365 Snap Shots of Life: Day 101


Last night my oldest  daughter was working on one of her last essays and she  said this,” I can’t remember when I started school.” WOW! My job is accomplished here because I set out to make life long learners of my kids and this statement proves to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have accomplished one of my main goals in my home schooling journey. Just think of it, most kids remember their first day of school like this: Johnny with his cute back pack waiting for the dreaded yellow school bus that would take him away to a place where his real learning journey would actually end instead of begin. In the first few years of his life, his parents or main care takers were his main teachers and they allowed him the freedom to explore and learn on his own. Now as he rides the yellow dog he’s about to embark on  12 years of in the box learning where his natural abilities to soak up knowledge like the sponges they are at that age, will be curtailed if not squashed. So today I am a happy, happy teacher knowing that my kids love learning and they will carry that hunger with them to serve them well in their lives.

My daughter then went on to admit that as her home schooling journey wraps up, she will miss it because she can look back at all the ups and downs we’ve faced together and her heart aches because she knows from here on out it’s up to her to make her life the way she wants it. We both teared up

Funny, I told my daughter that on my last day of high school when the last bell rang and all the seniors let out a happy freedom cry, the last thing on my mind was whether I was going to miss 12 years of compulsory education. No way, I told her I was so glad my time was done. And here her sentiment was so different and my heart ached a little.


365 Snap Shots of Life: Day 87

Education Requires Conversation

Education is not always  about opening textbooks, taking tests where you regurgitate the information you had to memorize in order to get a passing grade. Education is also not just having an instructor who shows you a new skill. Education requires conversation.

I can look back on the teachers I had when I went to school and the ones who are still with me, are the ones who didn’t always make the class crack the book open. In 1oth grade I had Mr. Griffin for World history. He was an eccentric man. He was in his 60’s, dressed impeccably and told the best stories. He had been a quarter back in high school ,went on to play in college; served in the military, I think he went to Korea. After the war he came back and became a commercial airline pilot.  If  Mr. Griffin would have said he ran for president, I would have believed him. He interacted with us on a daily basis. Don’ task me what I learned about world history in his class. I did learn that he was a deeply caring human being who liked his students. I never saw anyone sleeping in his class either.

When he would assign reports and students asked him how long or short did the report have to be Mr. Griffin always said,” Like a ladies’ dress: Long enough to cover the subject and short enough to keep it interesting.” I chuckle because I’ve used that same line on my kids in the past.

Mr. Griffin also hated  PDA which was always common in the last few second before the bell rang. Often I’d see him step out  and yell at the couples making out in his hallway,” Stop swapping slobber will ya?!!!”

True education requires conversations where both the teacher and the students interact and share ideas as well as argue points. Mt. Griffin shared and at times he’d let us do the sharing. Great teachers ought to also be able to learn from the students. My kids have taught me so many lessons along the way. Just today I had a conversation with my almost 16-year-old daughter where she helped me see something in a new light.

Last year I held a writing group in my home. The group consisted of kids my kids knew. I’d open up with a free write;  a time to let them unleash whatever they wanted on paper. Afterwards they had the chance to share if they were comfortable. At first, the idea turned them off because they thought it would be like regular school. Once they saw that they had the choice whether to read their writing in front of others or not, they became bolder. Pretty soon every writing session was amazing because these kids had somewhere they could come to where they would be heard. We all learned from each other and that’s what’s most important. Our writing time turned into sometimes deep, other times hilarious conversations. I miss those times because I met some exceptional young people.

Talking about education is like learning to dance by reading a book. You might get the basic technique down but you won’t really be dancing until you actually get on the floor and risk making a fool of yourself. Education requires conversation because that’s how you as a teacher, know that your students are learning and your students will know you care about them;because you value their views and opinion. After all, the teacher isn’t always right.

Love requires relationship. – Unknown

Stand on This!

From time to time in my years of home schooling I have run into certain insecurities about my calling. Are my kids learning enough? Can I teach them everything that they need to know before they leave the nest? Have I done my job as their teacher well? Will they be able to succeed in life? I mean the questions kept coming over the years until one day I read this scripture in Isaiah 54:13, ” Your children will be taught of the Lord and they shall know great peace.” I made that scripture the  focus of my homeschooling philosophy.
Since then I have talked to parents from both camps; homeschoolers and public schoolers and I have heard parents raise the same questions I have had. The answer is simple really; of course we can’t teach our kids EVERYTHING they need to know by the time they are 18. Seriously, does anyone ever graduate from high school having all the knowledge they will need for the rest of their life? Also, as far as what kind of job did I do as my kid’s main teacher? That too becomes more clear as they grow up; I rest in knowing that I gave them my best and I tried my best. As far as knowing whether they will succeed in life; that will depend entirely on them; yet again I rest knowing that I equipped them with tools for their lives and it’s up to them to take what was given to them and use that for their benefit.
May I suggest something to you? Give yourself some credit from time to time. If you are doing your best by your children, God honors that! Enjoy your summer day 🙂
” I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” -Chinese Proverb


