The Kidstarter® Curious Curriculum Journey

Homeschool and family life during the preschool years will always have a special place in my (mommy-teacher)heart and mind.  Oh, yes,  the years can be the most physically draining and patience-stretching but there is something magical about young children. Think of all those endless questions, the innocence, the “out-of-the-of mouth of babes” comments, the mess, the chubby hands and feet, and just the overflowing adoration and clinginess of our little ones. And hey, I had all that and more 4x over. Indeed, my cup overfloweth!

My youngest Gino at 2 years old:)
Preschool Homeschool Classmates and Siblings, Raya & Gino!



Now a trip down memory lane:

2002, I began homeschooling (2-3x a week only) our eldest when he was 3 years old. I co-taught with the help of the The Bridge School who allowed a 3x a week morning program for my eldest son, Vince.   I had a chance to work with some of the best preschool teachers and learn how they did things in a regular preschool.  That homeschooling journey eventually lasted for 17 years as more preschoolers in the form of 3 more children, and as we homeschooled till, one by one, each child reached 13 years old and it was time to go to “big school.”  As mentioned in previous posts, homeschooling in our home officially ended in 2018.

There are so many reasons why the preschool season is the best time to start homeschooling.  Well, the most important perhaps is the very fact that the 0-5 years old period is the only time for foundation building. If a human being is likened to a building, the period of the early years is when the foundation — the ground preparation and skeletal framework are set.  Without a strong foundation, you can never construct a strong building. The investment of “love” (in the currency of time, energy and parent-teacher character trait and skills) during this season is probably the most guaranteed investment ever!  At the core of foundation building is development of a strong emotional bond between the child and the caring parent/parents/caregiver, and this bond further strengthens the ground which can further support and facilitate future learning in all areas of life.

As more and more interest in homeschooling grew, I found myself running workshops on homeschooling, including preschool homeschooling. Running a workshop may be fun but it is very tiring.  I travelled all over Metro Manila and yes even to Cebu and Davao (and yes, there are more requests to visit other cities as the movement grows indeed).  I then began thinking of how to empower and assist parents in a more doable and sustainable way. Around  the same time in 2016, my sister Ms. Janna Mendoza-Simpao, the Editor-in-Chief of Bride and Breakfast,and I found ourselves talking about how we can help other families try out homeschooling.

In 2017, Janna introduced me to  her friends, Angela Palanca and Teacher Liana Lim Cruz… and that was the beginning of the Kidstarter team:)

After being in the homeschool community for 17 years, setting up and moderating the Homeschoolers of Philippines Facebook Group (which only began with 30 or so FB friends in 2013 and eventually grew to nearly 20K members) and leading the Homeschool Association of the Philippines, I had come to the realization that, with the growing Filipino Homeschool Community, there was a need to begin creating local resources for homeschoolers: material, curricula, and the like. I also realized that such material, if possible, must a attempt to include Filipino values, culture and language.

As I ran homeschool workshops  and continued to observe the needs of our members in our homeschooling community on Facebook, I surmised that we needed to begin at the foundational level: a preschool guide for Filipino families.  Filipino families would include those who were up to the challenge to try preschool homeschooling or those who just wanted to create learning experiences at home or during school breaks for their children enrolled in day care or preschool set ups.

Liana Lim-Cruz became my co-writer BFF as we met week after week to create the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC). Armed with her Master’s degree on Early Childhood Education from The Bank Street College of Education in New York and her 10 years worth of work experience from the leading progressive preschool Explorations in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, we created the first complete preschool guide that utilizes play and exploration for learning and presents activities to introduce and celebrate our Filipino culture and language. It is then a program with solid foundation of emerging approaches of Early Childhood Education: homeschooling and progressive education!  I see the KCC as a material that seeks to work  on  both mindset and skillset as it equips parents, parent teachers and teachers (yes, preschool teachers have been inquiring about KCC too!).

