Monday, September 26, 2011

Homeschool, Public or Private?

As parents, our children's education is one of our biggest responsibilities. And it is every parent's wish to give the best education to his/her children. It has been a challenge for me and hubby to decide which school to send our children especially when we relocated here in Bangkok, where international schools are quite expensive. At first, we thought of homeschooling our kids. But with both of us working, we realized that giving the best time to our job and just the remaining time to our own kids after work would not be the best choice for our dear ones. We are not also experts in teaching them all the subjects they may need to prepare them for getting a good college education. Besides, with the nature of our 2 kids being so outgoing and hyperactive, homeschooling them would limit their opportunity to develop more social skills, leadership, and other soft skills they need to learn by mingling with other kids in school.

So hubby and I had 2 options left for discussion: private or public school. Public schools have good curriculum and programs but if the kids are not in the star or top sections, they are not really well taken care of (except for a few public schools like Science High). With 40-50 students in a class, individual needs may not be properly addressed. Although I argued that there are other opportunities public schools can offer such as the competitions kids can join to make them more skillful in different aspects such as in academics and sports contests up to the national levels, which some private schools don't usually join, hubby looked at the bigger picture by assessing what values and other considerations are more important to us as a family. So we did pray hard for guiding us in our decision and we really felt God's leading with how He prepared the way for us.

All right, so why did we choose private school education? It's not just private education but Christian education. With our kids away from us, although we're praying to be together again next year, we have to be wary of  their environment, which should be safe and wholesome putting into consideration the influences of their peers and adults around them. I'm not saying though that we are fully throwing all responsibilities, such as valuing, to the boarding school even if it's a Christian school. We, of course, are still responsible of inculcating the values and imposing discipline we want them to grow with no matter what. But in our assessment, their school is one of the best in our area that many parents even the most conservative ones I highly respect send their kids there to stay at the dorm, instead of staying with a family at the villages around or outside school apartments.

Back in their previous school,  both of them used to have their own caretaker in our family who would prepare everything for them including their food and their clothes. Now, in their present school where they stay in a dormitory for the first time, they have to manage themselves and their time very well. They have schedule for eating at the cafeteria. If they don't go to the caf on time, they won't be able to eat as it closes in an hour. So this is one good training we want in their new school to help them with their maturity. They have, of course, a very loving and caring dean for each dorm, whom we can communicate with more often. We also love the idea that they have devotional time - both in the boys' and the girls' dorm - every morning and evening for their spiritual growth. They also share a room with other dormitorians so as early as high school, they learn to get along with others through their room-mates. Actually, my 12-year old boy had a problem with this during his first 2 weeks in the dorm as he didn't know how to respect the older boys, which is important in our culture. He has learned his lesson fast, anyway, as his cousin, his senior for 3 years, happened to be his room-mate and he helped and taught him a lot to adjust. 

We have seen so many improvements in our 14-year old girl and 13-year old boy in their new school. They have learned to take their own clothes to the laundry and now they love to iron their own clothes, which they weren't allowed to do before. They have learned to be independent as they also budget their own allowances and above all, they have become more prayerful and dependent on God. My boy used to grumble with our long prayer during family worship time before but now he reported to us that they take turns in praying or leading the daily devotional in the boys' dorm and they usually have prayer bands that take longer. But he beams with excitement when he shares his new experiences at his new school. He's so happy that now he has more time to play tennis, badminton, Frisbee and basketball than in his old school. He has also joined the violin ensemble serving in the church while he is also learning piano and violin. His older sister is also assigned to play the piano to accompany the congregation at worship from time to time or be the speaker during worships or devotionals so they have balanced development, not just academics and sports.

We thank God that their first grading report showed that both of them have excelled in their classes so we give all the glory to God. Despite their being away from us, they have been doing so well. But even if they're doing well academically, we really value more their spiritual growth, the development of their character especially at their formative years which can't be put off at a later time for "what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?" (Matthew 16:26).

