Too Scared to Homeschool? Try the Hybrid Version.

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:

THE HEART
Focus: Character Development
Curriculum: Achieving True Success

THE HEAD
Focus: Reading and Comprehension
Curriculum: Bob Jones University Press K5 Beginnings and Wikahon (Filipino Language Program)

THE HANDS
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
– Accreditation

Class Schedule:

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


Additional fees: 7,000 Php for Curriculum / Uniform (TBA) 

Venue: Homeschool Global, Fun Ranch, Tiendesitas

For more information, please contact:


You may also email Peej at peejcaguin@homeschoolglobal.com

How to Get Kids to Be Motivated Learners

I often get the question, “How do you manage homeschooling 5 kids?” To be honest, it isn’t always easy. And my default answer is to say, “It’s God’s grace.” Truthfully, that’s what keeps me going. There are days when my kids aren’t the perkiest students, and I think to myself, Oh no. This is going to be a tough day!

Yet, for the most part, I remain hooked on home education. I can’t imagine doing anything else in the world at this season of my life as a mom. Furthermore, I try to get my kids to the point where they don’t need me to hover over them (which can be exhausting). My goal is to help them become motivated learners, rather than children who are non-functional unless I incentivize them or push them every single day.

Over the years, I’ve implored a few “tricks” that have been working so far. Here’s hoping you will be able to pick up a few that will benefit you, too:

1.Prioritize reading and comprehension. When my kids are 5 and below, this is my primary focus. I introduce phonics when they are 2 or 3 (I started a little later with Tiana). Usually, this happens through song. I still use Sing, Spell, Read and Write, which hasn’t failed me yet. With much repetition, my kids are able to identify letters and their sounds, which then give way to putting sounds together. They begin to read CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant). As they build confidence and understand how words are formed, they move on to longer words and sight words.
Instructing a child to read must be balanced with lots of read aloud time. Otherwise, learning to read feels like a chore. The inspiration to read comes from time with mom, as they sit beside me, on my lap or around me, and trips to the bookstore or a library to explore the wonders of books!

With my fourth child, Tiana, I didn’t do this early enough and she wasn’t as excited about learning to read. However, a few months ago, I decided to commit to reading aloud with her more often and it has made a big difference! She will come to me with a pile of books and we go through them together.

The Sing, Spell, Read, and Write workbooks have a lot of spelling lists, but I don’t panic when she can’t spell everything. My personal belief about spelling is that good readers get spelling. I’ve seen this with my older boys. The more they read, the better they spell. It’s the frequency of exposure to words that makes an imprint in their minds.

My second son, Edan, who just recently grew in leaps and bounds as a reader, now says, “Oh mom, I saw that word, I remember reading it.” Whenever I give him spelling quizzes, he can write down words correctly, not because we do lots and lots of practice spelling but because he has improved as a reader.

Give books as gifts. Toys are fun to have, but make books a premium. I’m always on the lookout for book series’ to bless my kids with. By the time kids are in 2nd grade (and earlier for some), they can read chapter books with confidence. They may not be as fast as their older siblings, but if they like the story or topic, they will read the book.

Last Christmas, I got my fourth grader, Edan, a set of Boxcar Children Books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Edan read one for his Language Arts last year and asked if he could get more of them for Christmas. We are currently trying to build his collection. He read 12 of the books in 2 weeks and they are about 200+ pages long each! Titus wanted to be a part of the action so he read a couple of them, too. Every time he would come across a word he didn’t know, I encouraged him to ask me, which was a very “relaxed” way to build his vocabulary.

When children have the skill to read, they are eager to read books with topics that they like. So I tell moms, buy books that are interesting to your children. Don’t rely on the list of children’s classics. Find out what your child is into then take him to the bookstore to get a book on that topic.

As a five year old, my eldest son, Elijah, was obsessed with dinosaurs. Every good book I could find about dinosaurs I got for him. Then he moved on to airplanes and I did the same thing. Today he is an avid reader. Sometimes, I need to tell him to rest his eyes because he will go on and on!

  It brings me deep joy to see my children on a couch or bed with books around them. This means they are learning without being dependent on me! When Edan took a liking to Botany, he requested books on plants. It didn’t matter whether they were above his reading level because he was driven to learn more about Botany.

Reading is the key to unlock the door of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. So don’t give up until you have a confident reader who enjoys books. For some children, their time table for proficient reading is longer. Keep going. A very intelligent guy I know didn’t learn to read well until he was 10 years old, but then he picked up a Charles Dickens novel and read it cover to cover.

Sometimes, children aren’t interested in reading because they are distracted by computer games and media. Investigate what activities may be competing with your child’s interest in books and eliminate them or set restrictions.

What about comprehension? Comprehension can be taught through dialoguing. Some of the curriculums I particularly enjoy teaching are those that involve reading to my kids and asking them questions. Most of the time these are materials that I get for Bible and character, science, history, and social studies. Furthermore, these lessons are interesting to me, too! I was never talented at memorizing facts so it helps to go over science, history and social studies again. Whenever I read to my children, I pause at reasonable points (for younger kids, after a couple of sentences or a paragraph, and for older kids, after a couple of paragraphs, a page or a number of pages.) Depending on the age and ability, I start with bite size bits of information to make sure my kids are being attentive before asking comprehension questions.

The ability to comprehend begins with the discipline of attentiveness. Whether it is reading words on a page or being read to, a child needs to be trained to be present and engaged. Asking questions is one of the most informal and effective ways to do this. When I ask a question and my kids can’t answer, I read the parts again, or I give the answer to demonstrate how they should answer. Then I say, “Be ready, because I’m going to ask you a question again soon.”

With younger kids, you may have to say this often, but you can also inspire them to answer by complimenting them a lot when they do. When Titus, who is not as verbose as my other kids, shares his insight on a topic, I affirm him a lot! Maybe I will even throw in a hug or a squeeze to let him know that I’m proud of him for putting in the effort.

2.Logic matters. I have found that my kids benefit from logic exercises, puzzles, and solving problems that require critical thinking. Acquiring math skills becomes a lot easier because they have worked out the left hemisphere of their brains. Catalina is eagerly doing Logico Primo with me. I started this with her recently, and she pulls out the material herself in the mornings so we can do it together. This Grolier product is pricey but I personally feel that the investment has been worth it. It’s reusable and it feels pretty indestructible, too (the plastic part). That’s important when you have lots of kids! (Grolier has a lot of other products that develop critical thinking skills.)

The great thing about homeschooling is that home affords the best environment for kids to experience how math makes sense. Classifying, sorting, counting, learning about time, ordinal numbers, basic arithmetic, and the like happen in the context of everyday activities, and most especially play. Furthermore, these pre-math skills are vital to more complex operations and applications of math in the later years.

3. Play is important. My children have lots of time for uninterrupted, unscripted play. This has especially benefited my third son, Titus. When he was younger, I went a little easy on him with formal instruction because he was and is a more mechanical and physical child.

 Today, he hardly needs me to explain his math. Just the other day, he told me how much he likes multiplication. Granted, it isn’t complicated multiplication yet. But I do credit his penchant for understanding math with all the playtime he has had. And he still plays a lot!

Games are also a great way to develop logical thinking skills in children. I’m referring more to strategy board games that involve physical interaction with family members. My husband, Edric, likes competing with our kids over board games. Through the years we’ve seen how board games push our boys to apply mathematics. Titus, although younger than his brothers, wanted to be involved in these games. His math skills vastly improved when he got to use his simple knowledge of arithmetic to calculate his points during or after a game, and when he had to think critically to solve problems he encountered.

Our sons like riddles and mindbender games, too. For example, an app that they recently used is called Can You Escape? It requires you to use logic and math to get out of a building you are trapped in. Last year, a kind relative also donated Puzzle Mania books to our kids, which contain all kinds of creative and unique puzzles to solve.

4. Harness the power of music and art. I didn’t realize how beneficial music instruction was to our children until I began to see, first hand, how it connected to their ability to learn.

Our sons take up violin. It is one of those instruments that will screech in an awful way when it is played incorrectly, but will completely enthrall when it is handled properly. Because it doesn’t give room for error, it trains their ears so they can hear even the slightest off-pitch note that is sung by a person or played on an instrument. More importantly, since it requires both abstract movement from the bow and precise note playing, it taps into the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Learning an instrument like the violin not only increases intellectual capacity, it demands hard work from my kids, which spills over into their studies.

The arts also play a vital role in our children’s academic success. An article published by pbs.org explained the connection between art and academic achievement. “A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.” Why is art so good for our children’s intellectual health? It develops a child’s motor and language skills, creative thinking and expression, visual perception and attentiveness, as well as traits like determination and perseverance.

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5. Use technology and creative resources. When children have a solid foundation in reading, comprehension, and arithmetic skills, instruction can be supplemented with apps, educational games or educational sites. This liberates a homeschool parent from having to be the expert in a subject area. It allows a child to learn independently and figure things out on his own, too.

