Homeschooling Spells P.P.L.A.N.

When Peewee and I decided to teach Coby at home in 2008, we were not that aware of the responsibility we have put upon our shoulders. First of all, the decision was not made on impulse. I researched about it, attended orientations, talked to other homeschooling families and prayed to make the right decision and God was very clear.

As a newbie parent-teacher, it was both exciting and scary because I don’t know if what I was doing was right. Good thing our family had very a very supportive team from TMA to back us up. But ultimately, it was only Peewee and myself trying to figure out what we got ourselves into.

I don’t claim to have all the knowledge about homeschooling because up to now, I am still learning how to do it. I’m still finding better ways to teach our kids.  I only knew a handful of homeschooling families from church when we started so there were not too many people to ask around.

Nobody ever told me how much I needed to invest in providing quality education to our children. Not only did we invest  financially but emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually as well.  I may not harvest the fruit of our decision yet but I know we will very soon.

Again, I’m not an expert but what I want to share is what works for me.  These are the things I take to heart as I continue to fulfill the fun yet daunting task of home education. I’ve come up with the acronym P.P.L.A.N. to highlight what I learned from my journey. As we plan our daily tasks, our menu, our vacation, we also need to plan our homeschool.

The first P stands for Prayer. I believe the key is preparing my heart for the day. I don’t know what’s going to happen midmorning or after lunch, so I need to have my heart checked first by the Lord. Commit my day to Him first thing in the morning. I lift up my plans, my lessons, even my emotions to Him. I need to get strength from Him for the entire day. I need to do this with him. He has not called me to be a wife, a mom or a homeschooling mom for that matter just to leave me on my own. When he called me, he assured me that He will be with me always. I just need to remind myself that I am not alone in this path that I’m taking. My God is with me moment by moment. And even if it’s just mid morning and the day has already been stressful, I just excuse myself and take a breather. Utter a short prayer to God to help get through the day without releasing bitter words.

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Jeremiah 1:9

Second P is Preparation. As a parent-teacher, we need to take our job seriously. I’m the scheduled-type of person so having no schedule or planning freaks me out and so does Coby. I have to prepare the lessons in advance so I know what to teach them for the week. I make sure we have Math and English everyday. Coby loves Science so we have it at least twice or thrice a week while twice a week for Social Studies and Filipino. The quizzes, exams, field trips and projects are also scheduled as we also follow the local school calendar.

But then there are other homeschooling families especially those from other countries who are more of the unschooling type, more laid back, more relaxed and that works for them.

But then I’m not that strict too. There are just days when I feel blah and forcing them to study will only create undue stress on all of us. So we don’t do anything formal. They are free to draw, paint, do imaginative play using blocks and Lego or just be a scientist and explore the outdoors. Most of the time the lessons they learn are not from the books.

L is Learning Style. I have to know how my child learns best so that I could provide the best learning environment for him/her. If the learning style is supported then the creative mind will work to their advantage. They will be able to express this in their projects because they are confident learners. Coby is about 60% auditory and 40% visual learner.. He enjoys listening to music, he hums while working, and still loves to sit and listen to bedtime stories. He understands what he is reading if he reads them aloud.  I encouraged him to do that because I realized that if I let him read a passage quietly he doesn’t get it the main idea. But when I asked him to read it aloud, he not only reads the text but hears it as well. This has helped him tremendously especially in Social Studies. I’m still figuring out how Jianne learns but I could sense she is visual and kinesthetic. She loves to move and dance a lot. She is showing signs of being interested in sports too. I have to look for activities that would support her inclination.

A is for Application. I believe lessons are just words until experienced or applied. It doesn’t matter if Coby memorized a poem or a historical figure. What matters to me is how he uses that poem speaks to him. How does he interpret the poem. What is the poem trying to tell him. If he finds the connection between him and the poem and he was able to translate it to me in an artwork, in writing or in a project then I think my I did my job. What is essential to me is that the kids not only know the facts and know them by heart but find a way that is relatable to them. They learn about God in Science. How God’s creation always points back to Him. God’s design for every living creature is specific and unique for that animal or insect or plant. He has artistically designed man and woman to be different but complementing each other. When they realize how everything in creation works, they are just in awe of how wonderful the Creator is. Learning this on their own and seeing God in every subject is a good foundation to teach them to love and honor God in their lives. Application encourages them to ask the why and how questions.

