When Teaching Math Makes Me Crazy

Arrrrrrggggghhhh. Teaching math to my five year old daughter makes me go crazy sometimes!

Why is it so hard for her to get math?! Is it me? Is it her? It’s flabbergasting!!!

After successfully teaching three boys basic math, I feel like she should be able to get it just as easily. But this hasn’t been the case. It’s been a challenging year trying to help her learn fundamental math skills.

This level of math is so elementary it frightens me to think of what it’s going to be like when we tackle more difficult skills. A few days ago, I called in reinforcements that came in the form of my husband, Edric. He very patiently asked her to bring her dolls into his study room so he could experientially demonstrate subtraction.

As I vented to him in private, he calmly reminded me, “This is exactly what you talk about in your seminars. Every child is different. Don’t compare. You are going to have to adjust your teaching style just like you tell parents to.”

He’s absolutely right. My problem is I want to be able to explain things to her a few times and expect that it converges sensibly in her brain. But it doesn’t. I know she doesn’t have a learning disability…although I have wondered if she does.

In fact, I looked up dyscalculia — a brain-based condition that makes it difficult to understand number sense and math concepts. It’s like missing the logic behind math. Yet Tiana doesn’t quite fit the definition of this disability.

At the end of the day, it’s me who has to change and improve my methods (and expectations). Children can’t be taught using a cookie-cutter approach.

The reality is, as Edric emphasized, each child is unique and different. Tiana needs more attention when it comes to math. I can’t breeze through material with her. Deep down, I know this. But two things poison my teaching:

1. Worrying that she will get left behind people her age.

2. Feeling too lazy to modify my teaching and present material creatively.

Why does #1 concern me? Because I am proud! I want my children to excel and be ahead of their peers. Yes, homeschool moms struggle with this, too!

But #2 is an issue because I am busy. When I get busy and when I feel harried, I don’t enjoy the process of learning and discovery. This is something I preach and believe in — make learning a lifestyle. However, when I am pressed by deadlines or when I have something else that is urgent, I rush through lessons with my kids.

After stepping back and evaluating why I was stressed and annoyed, I came to the conclusion that Tiana has no problems learning. Sure, she may take longer to “GET” certain concepts. But she can do it if I am committed to being the kind of teacher who truly enables her.

In a recent seminar I attended, I learned that the goal of teaching is life change. The goal of instruction is application. Until a person applies what you taught him or her, your job isn’t done as a teacher.

As a homeschool mom, this translates to this: Until my kids reach the point where they can confidently apply what they have learned, then I must remain committed to helping them do so. I cannot give up, quit, turn-over the responsibility, or resign to the frustration. If they don’t learn well it’s not my children’s fault. It’s mine — my perspective is wrong, my approach is not appropriate or effective, or I am focusing on my limitations and my child’s shortcomings.

So what am I going to do about it? Throw a book out a window, lose my temper, say mean things in my irritation, or crawl under a rock and say, forget it! (Those are some of things I feel like doing!)

I can’t do any of the above. That’s a defeatist mindset — the kind that is unproductive, unhealthy and damaging to my kids and me. So I praise God for Edric’s levelheadedness at the moment when I was about to lose it mentally and emotionally. He reminded me that I am responsible.

For Tiana, I can…

1. Use more hands-on experiences (i.e. games, manipulatives)

2. Connect math to life. Show how math can be applied to everyday situations (I.e. Baking, shopping)

3. Make math fun by being more creative in the way I present concepts and test for learning

4. Research on techniques to equip myself better

5. Be encouraging, positive, and patient

6. Pray!

For all my homeschooling friends out there and non-homeschooling friends, if you are a parent like me let’s say this together: WE ARE RESPONSIBLE.

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It’s no accident that God gave us the child or children we have with their strengths and weaknesses. That was His plan and design to teach us what it means to love and forgive unconditionally, to depend on Him, and to become more like Him in character.

Homeschooling is actually life-schooling for me! Everyday I need to work on my parenting skills and grow the fruit of the Holy Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 2:22-23) I don’t think that non-homeschooling parents are exempted from this either.

Lastly, our relationship with our children is far more important than their academic perfection. At the end of everyday do our children know that we love them no matter what? Do they go to bed affirmed by this truth?

I will leave you with the lyrics of Sara Groves from her song, You Cannot Lose My Love. It’s about God’s love towards us but I want to be the kind of parent who sings the same message to my kids:

“You Cannot Lose My Love”

You will lose your baby teeth.
At times, you’ll lose your faith in me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.

You may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right.
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.

You will lose your confidence.
In times of trial, your common sense.
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.

