Best Preschool Homeschool Experiences

  1.  Storytelling/ Read A Loud

Children love to hear stories. You can tell stories about your own childhood and how it  was like growing up.   It’s a good chance for the kids to get to know the younger you.  You can use simple story books.  Don’t be afraid to be animated and to act out the story.  Just imagine you are the child and you’ll know how to read the story well!  Oh, don’t do it perfectly  or else, you’ll have to do that again and again for many, many bedtime nights!I have to say that this experience has been one of our ( my hubby Gilbert and myself)  most favorite times with our children! And countless stories, relayed again and again, have bonded us indeed for life!

As they got older,  I began to use chapter books which was read one chapter at a time.

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2.  Pretend Play

No wonder places like Kidzania are a hit!  Smaller children love doing pretend play. They become “kings” as they pretend and they can out their imagination and enjoy.   So create scenarios!  Sometimes it could be as simple as pretend conversations but on other days, do the works and go all out with props and costumes !

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Even older kids will enjoy pretend play!
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The “chubbiest’ knight and “pinkest” princess!
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The baby barber working on Kuya!
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Pretending to be birds !

3.  Dramatization

Act out favorite stories!  You may also include popular Bible Stories with important character lessons.

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Re-enacting the Washing of the Disciples’ Feet to teach Humility
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Each one had a role in the “Widow’s Offering” story of Jesus

4. Messy Time !

For many years, “Mess” seemed like our 5th child. It went wherever we went.  Oh, but we had so much fun with all the mess.  We always had regular play dough time ( dough was either home made or store bought)   We would create stories out of our creations or make play food and pretend we were in a restaurant. Or toys can actually have a party, play dough with plastic animals was always a winner.

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Animals on top of a mound of play dough

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When I asked the kids what the animals were doing, they said , ” They’re having a meeting.”

I also made sure we had good quality, washable tempera or poster paint, brushes, sponges, mixing plates or palettes and all kinds of painting surfaces. Aprons were easy reach.

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Raya started her journey to Art in this way. We just exposed her to different art media and forms. Check her corner “Rayas Room” to see her recent creations!
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This easel was an all time hit. Used and abused ! With 4 children, it was truly worth it.

Involve your children in clean up. My kids loved cleaning paint brushes and  they were thrilled to see how all the colors mixed! They also enjoyed using sponges with lots of foamy cleaning soap !

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5. Water Play

This can be done using a water table or a giant basin on top of a toddler or preschool level table.  Or it may be done during bath time. Just provide all sorts of water containers and gadgets (plastic pails, measuring cups, squirt bottles, water gun, watering cans, 50 or 15 ml syringes ( without needles, ok?) Some stores sell ” water toys” like  a  water and sand mill .  Give the kids a treat by adding drops of water color to your water.

You may even disguise this time as a s  fun ” cleaning time”   where kids wash their toys or even shoes.

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6. Sand Box Time

If we lived in countries where play sand is easily accessible, we can really maximize “sand play”.  Returning home from a 2 year stay in London, I packed a bag or two of play sand for our two toddlers. This water and sand table from Early Learning Center London could be used for either water and water toys or sand and sand toys.  It was our gift to our son who turned 1 year old.  It was  so useful for us as 3 more kids used it as well.

In Manila, we purchased a giant crab sandbox with cover and had a whole lot of “sand play” in our earlier homeschool experiences. We would recreate scenes like farm life with plastic animals and plants. Even use a small basin as a  pond! Or we would create a “beach scene” with water animals.

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7. Wooden Blocks/ Wooden Train Time

Wooden blocks, trains and tracks offer limitless possibilities. From building a castle or a fort , to using the blocks/connecting tracks to create a whole town;  toys that can be used and reused, created and recreated are simply the best toys.

8. Kitchen Time: Cooking/ Baking

Toddlers or preschoolers can be able to help with simple baking or cooking duties like mixing, breaking the egg, measuring some simple ingredients, forming cookies using a mold or cookie cutter.   For cooking, preschoolers can cut simple vegetables or fruits.   They can help tossing the ingredients into the recipe.