N is for Negativity. Negativity would come in many forms. First, it would come from people who would criticize me for choosing to homeschool our kids. They would doubt my capability to teach and the “negative” effect it will have on the kids socially, which is a misconception. There would always be people who would discourage me and tell me to work rather than spend my time with my children. I would always respond with “This is what the Lord has assigned me to do while the kids are this age. While my husband has been assigned by the Lord to provide for the family.” Sometimes, I get tired defending myself or my family but honestly, I have learned the art of pretending to listen and not to let those malicious comments bother me anymore.

Negativity would also come from me. Impatience and anger work well together to bring me to that point of exasperation and say things I regret saying. The Lord let me realize that this would stem from unrealistic expectations from a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old. I would always assume then that I am speaking to adults and so I expect too much from them. I have to remind myself that I am speaking to children who are just learning now. I don’t have to assume that they already memorized multiplication table in a week. I have to bring myself to their level, how they think, how they process things and not to take them to my level. That’s what I’m here for, to teach them and guide them, not to have a debate with them about the current political state of our country. 🙂

Ultimately, I am still their Mama. I am just trusting the Lord who called me for this purpose that He will also guide and protect Coby and Jianne from anything that is not pleasing to their eyes.

While I’m writing this, Jianne called my attention and said, “Mama, I’m going to send you something. Please read it.” Then I saw she slid a paper under the door. I picked it up and read it and this is what it says: (verbatim, no edit from Mama)

Dear Mama and Papa. I am happy God made you. Thank you for all the kindness you do to us. And Papa I think you’re going to be a great engineer because your great at fixing things. And Mama you should open your own restaurant because your awesome at cooking. So I think this is the best family I ever had and next time try to control your anger so I’m happy. And your a great parent that a kid could ever have. Love Jianne

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I said Peewee and I are looking forward to reaping the harvest of our investment… I think I’m already enjoying the fruit.

How do you spell homeschooling spell in your family? I would love to hear your tips too.

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Making Memories

I was blessed to have joined a homeschool support group in our church last Monday. That was the second time I’m sitting in the Monday group. The first time  I attended was two years ago and I was overwhelmed by the amount of preparation the moms do in the group. At first I thought the group is a venue where I can relax, kick off my shoes and just chat with the other moms. I realized these moms were dead serious in what they were doing. They taught the kids Geography, Art, Music, and PE. Kids also had a lot of work to do at home. That was too much for me, I thought. So I opted not to join the group at all.

My experience last Monday was different from the first one because there were no lessons or reports to be presented. It was their Moms’ Day. A day of respite for moms and day of playing, as usual, for the kids.  During Moms’ Day they don’t teach but have devotions, sharing, exercise and of course fellowship instead.

Cecile, the mom who led the devotion that morning took a passage from the book of John where Mary poured out a jar of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and used her hair to wipe off.

John 12:3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

Mary knew that what she did cost her a lot. In fact, she was ridiculed by Judas, saying the cost of the perfume could have fed the poor. But Jesus, who knew Mary’s intention, rebuked Judas and praised Mary for honoring Him that way.Mary was passionate about that seemingly simple act that she even used her own hair to wipe off the perfume. She probably have saved and prepared for the jar for a long time because she knew what was the purpose of the perfume and that to honor the Lord.

Cecile also  reminded us to look back at the reason for homeschooling the kids. Have I lost the passion to teach them? Do I still face each homeschooling day prepared? Or do my kids run around the house because they don’t know what to do and my chores are choking me. Have I forgotten my first priority? In this season of my family’s life, my priority and calling is to teach them. Have I allowed myself to be sucked in to the mundane things of life and neglect one of the most important things? That devotion gave me time to rethink, refocus, reboot.

The chores will always be there. The laundry will always get piled up. The dishes will always need washing. But time spent with the kids can never be neglected. They will only be little once and soon they will grow up, mature and leave our nest and be on their own. What kind of memories am I making with my children? Will they remember me as the mom who continued to encouraged them even if they feel they are losers? Or will they remember the mom who acts like a possessed woman ready to devour them? How about remembering me as the mom who was neck-deep in household chores that I neglected reading a book to them or even laughing with them?

Precious time is lost if we intentionally put other things before the needs of the children. We can never buy back time. The opportunity to love them, influence them and find magic moments is gone once we let time pass.

One of the fun things I remember about my own Mommy is that every night when my brother and I were still young, she would let us go up their bed. She would pretend that all of us were riding this huge ship but sharks were swimming around the vessel. So, we would curl up beside and pretend to be really frightened.

I am now enjoying the same “drama scene” with Coby and Jianne. I would tell them to stay in our bed and  tell them that sharks are around us so we should stay close and hug each other real tight so the shark won’t get us. Then I would say out loud, “Shark! Shark! Shark!” Not only is this so enjoyable for them but it’s also a way for me to remember some good days of childhood with my Mommy.

shaarkkk!

shaarkkk!

