Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 1

With the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to think through setting yearly goals for our children. This post is divided into two parts to make it more “digestible.”

Our family likes to use the Luke 2:52 approach, which states how “Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man.” In this passage, we see four areas to consider for our children. The first is the mind (wisdom), followed by the body (stature), then spirit (favor with God), and relationships (favor with man).


Edric has a spreadsheet for our kids that includes columns labeled with each of these areas. At the beginning of the year, he and I will discuss our goals for our children, and he will fill in the columns and target dates.

This may sound like a nerdy way to set goals for our children, however, it has helped us to be purposeful. Some families may not opt to set goals in this manner. They may want to use a simple list that covers the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual development of their children.

Whichever method they implore, the key is to be purposeful. Successful companies have annual planning meetings to assess where their companies are at, project profits, and to determine direction. As parents, we ought to be as intentional and even more so about the way we raise our children.

Many giants of the faith were faithful followers of God who performed miracles, prophesied, and influenced cultures and nations. However, they neglected their first ministry – their families. Take for instance, Samuel, a judge and prophet who was personally called by God in his sleep to serve Him. It is said of Samuel that “the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20)

He advised the first king of Israel, Saul, and anointed the great King David. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that Samuel’s sons were not godly men. “And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel…His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:1,3)

How is it that one of the most faithful messengers of God to His people failed in his fathering?

On the one hand, he had a bad example in Eli, who played the role of a pseudo dad as he mentored Samuel. Samuel lived with Eli when he was weaned from his mother, Hannah, who had dedicated him to the Lord. From a young age, Samuel’s ideas about fathering were modeled by Eli. Eli, while succeeding at raising Samuel, failed as a father to his own sons. His sons were described as “worthless men who did not know the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:12) Their sin was very great because they “despised the offering of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:17) Though Eli tried to speak with them to correct their behavior, it was too little too late. His sons “did not listen, and the Lord intended to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25)

There are other clues to Samuel’s father issues. In 1 Samuel 7, there is an insert about Samuel’s ministry, explaining that he “used to go annually on circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel, and he built there an altar to the Lord.” Traveling these distances every year naturally consumed much of his time, besides executing the duties of judge to the people. No doubt this took away opportunities to disciple his own kids.

Perhaps Samuel also had a tendency to look at appearances rather than the heart. We see this when he was tasked to go to the house of Jesse to look for a successor to King Saul. His instinct was to choose based on appearances and God specifically told him to look at the heart. It’s possible that as a parent, he didn’t do his due diligence in seeing the hearts of his sons. His focus may have been on the appearance of goodness in his children while failing to recognize unchecked character issues that blossomed into dishonesty, bribery, and perversion of justice.

It’s sobering for us to consider this reality as we raise up our own kids. If great men of God can fail at parenting, how much more susceptible are we to do the same! This is why we need to think through what our children will grow up to be like. A thriving ministry, as well as workplace and business success cannot compensate for lack of intentional discipleship in the home. We can’t assume that our faithful service to God will, by virtue of osmosis, be embraced by our children. Neither should we content ourselves with our kids finishing college and getting good jobs or starting up businesses. While these are important, the greater measures of success are whether they will turn out to be men and women of integrity who know how to serve others, stay faithful to a spouse, raise godly children, and make a positive difference for Christ in this world.

Therefore, let us not be shortsighted as we set our goals, assuming that our job is done when our kids complete their schooling years. Luke 2:52 is included as a description about Christ when he was at the age of twelve. After this time, he makes his appearance in public ministry at the age of thirty. Up until this point, he continued to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man. Similarly, every year, we ought to envision and plan for our children to do the same.

For those of us with older children, goal-setting may involve asking them what they are interested in and what they would like to accomplish in the year. Encouraging them to be involved in the planning also makes them more committed to achieving yearly goals.

We would like to share with you some of the ways our children are growing in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man. Since these examples are personal, may God help you to think through what can apply to your own children and family context.

Growing in Wisdom

Wisdom is the ability of a person to apply knowledge and make right choices. Ultimately, we want our children to have godly wisdom. When they are out of our sights or when they eventually leave our home, will their decisions honor God and please Him?

Knowledge and wisdom have to go together. Solomon asked of God, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10) He knew that knowledge in the sense of facts and information was not enough to make him a good leader. He needed the combination of wisdom and knowledge.

As our children acquire knowledge through the study of subject areas, we need to balance this out with an understanding of who God is and what His principles for living are. A brilliant mind that doesn’t fear God or have a conscience can be a dangerous weapon!

Take for instance, our son, Elijah, who has always been interested in and become very capable in the area of technology. At the age of twelve, he was tinkering with gadgets and figuring out how to jail-break old Ipads and phones. We allowed him do so and paid for online programs so that he could learn programing. A year later he was building apps and websites. At a certain point the idea of hacking interested him as well as the ability to circumvent restrictions so that he didn’t have to pay for apps or movies. We told him to stop doing this because it wasn’t legal. Thankfully, he is a young man who fears God so he exercised restraint and self-control!

He is learning to channel his knowledge to worthwhile pursuits. Very recently, he created a forum for homeschooler friends where they discuss math problems, science, and exchange ideas. It’s a much wiser application of the knowledge he has acquired! He isn’t aspiring to hack anymore. Whew.

Considering our child’s interest is also a good starting point for planning out goals because it’s an integrative approach to learning. For example, instead of our kids studying math or reading as separate subjects, why not give them opportunities to exercise the usefulness of both?

Last year, Titus wanted to start his own stock portfolio as an eight-year old. His older brothers had already done so when they each turned nine, but Titus expressed the desire to get involved in investing earlier to compete with Elijah and Edan. It was a great way for him to apply math, reading, research, and critical thinking skills. So Edric included this goal in our yearly plan for Titus. Before the end of 2016, Titus attended a three-hour seminar by COL Financial where he learned the basics of investing in stocks. Edric asked him to think through which companies he would like to invest in, and he got his portfolio up with stocks from Pure Gold, Ayala Corporation, Rockwell, and SMPH. He now knows how to go online to research and purchase stock options on his own, too.

Our second son, Edan hopes to travel the world someday and talk to people about Jesus, so he asked if he could do foreign language studies this year. At present, he uses apps and travel books to teach himself Spanish and Chinese. During the day when he wants to work on his language studies, we set aside time for him to do this as well. He’s still at the beginner levels but his motivation keeps him going. Lord willing, this desire to share the gospel around the world will be fulfilled in the future. 


Growing in wisdom may often supersede yearly subject area requirements. While it’s beneficial to cover minimum learning competencies as outlined by the Department of Education, these do not have to restrict us from identifying loftier goals for our children that take into account their gifts, interests, and dreams.

Stature

We want our kids to develop their physical abilities such as their artistry, musicality, and athleticism, and we want them to be healthy and fit. Since each of our kids is at different stages of ability and capacity, we have to be specific about what activities we expose them to.

This past year, one of our aims was to help our sons find sports they wanted to focus on. Elijah let us know that he was open to training on a swim team and continuing with tennis. Our four other kids are also doing tennis. Since paid classes are usually once a week and our boys need more physical activity, Edric revised the specifics of our yearly stature goal to include an exercise regimen for our sons. Edric also participates in this fitness program with them as a way of bonding with our boys. The girls, on the other hand, are pressing on with their ballet.

