Mommy Talks is featuring different homeschooling parents. Our guest for today is Tina Santiago-Rodriguez. She is the famous lady behind the blog Truly Rich Mom! I’ve met her personally last homeschool conference and I am so excited to feature her today!
SHARE A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ABOUT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
I am a Catholic wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physical therapist by education and a writer/editor by profession. I also am a relatively newbie blogger at www.trulyrichmom.com and www.teachermamatina.blogspot.com (my homeschool blog). I have been married for six years to my best friend and mission partner, Anthony, who is a fulltime worker for our Catholic community, Couples for Christ or CFC. (I used to work fulltime for CFC, too, for 10 years.) Our two children, Timothy Alan or “Tim” and Alyssa Therese or “Rysse” are aged 5 (going on 6 in October) and 3 respectively.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO HOMESCHOOL YOUR KIDS? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN HOMESCHOOLING THEM?
My husband and I first heard about homeschooling when I was still pregnant with our eldest child. We were still based as missionaries for CFC in Timor Leste (East Timor) then, and had come home to Manila to attend CFC’s 25th Anniversary celebration. One of the events we attended was a pro-life conference, where the speakers included people from Human Life International in the US. We were intrigued when it was mentioned that one of the things people could do to support the pro-life movement was to “homeschool your kids, if possible.” We eventually also heard a little bit more about homeschooling from Catholic lay preacher Bo Sanchez, who homeschools his two kids along with his wife, Marowe, and founded the Catholic Filipino Academy.
As our son grew, we felt drawn to homeschooling and did our research on it and prayed about it and researched and prayed some more. I guess the turning point came when we tried having him sit in during a few preschool classes at one of the schools in Timor, just to try it out. After those “failed attempts,” we realized that he was learning more at home than what he could learn in that school. (I wrote a blog post about that here, if you want to read it, hehe!)
Now that our kids are a bit older, I would have to say that our main reasons for homeschooling are:
a. We believe that this is God’s call for us at this particular point in our lives. (I wrote about that here, teehee!)
b. We want to pass on the faith and values that we hope will bring our kids (and ourselves) to our eternal home in heaven.
c. We want to cherish the time with our children while we still can, and make the most of their childhood years.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF HOMESCHOOLING?
The advantages would differ from family to family but in our case, here are a few:
a. As parents, we are able to do our darndest to live according to God’s call in Proverbs 22:6 – Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.
b. We are able to provide one-on-one instruction to our kids, although at this point, Rysse usually just goes along with our lessons for Tim. Still, she has been able to learn a lot just by observing her brother and being around him.
c. We are able to make learning a part of our lifestyle — I remember there were times when we’d talk about opposites while waiting for the LRT; when we’d talk about basic Science concepts while waiting for hubby to finish meeting with a priest; etc.
d. We are able to ENJOY our children, especially while they are still young. Childhood is fleeting and we will only have one shot at parenting our kids. (Though we admittedly are FAR from being the “perfect” parents!)
e. We are able to save money (though this is not a PRIMARY reason to homeschool) as God has blessed us so much by providing for a lot of our homeschool materials.
HOW HAS HOMESCHOOLING AFFECTED YOUR FAMILY AND LIFESTYLE?
We have had to make a few adjustments, but I would not trade it for the world! Actually, because we believe that God called us to continue homeschooling, we also believe that He even led us to move to a different apartment in a different city! That’s how AWESOME He is! Homeschooling has also opened our eyes more to God’s goodness, the richness of our Catholic faith and the beauty and unity of the homeschool community, both locally and globally. When it comes to the kids, although we do have issues with discipline and obedience (to be perfectly honest), God reminds us that homeschooling is one of the ways we can encourage, disciple and train our kids.
Homeschooling has also led us to depend on God more; to be open to His leading, and to be humble and repentant whenever we do wrong by our kids. It has helped us to be more flexible, too, especially since I work from home and am required to be at the office every Thursday and Friday. I have also learned to “unlearn” what I know about education and embrace “out of the box” learning. We have also learned to adjust to our kids’ learning styles (though I’m still in the process) and to seek opportunities for learning even in the most ordinary of experiences (like waiting for the train or jeep).
I’d like to think, too, that our bonds as a family are stronger because we homeschool. We also are blessed that other people have come to ask us about homeschooling, although we are not experts in it — so it has also become sort of a family “advocacy” of sorts — to promote homeschooling.
ANY TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH THOSE WHO ARE CONSIDERING TO HOMESCHOOL OR THOSE FAMILIES WHO ARE ALREADY HOMESCHOOLING?
a. Pray, pray, pray. Seek the Lord’s guidance. Homeschooling, admittedly, is not for everyone. Discern if God is calling you to homeschool.
b. Discuss it as husband and wife and come to an agreement about it and stick to it and SUPPORT each other, DESPITE what others (even family members) may say.
c. Pray some more. You may even want to practice fasting or abstinence while praying about it.
d. Do your research — go online; interview homeschool parents; read books on homeschooling; read homeschool blogs (but don’t be too overwhelmed by them all!); attend homeschool orientations or conferences if possible. Seek homeschool groups (online or not) so that you can also have a “sounding-board” for your questions.
e. Pray for your children. If they are old enough, include them in your discernment and research process. Discuss the decision with them as much as possible.
f. Don’t pay too much attention to what others think or say, especially if they oppose your decision to homeschool. If you believe in your heart that God is calling you to do it, go ahead and do it.
g. Try to unlearn everything you know about conventional schooling, because (and I learned this myself, too!) homeschooling is NOT about bringing school or the classroom into your home.
h. Even when your kids are young, try to establish a daily routine with them, which includes lots of time for reading books (i.e. you reading aloud books for them) and free play!
i. Last, but not the least, put character before curriculum. (This is what we’re trying to focus on in our own homeschool for now). What’s the point of having good grades if one is a “rotten apple,” so to speak? After all, when we die and stand before the Lord during the Last Judgment, He will not ask us what grades or awards we got, right?
Follow Mommy Tina and her hommeschool journey through her homeschool blog http://teachermamatina.blogspot.com/