Dear First Time Homeschooler Series (Help for Those Who Have Taken the Plunge!)

Dear First Time Homeschooler,

So you finally made the decision to homeschool?  Let me congratulate you and yes, jump for JOY with you in making one of the best decisions you will ever make in raising your children.  My children and I salute you ( See the photo???)  Do not fret, many are with you. Many have gone ahead of you and many are willing to come alongside you. I have gone ahead of  you for maybe several years and yes, because of several children, I am still homeschooling  level 6 and 4 children. And I’d like to pass on what I have learned so far.

I am beginning this series so we can connect and so this may be used again and again for every first time homeschooler who is joining the homeschooling craze that is sweeping our country!

I co-moderate a  Facebook Community Group called Homeschoolers of the Philippines (HOP). We started a little less than 2 years ago and from a handful of members, we have grown to 5300.   I was able to verify our numbers when we we were able to fill up 1500 slots for a Kidzania Manila 3 day preview invitation 18 hours after the invitation was posted on the FB group . You are not alone.

There are many others, like you, defending their decision to homeschool  to doubtful family members and friends. Stand firm and take courage.

Depending on the age and number of your children, you will have to face several concerns from hereon.   And as my way of guiding you, let us take that several issues per blog post.

1. The first thing I’d like for you to do is to create a solid foundation for your homeschooling.

Create a Mission – Vision – Purpose for your homeschooling journey. Take time to draft this with your spouse/ partner and children. With toddler or too young preschool children,  parents can brainstorm and put this together.  You make check this out  for help in drafting your Vision (What you’d like to become) , Mission (What are the specific tasks/goals to achieve your Vision) and Purpose ( Why you exist? Why you do what you do?) . If the children are older, involve them as you set the back bone of your homeschooling. Older children can type this or create poster boards to draw these and display them in your study area. Some even make their own coat of arms to symbolize their collective Vision, Mission and Purpose . 

Homeschooling is not an easy task but having a solid foundation of your vision, your goals and why you do what you do will always come in handy when the going gets tough. There will be bad days. There will be days when you can’t seem to decide what to prioritize. There will be days when the lesson plans you’ve set out are not working. Your solid Vision-Mission-Purpose can be a strong anchor; they can form a basis on which to leverage certain concerns and truly, they can help you choose the correct curricula/ books to use,  activities to participate in and projects to do. In addition to that I have seen for myself how a solid foundation can truly save a terrible homeschooling day!

Another way to create a strong foundation is to get to know your self more and your spouse/partner  in light of homeschooling.  If you are a teacher by profession or if you have the gifts of teaching, then that is an added plus of course. However, if  you are not ,  identify your ” teaching” strengths and weaknesses.   Think of your own teachers in the past. What were striking among your favorite teachers? Why did you like these teachers?  Think of what kind of teacher will bring best out of your own children and work towards being that kind of teacher.  This will entail some research (online or interviewing other homeschoolers), maybe attend a few seminars, purchase a book on how to become a good teacher.  Sometimes all it takes is asking your own students what they’d like their teacher to be!  Style of teaching may eventually transform as our students grow up but you ought to try to be consistent in the basics of what makes a good and effective teacher. Assess as well your spouse’s/partner’s and other significant persons’ contribution or share in the task of home education. And while you’re at it, start praying for lots of patience, you’ll need a whole lot of this!

Many homeschoolers skip this part of  forming a good foundation. Often, once a homeschooler decides to homeschool they pretty much dive into the curriculum hunt and purchase here and there.  And many times, we end up with material that do not fit our Vision/Mission, personality, strengths and weaknesses and even learning styles of our student/s. This leads us to #2

2. Get to know your children in the eyes of a teacher. What kind of learner is your child? What are his passions? What excites him? What activities do you find him enjoying the most?

Take this simple quiz to find out more about your child/children’s learning style.

3. Now, take time to read about the different homeschooling philosophies/teaching styles.    What form of homeschooling set up then  will most likel  fit or complement your current home life? Your personality? Your student’s personality and learning style?   We have always been an eclectic homeschooler. Initially, for our first few years of homeschool, I was a bit more strict and academic heavy.  We eventually relaxed our set-up to a more  relevant, hands-on,  stories ridden, project based, application heavy approach (haha, can you picture that? ) and hopefully that had lots of problem solving and critical thinking challenges for each student.