As for music and art, two of our kids play violin, and two others are doing piano. All of them are enrolled in a painting class. We also make time for art at home.  Since their preferences may change as they discover what they are really good at, we ask them at the beginning of each year if they are open to sticking to the same music and art classes or switching to something else.


Edan used to take violin but didn’t develop a love for it. We really hoped he would stick it out, imagining a future when our three boys would be “jamming” on their violins together. However, he emphatically told us he would like to take up piano instead. Allowing him to let go of violin to focus on piano was one of the best decisions we made. After one year of piano playing, Edan progressed quickly. From simple pieces, he tackled compositions like “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Since he was so excited to learn an instrument that he actually enjoyed, he pushed himself to practice and work hard.

To continue, read: Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 2

 

Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 2

This is the second part of Setting Yearly Goals for Your Children. Previously, we covered Growing in Wisdom and Stature. If you haven’t read about these yet, please start here: Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 1

Favor with God

Favor with God means that our kids seek to know, love, serve, and obey God. In pursuit of this, we encourage our older children to finish reading their Bibles every year, or at least attempt to do so. Elijah is re-reading his Bible for the seventh time, while Edan is on his second round. Titus has yet to finish but he’s on his way. Tiana is starting to but she still needs a lot of help with big words. Catalina just began reading so she merely pretends to understand what’s going on when she’s holding a Bible. A few days ago, she mouthed out her own rendition of Genesis, combining some parts with the story of Solomon, making it completely inaccurate. She’ll get there eventually.

Another important goal is that our kids develop Christ-like character. Each year comes with it’s unique challenges. This past year, our kids had to grow in kindness towards one another. They tended to use harsh words when they were frustrated and didn’t like to share.

During our weekly Bible studies with our kids, Edric included lessons on how to relate to one another in more loving ways. They memorized Bible passages and shared how they could improve and what they could apply. For the older boys, Edric challenged them to take charge of a study once a month so they got to practice teaching their siblings. His secret agenda was to get them to think through what they needed to work on.

The other night, Titus’s verse was Hebrews 13:16. He asked us all to memorize the passage: “Don’t forget to do good and to share with others. These are the sacrifices that please God.”  Afterwards, we talked about how the passage applied to us. Each of our kids admitted that they can be better at treating one another kindly.

We also provide our children with opportunities to serve with us in ministry as much as possible. Since Edric plans out most of our speaking engagements, ministry trips, and activities at the beginning of each year, he can determine when our kids can participate as he plots out our schedule. Most of the talks will fall under the categories of marriage, parenting, or financial stewardship since Edric and I have a shared burden to minister to families. Therefore, we find ways to integrate our children into our seminars so they can experience being a blessing to and serving others.



During our trip to Singapore last August, where we were invited to facilitate a family retreat, we asked our boys to prepare testimonies that we could include in our talks. At the end of the family retreat, our kids also sang a hymn for the audience to close the retreat. Exposure to ministry at young ages allows them to see how they can serve God, too, even while they are young and make a difference for Him.

Recently, we also added sharing the gospel to thirty-three people from now till December as part of our goal for the year since our church challenged us to do so. Our kids got excited about the commitment and have been passing out gospel tracts whenever they can. We still have to practice one-on-one evangelism with them since passing out tracts doesn’t really count!

Favor with Man

Our children also need to grow in their relationships with others. Favor with man is the ability of a person to relate to and reach out to others, to be a positive influence. It’s more than socialization, which is how a child conforms to the social group he is in. Our children have to be trained to look out for the needs of others.

The family context often provides a great training ground to do this since it can be difficult to unconditionally love and forgive one another, as well as get along with siblings. However, relationships with other children outside of the home are also significant. These teach our kids how to accommodate people from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as how to communicate, understand, and influence. 

Early this school year, we realized that our sons were looking for more opportunities to interact with friends. It was especially important to our second son, Edan, who enjoys connecting with others. As a natural leader, he benefits from opportunities to exercise this gift. Of all the days in the week, his favorite ones are often the days when he gets to be with his friends. He directs their play, organizes activities, and comes up with fellowship ideas.

As for Elijah, who tends to be very content being alone and on a computer or with a book, we recognized that he had to look outward and invest in developing relationships with others. So we enrolled him in art class and an Algebra 2 tutorial class in order for him to interact more with other high schoolers.


Here are some other ways we get our kids to connect with other children: We created a culture in our couple’s bible study group that encourages kids to come with their parents. During the week, we set aside a day for them to be at the Homeschool Global office so they can hang out and play with their friends in between their art, music, and pe classes. Apart from this, we open up our home so friends can come over in the afternoons. Or, we schedule visits with their cousins and friends.

We used to think that our kids would do fine without too much social interaction apart from family, relatives and a few close friends. However, our perspective changed a year ago when our second son declared, “I’m a social person. I like being with friends.” In response to this, we’ve tried to be more creative about providing opportunities for our kids to spend time with other kids. Although they enjoy their relationships with one another and with us, they also benefit from being with friends of all ages.

The goal isn’t so that they will have many friends, but that they would learn how to reach out to and be a blessing to others, and to apply character traits and relational skills like deference, forgiveness, kindness, cooperation, etc.  

In summary, the Luke 2:52 framework of wisdom, stature, favor with God, and men is one way to accomplish yearly homeschooling goals. It’s certainly not the only way since all families are unique. The point is to have a plan and to follow through with it. There may be revisions as the year progress, too, which is perfectly fine. We need to flex according to the needs of our children as they grow, develop, and encounter challenges. May God give us all the insight to craft our yearly goals and align them with his purposes for our kids. And may He supply us with the ability to commit to these! In the meantime, let us “Commit our ways to the Lord, and trust also in Him…” (Psalm 37:5)


 

 

Novels for Voracious Young Readers

These are the top picks of my son, Elijah, who enjoys fantasy and mystery novels that echo Biblical themes or that are morally “safe.” Most of these books are actually for adults. He’s read these over the last year and a half besides classics. My younger boys are also starting to read some of the fantasy books as well. 

I am sharing these titles because I feel there is a shortage of good, spiritually-enriching books for young people. A lot of what’s popular today revolves around witchcraft and sorcery, as well as vampires, or they prematurely awaken romance in the hearts of children. (Most of these books were purchased through Christianbook.com or Amazon.) 

Here are Elijah’s personal reviews of the books…
Elijah:

Randy Alcorn writes about multi-dimensional plots with well-rounded characters. His vocabulary and imagery are vivid. These books can be read alone but when read together as a whole, the script is richer. Each of the books centers around a different character in the author’s city who investigates a murder. In each case the protagonist is on a faith journey to understand truth in his own life. Alcorn shows what the murdered person’s experience is like in either heaven or hell, compelling readers to choose to know God and follow Him.


Lee Strobel’s murder-mystery has several plot threads and interesting dialogue in this book. It was a captivating read and I blazed through the pages quickly because I was so riveted! 


Author Jerry Jenkin’s takes the reader through two plots. The first is the journey of a theologian who is a professor traveling to Rome to help protect secret manuscripts written by the Apostle Paul. As the story unfolds, there is a parallel to the plot of Paul’s life in prison before his execution, where he writes the manuscripts. Jenkins is more about dialogue rather than description in his stories. 


These are fantasy books where Chuck Black creates an allegorical world that is set in medieval times that captures the lives of Bible characters through knights and kings. These books read like The Chronicles of Narnia. It was fun to interpret the Biblical counterparts that the characters were portraying. 