What’s your favorite childhood memory with your parents? How do you make memories with your own kids?

 

Passing on Lessons from Mom

I am the eldest and the only girl in a brood of three. Growing up, my mother would always ask me to do something for her. Whether helping her with the chores or running errands for her. I remember riding my bike to a small mini mart near our place because she asked me to buy milkfish for lunch. Of course, I didn’t get the freshest fish since I was only 9 or 10 and I have no idea what a fresh fish looks like. They all look the same to me, all slimy and…wet. Another time I was to get chayote (sayote) and I ended up getting the more green papaya, which was more expensive than chayote.

Even if she hired household help then I never saw her relax. She would still be cooking, doing other chores and checking what the help is doing. There were times when we don’t have a helper in the house and that’s the time, I would be assisting her most of the time.

I remember would always tell me, “How can you be a good mother if you don’t know how to do household chores?” As a teenager, I don’t like doing chores! I dreaded chores! I would rather listen to my music and write but I have no choice, I have to obey or else 🙂 But as the Bible says, everything turned out for the best.

My homemaker training as a young girl paid off. Now that I have my own family, I can manage without any help at all. I do laundry, clean, cook, homeschool, run errands, and work part time too. I do hire outside help once in a while to do some ironing but other than that, we’re okay. Tired but okay.

Of course, I pass on what I learned to my own kids. Though they can’t do the hard stuff, I have assigned them some tasks to do everyday. Both of the kids need to fix their beds every time they get up in the morning.  They clean up after breakfast and put their dishes in the sink. You have to remind them to do it everyday but their not complaining, thank God! Once in while Coby would wash his own dishes too, since he is the last one to have breakfast.

Jianne, our little girl is being trained as early as now to be a good homemaker. She helps me in the kitchen when I’m preparing dinner. She would wash the vegetables or get other ingredients I need. She wants to help out in the kitchen all the time. In the evenings, while relaxing and watching TV, she would see me fold newly washed clothes. I would put them on the bed and fold them one by one. She would volunteer to fold some clothes too so I taught her how to do it the Martha Stewart way…nah!  She’s a fast learner and now she is the one folding her own undies, shirts and pajamas. What a great help indeed!

the little helper unfolding her undies, step 1

the little helper unfolding her undies, step 1

step 2

step 2

step 3

tada! neatly folded undies :-)

tada! neatly folded undies 🙂

I am grateful that my mom taught me well. I learned how to be a great homemaker because she was my best example. I hope I could pass on the same values to my daughter and that she would imbibe the joy of motherhood too when that time comes.  But of course, I pray that the Lord would direct her to the right path, the right husband and right career. I trust that whatever career God places her in the future, she would not neglect her duties as a mom.

Have you heard of the Proverbs 31 wife? I would like to follow her example of biblical motherhood 🙂

What lessons did you learn from your mom? What lessons are you passing on to your daughters?

The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?     She is worth far more than rubies. 11 Her husband has full confidence in her     and lacks nothing of value. 12 She brings him good, not harm,     all the days of her life. 13 She selects wool and flax     and works with eager hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships,     bringing her food from afar. 15 She gets up while it is still night;     she provides food for her family     and portions for her female servants. 16 She considers a field and buys it;     out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She sets about her work vigorously;     her arms are strong for her tasks. 18 She sees that her trading is profitable,     and her lamp does not go out at night. 19 In her hand she holds the distaff     and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20 She opens her arms to the poor     and extends her hands to the needy. 21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;     for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22 She makes coverings for her bed;     she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,     where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them,     and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;     she can laugh at the days to come. 26 She speaks with wisdom,     and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27 She watches over the affairs of her household     and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise and call her blessed;     her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many women do noble things,     but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;     but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,     and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31:10-31

The Birds and the Bees

“Puberty is the stage wherein growth and changes in body parts occur. This stage usually happens between the ages 10 to 16. During this period, boys and girls experience body changes. It is also during puberty that their sex organs mature. Boys and girls slowly develop into young adolescents. They are not adults and not even children.” Science and Health Grade 5

Our Science class started with this lesson on puberty. Coby showed enthusiasm about the topic because he knows he is already going thorough that stage in his growth. He shared with me that though he doesn’t notice any physical changes yet as he is only 10, he says he is experiencing some emotional changes. He told me that sometimes he doesn’t like to play with his old toys and would rather do something else. He also added that every time I call his attention or ask him to do something, he does not complain anymore and just obeys. He claims that it is because he is “maturing”. In fairness, he does obey right away and does things independently now. He even helps out a lot without being asked.