In our desire to make this program Filipino-friendly, we reached out to Ani Almario of Adarna House and Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco of Museo Pambata as we included the use of Filipino storybooks and a visit to Museo Pambata as part of our activities.

With Ani Almario, Adarna House’s Vice President for Product Development
With Museo Pambata’s President and CEO, Bambi Mańosa-Tanjutco, a dear family friend and a champion for Filipino Culture
With Museo Pambata’s Programs Director Noreen Parafina and her team

But Liana and I may  have poured our hearts over the program’s content,  we needed all the help necessary to present the whole package as beautiful, practical, and user/parent-friendly and that was made possible with the expertise of  Janna Mendoza-Simpao and Angela Perez Rubio-Palanca.

On third quarter of 2019, it call came together!

This material was born out of a lot of brainstorming, meet ups, emails, viber calls while “Little Nadi” was napping,  and carving out time from our busy mommy lives!  So you can imagine why we were smiling from ear to ear as we held the first copy off the printer! See Nadi, Liana’s almost 3 year old adorable daughter who is currently being homeschooled the Kidstarter way!
Thank you to Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and Joanna Nicolas-Na for all the help as our editors:)

On September 7, 2019, the Kidstarter® Curious Curriculum was launched via the Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschool Conference 2019 at the SMX Aura. (Thank you to Educating for Life’s Michelle Padrelanan, Rosanne Unson, Mariel Uyquiengco and Tina Rodriguez for allowing us launch with you!) 

I was one of the plenary speakers who spoke on “Homeschooling as A Calling, A Vocation and A Privilege.” At the end of my talk, I was able to present the KCC to all attendees!

I just had to include this photo with the 4 “kids who started it all!” Photo by Papa Gilbert Simpao.

For more photos of  this launch and videos regarding the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC), head to the Kidstarter FB page.

When I hold the KCC set (I am sure my Kidstarter partners would agree with the shared emotion), I can still feel a whole flush of gratitude and overwhelming appreciation for being allowed to be part of this project. It truly takes a village (and the village has grown!) to create something worthwhile that brings a potential for a solid start in another person’s life and at the same time, offering experiences to strengthen family bonds.

As I close this post, the Kidstarter team  is filled with thanksgiving for our Lord God, the True One who started it all and The One who wants to support all Kidstarter families! From the valuable persons and companies mentioned in the “Acknowledgment” page of the Teacher’s Guide (Book 1), the supporters now have included educational experts, developmental paediatricians, early childhood education advocates and  new parent teacher users!

Here are just a few of our new “Kidstarter villagers.” Thank you for your trust in KCC!

Let me end with this favorite line from Gabriel Mistral from the book called Their Name is Today.  My sister, a fellow children’s advocate, Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas shared this book with me and gave me this bookmark!

“Many things can wait. Children cannot……”

 

Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it. (New Living Translation)

 

If you would like to know more about the Kidstarter® Curriculum and/or purchase a set, head to https:/kidstarter.ph, follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @Kidstarter.

Navigating Homescool’s Resources: The Posts Arranged to Spark Joy :)

In my recent blog post, I had mentioned that I was sort of back, writing again.  So I took a quick review of what have been posted so far in this blog . Riding on the the decluttering and  organising  that swept the Netflix world, I decided to create a post that identifies each article written by category.  I am still assessing and weighing things regarding “revamping” this blog and make it more user friendly.  Since that will take a lot of time and yes, funding, for now, this will have to do.

I am personally, mind, body, spirit, with family,  and yes technologically, trying to declutter, simplify and live with less and more (there will be so many ways to view that last phrase, and I leave you my dear reader to put the many meanings to that!)

It may have began with  my reading of the many Proverbs 31 Woman of God (wife and mother) type of books my Emily Barnes and Emily George early on in my life. Remember, “A place for everything, and everything in its place? ” phrase?  Then there was this regular decluttering series by our pastor’s wife, Ms. Cindy Soriano  in our church.  (And yes, CCF Alabang is presenting the workshop again. Head to Facebook CCF Alabang to know more about this event). Then the books of Marie Kondo arrived and became  easy best sellers. Then the  Minimalism documentary with their cool musical soundtrack! And let us not forget,  of course, the whole Save the Planet  movement with the 3Rs,.. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and now the “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series on Netflix.  The message is clear I guess.

