Online Book Rental Club

Homeschoolers do some pretty amazing things. I just came across three this past week who introduced me to their site,BookRobin.com.
3boys
Ryan, Christian and Ian are three brothers who decided to share their vast collection of books by making them available for borrowing, like you would from a library. But their idea makes it convenient to borrow books because all the titles can be viewed on-line. The process is so brilliantly simple and convenient for members…

STEP 1: Subscribe. Choose a plan starting at 799/month
STEP 2: Add books to your rental queue
STEP 3: 2GO will deliver your books for free
STEP 4: Decide when you are ready to return your borrowed books. No late fees.
STEP 5: 2G0 will pick your borrowed books for free and deliver your new set of books.

It is the first and only online book rental club in the Philippines created by 12 year old Ryan, the eldest of the three brothers. Launched October 2013, BookRobin.com is the kind of library that works for homeschoolers. It can be accessed from the comfort of your home and everything comes to you. That’s my kind of library!

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 8.37.48 PM

Edan’s Curriculum

Edan’s 1st Grade books and materials…

20121013-131104.jpg

20121013-131126.jpg

20121013-131140.jpg

20121013-131152.jpg

20121013-131202.jpg

20121013-131213.jpg

20121013-131228.jpg

20121013-131242.jpg

20121013-131309.jpg

20121013-131321.jpg

20121013-131347.jpg

20121013-131335.jpg

I have not included all the storybooks we read but here is a photo of the kids’ bookshelf:)

20121013-130327.jpg

Edan is also interested in geography…

20121013-130641.jpg

A Milestone Of Eternal Significance

We celebrated a milestone in Elijah’s life today. He finished reading his NIV Bible. It took him a year and a half to do it (which is about the amount of time it takes me to read through mine!)

After he turned 7 he asked for his own adult Bible. We got it for him because he was a pretty advanced reader and we felt he was ready to dig deeper into God’s word as he was growing in his faith.

I did not think much about it then but an adult version of the Bible has a lot of mature content in it — sex, violence, perversion, deception, witchcraft, etc. So one day, I sat him down and asked him if he understood everything that he was reading and if he had any questions. He said he was fine.

At first, I was a bit concerned. I knew that God would speak to him through his word and the context would be evident, but I wondered if maybe we had handed him a Bible too early. Yet he kept a journal of meaningful verses and we dialogued about what he learned when we had the opportunity to talk about his daily readings.

One instance, which I found pretty hilarious, was when he asked me, “Mom, was I supposed to read Song of Solomon?”

I almost choked. “Why?”

“Because it sounds like it is for married people.” (Oops it is kind of for married people)

“Oh, well, you don’t have to read it. You can skip that book.” I tried to say it nonchalantly.

“It’s okay, mom, I already read it!”

I wanted to laugh but I didn’t make a big deal out of it. After all, we already had our sit down conversation with Elijah about sex in marriage when he was like five years old. It was all very innocent and matter of fact.

But today, during worship, Elijah was with us in big church and he said something much more significant. “When I read the Bible and God shows me something I need to change and improve on, I try to apply it.”

This statement blessed my heart because he understood that the Bible is not for information but for transformation.

But I wanted to know if he really knew the essence of the Bible so I asked him, “What is the most important truth you learned after finishing your Bible?”

He answered, “That Jesus loves me and died for my sins.”

Thank you, Lord! Indeed, God speaks to our children. They can seek him and find him, and they can be transformed by the power of his word.

I used to think that Elijah was too young to read his NIV Bible. But the realities that he has read about in the Bible are the realities of life and the supernatural world. There is sin, there is tragedy and all sorts of wrong, but there is God’s redemptive plan and his story of love…that he freed us from the pain and slavery of sin, that he saved us from the penalty of death through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, that through him we are called children of God, that the choice to believe in his finished work at the cross is a choice to turn from a life of sin to obey him and follow him and experience the transforming work of the Holy Spirit so that we may be prepared for the eternity and kingdom to come.