I am about to read these next books by Chuck Black…


Shadow of the Mountain by Cliff Graham is an imagining of Caleb’s story, who supposedly did not begin as an Israelite but then chooses to follow God. It depicts his life as a warrior in Egypt. It’s purely fictional and isn’t based on actual Biblical text about Caleb. Although very entertaining, it has violent parts.


This is a fantasy re-write of Pilgrim’s Progress designed for younger readers to understand. It’s filled with suspense and there are some scary parts but I liked it’s very happy ending.


Land of Stories is a series that isn’t written by a Christian, but for the most part the values are okay. Occasionally, the characters do make statements that I am not comfortable with such as OMG. This series depicts well-known fairy tale characters in a new way by adding new plot layers and dimensions to their personalities. It describes a pair of twins’ adventures in their world. The language it is written in is easy to read as well as humorous. There is wizardry in it so read with caution. 


These books are very interesting to read but some secrets are kept hidden throughout the three books. Only at the end of the third book does the protagonist realize the truth, but at that point very little has been revealed to the reader about the secrets which can feel frustrating. However, there is redemption which makes the books worth reading. 

 

Motivating Kids to Learn

To keep my kids motivated and excited about learning, I sometimes add little changes and incentives to our daily routine. Today, I let my younger kids study outside while the older boys were in charge of lowering and raising their books through a pulley system. Elijah and Edan used a rope and basket, and Titus, Tiana, and Catalina had to ring a bell when they needed new books delivered, or finished work raised back up. 



I sat outdoors with the younger kids who enjoyed being with the bunnies and sitting on a mat on the grass. It felt like an adventure. Plus, it was my secret way of getting them some healthy sunlight, too. 

Titus, who is kinesthetic, really liked the set up today. He accomplished his work faster than usual. (Since he tends to get distracted, I also use a timer for him. He sets it and tries his best to beat the timer.) 

I once heard a homeschool veteran and speaker say that motivation is what keeps a child learning. On the one hand, I want my kids to demonstrate the capacity to sit for extended periods of time in order to accomplish their tasks. Yet, I also believe in making adjustments when necessary to keep kids interested in learning. 

When learning is a joy, my kids are engaged and willing to put in the time to finish a task. I have observed that my kids’ desire to learn is fanned by five things. 

The first is purpose. My kids, more notably the older ones, know that learning is part of God’s plan for their lives. A foundation of skills, knowledge, and experiences is being built to equip and prepare them for God’s kingdom-building work. 

When we go off course in our homeschooling and head in the direction of high stress, I know we are losing sight of the purpose and focusing too much on performance. So I have to take my kids aside and have meaningful conversations with them that revolve around the why of our homeschooling. 

The second thing the motivates my kids is the freedom to explore their interests. Whether their interest be in the form of a topic, activity, or object (and provided these interests aren’t detrimental to their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health), I give them freedom to pursue these. 

For example, Elijah likes building apps and coding which requires him to be good at math and logic. So he pushes himself to learn math concepts that are beyond ninth grade requirements. I don’t force him to study trigonometry, for instance, but he tells me he has to learn a bit of trignometry to do coding. So that’s what he is doing. 

Titus still likes to play. So being outdoors for him and using that pulley system felt like playing to him. He told me several times how much fun homeschooling was today. 

The third aspect of motivation is experiencing success. It’s discouraging for my kids to deal with repeated failure or the inability to understand a concept. So my job is to address learning gaps, slow down, or repeat lessons until they are ready to tackle more challenging levels and work. Sometimes I have to change the material I am using or make it more developmentally appropriate. 

Tiana can’t always write down sentences as a seven year old, primarily because she’s not yet spelling well. So there are occasions when I ask her to tell me what her sentence is and I write it down for her. Or, I write down sentences for her to copy. At times, I also assist her as she tries to think of the words and letters. Titus used to be the same way, but as he became a better reader, he became a better speller. 

My role is to help my kids learn, not to make them feel like they can’t learn. Sometimes this means many baby steps to get them to a point of confidence and independence. Thankfully, Elijah, Edan, and Titus are, more often than not, able to study without me hovering over them too much. Tiana and Catalina will get to that point eventually as their capacity to read improves. In the meantime, experiencing mini victories as we plod along together encourages both of them to keep going. 

The fourth thing what motivates my kids is our learning environment. The relational climate between us can positively or negatively affect their desire to learn. When I am irritable and impatient, they are scared to make mistakes or to disappoint me. This is unhealthy because learning becomes about pleasing me and avoiding conflict. Worst of all, my bad example can be perceived as hypocrisy, nullifying my attempts to teach them about the Lord and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Therefore, I must always be careful about my tone and my interactions with them. Am I exuding the joy of the Lord? Am I enjoying my time with them? Am I affirming them even as I help them identity their mistakes and correct them? Am I allowing them to express their frustrations and processing these with them from a spiritual perspective? 

Lastly, kids must internalize that obedience brings blessings. When my kids don’t feel like exerting effort to learn something I ask them to, especially the older ones, they remember the importance of obedience. It may not seem like fun to obey when it’s inconvenient for them, yet the choice to do so translates to a change in their attitudes. 

It’s like my dad used to say, “Motion before emotion.” Make the choice to do the right thing and the emotions will follow. Very often, their resistance is replaced with a smile and softeness of heart, and they apologize for their bad attitude (if this is present). The blessing is that God supplies the motivation and rewards their efforts. 

When these five elements of motivation are present — a clear, God-centered purpose, interest-led experiences and pursuits, success, a positive environment, and obedience, homeschooling is a delight for my kids and me. Remove any one of these factors and the motivation suffers. 

When the purpose isn’t God-centered there is pressure to perform. When interests aren’t acknowledged or accomodated then kids tend to get bored. When success isn’t there, children feel like lessons are unreasonably hard or they feel insecure about their abilities. When a parent gets angry easily and the learning environment is tense, kids are controlled by fear. When children haven’t internalized obedience, they may comply on the outside but develop resentment on the inside.  

The good news is that God gives us the ability and the wisdom to provide these five motivating elements. So let’s tap into His daily grace and ask Him for help! 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”‭‭ Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ 

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017

This post should have come earlier but it’s not too late yet! The Philippine Homeschool Conference is happening this Saturday at Treston College in Bonifacio Global City. Registration online is closed but there’s a walk-in fee of 1,000 pesos/person. 

Whether you are interested in learning about home schooling, already homeschooling, an educator, researcher, or an intentional parent, you will appreciate the line up of keynote speakers, breakout speakers, kids’ activities, as well as exhibitors that will be this event. 

I have taken this information from Educating for Life‘s website, the organizers of this event for your reference. 

The keynote speakers…

SEN. FRANCIS PANGILINAN


From his time as a student activist to being a senator of the Republic of the Philippines and an eventual cabinet member in the Aquino administration, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has had no qualms about being independent-minded, proving time and again that progressive ideas and principles have a place in Philippine politics.

His career in public service began over 20 years ago, when the young Kiko began his fight against human rights violations, corruption, and other social ills as Chairman of the UP Diliman Student Council. Eventually becoming a human rights lawyer, he later on became the youngest-ever Councilor of the 4th district of Quezon City and, in 1998, graduated with a Master of Public Administration as an Edward S. Mason Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.

