LIFESKILLS: CRITICAL THINKING

Nathan 7yo
Nathan, 7yo here

We met with several of Nathan’s teachers during his first quarter Parent-Teacher Conference. One thing that stood out from their different feedback about Nathan was that he is not afraid to ask questions, to clarify issues or to argue a point. If something doesn’t make sense to him, he doesn’t hesitate to start a discussion about it. If he answers a test question differently, he explains his perspective and requests his teacher to reconsider. I remember when Nathan as a young boy challenged the lines of the ever-popular nursery rhyme Twinkle, twinkle litte star, and explained to me that stars really are not little, and they don’t really twinkle. They just appear to twinkle when seen from the earth due to different factors in the atmosphere.

The ability to think critically is one of the most valuable skills that our children can learn. We don’t want our kids to just keep memorizing information without knowing how to process, analyze and evaluate them. We need to open their eyes to the fact that some questions don’t have just one right answer. If they have discovered another way to solve a problem, they need to feel confident enough to share it. Critical thinking will help them be successful in decision-making and problem-solving.

We can help inculcate critical thinking in our children by constantly engaging them in “why” and “how” conversations. Let us encourage them to always ask questions and to explore different possibilities.

SELF-DISCIPLINE

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMy friends are always amazed when I tell them that I don’t have to wake my kids up on weekdays to get them ready for school. They have their own alarm clocks, and as soon as it goes off, they run to the shower, put their uniforms on and eat their breakfast. That’s when my husband joins them for their morning devotions, while I sleep in with our youngest, Joaquin. 🙂

For most families, weekday mornings are stressful. It is hard enough to get cranky kids out of bed, much more to push them to the shower, finish their breakfast and make it to school on time. With 3 kids going to school, I really don’t want to be shouting at them early in the morning and forcing them out of bed. Having trained our kids to take charge of their morning routine, life has been much easier for all of us. The principle is simple. If you train your kids to be dependent on you, they will be.

How did we do it? Here are some of the things we did that helped:
1. Set their bedtime that allows them 8 to 10 hours of sleep.
2. Get them their own alarm clocks. Our daugther Janina actually requested for a second alarm clock. She said one wasn’t enough to wake her up, so we got her another one.
3. Teach them the value of punctuality. If you show them that being on time is important, not just in school, but also for work, meetings, going to church, they will grow up being punctual and hating being late.
4. Instill for them a love for learning. If kids are not motivated to learn, they will not look forward to going to school.

Click here to watch Janina’s video when she started school 6 years ago.

ENROLLMENT TIME. WHEW!

I enrolled Nathan today for his 2nd year in Ateneo High School. It’s astounding how tuition fees have skyrocketed over the years. When I was in highschool, a few thousand pesos was enough for the first quarter. But now, that only covers school supplies. I really thank God for Paolo who budgets our money so well, that come enrollment time, we have enough to fund our checks.

Call me shallow but I am so happy I saved P2,000 by borrowing Nathan’s books from one of our friends. You moms can relate with me on this. Don’t we try to find ways to save every peso? I got Nathan oversized uniforms last year so that he can still use them this year, even after a growth spurt. Hehe. I am also holding off on buying his school supplies and will use the ones left from last year first.

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Right now we have 3 kids enrolled but in a few years, our Joaquin will be in school too. I know I have God’s assurance that He will supply all our needs according to His glorious riches. (Philippians 4:19)

STEPPING BACK

Nathan’s first year in highschool was not very easy… from a class of 11 in grade 7 to a class of 40 in Ateneo, from a school with a population of 250 to a school population of over 2,000, getting to know his classmates from different kinds of background, adjusting to different teaching styles, being exposed to greater peer pressure and standing up for his convictions and coping with the much heavier load of schoolwork (being in the honors class, the level of difficulty was higher than the other classes.)

