If you have friends and family who are interested in home education, please invite them to this first-ever homeschool conference in Dubai! This is one of the reasons why Edric and I are presently in Dubai with our kids. For more information please visit: http://homeschooling.ae/
Last year I was introduced to a company called Smart Toys, a distributor of learning materials that combine technology and hands-on learning. One of their products is called Marbotic — learning materials that were created by “tech-lovers and education experts to blend traditional wooden toys and touchscreen technology.”
Smart Numbers teach kids to count using ten beautiful wooden numbers and three educational apps inspired by the Montessori method. Smart Letters combine three apps and twenty six wooden letters to help kids learn reading and writing.
Catalina tested the Smart Letters out and she thoroughly enjoyed taking each letter and placing it on the screen to hear it’s name, sound and discover what words begin with the letter.
Marbotic is unique because it engages children with tactile experiences as they learn, but it also harnesses the advantages of technology. Although it’s a little pricey, it’s one of those educational toys/materials that you can use with succeeding children. The wooden letters and numbers are well-made, sturdy, and don’t require batteries.
I also asked my kids and their cousins to sample Smart Toys‘ 3D coloring books which come in four different titles–Dino, Ocean, Safari, Bird. After kids color the pictures, they can pair them with a free app that makes their art come to life.
Other notable educational products by Smart Toys are Augmented Reality (AR) Books. These AR books come to life when you scan them with your smartphone or tablet. There are seven titles — Dino, Ocean, Safari, Farm Animals, Bug, Herptile, and Birds.
Kids can read about creatures come to life on a page! It’s augmented reality for educational purposes.
As a homeschool mom, I am thrilled that there are so many materials out there that I can use to teach my kids. My mom taught my siblings and I using textbooks with newsprint pages. We survived and did fine because that’s all we really had to choose from. Today, however, homeschool parents have a plethora of options for every bent and interest of their children. This is the best time in the world to be a homeschooler!
For more information on Smart Toys please contact 0917-8877959 or follow @smartoysph on Instagram.
This global television event redefines on-air storytelling by combining film-quality scripted drama and visual effects with a powerful documentary interviewing some of the best and brightest minds in modern science and innovation, including Elon Musk. (When I browsed through the website www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk I was like, wait, is this happening already?! Are we really creating a colony on Mars?!)
FOX Networks Group Asia’s SVP – Marketing & Communications for Asia Pacific and Middle East, Lucien Harrington says: ‘Living on Mars is an occurrence many think we won’t see in our lifetime, but the reality is actually very different. The show highlights the acceleration in thinking and technology on one side, and the need for a planet move in the future due to environment factors on earth, on the other. The experience that has been created brings certain elements of Mars to life, to educate particularly children, about what changes they will need to make and skills they will need to have. After all, they’ll likely be living there.’
FOX Networks Group’s National Geographic Channel encouraged me to ask my two older kids about what they thought it would be like for a colony to be realized on Mars. Since our kids enjoy Nat Geo’s channel often, we welcomed the opportunity as a privilege! Plus, it was a great way for them to think through their past Astronomy lessons.
Here’s what they said…
A Future Colony on Mars by Elijah and Edan
1. Don’t use gas as a fuel source. Focus on hydrogen since its abundant and clean.
2. Don’t be selfish and use Mars for personal gain or glory.
3. Be conscious of proper waste disposal.
4. Maximize resources like iron without abusing the planet.
Here’s my personal opinion about colonizing Mars:
If we aren’t content with the earth that God gave us, we aren’t going to be content with the wonders of living on another planet either. And if we can’t take proper care of earth and rehabilitate it so that it is able to sustain life at optimum levels then we should be wise about the occupation of another planet. More space, more resources, and greater discoveries will not fix the main issues that face mankind. We are prone to selfishness and sinfulness, so we will take that with us to Mars, too. So as we celebrate the very real possibility that Mars can house a human colony, and applaud the science and technological advancements that have brought us to this point, let’s do our part. The scientists are making great sacrifices to create options for mankind, and we can dream with them and support their efforts by being responsible about the earth God gave us to live in. This will afford them the liberty and flexibility to explore space frontiers without being weighed down by the pressure of having to find solutions to humanity’s survival.