Many things can be misplaced;
Your very memories be erased.
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love.
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose,
You cannot lose my love.

Listen to Sara Groves’ song here

 

Global Home Education Conference

Edric and I will soon be in South America to attend the Global Home Education Conference (GHEC). Although I’m not thrilled about leaving our little ones behind, I also need to extract myself from my daily routine as a homeschooling mom, from my myopic perspective, and look at home education from a global perspective.

Edric is actually part of the GHEC board, a team of movers in home education around the world, who have been planning this event for the last 18 months.

What is the GHEC? 

GHEC 2016 is a leadership conference for policy makers, researchers, movement leaders, and parents interested in home education…The GHEC 2016 is a three-day event that brings together those with an interest in freedom of education and home education in particular to provide a stimulating environment to gather the best cross-section of research and to cultivate a commitment to parent-directed education. Home education highlights the most crucial factors in the freedom of education discussion. Who is responsible for education? What role do parents play in the education of their children? To what extent is the state responsible for education of children? Source: About GHEC

The last time I attended the GHEC in Berlin I learned so much from the speakers and connected with people from all around the world. It was inspiring, encouraging, and life-changing. One of the talks that I liked the most was given by child development psychologist, Dr. Gordon Neufeld. He gave the audience this thought-provoking question, “When did your child first fall in love with you?”

His point was: we can’t influence children if we don’t have their hearts. Furthermore, children don’t mature in a healthy way when they aren’t secure in their relationship with their parents. Read more about this in my article: Why Home Education Works

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This year I am looking forward to picking up more insights from veteran homeschoolers, policy makers, and influencers who are making an impact on education around the globe.

Somehow, I also became part of the workshop speaker’s pool to talk about the support systems that we need to make available to homeschooling families. It’s a super small role and I’m slightly terrified about it because it’s outside of my comfort zone to speak with amazing moms or people who have a lot more experience than I do. But Edric and I are here to serve. (He will be a speaker, too.)

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Please pray for me, that I will be a blessing and encourage the attendees with some practical wisdom (Edric, too). Furthermore, please pray that both of us bring glory to God. (Of course, please pray that we don’t get bitten by a mosquito carrying the Zika virus!)

Why is the GHEC important to Edric and me? I will quote GHEC’s goal here:

The ability to choose home education is a right. It’s a right well-documented in international law. It’s our right as parents to direct the education of our children. And it’s the right of children to receive an individualized education experience that best suits their needs and goals.

This concept cuts across cultures, methods, and beliefs. It exists regardless of motivation or methodology in home education. This conference is a gathering for those who have an interest in engaging the important questions surrounding home education.

We are blessed to be able to home educate our children in the Philippines because the government is supportive of it. But we must seek to defend the rights of all families who want to choose home education for their own families and cannot because the laws of the land deprive them of this right. Furthermore, what affects one part of the world will eventually impact all of us. So this is for our children’s future, too.

If you want to attend the conference but can’t fly to Brazil to be there physically, you can catch the live stream.

I’ll try my best to post my learnings, too!

 

The Benefits of Group Learning

I think it’s possible to have the best of both worlds when you homeschool — customized and individualized instruction, as well as the advantages of group learning. For the former, there’s home. But for the latter, there’s our weekly coop.The easiest way to do this is to initiate activities that require children to gather together in groups to solve problems or work towards a goal. 

Our weekly coop is a mix of amazing moms who are talented, dedicated and generous with their time. Moms take turns teaching for a quarter then switch it up again. Personally, I feel that our older children probably get the most out of these weekly meetings because they are challenged and pushed in a positive way. 

When an oldest child is homeschooled, he is naturally top dog — the one whom siblings look up to and follow. Well, in a group setting with kids who are different ages, skilled in various ways, and opinionated, it’s good for their character development to learn to work together for common goals. Plus there’s the aspect of healthy competition.

At present, our older kids are taking up entrepreneurship, taught by Amanda Ross, and Make Your Own Country, facilitated by Andi Miller. The kids are especially enjoying the social studies one because it involves collaborating to create things like the name of a country, language, geography, history, commerce, etc. 

Interestingly, all of the alpha kids, the ones who like to take charge and give their opinions, were lumped together. And the other group was a mix of “calmer” students who were doers and knew how to organize themselves. The second group got more done and was many steps ahead of group 1. 

However, both sets of kids are benefitting from this activity. The aggressive and domineering ones are learning to put their ideas together and listen to one another to move towards a goal. And the more silent ones are learning to express themselves and give their inputs. Both must organize themselves and work as a team without parents hovering over them. 

