Conceptualized in 2017 by 4 moms, the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum was a 2-year journey (with major life events within for all: raising an infant, homeschooling, running several businesses plus the major ups and downs of life) from day 1 to launch. It was a faith journey— with creativity bursting amidst the daily grind, daily ups and downs of life, even the “down-est” of life indeed.
We launched in September 7, 2019. That is why I am writing now. KCC turned One this month and we would like to give glory to the ONE who led and enabled us to create this program.
I think from hereon, though we will still continue to have the BC/AD set in time, modern life now has PC, DC and PC for Pre-Covid19, During Covid19 and Post Covid19, respectively. Pre-Covid19, we knew that homeschooling in the early years was growing in leaps. As a founder of the biggest homeschooling network on Facebook and then president of HAPI, I had front row seats in seeing the homeschool community emerge, grow and diversify and that, though unintentional, was the purest and most organic market research.
We were so enthralled with the wide and warm acceptance of our product during the launch. However, we were a start-up and needed to take on the serious business of business– creating brand and product awareness and pushing sales!.
Then Covid-19 hit and everyone, including all preschoolers had to be taught at home. Kidstarter found its way to solve a problem for parents who were available, willing and committed to homeschool their preschoolers.
Led by our sales champion and solution finder, Angela Palanca, Kidstarter found ways to make the product available through ECQ and for as many users as possible all over the country. At the same time, she was toughing it out to make sure our reprints would be available in time.
From the Kidstarter book sets, we grabbed the chance to offer online enrichment classes for both parents and their children: How to Homeschool Your Preschoolers and Equipping Kasambahays for Homeschooling , and Art, Literacy, Music and Movement classes were offered.
In addition to this, three well-respected preschools jumped in and availed of Kidstarter as part of their 2020-2021 program for blended learning for home-based learners.
As we turned one, I put this collection of memories as a testament of God’s hand in all things. Click here if you want to see KCC’s first year journey!
Last September 5, 2020, KCC gathered over a hundred Kidstarter Curious Curriculum users online for its first ever online gathering! This was our way our way of celebrating God’s goodness and giving back to our growing Kidstarter Community.
Below are screenshots from our event with participants who took part in our KCC Connect Celebration of fun and learning with games with prizes from Happy Skin and jaw-dropping raffle prizes from National Book Store, and a highly equipping and inspiring session on Lesson Planning from Teacher Liana Lim-Cruz, M.A. Ed.
As we move into the School Year 2020-21, believing that parent-teaching is an evolving and growing process, we are offering our parent classes once again, this time led by preschool expert, Teacher Liana Lim. See her personal invite here.
Hurry for we are offering this 12 parent set up: small group, evenly spaced sessions for reflection and application, and truly aligned with solid early childhood education principles –a must for all parent-teachers taking on the preschool years. Register here to grab a slot soon. I have conducted several batches of sessions in this format– where there is relationship building, lots of question and answer time, more relaxation and powerful equipping.
Though this pandemic has taken us all by storm, in varying degrees of painful losses and pauses, there are linings that can brim with silver if we find ways to learn, roll and ride along. Someone said, let us not let this crisis be put to waste and Kidstarter is here to bring sunshine during these uncertain days. Go Kidstarter families!
Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give u.
2020 I said was going to be different as I start shifting from homeschool advocacy commitments to finding my path in the health/medical field. You see, despite really opening myself to the possibility of letting go of this passion and possible profession, the pull to still find my place in health service did not want to disappear. I have sought the counsel of my PGH batch mates, family members and friends. I have gone through a “Finding Your Purpose and Significance” retreat, more personal soul searching and read books of Simon Sinek (Starting and Find Your Why) —and could not seem to simply let go of the medical side of me.
The areas of Medicine that I was always drawn to ever since my UP College of Medicine days were Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Family Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. I got married on my 2nd year of Medicine and knew that kids were eventually coming so I had to make adjustments. Soon after graduating Med School, I found myself expecting our first baby during my review for the Board Exams. Haha.. wondering if that is why my eldest is on his road to becoming a doctor too. Was he primed even prenatally?
Life did not go as expected. We were expatriated to London for my husband’s work and then 3 more kids came along. A rigorous residency program was truly out of the question—and I found myself so at home with motherhood and eventually homeschooling, I really had to put my hopes in furthering my Medical career on hold.
As I homeschooled our 4 children, and took on the teaching role seriously and passionately, more and more moments made me realize that I was indeed where I needed to be— a frontliner for my family taking 1st row seats in the unfolding of the growth and development of our children. I was there. Sometimes too much, at a fault– but I was there. And those days will never truly be a life on pause or on hold. They were LIFE itself and it was painfully beautiful. What made it even more special, I knew, I was in the center where God, my Creator, wanted me to be. Chin up, head held up high, you are where you are meant to be.
We released out last son to regular school in 2018, and that gave me more time to truly figure out what I wanted to do–to sort of pick up where I had left my Medical path. I was now coming into the full decision with a resume of 17 years of homeschooling, experiences in speaking/training other parents in home education, heading HAPI, herding a flock of 26,000 members of homeschooling support group on FB (which has now increased to 36,000) and simply being a passionate learner seeking and reading up on areas that I needed along that path of 17 years. Through those years, I also became more aware and open to a holistic approach to health— focusing on physical movement, incorporating rest and relaxation, utilizing non-medical forms of stress management, use of aromatherapy and healthy eating.
I finally found myself attending a certification course in Functional Medicine in 2019. At the end of the course, I was more convinced that IFM’s approach was resonating so much more with my view of health.
I came to a conclusion that my space in the medical field will not be as a system or organ specialist but in truly rekindling my love for health in—holistic prevention and health education, and in finding ways to make it practical, doable and sustainable for every client/patient.
So in February 2020, I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Integrative Nutrition Coach 6-month accelerated coaching course( I thought to myself, “I was going to step down from HAPI and would definitely have all the time to study“).