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Zuchinsi are very easy to cut with a blunt knife!

9. Dance & Movement

Just go ahead and do it. Play some dance music and let loose.  Carry them, or twirl them and just have lots of fun. Do some relays!  

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Pillow Case Race!
Pillow Case Race!
Our Homeschool support group called Tuesday Gang met regularly and the kids always had a chance to do "battle outdoors" ( Narnia season!)
Our homeschool support group called Tuesday Gang met regularly and the kids always had a chance to do “battle outdoors” ( Narnia season!).

10. Go Outdoors.

Take a nature walk. Go out into the rain!  Visit the park. Fly a kite. Catch an insect.  Go to an open field, set up a picnic and run around on a cool and windy day.

We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!
We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!

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Oh, this post made me really look back with both a smile  in my face and an ache in my heart. The toddler and preschool years were really one of a kind and may you make the most of this season as you think of activities to bond. Hope this list helps!

 

Don’t Rush Your Children: Let Them Be Kids A Little Longer

It all began with kidding my youngest about the times  I would sing to him as a toddler before he slept and he would blurt out, “Sing, Mama, Sing!” when I would abruptly stop singing as I myself drifted to sleep. We then started remembering many more moments or should I say, predicaments, where I think I needed rescue. There were days, these moments became what I would often call, “Get me out of here” situations!

It’s quite ironical that what used to bring us exasperation when our older kids were much. much younger are the very moments we now sorely miss.

Let me try if we share the same list:

  1. The Dreaded Shampoo in the Eyes situation

Bathing is usually fun especially when you use a bath tub or a giant basin. We always had water toys and lots of bubbles which the kids would pretend was  hot coffee  or cocoa with frothed milk. But it was tricky when it was shampoo time.   “Not in my eyes, not in my eyes!” would often be their battle cry. I think we even contemplated on buying that plastic visor contraption to prevent soap suds from getting into the face. But day after day, that was stressful until the day they overcame the fear !

2.  “Read stories?”

Oh, I remember our eldest always had 5 or more  storybooks in tow during bedtime and would beg  with his chubbiest smile, “Read stories? “.  How could you resist? How could you resist the nth book he requests no matter how tired you were?

3. The Handprints on the Windows and Mirrors

Chubby hands, small feet, peanut M&M or Dippin’ Dot toes… I don’t see stains anymore and it does make one sad.

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4.  The Fear of Medicine (white one, pink one, orange one)

Remember the stress of coercing, bribing them  and practically ramming dreadful medicine down their throats by hook or by crook? I remember having to pray with them before swallowing the feared paracetamol or some yucky antibiotic.  Or having to get the other siblings to rally as cheerleaders when it was time for medicine intake.

5. Nap Time Battles

Whether it be struggling to stay awake waiting for the little one to doze or  the little one waking up the moment you put them down from being carried, the sleep sergeant in me would often find myself napping with them out of fatigue from  the whole process of putting them to sleep.  So some may say, nap when the baby naps but others find the nap times as “me time” to do other things. Oh, naps!!!!

6. The Loooooonnnnng Prayers

At bedtime, one son got used to praying against all his fears.  So the list was long and he did it every night for years.  Oh yes, you name it, he prayed against it!  Volcanic eruption, earthquake, storms, bad guys, scorpions, snakes, and even tarantulas!

7.   The Clingy State

There was an afternoon that I had to leave my son and so before he napped, he said, “ Mama, I want my nap to be so long so when I wake up, you’re here na.”  How could your heart not melt with that? But of course there were days when we gathered with other homeschooling families and one child would not leave my  side to play with all the other children.  I envied the other moms who had more independent and less clingy children. But now that they are all not clingy anymore, you wonder why you rushed them to learn to be on their own????