So here. I pretended to be a first homeschooler checking out this blog and with that in mind, I created a simple summarised list of topics that can be of help to every homeschooler out there:) Hope this list helps.  Don’t get overwhelmed. Read one or two per session and see what applies in your homeschool set up. Have fun!

Preparations for Homeschooling/ Setting Up Your Foundation 

http://homescool.ph/2016/05/14/dear-first-time-homeschooler-series-help-for-those-who-have-taken-the-plunge/

http://homescool.ph/2016/08/10/dear-first-time-homeschooler-there-will-be-bad-days/

http://homescool.ph/2016/06/11/dear-first-time-homeschooler-part-2-mission-vision-lets-do-this/

http://homescool.ph/2016/07/01/dear-first-time-homeschooler-determining-your-core-values-part-3-of-a-series-in-creating-a-strong-foundation-for-your-homeschoooling-family/

Faith & Homeschooling

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/09/the-most-amazing-book-ever/

http://homescool.ph/2016/05/13/beyond-the-four-walls-how-god-enlarged-our-classroom/

http://homescool.ph/2015/10/13/homeschooling-with-god-nearby/

http://homescool.ph/2016/03/17/2234/

http://homescool.ph/2018/03/23/when-he-turns-out-weakness-into-strength-my-daughters-journey-on-the-wheelchair-and-crutches/

http://homescool.ph/2015/09/22/when-life-gives-you-lemons/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/18/if-god-leads-he-enables-confessions-from-a-homescooler-of-13-years/

http://homescool.ph/2017/01/19/how-homeschooling-guards-your-heart-and-anchors-you/

http://homescool.ph/2015/08/29/when-amazing-happens-thank-you-for-todays-win-lord/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/21/homescooling-i-can-do-all-things-in-christ-who-strengthens-me/

Practical Essentials of Homeschooling:

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/14/its-more-fun-in-homeschool/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/21/be-a-blessing/

http://homescool.ph/2017/01/29/best-practices-in-our-15-years-of-homeschooling-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/09/homeschool-portfolios-the-process-and-the-product/

http://homescool.ph/2017/01/24/top-10-guaranteed-tips-to-be-a-fun-and-funny-teacher/

http://homescool.ph/2016/08/08/s-c-h-e-d-u-l-e/

Home Classroom Set Up

http://homescool.ph/2015/09/07/homeschool-room-dreaming-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2015/09/14/homeschool-room-dreaming-part-2/

Daily Lessons/Schedule/ Curriculum 

http://homescool.ph/2016/08/08/s-c-h-e-d-u-l-e/

http://homescool.ph/2016/07/06/tried-and-tested-tips-for-all-homeschoolers/

http://homescool.ph/2016/07/25/curriculum-counseling/

Relationships and Homeschooling

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/31/keeping-them-close-tales-from-the-youngest-of-9-children/

http://homescool.ph/2015/08/06/keeping-them-close-6-valuable-principles-part-2/

http://homescool.ph/2016/08/19/my-favorite-homeschooling-moments/

Subject Guide 

Teaching Art/ Creativity/Sewing

http://homescool.ph/2016/07/18/why-we-shunned-coloring-books/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/18/an-art-a-day-takes-the-blues-away/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/21/an-art-a-day-takes-the-blues-away-series-lines-part-2/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/21/i-get-to-crumple-my-art-work-creating-the-cracked-wax-effect/ 

