Today is my last day of teaching at the university. When I hand in the grades, I’m finally free to be a full-time mom. It’s so strange to embark on this “jobless state.” My husband would disagree because it is a big job looking after kids but what I mean by job in this case is paid work.
After graduating from university, I can only remember two times when I didn’t hold a salaried post. The first was one month between working in Congress and starting work at the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It was one of the longest, most excruciating month at that moment because I hated the uncertainty of not knowing what to do next. Being in limbo didn’t agree with me and towards the end of the month, I hit upon the idea of listing down names of people I admire and dream of working for, contacted the first one on the list and got my next job with her as an executive assistant, a case of the universe conspiring to give you what you want.
The second jobless period was the one year I battled cancer. Oddly, it was not as excruciating as that month in employment limbo. Because I was pregnant with my second child, I was hopeful, optimistic and jubilant. My miracle baby was born healthy despite my going through chemotherapy while he was in my tummy.
After two years working as an English teacher in a Chinese university, I am now again entering but this time deliberately – an indefinite, no-formal-job status zone. On my own volition, I chose to give up my current “stable” life for adventure on the road with my husband and sons. No more tension between wanting to finish my work and wanting to be with my children. Now at last, family always comes first. How many times have I felt guilty preparing lessons for class or grading papers before attending to Jimmy who wants to play or preventing world war two from erupting between two warring factions.
There would still be tensions but they would be of a different cause and nature. For example, my husband and I both agree in principle to homeschool and roadschool our kids. However, we sit at different points within a wide spectrum. Thankfully, at least we’re not at opposite or extreme ends.
He leans towards unschooling and while I believe in this as well, I am not keen on going all out unschooling during the first few years. I believe the three R’s — reading, writing and arithmetic — should be acquired first, using more curriculum based methods like homeschoolers, unlike unschoolers who do not have a curriculum since their curriculum is whatever the child is interested in.
In primary school, the kids would spend around seven hours in class. Now, they only spend less than an hour a day getting lessons from my husband and me plus tutorials thrice a week. I would like to expand that to have daily tutorials but my husband prefers to teach them on our own.
While it’s wonderful and rare that both parents are able to be at home for their children, I believe we can learn a lot from others who have more experience and patience teaching young kids. They say it is easier to teach other kids than one’s own. Watching others teach my sons would allow me to see other perspectives that can only enrich my way of instruction.
So I hope and pray that my husband lets me to arrange tutors for our children — both face-to-face and online to able to compare techniques. Eventually, we might have to rely more on Skype tutors because we would be travelling a lot so it’s good to try them out to find a good fit. Other homeschoolers and unschoolers around the world depend partly on tutors for their children. Parents combine teaching subjects they are most comfortable with and getting experts in other areas. For instance, my sister who homeschools her thirteen-year old daughter, teaches her science, history, English and the bible but hires tutors for math and Filipino.
Perhaps there is more pressure on me to undertake a more structured format because I am responsible for enrolling the kids at TMA, a homeschool provider in the Philippines that helps families comply with government regulations regarding education. Beacause of this, I am more conscious than my husband about fulfilling academic requirements. This September, Joshua is scheduled to take a test at TMA so that he can be enrolled in Grade 1. From then on, the kids will take tests at TMA every year and we will have to submit quarterly portfolios of their work. In the future, should they wish to attend high school or university, they can more easily do so even if they are homeschooled because of the records and documentation of TMA.
My friend and fellow-homeschooler, Grace told me that it is important for husband and wife to communicate about and agree on the methods of homeschooling because children are very clever. They can spot if there is a difference in styles and can use it to get their way. At the end of the day, my husband and I both want what’s best for our children. We may disagree about the definition of “best” but we can always negotiate the details.