Edric and I have given many gifts to our children but by far, the most important has been the gift of salvation by telling them about Jesus and passing on to them his word so they can grow into the persons God has called them to be.

So today, we praised God that Elijah finished not just any book, but the most important and most beautiful book he will ever read that introduces him to the most important and beautiful person he will ever know! (Of course he plans to read it over again. So I am thinking either King James Version or New American Standard Version.)

We took the kids out to Jozu Kin, Elijah’s favorite Japanese restaurant, to commemorate this special day. :)

20120624-134845.jpg

20120624-134908.jpg

20120624-135004.jpg

20120624-135027.jpg

20120624-135132.jpg

20120624-135151.jpg

20120624-135206.jpg

20120624-135226.jpg

20120624-135238.jpg

20120624-135253.jpg

20120624-135307.jpg

20120624-172703.jpg

20120624-172734.jpg

Innate Capacity

Do you believe that your child has the innate capacity to learn? I certainly do. And I have taught my kids with this mindset. But I have also chosen to burden myself with the responsibility of tapping into that capacity.

In classrooms full of different types of learners it is a rare teacher who can cater to the needs of each child. But at home, with one on one instruction, it is much easier for a parent to adjust to the learning needs of her child. When instruction and learning are customized, then a child’s capacity is given the opportunity to shine.

For example, I have taught three boys to read. My eldest son is a nine year old who is a very advanced reader. My second son, a six year old, is becoming highly proficient at reading. And my third son started reading three letter word books before he turned four. (This was unexpected!)

I am sharing these things not to turn a spotlight onto our family and say, “hey, look at what we can do!” Please forgive me if it sounds like I am “tooting my own horn.” Reading, after all, just opens the doorway to learning. This is just the beginning of an exciting journey my children will be taking as they increase in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. However, I do want to use their examples as proof that homeschooling works. It works because a customized education is what children really need.

If someone had asked me a while back if my third son, Titus, would have started getting the reading code by three years old, I would have said, “I don’t think so.” Honestly, I was skeptical only because he is a more physical child that needs to be engaged in different ways from his older brothers. I thought he would eventually read because I believed that he had the capacity to, but my plan was to take it slow with him and let him develop readiness in the area of reading. His brothers read before four, but my prediction for him was age five. Yet, he pleasantly surprised me one morning when he read a Hooked on Phonics book cover to cover and went on to read two more in the same week. It was then that I realized he was actually ready and able to commit to more formal instruction.

At first, I was using Sing, Spell, Read, and Write for all of them. But, after Titus learned most of the songs but still did not seem to get the blends, I knew that I had to change my approach with him. In my heart, I still believed that he was just as capable as his brothers but that his time table was just unique. And this was okay with me because I did not want to pressure him to be anything other than what God designed him to be.

So I created a system for him that involved five to seven minutes of phonics several times a week (not even everyday). And after a few months of doing this, it just clicked. I can’t even begin to express how delightful it was to see his confidence soar as he read through his first book. He was beaming. He was thrilled. I was cheering like a madwoman.

“God, you astound me!” This was the thought that came to me over and over again. “Once again you have shown me that homeschooling is really a testament to the ‘in spite of’.” I am not a professional teacher. I am not even a reading specialist. But God has consistently demonstrated that he is the one who enables me to teach my kids.

We have a long way to go. From this vantage point, the end of our homeschooling days is far off…not even visible on the horizon. But one thing I have learned about teaching my own children is that parents can be the exact teacher their child needs to bring out that God-given capacity in them to learn.

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 teacher must be willing to discover and investigate how a 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. But children are also born with fallen natures, and a teacher must not lose sight of the goal of her instruction when she makes adjustments in her teaching. To adjust is not to let go of the training aspect. And the training aspect deals with the heart — that a child’s heart be conformed to Christ-likeness.