Aside from being a champion of the plight of the farmers in the country, Kiko is a staunch supporter of homeschooling and is the author behind the Senate Resolution declaring March 3 as National Homeschool Day in the Philippines.

 

EFREN PEÑAFLORIDA JR.


The middle child of a tricycle driver and a housewife, Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida Jr. completed his elementary and high school education through the hold of scholarships and financial assistance, and received several class awards and honors. In 2000, he graduated from San Sebastian College–Recoletos de Cavite with a degree in computer technology, receiving highest honors. He pursued a second course at Cavite State University Cavite City campus, graduating cum laude in 2006 with a degree in Secondary Education.

At 16 years old, Peñaflorida, joined by other classmates, formed “Dynamic Teen Company”. They eventually pioneered the idea of the “pushcart classroom”, wherein pushcarts were stocked with school materials such as books, pens, tables, and chairs, and then used on Saturdays to recreate school settings in unconventional locations such as the cemetery or trash dump.

In March 2009, Peñaflorida was featured as a CNN Hero as part of the news network’s program to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to help others. On November 22, 2009, he was named CNN Hero of the Year for 2009.

MARISSA LEINART


After suffering 3 miscarriages while being a morning news anchor in the a morning show, Marissa Leinart decided to stay home with her two children and candidly admits she often dreamt of the big, yellow school bus visiting her front door. Ironically, God had other plans. Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, Marissa laughed and thought she was hearing voices when God called her to what would absolutely, positively, surely NOT have been an option… homeschool. Now, Marissa says it’s her greatest lifetime achievement and beyond the 2 Emmys she won as a TV broadcaster.

Marissa’s recent role has been more of an encourager to her children, Will and Linzey, both of home are reaping the benefits of being homeschooled by their parents.

Marissa wants to share with parents how she used non-traditional homeschool education methods, including online learning, blended learning, enrichment programs, homeschooling, and early college to educate her two children successfully.

Marissa has been a workshop speaker at several Great Homeschool Conventions in the U.S. on “How To Homeschool for Free!” She was also the audiobook narrator for award winning Apologia Curriculum. You may have heard her narrating these books: Chemistry, Marine Biology I, Marine Biology II, Who Is God, Who Is My Neighbor and Who Am I.

Marissa started www.TheHomeschoolRevolution.com to connect, serve and lead homeschool families in the U.S. and the Philippines to a stress free and debt free journey to homeschool success.

For more information on speakers: Breakout Session Speakers

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017 Program

9:00-9:30 National anthem, Welcome remarks, Introduction of speaker

9:30-10:15 Keynote 1 

10:15-10:20 Intermission 

10:20-11:05 Keynote 2 

11:05-11:20 Intermission 

11:20-12:05 Keynote 3 

12:05-12:10 Wrap up morning session 

12:10-2:10pm Lunch, Expo

2:10-2:15pm Intermission

2:15-2:45pm Plenary: Guest Speaker 

2:45-3:00pm Mobilize for breakout sessions 

3:00-4:00pm Workshops 

We Want to Homeschool! Now What? 

The Juggling Act: Home Management for Teacher Moms 

What I Learned From My Rookie Homeschool Year 

Raising Financial Literate Kids

Narration 101 

No Fear! Homeschooling Through High School 

The Treston Way: Excellent and Ethical Education in a Caring Community 

4:00-4:10 Mobilize for Breakout 2 

4:10-5:10 Workshops 

Homeschool for Free 

The Working Homeschool Mom Multi-purpose Hall

7 Tips for Teaching Multiple Age Students Without Losing Your Mind 

Technology in Your Homeschool 

Carving Out Me-Time for Busy Homeschooling 

That Thing Called ‘Gap Year’

The Treston Way: Excellent and Ethical Education in a Caring Community

5:10-5:30 Mobilize for closing remarks 

5:30-5:40 Intermission

5:40-6:00pm HAPI News, Raffle, Closing remarks, Multi-purpose hall
Kids’ Activities

There will be various activities for children of all ages should you want to bring your children along. These activities will all take place in the classrooms in the second floor of Treston International College. Please make sure, however, that they are with a trusted adult at all times. HAPI and Educating for Life will not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen to your child during the event.

ACTIVITIES AND SCHEDULE

PARKOUR by NINJA ACADEMY (Hourly classes from 9am to 5pm)

ART CLASSES by KIDZART (9am-5pm)

SANDBOX PLAY PROGRAM by THE LEARNING LODGE (9am-5pm)

AVIATION ELEMENTARY FOR TEENS by THE LEARNING LODGE (9am-5pm)

FREE COLORING by FABER CASTELL (9am-5pm)

PLAY AREA by TOPMnl (9am-5pm)

FENCING DEMO by EZKRIMA

ACTIVITIES by CRAFTED CRAFTS (9am-10am, 11am-12pm, 2pm-3pm, 4pm-5pm)

Create a Critter with Jean Castillo of Jinstitches – Have fun with yarns and turn them into critters you can love.
Jewellery-making with Genaline Gaspar of Craft Works – Learn the basics of making earrings and bracelets, with short lecture on how to choose the right materials and tools for your projects.

Crochet Along with The Happy WAHM of Crafted Crafts – Learn crochet basics, and complete a simple project you can wear. Handouts will be provided.

LIMITED SLOTS AVAILABLE.

FEES – There will be a flat fee of P500 per child to allow access to all the activities in the Activity Area, not including Crafted Craft activities.

Crafted Craft fee is as follows:

Choice of 1 – P300 per child

Choice of 2 – P500 per child

Guardian fee for the Activity Area is P50.

Sponsors and exhibitors

 

Blood, Sweat, Tears and Snot on Day 1

BLOOD. Our homeschooling year 2017 – 2018 commenced on Monday with Titus waking up to a nose bleed. It’s happened before, but this was the fourth consecutive day that he had one causing a measure of alarm. (Thankfully, the bleed didn’t recur following Monday.)

SWEAT. Catalina ran around the room, climbing furniture, and tumbling wherever she could like she had been injected with adrenaline. She appeared periodically at my side to get my attention with her hair matted to her face by sweat. Eventually, I asked Edan to keep her busy, which he did very effectively.


SNOT. Every five minutes Tiana had snot exiting her nostrils in a very unsightly manner which was uncharacteristic for her usually feminine and put-together self.

TEARS. About an hour into the morning Elijah had a meltdown when he couldn’t figure out the answers to certain binomial problems. He vocalized his exasperation and tore up his notebook page. (Hmm…sounds like something I once did with Tiana’s math book! Ayayay!)


To talk things over in private, I invited Elijah into my bedroom. I let him relax on the bed so he could have a break from his math work. It took a while to calm him down. I asked him if there was something deeper troubling him inside since his reaction over binomial problems seemed extreme. At first, he rejected my appeal to talk it over, but after using a soft and gentle tone with him, hugging him, and assuring him that I loved him no matter what, he started to respond. (Hoowee! The things we have to do to get our kids to open up!)

Although he initially argued that Algebra was irrelevant to life and he went on and on in an irate manner about it’s “pointlessness,” he eventually admitted that the real issue for his frustration stemmed from pride. 
At this season of his young adulthood, Elijah is learning to wrestle with failure and blocked goals. This is a good thing for someone who is very capable. Normally, he breezes through tasks with ease and confidence, which is great for me as a homeschooling mom of five. This means I don’t have to micromanage what he does every single day. He pretty much educates himself. However, Algebra 2 is proving to be challenging which is humbling for him.

