I treasure days when I get to go out with my girls and explore, days when we can all learn and discover new things together. I realize it’s even better when what we see and do open up an even bigger opportunity for exploration. Just like last week when I took them around Marikina and got a closer look on how shoes and bags are made, Summer and Emma came up with more questions — How do they make leather different colors? Where are ballet shoes made? How do they make the glue they use? — Questions that push us to keep learning and exploring.
These kids are hungry to learn and sometimes, I find it hard to keep up. Specially because Kayo and I have decided to DIY their learning for now, I heavily feel the urge to make sure they progress. Sometimes, I feel anxious. I hear voices in my head questioning my ability to teach and impart knowledge to them. But what I am also realizing being with them everyday is that I cannot and should never underestimate their ability to learn from their surroundings. They are naturals at learning and if I just keep feeding their curiosity and not brush their many questions aside, but always see it as an opportunity for discovery, then, for sure, there will be growth. There will be progress. They will also feel comfortable bringing up questions because that’s how we learn.
Lately, I’ve been intentionally taking notice of the things that interest them, taking those as cues and finding ways to feed their growing curiosity about the world.
Art is a recurring theme so we are constantly drawing pictures at home, working on craft projects, bringing them with us to art shows and galleries so they’ll be exposed to all types of art and, lately, allowing them to learn from our creative friends who are experts at their crafts.
Summer, who is turning six in a couple of weeks, saw a BBC documentary about shoe factories a while back and it became her favorite, almost an obsession! She was so intrigued by the machines and the process of making shoes. And that’s how I came up with the idea to take her to Marikina with her sisters.
We ended up not only visiting a shoe factory but also a bag factory. It turned out to be such a great idea! Watching an actual shoe being made in front of them and touching the different leathers and fabrics used to make bags and footwear gave them — all of us — quite a fascinating experience I’m quite sure they will always remember.
When we got home that day, the girls proceeded to draw the things they saw, even sketched out their own shoe and bag designs. Then a couple of days after, to keep things rolling, we made our own purses using cereal boxes.
Similar to what we saw at the Marikina factory, we created different stations. First was the “leather tanning station” (which was really just the painting station), then there was the sewing station where I taught them how to put their cardboard bag parts together using yarn and lastly, the embellishing station where they decorated their bags with buttons and drawings.
It was fun but not at all a smooth afternoon of crafts. Patience was tested and there was a lot fighting over buttons. But the good thing is, they realized that many things take a lot of time and effort to make and that it’s always best to follow instructions. Even then, the learning and discovery did not end.
One evening, while having dinner, Emma, my second born who is four and half years old, blurted out a question I will never forget — “Mom, are we all students?” I replied with an emphatic “YES! Yes we are all students!” and proceeded to talk about how, as students, we are always learning and can learn new things anywhere and everywhere — the playground, McDonald’s, the mountains, museums and, yes, even the supermarket. That short but precious conversation has stuck to me ever since. And I remember it every time I feel anxious or insecure about my ability to be their teacher at this stage of their young lives. I accept the fact that I don’t know everything but the great thing is that I can always be learning alongside them. Our little art projects, city adventures and explorations enrich me just as much as it enriches them and I cherish that. I’m not 100% sure how their form of education will evolve for the next years but I do hope to keep this culture of learning and exploring together going. Yes, we are all students.
About our trip to Marikina…
Here is a list of the places we visited:
NiQua Bag Factory
25 Nicanor Roxas St, Marikina (Best to message them first if the showroom will be open before you go or wait for an Open Factory event)
Marikina Shoe Trade Fair (various Marikina shoe brands in one stop)
East Grand Stand, Marikina Sports Park, McDonald’s Ave, Brgy Sto Niño, Marikina
Marikina Shoe Museum
J. P. Rizal St, Marikina
Fontelle Shoe factory
#4 E Santos cor Oval St, Paliparan, Brgy Sto Niño, Marikina