Creative Play Unboxed

I always enjoy new finds that can enhance my kids’ homeschooling experience. Last week, I met Stefanie Lim at a speaking engagement I was at, and she handed me a box called Oli Boxship as a gift for my kids. Stefanie’s the co-founder of Oli’s Boxship, which is a box of craft surprises delivered to your door, for kids ages 4 to 9. 

The idea behind Oli’s Boxship is igniting creative play and educating children about science, language, math, and social studies at the same time. 


The box we received covers the five senses. It came with all the materials we needed and a story book, too!


Everything in the box is neatly packaged by activity. There is also a booklet of instructions to guide kids.



My kids haven’t done the projects yet but they are excited to! So I am planning to use the box as a reward at the end of our homeschooling week.

I also checked out Oli Boxship’s subscription options and I have attached them below: 


For more information, you may also contact:

When Older Boys Are Uninspired to Study 

Friday morning started out like pulling teeth from my two older sons. Elijah and Edan grumbled, complained, and resisted being told what to do for their homeschooling work today. I have encountered moments like this before and it’s never easy to think through how I should respond. Part of me wanted to lay down the hammer and bully them into obeying. The other part knew there were better ways to inspire the right behavior in them. 

I invited them into their bedroom for a conference. “You (Elijah) and you (Edan), in the bedroom now.” 

They didn’t resist and followed me into their room where I motioned for them to sit across from me on one end of Titus’ bed. I took the other end. 

“What’s the problem, boys?” I asked this in the most gentle way I could.

One replied, “My work is too hard.” 

“Is that the real problem? What’s the REAL problem?” 

“We have a bad attitude?”

“Nope. That’s a problem but that’s not the REAL problem.” 

I paused, hoping they would apply some critical thinking and accurately assess themselves. Their mopey faces told me they weren’t going to get to that point. So, I volunteered the answer. 

“The real problem is what’s going on in your hearts. I don’t want to force you to do your work. Your motivation should be to please God.”

By then Edan was tearing, half-concealing his face behind a pillow. Elijah struggled to keep himself together.

I didn’t want to lecture too much, but I had to add, “The second thing is, you need to develop the discipline of hard work. Pushing yourself to accomplish a task is good for your character. Don’t expect your responsibilities to always be easy. Someday when you are older, you can’t run away from hard work, you can’t just give up on tasks. So you need to train yourself now.”

The boys were stewing in their emotions. They didn’t like that statement. I let them be and encouraged them to take some time to pray. “Come back to the study room when you are ready, with the right heart and attitude, and with a smile. Until then, just stay here and talk to the Lord. It’s okay to take your time.” 

I hugged them and returned to the rest of my kids. 

Although I refrain from shouting at my kids when they are difficult to teach, I do feel like crying and locking myself in my room to have a pity party at times. It hurts and saddens me when they are disrespectful or demotivated. 

However, homeschooling can’t be about me, even though I would like to voice that out and say, “Look, it’s not easy for me to homeschool five of you. I get tired and upset, and there are days when I don’t feel like it, so get over your attitudes and do what I ask you to!” 

Although it’s tempting to yell that out, I absolutely can’t. I mean, I can, but it won’t address the real heart issues in my kids. Slouchy postures, groans, huffing and puffing, complaining, and smart-alecky responses from them incite my irritation but I have to quell this in favor of a spirit-filled reaction. Thankfully, my kids don’t act out their negativity often, but there are days when I have to force the anger down so I can effectively disciple my kids.

One of the biggest factors influencing my desire to control the anger is this: I don’t want to model hypocrisy to my kids. I don’t want to tell my kids to love God and obey God, and then yell at them in frustration because they aren’t homeschooling in the manner I expect them to. Hypocrisy snuffs out faith in children. 

I wish I could claim to have a spotless record with my kids…that they have never seen me lose my temper. However, I can’t truthfully say that. 