   
 While it’s possible to homeschool without attending coops or playgroups, I do see the pros of allowing kids to connect with other children who will stretch their capacities, sharpen their minds, test their personalities, and not always agree with them. Character gets put to the test and friendships are forged as children get to bond with one another through by sharing challenges.

   
 Furthermore, everyone has the opportunity to shine and contribute without being under the shadow of their older siblings, which I have found to be true for my second son, Edan. 

    
 Edan was in group 2 and he stepped up to organize everyone. I don’t think this would have happened if he was in the same group as Elijah. And I am sure he is loving the fact that his team is, at present, “beating” his older brother’s. As for me, I am totally amused and thankful that our kids have other children to homeschool with and I have parents to share the journey with. 

If you aren’t in a coop yet, consider forming one with a few friends and then let it grow from there. Ours started out with a handful of moms who would meet in a park while our kids ran around to play, and now we have grown to a sizable number with sections for age groups and organized classes. We adjusted as our kids’ needs changed, and we continue to think through what we can offer them to maximize their time together. If you want to read more about how to set up a coop, check out my post: You Don’t Have To Know Everything. I included a section that details how to start one. 


Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015: Ready For the World!

Every homeschooling parent needs to recharge and revisit the commitment they have made to educate their children at home. Because we are in the trenches of teaching our children it’s difficult to see the bigger picture. Where are we headed? What is the goal? How do we navigate through the daily challenges without getting lost or discouraged?

Sometimes the best way to regroup is to take a pause from the homeschool teaching in order to be taught for a change! We need spiritual, emotional and intellectual feeding ourselves. The great teacher Howard Hendricks said, “The philosophy that you as a teacher should embrace is that you are a learner. Would you rather have your students drink from an overflowing living stream or a stagnant pool? What have you learned lately?” (Seven Laws of the Teacher)

As homeschooling parents, we need encouragement and fresh ideas, to correct our approaches and perspectives, or revisit the fundamentals that have gotten buried under our doings. Maybe we need to stop doing or start doing something. And of course, we always need more materials, books, resources, and curriculum. But, most of all, we need spiritual reviving from the Lord, and connectedness to other homeschoolers. In short, what we need is a homeschool conference that puts all these elements together for us!

This October 17, Homeschool Association of the Philippine IslandsManila Workshops and The Learning Basket bring you the largest homeschooling conference this year – “The Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015: Ready for the World!”

As a precursor to the “Global Home Education Conference” (GHEC) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in March 2016, two well-respected homeschool advocates and speakers from the United States will be gracing the event as keynote speakers: Michael Donnelly, Director for Global Outreach of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and Secretary of GHEC 2016, and Rachael Carman, mother of seven and best-selling author and publisher of popular homeschool curriculum Apologia. Rachael’s husband, Davis, the President of Apologia, will be speaking as well.

Other speakers include Edric Mendoza (Homeschool advocate and host of ANC’s On the Money) who is my wonderful, and motivational speaker and wealth coach, Chinkee Tan.

Homeschoolers and those exploring this educational option will be inspired, informed and empowered in this biggest homeschooling event. Definitely bigger than the past years’ homeschool conferences, “Ready for the World!” will be held at THREE venues at SM Aura Premiere. Keynote talks will be held at the Samsung Hall, while smaller workshops and the much awaited homeschool expo will be at the SMX Convention Center.

An All Access Pass (pass to go in and out of all three venues, including the exposition venue) is at Php 1000 per person for the early bird rate. Aside from the inspiring talks, there will be a huge expo of the various learning providers, educational tools, toys, books, etc. that will help homeschooling parents and aspiring homeschooling parents in their daily lives. This expo will be open to the public for a minimal amount of Php 100 per head, but this fee is already included in the All Access Pass.

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Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI), a non-stock, non-profit advocacy of Filipino homeschoolers, together with Manila Workshops, a company dedicated to continuing education for professional and personal goals, and The Learning Basket, an advocacy that inspires parents to be their children’s first and best teacher, offers an event jam-packed with information and inspiration about homeschooling that will help parents get their kids ready for the world.

To register, please visit: Manila Workshops

For inquiries, please contact: manilaworkshops@gmail.com

Visit http://facebook.com/manilaworkshops or Instagram @manilaworkshops for updates and info.

 

Renovating the Homeschool Room

Who messes up on IKEA instructions?! I do! I did! With a day to redecorate our homeschool room before it was going to be documented for an interview on homeschooling, I tried to rush through assembling eight pieces of furniture with my kids and made several mistakes. Of course I felt incredibly inept and discouraged! IKEA is supposed to be dummy-proof…if you religiously follow the instruction manual. I decided that I pretty much got it after skimming through the manual and took it from there, using my own logic and instinct. Well, neither of these worked perfectly. 