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/27/an-art-a-day-takes-the-blues-away-exploring-with-lines-and-more-lines-through-storybooks/

http://homescool.ph/2016/04/12/creativity-and-children-two-peas-in-a-pod-creativity-series-for-homeschoolers-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/12/142/

http://homescool.ph/2015/10/02/art-series-secondary-colors/

Language Arts/ Reading/ Spelling/Writing

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/24/one-of-a-kind-book-reports-for-the-win/

http://homescool.ph/2015/09/30/do-i-really-need-to-teach-spelling/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/15/teaching-language-arts-through-stories-storybooks-readers-chapter-books-novels/

http://homescool.ph/2016/04/01/for-goodness-sake-take-time-to-study-shakespeare-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2016/04/09/for-goodness-sake-take-time-to-study-shakespeare-part-2/

http://homescool.ph/2017/01/16/ginos-book-review-why-i-enjoyed-from-the-mixed-up-files-of-mrs-basil-e-frankweiler/

http://homescool.ph/2016/10/14/book-review-on-charlottes-web-by-gino-simpao-why-i-enjoyed-it/

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/19/the-magical-world-of-read-aloud-make-it-a-habit/

Making Science Fun

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/27/making-science-come-alive-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/28/making-science-come-alive-part-2-the-cardiovascular-system/

http://homescool.ph/2017/03/14/a-more-skin-deep-skin-session-a-unit-study-on-the-skin-integumentary-system/

Comedy and Fun Moments

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/03/will-you-trust-your-children-to-a-teacher-who-says-vigan-is-in-longganisa/

http://homescool.ph/2017/01/24/top-10-guaranteed-tips-to-be-a-fun-and-funny-teacher/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/31/how-to-spot-a-homescooler/

Seeing the Bigger Picture

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/21/be-a-blessing/

http://homescool.ph/2016/08/25/seeing-the-bigger-picture-use-creative-summaries/

http://homescool.ph/2018/05/04/all-i-ever-needed-to-learn-i-learned-in-homeschooling-wrapping-up-thoughts-as-we-end-a-16-year-journey/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/25/being-released-from-a-decade-of-homeschooling-a-teen-shares-his-experience/   

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/08/homeschooling-and-the-bigger-picture-dont-get-lost-in-the-daily-grind/

Homeschool Materials and Good Finds

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/12/fabulous-finds-this-week/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/16/trash-treasure/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/09/fab-finds-batch-4-bohol-edition/

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/14/the-manila-international-book-fair-2016-top-10-picks-and-a-bonus/

http://homescool.ph/2017/02/06/a-favorite-resource-world-book-building-blocks-of-science/

http://homescool.ph/2016/07/07/spice-up-your-homeschooling-new-products-for-art-and-sewing/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/30/%e2%99%a1-sewing-room-tour-%e2%9c%84basic-beginner-sewing-needs-%e2%99%a1/ 

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/12/fabulous-finds-this-week/

Extraordinary Projects/ Unit Studies

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/14/out-of-boxes-kind-of-homescooling/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/02/map-making-in-our-homescool-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/02/map-making-in-our-homescool-part-1/

http://homescool.ph/2015/07/11/the-wise-man-built-his-house-upon-a-rock-a-rainy-day-activity-with-lasting-lessons/

http://homescool.ph/2015/06/01/a-unit-study-inspired-by-roman-diary-the-journal-of-iliona/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/17/top-12-favorite-projects-so-far/ 

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/24/one-of-a-kind-book-reports-for-the-win/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/27/old-scrolls-with-a-secret-message-how-homescool-is-that/

http://homescool.ph/2015/05/27/fathers-day-project-3-weeks-to-go/

Multilevel Children

http://homescool.ph/2017/06/21/multilevel-homeschooling-you-can-do-it/

http://homescool.ph/2017/07/20/favorite-gamesactivities-for-multilevel-children/

Self Care for Parents

http://homescool.ph/2017/06/02/positively-overwhelmed-a-reminder-against-homeschool-burnout

http://homescool.ph/2017/08/26/slow-down-stop-and-yes-look-at-the-birds-listen-to-them-and-smell-the-flowers/

http://homescool.ph/2016/09/02/10-effective-stress-busters-for-every-homeschooling-parent/

Sports and other topics

http://homescool.ph/2016/04/18/how-sports-make-a-difference/

http://homescool.ph/2015/11/29/back-in-business-joining-the-kiddopreneur-christmas-bazaar/

http://homescool.ph/2015/09/30/sharing-stories-and-digging-deeper/

 

Happy Learning!