There are days when I get annoyed at Tiana for forgetting what I have taught her, when I lecture Titus for failing to stay focused, when I let out an exasperated sigh because Catalina is disturbing the quiet, or when I threaten my older boys with confiscated gadgets to manipulate them into compliance. I praise God these unkind reactions aren’t the norm, and that’s because of Christ and not me. But my kids have witnessed enough evidence to conclude that their mom has her character flaws! 

Howeber, I praise God that He calms me down with the reminder that I am called to be an example to my kids. He also brings to my attention passages like, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬) 

More importantly, the WHY of my homeschooling supersedes the day to day upsets of unmet academic goals and unfulfilled expectations. If I succeed at educating my kids in the head but fail to instruct their hearts then I fail them as a homeschool mom. My greater purpose for homeschooling my kids is to teach them to love God and to glorify Him which is why stressful encounters with my kids can’t bring out the monster in me!

So my encouragement to all homeschooling moms out there is to welcome the interruptions that require us to address the heart issues in our kids. Although our instinct may be to resent them, these are opportunities that God brings our way to accomplish the greater work we have as mothers. By God’s grace, the boys came back to diligently finish their work with good attitudes after they prayed and sorted through their emotions. So the academics did get done in the end but not at the expense of my relationship with my kids or their relationship with the Lord. 

“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank

Support and Encouragement for Your Homeschooling

If you are considering homeschooling, in the trenches of it, or seeking to be a more intentional parent, then you will need all the support and encouragement you can get. 

I remember a season when I struggled to teach my oldest son, Elijah, how to write well. Thankfully, I found a writing program called Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa — Student Writing Intensive Course levels A to C. 

This program introduces kids to the basics of good writing and works them up to a level of excellence that is remarkable. The focus is on structure and style. Kids learn how to express themselves clearly and creatively.

Although I am an avid writer I wasn’t able to inspire the same sort of interest in my kids. I needed help. Pudewa’s material changed this for my boys.

Today, my two boys, Elijah and Edan, use this for the writing component of their Language Arts curriculum. They are thoroughly enjoying it, too, which is an answer to prayer! 

Sometimes the kind of help we need when homeschooling is a skill or resource to supplement an area where we can’t teach a subject or material effectively. Yet, most of the time, what we really need is perspective from others who understand the challenges and unique adventures that come with being a home school parent.

This is exactly what the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) intends to offer parents this October 22, 2016, as it collaborates with Educating for Life to mount the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 at the SMX Hall in SM Aura. 

There’s no perfect homeschool parent. We all have our strengths and we come with our weaknesses too. And that’s why we benefit from the victories and insights of others. Furthermore, it’s important to stay connected to other homeschooling families and foster community. This is something we are in together, and going the distance means we have to look out for one another, too.

I am particularly looking forward to this homeschool conference because Andrew Pudewa will be a keynote speaker. His contributions to the larger homeschooling movement have been so valuable. Furthermore, he has had a significant impact on our family’s homeschooling journey. 

It must have been 10 years ago when my husband, Edric, told me about a lecture he attended where Andrew Pudewa spoke on how boys and girls learn differently. Some years later, I met Andrew Pudewa at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference in Branson, Missouri. Early this year, Edric and I were introduced to him again during the Global Home Education Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Pudewa delivered a very insightful talk on how conventional schools are an outmodeled form of education in this day and age. He presented compelling reasons to support why homeschooling makes sense given that we have advanced past the Industrial Age and are presently in the Information Age. (He also has great homeschool material on public speaking.) 

He is a gifted communicator and musician, and he is a well-known and sought after speaker in the homeschooling world of America. During the conference, he will focus on motivating children. (He will also have pre-conference workshops). Whether it’s getting them to write, read a book, or finish a task, motivation is important.

“Children like to do what they can do, they want to do what they think they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do. If you want excited and enthusiastic children who learn well, you must understand these key laws of motivation and focus on the essential element of relevancy. If it matters, children will learn it, and if it doesn’t, they won’t.”