Maybe you will like this way of putting it…We can’t use cookie cutters on all children because they aren’t all made of the same dough. So don’t use a cookie-cutter approach to teaching them either. But you have to know what kind of cookies you are making. Cookies don’t bake themselves. Yet in the masterful hands of a baker who follows the right recipe, they have the potential to turn out wonderful! (I would say that’s as far as the analogy goes because we don’t eat our kids like we do cookies!)

20120517-101842.jpg

Stress-free Homeschooling

I never wanted to be the kind of mom that loses her temper or sounds irritable around her children. In fact, I did not even think I had it in me. Having grown up with an extremely patient mom and an emotionally steady father sort of made me believe I would genetically end up the same way. However, this has been far from true. There have been times when I have expressed irritation toward my kids and God showed me that there is absolutely nothing good in me. None of us can inherit being controlled by the Holy Spirit by osmosis. It is a conscious choice and effort that we must make every single day – walking by the Spirit.

But it is not just about walking by the Spirit. We all need to come up with a game plan for the responsibilities and roles we have to juggle. Each of our circumstances warrants a different “tactical” approach to managing stress. For example, one mother’s stress of homeschooling and meeting the demands of a part-time job is unlike the stress of a mother who is homeschooling a high school student and has forgotten everything she used to know about physics and advanced mathematics!  In my case, it is the stress of raising four young children, homeschooling, , discipling a group of ladies, giving seminars and talks, ministry activities, running the household, and most importantly, being a helpmate to my husband.

Even though each of our situations as moms may be unique, I’m sure you can all relate to the fact that we have a long list of responsibilities and roles that we cannot run away from fulfilling. And when all these responsibilities and roles collide at the same time, it can be overwhelming, to say the least! This is when emotions start to heighten and if we are not careful, we can turn into our very human selves – the kind of moms that are stressed out and stressing everyone else out

But here is the good news.  Just as stress can be triggered by our surroundings, the pressures, and the burdens we have to bear, stress can also be avoided. While I am not an expert at stress management by any measure, having four kids has necessitated the need for me to come up with tactical measures so that I can be a better mom, better wife, and better servant of the Lord. I believe that one of the Devil’s strategies is to make us feel like we are a slave to our personalities, that we cannot change, that our circumstances are really too much to bear. But I also believe that God does not want us to live a defeatist life. He wants us to experience the abundant life as he says in John 10:10.

I would like to share with you simple stress avoidance tactics that have worked for me and hopefully, you can take what applies to your situation and make it work for you, too.

Tip # 1:  As often as possible, sleep early and wake up early. If you find yourself rushing into the activities of the day, give yourself some extra time every morning by waking up earlier. But the key is to sleep early so you are well rested. My doctor friend suggested no later than 11 PM because your body repairs itself between that time and 2 AM. Also, studies show that sleeping well keeps you from gaining weight! Do you know that you will die sooner without sleep than without food? You can’t go 10 days without sleeping!

Tip # 2: Re-charge your battery.  Personally, I get recharged by alone time. Even though this may not seem possible with so many children, it is! I have a little strategy for this. After breakfast (which ends by 8 AM), the kids shower, brush their teeth, and play together. They know that by 9 AM we start homeschooling. So before then, I go to my room and have alone time to read my Bible, take a nice shower, read or write. Sometimes, I even get to take a short nap! Since the kids are busy playing, reading their Bibles or practicing violin, I don’t need to entertain them.  This time allows me to charge up my battery for the day. In the afternoons, I also encourage my kids to nap. Two of them are past the napping age, but it can’t hurt to let them get at least an hour of quiet and rest. Besides, I treasure my afternoon peace!

Re-charging your battery is about doing activities that energize you. Some moms need to be with other moms. Others need their cup of coffee, the parlor, or some shopping once in a while. Whatever it is, make time for activities that you enjoy doing (as long as they aren’t excessive or immoral!). Homeschool moms don’t have to be haggard-looking or 10 years old than their age!