For more about the show including the experts, actors and storylines, visit: www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk
The science and realism behind the series is fascinating!
And if you’re up for learning more about your Red Planet readiness with your kids, visit www.makemarshome.com
Homeschool Global (formerly TMA Homeschool) has a hub in Cebu, thanks to homeschooling parents, Jojo and Niña Tiongco. Burdened to provide homeschool services to fellow Cebuanos and those in the Visayas region, they decided to create a space where families can gather, attend seminars and trainings, access books and materials, and have portfolio reviews for homeschooling students. They teamed up with early childhood education consultant and baker extraordinaire, Mae Villarin, as well as Mayor Gungun Gica, his wife, Shai, and Steve and Marge Si. Together, they are committed to supporting homeschoolers and creating a community for them.
My honey, Edric.
With Margie Si
For more information on homeschooling in the Visayas see Cebu Daily News.
I always enjoy new finds that can enhance my kids’ homeschooling experience. Last week, I met Stefanie Lim at a speaking engagement I was at, and she handed me a box called Oli Boxship as a gift for my kids. Stefanie’s the co-founder of Oli’s Boxship, which is a box of craft surprises delivered to your door, for kids ages 4 to 9.
The idea behind Oli’s Boxship is igniting creative play and educating children about science, language, math, and social studies at the same time.
I also checked out Oli Boxship’s subscription options and I have attached them below:
I can’t remember a time when I’ve cried in front of my children because I was so frustrated with homeschooling. But I suppose there is a first time for everything.
Two weekends ago, I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. The Monday after, I was full of hopeful expectation. After listening to inspiring talks and workshop speakers, I eagerly began the week thinking that all would go well. Furthermore, our family housed one of the speakers – a pastor who told endless stories about parenting and homeschooling his 10 kids. (Yes, 10.) His wonderful recollections about their farm life and the Christ-centered culture of their family fueled me with aspirations about the kind of homeschooling experience Edric and I ought to have with our kids.
However, on Monday my kids woke up de-motivated, disinterested, and difficult to teach. The older boys whined about the amount of work they had to get done. Tiana struggled with comprehension issues as we did her Singapore math.
I know the bonds thing can be difficult to understand in Singapore Math (like when you separate 10s from 1s when you are subtracting), but I thought for sure Tiana would have at least remembered what “ + “ and “ – “ mean. We had been doing addition and subtraction for a while so it surprised me when I asked her simple questions like, “So what’s 7 – 2?” and she answered with uncertainty, guessing her way to the right solution.
This went on for a few more math problems. And she kept confusing addition and subtraction and couldn’t add past 10. Then she forgot what the = sign stood for, too. My thought bubble was, You’re kidding me. This isn’t happening! Arghhh!!!
My other kids heard the stress in my voice as I interrogated Tiana several times. “Why can’t you get it? You know this already. This is not complicated.”
I wanted to scream but of course I couldn’t do that. During the conference I gave a seminar along side my mom about laying the right foundation for homeschooling and I encouraged parents not to yell at their kids…primarily because it renders us ineffective at teaching them to love God due to hypocrisy. So the frustration emerged via my tears. Burying my face in my arms and laying my head on the table, I busted out crying.
The room turned quiet. Seeing me cry while teaching was peculiar for my kids to witness. There was a moment when no one knew how to respond. Everyone paused what they were doing until I lifted my head, tears running down my cheeks and declared, “I’m a horrible teacher! I don’t know what to do! I can’t teach well. Tiana just can’t get it and I don’t understand why…” Part of me mouthed this out just to get my children’s sympathy and attention. This isn’t a tactic I recommend to homeschooling parents because it can be manipulative.
Poor Tiana looked on, no doubt embarrassed that I singled her out like this in front of her siblings, and shocked that her math book brought me to tears. My boys felt anxious and attempted to comfort me.
Elijah patted my back with one arm, and stretched out the other arm like a shield to ward off Catalina who was fast approaching me. “No, don’t disturb, mommy, Catalina.” He motioned to give me space.