Sometimes, they may be better off with an educational site or DVD Rom as the mode of delivery for content they need to learn. In the last two years, I’ve relied heavily on Khanacademy.org for Elijah’s mathematics. He also takes Coursera or Udemy for classes that are relevant to him since I am ill-equipped to teach things like programming, website development, app development, photography, graphic design, etc. Although these aren’t required of him for his level, they are practical life skills that he can use later on.

DVD courses for older children are also effective. I got Elijah a DVD course for his writing called Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa. Years ago I heard about this curriculum but I didn’t really need it until now. It dramatically improved Elijah’s writing skills. I love to write but Andrew Pudewa is a better teacher than I am, so I conceded to his expertise in this area. Recently, Elijah wrote a 52-paragraph narrative of his Mt. Apo climb, something he could not have done last year. Thanks to this program, his skills have been greatly enhanced!

With the younger kids, I don’t need as much technology. I prefer to interact with them myself. But as they get older and understand how to control their time on devices and can make responsible choices about media, I give them the flexibility to use online sources, DVD Roms, etc. to make the learning experience more engaging and effective for them. The wonderful thing is I don’t have to be seated right beside them. I can be in the same room minding the younger kids while my older ones do their work independently.

6. Address learning gaps. When a child has academic areas where he or she is weak in, it’s hard for him to move forward with confidence. My sister, Candy, is a dentist in the U.S., but when she was homeschooled, my mom noticed that she wasn’t good at spelling. How can you become a dentist and memorize technical words if you are a bad speller? My mom didn’t know she was going to become a dentist, but she knew that Candy needed remedial work in this area. As positively as she could communicate it, she told her, “We will work harder on spelling to catch you up to where you need to be.” Candy improved significantly when my mom took the time to address this learning gap of hers.

Sometimes our children are held back because there is a missing piece to their academic puzzle. When Elijah was in his early elementary years, he wasn’t that interested in math. There were aspects of it that didn’t make sense to him. To cover all possible gaps, I asked him to re-learn basic arithmetic and work up to his level. Since he had covered most of the topics in the past years, he could go through the lessons quickly. In the process, however, he was able to cover weak points in his math foundation. Today, he really enjoys math and is delving into pre-calculus topics on his own. I don’t think he would have been at this point if I neglected to address the gaps in his learning.

7. Be a facilitator, not a teacher. While I am called to instruct my children’s hearts and point them in the way they should go, I prefer the term “facilitator of learning.” I believe in a child’s God-given ability to learn. Given the right factors and environment, they will most certainly learn. However, it’s also my job, as educator Ken Robinson said it, “to control the climate” of their learning environment rather than “to command and control” their education.

When my kids call for my help, my first instinct is NOT to rush to their side to spoon-feed them with what I know or what I think they should know and do. As often as possible, I ask them to figure things out on their own. They may struggle a bit and even express their frustrations, but I let them stew in their emotions for a while before rescuing them. Or, I will explain parts of what they need to know without divulging complete solutions. In the process, they discover how deeply gratifying it is to come to their own conclusions, accomplish or discover things without my interference…especially when their effort index is high. If they need me to show them everything and explain everything it imparts the message, you need mom to learn so don’t do anything until she helps you. There will be occasions when they do need me, especially in the early years, but as they grow in their abilities and skills, I lovingly ease them “out of the eagle’s nest” and let them soar on their own.

A facilitator is not absent. She is present. She watches carefully, asks the right questions, sets expectations and communicates them, course corrects when necessary, gives helpful directions, encourages a child to focus, points a child toward resources to accomplish a task, and supplies opportunities to achieve learning goals. She also communicates confidence in a child’s ability and builds them up.

One of the ways I enable my kids is by telling them things like, “You can do it. Try and do it without me first and then if you really need me, I will help you. You can even surprise, mommy.” When I say something like, “You can surprise, mommy,” they are enlivened by the dare.

They will reply, “Okay, okay. Don’t look, mom!” Some moments later they will proudly present work that they did all by themselves. Tiana is just 5 so I don’t use this trick on her too often, unless it’s something like handwriting practice, coloring a picture, or doing simple math. This especially works for someone like Titus who is 7 years old. He steps up to this sort of challenge.

If my children really are lost after trying their best, of course I come to their aid. However, as soon as I can, I will leave them alone again to apply what I just helped them to understand and comprehend. This strategy varies for each child and subject area. Some kids can breeze through math but slow down when it’s language arts. The longer you homeschool your kids the easier it will be to tell the difference between when they truly need help or when they are simply distracted and lazy.

8. Communicate responsibilities clearly. On one wall of our homeschool room is a list of responsibilities and a daily schedule for each of my kids. At the beginning of our homeschool year, I sat down with them and explained what was expected of them on each day of the week. Responsibilities included their daily assignments for academics and extra curricular activities. I’ve included a copy of their schedules for your reference. Feel free to copy or modify them. This list keeps my kids accountable. They know they have to get all their responsibilities done before spending their discretionary time. I added independent reading time, outdoor exercise, music practice on most days as part of their responsibilities. As a result, they aren’t constantly coming to me to find out what they need to do each day. In fact, my older boys try to get their lists checked off as early as possible. Mendoza Kids’ Homeschool Schedule .

Edan, who is my more structured child, appreciates knowing exactly what he needs to do. He thrives on order. The point is I give my kids the opportunity to take ownership and to be disciplined. Kids actually feel more secure when they are provided with a framework. They appreciate knowing what their restrictions and liberties are.

9. Reward hard work. Even God is a rewarder! Hebrews 11:6 tells us this. Similarly, rewarding our children does wonders. In an older post I wrote about my tab system for motivating my children. Every so many pages in their books, they collect tabs for work accomplished. At the end of the week, they count their tabs or pool them together. If they earn 20 or more, they get to draw from what we call, The Mystery Jar. This jar has pieces of paper with rewards written on them that appeal to my kids, things like a trip to the bookstore, ice cream, a free educational app, a science toy, eating out, etc. Because they can’t anticipate what they will draw (or change it once they’ve drawn it), it’s exciting for them to pick a prize from our Mystery Jar. It’s easiest to use reusable plastic tabs like Post-its or more reasonable versions that work the same way which can be purchased at Office Warehouse or National Bookstore.

10. Finally, make a child accountable to God and to do his/her best for His glory. When I encounter learning issues with my kids because they aren’t motivated or focused, I have to spend time addressing their hearts. At the end of the day, their ability to learn and their drive to do so isn’t for me or Edric, or even for themselves. They are accountable to their creator, God, and they need to remember that the choice to do their best is a reflection of their relationship with Him.

Furthermore, because they have a relationship with Him, He will enable them, equip them, and faithfully fulfill His plan for their lives. When I’m tempted to panic and lose sight of this, I have to re-orient my own reasons for homeschooling, relax, and pray. My job is to create a learning environment that gives my children the best opportunity to build foundational skills that will allow them to seek after and know God, and glorify Him. Even though it’s valuable for them to be excellent at the academics, the more important question is, “What’s the point of it all?” And I still go back to Deuteronomy 6:5-7, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

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A MOTIVATED LEARNER is someone who…

…takes the initiative to get his/her responsibilities done.

…is eager to learn and enjoys the process of discovery.

…steps up to take on difficult challenges.

…perseveres through failures and mistakes.

…knows where to go to get the information he or she needs.

…can process content and information critically.

…contextualizes what he or she has learned and makes it practical and applicable.

…can effectively communicate what he or she has learned to others.

…internalizes the conviction to do his/her best for the Lord.

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015: Ready For the World!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To register, please visit: Manila Workshops

For inquiries, please contact: manilaworkshops@gmail.com

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

 

Renovating the Homeschool Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before…   

  In process…

  
    
   
    
   
After…

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

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

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

 
 

Set Them Up for Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: manilaworkshops.com

Event Location

Venue:   Bayanihan Center

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

Address: 8008 Pioneer St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City

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What Homeschooling Is Really About

I talk a lot about homeschooling, but I want you to know that my children aren’t always cooperative, there are days when I don’t feel like teaching, and sometimes I am the less than perfect mother who gets annoyed with her kids.

Two days ago, I was teaching Titus from his Singapore Math book and he couldn’t get subtraction using number bonds. I could tell he was guessing so I elevated my pitch and my tone was agitated. As I explained to him the concept of regrouping by 10, subtracting the ones from each other, and adding what was left, he was confused. I probably did a bad job of communicating this process and I expected it to click in his head right away. Well, it didn’t. I gripped the pencil he was holding and circled and scratched on his book for emphasis as I went over each problem.

Titus began to tear. I thought, Why can’t he get it?! Is there something wrong with him?! It’s not complicated! 

Well, there was something wrong with me. I was making homeschooling about me. What I wanted…my desired outcome…my teaching…my time…my effort…my way…my disappointment…OH, MY!