For more interesting posts about Children, please visit Marriage Monday over at Chrysalis

Monday, September 12, 2011

Communicating Effectively in Marriage

           Today's topic at Marriage Monday is one key factor in making a relationship work (or ruining it) - COMMUNICATION. Communicating effectively in whatever kind of relationship, especially with someone you want to spend the rest of your life, takes a great deal of practice and effort. Here are just 3 but useful tips on how to communicate effectively in marriage whether in solving conflicts or simply planning for the family:

1. Find a perfect timing.  This may sound simplistic but first of all, if you want to get your spouse to discuss with you attentively and productively particularly on crucial matters, learn to time it when you think your spouse is in the best mood to talk with you. For example, if your spouse has just arrived from work and is very tired or hungry, s/he may need some time to relax and eat first before s/he can engage with you for a talk. Read your spouse's nuances and body language to get a perfect timing to communicate especially in dealing with serious and sensitive matters. It is also good to schedule a regular time to talk to each other. Some successful couples I know (including my parents who will be celebrating their golden wedding anniversary next year) do it every dawn when they are well rested and  their minds are still fresh so that they can think very well.  

2. Focus on the issue/s. Couples can resolve conflicts more easily if they stay focused on the issue. If there's more than one issue on a problem, resolve them one by one. Don't leave any issues unresolved or it may worsen the situation or it may lead to another problem. If it can't be solved at one sitting, it should be made clear to both parties that the rest of the issues will be discussed later. Focusing on the issues after identifying and recognizing them also help save time and come up with more sound solution to the problem.
Photo from
3. Learn to compromise. The best solution to any problem is a Win-win situation but if it's not possible, as couples are two different individuals with different tastes, values, backgrounds, upbringings, etc., it is only by compromising that they can ultimately resolve a conflict. One may win in an argument and feel great but s/he may alienate the other. In Christian model of marriage, however, living under God's authority includes benefits and sacrifices for both partners, which in most cases involve ego and selfishness. If you truly love your spouse, then you may sacrifice your ego or yourself for the sake of solving a conflict or saving a relationship.
      "All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take," Mohandas Gandhi wisely puts it which is applicable to all relationships and in  communications. There are even times when we just need to be an "listener" but not necessary to say anything. Again, if both partners believe in the Christian perspective that "it is better to give than to receive," then there will be less conflicts in the relationship as both are willing to give, give, give.

Of course, the common denominator of all these three tips revolve around LOVE and RESPECT, the foundations of any marriage. You find a perfect timing because you love and respect your spouse. The same is true with focusing on the issue so you won't accuse your spouse of any baseless and irrelevant issues and call him/her names. And you compromise because of your love and respect for your partner. So if there's true love and mutual respect in both parties when communicating, screaming or hurting each other, or worse - parting ways - will be avoided.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happiness is...

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant",  says Robert Louis Stevenson while Mikhael Dominico says, "strength will grow from the heart, blossom as results, and wither in others' hearts as seeds".  I need such inspiring quotes at this moment as I have tasks get piling up including ones that are beyond my scope of work but I want to plant good seeds, anyway, and harvest later. That's how I draw strength - definitely from nice thoughts - for me to sustain. Because if we harbor ill or negative thoughts, we easily get stressed and we feel unhappy, but if we have the right attitude in what we do, no matter how taxing and demanding it is, positive energy will simply generate and flow in. Isn't life more beautiful if we go extra mile than just going the same route everyday? Boring, isn't it?  
"The important thing is this:  To be able at any moment to sacrifice that which we are for what we could become,"   Charles DuBois states which I completely adhere to. Such a nice thought! And so I have given up eating my lunch on time and going home on time 4 weeks now in a row just to prop up people to get onto their ladder of success. Whether or not I get back later material rewards (in most cases I don't:)  in going out of my comfortable way or beyond extra miles ,  the joy I feel in doing so is more than a blessing to count. That's how I simply spell happiness.