Highlights of 2015

 

Before January gets really busy, I would like to thank the Lord for the year that was and thank you, my readers, for taking the time to visit this blog. Your comments, messages, and prayers have been a blessing to me, and a motivation to keep writing whenever I get lazy or tired. Many of you have come up to me in person, too, to take hold of my arm and whisper that this site has been a part of your life, and you can’t imagine how your words have brought me joy.

I slowed down a little bit this year with writing, primarily because it felt like our family lived two years in one this 2015. This was probably the most hectic year I’ve ever survived. Writing kind of took a backseat at times to give way to motherhood and wife duties, homeschooling, ministry, work, speaking, traveling, or much needed rest. But this site is still important to me and I haven’t lost the desire or drive to keep using this site as a means to reach out to people and talk about what God is doing in my life, marriage and parenting. This is what keeps me pressing on.

Indeed, He did much in 2015. I would even call it the best year I have ever lived. God is amazing in this way. Every year that I walk with Him, every year that I give to Him turns into the best year. This doesn’t mean that my family and I are free from problems or crises, but it does mean that His grace and faithfulness abound.

These were my personal highlights of 2015 and I hope that going through these will remind you that God is a loving Father who knows the needs of his children, the desires of their hearts, the purposes He has called them to, the mistakes they make, and the correcting that is painful but necessary along the way.

Our family capped off 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to the U.S., where we survived a month without household help, the cold, and learned to serve each other through sleepless nights and endless chores. We came back to Manila in the second week of January recharged and ready to jump into 2015.

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One of my first challenges was running in a 21K, which I thought was going to be a killer but Edric and I got through it by God’s grace! (I actually finished ahead of him which was another surprise but I couldn’t have run it without him so he helped me “beat” him.)

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Soon after we had our family commercial for Cetaphil which was an unexpected blessing. Catalina acted up a couple of times which is why she wasn’t in the final video edit but they included her in the print materials. Edan actually had a fever that started the day of the shoot (look at the photo below and his eyes), but he was a real trooper and the team behind the production was very easy to work with. It’s been a privilege to be brand ambassadors for a product line we really believe in and use as a family.

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Shortly after, Meg Magazine featured my testimony. They asked me to talk about how God brought healing to my life.

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Our homeschooling had its highlights, too. Edan discovered an interest in botany. He grew his carnivorous plants for a season. Unfortunately they eventually died which was a lowlight but he continues to be interested in animals and plants. Looks like we will be buying more carnivorous plants again this year!

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Elijah graduated from elementary and moved on to high school! This opened a new chapter in our homeschooling, especially for me! More grace, strength, and wisdom needed from the Lord!

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Titus took his first achievement test and did well! He also excellent at math this year which I didn’t even know was a strong point for him. But praise God. He knows that I’m not the best math teacher. I also discovered that Titus has a God-given musical talent. He started harmonising at the age of 6 and taught himself to do this!

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My fourth child, Tiana, started to read which was a big milestone!

 

 Catalina, my youngest, became a real a chatterbug. She grew in her ability to express herself and comprehend, and has showed an inclination to learn and be part of our homeschooling. She got exiled many times because she was disruptive but I hope to include her as often as possible this year.

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One of the kids’ homeschool field trips was to Costales where they learned about organic farming. God saved Ethan (my nephew on the right) from drowning, too! He got sucked down a drain and it’s a miracle that he popped out the other end and my brother was able to pull him out!

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Over the summer the boys attended Coach Siot’s basketball camp, which they will be joining again at the end of this month. They learned to push themselves physically.

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They also enrolled in Ninja Academy’s Parkour course, which has been incredibly fun for them. What boy doesn’t want to learn to scale walls, jump over bars, free fall off a ledge, and swing from ropes?

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Tiana finally made it through her ballet classes without crying through them. She turned out to be quite a graceful dancer (most probably from Edric’s side of the family).

The boys improved immensely in their violin playing.

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We also got to fix our homeschool room which made a big difference in our kids’ daily learning.

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God opened up opportunities to be featured on television to talk about homeschooling. The first was on CNN’s Mommy Hacks.

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I was also interviewed about homeschooling for Mommy Mundo’s new show which should be airing soon!

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Throughout the year, the kids spoke with us during retreats, business speaking engagements, and other ministry activities. This was a great way for them to use their communication skills to bless people.

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Our homeschool Coop gave our kids the opportunity to develop some great friendships. I also enjoyed connecting with other homeschool moms and team teaching with them. By the end of the year, when we celebrated our Christmas party, we were nearly 100 people! We had to cater the party!