Edan whispered, “I’ll help teach her, mom,” and he began to fold white paper to make flashcards for her. (What a sweetie!)
How could I react this way to such tender-hearted children? I love my kids. I love them even if they don’t “perform” academically. But I certainly didn’t make Tiana feel that way. And I’m sure the boys were burdened with guilt for complaining about their homeschool work that morning.
It didn’t make sense to continue math lessons with Tiana, especially on the topic of addition and subtraction using bonds, so I asked her to take a break. (Later on, I had to talk with her and apologized for hurting her feelings.) We all dismissed for lunch not too long after and I had time to process what triggered my meltdown.
Maybe you can relate…
1. My expectations were high having come from the Philippine Homeschool Conference over the weekend. I wanted my kids to behave like perfect students – good attitudes, energized, and eager to listen to me and to learn. When they fell short of this expectation, I felt resentful.
2. I was relying on myself. I didn’t pause to pray or seek help from the Lord when the frustration built up. Had I translated circumstances from a spiritual perspective, I would have concluded that this was an opportunity to beseech the Lord and humble myself.
3. Tiana was being pressured to do math work that she wasn’t ready for. Even if it was required of her level, she simply hadn’t had enough concrete reinforcement for learning addition and subtraction, and she hadn’t had enough practice. Instead of insisting that she remember and “get it,” I should have said, “It’s okay, let’s do some reviewing first and then we will return to this lesson.”
Well, the next day, that’s exactly what I did. I set Tiana’s required math book aside. Eventually I intended to come back to it, but we needed to take a few steps back to give her more time to get comfortable with counting (backwards and forwards), and easy addition and subtraction.
Amazingly, she breezed through the work I gave her to do without needing much supervision from me. After a few days of remedial lessons she no longer confused her addition and subtraction symbols and she very ably solved her math problems.
Ironically, I advise parents to do the same thing when I give seminars on homeschooling. Don’t ignore the gaps in your child’s learning. Mind these gaps and backtrack if necessary. However, I wasn’t willing to take this advice myself! I wanted Tiana to be like her brothers, who easily understood arithmetic at her age. But God designed her differently. It’s me who has to adjust and accommodate her uniqueness, and to appreciate the pace at which she is learning concepts and skills.
Although we normally perceive U-turns and backtracking as inconvenient interruptions on the way to our academic goals, sometimes our kids need to go backwards in order to move forward. When our kids feel lost and insecure about tackling a lesson because they don’t have foundational skills or a solid grasp of the content to go further, then it’s our job to equip them by patiently addressing their gaps so they can progress towards where they ought to be. It’s a deterrent to their progress to force them to learn what they are not prepared to. And it drives us nuts to do so anyway!
To deal with the issue of my other kids who were complaining that Monday, I finally printed out their revised weekly schedules so they know exactly what to expect each day of the week. I’ve thought through the mix of activities and lessons they have to cover as well, so there is a good mix of rigor and fun.
How about me? What can I improve on as a homeschooling mom? I can think of 10 things! But I will focus on the one issue that is related to my Monday experience. I shouldn’t get my sense of identity or self-worth from homeschooling. Even though I’m so invested as a mom, putting in the time and making sacrifices to teach my kids, I shouldn’t let the outcome of each homeschooling day dictate my joy and peace. There will be good days and bad days. Therefore, joy and peace ought to flow from my relationship with God, resulting in my ability to channel these to my children so I can bless them and minister to them. Then I can teach them the way I ought to even when the circumstances aren’t favorable.
More importantly, my job is not to churn out trophy kids as a tribute to myself. My job is to teach them what it means to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to model this everyday. It is to train them and prepare their hearts and minds to serve God and His purposes.
In light of these aims, what is one Monday when my daughter can’t understand her Singapore Math or my kids groan over their books? Rather than shedding dramatic tears to express my frustration because my children aren’t doing what I want them to, these instances provide me with an opportunity to ask God to show up and take over. If I let Him take over me and take over my kids then He accomplishes His agenda for that day, and it becomes a good day!