Of course the best way to re-charge is to rest in God’s presence. If you have time to, please read A Life of Rest, A Life of No Limits and Psalm 27.

Tip # 3: Get fit and fabulous with your husband and kids. In the past, pregnancy and breastfeeding gave me excuses to give myself “treats.” But these treats did not contribute anything good to my life. In fact, before I started exercising again, I had 33% body fat!  Even though I didn’t gain a lot of weight during my pregnancy, all the junk happily became fatty tissue in my body. Ugh! Yuck!

Edric and I finally got into an exercise routine. We would run three times a week. We still do this. Honestly, I don’t like running, but Edric motivates me because he is so disciplined about it. And I have seen the benefits of exercise. My mind is clearer. My energy levels are higher. I also have greater self-discipline.

The apostle Paul saw the connection between physical fitness and spiritual fitness. Physical discipline helped him to stay spiritually focused and faithful.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Family fitness is easier to do when there is like-mindedness and accountability between you and your spouse. Imagine a household where one spouse wants to eat all the lechon, chicharon, chocolate, spam and where the other one wants to be organic and vegetarian. (And, no, we aren’t vegetarian. We are somewhere in between!) It just won’t work.  So decide on a fitness routine and meal plan that you can do together as a family. And please don’t tempt yourself by buying junk food and sweets for the kids. If it’s in the house, it’s too accessible!

Tip # 4: Train your kids to be self-directed and independent learners. It helps alot that my two older sons are reading well. My second is still on his way to becoming an excellent reader, but I don’t have to mirco-manage him all the time. They both have pretty good comprehension, too. Because of this, I can assign them tasks and they can do quite a bit of work on their own.

Raising children who love reading begins with us, as parents. Reading with your kids, letting them see you reading, and making reading fun are ways to get your kids on the path to reading on their own. Of course, using a solid phonics program for pre-schoolers helps alot, too.

Tip # 5: Don’t be pushy. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage hard work in our kids, but as an example, I won’t force Elijah to write a paragraph or story on a day when he has already done a lot of writing for other subjects. Why? I don’t want to kill the joy of learning in my kids. That is a higher value for me than finishing an assignment. Besides, he can write the paragraph later in the afternoon or the next day. Homeschooling gives us a lot of time to make up work that isn’t finished. That’s one of the things I love about it. And I absolutely refuse to be hostage to the daily lesson plan dictated by a curriculum. As homeschooling moms, we can set the end goals and make adjustments to the process. However, as a safeguard measure, interact and dialogue with your kids alot to find out if they are retaining information they learn. Can they answer your questions and formulate judgments and conclusions about what they are learning? This is important.

Tip # 6: Make homeschooling a lifestyle. A whole lot of learning happens when my kids are playing together, interacting with each other and others, exploring, inventing, reading independently, practicing music and piano, exercising, and accompanying us on trips, errands and various activities. Instruction time is about 2 to 3 hours, but learning doesn’t have to start and end during that period of the day. Class periods have programmed us to believe that education happens inside a classroom. But education can have so much more depth and dimension to it. Once a parent understands that homeschooling is a lifestyle of learning (and that children are learning all the time), the academic pressure eases.

I remember an occasion when our sons were watching a performance of students on stage. We were seated on the balcony and could see all the little heads bobbing up and down as the children danced and sang. Our kindergarten-aged, Edan, said, “There are 67 people on the stage.” I turned to look at my husband, Edric, for two reasons. One, I was surprised that Edan bothered to count everyone. And two, I was hoping Edric would verify if his counting was accurate. Well, it was. This pleasantly surprised me. This was math applied to real life. Do we do alot of counting drills at home? Not really. But we do play a lot of board games that require him to count and add up his points.

Tip # 7: Smile and laugh often. This may sound like silly advice, but it has helped me to be positive with my own kids. Learning should be fun! If I can’t smile or laugh while teaching, then something is wrong. I’m too uptight, not spirit-filled, or too focused on my goals. I am not enjoying the process. And if I am not enjoying the process, how can I possibly expect my kids to either?

