Making Science Come Alive Part 2 : The CardioVascular System

So, we’ve covered the basic cell and how these cells are viewed as part 1 of this Science series.  Since our homeschool microscopes are not as versatile or powerful, we can either ask them to draw using a simple worksheet the various images (usually there are pre made slides in a microscope kit) of various samples of “tissue’.  Or you can make your own simple slide of hair, a tiny speck of dust, water from pond, or even your own blood ( if you can prick yourself for some sample).  We can opt to just google for “microscopic image of _____________” and let our students copy and color using the same worksheet  and identify them.  As they do this, you can read aloud more about the cells they are copying. We worked on copying a bacteria, fungi and a heart muscle cell (as part of our upcoming lesson).   You may opt for other cells like an amoeba, a virus, skeletal muscle or skin cells.  The options are limitless. 

We also did to make play dough images of some cells we learned about.

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The skin ( Epidermis, Dermis with the hair and glands, blood vessels)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)
The basic neuron (nerve cell)

At this point, it would be good to remind your students that  a billion/trillion cells make up a organ/system in your body.

We then proceeded to discuss the Cardiovascular or Circulatory System.    When kids encounter big words as such, be sure to train them to try to understand these words by trying to get into root word analysis.  You may also introduce a bit of Latin as well and explain why anatomy terms mostly are based on Latin words.  Cardio – heart, Vascular – Vessels or passageways for blood. Circulatory – circle, or circulate.  It is a continuous cyclical process of pumping and receiving blood. So with the remaining play dough we had (oh these tubs were awesome finds, maybe 10 years ago from Toy Station in Rockwell) We had all colors! Now were down to the last tub (like an ice cream tub), pink and it suited us well. A doctor friend really thought it was closely resembling a hear which we dissected in anatomy class way back. We first read about the heart/circulatory system and watched some videos . You can ask your kids to take notes as you watch.  You may opt to use these templates  or worksheets to demonstrate basic parts of the heart. Here is another video. With a good model or diagram to follow, Gino then has a go!

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Can you identify the basic parts? Right Atrium, Tricuspid Valve, Right Ventricle, Left Atrium , Mitral Valve, Left Ventricle, Interventricular Septum (This is an opened up view of heart, if you lift the front covering. Ask your student to get the amount of dough equal to his fist, that is approximately the size of his heart. Now here is a tip:  Arteries- AWAY. They bring oxygenated blood AWAY. Arteries, Away.  As for Veins… forgive me here.. VACK. as in Back. They bring blood blood back to heart/lungs for oxygenation. There are a few exceptions like Pulmonic Artery, brings blood from the Right Ventricle to the Lungs for oxygenation .
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A Breast surgeon friend said, “Wow, may coronary arteries pa.!” Arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood! We had to do that so I could explain what happens in a heart attack!

Forgive me for my excitement but now that the students know the basics, we can spice it up a bit by giving some examples of abnormalities or illnesses of these organs. I punctured a hole in the wall of the heart that decided the left and right side and said, many babies are born with holes in these walls. Many naturally close at some point but others may need surgery to close the hole because you can’t have blood from different chambers mix!

Then you can even go further and demonstrate what happens with blocked arteries that may cause hypertension or even a coronary attack ( heart attack! Please remember attack involving the decreased or lack of oxygen to the heart is a heart attack while that which involves blood supply to the brain is a cerebral stroke.   Can you google what is the medical term for a heart attack?  Comment below for your answer. If you want to extend the lesson, you can even talk about Healthy Practices in keeping your arteries clog free!
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He actually should not be smiling here because his artery (using play dough and a toilet paper roll) is completely blocked!

If you have a stethoscope at home, have a go and listen to each other’s heart!  Count the beats per minute. Use Math here. Multiply the number of beats per minute  x number of minutes per hour, then hour many hours per day and viola, you can figure out how “awesome” our heart is!  While you’re at this, do some 5-10 minutes exercise and listen to your heart again. Your kids will truly be amazed at the big difference in  the beats per minute soon after you  move around!  Without a stethoscope, you can use your own pulse taken using your index finger on your inner side of wrist or on your carotids in your neck. Try to get your own pulse.  Do not use your thumbs for they have their own pulse! For older children, you make them research about the common pulse points and let him/her demonstrate such as this! You can assign a pulse log so he can see variation within the day! How exciting? Sorry! am really a nerdy Science person!

As mentioned, I super love relating seemingly Academic Stuff to “deeper stuff”.  I would probably use the verse below as we start the day and eventually relate it to our Science lesson on the heart. How does one spiritually and physically guard ones heart?  Wow, that’s a valuable application exercise , right there!

Oops, there was just so many things to share about this system, we will have part 3 then for our genetic material/ DNA topic. Have a heartfelt, heart full session with your students!

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

 

Making Science Come Alive Part 1

I love Science. It is just so fascinating.  I still remember devouring that TIME magazine issue in the late 1980s featuring the amazing discoveries about that immune system. That and all the World Book Encyclopedias on Health really propelled my quest to earn my degree in Medicine.  Though Medical School was tough, the awe and fascination for the wonders of Science lingered.