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Our coop covered culinary arts, art history and theory, speech, ethics, apologetics, science, social studies, history, and it culminated with a Kid’s Praise musical thanks to the talented moms who contributed their expertise for directing, teaching dance, singing, and designing the set. The kids performed for an audience of underprivileged children at Revelation Church in Sta. Mesa.

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TMA Homeschool did some much needed expanding this year. We did several roadshows to connect with homeschoolers around the Philippines…

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TMA Homeschool also moved into its new office to help serve parents better, and Learning Plus, our homeschool bookstore, opened to provide curriculum and homeschool-related materials to parents. Our guests from the U.S., Mike Donnelly of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Davis and Rachel Carman of Apologia Press graced the ribbon cutting.

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The portal, Homeschooling Solutions, became available for families who can’t come to the Learning Plus Bookstore because they live farther away or out of the country. Materials are delivered within 48 hours. A lot of non-TMA Homeschool families used this site for their homeschooling needs.

We had two big homeschool conferences this year. Set Them Up for Success and Ready for the World, where we partnered with Manila Workshops ,  The Learning Basket and HAPI. These events brought the homeschool community together.

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On the Family Ministry front, God provided an amazing team to mount three very special events —  The Before and After I D seminar for engaged and newly married couples, Family and Finance, and Counterflow. We intend to make these events a yearly thing for young couples and families who want to know more about biblical marriage, finance, and parenting.

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Here’s a super big one which was made possible only by God’s amazing grace! My book, When A Good God Allows Rape, got published and was launched at the Manila International Book Fair by OMF Lit Publishing. It’s now available in bookstores around the country like National Bookstore, Pages, OMF Lit, and as a online ebook via Amazon, buqo, and others.

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Writing the book opened doors for me to talk more about the Lord. On CNN Philippines’ Real Talk the hosts devoted the entire 45 minutes to asking me questions about my book and my faith in Christ! I was thrilled! My dream for this book is that it will inspire people to follow Jesus. May He get all the glory!

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We had some favourite family photoshoots over the year. The first was done by Mayad Studios, who ventured into lifestyle photography with their Mayad Beginnings. They captured our family so naturally. 

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Another one was done by Alex Adiaz, which we also appreciated very much. He shot this one in our backyard.

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Another super highlight was Elijah getting baptized. 

 Yet another personal favourite of 2015 was how God worked in our Thursday couples’ group. We grew closer to the Lord and to one another, and most of us got to attend The Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club, where we learned and re-learned marriage principles. Some of us also served by facilitating other couples’ groups.

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As a group, we put together a surprise wedding for the Avelinos. This really knit our hearts together in a special way.

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Our bigger discipleship group family grew, too! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see everyone as often as we wanted to because we moved far from the area where we used to meet every week. But, we got together for “trimester” fellowships. These people are our extended spiritual family for life and we love them dearly!

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The year had some sad turns. Steve, who was like family, died tragically a day before he turned 30. My grandfather, angkong to us, passed away at 96. Both knew the Lord so we shall see them again, but it was difficult to lose both of them.

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We didn’t do too well in the pet department. We lost three of our Siamese cats – one committed suicide off the top of our roof, and two got run over by crazy drivers. Our Myna bird fell over in its cage and expired, and several of our fish were found floating lifeless in their tank. We also had to give away two dogs to more deserving and caring owners. (They are still alive and much happier now.) We hope to have less tragedies with our animals in 2016.

  
Our family also lost a very loyal and hard working household help who went to work abroad. We gave her our full blessing and support but she continues to be missed.

A definite high was celebrating the wedding of Edric’s sister, Danie to Vince Valdepenas. 

(null)(null)I started sewing dresses this year. I sewed the dress I wore for the wedding and made 6 yards of mistakes in the process! Experience is the best teacher! Thankfully, the material was only P80/yard. Ssh.

Another endorsement fell into our laps when we were asked to do an online commercial for Vernel Fabric Softener as a family. We love these family endorsements! We are so thankful! It’s an undeserved bonus from God whenever we are asked to do these things.

 (null)The year ended with a number of parties and engagements (my last count was about 20) but my favourite part was being with family (Edric’s side and my side). The Mendozas were almost complete for Christmas this year. The Tan-Chis most definitely were which was extra special for all of us.

We left a spot for Edric’s sister, Nicky, who was terribly missed.

My sister, Carolyn and her husband, Joel, were MIA in this photo because she gave birth over the holidays. But we were together for opening presents on December 26th.

