Multilevel Homeschooling: You Can Do It!

My husband Gilbert and I are in awe of how close our four children have become.  They can talk all night, share music, watch videos, do crazy stuff (that only they could understand) together,  have inside jokes from shared experiences. The  3 boys play basketball with their Papa, and Raya plays tennis with me.

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From eldest to youngest, here are their current ages: 18 y.o , 16 y,o, 14 y.o  and 11 y.o (turning 12 soon).  Yes, I finally had an “adult” this year, the kind of year they all turn “even” !  Yes, they once were like steps in stairs, marching according to height. Now, the 2nd has overtaken the first and the last is almost as tall as the 3rd. Haha, sounds like a mathematical equation ?

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Truly, truly, one of the best benefits of Multilevel homeschooling is the solid foundation it sets for sibling closeness.  I am actually smiling now as I write this.   It is our prayer that this bond will be rock solid and will be an awesome ally for all their  lives indeed.

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As more children have been released to regular school, I find myself having more time available for a few other passions:  running seminars for homeschooling/part time working, participating more actively in a non-government organization for the poor, and being active in HAPI (Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands).

Recently, I began a Homeschooling Mentoring  Seminar Series as a trial run for a smaller group of parents.   Homeschool conferences are quite helpful in the bigger picture encouragement and pumping up but I do find the workshops with small number of participants with a lot of interaction and experiential activities, a bit more personal and heartwarming.  I love connecting with others and hearing their homeschooling experiences. And yes, finally, I get to personally meet  many of my online friends from the Homeschoolers of the Philippines FB page.

This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!
This was our first run in Commerce Center, Alabang. This was really a fun, intimate and cozy group!

One of the topics,  I love to share is How to Run a Multilevel Homeschooling Set up.  Multilevel Homeschooling is basically having a “more than one child/ one student ” set up and so, you are faced with a myriad of differences in preferences,  talents & abilities, educational milestones, personalities, demands, learning goals, etc and eventually, a whole set of varying outcomes!   You face different characters and character concerns, varying learning styles, and yes, even growth and development.

Did I ever research on this as I taught all the kids in a span of 15 years?  Believe it or not, I just began researching about it when I decided that it was time to pass on the best practices in Multilevel Teaching to other homeschooling parents.  Haha, I guess, I wanted a more solid backing in terms of “educational philosophies, studies and techniques” than mere experience.   However, much of what I had applied in teaching multiple kids could be drawn from general parenting books (of various topics like: discipline, creativity, teamwork, motivation, positive talk/speech, parenting during digital age, success, character formation) and my main manual in life, the Bible.

But then again, teaching is essentially parenting !  We learn parenting from many sources but I also realized that I had learned much from our four children (all made in God’s image, yes they are!!!!)  and actually “raising them”.. with a whole lot of trial and error, laughter,  tears and apologies,

So what did I actually find when I finally hit the books, searched online about Multilevel Teaching?  I was floored…..and yes in awe, because many of the beliefs I had formed in what we were doing, many of the techniques I had applied from common sense and practicality,  and  even the rationale in many of the adjustments and “tweaking” we had done to “thrive, bloom and soar” in the chaos of homeschooling 4 children  at the same time,  are emerging as solid approaches in multilevel set  up classroom !   These approaches  are now being implemented by regular schools that believe in Multilevel teaching!

So, what are these principles? What are the approaches ?  What are the best practices?   Well, be empowered like these  these amazing parents  by joining our next run on 29th of June 2017, Thursday form 930-12NN at the Parenting Emporium in New Manila, Quezon City! Email homescoolph@gmail.com for inquiries and/or to book a slot!

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This was our 2nd run in Boogi Furniture Store along Arnaiz Street, Makati. As an added bonus, I pulled in my sister Felichi to observe and share her precious insights as well! This was a crazy, LOL kind yet heartwarming group of parents! We could not stop laughing!

It was  really fun to “positively overwhelm” these committed parents in the photo above.  And borrowing a pose from a bitmoji app I had made of myself;

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My sister, Felichi Buizon, another homeschooler of almost 20 years, encouraged the group to pose as in my  personal bitmoji ! See, how fun and game, this group was.   We declared, Daddy Jomar Hilario as the parent with the winning pose!