Then life again did not go as expected again, life for all of the planet went awry.
Covid-19 became global and reached our shores. Oh yes, that was after Taal Volcano erupted, affecting the entire South Luzon.
HAPI was even able to have a HAPI homeschool leaders meeting last Jan 18, 2020 in Fully Booked and we were so excited for a series of meet ups for 2020. Then the National Homeschool Day in March 3, 2020.
In a matter of two weeks from then, the world was on lockdown with all families needing both homeschooling support and health/medical services in the form of online consults, public health protocols, one-to-one consults, village wide health initiatives—- No wonder I never got to log-in to blog again. And that was on top of 6-month accelerated cause, I couldn’t back out from.
With a supportive family and household staff, I pressed on from wrapping up my 6 remaining months as HAPI President (June 2018- June 2020), providing information to various news/media/educational outlets needing help to spread the word about homeschooling to attending to the the demands on preschool homeschooling through our program called Kidstarter and even starting my own youtube channel to create short videos about homeschooling (that was actually to help address the recurrent questions sent to me/ posted online).
We’ve seen a lot of the capabilities of people on a lockdown, and my, my, we are truly amazing and creative members of humankind!
Let me, as my own personal checklist, write down what I have had to learn to be able to accomplish what COVID-19 was demanding me to do:
Dye my own hair! Do group exercises using Zoom, have a 50th bday on Zoom!
Clear and declutter, attack our attic and all rooms of the house! (this was part of self-care! haha)
The list above is not meant to boast. It is a collection to help me appreciate what Covid-19 forced me to learn (skill wise).
Regarding my Nutrition program, I would watch/ listen to my course modules during exercising and during breaks in between meetings, or on Sunday mornings when everyone was still asleep.
Yesterday, I opened my email and received my digital certificate as a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach! What I loved about this course is how it presents Health and Nutrition in a very practical and personalized manner. Though my medical training has given me the knowledge and skills to engage and help “patients,” the approach of integrative nutrition and health coaching has equipped me to look at patients/clients as a individuals, and that their health decisions on a daily basis are function of many dimensions as they live out their lives and their roles. Coupled with my training in Functional Medicine, I have now a different outlook and approach in seeing people who need help with health concerns, it so much more empowering, intuitive and “healing.”
When I signed up for this certification course, I was thinking of scientific health period. As I progressed, I realized that the psychology of coaching and practical tips are all applicable in other areas behavior modification such as parenting and homeschooling. I was surprising myself when I could here IIN coaching principles being voiced out as I conducted webinars or joined panel discussions on home education.
“The roundtable discussion offered an opportunity for different stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, school administrators, representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organization, and the Department of Education, to discuss the responses being done to address the challenges faced by the education sector at large while mitigating the impact of the pandemic. At the micro-level, the experiences of parents, students, teachers, and school administrators were shared in order to have a glimpse of the situation on-ground. At the macro level, the responses of the Department of Education, non-governmental organizations, and private school associations representing bodies were shared to give a broader view of the challenges faced by the education sector and how they are being addressed. The Department of Education and its partner organizations remain resilient and highly motivated to cope with the challenges presented by the crisis.
COVID-19 has forced a seismic shift in the Philippine education landscape. The role of parents in education is much more significant and more emphasized. However, one of the challenges is making the home environment conducive to learning. Additionally, the socialization of students is hampered by the limited interaction with their peers and teachers, but their interaction with family members can substitute it. Parents will be close collaborators and partners of teachers in the learning process of their children. The delivery of education in terms of curriculum and instruction has to focus on what is essential. A holistic approach to address the issues in the education sector has to be implemented. The challenge now is for different stakeholders to take an active part in order to contribute to the solution and to support each other. As the country restarts the economy and ensures that public health is a priority, it must also ensure that learning continues. While there is a call for the country to heal as one, it is also equally important that students learn as one, and make sure that no teachers and students get left behind.
Policy Forum Note No. 2020-04, AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competiveness
As we closed, moderator and AIM Professor Jamil “Jammu” Paolo Francisco, Ph.D encouraged all to go back to essentials of education in a macro and micro level, to seize the moment and start doing what we should been have done education-wise to support all kinds of learners in various situations so we could have been better prepared for this grand scale learning disruption, and reminded all (with his economist mindset) that in any disruption, there are losers and winners, and now more than ever, there is an urgent call/challenge, for “winners” to support the “losers” to spring back to action. For winners, to come to the rescue. Let us not put a good crisis to waste.
So there. Long post but I felt I needed to touch base due to this blog’s silence. On the family front, 2 sons graduated from highschool (Level 12 and middle school (level 8) and we now have 2 college students, my husband started a new job, and our pet Boo turned 3 years old.
Really hoping from here, I can come back to some rhythm of writing regularly!
Now, let us see where the Lord takes me I continue to press on in His Service. I know HE is and will be faithful.
Wow, this was fun. Missed blogging !
“It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.”
Homeschool and family life during the preschool years will always have a special place in my (mommy-teacher)heart and mind. Oh, yes, the years can be the most physically draining and patience-stretching but there is something magical about young children. Think of all those endless questions, the innocence, the “out-of-the-of mouth of babes” comments, the mess, the chubby hands and feet, and just the overflowing adoration and clinginess of our little ones. And hey, I had all that and more 4x over. Indeed, my cup overfloweth!
Now a trip down memory lane:
2002, I began homeschooling (2-3x a week only) our eldest when he was 3 years old. I co-taught with the help of the The Bridge School who allowed a 3x a week morning program for my eldest son, Vince. I had a chance to work with some of the best preschool teachers and learn how they did things in a regular preschool. That homeschooling journey eventually lasted for 17 years as more preschoolers in the form of 3 more children, and as we homeschooled till, one by one, each child reached 13 years old and it was time to go to “big school.” As mentioned in previous posts, homeschooling in our home officially ended in 2018.
