Have Home, Will Learn

This is the article I authored for Smart Parenting. It came out in the March 2011 Issue. I hope you will find it helpful.

When people ask me where my kids go to school, my answer is, “They don’t. They are homeschooled.” More often than not, I get a follow up question like, “What’s that?” Being a die-hard advocate of homeschooling, I enjoy answering that question. It helps that I was homeschooled myself, I homeschool my own kids, and I ran a homeschool program in the past. I have seen homeschooling from a 360 degree angle and experienced the benefits first-hand.

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Don’t Freak Out, Stage Mom!

Last Saturday, I was a stage mom. My two older sons, Elijah and Edan, had to take their Taekwondo promotional exam to move up to yellow belt. Edric was coming from a road show in Alabang so he asked me to take them earlier and he would catch up to us.

Taekwondo Class with Coach Vinz

Edan in his uniform

I prayed with my boys and encouraged them, drilling them on their oral examination questions on the way to the event. Another homeschool family rode with us and I was glad for the company.

We got there way ahead of the scheduled exam so the kids had time to warm up, review, practice, and play with their friends. Since I had not been in charge of their P.E. for the past two quarters (this is Edric’s department), I assumed that both of them were ready to perform for the examiner.

Well, Elijah was but Edan wasn’t. I didn’t realize this until they had their practice with the coach before the exam and Edan sort of just gave up. He started looking down at his hands and did not go along with the group. I started to panic inside! Edric wasn’t there yet and I didn’t know how to motivate Edan because he seemed to have forgotten his foundation forms (Taekwondo terms)! He knew parts of foundation form 1 and 2 but not all of it. Oh dear!

I didn’t want to discourage or embarrass him by making a big deal out of it, but I began to think all sorts of things like, What if he doesn’t pass and Elijah does? How will he feel? What if the audience makes fun of him or the examiner scolds him? Why is he acting like that? Are people going to think I am a bad homeschool mommy? Where in the world is Edric and I hope he gets here soon!

After their practice session, I took him aside and tried to ask him in the most calm manner I could muster, “What’s wrong, Edan? Are you okay?” A part of me wanted to say, “What’s wrong with you, boy?! Shape up and get your act together!!!” But of course, I didn’t say that!

Taekwondo Promotional Exam – Practice session

I guessed from his disposition and countenance that he was self-conscious. He was the youngest and smallest participant, and maybe he really hadn’t memorized everything as easily as the others had. So I just said, “okay just try your best.”  I panic texted Edric instead! Edric kept on reassuring me that everything was going to be fine. He rushed over as quickly as he could get there and he caught the last part of their exam. I wanted to cry when Edan wasn’t following some of the instructions of the tester, but I kept it cool.  What was happening inside of Edan was more important than his performance and I needed to remember that if he didn’t pass it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Praise God, they both passed!

But when we got home, Edric talked to Edan privately and had a man-to-man with him. He found out that Edan had felt shy during the performance (as I had guessed). And he encouraged him by saying, “Remember you don’t need to be scared because Jesus is in your heart. And he will help you.” He also told him that he had to be disciplined with practicing.

This event taught us several parenting lessons:

1. Our children must believe that we love them for who they are and not for what what they do.

2. Mistakes and failures in the lives of our children can always be turned into opportunities for them to learn something important and to grow in character.

3. We must not compare our children with each other. One may excel easily in a certain task while another may not and this doesn’t mean they are less intelligent or less gifted, just wired differently, and we need to help them experience success by guiding them, training them, and holding them accountable.

4. We should never pressure our children to perform well for the sake of our reputation or pride! Instill in them the desire to do their best for God.

We're proud of you guys!

Showing off one of their stances

It All Boils Down to Love & Relationships

The quality of homeschooling is very much affected by the quality of your relationships in the home. When my husband and I have tension in our marriage or our emotional tanks are not full, these things have a negative effect on my interactions with the kids. If Edric and I let conflicts remain unresolved, I actually have NO desire to homeschool the kids. I am too preoccupied nursing my own wounds and frustrations and I want to be alone. “What can I do with and for the kids today?” is a question I don’t want to put any energy into answering.