He has also read his Human Body mini encyclopedia last Christmas and is quite familiar with the terms already and the anatomy. I had no problem talking about this topic with him.

The next lesson was about the male reproductive system. I am not that comfortable talking to him about this so i asked my husband to do the lesson with him. And besides I was out if the house that day, so my husband really had to teach it.

This morning we had to continue the same lesson but when I was pre reading the lesson, I had to explain the functions of the male rep system! My husband was busy that I had no choice but teach it to him and I had to do scientifically and with a straight face. I was reminded to connect the lesson with how God designed the human body. He made male and female so unique and so specific that His purposes for them are to be completed when a man and a woman or husband and wife come together.

I told him that there will be no reproduction of humans unless the male and female system unite. To my surprise, he knew that too. He said that he saw it in his book and described the female reproductive system as well. He added that the male part would fit the female part. It was purely Science to this boy, no biggie! And to think that I was the one who was too chicken to talk about it 😦

Well, the reproductive system lesson continues and I know that questions would continue to play in his mind. I pray that I would be just be like him, scientific in approach and understanding, no biggie 😄

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Oh, no! It’s Father’s Day!

Days before Father’s Day, friends from Facebook have already been posting their sweet greetings to their respective fathers. Titles like: Greatest Dad, Forever Hero, King of my Heart, Idol, were but a few of the names they called their dads.

Honestly, I envy these friends of mine who have great relationships with their fathers. Father’s Day is one celebration I’m not that excited about. This was before I got married and had kids, of course.

When I was just a little girl, I had a close relationship with my Papa. I was exposed to music at an early age because he would play his LP’s on our turntable back then. I would always hear Earl Klugh, Crosby Stills and Nash, Paul Williams, BeeGees, Beatles and other jazz artists filling our house. For our local musicians, The Apo Hiking Society would be the first on his list. To this day, I enjoy listening to these artists and it would bring me back to when I was an innocent girl sitting on my Papa’s lap. I also remember every time he arrives from work, I would bring him his slippers and I would see the sock marks on his feet and legs. He used to smoke when I was young and I remember him doing some work around the house with a cigarette pursed on his lips. At times, he would be carrying my brother and I on his arms when it’s time to go home from a family day out.

Growing up, for me, also meant growing apart from him. Every morning he would be busy reading his newspaper during breakfast and soon would be rushing to the office. When he comes home at night, he would be glued to the TV. We never had real conversations as a tween, teen and young adult. He would always be quiet doing his own thing. But he would work hard and make sure we have food on the table, a house to live in, money for school needs etc. He was a good provider and generous too.

Unfortunately, they were not always in good terms with my mother, as I have expressed in my previous post, If OnlyBecause of these years of heartache and pain, I hated my parents. I blamed both of them for having a dysfunctional family. I have harbored that bitterness in my heart for years. Until I realized that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me more than my earthly father.

My perspective have changed and i realized that I needed to forgive both my father and mother. Even though my Papa never asked for forgiveness, I have already forgiven him.

Recently, I have been hurt by him again. I don’t know if it was intentional or not but it hurt really bad. I was at that point that I never wanted to see him again. I even thought of moving far, far away from him. But after the emotions died down and sanity kicked it, I realized I’m only hurting myself. He doesn’t even know how terrible I was feeling. When I confronted him about it days after, he just shrugged it off and said that we should not talk about it anymore.

I don’t want to push the issue anymore nor would I fight that battle. I would choose to still honor him even if I don’t feel like honoring him or even if I think he doesn’t deserve any respect. I have to love him even if at times he is unlovable.

Children obey your parents because you belong to The Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you and you will have a long life on the earth.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from The Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4

Now that he is alone in his house, he only has a helper with him, I decided to spend Father’s Day with him and my family. We got him a simple cake which was picked out by Jianne. We went to his house for lunch and he thanked us for the cake. We talked about the Father’s Day message in church and we agreed that it was a great message from our pastor. I jokingly told him that he should apply the message he heard 😍 He just smiled.

I don’t know if there would come a time when I could sincerely say that he is the greatest father or my hero. But I’m hoping I would someday

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Big Brother

My husband and I are blessed to have a boy and a girl. it’s fun to see them grow up. Coby, who just turned 10 last April 5, is becoming more mature in his ways. He is more confident and at times makes decisions for himself. He used to go with us to the supermarket during weekends but now he would rather stay in his grandfather’s house and play with his friends. He speaks up though not to the point of answering back, thank God!

Jianne, on the other hand, is 6 1/2 and maturing too quite fast. She is the girly, princess-type. She likes dresses and putting on make up and times she gives me a “makeover”. Whenever I get the chance to go the salon, she would be right there with me choosing my nail color. She also asserts herself. She can be stubborn too but she knows how to get out of a “sticky situation”.