There are so many reasons why the preschool season is the best time to start homeschooling. Well, the most important perhaps is the very fact that the 0-5 years old period is the only time for foundation building. If a human being is likened to a building, the period of the early years is when the foundation — the ground preparation and skeletal framework are set. Without a strong foundation, you can never construct a strong building. The investment of “love” (in the currency of time, energy and parent-teacher character trait and skills) during this season is probably the most guaranteed investment ever! At the core of foundation building is development of a strong emotional bond between the child and the caring parent/parents/caregiver, and this bond further strengthens the ground which can further support and facilitate future learning in all areas of life.
As more and more interest in homeschooling grew, I found myself running workshops on homeschooling, including preschool homeschooling. Running a workshop may be fun but it is very tiring. I travelled all over Metro Manila and yes even to Cebu and Davao (and yes, there are more requests to visit other cities as the movement grows indeed). I then began thinking of how to empower and assist parents in a more doable and sustainable way. Around the same time in 2016, my sister Ms. Janna Mendoza-Simpao, the Editor-in-Chief of Bride and Breakfast,and I found ourselves talking about how we can help other families try out homeschooling.
In 2017, Janna introduced me to her friends, Angela Palanca and Teacher Liana Lim Cruz… and that was the beginning of the Kidstarter team:)
After being in the homeschool community for 17 years, setting up and moderating the Homeschoolers of Philippines Facebook Group (which only began with 30 or so FB friends in 2013 and eventually grew to nearly 20K members) and leading the Homeschool Association of the Philippines, I had come to the realization that, with the growing Filipino Homeschool Community, there was a need to begin creating local resources for homeschoolers: material, curricula, and the like. I also realized that such material, if possible, must a attempt to include Filipino values, culture and language.
As I ran homeschool workshops and continued to observe the needs of our members in our homeschooling community on Facebook, I surmised that we needed to begin at the foundational level: a preschool guide for Filipino families. Filipino families would include those who were up to the challenge to try preschool homeschooling or those who just wanted to create learning experiences at home or during school breaks for their children enrolled in day care or preschool set ups.
Liana Lim-Cruz became my co-writer BFF as we met week after week to create the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC). Armed with her Master’s degree on Early Childhood Education from The Bank Street College of Education in New York and her 10 years worth of work experience from the leading progressive preschool Explorations in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, we created the first complete preschool guide that utilizes play and exploration for learning and presents activities to introduce and celebrate our Filipino culture and language. It is then a program with solid foundation of emerging approaches of Early Childhood Education: homeschooling and progressive education! I see the KCC as a material that seeks to work on both mindset and skillset as it equips parents, parent teachers and teachers (yes, preschool teachers have been inquiring about KCC too!).
In our desire to make this program Filipino-friendly, we reached out to Ani Almario of Adarna House and Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco of Museo Pambata as we included the use of Filipino storybooks and a visit to Museo Pambata as part of our activities.
But Liana and I may have poured our hearts over the program’s content, we needed all the help necessary to present the whole package as beautiful, practical, and user/parent-friendly and that was made possible with the expertise of Janna Mendoza-Simpao and Angela Perez Rubio-Palanca.
On third quarter of 2019, it call came together!
This material was born out of a lot of brainstorming, meet ups, emails, viber calls while “Little Nadi” was napping, and carving out time from our busy mommy lives! So you can imagine why we were smiling from ear to ear as we held the first copy off the printer! See Nadi, Liana’s almost 3 year old adorable daughter who is currently being homeschooled the Kidstarter way! Thank you to Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and Joanna Nicolas-Na for all the help as our editors:)
For more photos of this launch and videos regarding the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC), head to the Kidstarter FB page.
When I hold the KCC set (I am sure my Kidstarter partners would agree with the shared emotion), I can still feel a whole flush of gratitude and overwhelming appreciation for being allowed to be part of this project. It truly takes a village (and the village has grown!) to create something worthwhile that brings a potential for a solid start in another person’s life and at the same time, offering experiences to strengthen family bonds.
As I close this post, the Kidstarter team is filled with thanksgiving for our Lord God, the True One who started it all and The One who wants to support all Kidstarter families! From the valuable persons and companies mentioned in the “Acknowledgment” page of the Teacher’s Guide (Book 1), the supporters now have included educational experts, developmental paediatricians, early childhood education advocates and new parent teacher users!
Here are just a few of our new “Kidstarter villagers.” Thank you for your trust in KCC!
Let me end with this favorite line from Gabriel Mistral from the book called Their Name is Today. My sister, a fellow children’s advocate, Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas shared this book with me and gave me this bookmark!
“Many things can wait. Children cannot……”
Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. (New Living Translation)
If you would like to know more about the Kidstarter® Curriculum and/or purchase a set, head to https:/kidstarter.ph, follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @Kidstarter.
In my recent blog post, I had mentioned that I was sort of back, writing again. So I took a quick review of what have been posted so far in this blog . Riding on the the decluttering and organising that swept the Netflix world, I decided to create a post that identifies each article written by category. I am still assessing and weighing things regarding “revamping” this blog and make it more user friendly. Since that will take a lot of time and yes, funding, for now, this will have to do.
I am personally, mind, body, spirit, with family, and yes technologically, trying to declutter, simplify and live with less and more (there will be so many ways to view that last phrase, and I leave you my dear reader to put the many meanings to that!)
It may have began with my reading of the many Proverbs 31 Woman of God (wife and mother) type of books my Emily Barnes and Emily George early on in my life. Remember, “A place for everything, and everything in its place? ” phrase? Then there was this regular decluttering series by our pastor’s wife, Ms. Cindy Soriano in our church. (And yes, CCF Alabang is presenting the workshop again. Head to Facebook CCF Alabang to know more about this event). Then the books of Marie Kondo arrived and became easy best sellers. Then the Minimalism documentary with their cool musical soundtrack! And let us not forget, of course, the whole Save the Planet movement with the 3Rs,.. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and now the “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series on Netflix. The message is clear I guess.