When I saw him struggling to stay composed, I felt horrible. Immediately, I apologized to him and hugged him, asking for his forgiveness. “Will you forgive me for being irritated? Mommy was wrong.” He readily accepted my apology and we pressed on. By the end of the session he figured out how to approach his math problems with confidence.

As for me, I was reminded that I am prone to reactiveness and impatience when my heart is in the wrong place. The key is to remember why I am homeschooling, to keep sight of the goal, which is to teach my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

While teaching a subject like mathematics may be important, this is really a minute aspect of the real objective. Edric and I share a daily responsibility to nurture, encourage, and meet the needs of our children to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man. (Luke 2:52) Therefore, our homeschooling isn’t about 4 hours of the day when they are seated in our study room for lessons. It’s a lifestyle that ministers to our children’s spiritual, social, mental, and physical persons.

 

SPIRITUAL

Homeschooling is discipleship. While academics have a place, the greater emphasis is teaching our children to have a personal relationship with Jesus, love God’s word, submit to authority, and develop Christ-like character.

When our second son was little, he was nicknamed the “chairman” for being a very serious and grumpy boy who would often say no. Edric and I talked about his attitude and realized we had failed to be intentional about sharing the gospel to him. A few weeks after Edric did so, our son was a transformed child. His heart became malleable and teachable. He would even tell me, “Jesus is my best friend.” More importantly, he became a kinder, more considerate boy.

Today, Edan initiates reaching out to other children, organizing activities and games for them, and he is also assistant teacher to my younger kids. While he still has character issues from time to time, I can see the fruit of God’s work in his life.

Discipleship is the key to homeschooling. It’s impossible to teach a child who doesn’t want to listen. When my children don’t have the right attitudes there’s no point in proceeding with lesson time unless I address their attitudes first. Otherwise, it will be a battle of the wills between my children and me.

There have been instances when I have asked my older children to excuse themselves from our study room so they can have a moment to prayerfully consider their heart issues. While I don’t believe in asking little kids to stand in a corner for “time outs,” I do believe in asking older children who have a relationship with Christ to take the time to think through their feelings and actions in light of God’s Word.

Are they acting and behaving in a way that pleases God? How can they change and improve if they aren’t?

I prefer to proceed when they are spiritually ready, when they have returned to me after the Holy Spirit has ministered to them. Almost always, he convicts them about the wrongfulness of their responses to the task at hand, to me, or to others. It is amazing how a moment of purposeful reflection leads them to God-honoring conclusions. (Of course I also pray that they will be attentive to what God has to say to them during that period of pause.)

 

SOCIAL

Parents’ apprehensions about homeschooling often center around the socialization question. “What about their socialization?” I’d like to quote Elijah, my eldest. Once upon a time, a friend suggested he should go to school so he could have friends. His spontaneous relply: “I have so many friends, I can’t even count them!” He wasn’t exaggerating. Like my other kids, they aren’t friend-starved.

While we don’t focus on making friends, we do focus on how to be a friend. The emphasis is on social development — training our children to look beyond their insecurities and comfort zones so they can be a blessing and channel of Christ’s love. Furthremore, in the context of family, there are numerous opportunities to practice relationship principles like unconditional love, forgiveness, humility, or “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” In fact, the family is often the hardest place to apply these principles! As much as we all love one another in our family, there are days when we don’t like each other. The challenge is to transcend this feeling by availing of the grace that Christ supplies.

Social development happens most naturally at home. Between a husband and wife, siblings, parent and child, each member of a family must die daily to selfishness and self-centeredness. They must choose to love, forgive, make sincere apologies, and grow in their understanding of one another. A child who can relate to others in this manner will not be in want of good company.

Furthermore, a child who has received love, appreciation, who is accepted for who he or she is, and allowed to fail and make mistakes will be inspired to learn. I remember an instance when Titus came to me in fear. His face was half-visible behind the sliding glass door that separated the room from the bathroom.

“Mom I did something.”

“What is it?” I asked. He was hesitant to confess his deed at first, but then I prodded him to do so.

“I hit the shuttlecock into our neighbor’s yard.”

That’s it?! I thought. Why couldn’t he tell me that right away?!

“It’s okay. I forgive you. It was an accident.” I said reassuringly.

“Why were you afraid to tell me that?

“I thought you would be mad.”

“Do I get mad a lot?” (I had to check.)

“No.”

“Well, I want you to know something. I love you no matter what and I will always forgive you.” I repeated it again until I was sure he internalized this.

He flashed a big smile and then ran off to play again.

I may not lose my temper with my kids and yell at them, but I do get irritated from time to time. So I have to be careful and mindful of the way I relate to them. I need to ask myself this question: Am I cultivating a relational climate that gives my children the liberty to express their heartfelt longings, fears, ideas, or confess their mistakes? The relationship I have with my kids impacts my ability to instruct their hearts and their minds. If they can trust me with who they are, they can trust me to teach them who they should become.

 

MENTAL

What is our schedule like when it comes to lessons?

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

7:00                – Bible Reading (as a family)

7:30                – Breakfast

8:30/9:00      – Lessons

12:30/1:00    – Lunch

2:00                – Nap/Play/Exercise

6:00                – Dinner

8:30                – Bedtime

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On Wednesdays, we get together with other homeschool families. A good number of ladies in my discipleship group are homeschooling their kids and they have women in their groups who are also homeschooling. Wednesdays is the day we have designated to hold classes so our kids can interact and work with other kids. I’m so blessed by the moms in this group who lend their expertise and creativity to teach art, music, bible, character, science, etc. We also asked an awesome physical trainer to teach our kids sports and fitness.

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When my kids and I are at home, our lessons happen around a large table. I assign tasks to my children and act the part of a facilitator. Elijah and Edan can do a lot of work on their own. Titus and Tiana need more attention from me. Catalina is “exiled” so we can focus. She is entertained by our househelp. (Praise God for househelp!)

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Ideally, it would be nice if all my kids sat around the table and stayed put, but I’m a pretty laid-back homeschooling mom. They can do some work on the floor or on the couch. They can even migrate to different rooms if this will help them accomplish their tasks. Sometimes, we even homeschool in the car if I absolutely have to do an errand in the morning!

My philosophy when it comes to teaching is simple: a child needs to master the essentials so he will become a self-directed learner. I am more particular about skills like math, reading, comprehension, logic and reasoning, rather than science, history, Filipino, social studies, etc. If my kids are confident with the essentials, they will have the building blocks to learn whatever they want to. I don’t want them to be held back by me. As much as possible, I try not to hover around them all the time. In fact, I tell them, “you can figure it out.” (Sometimes I have to say this because I don’t know how to explain it either!)

Unless they are really stumped, I encourage my kids to rise up to the challenge of a difficult task. This is one of the reasons why my boys are turning out to be good at math even if I’m terrible at it! I also encourage them to study what they are interested in, beyond what we are covering during their lessons. Since I don’t canabilize the day with instruction, they have a lot of free hours to pursue topics that are meaningful to them. Instead of burdening myself with the responsibility of teaching them EVERYTHING, I zone in on the basics and point them in the right direction by giving them access to a multitudinous number of books, and supplementing their learning with educational apps and internet sites that are pre-approved.

For example, some months ago my older sons memorized the periodic table of elements, just for fun. It wasn’t part of their science requirements to do so, but they were fascinated by it. So I let them use an app (Toca Lab) that helped them to understand all the elements and their abbreviations. When they weren’t using the app, they would play a game where they named all the elements and gave the symbols to match them. I don’t even know the periodic table of elements! I kept getting the symbol for Iron wrong when they would “quiz” me! It’s Se right?!

The point is I am very aware that I have cognitive limitations as their teacher so I don’t pressure myself to be the expert. If they want to learn about a topic that I’m not familiar with, I find out what resources I can connect my children with or to so they can become the experts.

 

PHYSICAL

The physical aspect of homeschooling has to do with developing our children’s talents, inspiring productive hobbies, giving them lots of play time to explore, build, create, and making sure they get adequate exercise and rest. Our children are enjoying a “relaxed” childhood. They don’t have to rush off to school, spend hours in traffic, or come home exhausted only to do more work.

 

CHECKLIST

We evaluate our children’s progress and growth by asking these questions:

IS MY CHILD…

  • Living a transformed life because of his/her relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • Developing a love for God’s Word?
  • Rooted in God’s Word?
  • Submitting to my authority with an attitude of respect?
  • Growing in Christ-like character?
  • Secure in my love for him/her?
  • Loving others, especially his/her siblings?
  • Thinking of others as more important than his/her self?
  • Mastering essential skills that will enable him/her to reason and defend his/her faith, and effectively communicate the gospel truth?
  • Developing his/her talents?
  • Playing and enjoying his/her childhood?
  • Pursuing productive interests and hobbies?
  • Getting enough exercise and rest?