4. Based on your student’s/students ages,  you will now have to decide whether you’d like to do things on your own and homeschool independently or if you’d like some guidance and have accreditation with Department of Education and enroll with a homeschool provider.  This decision is important for Kinder levels up to Level 10 ( Level 11 and 12 homeschooling in the Philippines is not  yet accredited by Department of Education ). The toddler/preschool period is  actually the best time to try out homeschooling since you can do this without any need to have any accreditation or validation. This period provides more flexibility and allowance to do some form of  trial and error,  to learn and teach as you go without the pressure of dealing with tougher lessons or too many subjects, not to mention, the required grading!

Read here to get to know more about independent homeschooling vs. homeschooling with a Deped accredited homeschool provider.   Here is another blog  post on independent homeschooling in the Philippines by fellow homeschooler Tina Santiago-Rodriguez of www.trulyrichandblessed.com. Learn more about the different ways Filipinos homeschool here. 

So for now, I think, I have given you, my dear first time homeschooler enough stuff to think through and review.   For our next post, we shall discuss on material/ curricula, subjects, and creating schedules .

Hope this first blog post in this series helps! Check out the different posts in this blog in various categories to get a sneak peek of our own homeschooling journey.

Sincerely,

Mommy Donna

If you need further encouragement regarding your decision, check this ONE out. A post about seeing the fruits of your homeschooling labor:)

IMG_16692 Corinthians 4:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. “

Beyond the Four Walls: How God Enlarged our Classroom

I remember praying many years ago  (as I saw myself consumed  with the task of homeschooling four young children )that God would use our homeschooling experience beyond the four walls of our homeschool classroom.   Homeschooling several multilevel children requires a whole lot of commitment and sacrifice.  I somehow had to clear up schedules to be able to attend to the growing needs of the family.  This entailed saying No to many other passions and endeavors.

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2005: Youngest Gino was born

You can do subtraction as you see our ” class photos through the years”……

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The season of young children for us also coincided with my father’s dwindling health. Being the doctor of the 9 children, I stepped up and took care of both Dad and Mom health wise.

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With Daddy Dony!

Coming from a family of members who are always involved in so many socio-civic-family oriented causes, there was this natural tendency to feel that “ I wasn’t doing enough.”  The pressure was even more aggravated by well meaning relatives and friends who would show their seeming disapproval of my choice to stay home and put the medical career on hold.

During those years of teaching preschool and early grade school years,  I often found myself picking up toys,  scrubbing messes and stains, organizing and reorganizing homeschool materials, and yes perennially “looking” for something.  I would be in Asian Hospital with either of my parents at least once a week and somehow, that became more often through time.

I saw many of my Medicine batch mates donning their white doctors coats. I envied those who had the time and energy to go on medical missions, or on ministry outreach activities, or even just simply serve in church. It was then tempting  to feel that being in the workplace or church ministry was  probably”serving or living ” better.  But God told me to stay put and enjoy the ride. I was where He wanted me to be for a reason. I had to stop being restless. When I began to embrace my current set up with joy, peace and rest overflowed. I then gave it my best since homeschooling our children was my own way of serving God. Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I eventually decided to  first look within  our 4 walls and celebrate the season. Just like charity, ministry indeed begins at home.  The highest calling for me then was right there at home. Peace enveloped our homeschooling days and yes, with a more relaxed mind, we had more fun and more enjoyable learning sessions. 

I decided to grow and reach others with my kids in tow:  set an example of a life lived for God in serving others. Our lessons were adjusted to find ways of blessing others. Whether it be , making Christmas cards or gifts, preparing relief goods or writing letters ,  preparing bouquets or doing art work, we tried to direct our efforts in the hope of “paying it forward.” Click here to read more about these efforts. It is my prayer that our children would eventually make this a lifestyle.

But then God did pave the way to go beyond the four walls, and it really all began in our classroom! Without homeschooling, without those years of battling and crying it out in teaching and raising 4 small children, I would not be able to do what I do today.

So here are  my “beyond the 4 walls” experiences so far:

  • For some reason,  I started being invited to speak in seminars in helping other homeschoolers.  From small group gatherings, to seminars then conferences! (Thank you, Lord for the opportunity to help and encourage others. )
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Here with a dear grade school barkada, Ms. Dedette Albert-Habana and her teaching staff of I.D.E.A.S Montessori School during their parent enrichment seminar. I spoke about raising digitally responsible and creative citizens.
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Speaking here in TMA’s Mind Bytes Conference on Digital Technology for Teens
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We even get to meet famous athletes! With fellow homeschoolers Ms. Bless de Guzman, ate Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, and Ms Milona Barraca in TMA Homeschooling Conference, spoke on Character Focused Education.