So here. I pretended to be a first homeschooler checking out this blog and with that in mind, I created a simple summarised list of topics that can be of help to every homeschooler out there:) Hope this list helps. Don’t get overwhelmed. Read one or two per session and see what applies in your homeschool set up. Have fun!
Preparations for Homeschooling/ Setting Up Your Foundation
I took a long break from writing. I guess there was this pressure to write a “perfect” post with the perfect photo and all, to officially end our 17 year homeschool journey. So just like every daunting task, you somehow find ways to put it aside. I never found the chance to come up with a grand ending of sorts, I guess.
The first day of regular school of my youngest son last July 2018 was really uneventful. He had a lot of fun, I remember. Did I cry? No. Did I have mixed emotions? Not really. How was it? I don’t even remember much. I just knew all kids were in school for the very first time! Our eldest began to live away on weekdays for college and the younger three in high school were out from 7am to 4 PM from Monday to Friday, and I was left with our pet pug called, Boo. So what’s next?
I had told myself that I was going to give myself a chance to rest and yes, discover thyself. The non stop life of a homeschooling mother of 4 kids for the past 17 years is a huge part of who I have become. So I do have to pause and re-think and weigh a whole lot as I close this season and begin a new one.
And so I decided to put myself on a GAP YEAR mode. We’ve heard about “gap years” from foreign students who take a break to travel, to join an advocacy or simply rest shortly after their high school graduation. I met a few of my son’s friends who have done it… and so I told myself, why can’t a mom like me, set a gap year too. A year or so of rest, rediscovery, and reconnection.
And so that is where I am. I have begun to attend a few medical seminars or conferences to somehow figure out if going back to some health practice in the future is an option. I recently went away for bucket list experience. I am picking up my pens, my pots and plants, and knitting needles again for some craft and gardening work and… here, I am writing again. And hey, finally cooking new dishes again! Also, I have begun to read my own fiction (not the children’s reading requirements in homeschool). Though some homeschool events and seminars are lined up, I am taking them slowly as I take this all in and give myself: mind, body, spirit and heart to rest and heal (remember I said a whole lot of life, (yes!!! the ugly, the painful things and yes the beautiful and life stopping things too) happen as you homeschool) and listen to my Creator as to to know Him more and know where He wants me to go.
The mad rush of homeschool mornings, the endless guilt of not being able to accomplish enough, the unticked homeschool to do list, the 1,000,000 ideas of how to teach a concept in multi subjects to multi level children, the loads of bonding time through lessons and discussion have all gone.
Truly thankful for the new rhythm, new set up (and yes my new office too as seen above) and new opportunities out there. Life never stops when one homeschools so through it all, we manage our other areas of our lives……and so without homeschooling, my relationship with God, my spouse, my other family members, even my own relationship with myself and my passions have begun to exist and bloom in a different light and yes, it is a refreshing time. And hey, there is a whole new world of connecting to our once homeschooled children/ students and I have a new role and I am trying to learn this new role and enjoy it too.
I recently completed the Truth Matters conference of my home church Christ’s Commission Fellowship last January 2019. In relation to home education and the season I am in, I can truly testify to the beauty and amazing potential of relationship building through homeschooling.
By faith, I believe that we can pass on the truth to our children and help them build their own faith in a context of a strong, open, loving and affirming relationship with our children, made possible by the quality and quantity of bonding time that homeschooling provides. But then, I am careful to say that homeschooling is no way a guarantee in securing your child’s future or his/her own journey as an adult . Life is a mystery, isn’t it. Parents can only do what they deem is best as they receive guidance and instruction in parenting in this very dark world. The children we will eventually release will make their own choices and carve our their own path as they move on. And by faith and through prayer, we release them in peace.
And that is one thing I wish to write more about in probably my next post on “More Random Thoughts on Life After Homeschooling.” Hehe… to be continued…..
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
A line from my Dad’s favorite song …… “and now the end is near”….. is playing on my head. As my eldest son and only daughter graduate from high school and middle school respectively this month, Teacher Mommy Donna and youngest son also graduate from homeschool, Wait, Teacher Mommy Donna graduates too?
Yes, there are no more children to home educate. I get joked nowadays that I may take it on and homeschool our adorable pug, Boo. Yes, the end is near, in a couple of weeks, I will be laying down my homeschool hat, apron and Teacher ID.
16 years. That’s as old as my 2nd son. ( Haha, I didn’t want to use my age as basis obviously!)
I still remember clearly, my wise sister’s words when she encouraged me to try homeschooling for our then 3 year old son Vince. I still recall receiving our first homeschool preschool kit from Sing Spell Read and Write, and all the balikbayan boxes, year in and year out as more and more children came and more and more students joined our homeschool lessons.
Oh, there are so many days to share, so many experiences to ponder on but for now, I will just summarize this journey with my take home lessons which I will forever take with me wherever I go.
It is okay to have fun.
Learning can be fun. Fun will spell the big difference in the longevity of your homeschool:) Find the “fun” in your everyday and pursue that. And get rid of the guilt of having fun while learning, or having fun for the sake of fun itself. Chill!
2. Delegate what can be delegated.
Stop thinking of being a one woman show, or trying to be a martyr. Do what you do best. Focus on what you’re good at. Delegate what can be delegated so you can save your time, effort and energy on what you do best. I clearly remember an advise of parenting expert, James Dobson on what to do with extra funds, he said,” Get hired help. ” Provide ways to support the main teacher of your children so she can focus on teaching and bonding with the children.
3. Find a system to deal with stress.
Stress is inevitable. It is part and parcel of every hour of our lives. It comes in all kinds of shapes and forms. We have to have a way to deal with them: prayer/ meditation, movement (sport/dance/exercise/hobby) pockets of ways to express your creativity, balanced nutrition/ supplements if necessary, regular BFF time, reflection/journalling, aromatherapy! Figure it out. Determine your stress release regimen and do it regularly. Find a way to set up a “stress meter” in your life and adjust accordingly.