ANDREW PUDEWA- Keynote Speaker

Besides Andrew Pudewa there will be other keynote speakers like Bo Sanchez, my mom (Deonna Tan-Chi) and yours truly. I am nervous and excited! Please pray for me! Of course there will be a host of  great workshop speakers who will cover specific issues and concerns about homeschooling, too. Here’s what to expect during the PHC 2016:

PROGRAM

7:00-9:00 – Registration 

9:00-9:15 – Welcome remarks 

Keynote Sessions:

9:15-10:00 – Building a Firm Foundation by Deonna Tan-Chi and Joy Mendoza 

10a:00-10:20Strengthening the Foundation Through Financial Planning* by Eric Nicdao 

10:20-10:30 – Raffle 

10:30-11:15Motivation – The Art and Science of Helping Students Learn Well by Andrew Pudewa 

11:15-11:25 – Raffle 

11:25-12:10pm – Wings to Soar: Leaving a Legacy for our Children by Sanchez 

12:10-12:20 – Raffle 

12:20-2:00 – Lunch Break / Expo visit 

Workshop Options: 

2:00-2:45 The Ins and Outs of Homeschooling in the Philippines by Edric Mendoza OR Transitioning from Brick and Mortar to Homechooling by Jenn Punzalan OR Homeschooling the High School Years by Raquel Guevara  

2:45-3:00 – Mobilize to next session 

3:00-3:45Laying the Foundation in Preschool by Milona Barraca OR Paper and Pen: How “Low Tech” Reading and Writing Benefit Students* by Andrew Pudewa OR  Transitioning to College by Ivy and Bernard Marquez 

3:45-4:00 – Mobilize to next session 

4:00-4:45Starting Your Homeschool Journey by Donna Simpao OR The Hows of Interest-Led Homeschooling by Alex Hao OR Homeschooling the Special Needs Child by Jen Bellosillo 

4:45-5:30 – Break / Expo visit 

5:30-6:00 – Major raffle prizes / Closing Remarks 

*Subject to change

For more information, check out Keynote and breakout sessions
KIDS’ ACTIVITIES

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

SCHEDULE

Write Pretty by Meg and Maddie (8:30am-10am)

Children ages 7 and up will enjoy learning a new skill with fellow homeschooled children Meg and Maddie Barraca.


Handlettering by Maddie (10:30am-12noon)

Join in the hand lettering trend by learning how to write calligraphy. To be conducted by Meg and Maddie Barraca. For children ages 7 and up.

Just Add Water – A Brush Calligraphy class by Marj Liwag (12:30pm-2pm, 4:30-6pm)

Little Miss Printer herself will teach this class for children ages 7 and up.

Inks and Lines – A Tangling class by Marj Liwag (2:30pm-4pm)

Learn about this relaxing art that creates beautiful images from simple patterns.

Challenge Island (8am-10am, 10:30am-12pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm)

Loosely based on the popular show, Survivor, children ages 5 and up will learn collaboration and cooperation the various Challenge Island tasks that they will be given to their tribe. Are they up to the challenge?

Crochet Along with Crafted Crafts by Marge Aberasturi (7am-6pm)

Marge Aberasturi of Crafted Crafts will welcome children ages 6 and up in her booth for beginning crochet lessons. Additional P250 fee for yarn and hook.

MEET THE ART MASTERS by Likhang Bata Creativity Center (7am-6pm)

Likhang Bata Creativity Art Center’s classes are a fun way to introduce the art masters to the children. The classes will be held in Likhang Bata’s booth the whole day.

SAFSOF SPORTS PLAY AREA BY TOPMnl (7am-6pm)

Let your kids move and play in our indoor sports play area! Crawl under arch gates. Swing your club in mini golf. Topple the cans with the soft catapult. Play bowling. Practice targeting skills with the Multi Ring Toss. All using SAFSOF safe rubber foam sports toys. For kids ages 3 years to 12 years.

SMILE TODDLER PLAY AREA (7am-6pm)

Children ages 1-3 will enjoy the various activities prepared by SMILE Group in the Toddler play area.

For more information see Kids’ Activities.