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The Importance of Modeling

I came across this excerpt as I was helping my dad prepare for one of his Sunday messages and it really struck me. It is from George Barna’s book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. Barna has written more than three dozen books on contemporary Christian issues, with topics ranging from worldviews, trends and children to church life, spiritual growth and leadership, and he is the the founder of  The Barna Group, a market research firm specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture. His point is that modeling is so important in the lives of our children and inconsistency, so detrimental.

I quote him here as saying, “our research suggests that behavioural modelling is the  most powerful component in a parent’s efforts to influence a child. It appears that as our society becomes increasingly secular, our children are developing  a hypocrisy detector – an internal sensitivity to actions, attitudes, values and beliefs that are inherently contradictory to words that have been uttered as instructions. When an inconsistency is identified, a child is prone to do two things: (1) ignore the instruction itself, and (2) conclude that there is no specific command that they must obey. If you are struggling with particular aspects of raising your child, especially in relation to the faith dimension, step back and evaluate your behaviour. You may discover that while you are able to voice the appropriate concepts to your young ones, your behaviour negates those words. The ‘do as I say, not as I do approach’ is increasingly incompatible with effective influence upon children.” (Geroge Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2003, pg. 85)

On the positive side, if we are able to live out the kind of faith we teach in the home, our children will grow up to really love God, too!

Monday is Group Homeschooling Day!

Yesterday, my sister in law, Jenny, and I homeschooled our kids together.  It is becoming our Monday thing. We had a great time. The kids were a little rowdier this time around but we still got our goals done. The kids love being together and like I wrote in an earlier post, it motivates them to finish their work fast!

Jenny took charge of music time — teaching the books of the Bible through song. I read them stories in the beginning and we both supervised their independent work.

I’ve included videos of what they did together to give parents an idea of how it works. Maybe it will give you ideas! Homeschooling with another family is F-U-N!

Music Time Together!

Memory Verse Recitation

Independent Work Time



Homeschooling Video for Curious Parents

I came across this video while uploading my own videos on to YouTube. It will give parents a general idea of what homeschooling is like. It is done professionally and gives a good overview of homeschooling. 🙂

A Helpful Video for Parents Interested in Homeschooling

Homeschooling Video Demos (Part 3 to 5)

Homeschooling Young Children Part 3 shows me giving more attention to Elijah while Edan is assigned his Science. After a while, Edan wants me to help him color in his book so I do that. When he finishes, he decides it is time for a break by going over to play with Titus. I keep working with Elijah to supervise him. With Elijah, I don’t need to be so hands on, but I still need to check on his work and be available if he needs me. He is getting to be more independent so I don’t have to be hands-on all the time.

In Homeschooling Young Children Part 4 I ask Edan to read aloud without me and I concentrate on helping Elijah finish his work. I demonstrate how I ask Elijah questions to see if he knows the material he is studying. Sometimes Elijah prefers to answer orally.

Personally, I feel that it is good to allow children to express themselves verbally instead of writing down answers all the time.  Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to interact with my kids to find out if they are learning. This is an advantage that homeschooling allows. In a classroom, a teacher has to rely on written work most of the time because she cannot possibly connect with each student every single day in the same way that a mom can dialogue with their child while homeschooling.

After I have given time and attention to Elijah and Edan, I proceed to work with Titus with a manipulative material for shapes and fractions. Homeschooling Young Children Part 5

Since Titus is just 2 years old, my learning goals for him are much simpler. I want him to enjoy the homeschooling environment, music, art, and reading time; I want him to feel like he is included; I want him to learn more about God through Bible stories; I want to teach him character;  I want to reinforce his understanding of shapes, numbers, colors, pre-math concepts like bigger, smaller, longer, etc., develop his motor skills by using some Montessori-style activities, and introduce him to phonetics. He also learns a lot from observing, interacting with, and copying his older brothers.


Homeschooling Video Demos (Part 1 & 2)

People have often asked me, “What do you do when you homeschool?” “What is it like teaching more than one child?”