He also shared that he needed to grow in intimacy with the Lord. Instead of treating his walk with Christ as a checklist of things to do – like reading His Bible, praying, etc – he recognized that greater intimacy with the Lord ought to result in the right perspective when it comes to homeschooling and self-control over his temper.

So that was my first day of homeschooling for our 2017 – 2018 year. It felt like a mess! It was emotional, trying, and we didn’t get as much of the academics done as I hoped we would. 


However, the kids and I are now a month into our 2017 – 2018 year. We’ve adjusted to the rhythm of our morning schedule, starting between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM and ending by 1 PM (sometimes later for the older kids). I’m happy to announce that the stress has greatly minimized since the first two weeks. The kids are enjoying themselves and so am I. It’s a miracle! 

Elijah recently told me, “Mom, I realized that the logical thinking that Algebra requires you to do is actually helpful for my computer programming.” He actually appreciates Algebra 2 now and is doing splendidly in his math! Another miracle! 

My encouragement to homeschool moms who may read this is don’t give up when the day to day gets challenging. It is not easy to homeschool our children. However, through the years I’ve observed that the problems my kids encounter while homeschooling such as bad attitudes, laziness, and uncooperativeness, are rooted in spiritual issues. On the one hand, I can take the despotic approach and command them to “get their work done,” ignoring their heart conditions for the sake of accomplishing my learning goals for the day, week, month, or year. However, homeschooling gives me the time and opportunity to address what’s going on beneath the tears, grumbling, negativity, or slumped postures.  Homeschooling affords me (and Edric) the privilege of instructing their hearts. 

I believe that a proper education for our children goes beyond the shaping of their intellect to the molding of their character. While knowledge and thinking skills are important, the greater determinant of success will be their character. So when a morning of “school work” in the home is interrupted by issues such as bad attitudes, wrong perspectives, and lackluster motivation, I must welcome these interruptions graciously and treat them as important teaching moments. It’s not easy to do so when I want to plow through the day and get the academics done, but in the long run, it’s these moments of investing in their spiritual lives that turn my children into better students and better people.

So press on! God provides the grace and God will give us the wisdom to handle the different obstacles and trying situations we will face as we homeschoolers. And, the reward of children who  love God, who are strong in character, who push themselves to learn even when they don’t feel like it, who persevere through the hardships of achieving their goals, and who do their best for the Lord, will be well-worth the blood, sweat, tears, (and snot)!  

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬

When homeschooling gets tough, let’s remember that God loves us and He has empowered to stay the course through the Holy Spirit! 

 

 

When a Child is Gifted

After watching the movie, Gifted, I had a crisis of doubt over homeschooling my oldest son, Elijah. When he was six years old, he was diagnosed as a gifted child. At the time I didn’t give it much thought. Edric and I believed that it wasn’t necessary to overemphasize this aspect of his person. After all, our greater priority was to instill godly character in him. The academic ability presented itself as a nice bonus but not as the focal point of our home education for him.

However, fast-forward to some weeks ago when Elijah broke down. He expressed worry over having accomplished “nothing” with his life, accompanied with the fear that he was not good at anything. Plus, he thought his opportunities would be over by the age of eighteen. (He tends to be hyperbolic in his assessments of himself.)

I listened to my fourteen year old son wondering why in the world such a bright young man could suffer these thoughts. Really?! Not good at anything? I mean, that makes me seem like I have a cockroach’s brain compared to him! (Now you know where he gets his exaggeration tendencies from…)

Here’s the truth. Elijah is able to program ridiculously well for a fourteen year old, having taught himself at least five coding languages. God has also given him an amazing ability to remember science facts and encyclopedia-like information. We call him our resident Google. He can read a four hundred page book in one sitting if no one interrupted him. At age eight, he started public speaking. At age nine, he attended a three hour seminar about stocks investing and started his own portfolio. He has finished the Bible six times since the age of seven. When he turned thirteen, he survived Mt. Apo. 

To me all of these sounded like he had done quite a bit for his age. However, I didn’t want to be insensitive or dismissive about his sentiments, so I probed further and tried my best to empathize. 

Where was he coming from? Why was he feeling these emotions?

One possible reason was that he had just lost a tennis match with his dad, where he played in a manner that he described as “pitiful.” Being similarly competitive in nature to his father, he didn’t take to the defeat too well.

Secondly, he compared himself to Edric and me He stated, “Mom, I don’t think I will be able to do what you and dad do. You guys have done so much with your life.”

At this point, I had to interject, “Hon, you don’t have to do the same things that mom and dad have done. God has a specific plan for YOUR life. You don’t need to compare.”

That past week, our homeschooling schedule had also been erratic because of other commitments Edric and I, as well as our kids needed to attend to. As a result, Elijah felt unproductive in terms of his responsibilities for the week.

As he verbally listed the reasons why he was stressed, accompanied by tears he tried to hold back, I thought, Are these his hormones kicking in to high gear because he is going through puberty?!

When Edric entered the restaurant where Elijah and I had this conversation, I signaled him with my eyes to let him know that something serious and important needed his participation. So Edric added his perspective to encourage Elijah. But his approach was to come up with practical plans. 

Elijah has since changed his opinion about himself and his future. Whew. Maybe he just needed listening to. He’s back to his positive self. When I asked him what altered his perceptions of himself, he replied, “When you told me that I have to focus on obeying God and following His will for my life, then I will accomplish what He wants me to.”


Because of his “break down” I continued to give his education considerable thought in the past weeks. Then, half-way through watching the movie, Gifted last Monday, I felt troubled. The uncle who had taken it upon himself to raise his extraordinarily intelligent niece, wondered if he was doing her a disservice by not putting her in a school for the gifted. Since his genius sister (the mother of his niece) took her life due to the pressure the mother burdened her with to solve a millennial problem in mathematics, he didn’t want to see his niece end up the same way. Instead, he believed his niece needed a more balanced life, one where she could enjoy playing, the outdoors, having friends her age, and going to a school that was for “normal” kids. 

As he wrestled with doubt, I sat in the theater seat wondering similar things. Should Elijah still be homeschooled? Does he need to be enrolled in a school where he can benchmark himself against others? Should he got to a science high school? Does he need to apply his skills in other ways that are beyond my capacity to provide as his teacher? How can he better maximize his talents and abilities? Are Edric and I doing him a disservice somehow because he is gifted? 

One of the things that resonated with me was how the uncle emphasized the importance of character in his niece. He didn’t think that focusing on how much of a prodigy she was would do her emotional and mental good in the long run. 

This is the same conviction Edric and I have about our kids. We talked about these things after the movie. 

I believe each one of them are gifted and extraordinary. Elijah just happens to display this in the area of academics. Yet what is more valuable to us is their character. Furthermore, unlike the uncle in the movie who philosophized the existence of God and therefore lacked spiritual emphasis in his parenting, we believe this ought to be paramount to our children’s upbringing. Whatever exceptionality our children may have, should God will this, they are His children first. Their identity and their purpose must be anchored on this truth. 

Therefore the goal of Elijah’s education has to be loftier – he was gifted for the glory of God, not for his glory, and not for our glory. We want him to grow up loving God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. (The same goes for all our other kids.) 

Keeping these goals in mind affords us with a filter for the plans we make for him. The framework we will continue to focus on is largely based upon Luke 2:52, which says that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man.