Edric and I keep these questions in mind as we homeschool our kids so we know if we are pointing them in the right direction. When we sense that they are off-course, we re-evaluate and re-calibrate so we can correct where they are headed. We also look at our own lives and examine if we are exemplifying the values and principles we want them to internalize.

Like I said earlier, it’s not a perfect lifestyle. It can be challenging and tiring to keep training and teaching our children. It can be discouraging when we fail as parents. However, I am constantly amazed at the daily grace God provides to keep us going.

I remember an instance when I was stressed about homeschooling, and my older son, Elijah, commented, “You know John Wesley’s mother, Susanna Wesley, had 19 children.” In other words…mom, if she could do it then so can you. You’ve got it pretty easy with just five! More importantly, Susanna Wesley was a woman of faith and spiritual excellence. If I want to raise children who will love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength, I have to love God with all that I am first. That’s the secret to successful homeschooling.

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READ ABOUT SUSANNA WESLEY HERE: http://susanpellowe.com/susanna-wesley.htm

 

 

This Is What It’s About

When people ask me how I homeschool several children, I tell them the secret is to teach my kids obedience. Character is key.

If a child has learned obedience, he or she can be taught attentiveness, responsibility, diligence, and the importance of having the right attitude. These traits can make or break the homeschooling experience for any parent.

There’s no way I can teach my five energetic, gregarious, and very curious children if these character traits are not present or, at the very least, developing in their hearts.

Yesterday, I was homeschooling seven children. My niece and two nephews were over to homeschool with us. They did great! But my two older boys, Elijah and Edan, didn’t start out too well. They had a conflict that resulted in Elijah throwing his hands up in exasperation and Edan chucking a pencil on the floor. They were going over Filipino together and Elijah was frustrated that Edan didn’t seem to be listening. Edan was annoyed that Elijah was forcing him to do his work.

We couldn’t continue our homeschooling without dealing with this. So, I called the two of them aside and we transferred to a room where we could have some privacy.

“Auntie Joy! I need help!” I had to ignore the calls of my nephew at the door and request that he wait till we were done.

In the room, I asked the boys to sit close to me. Both of them were fighting off the tears.

“Let me ask you something, boys…we’ve been memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-6. Which of the aspects of love have you NOT been practicing?”

There was an awkward silence but they looked up at me and began to speak voluntarily…

“Love is kind. Love is not rude,” was Edan’s response.

“Love does not keep a record of wrong,” admitted Elijah.

How I love the word of God and its power to convict the hearts of my children! I asked them a simple question but they were convicted.

We recited 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 together again. “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. Love is not proud. Love is not rude. Love does not insist on its own way. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love rejoices when the truth wins…”

Their faces softened which told me that their hearts did, too. They knew that they had not honored God’s word, which was the greater issue.

“I know you guys love the Lord, you love one another and you don’t want to hurt each other. How can you improve?”

They proceeded to share their feelings and frustrations. I let them talk freely so I could find out why they were being so reactive towards one another. Elijah was deeply upset that Edan apologies for unkindness didn’t seem sincere. He felt that the same offense was bound to happen because there was no “real repentance.” Edan, on the other hand, didn’t like being ordered around by Elijah.

I helped Edan to see that he was not practicing “Love is not proud,” too. To both I said, “We are an imperfect family. Mommy and daddy are imperfect. All of you are imperfect. That’s why we need Jesus. We need to keep applying God’s grace, love, and forgiveness in our relationships.” I went on to admit my own struggles. “Honestly, when I was teaching Titus about rhyming earlier and I asked him ‘what rhymes with pin and he said cup’ I felt like smacking him. But I didn’t because that would be very wrong. But I want you to know that I understand the frustrations you feel towards one another.”

They began to laugh because they heard me teaching Titus earlier and it was kind of a comedy!

We must have spent ten more minutes talking about how to change and apply God’s word in our lives. We ended by praying together.

I said, “I want each of us to pray and confess to the Lord our sins.”

At first the boys resisted. “I don’t know what to pray, mom,” quipped Elijah.

“Don’t worry. I will start, and then you can listen to what I say.”

So I prayed to give them a template of how to acknowledge and confess our sins before one another and to the Lord. Afterwards I invited the boys to do the same. Why did I want them to pray aloud? I wanted them to humble themselves. The best way to do that was to pray.

It’s one thing to say sorry and then walk away from the situation. It’s another thing to come before the Lord and say, “Father will you forgive me for my wrong attitude. Please forgive me for the way I treated my brother. Please help to me to change and improve so that I can become more like you…”

They didn’t pray using those exact words, but in their kid-version way, they said the same thing. I listened to them pray and they started to tear. There was a brokenness that took place that was necessary. I got teary-eyed, too. They were honest and sincere as they spoke to the Lord.

We all embraced and I told them how much I love them. Afterwards, we returned to our homeschooling. Their hearts were ready and we had an amazing day with their cousins.

I’m sharing this story because this is the key to homeschooling. We need to prepare our children’s hearts before we can instruct their minds. Godly character is the bedrock. We must pause to address what’s going on in their hearts – especially when their spiritual compass is off. In fact, we need to drop everything if necessary, and minister to our children spiritually when their attitudes and behaviors are displeasing to the Lord.

How could I possibly continue teaching Elijah and Edan, forcing them to do their Filipino just because they had to, and ignore or postpone the more important matter of their heart condition? Would God bless the work of their hands if they were continuing in sin? How would he allow me to teach well if I wasn’t faithful in prioritizing what really counts in his eyes?

I must always seek to understand where the real “battle” lies. Of all the teaching challenges that may confront me as a homeschooling mother — dealing with the academics, equipping my kids with the practical skills to succeed when they enter into a university, and passing on godly character traits — the latter must precede the others. It’s imperative to instill character traits upon which a successful education can be built.

For my younger kids, obedience is the first priority. The optimum window to establish my authority (and Edric’s) has always been between the ages of 0 – 2. Catalina is at that point where she is exhibiting brattiness. At 10 months old, she intentionally throws her head back, bounces up and down while crying, or she flings her body on to her bed for dramatic effect. Edric and I recognise that it’s time to address these things. After two years old, we know it gets harder. Once a child has experienced what it is like to get his or her own way, there is greater resistance to submission.

I know a child whose parents started implementing effective and consistent disciplinary action later rather than earlier. The child had already grown accustomed to getting her whims accommodated by those around her. Her parents also tended to be child-centric in their childrearing. As a result, she was difficult to teach and train. It was complicated to get her to do simple things like eat vegetables or keep silent when appropriate. She tended not to listen to other authority figures, too. Because the parents are now course-correcting their parenting, she is improving. But like anything in life, prevention rather than intervention is the way to go.

We have to start teaching obedience before a child gets into the habit of defiance. Once obedience is established, we can turn our attention towards other character traits like attentiveness, responsibility, diligence, and having a positive attitude. As I said earlier, a child who has these traits will be much easier to homeschool. It won’t be a flawless experience. However, when unpleasant, ungodly behaviors and attitudes surface during a homeschooling day, our children can be REMINDED to revert back to what they know is correct and pleasing to God.

Let me end this with a story about Titus that personally blessed me as a mother. Titus is my youngest “official” homeschooled child. Tiana, who is just 3 years old, is not yet enrolled with a program. And my baby girl is too young for formal instruction. As a kindergartener, I don’t expect the same sort of self-directed learning that I encourage my older sons to have.

However, a few weeks back I had to leave the house in the morning. So I assigned the kids their work and told them I would check on them when I got back. I wasn’t too sure if Titus would be able to do his Filipino on his own, but when I got home, he showed me his notebook. His finished work was inside it. I was very pleased!

In the evening, when I was feeding Catalina, he peered into my bedroom. “Come in,” I motioned to him. He smiled and skipped over to my side, snuggling under the covers. I told him I was very proud of him for doing his homeschool work. And I asked him, “Why did you finish it?” He said, “Because I wanted to obey you.”

I loved that answer.

Titus can be a highly distracted child because he is so curious. For him to finish his assigned task without someone peering over his shoulder to remind him to do it made my day! I was happier about his motivations rather than the actual output. He valued obedience.

My prayer is that my children will internalize godly character and experience the blessings of doing so. Our family is a work in progress. God deals with my heart daily as a homeschooling mother and he is molding the hearts of my kids, too. We make mistakes and struggle with our weaknesses but I can’t think of doing anything else with this season of my life. As a mother to young children, I want to be where the more important battle is. For me, the battle is at home…winning my kids for the Lord by teaching them what really counts. This is what homeschooling is about.

From enemies to best buds again…
 

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Group Homeschooling

What a beautifully chaotic morning I had homeschooling 7 children and breastfeeding two babies. My sister-in-law, Jenny, is sick so I invited two of her four kids to come over to homeschool with us. (One of my nephews had a fever.) And my sister, Carolyn, left her three-week old daughter behind because she had to attend to an event in Taytay. I asked her if Natasha would last the two hours that she was gone. She assured me that she would…and, worse case, if she didn’t, I was to feed her.