 

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  • Due to my experience and passion for homeschooling, I was invited to be part of the board of a Christian NGO for children ( some homeschooled in several “home care facilities) in the streets and in very impoverished municipalities. Check out God’s work in Visions of Hope Foundation website.  With more experienced consultants,  a Christian based  Transformational Curriculum for preschoolers was created and now we are trying to put together a Homeschool curriculum for former street children who are part of the home care facilities. Check out the stories of some of these children.  Who would have thought that the entire decade long experience of homeschooling and learning from other passionate homeschoolers, consultants and experts in education would be put to use by God through this ministry?   Only God saw all that!

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  • HomesCool.ph – This blog! And we’re celebrating our 1st year anniversary this month! Check out our blog giveaway!

Homescool Rainbow

  • The wealth and depth of friendships formed through the years.  When homeschoolers come together, an instant bond is formed.  Support groups become life-long family friends. This is our family’s  homeschooling support group called the Tuesday Gang because we met every Tuesday for probably 5 years!_DSC0254

Look how our kids have grown!

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2004?
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Possibly in 2005
Taken 2 years ago, the boys eventually outgrew the girls. Most of the kids here are either in college or high school!
Taken 2 years ago, the boys eventually outgrew the girls. Most of the kids here are either in college or high school!
  • Our two older boys have gone beyond our four walls indeed as they have been released from a decade of HomesCooling . Marco is set to graduate level 8 with excellent academic standing, as the outgoing House Captain and Co-captain of the basketball team.

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Vince meanwhile is moving to level 11 in August 2016.  Vince, an active member of the Junior Varsity Basketball team, has his own certificates of excellence in academic and sports.  He is the middle one on the first row.

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So there.  Isn’t God amazing?  Each of us will have different journeys from hereon. One thing however binds us together for sure,  and that is the decision to homeschool our children.  I can guarantee you, God will use this decision mightily. God will honor your commitment to oversee the raising and educating of your children, His precious blessings to you.  I leave you with this amazing verse in 1 Chronicles 4:10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

A Blog Giveaway Exclusive for HomesCoolers Only!

Time sure flies when your having lots of fun blogging. Yes, it has been one full year since our first ever post! Thank you to all who have been supporting this blog!

To celebrate our first year….. (Drum roll please… )  we are setting up a super-duper, cool first year anniversary blog raffle!  Yahoo!!! Cheers! Bravo!!  This raffle is open only to current HomesCoolers (parents and children who have been HomesCooling for some time now).   We all know it’s not an easy task to HomesCool so  we want to bless you, HomesCooler!

To join this raffle,  you can enlist in the Rafflecopter widget at the end, but first, take a look at what’s in this Teacher and Student Giveaway ! Also, please take time to read some terms & conditions for this blog giveaway below.

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HomesCool.ph’s First Anniversary Teacher and Student Giveaway!!!

For the Students:

  1. 3 Homeschoolers of the Philippines T-shirts and  pins
  2. 1 ruled dry erase board with pen,
  3. 2 composition notebooks for Level 1 and 2,
  4. Lots of reward stickers
  5. An Art activity set!

For the Teacher:

  1. Get Even Hydrating Liquid Foundation
  2. Prints Made Pretty Strobing Kit (Cheek Sticks)
  3. Eye Am Here to Stay 24 Hour Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
  4. Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lippie
  5. Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lip Lacquer
  6. Shut Up & Kiss me Lip & Cheek Mousse
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Thank you to Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez of Happy Skin for this super cool gift pack! (Check out Happy Skin’s Onlne Shop!) 

 

And a surprise gift for Homeschooling Daddy too:) 

So, who is eligible to win in this raffle?  Here is a list of criteria:

1. Must be a current HomesCooler:

  • Please show a homeschooler provider’s ID or report card of the student
  • If you are an independent homeschooler,  any photo/ image that may prove you are a current homeschooler (this may be subject to review)
  • You are automatically eligible if you are a member of the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page during the duration of this giveaway,  May 2 to May 17, 2016.

2. Resident of the Philippines

To officially join this giveaway, please enter and complete the tasks listed in the Rafflecopter Widget below. Praise God for one year of blogging!  Maraming Salamat sa inyong lahat!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additional Terms & Conditions:

  1. This giveaway runs from May 2 to May 17, 2016.
  2. Winner will be chosen on May 17, 2016 and will be notified via email as soon as possible.
  3. Another winner will be chosen if the declared winner does not reply within 2 weeks of notification.
  4. Items will only be shipped to addresses accepted by either courier LBC or Abestexpress.  Shipping fees will be covered!
  5.  The owner of HomesCool.ph has the prerogative to make adjustments as they are deemed necessary.

 

 

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.