I guess, that’s why I am a very enthusiastic Science teacher.  I have this feeling that I will do the subject such injustice if our Science lessons become boring and tedious.  I have to say that these materials have helped make our Science Come Alive:

So here is just a sample of what we went through in Science the past weeks. Our lessons were:

  • Cell and Cell Theory
  • Microscope/Use of Microscope
  • Parts of the Cell
  • DNA / Introduction to Genes
  • Plant/ Animal Cell
  • Cells->Tissue->Organ->System
  • Cardiovasuclar System
  • Introduction to the Hematologic System ( Blood)

When I think of how to teach a specific lesson, I always consider the following:

  1. How to  make it interesting and applicable
  2. Integrating the various senses ( Sensory Activation/ Integration) through use of interesting videos, doing step by step projects, looking for stories that can also reach out to other aspects of the student’s life ( emotion/ character/beliefs)
  3. What is available ( and of course, the 3 Rs of reuse, reduce, recycle) : Materials and Reference Materials/ Models
  4. Relate it to current events
  5. How to turn lessons into unit studies and find connections with other subjects (Sometimes, I can only find connections to one subject, but there are times, a whole unit study is born) .
  6. If Art projects can be incorporated

As I keep all these in mind (sometimes I take notes , but many times, ideas comes in a spur of the moment fashion), I then mix, combine, balance and alternate.  I try to intersperse lessons so as no to create information overload,  note taking fatigue or boredom: a bit of lecture here, then a video there and then working on steps in a project later on.  Is there a formula? No, just trust your instincts or better yet, a more “scientific”basis would be to observe your student’s non verbal ( or verbal, if they’re bold enough) cues if they need a break or need to spruce things up a bit.

So let me share with you our lessons through photos:

It’s good to start with the basics of Microscopy and Cell Theory.  Simply because the students need to understand how “microscopic” cells and details have been discovered and visualized.  We purchased a basic middle school level microscope with 1200x as highest magnification many years ago and with 4 children, it was a good investment. I think it was less than Php 2000.00 then.

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Image: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/microscopebasicspowerpoint-100326122819-phpapp02/95/microscope-basics-powerpoint-2-728.jpg?cb=1269607486
Image: http://image.slidesharecdn.com/microscopebasicspowerpoint-100326122819-phpapp02/95/microscope-basics-powerpoint-2-728.jpg?cb=1269607486

You may use a simple worksheet template for this as well.  You can also check some youtube tutorials on the use of a basic microscope.

In trying to explain cells or atoms,  I used to use styrofoam as a learning to tool.  However, we had this cloud foam product for the longest time in a cabinet of boxed toys/activity kits. Oh wow, what a treasure ! It looks like cells and they attach together like play dough! Eureka moment indeed.

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And so we go deeper in the the study of cells : structure and parts. Many years ago with our older boys, we did the edible cell in our homeschool Monday Gang,  The cell was made of rice, vegetables and macaroni uncooked noodles.  (I’ll try to look for a photo!)  The cytoplasm was made of rice glued as the floor on an illustration board and the organelles were from carrots, cabbage, onions, mongo seeds and other veggies that resembled the cell parts.  The cell membrane was made up of elbow macaroni!

This school year, we decided to follow Apologia Creation Science Anatomy and Physiology Textbook’s activity using everyday pantry or kitchen stuff.  We improvised on a few things. Look!

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Can you identify the main organelles in our cell?

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So we then proceeded to  cells make up tissues and groups of tissues make up organs.   Look at Gino’s heart, lungs and liver!

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I’m getting too excited here but will have to take a break!!!!   Watch out for Part 2 as we delve into a the Circulatory System and dissect the DNA!

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-20

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

The Magical World of Read-Aloud: Make It a Habit

I began reading aloud to our children when they were inside my womb.  And since I was pregnant every 2 years for 8 long years, there was a lot of reading going on and whether you were around me or inside me!!!! You see, our eldest son loved bedtime and yes, nap time stories!  We began exposing him to giant 8×10 photos of faces at a few weeks old, board books at 2 months, giant picture books when he could sit at 6 months and books with simple plots around 10 months or so.

Oh my, we have memorized so many books because  there were all time favorite ones that had to be read again and again.” We’re going on a bear hunt, we’re gonna catch a big one, I am not scared! ”  “A told B and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree,”  “And I’ll huff and I puff, and I’ll blow your house down,”  “Pip-pero-pembo-rosa-rembo, char-bari, ruchi-pip peri-pembo!”  “…. The spider didn’t answer. She was very busy spinning her web.”  ” I do not like them in a house. I do not like them with a mouse.I do not like them here or there.I do not like them anywhere.” and so many more lines !!!

So, when our eldest was around 15 months, I was pregnant with our 2nd who most likely enjoyed the daily, and yes,  twice daily bonding of stories through books our eldest would pile up when it was time for nap/bedtime. And somehow that was our story, for the coming babies and toddlers.

It has been 18 years since I started reading to our children, and yes I am still at it with our  2 youngest  children for bedtime.  I am thankful that homeschooling all of them has made READING A LOUD a given, something that’s all part of a day’s work.  But reading a loud never seemed work really, it was really precious bonding where adventures happen, questions are asked, minds are opened, hearts are aligned and imaginations are ignited.  I can still hear the giggles, the shrieks of suspense, and loads of laughter as I try to recall the amazing books we have shared together as a family.  I can still remember how imagination and humor have tweaked certain stories  eventually turning them to  laughing sessions! Yes, laughing until your eyes start to tear—those were precious times indeed.

There are so many articles out there.  Evidence abounds.   You can search or read a few here.  Experts say it only takes 15 minutes of Reading Aloud a day to make a world of difference.

So, please, while your children are young, carve out that time and make it a habit. You’ll never ever regret it, this I can promise.

Here are some simple tips to make reading a loud a habit:

  1. Start them young.   Yes, while at the womb and just keep books around, available and accessible for every stage of their growing years.
  2. Choose good books. From  board to picture books,  from Bible storybooks to actual chapters from a book of the Bible, from simple stories with rhythm and rhyme to simple storybooks, from short stories to chapter books, from short novels to biographies, there are thousands of titles to choose from.   You can check this list.  Try to include local material like the stories from Adarna House,  OMF,  or Tahanan Books.  Some of our favorites were: “Chenelyn, Chenelyn, Putot, Ay! May Bukbok ang Ngipin ni Ani!”  For young ones, avoid those books with characters they see on TV or on gadgets.
  3. Establish a routine that best suits your schedule. It takes two to Read-A-Loud. It will only work if both the reader and the “reedee”  ( haha , invented my word there!) are both available and up to it. Parents can take turns.  Bedtime seems best but if breakfast is more doable, then make that your daily habit. If daily is not possible, then aim for maybe 3x a week . Make up on weekends!  For as long at it is happening, then that is good. Consistency and sustainability are important to maximize the countless blessings of this habit.
  4. Turn off all gadgets during READ-A-LOUD time, yes, including the reader’s phone.  Or,  make a “no gadget rule for bedtime!”
  5. With older kids and chapter books, you can assign portions to be read by your child. And for a shared experience, do not read ahead. Discover the book with your  children.
  6. Try to “live” the story.  Change tone or type of voice depending on who is speaking. Adjust your “reading” depending on the mood of the story.
  7. Be affectionate and show how eager you are to bond.   Do lots of hugging, tickling and hugging!
  8. Do book exchange with a group of friends (but don’t rush to exchange the book that your child is  attached to, okay? ) so you don’t have to spend.

