 student.
It has been a rewarding daily challenge for us so far.
The Challenges. We got the anxiety of our lives upon receiving the entire Grade 1 student lessons plan, books and workbooks for all about 10 subjects. Normally, Zek takes his time (even longer time in some cases) before he can finally settle in his study table for the day’s lesson, which is good for 1 to 3 subjects only. But now, we have to cram-up these 10 subjects into his daily sessions which is a daunting task for both of us. Add the fact that Zek likes to have instant “time-outs” during actual lesson time so he can narrate a story or game he just remembered or ask a question that is totally unrelated to the topic on hand. And I need to make sure my answers to his queries are satisfactory for him or else I run the risk of being asked the same question repeatedly. I can sense his increasing boredom with our daily study routines. I also feel inadequate at teaching some subjects like Sibika which is also, admittedly, un-interesting for me. I needed extra push or assistance from my husband in this regard as well as on other subjects whenever he has free time.
The Responses. As I have often been reminded by our Parent-Teacher coach and other mentors, I need to make all topics as interesting as it can be for Zek to absorb and learn more from the lessons. Zek loves to draw and helps him release some of his hyper energy so I make all available clean drawing papers for him to scribble. Besides our white board and rectangular glass center table within easy reach, I recently bought a Crayola window glass marker for him to express all his drawing ideas at the spur of the moment. Otherwise, he will easily make his books and workbooks his own handy-dandy drawing books. Mostly after his drawing time, he will be more focus on the lesson. We also cheered him on to finish his subjects with little surprise-rewards he really likes, a cup of Chinese nai-cha (milk tea) or a visit to a nearby toy store. I also incorporated his favorite Lego toys and stuff in some of my teaching method.
Outdoor activities for him is planned carefully to avoid the sweltering summer heat that may trigger his asthma attacks and other allergies that goes with it (e.g. we temporarily hold off his Wushu classes and enrolled him in a Violin lesson instead in addition to his regular Arts and Cooking classes). We play badminton and kick-ball games before 10 in the morning for some healthy sunlight exposure.
To address my own personal stress and “time-outs” too, I enrolled myself in Yoga for an hour class a day in 2-4 times a week with schedules that coincides during the arrival of my husband from work. And it is working wonders as well to rejuvenate my strength and patience.
The Rewards. Despite the odds and continuing challenges, I still do enjoy home-schooling Zek. We are so blessed to have this option so that our family can stay together despite my husband’s work in China. Our set-up gives me a lot of quality time with him and I can always assure him that “Mommy and Daddy loves you Zek” whenever he himself feels low in his performance. And no other feeling can really compare to that of knowing and personally witnessing your child grows in knowledge and love. He listens more to his playmates concerns, is more able to control his irritability and frustrations now. I will cherish forever seeing our son slowly maturing into a cheerful, expressive and loving child.
We pray that we continue to patiently teach him and to avoid expecting adult judgments on his every action. By God’s grace, we can keep on developing our willingness to listen unconditionally without showing annoyance as we face our daily tasks to prepare him for his better future.