To answer these questions, I decided to put together videos of the kids and I while we homeschool. I took a video of our homeschooling interactions yesterday and then uploaded them. Don’t have grand expectations. 🙂 These are raw, candid and unprofessional, and you will see the kids disrupting each other or not being angelic ALL the time. I left the videos as is so that you can have an idea of how homeschooling happens for us. I hope it will demystify things and help you realize that learning happens naturally (not perfectly) but the kids enjoy the process and move towards completely their goals.

Homeschooling Young Children Part 1 shows me reading with all four kids around me. This time is really for the younger kids, but Elijah, my older son, joins in as well. I am reading to them from a character book called First Virtues for Toddlers by (for the sake of the younger kids), and then from a book called Right Choices by Kenneth Taylor. I also use a book called ABC Bible Verses for Kids and The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, which are both by Kenneth Taylor but you won’t see me reading from these in the video. All of these books work well for children from 0 to 4. They are not text heavy. (The ABC Bible Verses for Kids requires a longer attention span — ages 3 to 7)

In the video, Edan is sitting near me but not right beside me. I don’t make a big deal out of this. To include him in the story time, I ask him questions. He is one of those kids whom, more often than not, prefers to be doing something with his hands while I read.

Don’t stress out if your child doesn’t want to sit on your lap or right beside you while you read. As long as he is within hearing distance, that’s fine. Ask them questions about what you are reading to check for comprehension.

First Virtues for Toddlers by Mary Manz Simon

Right Choices by Kenneth N. Taylor

My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt

The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth Taylor

Homeschool Young Children Part 2 shows how I help them as they do their individual work. Edan is working on practicing reading using Sing, Spell, Read, and Write readers for Kindergarten. Elijah is supposed to be working on Language Arts and you will see him getting distracted from time to time and I remind him to keep focused. (He is currently using Alpha Omega Publications lifepacs for Language Arts.) Titus is given a building toy to play with so can stay preoccupied. Tiana is being entertained by the “Ate” or nanny.

Edan gets frustrated while he is reading some parts but I encourage him by saying, “Let’s see who can read the words first” (There is a list of words that he has to read at the beginning of the book). And I also say, “Let’s take turns reading.” so he doesn’t feel like he has to read the whole book. I’ve tried this technique with him on numerous occasions and eventually, he is willing to read the whole book on his own.

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write (SSRW) Kindergarten Level by Sue Dickinson


As you may see from the videos, our learning environment is laid back. The kids get to sit on the floor, on a carpet while they learn. I’m not particular about making them sit still at a desk but for some other parents, this is important. It is up to you to set up a learning environment that works for you and our kids. 🙂 I prefer to have close contact with my children — either sitting beside them or near them. I don’t teach from a white board or blackboard.

Part 3 to 5 to follow…


Storytelling through a Puppet Show

Here’s a good way to get all your kids to learn a story. For this show, we chose the Creation Story and the kids helped make the props. They all performed their special roles. It is just a simple show, but it will give you an idea of how to make a story come alive for your child. The kids end up doing most of the work without realizing it! It also a way to teach sequencing, organization and order, art, and presentation skills.

Storytelling through a Puppet Show


Make Your Own Mini-Books

Help your child remember concepts better by letting them make their own books about things like shapes, numbers, letters, and the like. I let Titus make his own letters and numbers book the other day. Here is what we came up with:

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Burn Out Buster – Team Teach with Another Mom!

Some children thrive on being with others when they learn. They are social learners or they get inspired by the idea that other kids are doing the same thing they are. It really depends on your child. Today, I tried mixing it up a little by asking my sister-in-law, Jenny, if she would like to do homeschooling together in her house. Our kids love to be together so I thought we might try doing a group homeschooling session.

Continue reading “Burn Out Buster – Team Teach with Another Mom!” »

Homeschool Methods, A Quick Overview

There are many ways to homeschool for the many different ways a child learns and the many different ways each parent likes to teach. Finding the right one to suit your family can sometimes be a challenge so it helps to have a general overview of what the options are.

Last year I compiled an overview for parents who attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. The powerpoint file does not include ALL the methods out there because there are many more. However, it cuts through the clutter for young families who are looking to start homeschooling.

Homeschool Methods, A Quick Overview