4. It all boils down to preserving and nurturing relationships.
My favorite take home from our 16 year homeschooling — a good and steady relationship (and I’d like to believe a growing one with open communication ) with each child. Connect with others. You cannot homeschool alone. I asked a dear psychiatrist friend one main advice for good mental health after almost 15 years of practice, her simple answer was, “Connect.” Outside the home, I made the most amazing friendships and bonds with fellow homeschoolers!! Online, I have 11,400 plus homeschooling friends on FB!
5. Empathy goes a long, long way.
Empathy goes beyond sympathy (feeling for others). Empathy compels you to act after you “feel for others”; to do something to lessen someone’s pain or discomfort. Empathy is one important value I am hoping and praying was passed on to the our children.
6. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.
That is a verse from Joshua 1:8. I will be forever grateful for the Bible, God’s Word. It is my manual for life, my marriage, for homeschooling, my work…. I have read many books during my 16 year homeschool journey, I can give away all those books on marriage, parenting, on child education , on homeschooling and just keep one book with me forever, God’s Word, the Bible. And it is my prayer that my children will also seriously take this Book as their manual for life too:)
Forgive oneself for not meeting the steep expectations you set , forgive others for not measuring up, forgive your children and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others .. yes including your little children when mommy loses her temper or says hurtful words. We will all have our share of bad homeschool days, of pain from trials, of “get me out here” moments that seem to last forever. Forgive. Learn. Re-set. Repeat. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Re-Set. Repeat. There is no other way.
Prayer I have come to learn is simply dependence on God. The more you pray, the more you declare your inability, your finiteness, and your need of God. The more you pray, the more you give back to God. The more you pray, the less you want to control how life comes your way. The more you pray, the more you let go. St. Paul saw the importance of prayer, prompting him to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” That is key to living any kind of life, really.
9. Prepare & Plan
They say that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. In the homeschooling world, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of maximal learning. Whether it be doing your own research regarding homeschooling or what makes a teacher effective, or giving 15 minutes to prepare your homeschool schedule or activities, it truly pays to prioritize “preparation and planning”.
10. Love. Love. Love.
Jesus put it simply. The greatest commandment revolves around Love. Love for God and love for thy neighbors. Love is central in the lessons 1-9. To review:
Have fun in love.
Love yourself and take care of yourself and manage your stress
Reach out and love others to nurture relationships
Love in action is empathy
Love God’s Word
When you pray, it is showing our love for God, His presence!
Love is more than a feeling, more than emotion. It is an act of will so you prepare and plan. Work is involved.
Love is the ingredient in all that you do that will spell the biggest difference. St. Paul says it again, and as let me paraphrase his words in 1 Corthinthians 13: 1, “Without love, you are nothing but noise.”
Let me quote what was shared by my friend’s grandmother who dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing others, ” The best educator is the one who loves the learner.”
So there. I can think of 10 more lessons as I give this topic much more thought. But hey ,they say, top of mind answers sometimes are the best. And this restaurant I am in as I type away is about to close. So I will leave it here for now.
As I close, I have 19 homeschool days left with our youngest.
My heart is full as we close this chapter. I will be forever grateful for this awesome life changing experience. And wow, I have these life lessons, sealed in my heart, as I move on to the next chapter of my life. Hallelujah indeed. Sail away with me, Lord. Thank you indeed.
Psalm 37:4-5…Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way unto the Lord and He will give you your hearts desire.
It was a typical homeschool Friday with youngest Gino. I was leaving him some homework since I was set to join my daughter in her school’s field day. She was the captain of her house and of course, everyone wants to win in a day of games and relays!
Then I received a call from one of my co-parents, “Raya fell.”
And she fell hard.
She sustained a fracture on the upper portion of her left tibia and would be needing immobilization/ wheelchair and crutches for 6-8 weeks.
It’s quite confounding how one single event, one wrong twist, one wrong turn, or one wrong split of the moment decision results in a myriad of consequences. As we heard “6-8 weeks”, (and possibly the no running or heavy sports for 6 months), I saw some things crumble down…… an upcoming school trip to Singapore for a Youth Environmental Summit, the daily commute to 2nd floor classroom without elevator access, a school play, her tennis training, and her plans for summer to take football.
A mother is described as having one heart, her own heart, plus the number of hearts of her children. Without any lessons, or any reminders, we just automatically feel what our children feel. So I was beginning to see the repercussions of that fall, I had to mentally and emotionally rush, rush, run to the finish line so I could feel, and feel it all, and find my own strength to carry her through ( literally too!) And then, without looking back, take on the “Mama is here” role and show strength for my daughter.
We have heard it again and again that setbacks are good, failures are part and parcel of life. We are encouraged to embrace them and to allow such unfortunate circumstances to build and mold our children. We are asked to back off and not to solve our children’s predicaments all the time. Sometimes the best thing we can do is, come alongside and just let it unfold. We patiently wait in prayer and in anticipation.
A few days post-inury and few days before a much awaited and anticipated field trip abroad, reality set in and the whole experience and the future that was awaiting her overwhelmed my daughter.
After 19 years of being a parent, I have learned that we need to strike some form of balance when we try to uplift our discouraged children. There are dangers of belittling their situation, negating their emotions and feelings as being valid and in over doing the “Life is okay. It could have been worst. Cheer up. Shake that off .” Sometimes, the best we can do is to listen, to hug and maybe weep with our children as well. No words (not yet!). Presence and availability may suffice.