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8. Car Seat/ Stroller Struggle

Having live abroad without a full time nanny when we had one toddler and an infant, the Filipino babies needed  to learn to sit and drift to sleep in their stroller or car seat. Usually, Filipino babies upon any sign of distress in their strollers and car seats, would be taken of their “dilemmas” and comforted.   We had to see our eldest then cry it out and drift to sleep in his car seat and stroller. Oh it took a whole of crying ( and vomiting ) at one point.

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9. Non Stop Questions

“How old is God?”, “Is Lola older than Noah?” ” What happened, Mama?” “Why, Papa, why? “.  Oh, there are days that we may not be able to take another question from our curious children.   Before you lose your patience, just write the question down and say, “I’ll try to answer that tomorrow.” But better record it so you’ll be amazed when you try to recall the many  cute thoughts and wonderings they had.

10.  The Fears

I had a nephew who feared big jars or big paintings.  My daughter when she was 3 years old had a fear for old people with white hair and bald men.  Many fear the dark. Recently, I just found out my 2 preschool children had some trauma in having to watch , “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ” for a Sunday school activity.  Most children will naturally out grow their fears.  So do not fuss and fret.

Oh, dear younger mom with younger children, don’t rush these seeming monotonous, trivial, “get me out of here please” moments. Record them via journal and video, and above all, enjoy them (for sure, you can find something good in them)for they will soon (and time flies!) grow  up!!!!

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Time flies, right?

 

A Favorite Resource: World Book Building Blocks of Science

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We really enjoyed this series created by Joseph Midthun and Samuel Hiti for World Book!   It presents the following topics through a set of 8 books:

  • Cells to Organ System
  • The Circulatory System
  • The Digestive and Urinary System
  • Endocrine and Reproductive System
  • Fighting Sickness
  • The Nervous System
  • The Respiratory System
  • The Skeletal and Muscular System

The material is presented in a clear and whimsical manner. The illustrations are catchy and fun! As a medical doctor,  I see how the material focused on relevant yet practical aspects of the lessons.


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The reader is not overwhelmed with too many details but will, after reading the material, have a good grasp and understanding of how each system functions.

When one of my older sons sustained a basketball accident involving his hand, we opted to use his case as a basis for our lessons.   His younger brother, Gino, read “The Skeletal and Muscular Systems” volume.

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We even extended the lesson and read, Luis ” Tito Doc” Gatmaitan’s  Kraaak, Nabali ang Buto ni Freddie.

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We also read these other titles by Dr. Luis Gatmaitan so we could discuss the material both in Tagalog and English.

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Though the set may be pricey,  Phoenix Educational Systems, the distributor of Building Blocks of Science, offers very affordable payment schemes. If you have several children, this set would truly be a wonderful add-on to your library. If interested, please  contact  Ms. Veronica Glemao , Marketing Department, Phoenix Educational Systems, Inc. ( exclusive distributor of World Book Products) +632376-39-68 or Ms. Bambi Abrantes at mobile number +63915-2532677 and landline +6326560688.


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Best Practices in Our 15 Years of Homeschooling (Part 1)

1.  Keep their hands busy.   Create, create and create again. 

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Using play dough, Gino sculpted the human heart.

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2,  Why Not?

Fly a Kite!

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Play in the rain!

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3. Don’t  be afraid to try something different.

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4. Aim for depth! Mastery over memory!

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Make them see the bigger picture and the awesome connections.

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5. Life skills matter.

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Napkin Holding for a Christmas Lunch at home
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Basic sewing!

6. Pay it forward. Always find ways to bless others. 

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Gino is organizing our books for donation according to levels.

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7. Charity begins at home.

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Encourage children to create things for the house. Recycled bottles as vases.
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Teach skills to create gifts for loved ones. Flower arranging for Lola’s 82nd birthday.

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Once in a while, take grandparents to lunch to cheer them up. Lola’s favorite in Recipes is Kare-Kare.

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8. Discuss  relevant  national/global issues.

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9.  Prioritize Character.

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We tried various materials but settled joyfully with this series from Apologia. We are now on our 3rd book, focusing on loving your neighbor.