I found myself frustrated and stressed. My kids were doing the best they could, and they were having a lot of fun, but after a while, they too realized what we were up against…Too many pieces of furniture to put together for a mom and five kids. (Catalina had to be banned several times because she was stealing the tools.)

Edric came home and saw me in dire straits. His instinctively announced to the kids, as he surveyed the mess we made, “Have no fear, daddy is here!” Everyone cheered! 

Like a general who had total control of his army, Edric organized all of us into stations and roles. He was much stricter than I was and very bossy which took some getting used to at first, but if it had not been for his leadership, I would have struggled through the renovation. 

Could I have organized and fixed the room myself? Probably. I am not a helpless chick. I know how to use a tool box. But was it nice to be rescued by my husband? Of course! 

There was something about his command over the situation that was very reassuring. I didn’t have to bear a burden that he was very willing to take upon himself. And he knew how to follow instructions much more methodically and carefully than I did. 

I actually waited twelve years to have a homeschooling space like this! Thank you, Lord! I hope you enjoy the transformation of our homeschool room which we got done in about 10 hours thanks to family team work and Edric’s able leadership! Tadah! 

Before…   

  In process…

  
    
   
    
   
After…

   
The kids wanted a stage with different colored backgrounds for their “green screen” videos. (Still working on this part.)

    
 Still organizing the shelves…  
    
    
   
Still to add…beanbags and rug for reading area, kiddie table and chairs, and drawers for more storage. Any other ideas or suggestions? 

By the way, I found most of the furniture at Furniture Source Philippines. They are located along Granada Street, right after Ortigas avenue and before Gilmore in San Juan. You can check out their Facebook page and Instagram. Their prices are higher than what I would pay for from an actual IKEA because they ship products in but I still didn’t spend as much as I would have if I had gone with other suppliers.

 
 

Make Time to Teach Character

 

  

 It’s a challenge to hold Titus’ attention. I suppose this comes with being a more physical child whose hands are perpetually itching to do something. Thankfully, his capacity to sit through a lesson with me has significantly improved. There are days when he is highly distracted and I need to sit him right beside me in order to check on his progress. But he is old enough to recognize when it’s time to listen and focus on what is required of him. 

My job, as a mother, is not to merely fill his mind with content and information but to equip him with the tools to succeed. This is the same belief I hold for all my kids. Character trumps knowledge as a prerequisite to true success in life. So character instruction must be prioritized. 
There are occasions when this involves setting the books aside as we homeschool to teach a character trait instead. This detour in my schedule and plans feels unpleasant. However, when I am able to remove myself from the myopic view of pages-to-be-accomplished to the greater end goal of preparing my children’s hearts for adulthood, I am comforted by the thought that this is the better pursuit for the moment. 
Today, I gathered the kids around me while I read from their Bible curriculum. Very often, to check their comprehension, I will ask each of them questions about what I am reading. Titus couldn’t answer me the first time. So I told him very clearly that he needed to pay attention. He acknowledged. He is an obedient son so obedience wasn’t the issue. This was about focusing his mind on the lesson of the moment, which he is able to do. 
I read a couple more paragraphs then paused to ask another comprehension question. Titus was chatting with Tiana so he couldn’t respond. And he knew he was in trouble. 
“I want you to write ‘I will listen’ fifty times.” 
Titus isn’t too fond of writing as a six year old boy, so I knew this consequence would be remarkable enough to leave an imprint in his brain. He walked up the stairs in tears to get a piece of paper and a pencil. At first he was resistant but then I sat down with him to give him the opportunity to process why this was a consequence. He apologized and I embraced him, reminding him that I loved him, that this was part of loving him — teaching him character.
It took him an hour and a half just to write that sentence fifty times, but by the end of it, I was sure the message sank in. 
“What did you learn?” I asked Titus.
“I will listen,” was his humble response. 
Attentiveness is one of the most important traits a child needs in order to homeschool. If my children don’t know how to listen to my instruction, there’s no point in jumping to the content and forcing them to sit still. They need to manage their attention spans, no matter what kind of learner they are. 
I have all kinds of learners in my home — auditory, visual, kinesthetic, global, analytical, social, independent, etc. The first hurdle is obedience. The second is attentiveness. 
Writing down, “I will listen,” was the only homeschool lesson for Titus today. Regardless, I would still call it a good day because we spent time addressing a spiritual and emotional need, and this is why we homeschool in the first place! 


Set Them Up for Success

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Are you a parent wondering what is the best kind of education for your child where he will learn and be successful someday? Are you a parent interested in knowing more about homeschooling?