All four children read on their own now.  Though, I am still get to read to my younger children (ages 13 and 11) , I know these precious days when I can still have their complete attention are numbered. So, here I am sharing with you to encourage you to pick up that book, let  the other things on your to do list, wait and read-a-loud.

Proverbs 18: 15 The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.

The Manila International Book Fair 2016: Top 10 Picks and a Bonus!

I think I was absent in the Book Fair scene for more than 5 years. This year, the only reason I went was because I needed to go to DFA for my 3 children’s passport renewal  appointment. Hello!!!  DFA Aseana was like 5 minutes away from SMX MOA.  How could I pass the chance?  I also saw it as a field trip for my youngest who has never gone to such a huge assembly of books in our country! The fair runs from Sept 14-18, 10AM -8PM. Tickets are at Php 20.00, Php 15.00 if students can present their IDs!

My kids are not very fond of “shopping” or “window shopping”.  It may be  because 3/4 of them are boys and my only daughter may have formed a similar view through the years.   They are very practical people. Buy what you need then go.  Given my own commitment to stick within the budget and never to make the same mistake of hoarding material in the early part of our homeschooling years, we agreed 90 minutes, which extended to 2 hours because I kinda got lost.

It is unfortunate that the event’s website is down:( at the very time, it needs to be up and running. It is down now as I write.   Try it again another time, maybe it will work. So let me direct you to their FB page. They have the entire itinerary there for the different workshops ( some free, some with reasonable fees).

I am not attempting to make a comprehensive post. How could I given 2 hours to walk through aisles and aisles of more than 200 exhibitors/publishers?   So, let me just share my highlights. My top 10 picks!

  1.   Seeing our preschool material once again: Sing Spell Read and Write.   My 2nd son couldn’t help but reminisce as he looked at some of the story books that were part of the kit. Yes, we did it all: All About, Off We Go, On Track, Raceway, Grand Tour 1 and 2, and yes, even a very old edition of Trophy Workbook.  Having 4 children, we were ok to get the  Pre-K set and the Combo set since we were going to reuse all of the material for sure for the the kids. I just purchased the manuals separately. Oh how I loved this material!  Deonna Tanchi was the one who recommended this set to us. It was also a blessing that Teacher  and Reverend Pat Capwell of the Institute of Foundational Learning ( a good friend of Sing Spell Creator Sue Dickson) offered her expertise in training many homeschooolers, around 10 years ago in CCF Alabang. Yes, I am a certified Sing Spell Read and Write Homeschooling Teacher!

This material is being sold by Mind Mover Publishers. Check out their other materials on their website!  I liked the fact that they were selling the material separately (workbooks, books) but they were pricey. The All Aboard US edition workbook was being sold for 1.200! Ouch!  The agent mentioned a price of $357 plus 20% shipping fee for the entire set. (I hope the agent was referring to the Combo set -Kinder  and Level 1). We purchased this more than decade ago for something around Php10,000  (through a balikbayan box I shared with a co-homeschooler). It was super worth it, having 4 children! The pre -K kit was then around $80.00.

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This is a rare sight: an almost 6 footer 15 year old laughing over some of the SSRW readers!

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The entire set I am referring to looks like this:

ww.rainbowresource.com
ww.rainbowresource.com

2. Meeting Jolly Phonics for the first time.  Jolly Phonics from the CD Book International Inc Booth

Knowing sounds first before the name of the letters!   This is similar to the principle of Sing Spell Read and Write !   The agent I spoke with mentioned that many preschoolers in the UK are moving towards using this principle.  Several PAREF preschools in Metro Manila are into Jolly Phonics.

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their students achieve. The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below. (jollylearning.co uk)

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Some of books offer “tactile” experience as children use their fingers to trace the letters, similar to the Montessori way of using sandpaper, sand, or materials with texture.

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I love it that the material seems to be very FUN to do with your children ! The materials range from Word Books at Php 380.00 to Workbooks/ Student Book sets from Php400 to Php4000.  Classroom Aids are from Php500- Php 5000.  Starter Kits/Classroom Kits/School Kit Editions range from Php 37,000- 160,000. I am hoping though you can pick and choose and buy some of the material per piece. I was really JOLLY looking through their material!

3. The Php 100.00 books   (Sorry, I forgot the name of the booth! Just look for the stash of books that’s arranged as seen below!!!)

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I am fond of listening to videos by Pastor Francis Chan 🙂
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A good preschool workbook for Filipino!
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Time for Christmas Shopping?

4. Character Books @ Php100.00 each from Paulines!   If you buy 5, it’s Php90.00 each. Sister Mildred  T. Chan said the more you buy, the more discount is given.   These are also sold in Paulines Stores in SM Malls and online via www.e-shop.paulines.ph.  I am not certain if discounts are only  given at the book fair though.  You may email mclcc@paulines.ph for inquiries.

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Look at the vast issues discussed! This could be entire Character Education Curriculum!

5. Homeschool Add Ons!  Wow,the biggest protractor, compass and triangular rulers! I also forgot the booth name but you won’t miss this for sure. S-K-E-L-E-T-O-N ALERT!