10.  Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Through the Bible and Bible-base material, teach the kids the value of prayer and reading of His word on a daily basis.  As Christians,  we all need  to know God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit so we may live the fruitful lives we were called to have to reflect our Maker.

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https://lifehopeandtruth.com/uploads/images/why-study-the-bible.jpg

Hope these help your homeschool journey!

 

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Top 10 Guaranteed Tips to Be a Fun (and Funny) Teacher!

Nothing beats a day of learning and laughter.  Fun school days are more heartwarming and memorable.   Try to review my blogpost on the the value of fun in learning. Here are some tips to chill and be a more fun (and funny teacher) :

  1. For preschoolers, do a lot of pretend play!   For a study on the wandering nomads of ancient history,  we all pretended to be nomads! Using cloths, plants, pretend bread and fish, wooden sticks, tents and whatever we could find, we packed our belongings and recreated scenes as moved from one place to another.   We imagined the danger of animals and so at “night” we would have to assign one to keep watch as the others slept in their mats.  You could just imagine the thrill and excitement as we did this together.
  2.  Do dramatization/ re-enact stories !  One of our favorites was re-enacting the the story or the  miracle during the wedding at Cana!   We also did the story of the poor widow who gave everything she got and of course, the washing of the disciples’ feet was really unforgettable.
  3. Be unpredictable sometimes !   Surprise the kids with a totally different no-worksheet day!For an important national holiday (where you opt to do school) , come in Filipino costume!    If they have favorite stories,  such as Miss Nelson is Missing for our then primary and preschool level kids, I would pretend to be Miss. Viola Swamp.
  4. Do a lot of movement together.  Be it sports, relays, or dances, just keep moving ( like Dory’s “Just keep swimming”) ! Dance together! Once we tried, “Tinikling” with  2 bamboo posts! For multilevel children or co-ops, plan a mini-olympics or a dance fest.
  5. If it’s playoffs  or finals season  in NBA or UAAP or any sports that you and your children are into, open the TV and just like the line in the famous song in Frozen, let it go and enjoy!  Get some popcorn and enjoy the game together.
  6. Do not lose your patience and temper for messy ART time.  With a few communicated rules, let your children express even when it creates some mess.  You can always involve them in tidying them up after.
  7. Put your mobile phone away and only check on it during break time.
  8. Don’t sweat the small stuff.   So you can’t find the ruler?  The nth scissors is misplaced again?  Your student keeps mixing up writing the “b” and the “d” ( you know the “b: for bowling to the right, and “d” for dancing to the left, rule? )? Again, let it go.  Practice this so your students will also learn not to “sweat the small stuff.”
  9. Play some music if your students request it during project time or doing math drills.  A bit of music can really “up the ante” at times.
  10. Pray !   Setting aside the cares of this world and the other must dos as we homeschool really helps us to have a lighter and cheerful attitude when we teach. So before doing school, obey 1 Peter 5:7 and ” Cast thy burdens on Him and He will lift you up.” A gloomy teacher is a no, no!

Proverbs 15:30 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

How Homeschooling Guards Your Heart and Anchors You

We have been a homeschooling family for 15 years, and I am still homeschooling our youngest, Gino, level 5.  I have been teaching  non-stop for a  total of 15 school years! Praise the Lord indeed. Come to think of it, that’s a third of my life!

So, I’d like to encourage all homeschoolers out there to press on and keep enjoying the ride.  We are definitely doing something good.  Something good not only for our children, but also for ourselves. Yes, you heard it right. This is  truly good for us.  We may have had to set aside a career,  exchanged a high paying job to set “office” at home and lose a whole of benefits and add ons of work and “not homeschooling” our children.

We may feel that we are now so “tied” to our children, and “tied” to home but apart from the usual advantages we’ve already read and heard, let me share something very close to my heart.  Yes, I’ve had days that I have felt “tied down”, limited and unable to say ,”Yes” to many other opportunities.  However, as I see the bigger picture,  what tied me down actually guarded and anchored me.