If the answer to any of the above questions is a resounding “Yes!” then don’t miss the upcoming 2015 Parents Conference of TMA Homeschool at the Bayanihan Center, Unilab on March 12.

This event, entitled “Set Them Up for Success”, is set to enlighten and inspire you  to raise your children to become happy, responsible, productive  adults and leaders “wherever they are planted”. The event will run for a whole day and will consist of keynote topics like “Set Them Up for Success” and “Catching your Child’s God-given Bents for Success”. Speakers will include Edric Mendoza of TMA Homeschool and ANC’s On the Money and Jayson Lo, author of Younique.

Aside from keynote talks, the conference will also feature the following workshops. You may choose one track each from workshops A & B.

Workshops (A)
Track 1: How to do a Character-focused Education Donna Simpao
Track 2: How to Do Multi-Level Homeschooling Milona Barraca
Track 3: How to Homeschool through High School Bles de Guzman
Workshops (B)
Track 4: How to Adjust Your Teaching Strategies for Effective Learning Joy Mendoza
Track 5: Hooray for Dads Who Homeschool Dennis Sy
Track 6: Q and A Forum

This conference is open to everyone. Register today! Free admission for TMA Homeschool Parents. Fee is P500/head for non-TMA-ers.

We gently encourage you to leave your children at home so that we can all focus on the conference. Should you decide to bring your children, there is a fee of P500.00 per child 2 to 16 years old. We will provide activities for children in the preschool to elementary ages but our children’s room is limited to 20. Older teens will stay with their parents in the conference halls.

Breastfeeding moms can bring their babies along but yayas will also be charged P500.00.

For more information, contact Alyssa Chua via landline (234-0432 loc. 114), mobile (0917-8491409), or e-mail (alyssa@tmahomeschool.org).

Source: manilaworkshops.com

Event Location

Venue:   Bayanihan Center

Venue Phone: (02) 858-1979, (02) 858-1985 to 86

Address: 8008 Pioneer St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City

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What’s the Game Plan?

Do you have a game plan for your child this summer? Would you like them to learn a sport or hone their existing athletic skills? Do you want them to develop character traits that will impact their choices positively? 
This year, Mega Sports Camp 2015 will be holding its second run of the successful weeklong sports, fitness, and values event for children ages 6 to 13 years old. There’s no other camp in the Philippines quite like it! Organized by CCF’s NXTGen Children’s Ministry in cooperation with a team of incredible coaches like PBA’s Coach Siot Tanquincen, Plana Forma Trainer’s Gino Ong, and many others, this is one camp you won’t want your kids to miss out on! 

The theme of this year’s camp is GAME PLAN, echoing the verses in Jeremiah 29:11-12, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.”
If you prefer to wait for your children during the camp days, you can attend scheduled talks for parents (topics to be announced). Even though the camp aims to accommodate 1,500 kids, slots are limited for each sport. So the earlier you sign your kids up, the more sports options you will have to choose from. My boys are all signing up for basketball!  



View this video to get an idea of what last year’s camp was like:Mega Sports Camp Highlights

Dealing With Meltdowns

When my kids have their once-in-a-while “meltdowns” during our homeschooling, I am faced with two options. The first is to be annoyed, which is a very real temptation that may involve a response like, “Get over it and do your work. I have no time for your drama.”

Obviously, this would be counterproductive as it is unfair to expect my children to turn their emotions on and off like a switch does to a light bulb. So I usually go for option two, which is to give my children space to feel the emotion that is overwhelming them, to process what they are feeling, and then to pray about it. After all, I have several children to teach so having one absent from our homeschool room actually makes my life easier! But the more important objective is giving my kids the opportunity to hear from the Lord, and allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to them more effectively than I can, especially when the meltdown is at its peak. This type of response is more effectively applied with older children who have a relationship with Jesus Christ because they are Holy-Spirit-equipped to process their circumstances.

Yesterday, my oldest son, Elijah, pushed his IPad away while muttering, “I can’t do this! I got everything wrong! I don’t like math anymore!”

“Are you okay?” I asked calmly, attempting to diffuse his frustration.

“No, I am not and you can’t help me. Nobody can help me.” (He tends to use superlatives in his sentences when he is emotionally charged.)

It wasn’t the most respectful thing to say to me, but I knew where he was coming from as a perfectionist. So I requested that he take a break from his Khan Academy work and go to his room. He got up, huffing and puffing about what a failure he was and threw himself on to the bed to cry.

When Elijah makes mistakes, his morale plummets due to the high standard he expects of himself. Even if I tell him, mistakes can be positive when we learn from them and it’s okay to make mistakes, mistakes are part of growing, that’s not what he wants to hear. More often than not, the best recourse is to back off and give him space to cool down.