I started to worry about Elijah and his future after his break down and the movie because I temporarily lost sight of the why of our home schooling. Thankfully, Edric comforted me. He’ has often quoted one of the founders of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Mike Smith, who wisely said, “We don’t homeschool for Harvard. We homeschool for heaven.” 

But hey, a lot of homeschoolers do get into Harvard. Not that this is our plan for Elijah. Our plan is to follow God’s leading for him. 

So far this is what we’ve come up with for his ninth grade…

1. WISDOM – Elijah will intern with a company so he can use his coding and programming skills to complete projects that are meaningful and beneficial to others. He is starting on Monday and will be tasked to help develop and improve the systems of two organizations. A few weeks back he admitted to me that he liked the idea of hacking into systems (uh-oh), so I had to remind him that he must be wise about the applications of his ability. (Wisdom is making choices that honor God. Intelligence without wisdom can be destructive.)


2. STATURE – Elijah will zone in on two sports – swimming and tennis. Instead of experimenting with different options, these are the two that suit his physical build and interest. He will continue to pursue his violin studies as well.


3. FAVOR WITH GOD – Elijah needs to have a vision for his life. He doesn’t have to compare himself to anyone. If he follows and obeys God’s plan for him, he will become whom God wants him to be. 

4. FAVOR WITH MAN – Edric signed Elijah up for the High Unite Summer Camp called Revolution, It Starts with You. It’s a high school retreat organized by homeschoolers from Home school Global for their fellow homeschoolers. This will be a good opportunity for him to reach out to others and possibly form a small group that he can mentor.


There’s a scene in the movie of Gifted where the uncle reflects as he takes his seven year old niece in his arms, “If you are turning out to be a happy, smart, and kind person then I must be doing something right.”

This part made me tear because it also dawned upon me that if Elijah is turning out to be a young man who is joyful, wise, kind, and who loves God then homeschooling must be working. And this is to the Lord’s credit because he supplies the daily grace. 

In fact, should any of our children turn out well all glory ought to go to the Lord. In the meantime Edric and I will train, disciple, steward, encourage, guide, and love our children. Home schooling is not a perfect science to raising kids. Yet it allows us to pursue the parenting goals that are most meaningful to us.

Time to Play 

Nothing trumps nature as the best setting for free play, also known as unstructured play. Several years back my kids went to Disney Land and Universal Studios in California but their favorite vacation memories revolved around visits to the park and Lake Tahoe, where they enjoyed hours of romping around the snow. 

Recently, we traveled to Dubai, and as much as they enjoyed all the amusement parks and touristy locations, the desert proved to be top on their list of places we visited. What did they do in the desert? They scaled the dunes and rolled down them! 

In the Philippines, their destination of choice is the beach. But of course! We have the best beaches in the world! 

For my kids, there is never enough time spent on the sand and swimming in the sea. 


Over the weekend, we went to Acea in Subic Bay. It’s a newly opened resort and still working through its birthing pains in the area of customer service. Yet, the place is beautiful, the ala carte meals delicious, and the staff are helpful and friendly. Besides the swimming amenities, there’s a gym and an indoor play place for the kids. Kids will not be bored. 


Furthermore, one of the owners is from the same church we go to so yes, I am biased. We like this place a lot! 


The kids hit the water as soon as we arrived and they were happy as can be, building their sand structures, throwing sand bombs at one another, and paddling in the sea. Acea also had a large pool and outdoor kiddie splash area which my youngest, Catalina, kept returning to. 

Had it not been for the severity of the sun at certain hours and the need to eat meals, I would have let the kids stay out all day. Even Eljah, as a fourteen year old, relapsed into early childhood with a shovel in hand, digging into the sand. The boys pounded one another and their friends with sand balls. There was no point to the game except to revel in the satisfaction of hitting their targets. A few adults chided them when their bombs accidentally hit innocent bystanders and swimmers. Yet, all in all, it was good and clean childhood fun. No adults dictated their activities or rules of play, but watchful moms kept a lookout for everyone’s safety. (And some of us played ourselves…beach volleyball versus men and well, we won! He he…When Edric joined our team.) 





Why is free play so beneficial to kids? 

First, it contributes to their healthy social development. They have to cooperate with one another, practice communication skills, deal fairly, and manage their emotions when they win, lose, or encounter difficult personalities. 

They also implore creative problem solving. How do you create a sand castle that will withstand the rising tide (if that is even possible)? How deep a hole do you need to dig to create a protective moat around your castle? What makes a sand bomb effective? Kids think through questions like these as they play.  So their brains, along with their bodies, must commit to resolving the challenges they face. 

Kids discover their unique bents and talents when they play, too. I know Titus is a tinkerer because he gravitates towards activities that involve building, dismantling, and figuring out how things work. As for Edan, he is a natural-born leader. When he plays, he gives other kids roles and responsibilities, and he comes up with rules and mechanics to create order. He likes being in charge. Tiana enjoys cleaning up. She feels a deep sense of gratitude when mess is managed. Elijah is a problem-solver. When a challenge presents itself during play, he thinks of mathematical or scientific solutions. Catalina can be very helpful when she is assigned a task by her siblings that makes her feel included in their play.  

I believe play makes kids smarter, too, and it allows children to discover who they are and whom God made them to be. Play gives children the opportunity to apply what they learn. It’s experience-based learning which is far more effective than filling in worksheets and answering test questions. Furthermore, when kids realize their limitations and capacities through play, they grow to understand themselves better. What are they good at? What can they improve on? 

The act of playing, which usually means they are having loads of fun, motivates them to see how far they can go in order to accomplish their goals. Whether it’s exerting themselves physically or mentally, kids are inclined to persevere because play is delightful. Titus figured out how to bike without training wheels, snowboard, roller blade, and use the scooter in a span of two weeks when we were in the U.S. for Christmas. He fell down and injured himself but he got right back up to pursue his goal, learning how to balance.

It is during play that children form cherished memories of their childhood as well. Whenever I reminisce about my younger years, it is the hours of play that I remember best. I developed a deep attachment to my home and my family because of our play times together. 

How sad to hear of children who have nothing left of the weekday to enjoy playing because of the time spent going to and from school, in school, and attending afte-school tutoring sessions. That’s not the kind of childhood our children ought to have. And it’s no wonder why they can’t wait for summer! 

I am not saying that kids shouldn’t work hard to get a good education. Yet, I wonder if we have tilted the balance too far in the direction of classroom-based academic rigor, where learning goals and parameters are dictated upon kids rather than allowing children to be in environments where they learn through play. Personally, I feel that there is something disturbingly unnatural about a childhood without the joys of unstructured play. 

What do you think? 

I Threw a Pencil, Ripped a Page, and Slammed the Door

So today I actually lost it, like really lost it as I was teaching math to my daughter, Tiana. She couldn’t grasp regrouping for addition, and even with the use of manipulatives and lots of reviewing to help her get it, our lesson turned into a massive fail because of my outburst. 

First, I threw a pencil at the window. Every one of my kids saw this. That was after lesson # 1 with Tiana. I apologized and replaced the pencil, mumbling some excuse to justify my annoyance.
We even prayed together and asked for the Lord to fill all of us. I confessed my anger to my kids aloud and asked for their forgiveness. 

Truthfully, I wasn’t really sorry. I probably should have abandoned the work Tiana had to do for about an hour to get a grip of my emotions. But I persisted, demanding that she finish the two pages of math work assigned for the day. Therefore the worst was yet to come.