 

 

I am a pretty simple gal. Edric and I always have a lot going on, but my best memories of the year were the quiet ones… being at home, enjoying our house (we finally completed a year in it), exploring the outdoors as a family, getting to know our kids better and growing closer to one another, playing board games, curling up on the couch for some me-time, watching movies, going on dates with Edric, eating around our kitchen table…These are the moments that made up the best of 2015 for me.

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 When I take stock of this year, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s hand in everything. There’s no success mentioned here that can be attributed to Edric or myself. Everything that happened that was good was due to God’s grace. Everything that happened that was unfortunate was part of his grand plan. 

I’m posting this in the middle of our fasting week as a church, while I am praying for God’s direction and leading for 2016. A few days ago I began by asking Him, “Lord what is your will for me this year?” I expected answers like, “Say yes to this speaking engagement or say no to this one,” or, “Pursue this venture,” or, “Write another book,” or, “Do this for your homeschooling,” etc. Instead, this was the answer I received:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done fore. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:7-11

We all want to experience a life of joy. I certainly do. And sometimes I mistakenly think that what I do with my abilities will determine how great a year I will have. But God simplified it for me when he said, “Love Me. Abide in My Love. Obey My commandments.” This is the path to a life of joy, a year of joy!

So my new year’s resolution is not a long list of things I would like to do or avoid. Instead it is dedicating 2016 to loving God, and abiding in His love by obeying His commands. How does God want you to live your 2016?

 

 

 

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.

 

My Response Is My Responsibility

My sweet son, Titus, did it again, in the way only his mind would have thought to do. He acted upon his God-given curiosity and put a coin inside his violin right before he was about to perform for a recital.

A few minutes prior to
his turn, he came down the aisle to my seat in the back and whispered, “Mom, I did something. I accidentally dropped a coin into my violin.”

My first thought was, You’ve got to be kidding me! Right now?! You do this?! What if it affects the sound of your violin when you perform?

Yet, how could I be upset at him? I looked at him as he bit his lower lip in anticipation of my response. I knew he didn’t mean to jeopardize his entire performance by getting the coin stuck inside his violin. And scolding him for his carelessness would not help his performance.

My sister stepped outside the room and attempted to shake it out. After several vigorous attempts, she resigned and returned the violin to Titus.

“It’s okay, hon,” I reassured Titus. “You can play with the coin inside.”

And that’s exactly what he did. When he got up on stage and lifted up his violin, I heard the coin travel to the base of his violin where it stayed during his piece. Thankfully, the coin didnt get in the way of his performance. However, the coin will live in his violin forever.

As I watched Titus get through his song, I thought about how much I love him…everything about him. Like all my other children, he has aspects of his personality that stress me out sometimes, but he is uniquely designed and gifted by the Lord.He is so often a reminder to me that I cannot control my children, too. They make choices and mistakes that can be frustrating but my job is to respond in God-honoring ways.

Yesterday I was speaking to a friend who lost her temper with her son as she homeschooled him. She lashed out at him when he met her attempts to teach him with resistance and disinterest. So she took his book and tore it up and when he began to cry, she plugged his mouth with a pillow in her irritation. When she realized the emotional hurt she caused her son, she asked for his forgiveness.

When she came to me for advice, she was deeply troubled about her display of anger, and she felt unqualified to be a homeschooling mother and a mom. We talked for a while about practical ways to take the frustration out of her homeschooling which had to do with curriculum choices and methods of instruction. I also encouraged her by sharing some of my own struggles when I teach my kids. However, the more important conclusion was that being a mom (a homeschooling one or otherwise) requires us to be directed, filled, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. As adorable and lovable as my children are, they are going to make choices that reveal their folly of heart. And the solution is not to battle the outward behavior but to address what’s going on inside and then respond to the behavior in a Spirit-filled manner.

My friend’s confession to me wasn’t a unique one. I have heard other moms tell me similar accounts. Whether they homeschool or not isn’t the commonality. Instead it is the desire to control their children and force them into compliance and obedience. And a lot of times the default reaction is to get angry.

The Bible tells us, “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God,” which is a great principle to remember when we are tempted to lose our temper in front of our children. Our anger will not make them righteous, and it won’t make us righteous either. We may think it will produce RIGHT behavior from them but it doesn’t transform them for the better on the inside.‭

Here are the suggestions I gave to my friend that have helped me when I am instructing my children, especially my OLDER ones.

1. Identify the root of the behavior. Whether it is a bad attitude, defiance, carelessness or irresponsibility, ask the why question. Why are they acting this way?