Ack. I love my sister. But, I’ve never fed another person’s baby. It was a first for me when Natasha started acting up and her yaya handed her to me because I was the only option. Thankfully, she was easy to feed. It felt bizarre and familiar at the same time.

I group-homeschooled until about 12:30 and the kids did just fine. We started off with a morning devotion followed by an art project. I taught the kids how to create textured paint cards using a toothbrush, cotton buds, blocks, straws, a comb, etc. And then we let the cards dry and I cut them up into various sized rectangles. Afterwards, I let the kids make personalized works of art. They had to use the texture cards to form the first letters of their name. With the left-over pieces we made a collage.

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In between waiting for the cards to dry the kids did their writing, reading, mathematics, and grammar work. I didn’t get to do much with Tiana so she just colored. I also had to breastfeed two babies at different occasions. And while I was away, some mayhem ensued but I was always able to return just in time to get things orderly again. And, I had a reporter – Edan.

At one point, I heard really loud singing and Edan came to the door and said something like, “I think you need to come back.” There was a tone of urgency in his voice. So I did and got them back to their seats to continue working.

Elijah and Edan are pretty independent learners so I assigned them their work and they got right to it. As for my niece, nephew, and Titus, I had to be in close proximity to them. I hovered around them to assist them when I was needed. But they all did great. They wanted to “surprise me” with their progress.

I’ve used this tactic with my kids to get them to focus. I will say, “Okay, I won’t look, and then surprise me when you are done!” It becomes a challenge and a game. They are motivated to accomplish their material. The kids were also excited to finish early so they could play with one another afterwards. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling with other children.

What are some tricks to homeschooling many kids and not going crazy? These are the tips that worked for me today…

  1. Prepare materials in advance. Once the kids are all present, they need to have something productive to do. If you aren’t ready with your supplies, books, and activities, you end up wasting a lot of time and the kids get restless.
  2. Lay down the ground rules, one of which is, “If we are going to homeschool together, then I want you to focus on your work.” Another one is cleaning up after they make a mess.
  3. Put tabs on the pages that you want the kids to get done if they are working in books. They will know their goals without having to ask.
  4. Pray aloud before you start.
  5. Use an authoritative tone that tells the kids you mean business but speak kindly to them. Be in control but don’t be too controlling.
  6. See yourself as a facilitator and not as a teacher standing in front with a blackboard. I move about the room checking on everyone while they are seated around a large table. When they need me I respond. If I see a child struggling, I attend to them. But as much as possible, I let them do their work on their own.
  7. Allow the kids to see one another’s progress. It encourages them to keep up and it fosters healthy competition, for as long as there is no comparing going on. I don’t say things like, “Look at what so-and-so did, you should do your work like that, too.” Instead, I say, “Look at what so-and-so did!” Then, I address the person and say, “Great job! I’m so proud of you!” I also find something to affirm about everyone.
  8. Give feedback as often as possible. If you notice that a child isn’t quite getting it, spend some time beside them to show them how to do their work correctly. But don’t cripple them by making them dependent on you. Show them and then let them figure it out. If they still don’t get it, review again, and then give them space to do it on their own. When they are successful, commend their effort. (If they still don’t understand, especially in an area like math, they may have a learning gap so back track a little so they can master previous content.) Tell them, “I’m going to help you to learn,” so they know you are committed to their success. Don’t say things like, “I already taught you this. Why can’t you get it?!”
  9. When it’s reading practice time, invite the other children to listen to the person reading. I did this with my niece and I said, “Let’s take turns reading. You read one word and I will read the next one.” And then I put Tiana on my lap to listen to her cousin. We did this back and forth reading for about three pages and then my niece confidently read the rest of the book aloud by herself.
  10. Be enthusiastic about learning together. It keeps everyone positive. Make comments like, “This is so fun!” “I’m glad we can do this together.”
  11. Give breaks (especially to the ones who like to move). I sent two of the boys to the kitchen and asked them to come back with sliced apples to share. They distributed these to everyone and then returned to their seats.
  12. Use rewards like stickers, smiley faces on their completed work. I pulled out a bunch of stickers and the kids were like, “I want one!” So I said, “Whoever finishes first, gets to choose first.”
  13. Seat children in the right areas. Generally, I use a big table where everyone can sit. But, Elijah needed his own space so he could concentrate. He was at another side of the room. Titus and my nephew were looking forward to sitting together so I put them side-by-side. When my nephew struggled through a page of his phonics work, Titus looked over and was eager to help. Tiana sat beside my niece (whom she looks up to). For as long as my niece was seated, Tiana didn’t move either. She sat still coloring for a long time.
  14. Give older kids responsibilities. Edan finished his work earlier so he made “prizes” for everyone at a separate table. He handed these out to the kids and created awards for best art, best work, etc.
  15. Do group activities that require cooperation and collaboration. Art is always a great way to do this because it cuts across ages.
  16. Rely on God’s grace to enjoy and get through a day like this. I always believe that God supplies for the occasion. He sustained me this morning and kept the kids teachable and focused.

After lunch, you can bet I was pretty exhausted so I locked my door to hang out with Catalina and take a nap!

Here is my take on group homeschooling…It works well with children who have been trained by their parents to obey and respond to authority. Praise God my brother and my sister-in-law have done a great job training their kids. I would also say that up to 8 young children is “doable” but more than 8 may require the help of another parent.

 

 

 

 

Teaching A Toddler

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Alot of eager-to-teach-moms ask me what I do with my 3 year old daughter, Tiana, so they can get ideas. Honestly, I don’t spend too much time laboring over academic material. I feel that she is too young to be learning to read or mastering her numbers. My older boys were more ready than she was at the same age. She has her own time-table so I don’t want to compare. Our homeschooling is more “come what may” at this point.

I encourage parents to be sensitive to their child’s readiness. Not all children are ready for academics at age 3. They can be forced to learn but it is easier to wait a few months or even a year or two. When they are ready, they will absorb material much quicker and more confidently. This will eliminate alot of the battling that goes on between an impatient parent and a frustrated and pressured child.

Trust me…I have tried to pressure my kids to learn concepts against their time-table mostly because of pride and this approach turned out to be disastrous. I wanted to showcase homeschooling or I wanted my kids to get ahead of others their age so people would say, wow, look at their family. Choke and gag me. How insidious pride is!

So what to do, what to do with a 3 year old…

1. Let them tell you. I let my little kids ask for work. It takes an amount of trust to wait for this point. But kids are naturally curious and eager to learn. When there is no pressure to perform, they actually want to move on to more intellectually challenging activities. All my kids after Elijah were the ones who wanted to be included in our homeschooling. I would only “test the waters” by introducing concepts but if they weren’t ready, I would leave it for a later time or change the methodology — more games and play as a teaching tool.

Tiana is at the stage when she wants to do work. Almost everyday she asks to do “work.” Her question is, “Can I do my work?”

One day she asked me about 10 times while I was still eating breakfast. I kept on telling her, “Yes, we will do your work, but you have to wait.” She trailed me all the way to the study room to ask again. I finally said, “I told you we will do your work but you have to wait,” with a little more conviction. “Okay, mommy.” A few moments later he was about to ask the question again but she stopped herself and melodically said, “I REALLY like doing my work!” just to make sure I did not forget.

2. Start slow. A child’s interest may indicate readiness but it may not always mean they can take on loads of content. Their enthusiasm may simply mean they want to be included in the day’s homeschooling to be like their older siblings. However all they need is a piece of paper to draw on and they are content. But it could also mean they are ready to learn their numbers and letters and shapes and patterns and whatever else we consider to be sooo important to the survival of the human species.

In this case, break them in gently. I made the mistake of assuming that Tiana could identify numbers 1 to 10 in one sitting. Wrong. We both ended up in tears. She could count but that was completely different than knowing what the numbers actually looked like and what quantities they represented. So I decided to tackle one number at a time. (She is three years old. Slowing down the pace is not going to kill her future.)

3. Make learning very natural. You don’t need a black board or white board. Homeschooling is side by side learning and teaching. It also involves a lot of dialoguing as you go about your day.

For example, I started to panic when Tiana did not know her colors because her same-age cousin did. So I tried flash cards and books and she didn’t seem to get it. Since this wasn’t working, I took her outdoors instead and we went for walks, identifying colors as we went along and playing games like, “I see the color red, can you point to something that is red?” I also modified it to, “What color is this gate? What color is the grass? What color is that car?” to see if she could name the colors. Well, with the exception of gold and silver, she knows the basic color wheel now.