After thirty minutes, I lay beside him on the bed and gave him a big hug and kiss. “I love you.” I assured him. And then I listened to his ranting about how upset he was and how he didn’t want to try because he couldn’t do his math well.

When he quieted down I asked him if his mistakes were due to an understanding issue or just carelessness. He admitted that it was the latter. I suspected it was probably so because he prefers to solve math problems mentally, without writing down the solutions.

Since it wasn’t a matter of understanding the formulas involved, I didn’t think it was a big problem. He just needed to slow down and take time to review how he arrived at the answers he did. Furthermore, I asked him if I could sit beside him and do the problems with him.

He really perked up with this suggestion! The idea of sitting side by side to tackle the work gave him renewed incentive to try again. (He is a time person.) So that’s what we did, as a team.

With each problem, we raced to see who would get the answer first. When I needed to review my math formulas I asked him to help me, which he enjoyed doing. In fact his mood changed completely. He was enthusiastic as he demonstrated how to solve the problems and as we compared our answers. I let him take the lead and he gladly did so, assuming the role of instructor as I played the part of student. In the process he answered every problem correctly. What began as a meltdown turned into a fun bonding and learning experience.

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When we finished, Elijah turned to me and said, “Thank you, mom. Thank you for listening and not lecturing me. And I really like it when you are with me.”

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭19‬ NASB)

One of the sweet privileges of homeschooling is being able to ask my kids to take a pause from their “school” work in order to assess and pray about their emotions and attitudes. This gives the Holy Spirit room to convict them and minister to them. It also allows me to think through how I should respond so I avoid the default reaction of irritation when my kids say, “I don’t want to do my work, mom.” After the beneficial pause, which lasts between five to thirty minutes, I can come along side my children to walk them through the challenge of a difficult assignment.

This wouldn’t be realistic in the conventional school model, so I praise God my kids aren’t in a classroom. We aren’t rushed to finish course work during the day when it’s more necessary to stop and address a heart condition or encourage the love for learning. I also get to know my children better — what enlivens them, what demotivates them, what they need to improve on. Best of all, I see the grace of God at work as he helps them deal with their struggles and come out of them positively. God works in my own life, too, teaching me what to say and what to AVOID saying (which is my number one area of improvement in life…keeping quiet and being gentle!)

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭16‬:‭32‬ NASB)

I once read that parenting needs to be about long term goals rather than short-sighted ones. Short-sightedness is stressing out when my children aren’t eager to do their homeschooling work or when they don’t seem to get the material as expediently as I hope they will. I can fall into this mode of parenting which turns me into a tyrannical teacher, one who is pressured to MAKE my kids succeed academically. Or, I can set my sights on the long term goal of parenting.

My long term goal is to raise my children to love God with all that they are and to develop their gifts and abilities for his glory, so they can effectively declare the gospel. When that is my fixed mark, the kids and I can set aside the homeschooling task at hand because there is a more redemptive cause at stake — recalibrating my children’s hearts to adapt Christ-centered perspectives and attitudes. I want their minds primed for instruction rather than forced to receive it. I also want them to know that my love and acceptance will cushion their failures.

When these elements are present as we homeschool, the joy of purposeful learning and teaching returns and the atmosphere is one of peace and calm. But everyday births a new challenge or resurrects an old one so it’s only by God’s grace that we survive each year of homeschooling to pursue another one!

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Do We Really Need to Be Stressed?

My older sons were de-motivated at the beginning of the morning. When they looked over the homeschool work they had to get done, they sulked and complained about being “stressed.”

I am partially to blame for using this word lightly. When I have a lot going on, I will loosely say, “I’m stressed.” As a result, my kids have adapted it as a descriptor to explain how they feel when they see their books piled up beside them.

My example has not been profitable for them. It has caused them to misunderstand what REAL STRESS really is. So I decided to have an enlightening conversation with them once and for all to stop the misuse of this word in our home.

Stressed, I said emphatically. Do you really know what stress means? The word “stressed out” is more appropriately used by those who don’t have a home, who don’t have food, or clothing, who are deathly sick, and don’t have a family to love them. You and I don’t have stress in our lives, we are privileged…privileged to have food, clothing, shelter, to be sitting on this couch with one another, in the middle of a beautiful family room, where we are reading books we can afford to buy, and enjoying one another’s company. And most of all, we are privileged to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and to know where we are going one day if we die. That’s being privileged, not stressed. I know I have used that word “stressed” and you have copied me, and I have been wrong. (Please forgive me was added later on.) But from now on, we are banned from saying that word. Everyone who says it will loose points. Even me. You can fine me for saying it.