Tip # 8: Be purposeful. When I was younger, I would easily say yes to speaking engagements and ministry activities. I would also take on projects thoughtlessly. It wasn’t until I attended a talk by Wayne Cordeiro that I learned the principle of the 5%. 95% of the things we do, others can do. Meaning, these are not my priorities. But there is the 5% that only I can do. Growing spiritually, being a wife, a mom, homeschooling, discipling the ladies I meet with, homemaking…These are part of my 5%. No one else can do these things for me. Everything else is second in importance.

Matthew 25 is a good reminder that we are all given a stewardship. God has not entrusted to us everything, but he has entrusted to us certain things. He expects us be faithful with these certain things. To Joy Mendoza he has entrusted the role of a wife, motherhood, homeschooling, and the mentoring of other women.

14 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. 16 Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. 17 In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. 18 But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

   19 “Now after a long time the master of those slaves *came and *settled accounts with them. 20 The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

   22 “Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

When people ask me questions like, “Can you speak for this event. It’s for single ladies and the topic is relationships?”, it’s much easier for me to say, “I’m sorry. Thank you for considering me but I cannot commit to speak for your event.” Before, I would feel pressured to say yes. And then I realized, wait a second! There are so many women out there who can speak on this topic, who have more time to prepare for it and who can do a better job than I can! Saying no to opportunities or activities that are not part of my 5% has helped me to say yes to God’s calling and purpose for my life and devote my energies to the right priorities. Furthermore, Edric helps me determine what’s important. I channel schedule decisions through him so I get his input and seal of approval.

I am not only accountable for my preoccupations, I am also accountable my time. As much as possible, I refrain from scheduling appointments or doing errands before 12 Noon. Weekday mornings are devoted to homeschooling. It’s my job. When I make compromises with my morning schedule, the homeschooling work piles up for me and the kids. This can get stressful. But if I safeguard my weekday mornings, the kids and I are able to finish our goals by the end of the year.

Maybe you have a stress-buster idea or tactic that has worked for you. I would love to hear about it or include it in this list of tips. Let’s find stress-free solutions together! :)

I Shall Hear In Heaven

Years ago, I read a book that changed my perspective on education. It was William J. Bennett’s work, The Educated Child.

After getting acquainted with Bennett’s perspective on education and his strong belief in the importance of values formation in children, I sought to read his other compilations and works. Some of the ones we have in our home are The Book of Virtues, The Children’s Book of Virtues , The Children’s Book of Heroes, and The Moral Compass.

From time to time I will read aloud from these books to my children. Tonight, I read an excerpt on the life of Beethoven from The Moral Compass.

20120301-010058.jpg

Here’s what I have always admired about Beethoven. He was a crazy genius, so passionate about music that he composed some of his most amazing works when he was going deaf. One of his last, most incredible compositions was his Ninth Symphony, “Ode to Joy.” The irony is that he felt very much alone and depressed about losing his sense of hearing. Yet his love for music and his faith in God unshackled him from the constraints of his deafening silence. How was it really possible for a deaf person to still compose music of the highest acclamation?

When I read the excerpt to my children, I was compelled by Beethoven’s determination to defy his handicap amidst the very real pain and loss of what he enjoyed most. He did not let circumstances deter him. Perhaps it was this great and irremovable tension between painful reality and a consuming passion to still be what was illogical for him to be that birthed such beautiful music. His life reminds me of a line in a movie Edric and I watched some time ago. In Five Days of August, a soldier approaches one of the main characters to comfort her and says, “I have come to believe that tragedy leads you to your purpose.” This is what happened in Beethoven’s life. God allowed tragedy to turn his music into brilliance.

