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.

Handy Hubby

When I met my hubby years ago, I was glad to know that he was Mr. Fix-It!  Aside from repairing and fixing things around the house, he can also fix cars. No, he is not a mechanical engineer. He just loves cars ever since he was a young boy. I remember my mother-in-law telling me that she seldom visits car shops because Peewee, my husband, will be the one who would look after their cars. It saved her lots of money too. Peewee loves working with his hands, literally 🙂

A few weeks ago, we decided to have my clinic renovated. Unfortunately, the man hired by my father was not a good one. I was piqued that after days of working on such a small space in my father’s house, we had to redo what this carpenter supposedly should have done well. So, the reopening of my clinic was delayed again.

As I showed my husband the carpenter’s work, he too was frustrated and decided to do the job himself. He started in the morning and completed the job in the afternoon. I was blessed to hear him say a prayer every time he would cut, attach or install something. He would pray to God,” Please help me make this work, Lord.” I was also there with him. I was his handy assistant, his errand girl. I watched him carefully and learned a lot.

Even though his back and legs hurt, he was rejoicing when the leak was fixed. He thanked the Lord for giving him the wisdom to know that to do and for giving him the energy to just do it. I am grateful too that he is intentionally teaching our son, Coby to develop such “manly skills”. He would call on Coby to be his helper whenever he tries to assemble something for the home. Our daughter Jianne would be jealous of her brother doing the “Handy Manny” stuff, so she too would try to help out her Papa and older brother. Nothing wrong with girls being skilled in the “man” stuff too.

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Old and New

Our school year just started this week. Prior to enrollment, my husband and I were “mapping out” where our homeschooling area would be. Since our apartment now is bigger than our previous one, I feel more excited to teach the kids. I follow other homeschooling mom bloggers and got ideas from their own homeschooling set up. I would just drool at how these families created a homeschooling room for their kids. Since we have a limited space, we are confined to having  just an area instead of a room. Lots of great ideas at organizing, de-cluttering (believe me, there will be  A LOT of clutter) in our own school at home and just creative ways of using ordinary house items.  I realized that we really don’t need to buy anything new.  For weeks my husband would frequent ACE Hardware, furniture stores and even thought of doing our own bookshelves ourselves but we calculated the cost…. ah, maybe next time.

But when we came home one afternoon after enrolling the kids, we just decided to move things around. Put this here, put that there. We had saved a used biscuit container and turned it into a mini pen organizer. You see, every time we start school, my first question would be, “where is your pencil?” Usually, it would take minutes before they find a decent one. Though I gave each of them their own pencil case, somehow the pencils don’t end up there. So with the pen organizer, all the pencils, markers, erasers, scissors are put together in one container and every time they need it, they just take the whole container and put it on the table. I just have to remind them to put them back in the same container so we could easily find them again the next day. So far, this idea is working, thank God!

The first consumable item that runs out easily is the scotch tape. Why? Well, our eldest is not only into drawing and painting, he is also into recycling and crafting. When he sits down and creates something out of nothing, our dear old scotch tape would be the “victim”. Soon after completing his craft projects, it would lying somewhere around the house. Jianne, our little girl, on the other hand, would create mini books for herself and would use up our colored paper, construction paper, bond paper and even scratch papers.  She would be busy on the floor drawing and creating her own story books. And these too would be scattered all over the house. So hubby and decided to get a mini filing cabinet for their projects, and also our supplies. Mind you, this was the only thing we purchased, every thing else is reused and recycled from our existing stuff. The mini cabinet houses our all our supplies, from tape to papers and they each have their own drawers to keep their projects, their drawings and whatever crafts they make. Organized cabinet, working fine.

Encouraging kids to read at a very young age, is for me, one of the best influence any parent can give to his or her child. Reading and love of  books would definitely take them anywhere, figuratively and literally. The kids have lots of books at home but are kept in a cabinet upstairs. I was encouraged by one blogger because she made it a point to have a reading nook in their homeschool room. So I decided to take out all the books from the cabinet and take them to our area and create a small nook where they can just pick up a book and read. To make it more comfortable, I got an old rug and placed it strategically in front of the books to get them to reading. When we called the kids to show our completed homeschool area, the first place they checked out was the reading nook. They got a book, sat on the rug and read until it was time to eat!

I pray to God that this year would really be different from the rest of our homeschooling years. I was not afraid to try a new curriculum which I know would help my son. It may be more expensive than the previous one I know that it would create a different attitude in him. I believe he would be more confident to do his Math with the Singapore Math, My Pals are Here. In fact, when he opened the textbook, he got so excited because of the visuals seen on the pages. And when his Papa began to teach him the first day, both of them enjoyed. The curriculum even has games to encourage retention and practice for the child. Why didn’t I heard of this before????

For the little one, as soon as we came home with the books, she wanted to start school right away. After doing the dishes that night, she came to me and said that she wanted to do school that moment. I told her that she can check out her books and do school the following week. I told her I have to “study” her lessons too. She agreed but kept bugging me to start every day since then.

With a new mindset, a new set of goals, a more directed homeschooling plan, our family is so hyped with school.  I had learned from my mistakes in the past and admittedly I had to learn them the hard way. But we have a gracious God who will equip, encourage and inspire us to do great things not only for our kids but for Him as well.  All that we are now is not because of our own doing, but because of our Lord who strengthens us and connects us with the right people. Everything  is all for His glory.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a] And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-8

 

Taming the Tongue

The greatest influence our children would have is us, their parents. We taught them how to talk and guided them as they started to walk. It’s funny when I see kids walk and talk like their parents. It’s like looking at mini versions of Mom and Dad. Not only do we pass on physical traits and mannerisms, we also intentionally and unintentionally pass on to them the values that we want them to have.  Because I homeschool our kids, I would say that I am my children’s greatest influence, not to exclude my husband, of course. But since I am with them 24/7 I have more opportunity to teach them and impact them in a positive way. 

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When I talk to Coby, our eldest, somehow I could see some semblance of me in him. I claim or even argue that he looks like me but some people insist that he is a little Peewee. Go figure  🙂 Aside from the physical aspect, I see his interest in writing, creating his own stories and cooking as well. But the most striking trait he got from me are my  exasperated expressions like “Hay naku!”Image

He expresses this phrase exactly the same way I do especially when he is dealing with his younger sister, Jianne. From the tone, to the facial expression and hand gestures, it’s all me. The first time I saw this I thought it was kinda cute but then again, it’s not a good thing. I would hear him talk to his sister in a mean way and I would always call his attention and correct him. I would even ask him, “Why do you speak like that to your sister? Why are you so mean?” I could sense that he feels there is nothing wrong with what he said maybe because I could be mean to him too at times. He would feel ashamed afterwards and say sorry to his sister.

Somehow Coby’s negative behavior only mirrors what I do when I do not control my tongue. But the Lord is good at reminding me of my weakness and my need to tame my tongue. Realizing, again, that I used harsh words on him, asking for forgiveness is the next thing to do.

Did you know that the tongue is the most powerful muscle in the body? Such great power for a tiny part of the body. Likewise, in the words that we use to communicate with other people, our children or our spouse, we forget that the words that we speak have so much impact on other people that we end up either encouraging them or hurting them. 

James 1: 19 says, Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

 

James 3:5-6 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

We, as parents, are the primary life teachers of our children. Let us not let our our anger and our untamed tongues influence them. Instead, we should acknowledge that we cannot parent our children by ourselves. We need someone who is the best example of patience and love and this is our our Heavenly Father who richly gives us everything we need. He will give us the patience, the wisdom, and compassion to bring up our children the way He wants us.