– Are they affected by my own negativity?
– Do they feel pressured to perform?
– Am I rushing through the material or their work?
– Is the skill level required of them greater than their capacity?
– Is it a character issue — laziness, lack of discipline, a sense of entitlement, or a deeper emotional or spiritual concern?
– Was the undesirable circumstance a result of an accident versus malicious intent?

2. Respond with wisdom.
– My child may need some time to pray and reflect about their attitude before continuing with their work.
– I may need to humbly apologize for my own shortcomings — my teaching style, tone or actions.
– My child may need his work to be broken down into easier steps so he can build confidence in the skill required of him.
– I may need to change my methodology or the material so it’s more engaging for my child.
– I may need to spend one-on-one moments with my child where we can bond and fellowship outside the context of instruction, where we can get to know one another better so that my child feels secure in my love for him.
– Dad may need to help with the emotional and spiritual aspect.
– A family devotion at night may help to instill or reinforce Christ-like character.
– More time with dad may help to fill my child’s emotional tank.
– Perhaps my child does not have a personal relationship with Jesus and I need to share the gospel with him.

3. Cradle instruction with positive words and actions.
– Tell my child that I appreciate them and enjoy being with them.
– Give them healthy praise.
– Call out instances when they put in the effort and try their best.
– Be affectionate with them.
– Challenge them appropriately and reward them appropriately so they are motivated to do their best.

4. Create an environment and systems that are conducive to instruction and learning.
– Organize and plan out my homeschool room.
– Prepare or think through lessons ahead of time so I am not fumbling through my instruction.
– Have a schedule that is reasonable, predictable and visible.
– Safeguard my homeschooling time so I am focused enough to give my kids all the attention they need.

Here’s a copy of my kids’ schedules for them to refer to and check off (and yes, each one is laminated).  
5. Pray for my kids.

As a mom, I have to remember that my response is my responsibility. It is my choice to be Spirit-led or to get mad when challenges and obstacles arise in my homeschooling or parenting. A bad learning day can turn into a great one when I reject the anger or disappointment and replace it with God-honoring responses. And a good learning day can turn into a horrible one when I focus on the negative and lose sight of the goal of raising my children to love God with all that they are.

 My job is not to force or manipulate my kids to learn or behave perfectly but to do my best to…

…make them feel loved and secure

…equip and enable them to develop their talents, and abilities

…teach them the skills they need to be successful and make a difference for Christ

…apply discipline when their character needs shaping

…pass on biblical truth to guide their choices

…model Christ-like attitudes and behaviors for them to copy

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬ ‭

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.” ‭Proverbs‬ ‭19:11‬ 

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭

  
  
(He actually got the coin out tonight! A miracle!)

God Always Provides For Our Homeschooling

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It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord continues to prove faithful as we homeschool our children. Homeschooling gets challenging every year in new ways. With a 7th grader and other kids moving up the elementary ladder, my instruction requirements become more and more difficult. In some ways, my kids become more independent when it comes to their subject studies. However, their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs increase. They need more mentoring and discipleship, they also need us to be more involved and attentive to what’s going on in their hearts.

I found this to be true with our son, Elijah, who is becoming his own man as he transitions into his teenage years. A lot of times Edric and I have to help him process what’s going on his head — the fears, the doubts, the worry, or the frustrations. We praise God that he loves the Lord because it makes it easier to reconnect him back to the biblical perspective as he deals with his feelings and his thought life. But I realize, that parenting never quite ends. We get through one stage and one season and feel like we’ve mastered it, only to enter into an entirely unchartered one where we are faced with the thought, We have no idea what we are doing! This is the wonderful adventure of being a mom and a dad. It’s never boring!

As a homeschooling mom, I have to come to terms with my own limitations, even intellectually. Teaching mathematics at the higher levels is not easy. But thanks to programs like Khan Academy, I can augment my lack of expertise. This year, there was a subject area that I finally surrendered to. FILIPINO.

I can teach math because I studied math. I may struggle through it, but if I can do it if I need to. But Filipino was never a subject to me until I got into college in Ateneo. And even then I enrolled in the Filipino for foreigners class where we learned phrases like, “Magandang Umaga and Mabuhay.” (I know. It’s pathetic.) But I thought it was great! Learning how to speak in Filipino more fluently came as I interacted with people in school. However, I never took it as a formal subject.

So to teach it now is like my version of a homeschool mom’s nightmare. I can’t get through a lesson without having to translate everything word-for-word into English in order to teach it to my kids.