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So, are you feeling like  “You can’t even!”?  as you face the daunting task of homeschooling multiple children?  Join us! Book now:)

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Philippians 4:13  I can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens me.

Be Positively Overwhelmed! : A Reminder Against Homeschool BurnOut

Said in the same fashion as “Confidently beautiful with a heart, “(Remember, Miss Universe 2016? Filipina Pia Wurzbach?”, I sort of coined this phrase during the recent homeschooling workshop on Multilevel Homeschooling as I wrapped up.  Yes, homeschooling on its own is overwhelming. What more Multilevel Homeschooling?

However, after sharing success stories, “pick up and stand up again from failure” moments, and tried and tested strategies for homeschooling several kids that differ in so many facets,  I said, “Yes, be positively overwhelmed. “

Stress we all know may be positive, negative or even neutral.  So in a sense, the key, in multilevel homeschooling, is to face stress as inevitable but taking  all the possible positives from it.   Veteran homeschooler and my “ate” Felichi Buizon says that, “Life in general is a series of interruptions.” And since homeschoolng is life, then expect, embrace and roll with them .  Don’t get us wrong.  It isn’t having a pessimistic, bleak outlook  or having a new mantra ala Murphy’s law, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Rather, it is expecting , stress, interruptions,  and a whole gamut of things that are out of our control as teachers/ parents, and find ways to positively turn these experiences to benefit most, if not all.

One example in Multilevel Homeschooling I shared concerns the fear of learning gaps. Fearing that we won’t be able to teach everything since we  have several children to focus on.  Wait, who said, we have to teach everything? Do we know everything there is to know?  Even let’s say, we do KNOW (if there is such a state) everything, can our children absorb everything?

The fear of learning gaps for Multilevel set ups may arise from the reality that every single homeschool day, the teacher has several students to monitor. Don’t regular schools have one teacher monitoring 50 kids in a 40 minute period or 200 kids in a batch?   I will never forget Debra Bell’s line many years back when she visited Manila, (just the gist and not verbatim ) , “Don’t be afraid of learning gaps.  For as long as your children have that passion to learn, they will learn some things you missed when they need it. ” 

And what is wrong with having a child wait while you handle a sibling who needs help?   Though I shared tips on how to maximize the homeschool period with a battery of  worksheets, video tutorials, games, puzzles, and other activities that can encourage independent work,  there are times, that kids just have to “do nothing” and wait.  More than ever, kids in this digital age need how to “do nothing” and wait.   Experts on creativity say that many ideas may come out of  these times anyway.

I then shared success stories of many children (graduating with honors, receiving academic and character awards)  raised in the many times messy, many times chaotic, many times crazy world of multilevel homeschooling !

I also realized as we did this workshop that  I have to remind all parents that homeschooling is a process with a lots of trial and error. Apart from the academic learning, it is character and relationship building. It is a process therefore with a beginning  where those who have gone ahead like me  were once just as or even more overwhelmed.

It is my desire that workshops, blog posts or even FB posts of  homeschoolers do not ever negatively overwhelm any one who wants to venture into homeschooling. So if a beginning homeschooler ever starts feeling  more discouraged in posts or activities that he or she thinks she will never be able to creatively think about or implement, this is a friendly and gentle reminder, be positively overwhelmed.   Those who have posted these are not boasting, or desiring to make you feel inadequate. Simply, these are shared as ideas and many who have great ideas, have had bad ideas too ( they just don’t post it of course) or they may have learned through  years and years of homeschooling and have learned what works!

So here is a shot of fellow homeschoolers who will venture into Multilevel Homeschooling this school year.  And we followed the hand gesture of my bitmoji app ( you should make own soon) ” I can’t even!’.  (June 1, 2017 Multilevel Homechooling Workshop at Boogi Furniture Store in Makati.

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So for, first timer homeschoolers, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. You would be quite a rare one if you did not feel this way. You are not alone in this!  I have cried buckets, lost sleep, and have become physically ill with stress related conditions through 15 years of homeschooling but I would do it all over again and again. Its just where AMAZING happens.  So, from the my homeschooling heart and mind to yours, “Be positively overwhelmed. ” And if you’d like to know the secret of “flourishing in the last 15 years of homeschooling? Read the verse below.

 

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