REGISTRATION FEE OPTIONS

For adults:

1. Regular rate (With access to plenary talks, breakout sessions and expo)- P1000 per participant

2. Group rate (Register 4 and get 5th ticket at 50%) – P4500 (Payment should be made as a group, not individually, to qualify for the discount)

3. Expo only (Access to vendor booths only; no access to talks and breakout sessions) – P50

4. Walk-in and on-site payment rate – P1200 per participant

For kids:

Children can choose their activities for a fee of P500. Parents can also choose to bundle the activities (except the toddler play area, which is P500 for the whole day) with the following rates:

Choice of 1 activity – P500

Choice of 2 activities – P900

Choice of 3 activities – P1200

Choice of 4 activities – P1550

Materials for the activities (except the crochet lesson, where participants will purchase hook and yarn separately) are only for borrowing. Each child can only register in one Challenge Island slot to give other participants a chance to enjoy the activity.

To register online: PHC 2016 registration

Check out the Facebook page: 


Get the free app!


In summary…Five reasons to attend the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016:





HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! 

Homeschoolers Conquer Science 

Homeschoolers tend to enjoy science because they have time to explore and learn about different fields they are interested in. Today’s event, Homeschoolers Conquer Science, featured various concepts and projects done by homeschoolers across the metro. Ideas ranged from urine as a power source to laser light that detects bacteria to homemade drones. I was amazed!  The best part for me was listening to the kids explain their projects. 

Check out there projects below…




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

It’s Time to Play!

“Many of our greatest thinkers locate their capacity for original and profound thought in their imaginative abilities, first developed through creative play in early childhood.” (Pittsburg Post Gazette, August 2004)

Interestingly, “Kids and animals that do not play when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults.” (Scientific American)

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A lot of times we rob our children of the opportunity to play when we overschedule their lives or cram it full with academics and enrichment activities. A poll by HealthAmerica from 2006 revealed that out of 882 children, 41 percent between the ages of 9 and 13 felt stressed all of the time or most of the time, because they have too much to do. Of those same children surveyed, 78 percent wished they had more free time. (Ahchealthnews )

Although we may mean well as parents, we need to consider whether our children are getting sufficient time to enjoy the wonders of childhood. Do they get to play?

Play can be structured and unstructured. Structured play is defined by set goals and objectives determined by an adult. It is adult-directed. (For example, when I teach my child how to build a tower with blocks and instruct them which piece to put where.) In contrast, unstructured play has no specific goal or objective determined by an adult. It is child-directed. Give your child blocks and see what he or she does with them.

Both types of play are important. Structured play is beneficial when your aim is to teach your child new concepts, skills, and reinforce them (colors, shapes, numbers, letters, phonetic sounds, reading, etc.) But unstructured play is beneficial for the application and manipulation of those concepts and skills – to demonstrate and practice creativity…and, well, just enjoy being a kid!

Another area where we may short-change our children is when we buy them the wrong kinds of toys. Since our children were very little, my husband and I agreed that we would buy our kids “good toys,” and avoid battery-operated toys as much as possible. Some people still gift our kids with these sort of toys but we try not to purchase them ourselves.

“A good toy is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child,” says Joan Almon, director of the U.S. Alliance for Childhood. “Beware of killjoy toys. Give children simple play materials such as logs and stones, cloths and ropes, and they will create worlds.”

“Play starts with a box, with the discovery of pots and pans. If everything has bells and whitles and does everything for them from the time a child is very young (his) own imagination is not going to be very stimulated,” says Stevanne Auerbach, a.k.a Dr. Toy and author of Smart Play, Smart Toys: How to raise a child with high PQ.

Some of examples of good toys include:

  • Empty boxes (shoe boxes, big boxes, etc.)
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Tissue paper
  • Fabric
  • Rocks
  • Sticks
  • Sand or mud
  • Trees
  • Leaves
  • Puddles or water
  • Bugs
  • Rope or string
  • Dolls for girls
  • Dishes and tea sets
  • Blocks
  • Legos
  • Playdough or clay
  • Marbles
  • Magnets
  • Old clothes for dressing up
  • Paper, drawing materials, paint, etc.

My kids go crazy over things like empty boxes and string! This afternoon my girls were running around with sticks, and my older daughter said, “Look, it’s an airplane!”, as she made the stick fly through the air.