By the time we got to the practice bit of the lesson, Tiana blanked out and forgot what to do… AGAIN. By this time, she most likely sensed my irritation growing by the way I sighed loudly and convoluted my face, like I was incredulous that something so simple could be so difficult for her. So when the mounting pressure of anger reached its climax, I pressed hard with her pencil and circled one of the numbers I wanted her to pay attention to…like twenty times! Then I stood up, absolutely peeved, grabbed her book in my hands and ripped the page we were supposed to work on next, yelled out in exasperation, and stormed out of the homeschool room. When I got to my bedroom I intentionally, as well as forcefully, slammed my bedroom door to emphasize how mad I was.

Throwing myself onto my bed, I cried out, “I can’t do this, Lord! I have had it! I give up! I can’t homeschool her! I don’t know what to do!”

After some minutes of my face plastered against my pillow, sobbing over my failure, and my body lying prostrate on the bed, reality jolted me out of my delirium. I knew that I had to get back to the kids. Hello! I was their teacher! I couldn’t leave them in our “classroom” and abandon my responsibilities. More importantly, they needed to hear an apology from me. Another one. A real one. I behaved like an emotionally immature adult and without a doubt, deeply wounded them. This moment needed repairing.

So I collected myself, and walked back to the homeschool room. Tiana was curled up beside Catalina, who broke the silence. “Mommy, will you forgive Tiana?” 

Forgive Tiana?! She had it all mixed up.

“Catalina, mommy was the wrong one. Will you forgive me?” 

I had to ask for forgiveness from all of them, especially when Tiana tearfully explained, “Mom, I-I-I felt bad because you were frustrated and ran to your room. I cried.”

Pulling her to myself, unable to give any sort of defense for my actions, I hugged and kissed her tightly. 

“I was so wrong, Tiana. Will you please forgive me. I am so sorry. I was a bad example.” 

Tiana nodded kindly and managed to smile. I didn’t deserve that smile. It was generous, forgiving, trusting. I know she meant it. 
We resumed with extra math practice, but I was guilt-ridden. The rest of the morning, I didn’t want to homeschool.

At some point, the kids, bless their hearts, sought to assist me. They took over the base ten rods and blocks and proceeded to explain the concept of adding to Tiana, encouraging her and patiently going over each problem she had to solve. 

I grabbed my phone to call Edric. He listened as I quietly begged, “Please come home early today. I need you. I lost it.” 

He knew what I meant and chuckled. This wasn’t the first time. I have marched into his study room in the past ranting in exasperation about how hard it is to teach math to Tiana. 

“Okay,” He replied reassuringly, promising to head home as soon as he could. 

I felt him smiling at the other end of the phone. He didn’t mean to belittle my emotions. But in the midst of a major decision he needed to make about the business today, my issue probably seemed almost cute to him. 

Yet it wasn’t. There wasn’t anything cute about my outburst.

Truthfully, I hated myself this morning. I hated homeschooling. I hated Tiana’s math book and the inconvenience of having to teach something over and over again in futility.  I felt like I was a total failure as a mom and wondered if homeschooling is worth it. 

Why do I have to agonize over teaching when I can send my kids to school and let their education be an institution’s problem…not mine?

In fact, moments after I spoke to Edric on the phone, I messaged him, proposing that I should send Tiana to school so that I can avoid getting angry because I don’t want to hurt her emotionally. I have never suggested this about any of my kids. Sure, I have felt irritated at each one of my children for various reasons, but I have never felt such an intense frustration to the point that I want to throw objects, bang my head against the wall, jump up and down, break a pencil, tear a book in half, or scream at the top of my lungs just to let all the internal pressure out! It’s like those moments in the movies when a character is seated across another person, staring at them expressionlessly, seemingly calm on the outside, but then you get to peer inside the character’s mind and see them role-playing all kinds of violent scenes! 

The Bible says, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

My anger didn’t inspire Tiana to try harder. It just made her feel insecure and incapable. Letting out all that pent up anger didn’t make me feel the relief I wanted to feel, either. And now the kids have a bad memory about mommy that they may well remember into their adulthood. 

In fact, Edan remarked, “Now, you have two things you’ve done in anger that we will remember.” (He was referring to one other incident some years ago when I threw a box of math manipulatives onto the floor, which terrified all of them.)

Edan also admitted as the hour was approaching noon, “Mom, when you are not happy, none of us feel happy.” 

Titus said, “Mom, I prayed for you, and I cried a little when you got mad.” 

Elijah added, “I was actually scared. And I was sad, and I knew you had a problem.”

When I got the chance to speak with Edric over dinner, he listened very understandingly to my narrative, but his take on the matter was this, “This is God’s way of humbling you. This is an opportunity to be dependent on Him.”

He’s right. Home schooling is hard work. It is miserably difficult sometimes, and mostly because parenting and homeschooling are interconnected and you have to be intentional about the former to be good at the latter. Home schooling magnifies your flaws and makes you realize how much you need the Lord, that you can never do it well for each child, through every season and for all the years that you do it apart from Him. The best homeschooling days are the ones when I remember this. The worst ones, like today, are the ones when I try to force my kids to learn and push them for the wrong reasons, mostly selfish ones.  

However, I will end by talking about how beautiful God’s grace is. Tiana returned to her cheerful self the rest of the day, almost like she forgot what happened. I’m sure she didn’t, she hasn’t, but I praise God for the opportunity to repair my mistake later on in the day. This is one of the reasons why home schooling has made such a positive difference in our family – the kids and I have so much time together, to build and rebuild our relationship. I had the rest of the day to hug, kiss, and affirm Tiana. By the evening, we prayed together and she fell asleep peacefully, knowing she was loved and treasured by me.

As for my four other kids (especially my two older ones), they were strangely comforted by my display of weakness. After I asked for forgiveness, one of them confessed, “You know, mom, I also feel mad at times and I can relate with how you felt.”

In other words, we get it, mom, none of us are perfect, we struggle with the same things.

Edric also came to my rescue (and Tiana’s), offering to help teach Tiana addition and subtraction. He knows how to add the element of fun in his instruction and not take the obstacles too seriously. Yeah!

I have to believe that God can still use a bad incident like this and use it for good in our homeschool journey. I’m ashamed about what happened, but I thought to share it as a reminder to myself that home schooling on my own power isn’t enough. On a practical level, I also need to walk away, maybe get a glass of water, say a quick prayer, breathe in deeply, or hum a happy tune when I feel the frustration rising in me so I don’t get to the point where I lose it on my kids. 

Is it just me? Can you all relate somehow? 
 

Homeschool Materials for 2016 to 2017

I should have posted this last year but in case anyone is interested, these are the materials I have been using for my kids this 2016-2017 school year. 

Our starting month was September so we are finishing off the third quarter at present. 

CATALINA – PRESCHOOL (1 to 1.5 hours/day)

Catalina’s daily schedule includes listening to music, learning phonics sounds and pre-math skills, being read to by me or her siblings, and lots of play time! Her schedule is very laid back  and informal. 

Here are some of the resources I use for her…

Bible and character:


Phonics: (We sing the Sing, Spell, Read, and Write songs together)


Math and Logic:


Music. She listens to nursery rhymes almost daily. This particular collection is one of her favorites:


I have a lot of Wee Sing CDs: 

We have a bunch of instruments for her to play around with and dance with as she listens to music:


Other helpful materials (books to read aloud and flash cards):



Art. Catalina is currently enrolled in an art class but she also does a lot of cutting, painting, drawing, and scribbling at home. At present, she contributes to 75% of the mess every day. 

