All Time Favorites! Materials to Pass on to the Next Generation!

After 15+ years of homeschooling, we’ve probably had 30x of major decluttering of homeschool materials, books, supplies and yes, even toys. I’ve passed on many of our favorite story and reference books to younger cousins but I’ve kept my all time favorites because the children, though a bit older now, still love looking at many of these timeless pieces and I guess, I still use several of them with my last homeschooled son at level 5.

But there are indeed timeless pieces which I want to keep in a room with a rocking chair and a rug!  Can you picture what I am envisioning? God willing, I will one day become more than just Tita Donna welcoming little and grown up nieces and nephews in my home with their favorite chocolate chip cookies. For the little ones, I sometimes read them a book, do some arts and crafts or homeschool a bit here and there.  God willing, I will be, hopefully  be a cool, endearing and warm grandmother with the best books and toys in her house!

Though not arranged in level of importance, here are my top favorite printed material: reference books, storybooks, and chapter books!

  1. For the Study of God’s Word and Character Education:

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storybook-Copy What-We-Believe-Series

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2.  Stories we just kept reading night after night for maybe close to a decade and our favorite Read-A-Louds!

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This was our children’s favorite for years and years of bedtime stories. They seem to have all the parent-child concerns laid out in a story book. As parents, we were able to deal with a lot of character issues in a non-threatening, light and fun manner through the Berenstain Bears series!
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Other series we collected: DW series, Amelia Bedelia, Franklin, Froggy, Frog and Toad, Geronimo Stilton, Thea Stilton, American Girl, How to Train a Dragon, Percy Jackson, Nate the Grate, Big Nate, Diary of the Wimpy Kid, Captain Underpants,  Books by Beverly Cleary and Andrew Clements, Eloise & Amelia Series , Series of Unfortunate Events………….We love reading!
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Our Favorites: Go, Dog, Go! ; The Cat in the Hat; Green Eggs and Ham,;One Fish, Two Fish; Wacky Wednesday
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One of the best collections of children’s stories for 3-8 year olds!
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We spent 2 years of our children’s growing years in Wondon ( that’s how our baby would say, London) and we loved the tales of Peter Rabbit!

All Time Favorite Read A louds:

  • My Father’s Dragon
  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series
  • Five Dog Stories
  • Number the Stars
  • The Tale of Despereaux
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins
  • Dr. Dolittle
  • Christian Heroes Then and Now Series
  • Mystery of History and Apologia What We Believe Stories
  • and many others!

3. Nothing beats Apologia Science Resource Textbooks – These are written as Read-A-Loud material with easy to apply Science experiments doable at home!

 

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4.  To keep the Filipino culture, history and language alive in a practical and relevant way.

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Brilliant way to introduce our nation’s history, told by a child living in a specific era, in the Filipino language (some with Ilonggo words, even) ! Click on the image to know more about the books by Adarna House.

I supplement these Adarna History Story books above with my own Read A Loud Style ( or assign chapters for reading for the independent student)  using the following and my student’s own Social Studies textbook. So I do read ahead sometimes so I can read the historical texts like a story!

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Here are our well loved story books from Adarna/Hiyas Publishishers
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Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?)
Chapter book series for the older student (maybe 7-12 years old?),  we enjoyed this series by Xi Zuq!

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Health, Science and Filipino Language (and culture) for the win, from Hiyas!  Available in OMF Bookshops.

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Click on the image to know more about Hiyas Products

 

6. World History

a. The Mystery of History series

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b. The Story of the World Series

We began with this series when the kids were preschool age b
We began with this series when the kids were preschool age but eventually shifted to Mystery of History. We are now in Volume 3!

7. How I became the kid’s first Art  and Music Teacher

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If you’d like to start an art series with your preschoolers, try this series on this blog.  Just use the search bar and type Art, colors, lines and shapes and you’ll see a whole lot of Art Lessons you can do at home!

We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we're trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
We only had a few of these. We also borrowed from other homeschoolers! Now, we’re trying to also learn Filipino Musicians and Artists
From National Bookstore
From National Bookstore
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An All Time Favorite to introduce the famous composers, the orchestra and its member instruments

8. Various Reference Books! 

 

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Boys and yes even girls love maps! Teach them about the various countries while they color land and water!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
Being a doctor-teacher, we just had to have this! Well guess what, I think our eldest son wants to become a doctor!
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To learn about other faiths and religions and teach respect and awareness.
One Country a Day !
One Country a Day, use with map templates! Or adjust based on global issues!

Though online materials are truly award-winning, engaging and cost-efficient, we prefer to have a library of quality materials.  With four children, nephews and nieces, even using them as guides in teaching others how to homeschool, and probably grandkids in the future, I truly believe that costs both in time and money (endless searching for good deals, discounts, sharing balikbayan boxes with others, purchasing some in installment), were all super worth it.I am sure some books  in our library which were not mentioned for this first blog post of favorite materials feel bad! (“We were not featured yet we taught them so much!!!” said the unmentioned books.)  I will add and edit along the way but these are the ones that came to mind instantly! For Math, we’ve been Mathusee users for more than a decade and supplement a bit here and there with other approaches like Singapore Math or Simpao Math (Hahaha! The practical way of applying Math I guess!).