So much learning happens through play. It may not be as quantifiable as results on a test paper, but rest assured, children are picking up something valuable.

“Play is how children begin to understand and process their world. Children’s play unlocks their creativity and imagination and develops reading, thinking, and problem solving skills as well as further develops motor skills. It provides the base foundation for learning.” Angie Rupan, Program Coordinator for Child Development Center in South San Francisco, CA and early childhood educator for over 20 years.

When we play with our kids, or when children play with one another, their language skills are developed. They pick up vocabulary, learn how to express themselves in ways that others can understand, and decode the grammatical structure of the English language without even realizing it!

When children are given unstructured play-time, their creativity sores. They learn how to be imaginative, invent, solve problems, build, and entertain themselves without being dependent on others to tell them what to do or how to think. Even simple toys like building blocks enhances mathematical ability in children.

My kids were trying to figure out how to build a suspension bridge the other day. They had to think through the physics involved to make this bridge.

Activities like drawing, painting, stringing, folding, cutting, squeezing dough or clay and molding it are all beneficial for fine motor skills. And activities that involve running, jumping, climbing, kicking, and the like will build muscular strength and endurance which are necessary for more difficult tasks that require body coordination.

What’s our part in all of this as parents? How do we ensure that learning happens when our children play? The following elements must be present:

  • Children feel free to express themselves
  • Children’s opinions are valued
  • Children believe they are unconditionally loved and accepted
  • Children are allowed to fail and learn from their failures
  • Children are allowed to experiment and try new ideas
  • Children are encouraged to consider more than one solution to a problem
  • Discipline is firm but not punitive
  • Parents accept some mess
  • Parents appreciate what their children accomplish and achieve
  • Parents communicate confidence in their children’s abilities
  • Parents demonstrate their own creativity and flexibility
  • Children are exposed to storybooks and storytelling
  • Make-believe is encouraged
  • Children have regular contact with parents and other children (siblings and cousins count, too!)

I don’t know what your family culture is like, but I hope you will prioritize playtime. It’s a necessary and fundamental part of childhood, and it’s our responsibility as parents, to provide a home environment where play is valued and encouraged. It’s time for our kids to play!

The Benefits of Group Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My Response Is My Responsibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…make them feel loved and secure

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

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

…apply discipline when their character needs shaping

…pass on biblical truth to guide their choices

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

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

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

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

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

Checkered Rainbow Cake

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

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

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

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

   

    

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

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

 

  

  

  

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

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

  

 

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

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

 

Set Them Up for Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: manilaworkshops.com

Event Location

Venue:   Bayanihan Center

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

Address: 8008 Pioneer St., Kapitolyo, Pasig City

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Dealing With Meltdowns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Motivated Learner

Edan might have fractured his wrist yesterday. I am taking him to the doctor just to make sure. He was jumping off our backyard swing when he slipped and landed on his right arm. Since he usually doesn’t express much of what is going on inside, Edric and I became concerned when he was bawling everytime his arm was jostled.

Interestingly, Edan’s entire countenance magically improved and his whining desisted when the mailman delivered his package from Pitcher Plant Farm last night. I announced, “Your plants arrived!” He perked up and smiled. I presented his eight carnivorous plants to him on the kitchen island and his eyes lit up.

They didn’t look like much but Elijah and Edan mouthed out their scientific names (in Latin, of course), going back and forth with one another about each one’s peculiarities and what they had to do to revive them. When I pulled them out of the package, they all resembled wilted leaves to me but the boys knew what to do.

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Prior to our trip to the U.S., Edan asked if he could get carnivorous plants as his Christmas present. We had been covering Botany and he zoned in on the Venus fly traps, Pitcher Plants, Bladderworts, and Sundews as his favorites. On his own initiative, he did further research about where to get these plants and discovered that there was a German horticulturist based in Bukidnon who specialized in carnivorous plants. (Pitcher Plant Farm is located in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon Province about 90 minutes south of Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao island. It is owned by Volker Heinrich.)