 

Psalm 14:40

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

 

 

 

Blogging Again: Random Thoughts on Life after Homeschooling

I took a  long break from writing.   I guess there was this pressure to write a “perfect” post with the perfect photo and all, to officially end our 17 year homeschool journey. So just like every daunting task, you somehow find ways to put it aside.  I never found the chance to come up with a grand ending of sorts, I guess.

The first day of regular  school of my youngest son last July 2018 was really uneventful. He had a lot of fun, I remember. Did I cry? No. Did I have mixed emotions? Not really. How was it?  I don’t even remember much. I just knew all kids were in school for the very  first time!  Our eldest  began to live away on weekdays for college  and  the  younger three in high school  were out from 7am  to 4 PM from Monday to Friday,  and I was left with our pet pug called, Boo. So what’s next?

I had told myself that I was going to give myself a chance to rest and yes, discover thyself.  The non stop life of a  homeschooling mother of 4 kids for the past  17 years is a huge part of who I have become.  So I do have to pause and re-think and weigh a whole  lot as I close this season and begin a new one.

And so I decided to put myself on a GAP YEAR mode.   We’ve heard  about “gap years” from foreign students who take a break to travel, to join an advocacy or simply rest shortly after their high school graduation. I met a few of my son’s friends who have done it… and so I told myself, why can’t  a mom like me, set a gap year too.  A year or so of rest, rediscovery, and reconnection.

And so that is where I am.  I have begun to attend a few medical seminars or conferences to somehow figure out if going back to some health practice in the future is an option. I recently went away for bucket list experience.  I am picking up my pens, my pots and plants,  and knitting needles again for some craft and  gardening work and… here, I am writing again. And hey, finally cooking new dishes again!  Also, I have begun to read my own fiction  (not the children’s reading requirements in homeschool). Though some homeschool events and seminars are lined up, I am taking them slowly as I take this all in and give myself: mind, body, spirit and heart to rest and heal (remember I said a whole lot of life, (yes!!! the ugly,  the painful things and yes the beautiful and life stopping things too)  happen as you homeschool) and listen to my Creator as to  to know Him  more and know  where He wants me to go.

The mad rush of homeschool mornings, the endless guilt of not being able to accomplish enough, the unticked homeschool to do list,  the 1,000,000 ideas of how to teach a concept in multi subjects to multi level children, the loads of bonding time through lessons  and discussion have all gone.

Truly thankful for the new rhythm, new set up (and yes my new office too as seen above)  and new opportunities out there.  Life never stops when one homeschools so through it all, we manage our other areas of our lives……and so without homeschooling,  my relationship with God, my spouse, my other family members, even my own relationship with myself  and my passions have begun to exist and bloom in a different light and yes, it is a refreshing time.  And hey, there is a whole new world of connecting to our once homeschooled children/ students and I have a new role and I am trying to learn this new role and enjoy it too.

I recently completed the  Truth Matters conference of my home church Christ’s Commission Fellowship last January 2019.  In relation to home education and the season I am in, I can truly testify to the beauty and amazing potential of relationship building through homeschooling.

By faith, I believe that we can pass on the truth to our children and help them build their own faith in a context of a strong, open, loving and affirming relationship with our children, made possible by the quality and quantity of bonding time that homeschooling provides.  But then, I am careful to say that homeschooling is no way a guarantee in securing your child’s future or his/her own journey as an adult .  Life is a mystery, isn’t it.  Parents can only do what they deem is best as they receive guidance and instruction in parenting in this very dark world.  The children we will  eventually release will make their own choices and carve our their own path as they move on. And by faith and through prayer, we release them in peace.

And that is one thing I wish to write more about in probably my next post on “More Random Thoughts on Life After Homeschooling.”  Hehe… to be continued….. 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:2-3