As we began to paint the reality, my daughter then sighed, “It won’t be as fun.” I am so thankful at that very moment an answer or more like a prophecy came to mind, and I just said, “Yes, it will be different. But this (pointing to her immobilized leg) will usher in a whole lot of other opportunities and scenarios which may turn out to be fun and interesting too.” I don’t know why I said that but it was like I had the coolest and most serene peace that all will be well and yes, she will be able to board a bus, navigate through the airport, do the toilet breaks, feed herself and yes board and move around a plane and yes, attend a youth summit in a foreign country without Mama or a relative around. I just knew I had to let her go (Pun so intended!)!
Then one morning, 3 days before their departure, “ I will go, Mom! I can do this.” From then on, I knew it, this is going to be great.
It was more than great indeed. My daughter came home as the “most cared for student in the entire summit.” She goes, “Everybody knew who that girl in the wheelchair was!” She came home with so many positive experiences of concern, care and going the extra mile from her classmates and teachers, and even from strangers who empathized with her and did what they could to assist her given her limitation. Classmates and teachers just rallied to lessen her fears, her limitations and her difficulties. Parents came to support as well with offers for prayers, wheel chairs, for extra help, and for reminding their own children to look after Raya. What a blessing, right?
And my best pasalubong (Tagalog term for treats brought by someone who goes for a trip) was her teachers’ words of affirmation and encouragement as they witnessed what a trouper this girl was: patient, flexible, content and cheerful, every step or should we say, turn of the wheel, of the way!!!!!
Of course, half the time, Raya was with family and I was on Cloud 9 seeing her brothers (Thank the Lord for strong brothers, all taller than her (ok, she may argue if Gino is taller already) who also took on the role of helping her. When we didn’t know yet how to use the stairs, Marco for a good number of days, carried her up the stairs like a backpack!
And the school play went really well! Now, Raya can say she performed, sang, and danced on a wheel chair !
Last week, Raya bid farewell to her crutches and her wheelchair. She still walks with some limp as the the leg muscles become looser, as they need to strengthen and re-learn how to walk efficiently but deep within, I know there is stronger faith in God, a warmed heart from all the love she had experienced and a deeper gratitude for her healing and the blessings throughout her journey through it all.
I declare the faithfulness of our Good Lord in all this. From setting our hearts and minds at peace to providing the most cool and easy to use travel wheel chair for free, from MRI results that show no ligament tears to an increased faith in God, and a deeper appreciation of thy “neighbors” (schoolmates, teachers, guards, helpers, driver, siblings, strangers, other PWDS).
Indeed, this is so true for we have truly witnessed it, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9.
Thankful, as I close this piece.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
We are also thankful to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rolando Angelo “Jello” Ochoa of Asian Hospital and PT, Karen Basco. And many more thanks to the Lorenzo, Morris and Fabros families who really made Raya feel so loved and cared for during this time!
In a few months, I would be going into my 2nd year of using essential oils. Back in our medical training, we really did not have adequate lessons on Natural Health. We may have had a few units on Preventive Medicine but that’s it. And truly during those years in mid 90s, there was a resistance to non Western approaches to health and wellness. Life, however, evolves and we all have begun seeing various approaches that are able to complement traditional, mainstream, allopathic Medicine: diet and supplementation, nutritional healing, herbal, spinal manipulation, yoga and relaxation strategies, traditional Chinese medicine to name a few. I consider Aromatherapy as one possible complementary approach ( complement- to be used side by side with traditional approaches) to dealing with health issues.
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit (www.naha.org)
You may read about essential oils here . You may add more information and read them about here too. Online information is overwhelming and daunting, proceed with caution!
So here are my top reasons why I am into them:
I just love how some of my favorite oils smell. I am so relieved that I could easily extinguish any or anyone’s (hehe) smell that I am exposed to. Take that! Fried fish smell, gym bag and used sneakers of 3 boys!!!! Help, where are my oils ? And they come to the rescue in an instant. Your car smells like smoke, or someones shirt was dried in damp way, shoo those foul odors away!!!
2. Scents affect mood and mental states!
Research ( I am putting together what I believe are credible and valid studies out there) is showing the powerful effect of aroma on mood and feelings. Certain oils are now being used to address pain, anxiety and insomnia!
3. Natural complementary support for common health issues/conditions
Certain essential oils have been assessed and seen to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective ( bacterial, fungal and viral), relaxing, restorative, immune boosting effects. I have seen them at work in our recurrent conditions at home such as breathing and allergy concern, infections, and stress and anxiety.
4. Touch therapy is more exciting with these pure and powerful oils.
Again, we have heard the power of touch ( haplos, reach out and touch somebody’s hand, hold me)! Remember the study of neonates in the ICU and the difference of recovery for those who were held more? So when, my daughter who is now on an immobilizer due to a tibial fracture from a fall, comes home and says, her back/arms are tired from using crutches, Mama comes to the rescue with a blend of wintergreen, peppermint, lavender to sooth sore muscles and tired joints. As we do this, we end up talking and bonding even more. For immune support during periods of illness, this gives me a chance to also bond with our teen boys! All our children are into sports , and thus, instead of going for over the counter medicines to relieve sprains and strains, we have an armamentarium of oil blends for sports issues! My husband’s headaches and back pains are also helped with some blend of anti-pain oils. I may not have my own study to back this up, but I am 100 percent sure, the oils with TOUCH therapy have a synergistic effect.
4. The limitless DIY options they provide.
Currently, I make our own light to heavy all purpose cleaner, make up remover, body and feet scrub, throat soapy, cough and cold rubs, dry skin concoctions, puppy dog wipes, glass cleaner, hand wash soap, facial soap!
For oils that are considered and approved as safe for ingestion, you can add a drop of lemon oil to your water, or peppermint to your hot chocolate. Rosemary for your chicken? Basil for your pasta? Cinnamon for your tea? Jade Lemon to your G &T? The options are endless. (Note: Make sure oils added to food and drink must always be safe for ingestion.)
I no longer purchase many beauty and skincare products, tons of its ingredients, I cannot even pronounce, much less decipher! I have lessened the toxic cleaners in our household and medications for symptom relief in general.