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“ANG PROTRACTOR! BOW!” We had a laugh trip with these… What if you were in a regular school and was asked to bring a protractor, and you brought this!

6. Brother Sewing Machine at National Book Store ( Powerbooks at the malls,however, can offer 3 month installment for BDO cards). The sales person at the booth mentioned that these are only offered via straight payment. We love BROTHER. Our 5 year old machine is still working well:)

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7. Fully Booked offers 20 percent off! I have been wanting to read a full length book by Angela Duckworth.  I listened to one of her Ted Talks on Grit and wanted more. So happy with this find! Take a peak and listen to the video posted.

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8.  Php 65.00 for each of these Modern Heroes for the Filipino Youth by Bookmark.

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9. Though I only managed to touch the first copy off the press, I actually had my best surprise : seeing the entire team behind this pioneering project!  The 3 writers, Ms. Joonee Garcia, Ms.  Michelline Suarez, Ms. Divine Reyes and illustrator Mr, Benjor Catindig.  Copies of public consumption will be available tomorrow.

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It is like Mystery of History, Story of the World, or Horrible Histories series….Filipino Edition!
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Ms. Joonee Garcia, the sweet girl with orange tote is my husband’s batch mate in high school. She has been my children’s piano teacher for several year, truly an amazing artist and educator, and now a writer. You never fail to amaze me, Teacher Joonee!

Get your copies from Tahanan booth for a discounted price of Php 150.00!

10.  Beautiful Card Sets by Vidal Tan, a boy with autism . Php 20.00 !  Yes, no typo error, Php 20.00 for a set at Bookmark.

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And my BONUS for the day, yes for the 2 hours I had alloted was,,, drumroll please…..was seeing my “young padawan” Ching Tan-Sy.  Yes, she was part of a disciple group of teens I was leading while I was in college. Oh wow, 200 booths, dozens and dozens of aisles, 10 hours of the opening hours, 5 days of the book fair and I only alloted 2 hours and viola, we end up in the same booth at the same time, with our homeschooled and formerly homeschooled kids! Isn’t that  more than amazing???! It’s quite telling of our seasons…. she was purchasing Math materials for her  preschooler and I was getting College Review Test Booklets! This was indeed a highlight of my day!

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So don’t you agree that was the most productive 2 hours ever?

I am not sure if these will help , in case you want to plan your “moves” for your visit (and avoid the traps! I have noticed though that some booths had really awesome set ups and displays! They may be quite interesting to visit with younger children!). I can imagine how full it will be over the weekend, so I guess, it is best to really check the places you’d like to visit so you can have a better strategy with these images I’ve uploaded.

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Ladies and gentlemen, “My Manila International Book Fair 2016 Haul! Bow!”

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Piled up!
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Spread out!

And best news, I was within budget!

If you’d like more tips on how to maximize your visit, please visit  two posts from fellow homeschoolers: Que of the thefilipinohomeschooler.com and Teresa of mommytg.blogspot.com. Thank you, Que and Teresa!

 

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” 
― Charles William Eliot

Homeschooling and the Bigger Picture! Don’t Get Lost in the Daily Grind

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We chanced upon our box of puzzles recently and have begun doing puzzles before we started our lessons this week.  These puzzles must be so happy. Some have faded, or lost a piece or two but truly seeing them all brought back happy memories of homeschooling our 4 children.

When our set up was more geared for the preschoolers and lower primary years,  we had various boxes for puzzles, tinker toys, blocks, play dough,  card games, pretend play stuff  or music tools. Activity sets were gems for those who had multilevel children.  They were valued in terms of “how long it can keep your child engaged” currency!!!  This was important as you tried ( and tired!) to teach 4 children at the same time!

Our puzzles then ranged from 4  to 200 pieces.  Gino, who has not seen these puzzles for a while, was just too excited to be reconnected with them!

However, I noticed that he struggled with one set and needed my help a bit.  I sort of gave reminders on how to attack a puzzle. At that very moment, I  recognized that the main challenge for him was not having the “bigger picture”.  Since the boxes of  the puzzles were bulky, I had thrown them away. So there was no image to base the puzzle pieces on. We had no idea (or totally forgot) what that  puzzle was all about.

It then dawned unto me how this often is a the scenario for many homeschoolers. We can get lost in the daily tasks and lesson plans, we can get lost in putting the pieces of the the so called puzzling life of a homeschooler and totally forget the bigger picture.  Before we know it, a little bit of irritation or frustration here and there  snowball into discouragement and desperation.  If you need to see the bigger picture again, please check out a series of blog posts on setting a good homeschooling foundation and working on the bigger picture for your homeschooling journey.

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The “big picture” is our true North.  Our compass on  tough days. An  anchor to remind us to  press on.  My son could have gotten so frustrated but he puzzled on! Without a literal “image” to base how pieces fit together, he had to rely on some tactics in creating the image from “scratch”.   Such is life, right?


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Eventually, the image became clearer. We realized it was “duck mailman” putting letters on different mailboxes. As he “envisioned” the image more clearly,  the task at hand  became easier  and he became faster in fitting the pieces and eventually completed the puzzle. Well, that’s what we  thought was coming until we realized we were missing one piece. Such is life indeed. You can try and do what is within your control but in the end, there will be glitches.  There is no perfect way to educate our children. There is no perfect school, and yes, there is no perfect homeschool.

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For as long as we have set our goals, and know where we want to go, for as long as each day somehow brings us closer to that goal, then all will be well.  We then must know  the “image” of our puzzles, with the pieces representing each homeschooling day.  That’s how we stay on course and press on. Remember the pieces won’t automatically fit together, right? So, you really need to PRESS ON.