We teach many subjects. Our passions, biases, willingness to learn, patience and creativity all affect what and how we teach.  We may decide to even outsource some subjects.  I have to say though that being our children’s main teacher on Bible & Character ( some may call this area as Christian Living, Catechism, Values Education) poses the toughest challenge yet provides the most steady guide and anchor for our own spiritual walk of faith.

When we we teach Math, Science, Language or even History, we can truly read from a scripted text or find good youtube tutorials to explain a lesson.  We may be the link to making the lessons more relevant, fun and experiential. If the material is unfamiliar to us, we can also learn like our own students.  However, when we teach Bible lessons, character traits, timeless foundational truths and principles,  we can’t simply read from the text or listen to others teach. To be effective teachers, there is a call to live what we teach. “Practice what we preach” as they say.  Or the more often quoted saying nowadays, “Character is caught more than taught.”

Of course, we can be transparent and authentic in also declaring that like our children, we ourselves are “works in progress” and we are also learning and relearning with them. But that doesn’t remove the tough calling on parents of being the first examples and models of the character traits being taught . For our case, it is only by His Grace, His Enabling and His work through the Holy Spirit that can give me the courage and boldness to live and teach this daunting subject. For Christians, the goal is always to point them to Christ, not really to ourselves. But  many experts say that young children need  “Christ in the flesh” first to be able to appreciate, experience and  believe in the spiritual Christ.

So, I guess what I want to to say is, the desire and commitment to teach our children about our “living and growing” faith, our God, our Savior and the work of the Holy Spirit (the Trinity),  and ensuring that we impart to them the biblical principles that will give them a strong foundation in becoming loving, responsible, compassionate and kind people,  are  amazing forces  that help me  stay in course, stay in the right path in my own walk of faith. Teaching keeps me in check, and always on guard, on my toes and yes, as much as I can, on my knees (in prayer)! And so, thank you, homeschooling! Thank you to my hubby Gilbert whose hard work allows me to stay at home and homeschool,  to our students: Vince, Marco, Gino and Raya,   and above all , thank you LORD!

I was so awed by this truth today and as I pondered more, I became so grateful.  I shared this today to encourage all you out there.  We can be sidetracked and stressed by so many things in life and all the must dos as we care for families, raise our children and yes, even educate them. It really helps to take back step from time to time and see the bigger picture.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Gino’s Book Review: Why I Enjoyed “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”

Happy and blessed 2017 to all. Hopefully, this post will start the ball rolling for this blog that was put on hold for the holidays and CHRISTmas celebration /trip.   I hope I can say that I will attempt  one post a week in 2017 (my husband Gilbert actually suggests 2 short posts a week)as one of my New Year’s resolution.

Well, I’d like then to present my first post for 2017.  It is made possible by my guest blogger, my only remaining homeschooled son , Gino (check what he is up to at IG #ginosgimmicks)! Enjoy!

This is our 4th time to do this book in the Simpao Homeschool !
This is our 4th time to do this book in the Simpao Homeschool !

Claudia Kincaid is an 11-year-old girl who wanted to run away from her monotonous and unfair life at home. She chose her brother Jamie, who was the second youngest of her three brothers to go with her. They both went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and stayed there for a couple of days. Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, one of the characters in the story, narrates this book.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons: the first is about Claudia and Jamie’s relationship. Any brother and sister could easily relate to them. Their arguments throughout the book made it very entertaining and amusing. But despite their arguments, they always had to agree or compromise so they could continue their adventure.

The next is the mystery of the story. It added a huge twist in the book. It went from just their everyday lives in the museum to them trying to solve a mystery about the famous artist known as Michelangelo. It made the story a lot more interesting. As a homeschool lesson, it was very helpful because I was also learning about Michelangelo as I was reading this book. We were learning about him through our Read-A-Loud book “Michelangelo” by Diane Stanley.

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A Sonlight Recommendation

I also love how the book is very detailed. The author included many unnecessary, but very humorous parts. Another reason is that the story is told by one of the characters, Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler. She added a lot of funny side comments.