PE. Catalina is taking up ballet, tennis, and swimming. 

TIANA – GRADE 1 (2 to 3 hours/day)

Bible. 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. 


She also has a Study Bible that we read through together. 


Math. Primary Mathematics by Rex Publishing available through Learning Plus. We cover three to four pages three to four times a week.

Science. (2x a week) I read Discovering God’s World Science by Abeka Publishing to Tiana and she also works on the pages of her Interactive Science Notebook


Language Arts (3 to 4x a week). I use a mix of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (the Blue Book), Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW), and First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. Tiana also keeps a notebook to write her lessons in. 


Social Studies (2x a week): Listen to Audio CD Mystery of History Volume 1 and use Take It To Your Seat Geography Centers for Grades 1 and 2.

Art: Art Projects by Abeka Book Publishing and my own curriculum. She’s also taking art lessons. 


Music. Tiana is currently taking piano lessons.

PE. Tiana is doing ballet, swimming and tennis. 

TITUS, EDAN, AND ELIJAH – GRADE 3, 5, and 8 (4 to 5 hours/day)

For Bible and Character I continue to use the What We Believe Series by Apologia. This is my fourth year to invest in this series and it has personally impacted me as a parent and follower of Christ. 

My kids tease me because I often cry when I read the books in this series aloud. The foundational truths in this material are not just for my kids but for me, too. They anchor us as a family as we learn about what it means to have a Biblical worldview. 

The series contains the following (each book is equivalent to a year’s worth of Bible and character):

Who is God and Can I Really Know Him? 

Who am I and What Am I Doing Here? 

Who Is My Neighbor and Why Does He Need Me? 

What On Earth Can I Do? 

How do we cover each book? Traffic gives us plenty of time to do this. We have discussions about the content and then the kids fill in their corresponding notebooking journal. Only Titus uses the junior one since he is not yet ready to write long answers to comprehension questions. It takes about a month to go through each chapter (there are a total of eight per book), but it’s also possible to finish a chapter in half the time. I let the boys fill in their journals together so they can bounce ideas off one another and have their own conversations about what they learned. Plus, they enjoy competing to see who gets done first. 

I allot two to three days in the week to read through the material with the kids. This includes time to write in their journals. Of course this coursework is on top of their daily Bible reading. For our older sons, we encourage them to read through the Bible chronologically. 



Language Arts.
 Each of my boys is using a different material for this subject. 

I tested out Abeka on Titus. He needs more structure and drills so this one is working for him. My other boys probably won’t like it, but Titus is benefitting from the predictability and repetition. 

It’s a complete curriculum for language arts. I got the whole package for Grade 3. It’s pricey but I can reuse the readers.

Titus works on the writing and grammar daily. We skip some of the penmanship pages since I don’t think that we need to overemphasize handwriting. However it is beneficial for the research component. Titus has to answer questions that require him to refer to the back of the book which includes an encyclopedia-like pages. As for the spelling, Titus practices this once or twice a week. Thankfully, he doesn’t have too much trouble remembering spelling words for as long as he gets to review them ahead of time. However, his vocabulary needs improving since he isn’t as well-read as his older brothers. 

Therefore, I appreciate the leveled readers that come with Abeka Language Arts. They are challenging enough for him to read, as well as hold his interest. Furthermore, the readers focus on good values and character. At present, he is enjoying Pilgrim’s Progress and Swiss Family Robinson. 

As for the Read and Think Skill Sheets, these are timed comprehension tests that I administer once a week. 

Writing and Grammar:


Spelling and Poetry:


Leveled Readers:


Reading Comprehension:


Penmanship:



Edan is using Total Language Plus. It uses a literature-based approach to teaching grammar, writing, spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.


I also got IEW’s Student Writing Intensive Course for Elijah and Edan. Elijah uses Level C and Edan just started with Level A. They alternate this writing curriculum with their other language arts materials during the week besides their daily requirement of independent reading time.


Elijah has Bob Jones’ Excursions in Literature book for reading. It’s got great stories in it! Furthermore, the questions highlight critical thinking skills. Once to twice a week with this book is ample time to complete it during the year, but each sit down will require about forty-five minutes to an hour. 


I experimented with IEW’s Fix It! Grammar curriculum for Elijah this year. It’s tough! My mistake was failing to use this from the beginning so jumping into it was challenging. However, it is a very good grammar program. Instead of teaching grammar rules, it requires students to edit wrong texts and re-write them. 


Math. I stuck to the locally published Rex Singapore Math material for Edan and Titus, which I have used with my kids over the years. The only problem is that it can sometimes have errors in it. My kids tend to spot these inconsistencies as they go about their math work, but I like how the Primary Mathematics presents the concepts and gives ample exercises for practice and assessment. Each book comes with a teacher’s guide as well. 

New Syllabus Primary Mathematics Grade 3:

New Syllabus Primary Mathematics Grade 5:


Elijah uses Khan Academy. He is going through the eighth grade level as well as Algebra

Science. I am still a fan of Apologia Science books because they are creation-based. In the past I got the corresponding notebooks for Titus and Edan but my boys prefer doing the Knowledge Box Central Lapbooks

Like their Bible and character material, I read this one aloud to Edan and Titus in the car as well, and they do the lapbooking together. We spend two days a week covering science. 

Every year, I also purchase Nature’s Worshop Plus Lab Kits for my kids. These lab-kits-in-a-box make it so much easier for me because I don’t have to look for all the supplies for each experiment in the Eploring Creation Series. 

Knowledge Box Central Lapbook:



Nature’s Workshop Plus Lab Kit:

Elijah is doing Exploring Creation with Biology for his science. He also fills in the notebooking journal. I am so glad there is an option to buy tests and answer keys! 

Nature’s Workshop Plus Slide Kit for Biology:

Extra reading for Elijah from New Leaf Publishing – The World of Biology, and The Genesis of Germs:



History/Geography
. This is my fifth year using Mystery of History by Linda Hobar. I have tried Story of the World by Bauer and History Revealed by Warring. Both of these are very well-written history programs. However, Story of the World does not have a Christ-centric focus whereas Mystery of History does. As for Warring’s books, I prefer her History Audio CDs. She is a wonderful story-teller! 

Mystery of History Volume 2 Audio CDs (For Titus):


Mystery of History Volume 4 (For Edan and Elijah):

Art. The boys are taking art classes. 

Music. Elijah and Titus have violin classes and Edan is doing piano. 

PE. They do swimming and tennis, and play basketball at home. When I can get them to, they also go running with me. 

For Filipino and local social studies, they use Rosetta Stone for Filipino and I got them a bunch of books to read on Philippine History, Geography and Government. 



I also supplement math, English and social studies with time4learning.com for Tiana, Titus, and Edan.


Here are their daily schedules:



Whew. That’s a lot of info. If you have questions or clarifications, please feel free to message me. Let me end by saying that home education is an investment of time and resources. It’s can be the costliest education in the world because it requires total commitment and sacrifice but the results are worth it! 

First Homeschool Conference in Dubai

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/



Technology and Hands-on Learning

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.


Children as young as one year old can handle these with supervision and by three they can learn independently.

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.