4. You can use work books but proceed with caution. I understand how workbooks can make a teaching parent feel incredibly secure. After all, everything has been laid out by supposed experts and all you have to do is go through each page faithfully and that constitutes educating a child. No, honey. A workbook can be a reference and if your child likes it then yippee. But don’t feel discouraged if filling out workbook pages with answers doesn’t appeal to them. Workbooks aren’t even the best way for a child to learn. Real life should be the main context for learning. Workbooks are a supplement.

Titus wasn’t really into workbooks at Tiana’s age because he wasn’t writing yet. And when a child isn’t able to write proficiently, workbooks are difficult. So, I had him draw and color a lot first. After a few months of doing this, he started writing letters and names and spelling words. Recently, I let him write out words more formally but I waited until he was comfortable with holding a writing instrument.

If a child clamours for a workbook but needs help handling a writing instrument, then assist them. That’s ok. No one is looking over your shoulder. It’s not cheating. It’s allowing your child to develop confidence while they don’t have very good finger dexterity yet. Give them some time and they won’t need you anymore.

5. Use manipulatives to concretize the learning experience. Young children learn better when they can involve more of their senses. I’m always on the lookout for educational toys. This year, I got Mathtacular for my kids. It’s a great math program that includes manipulatives, a DVD, and an instructional guide with all kinds of math-related activities to explore. I got the educational package for my younger kids.
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6. Prioritize phonics instruction. I like to get my kids to learn their phonics sounds even when they are young. This can be done very informally. For example, I use Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW) music to teach the sounds of the letters. I got Tiana the All Aboard Book but I go through it very slowly. She is only able to learn one letter per week.
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I also downloaded and printed alphabet mini books from Sparkle.

7. Have read aloud time. I need to do a better job of this. Tiana really enjoys being read to. She’s at the age where she can sit through a book and focus. So I need to take advantage of this. I’ve got a whole box of books coming to my door step two weeks from now. I’m so excited to share them with her (and all the other kids). Soon to arrive…

Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barett Barrett
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
First Little Readers Parent Pack: Guided Reading Level A: 25 Irresistible Books That Are Just the Right Level for Beginning by Debora Schecter
First Little Readers Parent Pack: Guided Reading Level B: 25 Irresistible Books That Are Just the Right Level for Beginning Readers by Liza Charlesworth
Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set (Sets) by Thorton W. Burgess
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume 1/Blue Hat, Green Hat; A to Z; Moo, Baa, La La La!; Doggies (Boynton Board Books) by Sandra Boynton
Classic Characters of Little Golden Books: The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scuffy the Tugboat
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad) by Marjorie Flack
First 100 Soft to Touch Numbers, Shapes and Colors by Roger Priddy
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Biscuit Storybook Collection by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Classic Starts: A Best-Loved Library (Classic Starts Series) by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Classic Starts: Tales of Adventure by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
My Rainbow Fish Book Box by Marcus Pfister
My Little Pocket Library Early Learning Fun by Roger Priddy
Brown Bear, White Bear by Svetlana Petrovic
Nanuk Flies Home by Christa Holtei
God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren
A Father’s Touch by Joni Eareckson Tada
The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
Max Lucado’s Wemmicks: Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift, Picture Book by Max Lucado

Arch Books…
Born on Christmas Morn
King Josiah & God’s Book
Parable of the Prodigal Son
Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant
Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
Jesus Heals the Man at the Pool
Jesus Returns to Heaven
Get Up Lazarus!
Samson

Happy Day Books…
Don’t Do That Dexter
God Made You Special
Jesus is My Special Friend
God Made Our Bodies
God Made Dinosaurs
God Made Outer Space
Keep Trying Travis
God’s Special Rule
I Can Follow Jesus

God I Need to Talk to You Series by Dan Carr…
God I Need to Talk to You About Stealing
God I Need to Talk to You About My Bad Temper
God I Need to Talk to You About Disrespect
God I Need to Talk to You About Being a Bad Sport

With five children, books are a great investment. I always want to surround my kids with many options for books so they develop a love for reading.

8. Emphasize character instruction. I really believe there is a window of opportunity for teaching character traits like obedience, learning to wait, sharing, kindness, respect, etc. Take advantage of the toddler years to impact the heart in these areas. If I were to jump into all the academics without my children’s hearts being ready to receive instruction, it would be a constant battle to get them to learn. And I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with my kids. I want them to find joy in learning but the prerequisite to that is a teachable heart.

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What if You Don’t Feel Like It?

379 (3) 378 (3) 306 (3) 479 240“What do you do when you don’t feel like homeschooling?” This was a question one of my friends brought up during breakfast while we were meeting for a Bible Study. Well, first of all, it’s a reasonable question. It’s normal NOT to be super excited about homeschooling every single day. I don’t know any homeschooling mom who is 100% on fire about homeschooling every morning. She doesn’t exist.

There are good days and not-so-good days when you homeschool. Sometimes you are tired. Sometimes you want a break from the kids. Sometimes you feel the urge to go shopping instead of reading about Zoology.

I’ll be honest. The past two weeks we haven’t had any regular sort of homeschooling. We were traveling for 7 days and before that I had all kinds of commitments to attend to. The kids had it pretty easy. This next week, however, we will finish up the last few subjects that haven’t gotten done – mainly Science, Social Studies, History, and Filipino. We started in September so I still have some time to turn in portfolios, but I want to get everything accomplished before I give birth.

I will say here what I told the moms that morning. Homeschooling is your job. If you were in the corporate world, you wouldn’t say to your boss, “I don’t feel like showing up today so I won’t be coming in.” You can get away with that a few times (if your boss is cool) but you can’t make it a habit. I think of homeschooling the same way. Just show up. Be there in the morning even if you don’t feel like it and let God lead and direct the day. Unless you are on a family vacation or have an engagement that you must absolutely attend, your homeschooling schedule should be a priority. This is when the commitment part has to kick in and God’s grace will compensate for what you lack in enthusiasm.

When I’m not in the mood to homeschool, I still go to our study room and prepare the kids’ books anyway. I believe in the principle “motion before emotion.” I have to be faithful even when I don’t feel like teaching my kids, and I ask God to supply the energy, creativity, positivity, and wisdom I need for that day. And he does!

Of course, I know how to give myself breaks, too. I homeschool on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. Tuesdays, my kids have Music, Art, and PE classes. Having one day off makes a big difference! It allows me to meet with ladies I disciple, write, pursue hobbies, or do errands. In the afternoons of most days, the kids get to play and I get to rest because we accomplish the major part of the work in the mornings. This helps, too.

I also mix up our daily activities so it doesn’t feel so monotonous for me or the kids. Sometimes, I will do art the whole day with the kids and it is such a treat for them and good therapy for me. On some days we just read a lot of Science and History. I keep academic goals in mind but the journey to that point doesn’t have to be a straight line all the time.

One of my friends shared about how she baked with her daughter and incorporated math. That counts as homeschooling…learning while having fun…both teacher and student!

Not everyone is comfortable with a relaxed approach, primarily because we tend to compare what our kids are doing at home to what other kids would be doing at a conventional school. This is a mindset we have to weed out of ourselves. It’s so ingrained in us to believe that the educational system has the best methods, teachers, and learning environment for children. So if we can copy what they are doing at school and bring it into our homeschooling, our children will be the better for it. But this isn’t necessarily true!

There are some pros to conventional schooling but I prefer the pros of homeschooling. Homeschooling gives kids a customized education. This is very difficult to do in school. Homeschooling also allows children to develop and grow without the pressures of standards and labels. They learn in a very natural setting that encourages the love for learning. Gaps are addressed and given attention. Children’s learning styles are accommodated so they absorb and retain content more effectively. And most importantly, character, values, and spiritual growth are a main focus.

So don’t worry if your homeschooling seems a lot more relaxed than the conventional school setting. For as long as you are accomplishing your goals – character, love for the Lord, physical, emotional, and social development, and equipping your kids with the tools for learning then praise God! You are doing just fine!

I’m sharing this because if I were to imitate the conventional school system in our home, I would burn out. I would be pulling my hair out! So I don’t pressure myself with thoughts such as, If my kids were at school, they would be doing this and that, and if they aren’t, there is something wrong with my homeschooling or my kids. Whenever I start to compare, I take the joy out of teaching and impose my stress on my kids.

Every homeschooling parent has to develop a system that works for them and their kids and provides the optimum setting for learning. My kids happen to do just fine with a more laid-back approach to learning and we get all the work done by the end of each year. As Elijah and Edan get older, they sit at a desk more often. But with the younger kids, the floor, bed or couch are more conducive to their learning style so I don’t make a big deal about them sitting on chairs. They can ease into that as they grow up.

During the morning discussion I had with the moms, we also talked about how homeschooling is a character education not just for our children but for us, too!

As I teach my kids the Lord teaches me about patience, understanding, sensitivity, discipline, commitment, unconditional love and acceptance, open communication, the importance of modeling the right values and principles, being spirit-filled and the list goes on and on.