Over the past week and a half, I haven’t seen exceptional homeschool days. It’s still hard work to homeschool five kids. But God has saved me from math meltdown situations because I’ve changed my perspective. There may be homeschooling obstacles too big for me, but certainly not for Him! Let’s rest in that thought, moms!
Friday morning started out like pulling teeth from my two older sons. Elijah and Edan grumbled, complained, and resisted being told what to do for their homeschooling work today. I have encountered moments like this before and it’s never easy to think through how I should respond. Part of me wanted to lay down the hammer and bully them into obeying. The other part knew there were better ways to inspire the right behavior in them.
I invited them into their bedroom for a conference. “You (Elijah) and you (Edan), in the bedroom now.”
They didn’t resist and followed me into their room where I motioned for them to sit across from me on one end of Titus’ bed. I took the other end.
“What’s the problem, boys?” I asked this in the most gentle way I could.
One replied, “My work is too hard.”
“Is that the real problem? What’s the REAL problem?”
“We have a bad attitude?”
“Nope. That’s a problem but that’s not the REAL problem.”
I paused, hoping they would apply some critical thinking and accurately assess themselves. Their mopey faces told me they weren’t going to get to that point. So, I volunteered the answer.
“The real problem is what’s going on in your hearts. I don’t want to force you to do your work. Your motivation should be to please God.”
By then Edan was tearing, half-concealing his face behind a pillow. Elijah struggled to keep himself together.
I didn’t want to lecture too much, but I had to add, “The second thing is, you need to develop the discipline of hard work. Pushing yourself to accomplish a task is good for your character. Don’t expect your responsibilities to always be easy. Someday when you are older, you can’t run away from hard work, you can’t just give up on tasks. So you need to train yourself now.”
The boys were stewing in their emotions. They didn’t like that statement. I let them be and encouraged them to take some time to pray. “Come back to the study room when you are ready, with the right heart and attitude, and with a smile. Until then, just stay here and talk to the Lord. It’s okay to take your time.”
I hugged them and returned to the rest of my kids.
Although I refrain from shouting at my kids when they are difficult to teach, I do feel like crying and locking myself in my room to have a pity party at times. It hurts and saddens me when they are disrespectful or demotivated.
However, homeschooling can’t be about me, even though I would like to voice that out and say, “Look, it’s not easy for me to homeschool five of you. I get tired and upset, and there are days when I don’t feel like it, so get over your attitudes and do what I ask you to!”
Although it’s tempting to yell that out, I absolutely can’t. I mean, I can, but it won’t address the real heart issues in my kids. Slouchy postures, groans, huffing and puffing, complaining, and smart-alecky responses from them incite my irritation but I have to quell this in favor of a spirit-filled reaction. Thankfully, my kids don’t act out their negativity often, but there are days when I have to force the anger down so I can effectively disciple my kids.
One of the biggest factors influencing my desire to control the anger is this: I don’t want to model hypocrisy to my kids. I don’t want to tell my kids to love God and obey God, and then yell at them in frustration because they aren’t homeschooling in the manner I expect them to. Hypocrisy snuffs out faith in children.
I wish I could claim to have a spotless record with my kids…that they have never seen me lose my temper. However, I can’t truthfully say that.
There are days when I get annoyed at Tiana for forgetting what I have taught her, when I lecture Titus for failing to stay focused, when I let out an exasperated sigh because Catalina is disturbing the quiet, or when I threaten my older boys with confiscated gadgets to manipulate them into compliance. I praise God these unkind reactions aren’t the norm, and that’s because of Christ and not me. But my kids have witnessed enough evidence to conclude that their mom has her character flaws!
Howeber, I praise God that He calms me down with the reminder that I am called to be an example to my kids. He also brings to my attention passages like, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
More importantly, the WHY of my homeschooling supersedes the day to day upsets of unmet academic goals and unfulfilled expectations. If I succeed at educating my kids in the head but fail to instruct their hearts then I fail them as a homeschool mom. My greater purpose for homeschooling my kids is to teach them to love God and to glorify Him which is why stressful encounters with my kids can’t bring out the monster in me!