Apart from creating a solid  foundation (with the links I have uploaded in this post) of our own homeschooling, participating in milestone homeschooling events is also one good way of recalibrating and realigning ourselves to our goal. I really look at homeschooling conferences as BIG picture events.  It’s such an amazing reminder why we have chosen this journey as homeschoolers.   It is also the best way to get all pumped up and receive all the encouragement that can last you all through the years of your homeschooling. May I  then invite you to consider joining the Philippine Homeschooling Conference 2016 this October?  Please check this link to know more about this exciting event coming for all homeschoolers of the Philippines.  To register, click here.

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Provers 29:18 ( The Message) “If people can’t see what God is doing,  they stumble all over themselves;  But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.”

P.S. If you can incorporate puzzle activities for multilevel kids, go ahead, It’s really a superb, mentally challenging way of bonding with one another. See what cooperation can do!!!! Similarly, in pushing the homeschooling movement here in our country, we all have a part to play: a puzzle piece to contribute so let’s join forces and see each other on October 22, ok?

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Effective Stress Busters for every Homeschooling Parent!

Let me share with you how I have somehow reduced unnecessary stress with some very simple tips. Stress is Life’s middle name. It is inevitable.

One of the most important advice is  to shut your phone off! If you have a landline, let your loved ones call you there for emergencies.  Check your phone only during breaks. If this is the only thing you can safeguard and apply, you would have removed a whole of stress in trying to homeschool our children while being connected to all our contacts! 

And yes, there are many ways to reduce the amount of stress we face as we homeschool. Let me share my tried and tested tips.

https://www.pinterest.com/uhsmadison/stress-quotes/
https://www.pinterest.com/uhsmadison/stress-quotes/

Homeschooling is a teacher mommy or daddy’s full time job. Just like any other occupation, homeschool teaching has its own set of challenges and so, we also need to find ways to learn how to reduce stress  in our workplace , the homeschool classroom.

So here goes:

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  1.  If you truly believe in the power of prayer and meditation, make it a number one priority for the day.  We may differ in the manner / timing this is done.  Most prefer to do it at the first hour of the day while the kids are still asleep, however there are those who would rather do this at the end of the day.  Of course, the are days, we rush or miss out on this precious time, but don’t ever let that be the norm.   The battle they say is won on our knees.
  2.  Dress up, and look good:)  I don’t get motivated if I homeschool in home clothes. That’s just me. I feel better if I am dressed in ready to go clothes and yes, with fixed hair and some make up.  I am also ready for surprise visits, or if I suddenly need to leave.   Sometimes, when I have more time, I actually put more make-up.   Lest all the make up (which most moms have too much off) expires, and become harmful, by all means, use them. I’d rather have a toxic day looking smart and well than having a toxic day and feel “ugly.”
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)
The day I wore red! Why not ? ( I never wear red so at least, I can while we homeschool!)

3. Move!  Find an activity that will make you move: running?  a sport?  a dance class? or simply be your child’s PE teacher! Learn badminton together, or aim to run 2 or 3 km and watch youtube tutorials on specific sports!

We love tennis!
We love tennis!

4. Keep your workplace in good condition (with  an acceptable level of organization, reduce the stress points in your classroom  <eye sores like clutter, excess amount of material, misplaced stuff, “i don’t what to deal with you” papers/ things>.

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5. Do something new or  different every week (or if it works for you, do such things more often). Fly a kite on a windy day,  take a bath under heavy rain, or just take your books and work in a coffee shop, in a park or in bed!

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6. Reconnect with friends from your childhood!  I have found regular reunions with people you grew up as one of the most effective distressing times. There is just so much laughter as we look back! Ang says!

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Here with classmates from Grade 2! We joined the Mega Magazine Independence Day Campaign! In return, we got a free makeover and shoot! We’ve recently become more deliberate in seeing each other regularly. A few couldn’t make it for the shoot but these are some of my  grade school besties, Noreen (right), then Mian and Michelle (left).

7. Be a blessing to others. Make it part of your agenda to encourage others.  Be purposeful and deliberate. Remember it says in Proverbs,  “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed!” That is so true!

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Here with German volunteers, Mona and Matilda for Visions of Hope. http://www.visionsofhopefoundation.org
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope's Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
Here are my friends in the Vision of Hope’s Rose of Sharon Boarding Facility for Homeless street children. I taught them how to make yarn pompoms:)
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Celebrated morning of my birthday with these lovely ladies of Rose Sharon:)

8. Take time before homeschooling session to jot down your non-homeschooling “must dos” in a notebook or planner.  Check the list out during breaks or while your children may be doing independent work ( which is a luxury ! ).  Do not  attempt to do a non homeschool task which you are sure will consume too much time during breaks.

9.  Involve children in helping with chores or assisting you in organizing your working area ( Today, Gino assisted me in organizing receipts, wrapping a gift and putting plastic cover on a book.) Gino helped me deal with a box full of receipts!

Gino was my assistant today! Thank you, Gino!

10. Make it a habit to declutter your hand bag, to reduce its weight and try (I struggle here) to keep it organized and neat. And always put car keys and parking ticket in the same place all the time. Nothing pressures me more than having a abyss-like bag and endlessly digging to find what you need!

If this list is overwhelming, try to choose 3 to start implementing and see the difference in your stress levels! Hope these work for you!  If you have more to add, please feel free to comment!

P.S.!!!!!

One more thing,  attend a regular activity with other homeschoolers to destress and know you are not ALONE.

Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers
Educating for Life Coffee time for homeschoolers.

Why not join this year’s HAPI (Homeschoolers of the Philippine Islands) and Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschooling Conference come October 22, 2016?

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I will be involved as one of the workshop speakers, please come! Click on this link to register now!

 

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Seeing the Bigger Picture : Use Creative Summaries!

Oh, homeschooling can get so detailed. We can bogged down with the most minute thing. Rightly so, for Pete’s sake, we teach Spelling and Math Calculations and for those tasks, it is really all in the details.