Several times during the schoolyear, Nathan talked to me about homeschooling. One such time was when a teacher of his accused him of violating one of the school rules and he seemed powerless to defend himself. Nathan has always been deadset on not only getting academic honors but also getting the Kostka award, which was the character award, given to students with all A’s in conduct. This violation would mean disqualification for the Kostka award.

Seeing all the transitions, Paolo and I made it clear to him that he shouldn’t worry about getting any honors or awards. All he needs to do is pass and get promoted to 2nd year. (talk about lowering our standards. :D)

As parents, it is so tempting for us to snatch our kids out from their difficult situation. But there are times when we need to STEP BACK SO GOD COULD STEP IN. Pulling him out of Ateneo and homeschooling him could have been one of our options. But Paolo and I knew that Nathan needed this experience  to prepare him and equip him for the future. We knew that through his trials in school, he will learn to depend on God more, not on his parents nor his abilities. We knew that he will get to know God more and discover for himself that He is faithful and trustworthy. Our goal was not his happiness but his holiness.

And that’s what he learned. As he learned to trust God more and more and persevere in school, God saw him through. That teacher who accused him of a violation, for some reason, Nathan got an A in his class, and was even exempted from his finals. And he ended the school year with 2nd honors and the Kostka award. No credit to us, but all to God.

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Allowing our kids to go through difficulties will push them to depend on God. And that is the most valuable lesson we can ever teach them.

ADAPTING TO CHANGE

This year, Janina’s school, Victory Christian International School (VCIS) shifted to a new curriculum called PACEs. We had mixed feelings about this at the beginning since she’s never done this type of curriculum before. For half of the day, she will have to work in a cubicle of her own, set her goals, read the lessons on her own, answer the tests and check them on her own. The first few days were rough. But as soon as she got the hang of it, she found her own pace, and learned to work diligently with minimum assistance from her supervisor. We saw that she became more focused, self-motivated and driven.

Change is not always comfortable. In fact, most of the time, it’s uncomfortable. We need to train our kids to adapt to change. We moms usually do the best we can to make things easy for our kids. Though that is not bad, there are times we need to let them experience the discomfort of change to prepare them for greater changes ahead with greater discomfort.

I am so proud of how our daughter adapted to the change in their school’s curriculum. Here are the awards she got this year: (😀 I’m a mom so please allow me to indulge 😀 )

Most Diligent Learner
Most Responsible Learner
Best English Public Speaker
Best Filipino Public Speaker
Best Filipino Writer Award
Best in Spelling
Most Number of 100s Award
Medal for Consistent Honor Roll
Medal for Best in Scripture Memory
Medal for Academic Excellence 2nd Place

I am grateful too for VCIS who partners with us in training our kids to love our God and honor Him in everything they do.

Special Presentation for the parents

NATHAN GRADUATES FROM GRADESCHOOL

Our eldest, Nathan, graduated from gradeschool last Monday. I was a bit emotional from the first moment I saw him in his toga, to listening to his speech. (Yes, I’m OA!) It was just like yesterday when I sent him off on his first day in preschool. I am so proud of my son. He was homeschooled from Grade 3 to Grade 6, then we decided to put him in a regular school for Grade 7 to help him transition to highschool. By the way, he is going to Ateneo de Manila for highschool. Despite his rough start in school last June, Nathan came out top of his class, which merited him the “Scholarship Award.” He also received the “Best in Computer” and “Best in Music” awards. I realized how mature our son is when we saw him rise above his difficulties and challenges.

Highschool will be a totally different ballgame but I am confident in my heart that Nathan will excel there as well, not just academically but also in character. I trust that God has big plans for him there.

JANINA MOVES UP TO GRADE 4

I am so proud of our one and only princess, Janina. Here are the awards she got from school this year (Grade 3):

Academic Excellence in Language Arts, Reading and Writing, Mathematics and Science and Health

Principal’s Circle Award for Mind Mapping

Best Dance Moves Award

Leadership Award

I am also looking forward to our eldest Nathan’s graduation on Monday.