The excerpt from The Moral Compass reads, “I could not bring myself to say to people, ‘Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf.’” He (Beethoven) wrote, “How should I bring myself to admit the weakness of the sense which ought to be more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in the greatest perfect?”…And yet Beethoven did something much more courageous than give up. He gave himself to his art. He went on writing music, even though what he wrote grew fainter and fainter in his own ears. As his hearing faded, his music began to take on a quality much different from the elegant compositions written by earlier composers. Many of Beethoven’s works grew stormy and emotional and thrilling – much like his own courageous and turbulent life. Strange and wonderful to say, he wrote much of his best music, the music we remember him for, after he lost his ability to hear.

Eventually Beethoven went completely deaf. He was lonely and often unhappy, and yet he managed to compose uplifting music. His last symphony, the Ninth, concludes with the famous Ode to Joy. When the work was complete, Beethoven agreed to conduct an orchestra and choir in a concert in Vienna.

The hall was packed. Beethoven took his place in the center of the orchestra, with his back to the audience, and at a signal from him the music began. The magnificent strains entranced the audience. Yet Beethoven himself heard nothing. He followed the score only in his mind.

When it was over, the great master lowered his arms. He stood amid the silence, fumbling with his score. One of the singers tugged at his sleeve and motioned for him to look. Beethoven turned around.

He saw people on their feet, clapping their hands, waving their hats, throwing their arms into the air. The deaf musician bowed and every eye in the audience held a tear…

He died in 1827, and it is said that among his final words were these: “I shall hear in heaven.” (Page 338 – 339, The Moral Compass)

20120301-010308.jpg

This statement put into perspective the hope for which we must live. One day all that is perishable will be changed. As the apostle Paul said, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to say that death can no longer sting because of Christ’s victory on the cross. His victory has become our victory. And then the apostle Paul ends the chapter with a challenge to “keep steadfast, immovable, always bounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

What shall I hear in heaven, Lord? Let me abound in the work you have designated for me — to be a helpmate to Edric, to raise, train, and teach my children for your purposes and glory. And while these things may not be the equivalent of Beethoven’s earthshaking symphonies in the eyes of the world, may the symphony of the life I live merit the applause of the only audience that matters — YOU.

I Want A Real Bible

Edan, my five year old, happily announced to me that he finished his children’s bible yesterday. I had told him prior to this that he would get to choose a new Bible if he completed reading his current one. It was a children’s bible so it was a whole lot easier to go through than the one Elijah, his older brother, is reading. But he was so motivated to get one “just like Elijah.”

As promised I took him to the bookstore to pick out a Bible and I was hoping he would be interested in the easier, story-book type of Bible. Yet he insisted on getting Zondervan’s Adventure Bible.

I presented him with my picks but he was not satisfied. In my mind, however, I was concerned that all the text and lack of pictures in the one he really wanted might discourage him. So I said, “If you can read all the way down the page aloud and by yourself then I know you are ready.”

20120209-160038.jpg

I opened up a grown-up’s Bible to Genesis 1. Edan was determined! He read all the text I asked him to. When he got to the last word, he asked, “So can I get it?” My end of the deal was to say, “Of course!” I also added, “But you have to commit to read it even if there are no pictures.”

He was thrilled and said, “I am going to read it right away!” And he did! He read his new Adventure Bible until Genesis 2.

Will he really be able to go the distance with this Bible? We shall see. I am not going to give him a hard time if he struggles through some of the bigger words. What blesses me is his desire to have a grown up’s version of the Bible, which will really get him into God’s word. God can take over from there!

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)
20120209-160044.jpg

Endless Whats and Whys

I can’t make it through one page of reading aloud with my three year old, Titus, without being bombarded by why and what questions. Of all my children, he has been the most inquisitive during story time. He asks why about ten times for each page that I read. So, if it normally takes 10 minutes to read one short story, the time doubles with Titus.

But, I don’t mind. I know the gears are turning inside his head. His learning style is just different. He looks at the little details on each illustration of a book and asks me to explain what is going on. Never mind that I am trying to read to him what is happening. He wants to know about the pictures and make his own conclusions based on what he sees. For the most part, I enjoy hearing his questions and responding to them because I feel that these why and what moments are my golden opportunities to interact with him.