As I planned for this homeschool year, I decided that I would focus on my strengths and supplement this area of weakness. Edric was sweet enough to give me the go signal to hire a Filipino tutor. I’ve never had to do this in all of my homeschooling…hire a tutor. But how nice to have it as an option!

I praise God that homeschooling offers me the flexibility to customize my children’s learning experience. I don’t have to be an expert in every subject area. I can outsource where I lack. Yeah!

So I had the plan to hire a Filipino tutor but I didn’t know where to find one. Thanks to Facebook, it took just one post, one cry for help on Facebook. Sympathetic and kind-hearted friends sent me several options.

Last Saturday, Elijah and Edan had their first session with their tutor and they loved it! I was so happy. It’s amazing how quickly the kids pick up content when the teacher knows what they are doing!

As for me, I marveled once again at how good God is. He called Edric and I to homeschool our children. He put the conviction and desire in our hearts to raise them to love Him with all that they are. And when the journey hits an obstacle, God is faithful to provide for our homeschooling needs.

I always tell moms who are having a hard time with homeschooling to remember that God is our partner in all of this. God is our enabler. His grace is sufficient. There is no homeschool problem too big for Him to solve. So be encouraged whenever you come up against a road block because it means that God is going to do something that will make you smile and say “Thank you, Lord! I can keep going!”

 

For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5 (NASB)

Sat Apr 11 2015 02_34_09 GMT+0800

 

 

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.

 
 

Dear Dad and Mom

For his graduation from elementary, our son, Elijah, wrote letters to Edric and me. I just received copies of the letters which were forwarded to me by the graduation program coordinator, Alyssa. These made my day! All glory to God for the privilege of raising our kids and the enabling his gives us!

  

Dear Dad,

I want to thank you for being an example. You are where I draw my example for being a man from, second to Jesus. One of the things you teach about being a man is how to love God. I see it in the way you act. You love Mom and take care of her, even when it’s not easy. You also ask for forgiveness and you improve when you make mistakes. You go out of your way to do ministry. I really appreciate that. Thank you, Dad, for being there for me when I need you. Thank you for teaching me and training me to be a man. I look forward to all the upcoming years we will have together. Love you Dad! 

Your Son, Elijah

   

        

Dear Mom,

Thank you for homeschooling me. I have seen that it’s very hard for you, but still you stay patient and persist. I don’t know any other person that is that patient with me. Through this I can really see that you love me. Even though sometimes you don’t really teach me anymore, what you do teach me is how to love God. Your example (of course, along with Dad’s) has guided me to make the right decisions in my life. You are the best Mom ever (to me). I don’t know what I could do without you. Love you so much and once again, thank you for guiding me along thus far. 

Love, Elijah

   

First round of elementary graduates

  

Elijah with his lola and lolo   

So proud of you, son! I treasure these homeschooling years we have together!

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! 


Checkered Rainbow Cake

Whoa! This rainbow cake making business is hard stuff! No wonder people charge a lot for it! 

The kids’ culinary arts instructor, Andi Benitez, patiently taught them how to put together this amazing creation. Since a normal rainbow cake was not challenging enough, she made them do a checkered one. Argh! Andi! My perfectionist baker friend! 

Our homeschool coop class has appreciated her expertise. And my boys have thoroughly enjoyed her kitchen lessons. Today’s class challenged them in a new way. The cake didn’t turn out perfect but I thought it looked beautiful inside and out, especially because of the effort! 

First they made the cake batter, then they colored six sets of it. 

   

    

Afterwards they baked them for fifteen minutes in six inch round pans lined with butter, wax paper, and more butter. When the cakes were done, they were turned over very  carefully.     

Each cake was carefully carved into three parts, each part was frosted on the inside then reassembled with no two colors touching one another.  

 

  

  

  

Following this, the cakes were frosted on their tops and laid on one another until they formed a tower, about ten inches high. Icing was layered on it again to hold on the crumbs in place, then a final layer for the finished look. 

It’s the inside that looked so magical, revealing the intended checkered pattern. The icing was a bit of a fail and the cake tilted slightly to one side but in the end, I was so proud of their creation! I had a teeny slice to sample the cake and it was pretty yummy! 

  

 

It’s days like this one that affirm why homeschooling is so wonderful. The kids get to “have their cake and eat it too.” 

They experience a customized education at home, but still benefit from group learning activities with   friends, under the tutelage of moms who are so talented and passionate about their craft or hobby! And I get a break once a week, which is like having MY cake and eating it, too! 

 

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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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?

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!