I shared these materials to give you a picture of what to look for  in reading materials to purchase! You may come up with a totally different set of titles and that’s surely OK!  I guess the best gauge for good quality materials would be how often they are used, the memorable experiences they bring and the in depth learning they provide.

 

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.” -Ray Bradbury

Proverbs 10:14 “The Wise treasure knowledge.”

P.S. Am currently reviewing additional material such as  Worldbook’s New ChildCraft Series, Filway’s  Learning Math with Albert and will post soon!

Light Bulb Moments: How to Teach to Drive the Lesson Home

We super love the Mystery of History series and are now on our 3rd volume after maybe 7 years of being introduced to this material.

The other day, my 11-year old student and I learned about philosopher and political theorist, John Locke.

The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) laid much of the groundwork for the Enlightenment and made central contributions to the development of liberalism. Trained in medicine, he was a key advocate of the empirical approaches of the Scientific Revolution. In his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” he advanced a theory of the self as a blank page, with knowledge and identity arising only from accumulated experience. His political theory of government by the consent of the governed as a means to protect “life, liberty and estate” deeply influenced the United States’ founding documents. His essays on religious tolerance provided an early model for the separation of church and state.” (www.history.com) 

How then do you bring this closer to a 11 year old’s mind? How do you explain the concept of “tabula rasa“, the state of being brought into this world with blank slates/ minds, without any mental content and that all knowledge come from actual experience??? Did we totally agree with it?

Light Bulb Moment!!!!!  (pun not intended, you’ll realize in a while)   One of the beautiful things with being able to see your children grow 24/7  from infancy to school age years lies in seeing all the moments you can always look back to, laugh about, ponder on and just “bond” endlessly through shared memories.  So this is how I drove this seeming  “high and mighty” big concept closer to home for my son.

Mama Donna:  Gino, remember when you touched a lit light bulb (Mama’s bedside lamp, now there’s the pun!!) and burned your little finger ? And you cried so hard?

Gino (chuckling) : Yes (laughing now).

Mama Donna: Well, like this argument of John Locke, you can say you had a blank knowledge about the fact that light emits heat and therefore a lit bulb is hot and dangerous to touch.  Without that knowledge, you went ahead and burned yourself. And as John Locke says, you have learned something new by  this experience (that act of touching it and burning your finger) and will most likely not do it ever again, right?

By this point, I know, because of something so “close to home: an unforgettable and painful experience” for my son, I knew I got his attention.

I then proceeded to challenge him to  think by citing the argument that though you learn through experience, there are absolute truths in life.  There are truths that you do not need to experience in order to learn the lesson or the principle.  (Can you know imagine where this conversation can lead to? I can talk all day, Gino, but I controlled myself.)

For Christian families, absolute truth comes from the Word of God.  The commands laid out, we believe, are there for our own protection, given by our loving Creator. In faith, we believe in that. We do not need to experience theft, or slander, to know that it is wrong. We do not need to kill in order to know that murder is evil.

Scientific truths like gravity, concept of time (day and night), the Earth’s rotation and revolution are absolutes. No one can argue those things.  And yes, Gino, light energy also emits heat. Mama is truly sorry that I was not able to teach that earlier on so you could have prevented that burning incident. Experience then taught you big time and you will probably never repeat the same action,  but then if I had told you the truth that lit light bulbs are hot to touch, you probably would have not touched it in the first place, right ( or curiosity can actually sometimes confuse things, or you may not believe Mama and try it out yourself )?

This seemingly simple 10 minute conversation with my son during homeschool time was precious. I know we both got thinking on how life and lessons merge and how basic principles in the course of our study can make one stop and think and wonder, and yes relate what you’ve just read to many other areas of your life.  AND, THIS. IS. WHY. WE. LOVE. HOMESCHOOLING. AND .WHY. IT. ROCKS!

 

Deuteronomy 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

A More than a Skin Deep Skin Session : A Unit Study on the Skin (Integumentary System)

I love Science. I think that is one of the reasons why I love homeschooling.  I want to  spread how cool Science is and  how we always find ourselves in awe of our amazing  Creator of all living things that make up the bulk of Science!

One of the reasons why I ended up completing Medical School was to really to master the human body. It’s simply the most spectacular, awe-inspiring creation of our Good Lord!

This is my 4th leg in teaching Anatomy and I don’t tire really !  So let me share with you our exciting unit study on SKIN  (The Integumentary System) .

I usually begin a lesson with stating the relevance of the lesson. I try to captivate the interest and curiosity of my students with unique facts or practical applications where the lesson may be applied. So for the skin, I say, ” Do you know that the skin is the largest organ in our bodies? ” or I may make them think with, ” Can you imagine if skin wounds do not heal? ”

Parts of the Unit Study:

  1. Students need to know the basic parts of the skin. You may opt to watch a video, download a skin template to fill or make your own representation of the skin as shown below. Focus on learning how the skin works and the functions of the part of different parts.
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On a illustration board, with the use of clay (layers of skin, sweat and sebaceous glands, crayon (fat) black construction paper (hair follicle) , thin thread ( nerve endings) and red and blue thread arteries/veins), try to make a diagram of the parts of the skin.