6. Essential oils are multitaskers
I haven’t even really scratched the surface in unearthing the gazillion ways oils can be used. Indeed we have such an awesome GOD in creating plants and trees with these miracle workers.
7. I have issues with my body’s immunity system.
Diagnosed a decade ago, I have low Complement 3, proteins that are important for immune function. Thus prevention and immune boosting are essential to maintain good health. Friends from way back know how terrible my respiratory infections were ( and how they sounded!), and how I get stress blisters on my lips and under the eye. Proper diet, mindful supplementation, sleep protection, regular exercise and relaxation have helped a great deal and I have found essential oils truly helpful in my preventive regimen! With diffusing here, inhaling there, rubbing this and spraying that my anti respiratory infection oily habits), I have seen how I am able to nip impending infections at the onset, thus reducing the length and severity of an illness. Runny nose, congestion and itchy throat abated and that means a whole lot for someone who used to struggle with nasty and progressive cough that can linger to 3-4 weeks!
8. It is fun!
I was exposed to essential oils through a friend, BFF Cielo Vilchez and a cousin, Angelica Cayzer, owner of Lemongrass House Philippines. I have gained more friends through the sharing and evolving of its use and place in our lives and our homes. Along with aromatherapy, I am a beginning to learn more about supplementation, herbal therapies and basic nutrition! I have been able to travel with friends to learn more about these powerful oils! Singapore, Malaysia,…. am excited to know where these oils will take me, maybe a course in Medical Aromatherapy abroad!
9. I am able to help others too!
Just ask my own family, our helpers, my siblings and nephews and nieces… Tita Oilbularyo is Tita Donna! (Thank you to @gerigil for that “oilbularyo” term)
My prescriptions and free samples now are quite different. See! Samples from Mother Earth and not Pharmaceutical Companies!
10. And I think one of deeper reasons why is this:
Oils have been utilized again and again from Ancient Times. Doesn’t it make you wonder why two of the most well sought, powerful and expensive oils , frankincense and myrrh were the ones given by the wise men to Jesus ? Jesus and Christian heroes of the faith have used them for healing and blessing, and I’d like to experience and see more of this awesome blessing of God through nature!
Happy Oiling !
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org for oily concerns:)
11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
*** Featured photo is an Essential Oil/Aromatics Workstation from Sifr Cosmetics in Singapore. Photo was taken during my visit to the store.
As I begin to write this post, the biggest mass shooting in the history of the United States (Las Vegas Strip) has begun to unfold. I’ve been glued to CNN since last night. Oh wow, there are no words to sufficiently describe this tragedy. CNN has just began identifying some of the victims and I just close my eyes as I listen to back stories and pray.
It was a Music Festival much like the many outdoor concerts we have in the Mall of Arena or BGC grounds. I remember watching Cold Play last April and yes, there were buildings beside us with people catching the concert from their top floor offices. Security was tight on the ground, but who would have thought that the risks would come from above?
I recently shared a robbery incident to my son as we talked about the different forms of theft (online, armed robbery, break-in and all) . An incident involving a supermarket here in Alabang had armed robbers digging a tunnel to the office from where the cash was stored. Who would think that evil can come from below?
I face this day with these thoughts early this morning. I have to continue to believe that there is still so much love and goodness around, above and below , around, within, that can conquer such unthinkable acts of hate, terror and evil. I am now thinking of the family of the 60 of those who died and the 400 injured, many of whom may be in critical condition, fighting for their lives, and I can only pray.
I cannot help but think of “what future” really lies ahead and what future do we prepare ourselves and our children for. It makes no sense to me to I dig into using and maximizing educational technology as we parent and homeschool our children and see this tragic event unfold, a massacre using other forms of technology.
Oh, Technology! Technology?? There are so many sides to you. Why can’t we all just use you to make this world a better place indeed? Why can you amazingly aid my children in their education (mine too!) and experience of this world but at the same time, also have the potential to create the avenue to bully them and corrupt their minds and souls?
For now, my answer is because Technology is just a TOOL. For now (my kids and i just had a quite interesting discussion if technology/artificial intelligence will eventually have a “mind” of its own, separate from the control of human brains/ boundaries), it is just a tool. And I can only hope and pray and do what is within my control, to make it a positive, edifying and enriching tool.
I have to rest on that so I can move on and yes, prepare for his weekend’s homeschool conference. Join us, and yes, if you’re interested to know how it can enrich your homeschool experience, drop by in our session about Homeschooling and Technology.
This is what we seek to tackle: “Technology is the bane and boon of this generation of students. What exactly are the pros and cons of using technology in the homeschool? How can you utilize the online resources available to you while maintaining a balance with offline learning? How can teacher parents make use of technology to make homeschooling easier? Homeschooling mom Donna Pangilinan-Simpao talks about this as she shares her favorite tech resources, which she used in more than 10 years of homeschooling.”
Come, and listen to my favorite Senator! Kuya Kiko Pangilinan!
Efren Penaflorida and Marissa Leinart will join Kuya Kiko as Keynote Speakers!
3:00-5:10 for these sessions!
Please make sure to stay till the end for exciting raffle prizes.
New Living Translation
1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.
I remember a blog post where I shared about God’s answer to my prayer many years back about expanding the four walls of our classroom. Indeed God truly continues to expand as He has brought me to various heights in merely passing what I have learned in our 16 years of non-stop homeschooling journey. From mentoring mini classes of homeschooling parents, to workshops for larger parent groups; from moderating a dynamic homeschool community of almost 9000 members to speaking in homeschooling conferences, it has been a truly an unforgettable journey of learning and passing on. It could be as simple as a FB message, a comment on a post or a call, or an email, God has been allowing His grace and encouragement to overflow from one home to another. I am truly blessed to part of this cycle of blessing.