The expressions on my children’s faces changed from frowns to smiles as they realized that God has been good to us. He is good to us. Period. There may be times when our family experiences trials but in comparison to what we have in Christ, to having eternal security, stress doesn’t have to impair us from accomplishing the tasks we have been entrusted with or steal our peace and joy.

…May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled andwill not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:2-9)

It’s so important to teach our children perspective and to remind ourselves, as parents, that we can choose to look at our circumstances positively or negatively. When we focus on the privileges we have, it encourages our children to do the same. When we bicker and complain about hardships, our children will do the same. However, this isn’t just about our attitude on present circumstances. I shared the passages in 1 Peter 1:2-9 because we are supposed to look beyond this world, to the heavenly future God has in store for us which is certain and secure in Jesus Christ. We may go through very real problems and issues that may warrant the use of the word “stress” but in light of eternity, these remain for just “a little while” as the apostle Peter states. So let us “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of our faith the salvation of our souls.” That’s what faith is!

Growing up, my parents role-modeled putting on spiritual lenses in the face of challenges and trials. My grandfather had once upon a time been very wealthy. He had an office in the Empire State Building and owned a textile company called Riverside Mills. He was featured in Reader’s Digest’s Who’s Who In Asia. So my dad was raised with, what he called, a platinum spoon. When he graduated from college, he worked for the family business. However, due to a series of bad decisions made by the company (not my father), one of the late Ferdinand Marcos’ cronies kicked my dad out of the family business and took over. It was incredulous. (I have simplified the story.)

My dad witnessed the humiliation of his father and the entire family. At one point, he admitted that he wanted to change his last name because so much ridicule was attached to it. However, he believed God had a purpose for allowing this to happen. Since we were very young children at the time, we didn’t feel the sting too much, but my parents had to figure out how to survive. (We ate fish most of the time, which I grew to love!)

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One of the things my parents tried to do was buy a cow to sell its meat after it was butchered. After all the effort, part of the cow had rot in it, and by the time they sold what they could, they only made P500 pesos. But they gave that to the Lord as a first fruits offering. They believed that God was in control and entrusted their future and ours to him. But my dad did his part. He didn’t give up. He even went to the Asian Institute of Management business school and graduated with honors, thinking he might need to become an employee.

Years later, my dad started a real estate company. (This happened after he acted on the conviction to give up a logging business because of the compromises he was pressured to make.) God blessed his real estate company. But the best thing that happened was the Lord worked in his heart and burdened him to start a church. He never wanted to become a pastor. He enjoyed teaching bible studies but pastoring was not his desire. However, he responded to God’s prodding. In the 80’s he began a bible study to minister to his businessman friends and their spouses. Eventually, this group grew and today, Christ Commission Fellowship is a movement of over 50,000 followers of Jesus who are committed to evangelism and discipleship in order to make Christ-committed followers. All honor goes to the Lord who has done this mighty work. Today my dad is still a self-supporting pastor (with my brothers running the family business so he can give his time and attention to ministry.)

I don’t say this to boast but to add emphasis to the point that a person’s spiritual perspective on problems is important. Had my parents, especially my dad, wallowed in suffering and misery, they would have lost sight of God’s hand in their circumstances. Worst of all, they would have forfeited the privilege and blessing of ministering to people all around the world, teaching about Biblical principles on leadership, marriage and family.

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Whenever I think about my parents’ history and their faith journey, I am reminded to be a better example to my children. They need to be encouraged to hope in God and his plan for their lives no matter what they go through. Training them to embrace this perspective begins at home, with the challenges they face as children.

Sometimes, a homeschooling assignment can feel like a big challenge to my kids. Heck, sometimes homeschooling can feel like a big challenge to me! Instead of caving in because it is difficult, the better thing to do is remember that we are children of God, with uncountable privileges to be thankful and grateful for. While stress may be a valid feeling, it can’t be a valid excuse to give up and stop trying. We need to do what we can, within our control, and then entrust the results to God, believing that these are the circumstances that he has elected for us to go through in this season of our lives.

My kids and I are a work in progress. There are some days when I want to stay in bed and avoid facing the day because the responsibilities I must attend to resemble the stack of books my kids don’t like seeing. Yet, I praise God for the daily grace he supplies to keep us all going. His resources are infinite. His strength is supernatural. His joy is incomparable. And his rewards are worth whatever we may count as “stress” in this life. But, hey, do we really need to be stressed when He is our Heavenly Father?

Montessori And Homeschooling

My friend, Betty, is organizing a Montessori training for moms of young children. I don’t usually advertise events on my site but I am particularly supportive of this one because I have experienced the benefits of the Montessori method on my own kids.