So my encouragement to all homeschooling moms out there is to welcome the interruptions that require us to address the heart issues in our kids. Although our instinct may be to resent them, these are opportunities that God brings our way to accomplish the greater work we have as mothers. By God’s grace, the boys came back to diligently finish their work with good attitudes after they prayed and sorted through their emotions. So the academics did get done in the end but not at the expense of my relationship with my kids or their relationship with the Lord.
“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank
Tiana started First Grade this September and I have customized her curriculum based on what she is inclined to and how she learns. She is still an emerging reader and she also needs grounding in her math skills. Plus, she has a short attention span when I read aloud to her. But she does great with workbooks, writing work and drawing. And she enjoys art a lot.
If your child is similar, maybe this list will give you ideas for your first-grader:
Bible Theology: The Ology by Marty Machowski (3x a week. Read aloud to Tiana and let her write a sentence or two in her Bible notebook to summarize what she learned) This is an easy and laid back way for me to introduce Bible concepts to her. It takes me about 15 minutes to read through each section or chapter (asking questions along the way to check if Tiana is listening), and then I ask her to write in her notebook and draw a picture to remember the topic and come up with her own application.
Tuesday night devotions: God’s Names by Sally Michael (Edric will read to all the kids on and discuss.)
Filipino (2x a week): Rosetta Stone program for all my kids. This is pricey but it can be used for my five kids.
Social Studies (2x a week): Listen to Audio CD Mystery of History Volume 2 with Titus.
PE: Ballet with Learning Plus
Tiana takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to finish her homeschooling work. She is usually done by lunch. In the afternoon she has lots of play time and she practices her piano.
Homeschoolers tend to enjoy science because they have time to explore and learn about different fields they are interested in. Today’s event, Homeschoolers Conquer Science, featured various concepts and projects done by homeschoolers across the metro. Ideas ranged from urine as a power source to laser light that detects bacteria to homemade drones. I was amazed! The best part for me was listening to the kids explain their projects.
Check out there projects below…
Many parents say, “I don’t know if I am cut out for homeschooling.” And I understand where they are coming from. It can sound daunting and intimidating to take on the responsibility of educating your own kids. My experience was a little different because I was homeschooled for a number of years. But for most parents, homeschooling implies too many unknowns.
For many years Edric and I discussed the possibility of opening up a hybrid program that could give parents a “softer” break-in period to homeschooling. The idea was to have classes that homeschoolers could attend twice a week while a parents taught them three days a week. Finally, the option is here, starting with the K2 level (5 years old).
Hands-on Homeschool Hybrid offers a H3 Approach for families looking for a Kindergarten program that marries both “schooling” and home schooling. The 3 Hs are:
Focus: Character Development
Curriculum: Achieving True Success
Focus: Reading and Comprehension
Curriculum: Bob Jones University Press K5 Beginnings and Wikahon (Filipino Language Program)
Focus: Experiential, hands-on activites
Curriculum: Music and Movement, Arts and Crafts, Use of Manipulatives such as Lego, Magformers, and Roominate to teach math
This hybrid program will most probably appeal to entrepreneurial moms, those working part time or those who aren’t sure about taking on 100% of the teaching load because they may prefer to have an able teacher walking alongside them and sharing some teaching days for their children.
The H3 Teacher is an experienced/licensed teacher who will teach homeschoolers twice a week. Lesson plans will also be prepared by the H3 Teacher to give to the Parent-Teacher to implement at home.
Other benefits include:
– Interaction for children who thrive in social settings
– Learning through play
– Student assessments with feedback time/coaching to parents three times a year using competencies set by DepEd
– Access to Google Classroom for assignments, announcements
– Low teacher-to-student ration at 1:12 (max 15)
– Curriculum in a box
Wednesdays and Fridays
Option 1 – AM Session – 9:00 to 11:30
Option 2 – PM Session – 1:00 to 3:30
Classes start on September 7,2016
Enrollent started on August 8,2016
Tuition: 35,000 Php + 286 Php per session for 70 sessions (Inclusive of Portfolio Binder and Year-End Test)
Portfolio below is just a peg of the actual. Source: notconsumed.com
Venue: Homeschool Global, Fun Ranch, Tiendesitas
For more information, please contact:
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
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?
“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.