However, we do need to periodically see the bigger picture in all this.  For those who are into homeschooling for the longer haul, a “bigger picture” mindset is easier to achieve on a daily basis. Oh, it’so ok if my student can’t get the lesson now, or isnt as motivated in a particular subject area, we can always try again next time.  But then, how do you remind yourself that this specific lesson needs to be revisited or presented again somehow?

Well, let me suggest, taking time to just jot down notes as you go along your day.  Let me share with you what I have done the past weeks.   You see, I love Arts and Crafts, and it has been some time now that I have been trying my hand ( haha literally that is) at the art of beautiful lettering ( brush, brush pen, pen, markers, calligraphy with Nib and pen holder). I really don’t have the time to attend workshops and do formal training so I just try to learn as time and opportunities allow.   Youtube overflows with lettering tutorials, it’s crazy!

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So, why not hit many birds with one stone. Summarize your lessons via a written ” brain map” of sorts and practice your lettering.  You may  also  allow your children/students to share in the doodling and jotting. Use this summary as a creative way to journal your learning homeschooling journey. Use it to get a bigger picture. Use it to encourage more ideas and application points as you tie up lessons and see amazing connections. Use it as well to filter out  and weave in ” activities, invitations, materials”  ! You may also review this before beginning the new homeschooling session the next day

Seeing the main points of your homeschooling day/ sessions help in being convinced ( if you continue to doubt) that a great amount of learning  is indeed happening!

Processed with MOLDIV
Processed with MOLDIV

 

So what goes into your CREATIVE SUMMARY?***  Here are a few suggestions:

1. Write down the main CHARACTER/SPIRITUAL/ TIMELESS truth  lesson of the day. It could be a verse , a quotation or simple just ONE word that may say it all.

2.  Write down vocabulary words in the main languages being learned ( English, Tagalog, Mother tongue or even foreign language).

3.  Jot down the main lessons (in phrases or simple sentences)  on various subjects and see connections across all subjects.

4.  Record any funny or memorable line/ event/ comment.

5. Drawings are allowed!

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Depending on the age of your students, try to do this as a joint activity:)  Children in Middle School or High School, can do this on their own !)

So go ahead, try it!  (and use unused pages of old notebooks!)

 

Luke 14: 27-29 And whoever does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple. 28Which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost to see if he has the resources to complete it? 29 Otherwise, if he lays the foundation and is unable to finish the work, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,…

 

My Favorite Homeschooling Moments

From four homeschooled children, we are down to one.  Let me show you our timeline:

2005: When Gino was born
2005: When Gino was born

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  • 2002: Homeschoooling a toddler with an infant
  • 2003: Homeschooling a preschooler and toddler, with a newborn
  • 2004: Homeschooling 2 preschoolers, with a toddler
  • 2005: Homeschooling 2 preschoolers, with a toddler and newborn
  • 2006-2012: Homeschooling 4 children.
  • 2012: Released eldest, homeschooling 3
  • 2014: Released 2nd, homeschooling 2
  • 2016:  Released 3rd, homeschooling our youngest Gino, level 5:)

***during the early years, The Bridge School, assisted me in allowing a 3 day program  for the younger kids as I got our act together. So thankful to Bridge for taking care of our babies in batches as I shifted to full time homeschooling. I also learned a whole lot about preschool teaching from this amazing school!

I just want to enjoy this post as I recall MY favorite moments.  And maybe one day, I can ask my students and share with you what their favorite memories are and we can compare notes.  But for now, hoping not to tear, let me share mine:

1. Bedtime stories and Read-A-Loud time:  I just love bonding with the kids with  great books in hand. Whether it be the all time, read again and again, Berenstain Bear’s collection or  other favorite bed time stories, or chapter books like Dr. Doolittle, Popper’s Penguins or recently, Hudson Taylor’s biography,  or chapters from our Mystery of History series, those are my most precious moments ever!  When a shared book/story experience is so rich and wonderful, the memory is like a glue of happiness and warmth!

This is our poster board in our classroom that summarizes all the stories shared in our History time:)
This is our poster board in our classroom that summarizes all the stories shared in our History time:)

 

2. Pretend/ Dramatic Play:  Have you ever found yourself laughing out loud (LOL!) with your children? This, for sure, will create those opportunities.  Create stories, assign roles, re-enact Bible stories!  Oh, how I wished I took a video of all of them!  These tools can also be golden opportunities to teach a lesson. Once, I thought of helping the children develop compassion (putting selves in the shoes of others) and we all pretended to have various disabilities. We drew lots and acted the part we got. All five of us during bedtime had to play the part for 30 minutes.  You can imagine how that turned out. But you have to try it yourself.  However, something that seemed fun turned serious when I challenged them to really think of those who  have these conditions for the rest of their lives.

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The little ones pretending to have wings after they raided Mama’s closet!
Play dress up, dress up
Play dress up, dress up

 

3. Our Art Classes  / Science Experiments – All my students know I do not draw well.  So when we need to draw, I am one with my students, learning again. It’s quite amusing  to see each others’ drawings!  Oh my, we did do  so many ART projects together and boy, did we have so much fun. One time, we were in the garage, painting of all things, a colorful giant GARAGE SALE sign and guess what my students did? Oh poor little creatures, they decided to use some left over paint to paint some millipedes!

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As early sat 2 years old, I expose the kids to Art Projects that are done in steps!

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Exciting Science experiments are always winners. Yes, and the mishaps too.  Once, in an activity for Digestion and the Gastrointestinal System, I did not secure the seal of the blender pitcher, oh were we all covered with samples of “digested food”!  Ewww.  Or during a lesson on the Skin /Integumentary system, we actually pretended to be surgeons, sewing lacerated pig’s skin!

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A study of Seeds: Boys were thrilled to see a really big avocado seed
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Trying to help each other blow up a SUN for our balloon solar system!
Seeing how fire needs oxygen!
Seeing how fire needs oxygen!