Some ladies in my bible study group asked me if I get irritated when he badgers me with his questions. Sure, there are times when I just want to finish the story, but I love it that Titus is such a curious boy. I wouldn’t want to discourage or change that by reacting to him in a negative way. And the wonderful thing about homeschooling is the it allows me to be there to provide answers for his curiosity.

I do believe he and I are getting more out of the experience when we interact with one another. My encouragement for moms who have inquisitive children who are always asking why, what, when or how is to make the most of this stage. Let’s embrace this time as an opportunity to teach our children about life. In fact, it’s a privilege to be their first resource for information!

Reading Peter Rabbit to Titus

Essential Pre-Reading Skills

Checklist for your toddler:

  • Vocabulary – Knowing the name of things.
  • Print Awareness – Noticing print, knowing how to handle a book and knowing how to follow the words on a page. (left to right)
  • Letter Knowledge: Knowing letters are different from each other, knowing their names and sounds and recognizing letters everywhere.
  • Phonological Awareness: Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
  • Print Motivation: Being interested in and enjoying books.
  • Narrative Skills: Being able to describe things and events and tell stories.

Reference – http://attachments.wetpaintserv.us/v6iT93$LhdHdev$aSSNl1Q%3D%3D61662

Ideas for you:

20111016-234938.jpg

20111016-234955.jpg

20111016-235017.jpg

  • Letter stamps to spell name

20111016-235355.jpg

20111016-235414.jpg

Examples of materials that encourage pre-reading skills in our home: (Most of these images are linked. Just click on the image.)

Alphabet Tub Letters (Baby and Co. has something similar to this)

Sing, Spell, Read, and Write for Preschool (We used the K/1 Level Combo Kit without using the books for our toddlers)

 

Wood Alphabet Blocks (There's a smaller version available at National Bookstore)

Alphabet Stamp Set

Wall Stickers -- Alphabet

Letter Peg Puzzle

Some books and stories my kids have enjoyed (available at Fully Booked or Amazon):

Helpful Resources:

Related posts:

 

 

 


Readers Don’t Just Happen

20110805-103507.jpg

20110805-103517.jpg

20110805-103529.jpg

20110805-103549.jpg

20110805-103539.jpg

20110805-103608.jpg

20110805-103558.jpg

I gave my older son a project the other day. “Elijah, please pull out all the books you read this year, categorize them and then take photos or a video to show what you have read.”

This activity was one of his portfolio requirements for ending grade 2. It took him about an hour to organize everything and when I came into the room I was presently surprised. He had grouped his books by novels, chapter books, encyclopedias, general knowledge books, bible and character stories, short stories, magazines, origami, and he had a miscellaneous section.

Elijah has become such an avid reader. It has been great for me because he is more independent with his homeschooling.

God has blessed him with an amazing capacity to read and comprehend easily but I would also like to share how I encouraged him to love reading. First, I exposed him to literature early. I would read my Bible aloud while breastfeeding. This helped me have my quiet time, too! And, I believed in the power of God’s word to speak to the heart of Elijah — even if he was a wee little thing and asleep while I was reading.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

At 4 months I started reading children’s storybooks to him and I would interact with him by asking questions and identifying the answers as I read.

Instead of buying him alot of toys I was on the look out for good books. When he was a year old I introduced him to Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW). He did not do the workbooks but we listened to the music together to learn the phonetic sounds of the letters. As much as possible he was not watching tv. In fact we did not have cable for a while so that helped alot.

I also read to him frequently – picture books, short stories, classics, nursery rhymes, bible stories, etc. By the age of five he had heard all of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. He got me to read through all of them in six months. My mouth would get so dry reading aloud and I would sometimes fall asleep. He was so cute. When he noticed me start to clear my throat, he would say, “I’ll get you water, mom!” very energetically and run to the kitchen and back.