Overall, “From the Mixed Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler” is a wonderful book. It is definitely in my top 10 most favorite books. I recommend this book for 10+ year olds. I hope you give it a chance, and love it just like I did.

 

James 1:5  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

 

Christmas Thoughts from Our Home, My Heart

It’s December 21 and I am done wrapping  and sending out 95 % gifts that need to be delivered. So here I am, taking a break and writing.  9 days to go till we “wrap up 2016″… and it is not easy looking back.  It is actually painful .

The year was just about to roll in when we lost my Daddy Dony. It is actually going to be the first Christmas without him. Actually, he celebrated his last Christmas here on earth in the ICU on his 10th week in the hospital.  “Daddy Dony and Christmas” was always special because he loved special occasions to gather his loved ones. He thought of all ways to spice up the event and we’ve had the most “all out” gatherings because of his ideas.

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The only photo I unearthed from my file that showed our family ( half of our size now) in Filipino Christmas motif! There was also a Christmas gathering that we were to come as members of the Nativity Scene, and yes someone came as Baby Jesus in the manger!
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,,,,,one Christmas, the grandkids decided to have a family super selfie dance! If you want another one,  here.  We are a CRAZY bunch, and that’s partly due to Daddy Dony!

Please remember to pray for my Mommy Emma.  It was difficult  for her to live without her boyfriend and husband of 64 years this year.img_4074

But sadly, so many other precious lives left us this year: a  homeschooler  friend who had 4 children, a dear sister of  one my BFFs, my eldest brother in law,  my neighbor’s father,   several of our helper’s dearest relatives and several parents of other friends.

Our own family had one relationship problem after another,   and  so I think 2016 was my most “crying-ext” year.  I love how the Psalms in the New Living Translation says it ever so clearly in Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  I also soar in the assurance in  Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  So when you really think about it, the Lord is near and so I must rest  and rejoice in that.  And truly this season is the best time to rejoice knowing, “Emmanuel, God is with us!”  So, instead of wallowing and yes, staring at my tears in my own “memory” bottle and reliving the hurts again in my thoughts and heart,   I have made a choice to rejoice.  God is with us. He is near us.  What an amazing , awesome, mind-blowing truth!!!!

So as I greet you all a truly MERRY “because God is indeed with us” Christmas, let  me do this using some of the Christmas sights here at home.

Let me take the simple messages from our tree this year.  (Set up by all our kids!)

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  1.  Be Merry, God is with us.    Take time to think of that. Close your eyes and say. “Thank You, Jesus.” “God with us” paved the way for  the redemption of  every believer in Christ. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

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2.  Life’s circumstances may cloud the way, dim our thoughts but as one follower encountered Jesus, he called out and said, “I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Even Mary had her own doubts, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34 ) So my dearest one, Merry Believing!

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3. May you have Joy and Freedom.   God, through Jesus, has already provided this with the greatest sacrifice at Calvary.  With Jesus, we have eternal joy and freedom from the burden and weight of our sins and failures. Again, take time to think and ponder on these. Indeed, we can really sing, “Joy to the World!”

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4.  Amidst the troubles at home, in our families and in our society, and yes in our world,  may you have  inner peace in believing in faith, that God is sovereign.  I weep as I think of children in  Aleppo, as I think of those killed in this “all out drug” war.   We know  that the  worsening  “darkness” has been foretold but alongside that, there is  the call to press on to be salt and light in this earth. I cannot let the darkness , whether in my own family life or in this word,  make me cynical, cripple me or paralyze me. ” You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. “For the peace of God that transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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5. In faith, I have chosen to draw near to God and  believe. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. ” May then your faith in Him  be strengthened as you look back at 2016 and look forward to 2017.  God is faithful and He seeks those who will believe Him in faith.

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So there. Simple truths but truly profound and wondrous.  Let us, like Mary,  take time to celebrate as we meditate on these thoughts.  “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) As you do this, listen to traditional Bible based Christmas carols and be blessed with these 5 simple truths I drew out from our CHRISTmas tree this year.