 

4. Magic Moments – these are the moments when you have front seats to witness something really special going on. It could be as simple as an older child assisting a younger sibling, a child asking , “Is God old? ” or children eventually embracing a spiritual truth about who God is and what is He like.  Magic Moments are also the times when you see good character in action and experience fruits of your homeschooling labor.  I also consider moments when a “emotional” or “character” concern of  a student is addressed really special. I also love it so much when they come and open up about their thoughts and feelings.

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Raya and Marco look at their piano books together and remember the pieces that they kept playing again and again.

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5.  Scenes Etched in Your Heart – There are many scenes in my mind when I think of the past 13 years of homeschooling.  I have a few favorites though.  My son Marco started piano classes at 5 years old and I remember bringing him to piano with him  on the back seat. The way to the teachers house required us to pass through a hilly road that allows him to feel like he is in a roller coaster. He would always open the windows and I could see from the side mirror, my Marco,  full of glee and enjoying the wind splashing on his chubby face !  I loved seeing him like that and always looked forward to the time when he would ALWAYS open the window to see this EVERY single time we went home from piano lessons.

I am so thankful though that I kept taking photos of our experiences together. I look with fondness and yes with some ache in my heart, as I remember and try to re-live those days. But more than being able to take photos, my gratitude flows in being given a chance to take this ride with our children. They were days that seemed slow and long, but honestly, time does fly… I guess, especially when one is  truly having fun ( and yes there were more fun days than slow and bad days!)

 

Proverbs 15:13 A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.

Dear First Time Homeschooler, There Will Be Bad Days!

Homeschooling parallels life in general, There are various seasons where general conditions occur in a some specific period of time  (newborn phase,  moving homes, living away, caring for elderly parents, illness in family etc) . There  are struggles and victories. There is laughing and yet, crying too.  And to our dearest first time homeschoolers, there will be bad days,  so bad you may end up wishing you could retract your decision to homeschool your children.  After 14 years of homeschooling,  let me encourage you by saying, yes bad days will come but as a whole, the amazing, “My heart and mind are full, thank you Lord for homeschooling” kind of days will far outweigh those terrible, horrible days.

Let me share some of my my experiences:

1.  I made my 6 year old son weep due to Math.  I don’t remember the details but I think the lesson was too difficult and he had to do “more pages”.   I was so moved and vowed never to make any of my students cry. Of course, I failed. He cried again  because the multiplication exercises were just too long and tedious.   I then decided if he knew the basics of multiplication, we could forego the added worksheets. Does any level headed adult multiply 2  4-5 digit numbers manually? We all have our calculators with a few clicks of our fingers , right?

2.  There are days when our lessons or homeschool experience is messed up because of misplacing homeschool materials! The whole mood is off.  Frustration brews and you just want to call it a day, organize and fix your “homeschool” and start fresh. You tell yourself, “That material was purchased for this very reason, this very moment and I can’t find it! Waaaahhhh!”

3.  When you let your phone or online experience and socialization time disturb  homeschooling time- I remember my  5 year old son told me once, “Teachers don’t text.”

4.  For Home Economics, we did major cleaning of appliances: laptops, keyboard, screens, electric fans, etc…   We over cleaned the keyboard of our I-Mac and it stopped working. Water seeped through the letter keys ( since I asked the boys to use cotton dabbed in water to clean each letter button in keyboard but they used  were and drippy cotton!)  We had to humbly report to the Principal, Daddy Gilbert and offered to pay part of the new keyboard.

5.  Character issues will definitely arise. The easier and less taxing way is to just simply shrug it off, and move on and get on with the lesson.  But that is the the right and proper way to deal with it as parents/teachers who have the responsibly of raising our children in the best way we can.  Sometimes, it can disrupt the entire morning addressing some issues but alway do so in a calm and nurturing disposition and always end in prayer.  When you have multiple kids, do it privately, one on one.  Never embrass your children in front  of his/her siblings, that will turn a bad day to a nightmare.

6. There are days when either the teacher or student is  just out of sync for no apparent reason.  You’re not in the mood to teach or  your students are not motivated and seem to be rushing their school work. The environment is far from nurturing and positive. Some may call it toxic!  Just tweak the day! Go for a walk, a swim or get out of the house.  Do something different and just take a break from the mundane stuff of homeschooling.

The sooner you accept that bad days will happen, the  better the chances of surviving them or even turning them around! You’ve got 365 days a year to homeschool, don’t fret and fuss!  Like a song based on verses in Lamentations (of the Old Testament ) beautifully puts it, ” Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is thy faithfulness, mercies and love.” Mommy, or Daddy dear, it may be dark now, but morning is sure to come. Take heart!

Lamentations 3:21-23  21Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,for his compassions never fail. 2They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

Credits to : www.akiit.com for the featured image on this

S.C.H.E.D.U.L.E !

Ok, let me admit that I have a TYPE A side who survives and thrives in routine, in step by step processes, and  always going by a plan. I love to know how things come about and what causes what. That’s probably why I earned a degree in Medicine. Being a nerd at heart, my closest friends joke me for having a book for every issue or concern in different seasons of life.

Homeschooling has challenged and changed all that.  Imagine four  children below eight years old, how can you even think of order, or of sticking to any plan ?

But, hey, it has been 14 years of homeschooling and from four, I am down to one student.  The older kids are well adjusted and doing well in their regular schools. So we must have done something that prepared them to adjust ,cope and yes, even bloom.  So .let me share a few tips on  creating, maintaining, ditching your SCHEDULE (yes there are days, I ditch the plan!)

For many years, usually at the beginning of the school year, I tried to create daily, weekly schedules. Oh wow,  I even downloaded or sometimes even purchased, “homeschool planners, multilevel planners, giant calendars,  personal planners for each child.”  I tried to write lessons (as joint (all kids)  and individual ) and plans for the day with specific time allotment.  I tried to spread out the lessons so as not to tire the children.   But when I realized that I kept adjusting, making changes in the set schedule, I  decided, it wasn’t worth it all and  I somehow wanted a more relaxed, free flowing, flexible schedule (which I believe woks better with multilevel children) .