In the afternoons, they would always go outside to play with the neighborhood kids. Coby would be riding his bike with his friend while Jianne would either be riding her bike too or scooter.

One afternoon, Jianne went home crying. She said that Coby doesn’t want her to join them play outside. She felt really  bad because she said there are no other kids to play with just Coby and Mark (Coby’s friend). I convinced her to just stay inside with me but she insisted on going outside. Soon, she came back sobbing again.

The big brother came home 30 minutes after. I asked him why he wouldn’t let Jianne play with them. He explained that he and Mark were biking towards the street corner and he didn’t want Jianne to go with them. He said, it’s not safe for her to be riding her bike there. “Why was it not safe there?” I asked him again. “Because there are other kids who are not from the neighborhood hanging around at the street corner. I don’t want Jianne to be there. Those kids are strangers,” he answered me. “And that’s too far from the house, I don’t want her to ride back home alone,” he added.

Awww! The big brother was at work that time. He was just protecting her younger sister. He wanted her to be safe.

I commended Coby for being the big brother at that time. I told him that I am proud of what he did and thanked him for looking out for his sister. After that, I explained to Jianne that Coby was only protecting her and wanted her safe.

Towards the evening, I saw Jianne hugging Coby and heard her say,”Thank you Kuya (older brother) for protecting me”. Coby hugged her back and said,”That’s why you listen to me, okay!”

Their relationship now is like cat and dog. Fighting, bickering, arguing over the tiniest thing. But I know when they grow up they would value each other and truly love and respect one another.

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Quitting Homeschool—Not!

In my four years of homeschooling Coby, I could no longer count the times I said, “I’m done!” “This is over!” or “It’s just too hard, I can’t do it anymore!” I guess I’m not the only homeschooling mom who felt this way at least once in their entire homeschooling life. Until one day, I really, really considered throwing in the towel.

I think it was in the middle of this school year when I really felt tired of doing it again and again. I was getting bored actually. I felt I want to do something else. I don’t know what it was but I felt a pull somewhere and it’s calling me to send my kids to conventional school so I could have more time to do the things that I love. Hmm, it was a sensible thought. I brought up the idea to my husband who was reluctant but supported me still and it kept bothering me for weeks.

Then in one of my BSF classes, our teaching leader was talking about how Abraham was commanded by God to surrender Isaac, his one and only son. Abraham didn’t question God nor his promise of making him the father of all nations. He knew that God was in control of everything. So all was set. Isaac was laid on the altar to be sacrificed by Abraham until God stopped him. Then God provided a sacrifice, a ram trapped in the bushes.

The teaching leader asked us if we have an “Isaac” that God wanted us to give up and we should not hold on to it because if we choose to obey God He will provide a “ram” for us. As I was contemplating on the words of our TL , I turned to my right and saw this person. She was the principal of the Christian school near our home. I remember talking to her before because I wanted to know more about her school, just in case… My heart started pounding so hard then I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt it was God’s message to me.

The “Isaac” I was to give up was homeschooling Coby. God already provided a “ram” which was represented by the principal, which means I should enroll Coby in a conventional school. I was happy and sad at the same time. I was so sure that it was really God speaking to me through that lesson. But then, I was wrong…

A few days after that emotional “confirmation”, I had my usual quiet time. I asked God again if I really heard Him right. Deep inside, I was having doubts about it. I was secretly (as if God doesn’t know it) asking Him, “Are you sure you want me to quit homeschooling?” “Really, really?”

Then,in the quietness of my heart, I finally got it. What the Lord wanted me to give up was my complacency, my sometimes laziness in planning out the lessons. When I saw the principal, it was God telling me to put structure in our homeschooling. Coby needs structure, in fact, he screams for structure, scheduling and planning. Organizing would give Coby the drive to work. Coby is a planner. He wants to know what our food would be tomorrow or if we’re going somewhere over the weekend. Or what subjects he would be doing the next day and the next. Having no plan makes him scramble Because he sees the plan and how it’s organized, he knows what is expected of him which would lessen my coming in to the picture all the time. It encourages him to do independent learning.

Whew! It’s really important to connect with God 24/7. Have that intimacy with Him because like me, I could have done something which was not what He really wanted me to do. It was foolish of me to just jump to conclusions right away and relying on my emotions or my circumstances instead of seeking God first. But God was so good because He made sure I got the message right this time!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. 

Don’t get me wrong, eventually, I have to send them to conventional school. But for now, at this stage in their life, homeschooling is still on!

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to you. James 1:5