Edric ordered the plants online and Volker Heinrich was pretty specific about how to care for the plants. Thank goodness too because I thought the purchase was a disaster when I opened up the plastic to survey what looked like dying plants and dirt. But Edan couldn’t have been happier. His excitement eclipsed his pain. After all, he had been anticipating the arrival of these insect-digesting wonders for weeks. This was one of the reasons why he was eager to get back home from our vacation in the U.S.

I attribute his interest towards Botany to home schooling. He gets to pursue topics that he is drawn to. The same goes for my other kids. I cover the essentials during instruction time but they have the liberty to dig deeper if they want to. Edric and I provide them with the tools and materials to further their discoveries. These days Edan is not only fascinated by plants, he likes anything related to science. (Before he hurt his harm, he and his brothers made slime. I saw the gooey outcome of their experimentation when they proudly showed off their creations — glow in the dark slime, metallic slime and color-changing slime! One for each of my boys.)

Children will learn with gusto when the environment encourages autonomy, mastery, and purpose. This is something I picked up about motivation from a TED Talk given by author, Daniel Pink, who wrote the bestseller, Drive, some years ago.
He said that the dangling-of-a-carrot-on-a-stick form of motivation can only go so far because the driver is external. The best form of motivation ought to be intrinsic. Don’t just pay employees higher to manage their outcomes. Instead, organizations ought to cultivate an environment that encourages autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Most jobs today rely on “heuristic work” rather than “algorithmic work.” Algorithmic work is predictable problem solving, where a line can be drawn to a singular answer. This sort of thing can be outsourced and automated. Heuristic work requires experimentation with possibilities to come up with new solutions. It needs creativity.

I would like to believe that this verily applies to education as well. At the collegiate end of our children’s learning journey, we don’t want them to be rote thinkers. We want them to take the initiative to apply their skills and knowledge (autonomy and mastery) to better the world they live in, a goal that is beyond themselves (purpose). For our family, this means making a difference for Jesus Christ.

Autonomy, mastery, and purpose begin at home. I need to trust my children’s natural desire to learn. Even though I set parameters as their instructor, I don’t restrict them to paper and pen tasks or textbooks. As I mentioned earlier, if a topic we studied piques their curiosity like carnivorous plants, I give them free time during the day to research and read about it.

As for mastery, when a task or skill is important, I require hard work and discipline from my kids. But I also slow down if necessary so they can proceed to the next task or skill only when they are equipped and ready. This is more applicable to subjects like math, reading, spelling, writing, and comprehension.

Unpreparedness only fosters discouragement and insecurity. But a child who isn’t overloaded with information by an instructor or hurried along for the sake of keeping up with the lesson plan, will develop the confidence level to take on more challenging work as he or she masters bite sized portions of learning. Challenges ought to be discernibly matched to ability so a child can progress to more difficult ones knowing that his best effort will produce favorable results.

Finally, there is purpose. My oldest son, Elijah, used to dislike math with a passion. He doesn’t even remember this anymore. But he would resist my attempts at teaching him when he was four or five years old. Until I explained how meaningful math is to our very existence and how practical its applications are in everyday life, he considered it a chore. I had to let him see math’s significance first and then his attitude changed. Today math is one of his favorite subjects.

As my children grow up, Edric and I emphasize that their education is part of God’s plan for them, to accomplish his will and to influence this world for Jesus Christ. So they need to do their best and be excellent, not to become smart or to do well on tests (that’s a small part of the bigger picture), but to prepare themselves for the greater work they will one day do for the Lord. It’s a purpose that is higher than themselves or even our family.

None of my kids are perfect students in the sense that they ALWAYS have a good attitude when they are homeschooling. But I am happy to say that they are motivated learners because homeschooling provides them with an environment where autonomy, mastery and purpose can flourish. Why else would an 8 year old want to learn the latin names of all the carnivorous plants and grow them on his own?! It may not be the most important things to memorize or do but he’s certainly learning how to learn about difficult content and that’s a valuable skill for success. Plus he is having a lot of fun, even with his sprained arm. It is a sprain after all and not a fracture according to our doctor. Whew!

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