A few hours ago, my second son, Edan, started to act up about writing his memory cards for history. I was tempted to be annoyed and reactive. Instead, I started scratching his back and hugging him. This made him perk up and he was more motivated. Minutes later however, he was distracted again and delaying his work. So I had to talk with him and ask him to work in another room. He felt sad and started to cry but I reminded him gently but firmly that he needs to learn to get his work done before playing. When he realized this, he finished everything I asked him to. I gave him a 15 minute break and then we moved on to another task. It’s 1:30 PM and he can now go down to our neighbor’s house to play and enjoy himself because he got his work done.

Initially, my carnal self would wanted to get angry because I was experiencing a blocked goal as his educator. But, God often uses situations like this to help me grow as a mom, as a teacher. This is one of the reasons why I know that homeschooling is beneficial even for me. When I don’t feel like teaching, I think to myself, I need to do this for my sake, too.

It’s okay to feel tired and worn-out when homeschooling. Believe me! Teaching four kids can get exhausting. But how sweet it is to receive the grace of God to keep going, keep smiling, and keep enjoying my children and the many adventures that our homeschooling lifestyle brings our way. The Bible says, “When we are weak, he is strong.” If I am not committed to show up at my “job” when I don’t feel like it, then I miss out on experiencing God’s faithfulness to get through that day. And amazingly, more often than not, these days turn into the best sort of days because they are fueled by his power!

“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

 

 

 

Multi-level Homeschooling

Homeschooling 4 kids has often elicited the question, “How do you do it?” And I must admit that at times, I think to myself, I have no idea! But, there is some madness to the “science” of teaching more than one child. I don’t claim to have the best methods but I can share what has worked for our family. Hopefully, you can get some ideas on how to homeschool more than one child without going crazy!

The eldest child sets the example. Elijah, my 10 year old, is a sponge when it comes to learning. He loves to learn, primarily through reading literature, story books, encyclopedias, documents, articles, manuals…basically, anything with text. God has gifted him with a capacity to absorb and process information. And I’m saying this not to put him up on a pedestal or myself (he is waaaay smarter than I am). I’m sharing this because the time you spend with your eldest child, before any of the other munchkins come along, is very special. No other child will have as much attention. So maximize the years you have with him.

I would talk to Elijah all the time. He began conversing very early and was speaking whole sentences as a one year old. Edric and I made him attentive to the environment around him by pointing out shapes, numbers, letters, colors, objects, etc. I read to him every single day, several times a day. And I helped him to discover and pursue his interests – dinosaurs, airplanes, origami, and architecture. He was around adults so often, which greater enhanced his communication skills.

His interest in learning began early. And when you have an eldest child who is an eager learner it makes a big difference! He sets a positive and inspiring example for his younger siblings to follow.

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Master the essentials. There are at least 10 different subjects that children have to cover in the Philippines. It’s just ridiculous. But only a few skills, in my opinion, are really important – reading, comprehension, the ability to communicate and express one’s thoughts and ideas clearly (writing and speaking falls under this), arithmetic, problem solving, and critical thinking. So, I spend the early years of my children’s education enhancing and developing these basic skills. These are foundational.

I don’t, for example, make penmanship an on-going source of conflict between my children and I. Three boys. They prefer not to do tons of writing work. Is that a big deal to me? Not really. I’m gentle about the whole penmanship issue. Titus is just learning how to write his letters and numbers and he is 5. He knows how to write his numbers better than his letters but he still struggles with writing. Does he know the sounds of the letters and what numbers represent? Yes. Those things are major to me. But being able to write his letters and numbers perfectly…he’ll get there.

I didn’t force Elijah and Edan to do pages and pages of handwriting practice, but they both wanted to do cursive early. Cursive? Boys? Sounds like an oxymoron. Surprisingly, Elijah wanted to try writing in cursive when he was 8. And Edan started practicing his cursive a few months ago. They developed the inclination to do so on their own.

The point is I don’t get hung up on subjects that are of minor importance. I spend more time mastering essential skills.

Add variety to routine. Some materials you may purchase for your child are workbook based and text-booky. That’s not even a word but you know what I mean. If you don’t, then what I mean is these materials can be BORING. Kids do the same thing everyday. There’s no spice.

When you homeschool, you have the liberty to incorporate more creativity, mix and match, add here, take away there, enrich, skim through…In other words, you don’t have to be bound by the curriculum. See it as a guide for what your child needs to cover but don’t make it your bible.

For example, if the book says, “Color the correct answer,” and I know that it is going to take my son 15 minutes to color one object, I will say, “Circle the correct answer.” Why? Because the objective is to find out if my child knows the right answer. I don’t care about the coloring. We can do coloring for art. If he can tell me the answer right away, then I prefer that.

Here’s another example: If your child has to do 30 math problems that pretty much cover the same concept, do they really have to do all 30 problems? I ask them to do 15 out of the 30. And if they can answer those 15 problems correctly, I don’t require them to do the next 15. But if they have a lot of errors, then I know they need more practice or I need to review the concept with them.

With language arts, I mix it up for the boys. Sometimes, I allow them to dictate the answers to their questions. Other times, I will take turns writing sentences with them. On other occasions, I will allow them to use the computer. Or, I will ask them to complete the writing assignment on their own but motivate them with an incentive for finishing. It really depends on the circumstance.

Encourage independent reading and research. I’ve often told my children that reading unlocks the door of knowledge. Once they learn how to read well (with comprehension), they can answer their what, why, and how questions without being dependent on me. If they know how to read, they can be taught how to research.

When Elijah wants to go in depth about a topic that he is curious about, I let him research on the Internet or we get more books. I don’t spoon-feed him by being the source all the time. And the truth is, sometimes I can’t answer his questions because I don’t know enough about the topic.

The other day, he wanted to learn about venomous snakes in the Philippines. I put the computer in front of him and said, “Here, research about snakes in the Philippines and we will print out your findings.” He showed me his findings after 30 minutes and was very pleased with himself. I was too. All I had to do was press print!

For a while, I required Edan to read a children’s encyclopedia because he needed to improve his vocabulary. I asked him to read a couple of pages everyday as part of his work. Since he was a reader but I didn’t have the time to do intensive vocabulary instruction, I handed him the book and he reinforced his vocabulary on his own.

Keep everyone preoccupied with productive activity when it is work time. I do the academics with my kids in the morning. But since they are all at different levels, I can’t have them all sitting at desks quietly doing work on their own. This would be ideal and magical but it doesn’t always happen that way. So I have to plan the day by having independent writing or reading work for one child, while I dialogue or teach another. And then we do a switcheroo.

I usually lay out Elijah’s work on a table, in a private area where the noise pollution is minimal. He is an auditory learner so sounds are a distraction. When he is finished reading his Bible, he will proceed to work independently because I mark all the pages he has to cover with tabs. If he has questions, I can come over to his side to answer them. But usually, he doesn’t need me too much for this part of his day.

While Elijah is busy, I will spend time with Titus. In a period of about 45 minutes, we cover math, writing, reading, Bible, and a bit of science. In the meantime, Edan will be assigned to teach Tiana in yet another room. Since Tiana, my two year old, wants to be included in our daily homeschooling routine, she always comes up to me and says, “Mom, can I do my work? Where’s my work?” The thing is, I need to prioritize the older kids. So, I ask Edan to help me out.

Edan is my teacher’s assistant, something that he is very good at. He will very patiently teach and explain to her basic concepts. While he does so, I handle my two other boys. And then Titus and Edan switch places. Titus will have break time with Tiana, playing, doing art, or using manipulatives, so I can give attention to Edan and Elijah.

If Elijah finishes quite a bit of work and needs a break, I let him do Kahn Academy online. He likes to do the math and computer programming. It keeps him very engaged. This frees me up to be with Edan. We do his math and language arts together and then I can give him sit down work with his science notebook or character journal. While he is doing sit-down work and doesn’t need me hovering around him, I discuss science and history with Elijah.

It’s a little bit of a juggling act but we finish by noon most of the time. After lunch, the younger kids nap, and I can continue working with Elijah and Edan if necessary. Or, they have quiet reading time in their room. This is when I get my own personal space to write or even take a nap myself!

By mid-afternoon when all major responsibilities are covered, the kids can play or practice their violin.

Make character instruction a priority. The kids cooperate with our routines because they have internalized obedience. It would be difficult to handle four children without going insane if they didn’t obey, listen, and respond to my instruction. I don’t have to force them to work because they are willing to learn. They are teachable. There are days when they don’t have the best attitudes but that is normal. They still need training.

Edric and I spend a lot of their earlier years (between 1 and 3) instilling obedience. And we introduce them to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior early, too. So, by the time they are 4, 5, 6, 7, we can move on to other traits like responsibility, having the right attitude, attentiveness, hard-work, self-control, kindness, etc., because they have a reason to internalize these traits – to please God.

