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

29634_4544508305267_1160355484_n

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.

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

Homeschool Funnies and Quotes

I was laughing so hard recently when I saw a cartoon on homeschooling. The image portrayed the frustrating yet funny part of homes education. So I took some time to search for some homeschooling funnies on the web. Here are some of the things I found:

 

I can so relate with this 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Uncommon

When people find out that we are homeschooling our children, we get varied responses and they are as follows:

“Homeschooling? What is that?”

“Really? How do you do that?”

“Oh… (pause) why?”

“Who teaches them? You? Are you a teacher?”

“I just don’t have the patience to do that!”

“What about socialization?”

 

Since I usually get these reactions from people, I would  patiently answer their inquiries as much as I can. Most of the time, people would get it right away. However, there would be times when you see the skepticism in their eyes and they couldn’t keep their eyebrows down. When this happens, I just brush it off and let them be especially if they are strangers or persons I just met. But for those who are in my inner circle, it’s a little frustrating. Especially those who are very close to me. Every time they say something negative about homeschooling, I find myself defending it and my children. Even if you share the joys and fruits that we are reaping because we choose homeschooling over conventional schooling, their minds are shut and wouldn’t listen to reason. It’s like I’m in a courtroom and being tried for not sending my kids to conventional school and not EARNING money. Aaargh!

Still, I’m blessed to have met other homeschoolers who have patiently taught and guided their children till high school. I am just in awe at how they teach chemistry, algebra and trigonometry! I wish I could do that… but then again, I have to focus on a preschooler and 4th grader first 🙂 Talking to these homeschooling moms encourages me to continue with what the Lord has impressed upon us four years ago. It is an honor to be called to teach our children.

Aside from these homeschooling families, there are people though not really that close but has shown support to what we do. They say they couldn’t possibly do what we are doing, but I know they can too if they trust God. I thought I was a patient person until I started teaching Math in Grade 1! But the reality is, when God calls us to do something for Him, He will equip us. He will give us the ability to complete the task. And while completing his mission for us, He will sustain us with His grace, love, and supernatural strength. Yes, I mean SUPERNATURAL strength and Looooooooooooooong suffering! 🙂

When my father-in-law came to Manila for a visit, he knew that our kids were homeschooled. The last time we saw him was two or three years ago and I don’t remember mentioning to him that the kids were homeschooled. So, he met the kids again who are, of course, much older now. We went to my sister-in-law’s house and spent the day with my in-laws. Our kids love going to Ninang’s (my sister-in-law) house because they get to play with their cousins. They were their usual selves playing endlessly and laughing boisterously all day. As we were relaxing in the afternoon, I saw my father-in-law talking seriously talking to my husband. I didn’t want to disturb them so I just let them talk.

Days after the visit to the in-laws, my father-in-law visited our new apartment. The kids were so hyped that that they took out all their stuff, their artwork, paintings and books and showed it to their grandpa. Their grandpa was overwhelmed by the barrage of stuff the kids wanted to show him. Then my father in law says, “You know what? I was not  sure about the idea of homeschooling. Not because I question your capability to teach but my concern really was their socialization. But my fears were unfounded. I saw them with their cousins and they were able to relate to them. They can relate to adults too. I see also that you really ground them in the Word of God which is important. Continue what you’re doing. If you need any books, let me know.”

What an affirmation from the Lord!  After all the hard work, we can see something good coming out of this. It feels good to hear that we are doing a great job with our kids especially from my in-laws. But then again, it’s all about who gets the credit. We are God’s instruments molding these small people the way God wants to mold them. My husband and I were not able to do it by our own strength but because God gives us strength. In the end, it is God whom we want to please not the people around us nor the world.

 

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

 

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. “Romans 12:1-2