Looking  back at these planners, none of them were ever  maximized and filled up.  I guess, instinctively, it didn’t match my own learning and teaching philosophy.  How could I end  a moment or shift to another lesson,  when the children are so engrossed in something.? How could I not continue, pursue and extend the moment for maximum learning and enjoyment?

So, we somehow ended up with a  “big picture” schedule such as this. Nothing too specific or rigid.

That is the ideal!
That is the ideal!

 

In my mind, this was our goal. But of course, it always gets mixed up,

It’s not easy to give hard and fast rules because each homeschooling family is unique. Many variables come into play in setting one’s schedule/pace of learning.   So, let me just share my most favorite GO TO tips in being able to  get things done and yes, learn and have fun.

Let’s use the word S-C-H-E-D-U L-E.

1. Set the  time  and material/lesson per day/per week.  Depending on the season of our children’s levels or ages, we more or less, averaged 3-5 hours of  schoolwork.  The younger children in their preschool or primary years had more free play, had more freedom and flexibility.    I would say they engaged and did their lessons for about 1-2 hours only.  As the kids, went into levels 3-6,   we somehow had a 930AM-230PM schedule.  There are days when I would need to nap, or our lunch break would extend, so we end a bit later.

It’s important to consider  the well being of the teacher and student/s. If I had a very stressful evening (let’s say one child was ill throughout the night), I adjust and do lighter lessons or watch videos instead.  Also be wary of other family events for rest of the day,  and make adjustments so as not to stress your homeschooling time or burn you out.

This is basically what we hope to cover for level 5 this school year.  Our homeschool provider, Homeschool Global, (former TMA Homeschool), breaks its school year into 4 quarters.  So I work with that.

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At the beginning of a school year, I photocopy the table of contents of the major textbooks and skim through the lessons.  I look for lessons that can go together.  For example, a lesson on Galileo for History can be supported by lessons in Astronomy.   For Grammar, synchronize your Filipino and Language lessons.

I also think of ideas for projects or connections to real life settings . When a child is older, you can try to elicit these ideas from them.   So find connections across subjects. This saves a whole lot time, solidifies learning. Blended or seamless lessons that encompass several concepts and ideas from various subjects are the in thing now among progressive schools. This method of learning has been proven to be more effective than the usual  one lecture per subject set up.

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2. C  ommunicate your plans to the kids.   Show the the children, the plan for the day.  Remind them that some adjustments may have to be made as you go along. Discuss with them the general plan for the week ( include the outsourced subjects or tutorials outside of the house, MAPE classes, planned field trips or even those days when you may have to leave and assign them some independent school work.)

3. H  eavier subjects first?   Being morning people, we prefer to do heavier subjects that require a whole lot of concentration and mental focus at the beginning of the day. I find our students more alert and more able to comprehend. You may opt to have it the other way around. What’s important is to maximize your lessons given your children’s and your level of concentration/mental and physical strength. After lunch, we try to do the livelier subjects that can wake us all up, a Science experiment, a video tutorial, games or project work that involves a whole lot of creating.

4.  E  ngage the older children in making their own schedules.  For as long as they know what the goals for the day are, they can decide what lessons to tackle first. Depending on your family set up, you may decide do heavier subjects last. This provides the children with some empowerment in making own decision and helps them with time management.  This becomes very helpful during project time where certain tasks are done in steps, week by week.

5.  D  itch it, if necessary .   If a planned lesson or activity isn’t working, be flexible or open, to stop and reassess.  There are many times when we had to ditch the planned lessons for several days. This usually happens during national events like the last Philippine Elections, the Mamasapano Tragedy, Ondoy Storm and Relief Efforts or when our family faces certain situations  making it impossible to  stick to lesson, oblivious to what our family was going through.

6.  U  nit Studies

The www.homeschoolinthewoods.com describes the Unit Study as :

Unit Studies approach a theme topic from several angles, encouraging activity and love of learning as well as discipline and responsibility. Units work best when the main topic is studied in the areas of Bible, History, Science, Health, Physical Education and the Arts, but Language and Math can often be applied as well.

While  www.thehomeschoolmom.com says :

Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically encompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic (Weaver units or KONOS character units, for example), although they can be specific to a specific subject (like Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units). Since it is easier to teach different ages the same topics with multi-level unit studies, they are popular among homeschoolers wanting to keep all of their children on similar topics at the same time.

Here are some examples of your own unit studies and projects done by multilevel Children:

A Unit Study on Roman History

A Unit Study on Shakespeare

Another Unit Study on Shakespeare

Book Reports that become Unit Studies

A Unit Study: Entrepreneurship 101

Unit Study on Wise Building

Unit Study on Maps

For more information about Unit Studies, click here.

7.  L  imit redundant activities –  Don’t be afraid to skip lessons that are “useless”, that have been taken up and  already mastered,  or that will be taken up in a future lesson in another subject.  If for instance, your child is reading a chapter book on a person known for his compassion and love for the children then you find a similar material in his Reading Exercise textbook, you may opt to skip that part.  I am using the Mathusee curriculum  for Math.  Each Lesson has about 3 practice sheets of the new lessons and another 4 practice sheets for the current lesson and past lessons combined.  When the student scores high in several practice sheets, I usually limit these so we could proceed to the next lesson or use the time to apply what we have learned to real life situations.

8.  E  liminate distractions –  For as long as family members know how to contact you via landline, shut the  mobile phone off ( I need to learn this again and again). Open it only during homeschool breaks.  Write down non-homeschool thoughts that you need to go back to later on during the day.   Keep your homeschool room neat and organized, a messy room is a giant distraction and can become stressful, in the long run.

So there, Set, Communicate, Heavier first, Engage, Ditch it, Unit Studies, Limit, Eliminate ! 

Hope these tried and tested tips help with scheduling your daily homeschooling experiences!

 

Ephesians 6: 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,