You may , if  the student is interested and not easily grossed out, show basic conditions of the skin like rashes, pimples, dryness, allergies or eczema.  My Xmen loving son was quite interested when I told him that Hugh Jackman suffers from recurrent melanoma, aka skin cancer.

Try to explain also what gives skin their color and you may push the lesson further if you’d like to discuss the various issues that concern skin color.

2.  Fingerprints are determined by the patterns on the skin surface of the skin.      It would be noteworthy to look at various patterns of fingerprints. As an activity, have all members of the household and maybe even  some neighbors, put their thumbprint on a piece of paper and label with the corresponding name of the owner of the print. Compare the various patterns on one’s skin.

Here is an activity I borrowed from wikihow.  It is a fun activity! Be detectives for the day by “finding fingerprints in a  crime scene.” You’ll need powder,  make up brush ,  finger prints on glass materials (on  a glass slide,  on a glass, mirror or magnifying class)  scotch tape .IMG_6417

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3.  For older students, introduce news articles that make the lesson . Introduce the study of Forensics.

From Oxfordictionaries. com
From Oxfordictionaries. com.

4.  Art may be extended by doing  thumbprint creations with  variety of colored stamp pads.

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Raya’s duck has the cutest beak!
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Have a go, and join in the fun. Do out like my frogs?
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Up, Up, Up and Away by Raya Simpao
Thumbprint animals by Gino Simpao
Thumbprint animals by Gino Simpao

5. Using pork meat (with skin), pretend to be plastic surgeons of the day in repairing a laceration .
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Preparing the shots!
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We pretended to 1) give anti tetanus shot (which may be given for open wounds. 2) sterilize the are for minor operation 3) anesthetize prior to suturing.
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The basics on suturing (we had to move to the less tough muscle part, my advise is to use pork parts that have softer outer skin, we only got this because it was only Php90 as is in the meat section, and I wanted to have a laugh with showing the kids the pig’s tail!)

IMG_7015Giving local anesthesia!

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IMG_7027Don’t forget to bandage!

This was fun, and I guarantee 100% depth and mastery. For the win, right? Have a go then?

So there, hope you enjoyed our more than skin deep Unit Study on the Skin!

 

1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Get ready for the 1st ever National Homeschool Day 2017!

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Steps on How to Celebrate National Homeschool Day 2017

1. Check out www.hapi.ph for various announcements regarding this day.  There is an ongoing video contest that ends tonight, 12 AM! The prizes are awesome.

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2. From the map below, decide if you will join any of the groups as mapped out in the Philippine Map. Check out the Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP) FB Page and type your area in search bar (the general areas are  Quezon City, Pasig, Taguig, Makati,  Paranaque, Muntinlupa, Cavite, Laguna,  Rizal (Antipolo), Cebu and Davao. Read the post about these meet ups and contact the person in charge or visit the FB page they’ve set up for this specific Homeschool Day Meet Up.

3.  Bring packed lunch if the place you plan to go will not offer food, and bring money since some meet ups will have some “2nd hand sale” of sorts. Some meet ups may have to charge to cover for venue cost, aircon and sound system.

4.  Bring the whole family and leave the gadgets at home (no IPADs, phones must be kept!)!

5. Have a cheerful, open, ready to mingle mind. Who knows if support groups or coops may be born out of this day?

6. If you plan to celebrate at home, or with a few families, don’t homeschool academic subjects and maybe just create a fun unit on homeschooling. Maybe it would be a good time to talk about how you guys are doing, get feedback and ponder on this year’s theme: “Building Up the Philippines, One Family at a Time”.  Try to discuss why homeschooling can help in nation building ( that’s if your kids are old enough).  Have fun (if only Homeschool Association of the Philippine Island HAPI can declare is a no homeschooling day). Do something different and check out what everyone else is doing by checking the different Philippine  based Homeschool FB groups.  Check out IG @wearehapi or #HAPIDAY2017.

7. You may also gather your other homeschooling families to avail of the hart to resist promo of Kidzania Manila.   Check out their promo!

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8. If you want to share any of the photos or videos of your celebration, please use the hashtag #HAPIDAY2017.

At this very moment, my 11 year old son and I are preparing for Pasig’s gathering at Valle Verde Gym 5. He is assisting in preparing for tomorrow and that is how we are homeschooling today! I will create a post for the Pasig Celebration. 🙂

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Gino, my homeschooled son, helped put this together
Gino, my homeschooled son, helped put this together

 

 

Here helping create nametas
Here helping create name tags.
Pricing some new and fairly used items for a cause
Pricing some new and fairly used items for a cause

Praying for a HAPIDAY indeed!!!!!!  See you !

 

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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2007
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2017
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2017

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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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.