I used the SSRW program faithfully as well and it got him reading phonetically and with comprehension by 3. As soon as he got it, he just took off. He would read everything he could, even manuals! As we stuck to SSRW his reading ability improved.

When I would take him to the bookstore, I would let him pick out a book or two as a reward for good behavior or working hard.  And I would get books that targeted his interests — from dinosaurs to the solar system to bugs to airplanes. This kept him interested in reading and it also motivated him to excel in reading (so that he could read about everything that he fancied). In fact, I told him (as I have told my other kids), that “there is a door of knowledge that can only be opened with a special key and that key is reading. Once you learn to read well, you can unlock the door of knowledge, behind which is an amazing world where you can learn about anything you want to. I will not always be able to answer all your questions, but if you learn to read, you can answer those questions for yourself.” Maybe in another post I can actually write about a story I made up about the three doors — knowledge, understanding and wisdom (these three concepts were borrowed from Classical homeschooling). I have used this story to inspire my kids to read.

As Elijah’s reading ability continued to improve, he moved on to reading chapter books and an adult bible. He began reading an NIV Adventure Bible in January of this year and in six months he read Genesis to Kings. He turned 8 this year and hopes to finish reading through the Bible, too. :)

Last year he became interested in Hardy Boys books so I continue to buy him those. He is also reading a series of books called Left Behind.

In summary, if you want your child to love reading consider the following: have the right environment — one that is literature rich with a variety of reading materials made accessible to your children, read to them daily and dialogue about what you read, value books and literature, model a reader’s lifestyle, teach your child to read phonetically and with comprehension, and cut out competing activities like tv which make them disinterested in reading.

20110805-114245.jpg

Here is a picture of our kids’ reading nook at home. This holds a majority of their books but it’s still not big enough for everything so I had to give a way a big pile of books the other day. Edric and I created this space to make reading more an adventure because the kids have a to climb steps to get to these shelves.

 

Freely Play, Freely Learn

20110726-010959.jpg

20110726-011010.jpg

20110726-011018.jpg

20110726-011026.jpg

20110726-011033.jpg

20110726-011041.jpg

Tuesdays give me alot of time with my youngest kids, Titus and Tiana, because Edric takes Elijah and Edan with him. While they attend their Taekwondo class and have moral ethics and how to be a gentleman “classes” with Edric, I get to play with my younger two.

Yesterday Titus and Tiana danced to music, we read books, played with toys, and they engaged in their own free play.

I am very much a believer in giving children the opportunity to have free play. Let them entertain, discover, explore and teach themselves. When it is free play time (which should be a good part of the day), intervene only when they ask for your help or need some guidance. Do not be quick to presume that they can’t figure things out for themselves. If parents frequently trouble shoot for their children when it comes to learning how something works or imposing their own concept of how toys should be handled or played with, we curtail the development of a child’s problem solving skills. We also inhibit their creativity.

What a parent can do is present options for toys to play with, sit back and be a quiet observer of how their child will respond to or approach a new challenge or learning experience. This will give you a whole lot of insight into their personalities. Titus tends to take things apart to see how they work. He finds other uses and applications for toys that were designed to be played with in a certain way. Tiana tends to pull things to herself and hug things she likes. She also pays acute attention to detail and will gravitate towards toys that are soft.

How fun it is to watch our children!

20110726-012853.jpg

20110726-012900.jpg

Ah, the Classics

20110726-010310.jpg

20110726-010321.jpg

20110726-010331.jpg

Titus is loving this book. Last Christmas Edric’s uncle (fondly called Tito Jojo by all of us) packed this very heavy book in his suitcase and brought it to the Philippines to give to our kids. I have read through the stories over and over again but the kids still enjoy them. Such is the magic of the classics. Today I read Harold and the Purple Crayon to Titus. It is one of his favorite stories, probably because he is so much like Harold!