Never did I think that God would enlarge the borders even further and really allow me to even cross continents to learn about best practices in working with poor children/ families in Guatemala in an exposure trip last year. And God opened the doors to eventually help oversee the educating of 160 children from the indigenous groups of B’laan and Tagakaolo in the Visions of Hope Christian School in a province of Sarangani, the southernmost tip of Mindanao Island.
Only God could have orchestrated it all. With the help of good friend Steph De Los Santos who invited me to be part of the Visions of Hope Foundation and my now BFF in ministry, Arlene Sy, the homeschooling experience would prove to be a gold mine in “helping” home educate the many children who need to live in boarding facilities in the school since their homes were just too far (2-3 hour walk, one way!) Aligned with our mission/vision, we are now test running a curriculum that seeks to be a Christ centered, holistic, practical, relevant and indigenous culture sensitive. One that will celebrate the beautiful community of the B’laans and Tagakaolos and help them as well end the cycle of poverty by helping raise productive citizens that will one day give back to their municipality, their province. And by careful crafting, we hope and pray that our graduates will be able to meet th needs of this community in the future. We truly seek to promote culture identity and preservation through lessons and activities. Indeed a daunting task but one the Lord never designed to be addressed by one group or individual. God indeed uses a multitude to lovingly raise His little ones.
Sarangani is one of the poorest provinces in our country. According to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 2015, Sarangani is the 3rd poorest province with a poverty incidence of 61.7% meaning 6 out of 10 families do not earn enough to provide for basic food and non food needs. With poverty, education becomes a non-priority as the children are expected to help add to the family income . Some opt to let their children marry early (early teens) so as to pass the burden of care for others. Armed with our mother organization, Center for Community Transformation‘s call to work in the poorest of the poor, we knew Visions of Hope Foundation needed to provide better access to quality and relevant education for our indigenous children.
So after many meetings and several visits to Mindanao, it is with the deepest gratitude for Our Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord , our Provider) and greatest joy that I would like to share the photos of our recent Thanksgiving and Inauguration Ceremony last September 13, 2017 as our new school building was turned over to us by our generous donor, the Security Bank Foundation as they continue to roll out their commitment in their “Build a School. Build a Nation: Classrooms Project!”
Let me share our journey as we saw this day unfold and as we marvel in witnessing God’s faithfulness to His children through these photos:
During my initial visit, I met the students and teachers of Visions of Hope Christian School in both Malungon, Sarangani and General Santos.
Set in a hilly and sloping property in Malungon, the training center has mini buildings with a meeting hall and several rooms for lodging. A highlight of this center is the Bamboo Worship/School Structure !
Look at this beautiful “bamboo palace” at night.
I toured the grounds to see the current classrooms being used for preschool up to level 7 . They all were in bad shape, needing major repairs. But really, I loved the native feel of the materials in these rooms/cottages. Hopefully, we can add a bit of natural feel into the new school building that had to meet design requirements of our donor, Security Bank Foundation.
I also had a chance to witness the B’laan way of weaving as I visited the Lamiflew Living Museum and School of Living Traditions.
I met the wonderful teachers of our school. I spent time with them sharing what it means to be a creative teacher and how to inspire creativity.
At the core of making this all happen are two of the most dedicated workers I have ever met and worked with. Meet Ms. Arlene Sy, the Visions of Hope Foundation Executive Director and our every so young, multitalented and gracious program developer and researcher, Ms. Abi Limpin.
We are also to privileged to have Professor Romeo Dela Cruz to be on board in curriculum development. Prof Romeo or Kuya Toto to others is a former assistant professor of CAS-DH (College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities) University of the Philippines, Los Banos and former commissioner at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
On my next visit, our building was taking shape.
I had more time with the teachers as we discussed how to use Unit Studies in their lessons.
Last Wednesday, was a big day for all of us. It was a perfect day. Not hot, not rainy, cloudy with just enough cool wind and see how the day went:
A simple program featured short messages from Malungon Mayor Tessa Constantino, Security Bank Foundation Chairperson, Mr Rafael Simpao, Jr (yes that’s Papa!), and Visions of Hope Foundation Chairperson Ms. Stephanie De Los Santos. It was a delight to see the gathering of other committed partners from CCT, Security Bank, and local government. I even had a nice chat with a friend, quite close to my father in law, Ms. Anastasia Dy, executive director of Security Bank Corporation and President of Security Bank Foundation (Papa’s Boss!) .
A favorite part of the event was being to share this entire experience with my last homeschooled son, Gino, who had an out of this world “school” exposure trip.
Here is Gino with “Papa” Babes whom my children call as “Daddy” because 1) Gilbert is Papa and 2) there was resistance to be called Lolo many years back 🙂 It was priceless to have Gino see Lolo “Daddy Babes” and “Mama Donna” in action. Truly an unforgettable experience for us all!
The kids presented an indigenous dance number.
We then proceeded to our new school building for ribbon cutting and turning over ceremony.
I shall end and take a pause here. I was able to take a school tour and observe a typical school day and will create a part 2 post for that. Part 3 will be about how to help if you’d like to join us in becoming a champion for the kids. I will cite different options where your talents and resources may be of use in blessing our school .
As I close, let me share a photo of our teachers having a light moment here. Photo was posted by Teacher Jen Bag-o Pido on her FB page. The challenge is truly enormous but these teachers are simply empowered and encouraged by God to press on. Their faith and commitment blesses me tremendously.
Like the weaving masterpieces of cloth seen in the skirts of our teachers, I can’t help but feel the warmth of God’s “woven” work among His people. Different threads, different colors coming together to create a beautiful work of art that will be showcased again and again. We all need partners as we fight for children at risk indeed, and I thank you all, all the threads coming together for this worthy, God given endeavor.
Indeed, God loves His children. (We are all His children, remember??!!) The experiences shared here show just that. We are all part of His labor of Love. We are doers and at the same time recipients of that love. That thought just blows me away.
1 Corinthians 12; 12, 20
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.
Psalm 127: 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
5Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.