When Elijah was little, we sent him to Abba’s Orchard (a real Maria Montessori school!) twice a week and homeschooled him the other three days of the week. It was just for a semester but Edric and I really liked the hands-on learning, one-on-one attention, purposeful play, and emphasis on practical skills and discipline that perfectly complemented Elijah’s homeschooling.

I have incorporated Montessori into my own homeschooling, using its very helpful techniques to introduce concepts to my kids. It’s an approach that parents can replicate very naturally at home.

For parents with pre-schoolers, or those who need creative ideas to engage their children in the learning process, or for parents who prefer a more wholistic, developmentally-sensitive approach to educating their children, this is a workshop worth attending.

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Diane Angping is an AMI trained Montessori teacher with a Masters in Early Childhood Education. She taught as Primary head teacher for 2.5-6 year olds and 6-9 year olds for several years in the U.S. but is now focused on raising her two sons and blogging for her site whenhippostalk.com.

Fifty First Lessons

It sometimes feels like fifty first lessons when I am teaching my sprightly and sweet daughter, Tiana. At four years old, she struggles to remember concepts.

Part of it is probably her age and the other is I haven’t been as intentional about teaching her. I probably wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it if she was my first child, but since my three older boys all read early and got mathematics quickly, sometimes I get worried and frustrated about where Tiana is at academically.

After I teach her letter sounds and numbers, the next day, she will casually forget when I ask her, “What letter is this? What sound does it make? Or what number is this?” It reminds me of the movie, em>Fifty First Dates, where Drew Barymore plays a woman whose day resets every morning.

Tiana gives me a “Huh? Ummm,” and a blank stare. On the one hand, it’s awfully cute, the way she cocks one eyebrow up and makes a ridiculous frown with her bangs dangling over her face. She looks like the little kid in Despicable Me. The one who says, “It’s so fluffy!”

It almost seems like she is kidding around when she acts so clueless. But then I start to panic when it becomes obvious that she has totally forgotten something like what the numbers 1 to 10 are. As I vacillate between incredulous and forgiving, I think to myself, is she mentally challenged? Should I have her tested for a disability? Is she too young? Am I doing something wrong?

Deep in my heart I know she is a bright child. She has the gift of insight and sensitivity which is often times better than displays of academic ability. She is also a joyful child and very obedient.

However, when I am in the homeschooling zone, where I must put on my “parent-teacher” cap and cover pre-school concepts with her, I can be reactive. Since my boys were able to “get it” pretty quickly when they were her age then why can’t she? This isn’t complicated stuff. It’s basic. It’s simple.

Today I was tempted to compare her again when she couldn’t identify number 5. A few days ago she was confidentially doing so and then it was back to ground zero. I was about to give in to the annoyance that was building up inside of me, but God reminded me to apply what I tell other homeschooling moms.

I need to begin with the premise that she is capable. What I have to do is change my approach and methodology, even my goals. I may want her to be at a certain level in her academics at four years old but even if she isn’t, that’s alright. With repetition, consistency, intentionality, and creativity, (and prayer!) Tiana will most certainly learn. She learns everyday, even if she may forget her letters and numbers. But she definitely needs my guidance and my hopefulness. I need to encourage her and be positive.

So today, I adjusted my lesson plan and focused on the number 5. Just number 5. She has no problem counting, and she understands 1 is to 1 correspondence. But sometimes she guesses when she looks at the numbers, especially with numbers 5 to 9.

First, I made a list of 5’s on our white board easel. And then I had her write number 5 many times, as many times as she could. I repeatedly asked her, “What number are you writing now?

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“Number 5!” She would say with enthusiasm. Because she was writing with a white board marker, she didn’t mind at all. It didn’t feel like work.

After she wrote each column, I would play a “bring me” game with her. She had to bring me objects like 5 spoons, 5 stuffed toys, 5 pillows, 5 rocks, 5 shirts, 5 shoes, 5 books, etc.

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“This is game, right mom?”

“Yes, it is!” And she would go all around the house looking for the items. While Tiana was busy hunting for the objects, I attended to my sons. The game worked in my favor, too.

Every now and then I would call out to her, “What number is that?” “How many ________ do you have to bring me?” How old will you be this year?”

“(Number) 5!”

By the time Tiana finished her “game” she had unknowingly written one hundred number 5’s! Afterwards I gave her a blank sheet of paper and she victoriously wrote down the number 5 without looking at the white board. I tested her again in the afternoon and she still remembered.

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We shall see what happens tomorrow morning! Her brain may reset again but that’s okay. We will get through these fifty first lessons somehow, one day at a time, and by God’s grace!