I don’t think it is possible to have peaceful homeschooling if parents neglect character. At the end of the day, this is the key to teaching several children effectively and enjoying them, too!

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Proverbs 23:24-26 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you. Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways.

In the Trenches – What I Like

Last weekend, I was in Cebu with Edric and the kids. No yaya. Wow. It was slightly crazy and wonderful at the same time. Part of the reason we were there was to talk about homeschooling. I was asked to give a testimony as someone who is in the trenches of it. That’s definitely me! So here is my take on homeschooling in a nutshell. I’ve broken up my testimony into two parts and taken bits and pieces from old posts to summarize What I like About Homeschooling and What I’ve Learned as A Homeschooling Mom

What I like About Homeschooling:

Free-flowing Lessons. Learning happens very naturally in the home. Teaching and training my children are not confined to a set period of the day. It doesn’t just happen in the study room of our home. I have four kids at different stages of learning so if I were to do a classroom set-up, I wouldn’t have enough time in the day to teach my kids like a conventional school would. Instead, I let my kids’ learning happen outside of textbooks and workbooks. Learning happens naturally through dialogue and discussion, hands-on experiences, modeling, games, reading and telling stories, socializing with family members or friends, and lots of creative play. I do give my kids workbook and textbook time, as well as writing exercises and tests. But, these conventional learning methods don’t dictate how, what, and when my children learn.

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A typical day for our family would be the kids waking up at 7 AM and we have breakfast as a family. By 8:30 or 9 AM we start our lessons. With each child I will cover three to four subject areas. My older son, Elijah, is a pretty independent learner so he can do most of his work on his own. We will read History and Science together because he likes the discussion and interaction time we have when we go through these subjects. In the meantime, my second son, Edan, will be doing his lessons with lots of breaks in between. And when I’m preoccupied with my youngest son, Titus, Edan act as my teacher’s assistant or entertainer. He will help teach Tiana, my fourth child, and keep her busy. I work more closely with Titus because he needs one-on-one instruction. And after about 45 minutes he is done with his “academics” and will work with manipulatives or have free play time with his sister. Everyone is doing something productive between 9 and 12 noon, but it isn’t always sitting down at a desk. In the afternoons, the kids can read, pursue their hobbies, practice their violin, and rest. I rest, too!

A Customized Education – tailor fit to my child’s needs. At home, with one-on-one instruction, it is much easier for a parent to adjust to the learning needs of her child. Titus is a kinesthetic child but like my two older boys, he learned to read early because I modified my approach with him. Phonics instruction was kept short and sweet. We didn’t do too much writing until he was really ready. And I let him have lots of time to play with dough, scissors, glue, marbles…basically anything to help him develop his fine motor skills.

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My simple philosophy for teaching my kids is this: All children are equipped to learn and they can develop a genuine love for learning, but a parent must be willing to discover and investigate how her child learns best, welcome the adjustment it requires on her part, and look to the Lord for the supernatural creativity, insight, wisdom and ability that this kind of inspired teaching requires.

At home, children have true play. They can engage in self-initiated activity without the pressure of outcomes. They are challenged to be creative, to conceptualize, and to problem solve while they play. And they have hours and hours to play! I really feel like they get to have an extended childhood that isn’t cut short by the over scheduling and time consuming homework that school-going kids have to deal with.

Learning along-side my children. I have never been excellent in math. I used to dislike it immensely until I started homeschooling my kids. When I became a “math teacher,” I had to re-learn math from the ground up. From pre-school math to upper elementary math (where I find myself now), I am both student and teacher to my kids. When Elijah was in 3rd grade, I peaked at the answer key in the back of his math book when we encountered a word problem I was stumped on (can you believe it?! 3rd grade?!) and he got really upset. He said, “Now you won’t solve the problem with me!” He enjoyed the fact that we solved the problems together. It didn’t matter to him that I wasn’t a math expert and this didn’t keep him from learning. He wanted me to learn along-side him. Nowadays, he uses Kahn Academy to teach himself math.

I call this approach to homeschooling the “teamwork” approach. It is experiencing the process with my kids, encouraging them and inspiring them to learn by making it fun. And often times, their definition of fun is having me beside them.

Cultivating relational intimacy between siblings / between parent and child. Adidas used to have a tag line for basketball. Basketball is a brotherhood. Well, for my boys, homeschooling is a brotherhood. My kids are growing up to be best friends and they often say they are. Homeschooling has a lot to do with it because they are together so often and have to work out their differences, defer to one another, and love one another unconditionally. God has really knit the hearts of my children to one another. They hold each other accountable for responsibilities like violin practice, reading their bibles and praying together. And they have each other’s backs. Elijah recently told me, “I protect my brothers and I stick up for them.”  Someday, they will benefit from each other’s spiritual support and encouragement to weather the storms of life. Developing a loyalty to one another when they are young will have a lot to do with that.

My siblings and I were homeschooled for a time. And it proved to be such an amazing bonding experience, we remain close to this day. We enjoy getting together with our families, sharing meals and conversations, watching movies, playing games and sports, etc. My parents taught us to prioritize loving your family members before friends and this has carried on into our adulthood.

Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a foremost child developmental and clinical psychologist from Canada made this statement during a talk he gave on Why Home Education Works. “Homeschooling provides the optimum environment for a child to mature into a healthy and whole person who can achieve his fullest potential. Years of research and study show that a child was designed to be raised and educated at home because the most important element in a child’s development towards maturity is his attachment to those who are responsible for him – his parents.” He is not even an advocate of homeschooling. He is an advocate of child development.

He cites the following reasons:

  • At home, children have continuity of contact with their parents. Schools separate children from their parents and foster competing attachments with peers.
  • At home parents taken on the responsibility of pursuing their child relationally. This gives a child rest from the work of attachment. He doesn’t have to strive for the attention or affections of his parent. When children have to work for love or affection, they do not grow or mature.
  • At home, a child faces less separation and less wounding (ideally) so that his heart stays soft and pliable. At school a lot of wounding occurs, especially among peers. This causes a flight from vulnerability and a child develops hardness of heart.
  • At home, parents can support the maturity process. They can handle the stages a child goes through, the questions and the struggles.

I would like to add that at home, parents can continually assure their child, “nothing will separate you form my love…not your attitude, not your behavior, I love you no matter what, but because I love you, I am committed to helping you change and improve.”

Homeschooling has most certainly turned the heart of Edric towards our kids. And he has chosen to be very involved in their lives. This has been a special blessing for our family. The conviction to be a hands-on, intentional father came when Edric began to think about the goals of our parenting and homeschooling.

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Influence. Dr. Neufeld also explained that children want to be like those whom they are attached to. They will give their heart to those whom they are attached to. They want to be known and reveal their secrets to those whom they are attached to.

He brought up this very important point: When did your child fall in love with you? When did you child give you his heart? We were never meant to deal with a children whose hearts we did not have. If you do not have the heart of your child, you will not have the context in which to bring him to his fullest potential. If you do not have his heart, you will not have his mind.

Homeschooling allows Edric and I to impact the hearts and minds of our kids because they are very much attached to us. Because we spend the most time with them, we naturally have the most influence, too.

Teaching a Biblical World-view. No education is neutral. No child is neutral. Every child has an orientation towards God or away from God. Edric and I don’t want our children to be bombarded with secular messages and worldviews that will turn them away from a God-ward orientation. So we filter what they learn through the word of God. We protect our children from wrong kinds of indoctrination by peers, teachers, school curriculums and systems that promote humanism vs. theism.

David Sant said, “All education is indoctrination into a religious worldview…All education is undergirded by presuppositions about the origin of the universe, the origin of man, the purpose of man, ethics government relationships between men, and the continuing existence of the universe in an orderly and predictable manner. It is an inescapable fact that all of these basic assumptions are fundamentally religious. Therefore we must view the schoolroom as the place where children are indoctrinated into the religion of their society. The school is, in effect, a temple.”

In a climate of postmodern thinking which has removed God from the picture and promoted the ideas of moral subjectivity, pluralism and relativism, there is a need more than ever before to teach our children the truths that God has given us in his word. When Elijah was 3, he asked us, “What if there is no God…what will happen?”  It was a valid question. Who would have answered this for him if we weren’t around?

As parents, we need to be able to answer key questions that will impact our children’s belief system and determine their choices and actions: Who is God? Who Am I? What on Earth Am I here for? Edric and I aren’t willing to gamble our children’s future convictions by leaving this task up to others.

The faithfulness of God. We chose to homeschool in faith, in obedience to the Lord. We continue to do so, despite our limitations and imperfections to find that God is faithful. Every year that I teach the kids, I look back and think, how did we survive last year and manage to finish everything?! I’m always in awe of how God comes through for us. He is the one who makes my kids excited about learning. He is the one who helps them to learn. They are doing well inspite of me!

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