Merry CHRISTMAS!!!!

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Tandem Teaching on Homeschooling Basics with My Sister: This Friday, December 9, 2016!

I was away for an immersion trip as Board of Director  of Visions of Hope Foundation to visit Potter’s House Association in Guatemala. Visions of Hope and Potter’s House are aligned in a common goal of reaching  and empowering  poor families, teaching them about the love of Jesus and educating the children.  It was truly a refreshing yet eye opening and challenging trip! I will share more stories about that through a future post but for now, Homescool.ph would like to  invite you to join my mentor-sister, co-homeschooler  Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and me as we “tandem teach” in  The Master’s Light House Foundation and Sunlife Financial’s Building Blocks of Homeschooling .


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I am so excited to be able to do this with Felichi and of course, with Master’s Lighthouse Foundation’s Kuya Anthony and his lovely wife, another sister,  Ms. Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan.  One can actually call this “Sisters’ Act with special participation of one brother!” By God’s grace and  with the help of the Sun Life Financial Team and Master’s Lighthouse Staff,  we hope to have a very dynamic, and fun seminar on  the basics of homeschooling:  homeschooling as tried and tested form of education, laying a strong foundation , starting one’s journey, and staying at it with practical tips and techniques.   A bonus feature in this seminar is a portion presented by Sunlife dedicated to Financial Planning and Management for Homeschoolers.  Sunlife will seek to give basic principles for families who are into homeschooling and how finances come into play when one opts to homeschool.

The seminar will handle the following:

  • Homeschooling as a Form of Education for Your Children: Why Not?
  • Creating Your Homeschooling Vision and Mission
  • Best Practices in Starting (and yes even maintaining) Your Homeschool Journey
  • Financial Planning/ Management for Homeschooling Families

Ate Felichi and I have been roommates since we were assigned our on own room in the early to mid 70s.

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I was even able to google our wall paper in that room in 11 Mahusay St. UP Village, Quezon City.  Yes, this Holly Hobbie wall paper witnessed our days of  pretend play in that small room, and how we were also ” homeschooled” in some way,  as we spent so many hours of our growing years playing with our siblings.

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Ate Felichi and I were part of the ‘3 babies” of the 9 children of Dony and Emma Pangilinan.  The 9 children were known to many in 3 batches: 3 girls, 3 boys and the 3 babies.  So there from left to right, Number 9, me,  number 8, kuya John-John and number 7, Ate Felichi:)

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I “don’t” spy my neck. I think I was the chubbiest among all the children. Don’t you agree??

So apart from sharing with you  from our combined homeschooling experience of close to 30 years, we will also share from our own experiences as we grew up and bonded (and played) together!

Ate Felichi and I shared a room for a total 18 years in 3 different homes!

Ate Felichi is my go to person for prayer, wisdom and guidance.  She has truly helped mold and shape the person that I am today.   She has taught me the value of waiting on God, of prayer and of being intimate with Him.  She was the one who introduced homeschooling into my own family.  Her wholehearted commitment in raising. loving and  homeschooling her children have compelled me to homeschool as well, and we’ve been at it for 14 years now! The impact she had made in my life, I firmly believe, is also multiplying as I have gotten involved in bigger communities and groups that seek to encourage other homeschoolers! Recently, we have began some groundwork in creating a “homeschool-like” curriculum for a community our foundation is working with in the Saranggani province, where preschool and elementary children are housed in a dorm-like school  since their homes are 2-3 hours walk away from their homes!!!!  Thank you Ate Felichi and Kuya Jojo Buizon for paving the way indeed!

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Again, join us this Friday and let’s all  learn from each other and celebrate homeschooling together! To reserve a slot, please text Gen Mercardo 0916-711-0509 !

Christmas is Fast Approaching: How to Have Christmas-filled Quarter

In my 15 years of homeschooling, the quarter or period involving Christmas  seems to be the fastest and in some sense, the most distracting. Well, “distracting” , if you have this knack for wanting a list of worksheets complete, pages done and chapters completed. However, if you embrace the period, find season specific lessons that you can weave into your  daily “must learns”, if you try to highlight your own family traditions and involve your students in its preparation and celebration, you can actually have such a rich, no matter how rushed  it ca be, Christmas Season.

