It's March and you'll often see your Facebook feeds flooded with graduation pictures or moving up day videos. So here's my share this graduation season.
What's the big deal about moving up or graduation? More than the awards and the cute presentations, I see it as a reflection of how much we value education... that having a degree gives you a fighting chance for a better living.
The Food for Hungry Minds
Two weeks ago, me and my officemates went to visit the Food for Hungry Minds school. It's amazing on how we were able to transform people's lives through the power of better education. I've met some kids in their homes when this school started, and you wouldn't believe on the amount of pressure they're facing living in such conditions in their neighborhood. In school they are taught academics and character formation, but when they go home, I could say that they're already doing doctorate studies in life as they're under tremendous pressure on just being able to survive life on a daily basis.
With Food for Hungry Minds' more than 10 years of dedication, I was glad to hear stories of graduates who were able to graduate from the Philippines' top universities and pursue their dreams. As the foundation continues to help more kids, may they be a catalyst for social change for our country and the world.
ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor)
Since I'm part of the Couples for Christ advocacy on alleviating poverty, we started the Be a Hero Program this school year. We raise funds to help the most needy in our Sector so their kids can have additional funds for their education. The mission is investing in the education hoping for a our country's better future by raising educated and Christ-centered kids.
Amanda's Moving Up
It's Amanda's second year in preschool and noticed that she learned a lot. Here's a brief highlight of her moving up day.
It was cute seeing her perform. This may well wrap up what she learned in school. Yes, she now starts to read simple words and sentences, writes better, creates more defined drawings, paints well. But more importantly, she's able to connect more with her classmates and be more inclusive.
One thing I noticed this year was her interest with singing, dancing and speaking in front of people. Although prior to the moving up day she had asthma, she was absent for two days of the practice. But what's interesting was her ability to stay focused and practiced on her own during those days she was out so she was still able to catch up when she went back to school for the practice.
I believe real education is not about the final grades you receive at the end of the school year, nor the medals and certificates that you get. In life, what's important is the character formation that educational institutions bring and the challenges we encounter.
The kids in HMS, the scholars of ANCOP, and Amanda made big steps in recognizing that education is more than just numbers and words but rather seeing through the obstacles they encounter everyday.
Amanda's moving up day theme is "Be a leader, be the desired change". This gave me a sense of hope for our future. As early as their preschool years, they are taught that change starts with oneself and doesn't depend on other things that you don't have control. With HMS and ANCOP's scholars, I'm more ecstatic that our kids who don't have capability to get better education to have hope. Hope to see that their dreams are a step closer to reality.
Amanda's favorite past time which started few weeks ago was the "What's that sign?" game. I think this is the stage where she learned how to use the "What". So here's the mechanics of the game... everytime she sees a traffic sign, she's going to ask Mommy and Daddy, what's that sign? Cute isn't it? (like Amanda's Daddy :) )
So what are the things me and my wife observed:
Why send your kid to summer school?
I think most new parents are very anxious on leaving their child to a person whom they don't know personally for some hours to interact with other kids. Some doubts that kept on wondering in a parent's mind could be, "what if there's a bully who would hurt my child?" or "what if she starts looking for me and frantically screams the whole session?" or "what if she becomes bored as she doesn't have interest with their activities?"
Before the summer began, we were still having some doubts if Amanda is too young to go to school. Imagine, from three years old up to well 22, she'll be undergoing a rigid routine of waking up early, commuting to school and then being preoccupied with all the schoolwork with greater pressure as she becomes older.
Maybe I was thinking way advanced and looking at the disadvantage more than what the benefits we could get from having her attend school.
Two Fridays ago, it was Amanda's end of summer school. And guess what? I realized six surprising things that happened to Amanda as a result of her schooling:
Couple of months before Champee's birthday, she got hooked on watching the demo videos for Play Doh. I realized two things... one, I thought there are weird people that are super excited to buy toys, open them in front of the camera, and then assemble and play and post to You Tube... Two, there are even more insane people watching their videos.
But then, after checking their YouTube hits, they already have thousands like this one. Meaning these guys are earning good money from what they're posting. So definitely, they're not insane, just good entrepreneurs recognizing the big revenue opportunity on a seemingly simple demo video.
One of the things that me and Cali were conscious on teaching Champee is her patience. This was the first time that she requested something from us and that we believe this was the perfect time to teach her the value of patience and perseverance.
Being exposed to watching the Play Doh videos, she wanted to have one of her own. We told her that we can buy her that, but she'll have to wait for her birthday on April 17. So this became her birthday wish script: everytime you ask her, "When's your birthday Amanda?" She will always reply.. "April 17th"... and when asked about, "What's your wish? (ala Dibo the Gift Dragon tone)", she would promptly reply "I wish to have a Play Doh..."
There were few instances that we went to toy stores when visiting the malls. And as you would guess it, it's a haven for kids and toddlers to see all the best toys displayed. But for parents, it could be their worst nightmare as you can't expect to leave those stores without swiping your credit card or your monthly budget. So when we went there, it's impossible for her not to see a single Play Doh toy. Of course she got excited, but what I'm not expecting was that her ability to understand that she'll have her turn to own one on her birthday and not black mail us by crying out loud in the store.
We were happy with her reactions everytime she behaves like that. Either she's too young now to act negatively OR she understood even with her young mind the things we talked about delayed gratification. I do certainly hope it's the second one :)
During the course of her waiting, we found her to be watching play doh videos during her tablet time. Maybe this is one of her secrets to cope with her wants.
I know this is just a small thing to help her mold her character, but I know, planting these seeds of simple discipline can help her manage bigger issues as she grows older. As the bible puts it in James 1:3-4 "for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing". That is a parent's every dream for their child... to be able to live their lives full and complete and the only way to achieve that is to infuse in their blood stream the value of patience; To continue to persevere even with the most difficult challenges; To break through the barriers of difficulties... To remain on hoping... until you get the promise.
I'm a technology geek, photographer, musician and a rookie dad trying out to speak my mind through writing my daily experiences as a young Pinoy dad.