Today my daughter came up to me and said the dreadful words,” I’m bored.” School is out for the summer and the season looms ahead of us. She explained that she had done everything to avert the “boredom monster” as I used to perceive it. “Mama, I have danced, I read, I did some art and now, I’m bored.” So I took a closer look at her statement and then I came up with an idea…me had a thought…or a chain of them any way.

I remember being a kid out of school for the summer and it never occurred to me to utter the “I’m bored” mantra of every school age kid. No way, I had to keep my mouth shut because if I ever dared make such a declaration, my aunt would have found me more work to do. As it is I had to help her shine her collection of sterling silver which she kept in a china cabinet that went from floor to ceiling and it was full of beautiful silver artifacts. Then if that wasn’t enough to keep my little hands busy, she expected me to do some kind of needle work. So you see, I became an expert at biting my tongue and not letting those 2 little words escape my lips.


So as I came back to the present and I studied my daughter laying on the couch in the living room; I told her what I had always wanted to hear from my aunt’s mouth but it never came,” It’s ok to not always be doing something .” My girl looked at me and I saw her relax right away as I continued,” I don’t think you’re bored,I think you might feel like you always have to be doing something…just enjoy yourself..it’s still good to day dream ok?” She smiled as she settled on the couch to continue doing absolutely NOTHING!

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR THE SUMMER!                                  

I enjoy summer vacation because I believe something special happens to me as a teacher and to my kids that I teach;just as life reflects nature;summer is a season of growing in ways that won’t be apparent until the following fall when school begins anew. During this season of rest and growth;we get rejuvenated and our roots tend to go deeper. I live out in the desert and nature hibernates when the weather is scorching;likewise I believe that as we rest from all school work and pressures that accompany the lives of teachers and their students;summer is when we “marinade” in all the knowledge that was acquired in the previous school year

I have seen it personally year after year;every time school starts back up for us,my kids come in eager to start. Also ,skills that may not have come easy to some of them,somehow after summer vacation,they grasp them . Being that I run a small school I have the privilege of seeing up close changes that perhaps might be missed if my kids swam in a bigger pond..

So go ahead,kick off your shoes,buy a new bathing suit,grill out,plan a vacation some where far away or maybe stay close by;but whatever you choose to do, whether it’s a lot, a little or maybe nothing at all..ENJOY yourself and live!  See you next Fall young people :)!!!


                                                     Eva Santiago copyright 2010


Be Advised :)

CAUTION! Before you decide to home school you should know that not everyone is going to jump on your band wagon and support you. When both sides of our family learned of our decision to home teach we received mixed feed back from different people in our extended families. My sister thought I was just plain stupid to have gone to college and gotten my Bachelors only to sit at home with my 4 kids and in her words,” waste my talents.” My brother in law admonished her by saying,” Are you kidding? How can she be wasting anything when your sister is pouring out the best of herself into her children?” Thank you for that Larry! Has it been tough on us with one of us bringing in one pay check? Well, at times it has been but in the end our needs have always been met. We also have learned that you really don’t need as much stuff to have a happy, comfortable life. We may not have the latest gadgets or go on vacations every summer but we do have each other and that is really what kids want: A stable happy home life where they know they are loved by both of their parents.

Unlock Treasure

My 3 girls attend dance lessons at an academy. They have teachers they learn a lot from and other teachers they don’t learn much from. Do you want to know what is the difference? I will be more than glad to tell you! The teachers my kids consider good and they can’t wait to see week after week are teachers who impart to them in a noble spirit; they are patient with the students and supportive. When they correct the students they don’t tear them down with harsh destructive criticism; they use constructive criticism to build up the student  thusly, the student grows. The other teachers are the complete opposite and they wear down the kid’s morale. Oh I’ve heard it from other grown ups that at times harsh critical words can aid the student in toughening her up and giving her a back bone. I disagree. ” No one has yet to fully realize the wealth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of true education should be to unlock the treasure.” –Emma Goldman This quote shows me that in order to bring out the best in our children we need to value them and nurture them , it doesn’t work any other way.