Here are a few things you may opt to do:

  1. If you have Bible Study/ Christian Living as a subject you can:
  • As early as early November, to start focusing your Bible Studies on the Birth of Jesus. You can easily google the top Old Testament prophecies about the birth if Jesus.   You can also tie this up with Chrismas songs that are based on such verses.  I can hear “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, “What Child is this” or “Immanuel”.  You can print the lyrics and study them together.  If any of your students are playing the piano, you can look and search for simple piano pieces on Christmas.  Or you can teach your students or you can all learn a new Christmas song.

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  • You can divide the days of December in reading the New Testament Verses related to the Nativity.
  • You can watch the Nativity Dvd or any other Christmas story in parts.
  • You can choose important concepts/character traits manifested in Christmas story and search other Bible verses or famous sayings to support  these. Examples are love, humility, grace, service. sacrifice,  joy and the like
  • Share your blessings with others this Christmas.  There are many ways to do this .
    • Prepare gift bags in your car with Noche Buena staples like fruit cocktail, cream, spaghetti noodles, cheese, tomato sauce, canned meat, and sweets.   If you find yourself in traffic or in parking ( make sure you don’t do it when there are too many people who may overwhelm you and your car) , then give them away a few days before Christmas. Or it can be gift bags for kids with treats and useful items
    • Choose a ministry or non government group that focuses on the poorest of the poor. Check with your church or even with your homeschool provider.  You may check visionsofhopefoundation.org and contact rlove.rojas@cct.org.ph if you would like to organize your family or your homeschool support groups for a Christmas activity or project with former and current street children all over Metro Manila or nearby province, Laguna.
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      Children in Commerce St. received these gift bags prepared by Gino.

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      Homeschooled kids wrapped these and created personal Christmas cards for kids affected by Yolanda typhoon in Ormoc City.

2.  “Decorate” your other  subjects with the Christmas themed activities and projects.

  • For History, you can research on the how certain traditions/beliefs came to be… Christmas gift giving , Christmas tree, Santa Claus  (that’s if you’re off the mystery already), reindeers, mistletoe. Include Filipino Christmas traditions as well.
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A page of Christmas Treasury Book
  • For Art/ HELE.
    • Christmas Card Making ( we did this year after year after year)
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Angel Gabriel by Raya
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Jesus is Born by Gino
Cool snowman by Marco
Cool snowman by Marco

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  • Baking of Christmas Cookies and Gingerbread House or cookies
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Raya’s Christmas Cupcakes!

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img_6730 img_6647 img_6602 img_6727 img_6732 img_6754Click here on how to make a Christmas Parol tail.

  • Creating your own Christmas Belen using recycled cardboard, boxes, acrylic paint and polymer clay.

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  • Involving your students in helping around the house (wrapping gifts, making tags, making DIY gifts or decors)fullsizerender
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Make more copies of the their Christmas Cards my making digital images and printing them:)
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Raya did this for her Papa who loves to bike:)
  • If you have several children, give each one some money or they can use some of their savings to give simple gifts to their siblings, grandparents and even helpers at home.  They can learn how to plan, budget, purchase , wrap,  and write a dedication. If you have a bit more budget, involve them in purchasing simple gifts for their other teachers (MAPE, homeschool provider advisor, and sports coaches).

3. Find good Christmas themed materials for Read-A-Loud.

Short Stories in this book are good!
Short Stories in this book are good!

I am thinking of doing   Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens with Gino this year.

Please share me with us other ideas you’ve done as well:) We brought out the Christmas pillows and as I began changing the covers, you could hear the oohs and ahhs from the younger kids, and see the grin from my almost adult boy. Christmas, don’t come so fast, we want to prepare our hearts and homes as we seek to celebrate the real purpose of Christmas.

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Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.